Saturday, April 6, 2013

Blending 7th Grade Computer Applications

In my second year of teaching, I have felt a lot more comfortable making changes to courses and taking risks.  Not to leave the year without doing something really crazy, I've decided to do a complete redesign of my 7th Grade Computer Applications class, just in time for 4th term.  So what are some of the changes in store?

Generally, the content won't be changing much.  Students will still be learning the same types of skills relating to Microsoft Office, using a computer, Google Drive, and other online applications.  The biggest change will deal with how the students receive the content and demonstrate mastery.

The main focus will be on mastery.  I pulled out 50 "standards" that I would want students to demonstrate mastery in.  Students would then need to discover resources (many of which I provide in our My Big Campus page) to learn the content, and then decide how they will demonstrate the mastery.  They can do projects that connect to other classes, the school, their personal passions, or the community. Otherwise, they can use screenshots and/or screencasts to demonstrate their mastery.  We will develop a rubric as a class that determines just what mastery looks like.

My goal will be to schedule "conferences" with students once a week to see where they are at with their projects, provide assistance, and discuss their work skills (soft skills) as they relate to their work thus far.  These conferences will be part of the overall culture of the class, and a routine which I hope allows students equal time with me.  I haven't ruled out doing mini-seminars for material that students really struggle with.

For those students that are gifted, or the real go-getters, there are 25 additional standards I looked at that I thought would be important for students to achieve, but go above what I've typically had students do in my class.

Personalized learning is something I feel very strongly about.  I've struggled when I have students that need a lot of support alongside students who are ready for me.  My hope is that this new format will be a great way to differentiate learning among all students.  I truly believe that a student is better off being a master at 80% of the content, then achieving 80% on all the content.  Stay tuned for more updates and reflections about my bold move to truly blended, somewhat flipped, personalized, and standards-based learning.

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