This seminar will focus on the following topics: innovation in teacher education, changes in pedagogy, innovation and implementation tensions, teacher-entrepreneur, school improvement, teacher-researcher, navigating political priorities, facilitating student engagement and student agency, and affecting change.
The Innovation sub-committee deliberated about the definition of “innovation” and particularly how innovation has been incorporated into education by teachers and what it looks like in the classroom. As a group we felt innovation was in many instances making connections between and among objects and tools such that they motivated and enhanced the learning process for students.
The breadth and depth of the topic of innovation does not always mean something being done is new to the profession or education, but may be new and empowering to the person employing the innovation. As such, our group thought discipline based inquiry might be an appropriate framework for capturing the key ideas for innovative design in education paraphrased from a document obtained from the Galileo Educational Network (2000-2014):
Authenticity: Lessons are not only meaningful and relevant to students, but they are linked to the required curriculum.
Academic Rigor: Students participate in ways of knowing central to the problem, issue or question in an academically, intellectually, and personally challenging way.
Assessment Sponsors Deep Learning and Improved Instruction: Students are provided guidance to help them become owners of their own learning.
Adds Value Beyond the School: Lessons require students to contribute knowledge, products or services to their community.
Students Learn with Digital Technologies: Students use technology that mirrors the discipline(s), thus extending, expanding, and deepening student learning.
Students Engage in Active Exploration: Lessons require students to cultivate knowledge by negotiating a fit between personal concepts and the ideas of others.
Connecting with Expertise: The teacher designs opportunities for students to improve their work by connecting with experts/expertise in a given field of endeavor.
Elaborated Forms of Communication: Forms of communication not only meet school requirements, but effectively reflect those used in a given discipline.
Reference: Galileo Educational Network. (2000-2014). Rubric for discipline-based and inter-disciplinary inquiry studies. Retrieved 2/20/2016: http://galileo.org/rubric.pdf
Certainly this is not the only way to think about doing or creating innovative lessons for any given discipline, but for our purposes, it provides a starting point for sparking discussion and for igniting ideas related to innovation.
It would be impossible to do true justice to the concept of innovation with just a few videos, but we are providing these examples to wet your appetites and promote discussion. Our group decided to share four videos on three innovative topics, one originating in Canada and the other two in the United States.
Video #1a and #1b
In this video, Amy Park of the Galileo Educational Network describes how her 2010 Governor General Award winning grade 2 inquiry into Canada’s Inuit peoples aligns with the eight principles of the Galileo discipline-based inquiry rubric.
See video #1a:
- As you watched Amy Park’s Grade 2 students’ inquiry into Canada’s Inuit people, what surprised you?
- Which dimensions of inquiry resonated most powerfully with you?
In another video a science experiment had students closely examining the process of decomposition of perishable food items over a 2.5 week period. The goal was to mirror the work of real scientists in the classroom.
See video #1b:
As you watched the decomposition lab, how strongly did you feel students’ work mirrored that of real scientists?
- How have you experienced similar academic rigor and authenticity in your classrooms?
Many times we invite our students to turn off or put away their electronic devices and see them as distractions in the classroom. But what if we could incorporate those electronic devices to help improve and enhance learning? The following video is a presentation on using quick response codes (QR codes). QR codes can be used to augment lessons in the classroom utilizing the smart phones nearly all students already possess.
See video #2: Dr. Sonya Sanderson, Dr. Peggy Moch, and Ms. Sandi Masci:
- How could/would you use QR codes in a classroom or workshop?
- What other types of electronic innovations would you like to share with the group?
Simulation is a technique for rehearsal and for acquiring practical experience that can be applied to any practical application of knowledge. It is a technique (not a technology) to replicate and amplify real experiences with guided instruction, often immersive in nature, that evoke or replicate substantial aspects of the real world in a fully interactive fashion. Immersive here implies that participants are engaged in a task or setting as if it were in the real world.
See video: Click here
- How would or could you use simulations in your classroom?
- What might simulations allow you to observe that could not be accomplished any other way?
The innovation seminar did not receive as much activity as hoped for coming at the end of the seminar series. In general, the comments received from participants were favorable with regard to the potential for the use of the innovations either in a classroom setting or as examples of what might be done for education majors. We hope to generate more feedback during the face-to-face conference during the poster and panel sessions.
In the meantime, however, our planning discussions and the online contributions that were received made it clear that innovation in education can be considered in several important ways. First, we mentioned in the introductory statement that an innovation does not need to be a new construct. Rather, it can be content delivered in unusual ways that engage nontraditional groups of learners. Second, it can be programming or customized learning that is accessible at unconventional times and in unique venues. Third, innovation can focus on familiar content but facilitate skill development that normally is not associated with that content. Fourth, innovation can take the form of intercultural learning that promotes cultural literacy and principled and socially responsive decision making. Fifth, innovation in teaching and learning can result from collaborating with unconventional community partners. Done well, innovation in the classroom and community can result in learners who are able to use critical analysis skills to consider what society might be and then contribute to the sustenance of that civil society. Finally, we observed that educational innovation is a fragile construct in its conceptualization, development, and sustainability.
From a larger perspective related to all four of the seminars, we learned a great deal about the technological, promotional, and instructional design attributes of an online professional development initiative. We also learned the value of an external international advisory group and we developed skills in eliciting and utilizing the contributions of colleagues from many other cultural contexts. In particular, we expanded our understanding of technology-mediated educational planning in relation to the strong value of a culminating conference such as the one we have planned for July 5-7 in Calgary, Canada (http://www.kdp-mru2016.com/).