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21st Century Learning: A visit to the GA DOE Center for Classroom Innovation

What does learning in a 21st century classroom look like?  We had the opportunity to visit the Georgia Department of Education’s Center for Classroom Innovation.  The room is setup with different spaces depending on the kinds of learning and collaboration taking place.  The room also offers flexibility with some mobile furniture such as rolling chairs, rolling tables, and screens that divide the space into different learning areas.  The spaces include:

  • The bar:  a high top table for collaborative group work
  • The Mediascape Area:  a space with a U-shaped couch, 2 Mondo boards, and the ability to easily connect devices for display on the boards
  • The Campfire Area:  Another collaborative space with a couch and a table that has a pad of paper as its top so that you can write on the table and take your ideas with you.
  • The high top:  A high table that can be used for large collaborative projects and hands-on activities
  • The Post and Beam:  An area that can be divided multiple ways such as 4 smaller meeting spaces that contain tables, chairs, and dry erase boards
  • The Node Classroom:  A space that features  “desks” that swivel and have a tray table that can be for either left or right-handed people
The room is also equipped with these technologies:
  • Wireless internet with multiple access points
  • Document camera
  • Xbox with Kinnect
  • Laptop cart
  • 3D projector w/3d glasses for a class
  • 2 Mondo boards (large touch screen computers) w/videoconferencing capabilities
  • Plug and play connections to easily display content from any device
You can view a slideshow of the room and find out more here.  The room is available for any classes to use as long as you schedule the room with Chara Lee (404) 651-9500.

This visit began taking shape several weeks ago when we were invited to bring a class to the space to engage in a lesson and be filmed.  Our collaborative wheels immediately began turning as me, Mrs. Selleck (fourth grade teacher), Mrs. Foretich (art teacher), Mrs. Yawn (2nd grade teacher), and Mrs. Hunter (gifted teacher) began planning.  We chose a 4th grade unit focusing on the social studies standards about how price incentives affect people’s behavior and choices.  Ultimately, students would design a t-shirt for our temporary home at Barrow 2.0 while our new school is being built.  Their role would be to establish themselves as a business, create a design, consider wants/needs/cost, and create a marketing plan for their new shirt.

Several pieces of our project took place at our school before we made the journey to Atlanta.  Our principal created a video charging Mrs. Selleck’s class with the task of designing a new shirt.

In class, Mrs. Selleck established 4 groups of students.  Each group had a manager, an accountant, a designer, a technology specialist, and an advertiser.  The groups created names and logos for their companies.  Mrs. Selleck also did a lot of work with wants and needs as well as developing products and advertising slogans.  In art, Mrs. Foretich worked with the students on their designs and discussed multiple art elements that they might consider in creating an effective design for a shirt.  In the media center, the technology specialists met with Mr. Plemmons and Mrs. Hunter to go over many technology options that the groups might consider while developing their advertising components of the project.  These included Glogster, Animoto, and Prezi.

At the Center for Classroom Innovation, several things happened:

  • Mr. Plemmons introduced the day with the book Have I Got a Book for You by Melanie Watt.  Persuasive strategies were discussed
  • Mrs. Selleck led the group in a needs and wants activity where students split into separate areas of the space to work and then came back together
  • Mrs. Hunter met with all the advertisers.  Mr. Plemmons met with all the technology specialists.  Mrs. Yawn met with all of the managers.  Mrs. Selleck met with all of the accountants.  Mrs. Foretich met with all of the designers.  Each group focused on their specialty and learned more about the role they would play in designing a shirt and marketing the shirt.
  • Groups met in separate meeting spaces within the room to design.  Using Zazzle, groups considered the images they would use, explored options for t-shirt types and colors, and considered how the price was affected by their decisions.  Groups also used giant dry erase boards to take notes and brainstorm as they worked.
  • As needed, groups went to the Mondo boards and Skyped with our graphic design expert, Tony Hart.  His feedback helped groups revise their designs as needed.
  • Students were treated to a great pizza lunch before launching into part 2.
  • Students considered what technology tool they would use to market & persuade people to choose their design.  Three groups chose Animoto and one group chose Glogster.
  • All adults assisted students as needed during their product creation.
  • The day closed with each group presenting their final advertising product.  Mrs. Foretich led the students in a critique session.

While all of this was going on, the Department of Education had 2 videographers documenting the day.  They will eventually edit this video into a model video for how this space can be used with students.  It was an exciting day.  Our next steps will be to continue the project, but also to reflect on how this space served us in the kinds of work that we want to do with students.  This will inform the design of our new classrooms in our new school.  We loved how productive students were in this space.  The flexible divisions of the space allowed students to create their own private nooks and work spaces.  Even though there was a rumbling energy in the room, groups did not distract one another from the tasks their group was trying to accomplish.  The space was a big component responsible for this success.  The space also supported students with a strong infrastructure for technology.  We did not have any problems with computers connecting and staying connected to wireless.  The large Mondo boards were very dependable for displaying student work as well as video conferencing through Skype.  We had one of the best Skype connections I’ve every experienced.  The size of the room wasn’t extremely large, but again, the divisions of the space provided multiple ways for students to be productive and engage with technology and other forms of documentation.  Seeing students work in this space is inspiring.  We  have already been doing this kind of learning in our media center and classrooms, but today showed us how a space and tools can strengthen 21st century learning.

Here are the 3 Animoto videos created by groups today:

Here’s a  link to the Glog created by one group:

Lightning Minds

 

Andy Plemmons

School Librarian

David C. Barrow Elementary

Athens, GA

http://barrowmediacenter.wordpress.com

http://www.clarke.k12.ga.us/webpages/aplemmons

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Writing a Vision, Mission, and Beliefs for the Library: My Thoughts

For the past 3 years, I have told myself over and over that I need to rewrite the mission statement of the Barrow Media Center to be more representative of the kinds of learning that are taking place within and beyond our walls, but every time I sit down to work on it I get stuck.  One of the reasons I get stuck is that I keep re-reading the mission statement that is already in place and thinking that it sounds pretty good.  This year, I tried something different.  First, I gave myself permission to mess up.  Instead of sitting and worrying over getting the words just right the first time, I just gave it a go.  Second, I pushed the current mission statement aside so that it didn’t cloud my thinking.  Third, I set a goal to write a vision for the future, a mission of how to get there, and a set of beliefs that represented what our program is grounded in.  I also wanted to create a vision, mission, and beliefs that is grounded in the AASL standards for 21st century learning and the ISTE National Technology Standards…..and that is concise, exciting, and understandable. The last piece, understandable, was what proved to be a challenge.  I spent a lot of time reading the AASL standards and the ISTE NETS standards.  Then, I began to create a list of words and phrases that stood out.  Then, I grouped the phrases and words together by similarity.  It looked something like this:
Words to consider:
  • creativity; generate new ideas; create original works; innovation; publish; creative and artistic formats
  • interact, collaborate with peers, experts, or others; teamwork; personal or group expression
  • variety of media and formats
  • global awareness; consider diverse and global perspectives
  • solve problems; critical thinking; critical stance
  • inquire; display curiosity; plan and conduct research; locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and ethically use information; multiple resources and formats; social networks and information tools to gather and share information
  • personal responsibility for lifelong learning; personal learning
  • leadership
  • digital citizenship; safe and ethical behaviors
  • demonstrate flexibility; adaptability; openness to new ideas; persisting in information searching despite challenges
  • reflect on learning
  • participate and collaborate in societal and intellectual networks
  • use information and technology ethically
  • demonstrate leadership and confidence
  • present formally and informally; multiple audiences; share new understandings
  • social responsibility
  • read, view, and listen for pleasure and growth; read widely and fluently
  • make connections to self, world, and other texts; respond to literature
  • participatory
  • transliteracy, transmedia

It wasn’t so much that I wanted to use every word and phrase that I wrote down as I wanted to make sure that what I wrote was grounded in the language of the standards.  Finally, I started writing.  This is what came out.

Vision:

The vision of the David C. Barrow Elementary Media Center is to be a learning commons flowing with innovation, collaboration, curiosity, adaptability, critical inquiry, and transliteracy.

Mission:

The mission of the David C. Barrow Elementary Media Center is to offer cutting-edge instruction and programming that develops innovative leaders who create content that reaches a global audience.

Beliefs:

The David C. Barrow Elementary Media Center is grounded in the beliefs that:

  • Reading is a window to the world which can be experienced in a variety of formats for pleasure or growth.
  • Creating information and story is just as important as consuming information and story.
  • Access to information and story across multiple platforms is essential to learning.
  • Technology is a pathway to a global audience.
  • A collaborative of expertise is present in every environment.
  • Flexibility and adaptability are important both in physical space and learning opportunities.
  • Locating, organizing, analyzing, evaluating, synthesizing, and ethically using information is a crucial piece of being a responsible, digital citizen.
  • Persisting through challenges strengthens understanding and confidence.
  • Reflection and self assessment promote excellence.

On January 12-14, 2012, I attended the School Reform Initiative Winter Meeting in Atlanta.  Educators from across the country attended and spent time together in professional learning communities using protocols to have important discussions and offer feedback around dilemmas, student work, and adult work in education.  I took my vision, mission, and beliefs (in progress) to that meeting.  My group consisted of educators from around Atlanta as well as an educator from Texas.  They were teachers, principals, instructional coaches, and data support specialists.  Using a Tuning Protocol, they looked at my draft and tried to tune the draft to my goal.  The biggest piece of feedback that I received was about the vision, mission, and beliefs being understandable.  It was suggested to change the language so that words such as “transliteracy” weren’t there.  I pushed back on this because I felt that even though some of the words are hard to define and might not be understood by every person reading the mission, they are crucial.  The question that prompted the most thought for me was, “Then, how are people going to understand this vision and mission?”  A suggestion was to have multiple ways of representing the vision, mission, and beliefs.  Maybe part would be text, part would be video, and part would be student work.  My wheels began to turn as I thought about how a vision, mission, and beliefs could really show transliteracy or transmedia in action.

That’s where I’m at right now.  I have this draft, which I’m still working on and getting feedback on from as many people as possible, and I’m thinking about how I can show our library and program’s vision, mission, and beliefs in action.

I’m going to continue to give myself permission to not worry about it being perfect, but instead to constantly morph and adapt to the kind of learning that is taking place and the kind of learning that we want to take place in our program.  I think having a vision, mission, and beliefs that truly represents the learning that takes place in libraries is important.  My hope is that it will also guide the design process as my school undergoes a major renovation next year.

I welcome your feedback and invite you to also think about your own vision, mission, and beliefs.

Andy Plemmons

School Librarian

David C. Barrow Elementary

Athens, GA

http://barrowmediacenter.wordpress.com

http://www.clarke.k12.ga.us/webpages/aplemmons