What I’ve learned about this whole design process is that by allowing me to decompose my big idea into smaller steps, I was able to scaffold the activities that build student knowledge and capacity for applying their learning. Through the thoughtful tasks of collaboration with peers, reading professional texts, writing plans and reflecting on my work, I was able to truly grasp a better understanding of goals, the steps needed to reach them and how to better facilitate my students learning. Overall, this process has been very enlightening. I was able to better articulate and address elements of the project that were crucial to the effective implementation and culmination event. These elements include the three C’s (creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication), in addition to inquiry and performance.
The peers and students who shared in this experience were true to the process and honest about their experiences. Many shared that the project was somewhat intimidating at first. Peers weren’t sure how to assess students’ understanding of dance as it relates to math and science. Students were at first very conscientious about having to learn other genres of dance and found having to demonstrate math was daunting. However, after further collaborating and utilizing elements of inquiry-based learning, both peers and students began to feel more comfortable with the process. Students felt empowered with choice and the artistic freedom given to them (within the structure and framework of the project criteria) to work as a production team. Overall, peers and students found this ImagineIT project to be very unique, challenging, creative, fulfilling and definitely applicable to 21st Century college and career readiness.
I’ve learned that teaching requires an analysis of one’s own paradigm, how students learn and how to utilize the most effective methods of instruction. I’ve learned to trust the design process and utilize professional readings that provide structures and tools that help facilitate effective student learning. Beginning with the end in mind (backwards design), guiding students real-world application of concepts and skills, utilizing technology and facilitating students as opposed to direct instruction is key to student success. This experience has inspired me to continue to use innovative instructional methods like this and to seek out more opportunities for students to develop and apply their understandings and skills in real-world settings.
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