Making Thinking Visible

Diving into Thinking Routines

You might have heard about Thinking Routines, Making Thinking Visible, or Project Zero – but might be wondering what they all are, how they’re connected, or how to incorporate the ideas into your own context. Project Zero is an educational research group through Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, and there is a vast array of projects that they focus on, just one of which is Visible Thinking, often referred to as Thinking Routines. (To learn more about Project Zero, check out the resources at the bottom.)

A common worry about incorporating Thinking Routines is “But I have too much on my plate as it is, I can’t add anything else!” and yes, at first it can seem like you’re adding something new. But with time and a bit of practice for both you and your students, you might start to see that thinking routines are a powerful tool to develop thinking and become a way of being in your classroom, not just an activity that ticks a box.

[A quick note: I’m using ‘classroom’ and ‘students’ in the descriptions below, but any of these could be used with adults in team meetings, or other contexts that don’t necessarily involve students.]

Many ISB staff have participated in Project Zero workshops and courses and will have fantastic ideas about how to add Thinking Routines to your repertoire if you’re interested. An open invitation to anyone who would like to dive further into learning about thinking routines or Project Zero: contact me! I’m always happy to be a thinking partner and help determine which routines might be a great resource when you’re designing upcoming learning engagements, regardless of your context.

 

Questions to Consider When Choosing the Best Routine to Use 

The first, and arguably most important, question to consider is, “What thinking are you hoping to bring out from your students?” The answer to that question will help determine which type of routine might fit best. For a terrific resource with loads of different routines listed out by category/type, check out Harvard Project Zero’s Thinking Routine Toolbox (here’s a screenshot of the menu)

A second question to consider is, “Are you hoping to bring out thinking from your students that involves independent thinking, partner or group thinking, whole class generating ideas or discussion, or a combination of those?” Routines can vary quite a lot and can be adapted to fit just about any context or need. Some routines are certainly more naturally geared toward capturing independent thinking and some are best with a small group, and some move from independent thinking to shared thinking and back again to independent consolidation or new ideas.

Another important consideration is, “Where are you in your unit/lesson?” Perhaps you need a routine that would be helpful for generating new ideas at the beginning of your learning; possibly you are looking for something to use as a check-in in the middle of your unit, or you might need something that will help consolidate or clarify thinking toward the end of your unit.

 

A Few Routines – Give Some a Try!

Here are just three of the many excellent routines to possibly spark an idea for how to implement deeper thinking in your classroom:

  • 3-2-1-Bridge

This routine can be a powerful tool for preassessment, as well as having students reflect after a lesson or unit about how much they’ve learned by the end.

The basic premise:

  1. Students complete a structured 3-2-1 response with prompts before they’ve done the learning. (All of the prompts can be adapted for what you need; here’s an example of how you might structure it)
  2. After the learning engagement, they complete the same 3-2-1 response prompts and see what they know now.
  3. Students reflect on how those before and after responses changed, or what they did to move their learning forward. This is the Bridge part of the 3-2-1 Bridge.

Implementation ideas:

Have  students complete the first half (left side of the example) before a movie, text, or before the start of a new unit. It’s a great way to preassess and capture what students know about your topic now, and later will serve as a powerful visual both for you and for them how their thinking has changed or deepened as a result of the movie, text, lesson, unit, etc. (For younger students I often adapt the Metaphor/Simile prompt and have the students write down a vocabulary word or an image related to the topic instead.)

 

  • ESP+I

This routine has become a new favorite go-to, not only because of its simplicity but also the potential for digging deeper into an idea.

The basic premise:

  1. See an example visual here; students reflect on three of the boxes – Experience, Struggles & Puzzles – independently. Adapt or change the language for each to match what your students need as a prompt for their thinking.
  2. Share (in partners, small groups, whole group, etc.)
  3. In the Insight box, add new thoughts or questions they have now, as a result of sharing and hearing others’ ideas. (This is the +I part of the routine.)

Implementation Ideas:

This is a great routine for when you’ve done something that might have stretched students’ thinking, such as a learning engagement or activity or experience that is new.

 

  • Name Describe Act

This routine is useful for enhancing descriptive language, and for helping students understand the power and importance in noticing details and looking closely at something.

The basic premise:

  1. Choose an image that will provoke discussion or something that might require some close examination.
  2. Students look at the image for a minute, then the teacher removes the image from sight.
  3. Working from memory, students make a list. (I’ve used a 3-column format for this that has worked well in the past – see visual and student example below)
    1. Name – make a list of all the parts or features that you can remember
    2. Describe – describe each item in the list
    3. Act – for each item, tell how they act
  4. Put the image back up. Students write out questions they now have, or new observations they’ve made.

Implementation Ideas:

This has worked as a provocation to start off a unit or new topic, and as a way to generate some deep thinking, quite quickly. The second time the image is put back up for display, it’s amazing how intensely students look at the image again, and the new details that emerge for them.

 

Common Pitfalls

Making Thinking Visible co-creator Ron Ritchhart recently posted some common pitfalls that you might be on the lookout for when using routines: Using Thinking Routines: 10 Ways You Could Die. A quick blurb is here:

“Although thinking routines are relatively accessible (admittedly, some more than others), they aren’t silver bullets, magic potions, games, activities, or tricks.  Some teachers may be expecting routines to do all the heavy lifting in the classroom, and thus not experience much success. So, with much appreciation to my two colleagues, I offer my own list of ways you can die—or struggle, or flounder—focused on using thinking routines.”

 

Helpful Resources to Check Out

 

Need Support?

Need ideas of how to use these or other Thinking Routines? Not sure where to start? Have some ideas but would like to see an example or talk through the logistics of how to use a routine? Let me know – I’m happy to help!

 

March 2022 TTTs

Several times a year, we turn professional learning over to our faculty & staff during Teachers Teaching Teachers (TTTs) sessions. TTTs focus on improving our collective professional practice, allowing us to engage with our colleagues. On Wednesday, March 9, we had our second TTTs of the school year. For these TTTs, we challenged faculty to focus their sessions through our Learning At Its Best framework for their 45-minute sessions. (Re-visit our first TTTs of the year.)

 


5 Types of Non-Fiction
Principle: Captivate, Approach: Inquiry Pathway
Come check out the ES Library brand new collection of narrative non-fiction books: an engaging sub-genre of non-fiction writing that will spark joy for readers of all persuasions!

Basic PowerPoint animations
Principle: Captivate, Approach: Design Process
Learn how to add basic animations to your PowerPoint presentation

 

Level Up Student Projects with the Studio
Principle: Challenge, Approach: Personalized Learning
Recording techniques for audio projects. Explore ISB’s recording facilities and familiarise yourself with our studio equipment. Go through the recording process from tracking to print. Then, take your learning to student projects!

 

How To Use WTW Data to Target Your Instruction
Principle: Challenge, Approach: Personalized Learning
Now you have your middle of year data, so what? This session you will learn how to break down your current Words Their Way data to see exactly where the students need direct support and instruction. Come learn how to support and challenge all of the learners in your class!

 

Supporting LGBTQIA+ students in your classroom
Principle: Care, Approach: Social Emotional Learning
Powerpoint
It’s Pride Week at ISB, but what does that mean for you? If you know you want to make LGBTQIA+ students feel safe and included in your classroom, but you’re not sure where to start, this session is for you. Topics will include: addressing homophobic comments, using inclusive language, and more.

 

Cooperative Learning Structures
Principle: Clarify
Raising the number of Opportunities To Respond will increase the learning in your classroom. How can you get every student to engage with every question you ask as a teacher, rather than just one student who raises their hand. We will look at a number of Kagan Cooperative Learning Structures. Hopefully you will walk away with some new ways to engage your learners.

 

Clarify with COLOCOs
Principle: Clarify, Approach: C6 Bilteracy & Bicultural
This session is intended for those who are currently attending the C6 training (or those who need a refresher) and would like to revisit the work on COLOCOs (and complete their homework in the process!).

 

Using Visuals to Support Organization and Independence in the Classroom
Principle: Classroom Management
I will share two strategies using visuals I learned at a PD session in 2019 and have since used with co-teachers in the classroom. We’ll also share ideas about how to use and adapt these visuals to our classrooms.

 

The Working Genius Model and YOU
Principle: Collaborate
Resources, Podcast
Improve your collaboration skills by exploring Patrick Lencioni’s Working Genius model, a simple and powerful 6 step model for all work. You will reflect on your personal Working Genius type and learn language to apply personally and in teams. This session will include chunked learning, reflecting and application individually and in small groups. This model is useful for anyone who works or is on a team.

 

Round Table: Sharing ideas on unpacking the Teachers College reading units
Principle: Collaborate, Approach: Inquiry Pathway
Let’s come together to share our processes around how we go from the planned lesson in the TC units to teaching our individual classes. Bring an example to share or a topic to discuss!

 

Making Thinking Visible
Principle: Confer/Challenge, Approach: Personalized Learning
Resources
This session will seek to share the ideas from the Making Thinking Visible training and book in a condensed and applicable way, including the core concept, and sets of teaching moves/strategies that can be used for all learners. Making Thinking Visible is a philosophy that seeks to promote engagement for all learners, intellectual curiosity and exploration, and to shift the focus in teaching towards ‘thinking’ above all.

 

Excel Basics
Principle: Confer, Approach: Personalized Learning
Looking for ways to organize and analyze student data? This session will explore some basic tips and tricks for using Excel. Bring your laptop and any questions you have about using spreadsheets.

 

What works to improve student literacy in Chinese class?
Principle: Confer, Approach: Personalized Learning
In this session, we will share what we have studied and learned about the Balanced Literacy components that have been used to effectively teach Chinese in some international schools.

 

Rubrics and Feedback in DX
Principle: Confer, Approach: Personalized Learning
Resources
Learn how you can use assignment rubrics and other feedback tools (including the new iPad annotation feature) in DX.

 

Diversity and Inclusion Conversations in Chinese
Principle: Confer, Approach: C6 Bilteracy & Bicultural
The purpose of this TTT is to create a space where educators can have conversations around Diversity and Inclusion in Chinese to explore it through the lenses of non-western perspectives. This session provides an opportunity for equalizing access to conversations around Diversity and Inclusion and building a foundation for contextualizing Bias and Racism to our global international school environment.

 

Spotting the Signs–Structure and Function in the Head, Neck, and Mouth
Principle: Consolidate, Approach: Personalized Learning
Spotting the Signs is geared for teachers and TAs of younger students. We will focus on spotting students who may need an SLT referral in the areas of articulation and feeding/swallowing–whether you teach in English or Mandarin! Normal and atypical anatomy of the head/neck/mouth and developmental milestones for articulation and feeding/swallowing will be taught so that you can spot students who may not be meeting these expectations.

 

Save the Rainforest! Digital Planning and Journaling with iPad
Principle: Consolidate
Tired of losing sticky notes with your to do list? Want to reduce your reliance on paper and taking notebooks everywhere? Move your planning and / or journaling to the digital realm to save your sanity. This session will be most beneficial if you bring an iPad, Apple Pencil, and have access to either the Good Notes or OneNote app.

 

People, Systems, Power, Participation
Principle: Consolidate, Approach: Service Learning
In this session we will explore the People, Systems, Power, Participation Thinking Routine. We will use this routine to examine Gender, Migration, and Racism, then talk about how it can lead to service learning.

 

Literacy is Learning
Principle: Consolidate, Approach: C6 Bilteracy & Bicultural
Various literacy activities across subject areas that can enable students to acquire depth of understanding and consolidate their learnings.

Appropriate Challenge and the ZPD

While we all love a good acronym, it can be frustrating when they get thrown around and you feel like you are not in the know.  Chances are, however, even if you don’t know what ZPD is off the top of your head, you probably think about it in the context of your classroom all the time.

ZPD is short for Zone of Proximal Development, which was developed by Lev Vygotsky in the 1920s and was elaborated on until his death in 1934.  The ZPD is used to describe the distance between what a child can do independently and what they can do with the assistance of a more knowledgeable partner (Eun, 2019).  That more knowledgeable partner could be the teacher, a peer, or even an interactive computer program.  The ZPD is the basis for a lot of our current scaffolding practices such as simplifying a task, monitoring ongoing performance, and adjusting the level of assistance provided.  We can also see the influence of the ZPD when we use graphic organizers to support student thinking, help them choose a “just right” book to read, or reference the learning continuum from student Map results to target learning.  The ZPD goes beyond scaffolding, however, framing student-teacher collaboration and negotiation as a bilateral process as opposed to something that is always done by the teacher.  Finding appropriate challenge and thus avoiding boredom and confusion and the subsequent distraction, frustration, and lack of motivation, is thus a shared responsibility.

Closely tied to the concept of a ZPD are social practices associated with learning, both in and out of the classroom.  Vygotsky believed that learning was a process of knowledge co-construction and becoming a member of a community, reframing learning to be more than just an accumulation of knowledge (Renshaw, 1998), but rather a property of the interaction between the students and the learning environment (Shabani, Khatib, & Ebadi, 2010).  In our classrooms students are learning more than just the content we teach, they are learning the vocabulary and ways of talking about the different subject areas, they are learning to communicate and verify different knowledge claims, and they are learning the values and beliefs that form the implicit and explicit features of our community culture.  Knowledge and abilities are dynamic and are the result of a student’s history and social interactions in the world and we all come to master our cognitive functions in unique ways and through participation in different activities and cultures.  Thinking through the lens of the ZPD can give us another way to think about developing cultural objectives that are meaningful for our students and how they see themselves and form their identities in the various content areas they move in and out of throughout the day.

When we think about learning and the ZPD it is easy to see how students learn through the support of a more knowledgeable peer, but this social component of learning is supportive for the development of the higher mental functions of both students (Shabani, Khatib, & Ebadi, 2010).  The collaboration provides a space for the more knowledgeable student to reflect and make concepts explicit in their thinking.  These roles often evolve as well, with students taking on different roles at different points in their learning.

So what role do I play as a teacher?  Think of students not as just separate individuals in the same place at the same time.  Rather they should be engaged in a collaborative activity that fulfils a specific goal where the ZPD is created based on the need for collaboration and assistance to make progress toward that goal.  The teacher’s role is thus facilitating the interrelated zones of students as they take control of their own learning.  We are on a continuous journey with our students as they progress through different and evolving zones and make sense of the world.  Vygotsky said it well, suggesting that teachers must be focusing “not on yesterday’s development in the child buy on tomorrow’s” (Vygotsky, 1987, p. 211).

References

Eun, B. (2019). The zone of proximal development as an overarching concept: A framework for synthesizing Vygotsky’s theories. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 51(1), 18-30.

Renshaw, P. (1998). Sociocultural pedagogy for new times: Reframing key concepts. The Australian Educational Researcher25(3), 83-100.

Shabani, K., Khatib, M., & Ebadi, S. (2010). Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development: Instructional implications and teachers’ professional development. English language teaching3(4), 237-248.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1987). Thinking and speech. In R. W. Rieber & A. S. Carton (eds.)., The collected works of L. S. Vygotsky. Vol. 1. Problems of general psychology (pp. 39-285).. New York: Plenum.

Welcome to Learning @ ISB!

Welcome to the learning at ISB blog! We’ve been pretty quiet the last 2 years, but we’re back and excited to continue sharing learning at its best at ISB.

At least twice per month, we’ll be publishing posts written by ISB educators sharing their thoughts & reflections on learning. Have an idea for a guest post? Let us know! Want to get inspiration delivered to your inbox? Enter your email on the right to subscribe! [Make sure to keep an eye on your ‘Other’ inbox tab for the emails!]

Have thoughts about something you read on this blog? We love comments! Feel free to leave your thoughts here or come chat with us in person.

As we relaunch this blog, we wanted to introduce Learning at its Best and our principles & approaches of learning. You probably have one of these posters up in your classroom or have seen them around the school. All of our blog posts will be written through these lenses. Want to dive deeper into one area? Check out the categories on the right to begin exploring!

Learning at its Best

ISB’s principles of learning provide a research-based foundation for how students learn best and insight into what makes our learning environments most effective. ISB’s Learning Principles are based on Tripod’s 7C framework of effective teaching: Care, Challenge, Confer, Clarify, Captivate, Consolidate, Collaborate, Classroom Management.

The approaches of learning are integral to how we design learning experiences at ISB, guiding our instructional practices.

Social-Emotional Learning – Research shows that explicitly teaching social and emotional skills increases student well-being, enhances positive behavior, reduces crises, and enhances academic achievement. A focus on social-emotional learning also creates a safe, positive school culture. At ISB, we prioritize building relationships and want every student to feel cared for every day. Our Social-Emotional Framework supports students in developing self-awareness, self-management, social and cultural competence, nurturing relationships, and taking purposeful action.

Personalized Learning – At ISB, we believe in a progressively learner-driven model of personalized learning to facilitate student ownership of the learning process and provide student voice and choice in their learning. We empower students to build strong relationships, leverage their interests, and assess their strengths and areas for growth to engage in deep, relevant learning.

Service Learning – Service Learning is infused into the curriculum and across the co-curricular program at ISB. It is a relevant learning journey that integrates meaningful action with instruction and reflection. We believe that Service Learning develops compassion and empathy, strengthens communities, and nurtures a global mindset.

C6 Biliteracy Instructional Framework – The community at ISB is culturally & linguistically diverse, and we aim to serve our emergent bilingual and multilingual students so that they are able to access grade-level standards regardless of language proficiency. The C6 Biliteracy Instructional Framework supports faculty in creating culturally responsive lessons that celebrate the diversity of our students.

Inquiry Pathway – At ISB, we empower students to ask questions, think critically, and reflect. Based on provocations and real-world phenomenon, students see & think, wonder & question, investigate & explore, make meaning & find patterns, and explain & construct arguments.

Design Process – Solutions to the problems of the world do not exist in silos and neither should learning. Students at ISB are given the opportunity to use design-thinking to create connections between traditional curricular areas and build empathy while solving real-world, authentic problems.


We hope you’re as excited as we are for this blog to be active again! Next week, keep your eyes open for a post from Angie (MS/HS Math Instructional Coach) with a focus on Challenge. Even better, get her post delivered to your email as soon as it’s published by subscribing on the right! After you subscribe, look in your email to confirm your subscription.

Student Learning Data At a Glance

Last week I gathered my in-house focus group (yes, my daughters) to ask them what they hope that teachers will learn about them in the first few weeks of school. I was pleased when one answered, “I hope they understand my strengths and weaknesses, so they can help me and not get frustrated when I don’t understand.” 
“Wow!” I thought. “How great! I’ve just spent two years working on a tool to give to ISB teachers in order support them in doing just that.” 
The tool we’ve been working so hard on is a new data portal—a system that connects right into powerschool, that we can use to pull together all the disparate sources of academic data we have about each student and present that data to teachers at a glance. 
The data that’s entered into the data portal is customized by Elementary, Middle, and High school, but the basics are the same: we have two types of data: external assessments (like the MAP test and others), and internal common assessments (such as Writing, Math, and PE, as well as Science, Social Studies in middle and high school.) 
Want to know your students’ reading comprehension so you can check if they’ll be able to make sense of the text you’re handing them? 
We’ve got you covered.  
Want to see which students have similar strengths and growth areas, so you know which small group might benefit from a strategy lesson on a skill they learned last year? 
We can show you that!


 
Data like this will help us most if we keep in mind the strengths and limitations of the two types of data: 
External test data (like MAP data) 
Strengths: 

  • Reliable measure of students’ basic skills in reading, math, and language usage. 
  • Often you can look back at several years’ data to see the growth trends 

Limitation:  

  • Cannot measure very deep cognitive complexity, such as analysis, synthesis, evaluation skills 

 
ISB Common Vertical Assessment data: 
Strength: Measures more cognitively complex tasks, such as 

  • Analyzing the strengths and limitations of a primary source in social studies 
  • Modeling a math problem or scientific phenomenon 
  • Writing a short narrative about their own life 
  • Assessing their own fitness and making a plan to improve it in Health and PE. 
  • Identifying relevant evidence to support an argument  

 
The data on whether the student can achieve these more cognitively complex goals provides a useful counterpoint to the sometimes-limiting external assessment data. It’s not hard to imagine an emergent bilingual student whose MAP scores looks low because she doesn’t have the language skills to comprehend the questions, but who is an excellent critical thinker who can analyze and model a scientific phenomenon 
Limitation 

  • Sometimes the common assessment data is confounded by things like the way the question was worded (so the student got confused and didn’t apply the skill they were meant to be measuring).  

 
Together, these two types of data aim to provide a balanced view of what each student’s learning journey has been.  
Our job as teachers is to learn deeply about our students, so we can meet them where they are, give them just the right amount of challenge to help them grow.  
How can we help our students work in the zone of proximal development, that sweet spot for optimal growth, if we don’t know where they’re starting? 

Image from Verbal to Visual

 
So, a practical suggestion: 
After you do your first pre-assessment, put it side by side with the student view of the portal.  (If you need help getting in, here is a step by step instruction manual!)

  • Does anything surprise you?   
  • What are this students’ areas of strength and where might they need extra support?  
  • Has this student been growing? 

Next, consider your actions based on the data.

  • Do you need to reteach an earlier skill? 
  • Create a small group?
  • Collaborate with a coteacher to target specific skills?
  • How might this data influence what you assign as homework (independent practice!)

How you follow up on the data is up to your professional judgement, requiring all the art and skill you have as a teacher.
I want to leave you with a caveat: a data portal will never tell you which student was the lead of the school play last year, or which one worked for ages perfecting his design for a robotic animal or which one loves reading graphic novels.  Listening to your students, making that connection, combined with providing just the right amount of challenge—there’s nothing that can improve your students’ learning more effectively than that. 

What Do We Value?

Welcome back, everyone!  It always feels like it takes forever for the kids to show up and it was so exciting to see them all with big smiles this morning as they arrived. I am nearing the end of week three back in Beijing. It has been a busy three weeks welcoming new teachers and getting ready for the start of school. There is always a bit of a lull for us at this time of year, we work hard to get things ready and support teaching and learning as you come back to school, but then once the kids are back…you are busy and we are always a bit at loose ends as we wait for things to settle down. 

As we welcomed new teachers back this year we made a shift in how we spoke about some of our work here at ISB. One thing that is always clear when we are working with new teachers is that ISB has a lot of systems and structures and acronyms…we love acronyms. This year in an effort to be less overwhelming, we thought…we have all these systems and structures to create alignment and consistency to our curriculum, but why? What are the core values that underpin the work we do in the Office of Learning to support student learning? Why do we have things like the curriculum review, common formative assessments, data meetings etc.  For us, it was easy to answer the question about why we have the systems and structures we do at ISB: equity, purpose and deep, relevant learning.  The goal is to bring clarity to what we do at ISB.
Equity is achieved by:

  • Consistent learning goals at grade-levels and in shared courses
  • Consistent level of challenge so that students have consistent expectation across grades and courses
  • Students with varying needs are provided what they need to succeed 
  • Experiences will vary from classroom to classroom, that is the art and craft of teaching and what you were hired for, and the quality fo the education you receive at ISB should not depend on who your teacher is.

Purpose: 

  • Although we’re a highly mobile community, we don’t change our curriculum just because a particular teacher happened to leave—we make purposeful decisions about curricular change. 
  • We aim for purposeful increases in challenge from grade level to grade level. 
  • Our decisions are researched-based and intentional.  If we cannot answer why and back it up, we should not be doing it.

Deep, Relevant Learning:

  • Students should spend their time inquiring, solving problems, analyzing, and creating, not only memorizing. 
  • Students have voice and choice in their learning as we seek to deepen our work and understanding around personalized learning.
  • We are working on integration because the world we live in does not present us problems in silos. They are complex and sticky, requiring a multi-disciplinary approach to understand them and think about solutions.
  • We have a focus on design because we feel this is a vehicle by which we can engage our students in these deeply relevant learning experiences

 As we work together this year, these values around our work and learning together will come up again and again.  We are excited for another year of collaboration and support and looking forward to seeing and learning form you as you deliver amazing learning experiences to your students. 
Let the year begin!

Personalized Learning through the Passion Project

Image Credit: I can still be a kid sometimes  by Austin, a Fall 2017 Passion Project student

ISB has made a commitment to personalized learning as one of our Strategic Initiatives.

Personalized Learning is offering a variety of student opportunities and resources that fosters students’ learning, allowing them to design learning experiences based on their own interests, curiosities and competencies. In our high school, there are many different pathways and course selections for students to gain knowledge, skills and foster L21 skills.  The Passion Project course is an opportunity for students to design their own learning for a semester.
This course description is as follows:

The Passion Project is a dynamic approach to learning in which students explore passions, problems and opportunities and follow the ISB Design Process in a hands-on approach to create a product, event or system.
In this innovative course, students design and complete an individual project that is geared to their particular interests, aptitude, needs, and desired outcomes. This self-directed study could take many forms. The Passion Project aims to provide students with the opportunity to find, develop, and experience a passionate endeavor.

This is an amazing opportunity for students to follow their passions with the guidance and mentoring of a teacher.  This allows students time in their schedule to work on their Passion Project, reflect, and conference with the facilitator.
Students use a design thinking mindset, guided by the ISB Design Process to over the course of a semester to achieve their goal. Using the scaffolding of the ISB Design Process students inquire, develop their ideas, plan, create and seek feedback to improve their process and product.

At the end of the semester, students will choose their own way to share their products and learning.  This can be as simple as meeting with a few teachers or their parents to share their work.  This could also be much bigger where students could present at an assembly or for another audience in our community.
Students post their weekly progress on their blogs and are always seeking feedback, inspiration and ideas from our larger community.  Please be a part of our students’ learning journey as they document their Passion Project through process journals. We encourage you to comment on their blog posts through: questioning, advice, suggestions, and any other constructive feedback.
Here are our semester 1 Passion Project students this year:
Austin’s Passion Project process journal   – His goal is to publish a book of his comics
Maggie’s Passion Project process journal   – Her goal is to create a portfolio of her illustrations for stage design
Tiger’s Passion Project process journal   – His goal is to raise and potential breed bearded dragons
Sarah’s Passion Project process journal   – Her goal is to design and publish a graphic novel based on mental health for teens
Jane’s Passion Project process journal  – Her goal is to write and publish a novel

Personalized Learning, Personalized Teaching

When we first adopted [our personalized learning system], I was pretty hesitant about the idea of giving my students free reign to direct their own learning. I’m a control freak that wants things to go a certain way, and I was afraid that students wouldn’t learn as much if I wasn’t in control. But I’m also a risk-taker and I like trying new stuff, so I decided to give it a try even though it was scary. The kids rose and exceeded my expectations. It was really cool to see how engaged they were. Now I feel like I’m finally able to address their needs, and I can focus not just on filling skill gaps, but on teaching them how to learn. [emphasis added]

flickr photo shared by fOtOmoth under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license
flickr photo shared by fOtOmoth under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license

So says Sophia Thomas, a teacher at a school in California that helped to shape a personalized learning system for their school, in Connecting Ed & Tech (July 2016) by Thomas Arnett for the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
While we are still working on shared vision of what is meant by the term Personalized Learning, it is important to remember that a shift to personalized learning will also mean a shift to personalized teaching. From an educational technology perspective, this means finding (or developing) systems, platforms and tools that can be used across a wide array of grade levels and classrooms in ways that are adaptable to the different needs and strengths of each teacher to meet the different needs and strengths of each learner.
Just as we continue to move away from a one-size-fits-all approach to learning, we continue to move away from a one-size-fits-all approach to using technology in your classroom. All of the hard work and professional learning that has been put in by teachers in the area of EdTech already – from 1:1 laptops to iPads in classrooms to Office 365 & new horizons for collaboration – can be leveraged in so many different ways to help all of our students learn. Combined with all of the experience and expertise our teachers possess in the areas of assessment, classroom practice, unit planning – along with a continued commitment to reflection and improvement – we are well positioned to journey along the path towards personalized learning. As reflected in the quote above, it can possibly be scary and maybe even uncomfortable for the teachers, but the students will undoubtedly rise above and beyond our expectations!

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