Best Day of School Ever!

Imagine you are back in 9th grade.  I know I know, some of you don’t want to think about it.  But do it, do it for two minutes…

Now imagine your teacher is telling you that in a week you will have the entire school day to do whatever you want!  WAIT WHAT?!

That is exactly what happened over in San Mateo at Hillsdale High School.  Teachers allowed students to create their own agenda for the whole school day.  Students had to submit a proposal and a detailed hour by hour agenda for the day.  Students had three objectives: 1) Produce a deliverable.  2) Address an audience beyond themselves.  3) Have an impact on that audience.  Here is the four day agenda that students used to create their proposal and agenda:

Day 1: Introduce passion, brainstorm (link)

Day 2: Creativity, what Innovation Day is (link)

Day 3: Deliverable ideas, brainstorm (link)

Day 4: Project proposal (link)

The question came up, what if a kid just wants to play Mindcraft all day?  Teachers went back to the student objectives and asked the kid who his audience was?  Since the student doesn’t have an answer beyond “just for himself” he needs to find something else.  Now if the student wanted to create a how-to video on certain aspects of the game and share with the Minecraft community then we are getting somewhere!

Concerns about staff, admin and parents also came up.  You are losing an entire day of instruction!  My response would be, how is that any different than going on a field trip?  Well, kids are not going to learn anything.  They will learn time management , critical thinking, troubleshooting, problem solving, perseverance, collaboration, I can keep going… Are kids unsupervised?  Kids had to choose their location in their proposal and teachers were in all locations.  Kids had name tags and a Google Doc was used to identify where students should be.

Then we had questions about facilities.  What about technology?  Hillsdale relied on BYOD, their computer lab, and other technology available on site.  Students attended both brunch and lunch.  Kids need breaks, we all do!  What about kids who needed a lot of space?  Kids had to be specific about their location in the proposal and anticipate what type of space they needed.

I cannot thank Karl (@LS_Karl) and Sarah (@MsPressHHSenough for sharing their experience with Innovation Day.  I will admit that this was the best presentation I attended  while up in Napa for the GAFE Summit!  I walked away with all my questions answers and an amazing activity to launch.

When you have 3 minutes and 45 seconds to spare, or more if your bandwidth is awful.  Check out this Ok Go video they showed their students to get their creative juices going!


Using ClassDojo for Class Discussions

Many of you have heard of and started using ClassDojo to give feedback to your students on classroom management.  Students can earn points and class rewards, plus parents can get a record of how their child was behaving in class.  This method of classroom management works great for some teachers and schools, however many schools have a different philosophy on how student behaviour should be modeled/ encouraged.

There is another way ClassDojo can beneficial to your class.  If you have class discussions, socratic circles – you want to encourage all students t participate in the discussion, track who is participating often, and the quality of their comments.  With ClassDojo, you can rename/ add behaviors as the criteria you have your discussion rubric.

For example, you can set your “behaviors”in ClassDojo as:

  • States and Identifies issues
  • Uses Background Knowledge
  • Stipulates claims or definitions
  • Elaborates statements with explanations
  • Acknowledges statements of others
  • Challenges the logic, clarity of statements
  • Invites contributions of others

Now you can quickly acknowledge each contribution to the discussion using your phone or iPad and not disrupt the discussion.  We’ve found this sample discussion rubric:  Check it out!