This past Spring I read the book “Ditch That Textbook” after flirting with reading it for years. I’m glad I did. A lot of what I wanted to do with my student choice classroom was articulated in the book. Plus it turned me on to the world of “Ditching” so to speak. Which brought me to one of my summer accomplishments…watching the five day online unconference and open-pedagogy summit with the writer of “Ditch That Textbook” Matt Miller and other educational leaders. Here are some key takeaways from the videos.
- Take time to focus your classroom with three minutes of mindfulness. I plan on using this with the class that needs it the most. After lunch classes can be tough in the middle school. Why not have music playing when they enter and ask them to sit quietly.
2. Focus learning on your learning goals and use technology with purpose. There’s a lot of anecdotal evidence that technology might be used in the classroom in ways that are no different than what we might use a textbook or regular notebook.
3. Classrooms are moving away from the idea that grades follow the traditional “bell curve” and are moving towards a model where all students reach mastery.
4. Flexible seating has made its way into many classrooms but just what do we hope to accomplish with this idea? Offer students three different types of seats letting them chose where they want to work. Work surfaces of different heights can make work “flexible” enough and offer student choice.
5. Workplaces see creativity as a high demand skill. Providing opportunity for students to be creative in the classroom can offer them a chance to use this skill in the future.
6. Sticking with a lesson year after year is a great idea if it works. There is no one size fits all approach to learning. Students need innovative, risk taking teachers who can refresh what happens in the classroom.
You can watch the videos as well until August 10. Go to the DitchSummit website to register. It’s free!