Cover art created with Canva; photo “Green rolling hills background” from Canva marketplace.
Welcome to my final project for COETAIL! It feels amazing to be here. In this post, I will be sharing a few components to the teaching and learning that has been taking place in my classroom.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I had to make sudden changes to my plan for my final project. If you were watching my earlier posts that discussed other plans, it might be a surprise to you that in this unit I am looking at something entirely different. With that in mind, let’s look at the outline of this unit.
I’m working at Chadwick International School in Songdo, South Korea. The school is situated West of Seoul in a province called Incheon which by the sea. I work in the middle and the upper school as a Design teacher. In today’s material, we will be looking at a 7th grade unit that I ran with my department called “Sustainable Design”.
The primary goal for this unit was to familiarize the kids with the MYP design process. In previous years, Chadwick had an integrated Design approach; this was the first year that Design was a stand-alone course. Which is why our primary learning objective was: students “enjoy the design process, develop an appreciation of its elegance and power.”
Additional goals for this unit were to explore the concept of Community, and how communication strategies can help us to empathize and gain better understanding of one another’s perspective and problem.
Our guiding inquiring questions included:
- How might we creatively utilize recycled materials to help us solve our community’s problems?
- Are people interconnected? How might individual problems impact others in our school community?
- Is the client’s perspective of the resources important?
The way we introduced our unit was to have the kids notice the problem of organization that we all face and how disorganization might look different for each of us. To do so, we had our students walk around the campus and look in locations like our lockers, our backpacks, our lounges, and other shared spaces. Students brought back evidence of these issues and shared out. This was an opportunity to make learning feel authentic to the students.
To prepare students to drive their own learning, we gave them all the entire Design Folder at once. Students were allowed to be self-paced, to determine their own problems, and to collaborate with a peer as a Designer who would in turn have the freedom to decide upon a solution. There was a considerable amount of latitude in this unit; the only constraints come down to the process and minimum pacing. That being said, those two elements also provided quite a bit of freedom as well.
Below you can see the unit plan written in PDF format.Sustainable-Design_April-19-2020
SAMR. the Design Folder, which was a central repository of evidence of learning, was a collection of technology that redefined the learning experience.
One of the key ways was that I was able to monitor students remotely. This was a very fortunate when COVID-19 campus closures occurred because students were suddenly thrust into an unknown learning situation from home. Using tools like Classwork Zoom, the shared Google Classroom rubric, and originality reports, I was still able to monitor my students and quickly notice those who were falling behind. These tools helped to generate data and reports that I likely would not have noticed without the use of technology.
Second, I was able to launch a blended experience for my students by streaming, creating videos, and using conference calls and breakout rooms with Zoom. It was something I had been wanted to start doing, but was before the COVID-19 campus closures, I hadn’t had the time or the necessity. This was an opportunity to make a learning experience that was both asynchronous for the viewing of material and synchronous for the discussion of work and conferencing with individual kids. Finally, feedback was always documented so that kids and parents could always return to it. Verbal feedback does have its place, but now I was only giving written/screencasted feedback. Now students had a chance to remember everything because it was all documented. This lead to an incredible amount of growth in students executive functioning in regards to self-management.
Collaboration was a something that I feel so fortunate to have initiated with my colleague, Kim. She and I decided just before campus closure that we wanted to start our new unit with some sort of hyperdoc that was an all-in-one place for kids to get resources, instructions, and to display their work in a portfolio format that was highly visual. We worked for 3 days straight on creating templates that were color coded, easy to follow, and MYP aligned. It was no small feat.
After completing the templates, we were immediately thrust into online learning from COVID-19. We decided that since we had written the Design Folders together, we would also teach together. This is another SAMR point in a way in that she and I had to teach at school, in person, on opposite ends of the school. It was like we were miles apart! But thanks to this online learning experience, we were suddenly able to co-teach. She has so many strengths that directly benefitted my students. So I am incredibly grateful for the fact that we were able to collaborate so closely during this challenging time.
Here is my video that outlines some of the great things that we did together as well as implementation of COETAIL’s concepts in my practice.
In terms of what I would change for next time, there are minor things that popped up that would have made learning easier for kids like formatting and wording. Kim and I kept a change log and a to-do list and will roll out a version 2.0 next year.
This unit has been so strong, that I wouldn’t necessarily say that I would change anything in particular. Instead, what I would do differently is implement this in my other units instead. This unit was so well structured, easy to follow, and fun for the kids, Kim and I have been reflecting on this unit and asking, “how might we start next year with this same level of momentum, interest, and autonomy?”
COETAIL has impacted my practice in the realm of copyright and intellectual property as well as visual communication. I think those two points are things that all 21st Century educators should be aware of. These two things have been the biggest points that I have mentioned continuously with my colleagues.
To conclude, I think it is essential for me to continue learning; in the 21st Century, it’s essential to keep learning, talking to a diverse group of people., and staying connected. It’s a fallacy to believe that we have mastered anything and can then rest on our laurels. I think this was a notion that I already knew, but this experience with COETAIL further solidified it in my mind. Thank you.