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This week, we launched our Creating Innovators Grant Project and I am really excited about the possibilities. The project involves peer coaching, where some of our most creative and innovative teachers have agreed to mentor 2 teachers in their schools who otherwise would probably not have volunteered for this kind of in-depth professional development. The mentor teachers applied to participate, and were selected not only based on their own creative teaching talents, but from an expressed desire to learn and grow themselves through the experience.
Our hope is to move not just the “mentees” forward as designers of learning, but their mentors as well. These teachers have been very successful with integrating technology in a blended learning model, but as a district, we have not entirely identified where we want to go with this new way of teaching. Is it merely to assure all students do well on standardized tests and get into good colleges with good grades? Or is our purpose for blending learning something greater?
Blended learning has the potential to go beyond merely meeting the goals of standardization. I hope that through our approach in this grant project, our mentor teachers will also come to understand that blended learning is only the first step in transforming the classroom learning experience for their students. Blended learning can lead to personalizing learning for students – towards the end goal of creating innovators. Technology is just one powerful tool of blended learning, but technology alone is not going to get us there.
Teachers must become designers of learning. Technology allows them to alter more than just the time, place and pace of learning. Technology can help teachers design learning that alters the path of learning. Technology can help them design learning that is tailored to students’ passions. With standards as the baseline, there are an infinite number of paths that can lead students to mastery and understanding. Transformation in learning will occur when we use technology to create different paths for students – paths that help students find and follow their passion. Transformation can occur when creating innovators is our goal.
The title of this grant project says it all: Creating Innovators. It has a double meaning, as we hope to create innovators of both our teachers, and our students. To create innovators, we need to foster play, passion, and purpose, as our teachers will learn through a book study of Tony Wagner’s book Creating Innovators. We will use these strategies first with our teachers.
How are you using technology to provide different pathways for student learning? Click here to share your ideas or successful practices.
In my next post, I will share how our professional development for the mentors and mentees is modeling play, passion & purpose.