One of my favorite parts of teaching is curriculum design. I can spend hours planning without even realizing it. In substandard a, it outlines that coaches collaborate with educators to plan authentic and active learning experiences that give students agency and the opportunity to creatively demonstrate their learning (ISTE). Here are some examples that showcase how I collaborated with teachers to design meaningful and engaging lessons in the past:
One unit that is near and dear to my heart is our 5th grade Living History Museum. The 5th-grade teacher and I collaborated to design a Social Studies unit on the American Revolution. After learning about significant historical events that led to the revolution, students chose a famous figure to research. On top of writing a biography, students had to create a museum exhibit. Exhibits each year varied, but in the past students chose to include artifacts that connected with their figure’s story, augmented reality artwork, podcast episodes, posters, journal entries, PowerPoint presentations, etc. It was fun watching the students creatively express what they had learned about their historical figures. The main requirement was that they dressed up as their person and impersonated them at our Living History Museum. Through their display and performance, students demonstrated their learning to a live audience of parents, teachers, and other students at the school.
Another example is the 4th grade Community Fair that I co-designed with a team of 4th-grade teachers. We took an old ELA unit on persuasive writing and revamped it to give our students an authentic audience and more agency. We reformatted it to have a project-based learning (PBL) structure and partnered with community organizations to teach our students about needs in their own backyard. Students chose an organization to advocate for and did more research on various issues in our community like homelessness, food insecurity, wildlife conservation, animals in need, etc. Students then volunteered with their chosen organization and wrote a persuasive paper. Finally, they worked in teams to design tech presentations. We used a technology choice board to give our students more agency in their projects. Options included green screen videos, website design, video creation, infographics, and podcasts just to name a few. Our unit culminated with our Community Fair where students presented to a live audience of parents, administration, and community members. It was so fun to watch as our students become more aware, empathetic, and active citizens in their communities. Read more about Community Fair in my blog post: Service Learning Ignite Talk.
During my graduate studies, I researched how Podcasts could be used in K-12 classrooms. They are a great way to give students a voice and empower them to creatively share what they’re learning about. Podcasts can become a summative performance task for virtually every subject. Podcasts are also a great way to build community and let students practice 21st-century skills such as creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication. And the best part – podcasts give our students an authentic audience! Dive in deeper with my blog: The Power of a Podcast. In the future, I hope to collaborate with teachers on how they can include podcasts in their classrooms to provide active learning experiences that foster student agency and allow students to demonstrate their competency.
I think another way we can make learning “stick” is by breaking down the walls of our classrooms and allowing our students to collaborate with people from around the world. One way to do this is through Skype in the Classroom. Not only can you Skype an expert or do a classroom cultural exchange through Mystery Skype, but they also host special events, have collaborative projects, and can take you on virtual field trips. Read more about Skype in the Classroom in my blog post: Scoping out Skype. There are other ways to collaborate globally. Coaches can help teachers get connected to online Professional Learning Networks (PLNs) like Facebook Groups, Twitter, FlipGrid Pals, or various PLNs hosted by ISTE. I look forward to sharing these resources with teachers and helping them plan engaging lessons that deepen our student’s understanding. Read more about how we can harness the power of global collaboration here.
To read more about my work with this standard, you can use the drop-down menu above or the buttons below to navigate to a specific performance indicator.
ISTE Standards for Coaches (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches