Innovative ideas for not-so-tech-savy teachers!

Teacher Kelsey Vernoom of The Urban School is considered a leader in her field of IT and blend-Ed learning. Some of the acronyms Kelsey used in her conversations were new to me,  but I could understand the concepts and applications and am keen to look into these interesting methods of teaching. There were a few eye openers along the way and although it became obvious that American Independent schools have some freedom and flexibility to deliver the curriculum they prefer as they don’t have the same regulations or mandated curriculums that we do, I noted the same philosophy of learning for life (our school’s motto), as their objective was to create independent, motivated, accountable students who could find meaning in their learning and understand the philosophy of their learning in order to prepare themselves for life beyond the classroom. There were other parallels as Kelsey explained the ‘Bay Area’ project where the school decided to use their own local area’s natural and historical resources for meaningful projects the students could engage in. We already do this well at Parklands as Albany is abundant and rich in natural and historical resources, and we engage with community members both in and out of the classroom regularly. We don’t use technology in depth to enhance student communication or demonstration of learning, but I am buzzing with ideas for its application already. One key factor the Urban School demonstrated was the programming-in of time to collaborate and mentor with each other before the delivery of projects to students (and parents) in order to construct blended learning effectively. Also, to participate in student individual conferences with rubrics to inform, guide and assess the students learning  by the student themselves. I think some of the methods discussed will work just as well with primary school students as with high school, and the pedagogy allows for plenty of opportunity for individualised differentiation. Some good teaching methods that will be up for discussion when I return to Albany!

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