16 June 2013

Focus on DES!GN - Summer Pro Dev

Watching tweets and posts scroll by about last days of school around the world is giving me that familiar 'last days of school' feeling.

It's not that I'm overexcited for vacation (yes I am), I'm excited to get to work on my Summer PD! I truly enjoy abandoning the schedules and information of teaching to focus on the thinking. The key word for my plans for the summer is Design.

Why Design? First, I would like to consider graphic design principles to make the learning environment more engaging and inspiring for my students. As my classroom becomes more internet-based, I want to avoid the abyss of screens full of text, but I don't want to create experiences littered with gaudy images or unbalanced webpages. Luckily, my wife, Yuka, is a freelance illustrator and designer, so she will be able to direct me toward good resources for my self-study project, and perhaps assign some authentic and useful assessments.

Creative Space: Mozilla London (photo cc Rock drum)

Next year, I will be moving to Grade 6 and organizing my school's first IB PYP Exhibition. I would like to create an environment which can function equally as classroom and design studio, which facilitates social creativity as well as deep, individual focus and autonomy. In the last several weeks, I visited Exhibitions at three schools. Two were field trips to rehearsals to provide our students the opportunity to observe some of the inner workings, ask questions, and receive advice. Those real-world experiences combined with a wealth of online resources should provide a stable foundation for planning during the summer.

Although I have utilized computer technology more this year than before, I feel that I've only scratched the surface in terms of leveraging the tools to enhance learning. Some quality time learning more about Google Apps and digital video/audio editing will do me a lot of good, as well as gathering more games and skills-oriented sites.

Teaching older students will also require that I reorganize many classroom routines. There are many learning activities which should be automated. I would like to explore designing self-directed study routines which can ensure that students master essential skills while allowing them independence and opportunities to collaborate to apply those skills in creative and relevant ways. This should integrate seamlessly with Independent Inquiry, a project which has yielded encouraging results, yet would benefit from a redesign.

Dan Pink's TED Talk The puzzle of motivation about Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose will serve as my inspirational guide and the assessment criteria of Engagement, Intentionality, Innovation, and Solidarity from Design, Make, Play will serve well as a conceptual framework for the environment I want to create. Metateaching is my goal, to continue to become more a designer of learning and less a teacher.

I've enjoyed expanding my learning networks on various websites. I plan to maintain a healthy pace of sharing and hope that my mentors and collaborators will do the same.

Finally, so as not to be snared in last summer's 'just a few days off' trap, I'd best get started right away, if not before the last day of school.