There are many moments that caused me to think, or rethink differently about a specific topic. While these are not all teaching or leading related they all taught me something. As a result, these areas below have become a major focus in my teaching and leading.
Service Learning- Service learning is something I had some experience with before this program but thanks to one particular classmate became much more important. Service learning is a way of putting learning into a context that makes it bigger than itself. Learners put their gained knowledge and skills into practice to meet a genuine need in the community. This can look vastly different from one school or even classroom to the next but the main idea is that the learning has purpose and is used effectively. Not all types of learning fit this model but it can be used successfully it can make a huge difference in students lives. Service learning is different than community service. While community service is great it cannot match the benefits that service learning can. Service learning benefits both the community and the student.
Cathy Berger Kaye is one of the big name in service learning and works with educators around the world helping create a service learning program. For more information on service learning check out these websites and videos:
- Cathy Berger Kaye : Benefits of service learning in pressure-filled schools
- Cathy Berger Kaye – 2012 IB Conference of the Americas
- Cathryn Berger Kaye – AISA 2015 Educators Conference 4X12 Ideastorm
- The Complete Guide to Service Learning: Proven, Practical Ways to Engage Students in Civic Responsibility, Academic Curriculum, & Social Action
- General Overview of Service Learning
- Information about Service Learning from an IB Conference
- A Practical Guide to Service Learning
Action- Action is something that IB and inquiry-based schools around the world consistently use but struggle to find substantial amounts of evidence of. What we do with what we have learned is important but is extremely challenging to both define and scaffold within a class. As a result, I have spent time focusing on this while in consultation with other teachers in the program. With teachers at my school’s support I believe we created something fairly unique and extremely helpful.
By using a continuum we found online and change we created a specific continuum for each transdisciplinary theme within the PYP. Below is the continuum we used for the PYP Exhibition. The difference this visual made on the amount and quality of action that was taken during the PYP Exhibition was incredible. Feedback from any inquiry or action oriented teachers would be much appreciated!
Does this work? I believe that it did but still needs focus and time. Students responded well, below is an example of how one student felt he showed action.
EPortfolios– How portfolios are used at my school has been an area of focus for the past year. As a result, I have used this area extensively throughout my master’s journey. I have been fortunate to have feedback from teachers and other students on the process and the implementation process. Below are some screenshots and examples of the general look and hopefully the feel of our digital portfolio roll out.
One of the main benefits of using digital portfolios is the focus on using instruction as the main driver and not technology. Fullan talks about ensuring that the right drivers are used and in this instance it seems to be true. While we are using technology we are doing so with the goal being student learning.
Variety of input options: On digital portfolios there is an almost unlimited number of options so as a result, students have greater agency for their work.
Organization: Students are able to organize their work in a way that makes sense to them and are not stuck in a sequential format.
Feedback: Teachers and students can give feedback to each other in real time or whenever fits best.
Parents can also give feedback when it works for them instead of having to wait for either a conference or when the binder comes home.
While there have been many areas of my teaching that have improved as a result of my masters these three areas represent some of the biggest focal points.