I quite enjoyed the first day of training for the Intel Thinking With Technology course today. A small group of ten educators who are being trained to take this course back to their sites made for an engaging time as we whipped through the first two modules, led by our expert Senior Trainer Steve Nicholson. I plan to reflect in more detail as the next four days unfold but I just wanted to document this realisation before it fades.
We had time this afternoon to start using the planning template the program offers for designing a unit of work. It has a number of similarities to the Understanding by Design influenced unit planner my schools currently uses, so it was very user friendly to work with. Steve had time set aside for us to work on designing of a unit of work for future use in our classrooms, and with the gift of time, I looked at the school's Inquiry Scope & Sequence to determine which of the inquiry units that my colleagues needed planned before the year's end. I started on the last one currently titled "Does Music Make The World Go Round?" , cutting and pasting SACSA outcomes into the template before I had a major attack of the doubts and emailed my colleagues at school (Kim, my tandem teaching partner and Maria, our next door co-planning buddy) for counsel in where I should start, especially as our next actual unit of inquiry centres on Health outcomes in the dreaded "growth and development" area. Kim answered during her lunch break, correctly calling me out for being cowardly and avoiding this unit and so in the afternoon when we had some more time, I started again.
So, as I pored through the outcomes and SACSA examples to get my head around what the unit should be about, I realised that this was not how I plan for learning in the classroom any more. I needed my colleagues' input, the conversation that hones in on the essential understandings, and the shared understanding of where we want the students to go during an inquiry unit. We do all of this together in our co-planning time, in the evenings on the wiki chatroom and through email exchange. Occasionally, we break the planning up into segments for individuals to work on alone but these are always pieces to the bigger puzzle.
It's been called the deprivatisation of practice where teachers open up the closed door to their classrooms and create better learning through conversation and planning. But it is truly how I work best now. It is how this whole online networking thing works best - learning from each other and creating better learning experiences for our students.
We can't do it alone.