Reflecting/Effecting

As I mentioned at the start of this blog, I am undertaking a number of courses of study this year – one of them being an entirely online ‘Intel Teach Essentials’ course which is being administered by a teacher at my school.

This blog actually forms part of that course as we are expected to maintain a blog and use it for reflection exercises. That I had started this blog one week before the course started just seemed… unavoidably serendipitous.

Tonight’s module of work ended with the following reflection question:

“This module has made me think about my role as an instructional designer in the following ways”

What I can say with some certainty is that this module, largely on the values and structures of project based learning, have served to reaffirm a few things I strive to include in my current teaching practice. As a Drama teacher, I feel like I have a leg-up (not a leg-over… I got those two confused in a conversation once before and learned to never make THAT mistake again) on project based learning because small group projects form the basis of Drama instruction as I know it. I understand that there are Drama (and other creative arts) teachers out there who relish in the role of ‘director’ in the same way that some classroom teachers instruct as ‘dictator’, but having been blessed with great role models of Drama teachers throughout my own life (tip o’ the hat to my high school Drama teachers, and to those at Roo Theatre from many years ago) I feel comfortable in following the examples set for me and slowly moulding them to fit my on capabilities.

As for the specifics of the question – well, the direct responses include:

  • I think about myself as facilitator of discovery, not distributor of knowledge.
  • Projects in the classroom provide students with the opportunity to solve problems and think more creatively and constructively that ‘tradition’ modes of instruction.
  • Designing projects lets me/you include more fun in the classroom – something else that has disappeared from a lot of traditional modes of instruction.
  • Projects allow me as a facilitator to guide students down a path of creation, and by the time the project is complete the students have something to own as a symbol of their achievement (I remember holding onto a rocking chair made of pegs from primary school until i was in about year 4 – there was something about that achievement that stuck with me and made me feel good about myself for a long time. And now as an adult one of my hobbies is building and occasionally painting models of things!).
  • Thinking about this kind of work makes me feel empowered to do something different.
Below is another TED talk from 2006 by Ken Robinson about the relationship between schools and creativity. I love this talk. Apart from the fact that it reaffirms my sentiments that Drama, Dance and Play are fundamentally as, if not more, important than just about any other subject, it also stirs that desire to try something new – to engage students in play and to let them create something new.
Tomorrow I’m starting a unit on Radio Drama which I have never run before. I’ve got my USB microphone ready to go and an iPod crammed full of podcasted radio shows to explore. Tonight’s module has made me feel a little more excited about the possibilities.
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Filed under Intel Course related posts, Quality Teaching, Reflections and Musings

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