As you can see from the date on the side this blog, it has been quite sometime that I have written a post. Have you ever had one of those really busy years?
I just returned home from an interesting adventure from the middle of Canada in Winnipeg, heading east to the coast via the US to reach New Brunswick, NS, and PEI. A 10K journey there and back. A nice chance to unplug for a bit, do a bit of reading (Ken Robinson’s The Element if you have not read it yet), and travel half way across North America and back. Now it is time for some reflection, well a start at least in this blog format.
There was a lot going on in my School this past year: the first year of a 1 to 1 program for our Grade 5 students being expanded into Grade 6 next year, a big initiative to start the construction of a new Senior School modern learning facility (great classrooms and collaboration space) which began this summer, and a number of PD initiatives that I have been involved with to name a few.
I also decided to continue to tinker with my Grade 9 ICT Studies course. The inclusion of Edmodo to supplement the virtual learning space of Moodle was very popular with those two classes. This was my second year of experimenting with Google’s concept of 20% time to allow their folks to explore their passions. Some people are now calling this Genius Hour.
In my classes, I have called the process Independent Project time. The only condition, is students must somehow explore a passion or interest that in some fashion uses technology. Last year I had a student create a fifteen level game using Gamemaker, many students created amazing worlds using Photoshop, one student built his own computer. I was very pleased with the overall results as most students invested way more time and effort than I expected. Guess that is to be expected when one can pick their own area of interest.
The big change this year was that my students asked if they could do a team project if they desired. As I called the course component “independent project” – I laughed, but said why not as long as they could document what each team member was responsible for. Google Apps for Education worked so well for this. Not all of the students decided to work with a team but the group results were interesting. Some groups learned the hard way that not all their peers were so great with time management :-), but in the end the results were great.
One interesting result was that two projects from different sections of my course ended up using video to comment on the roles of young woman in the media. Maybe the Dove Real Beauty video I showed both classes earlier in the year to show how Photoshop can be used to manipulate reality planted a seed?
What do you think of their projects?