1. We spent a large part of our time this week on large-scale design. We spent time choosing common questions we liked for the initial unit we are planning (as mentioned in the last wrap up). It’s still a work in progress, but we have an thematic arc we imagine students working through during their sophomore year. We have an initial thought about how large parts of the year would be split up. Looking for common threads and also places to celebrate our own disciplines within the framework is both natural and challenging at times, but certainly fun. Multiple times, we have had to remind ourselves that being simply multi-disciplinary, even if we’re doing it well, is not enough. Time, class structure, depth of coverage of content, where standards fit – they’re all variable. I think that by next week we can more accurately put down in words what I’m talking about. It’s living on our windows-turned-whiteboards and Google Docs and in notebooks right now.
2. We are also compiling a list of contacts we have at other schools like the Innovation Lab as well as those at universities or other places in education. We have a video chat scheduled for next week with Mark Hines and some others from the Mid-Pacific Institute’s eXploratory program in Honolulu, HI. Kyaiera and I met members from their school within a school at High Tech High in March and we’re excited to reflect, share, and ask questions about their design process. (Check out this experiment they did in math class.)
3. Resources – check out the video below of Logan LaPlante (13 years old) giving a TEDx talk about his alternative school experience at the Squaw Valley Kids Institute. He mentions that school is often about “how to make a living and not how to make a life.” He references Ken Robinson’s viral TED talk about how schools are killing creativity, and if you haven’t seen it, watch it right now.
Also worth checking out is an article on designing the right sorts of challenges for students – I think this is appropriate when you consider heterogeneous scenarios that we will encounter every day next year. We have also debated merits of adjusting the start time for students, and this WSJ article supports that with research. A recent op-ed piece in Forbes stresses the new skills we should be teaching and links to a great how-to on how not to get replaced by a robot; in case you aren’t convinced of the need for the Innovation Lab yet, the Harvard Business Review calls attention to the “skills gap” that businesses are seeing in their talent searches.