George School

Team Members: Alyssa Schultheis, Meredith Alford, Bob McBride, Steven Fletcher, Maria Crosman

Community: ADVIS Year 1, 2010-2011

Our team posed the question, “How do we maximize the interactive nature of content presentation in our classrooms?” In order to investigate this query, we developed a common understanding of interactive lessons as those that are mainly student centered and involve engagement between students and a teacher, students in another classroom, or material found on the internet. We recognized that while not all student-centered lessons necessarily involve technology, effective interactive lessons can be enhanced by the incorporation of online tools that enhance or foster collaboration.

 

From our observations of classes taught in our school and presentations given during faculty meeting, our group felt that we were seeing presentation software used in a way that sometimes inhibited the interactive nature of an effective content-driven presentation. While we could have focused our efforts on improving our faculty’s use of one particular software tool, we instead broadened our scope by thinking about increasing collaboration and engagement during lessons or presentations that are mainly content-driven.
Objectives:

  • establish baseline data (through survey of students) about how often collaborative or interactive activities occur in our classes
  • act as resources for teachers to help them transform lessons to make them more student-centered
  • increase the level of student interaction in our courses

Assessment:

  • hold a voluntary workshop for teachers to help share what we’ve learned and exchange ideas with other teachers
  • in our informal conversations with other faculty members, encourage teachers to continue their learning about 21st century teaching and learning
  • re-assess student perceptions of their classes by resending the survey next spring, look for significant changes

 

September 2010 – January 2011: PLP team explores Web 2.0 tool

January 2011 – March 2011: PLP team re-works our own lessons and tests them in the classroom

April 2011: Baseline survey of students sent and received, presentation made to faculty meetin

May 2011: Voluntary workshop for faculty members (5 people in attendance

September 2011 – April 2012: Continue to speak for faculty members informally, perhaps hold occasional workshop

April 2012: Re-assess student perceptions of the degree of interaction in their classes by sending out the same survey

After this year’s experience, we are realizing that time can often be the deciding factor in determining whether teachers will be willing to actively seek out new teaching methods in our busy boarding school community. Our attendance level for our workshop was low, and our survey results were met with some opposition during faculty meeting. Overall, we have heard more positive feedback from faculty members than negative feedback, and faculty members are interested in learning more about what we’ve been doing. Sharing a specific, attention-grabbing and effective lesson that we’ve done seems to be the surest way of sparking our colleagues interest and moving forward with the collaborative learning process. While our attendance at the voluntary workshop was fairly low, we know from experience that we have acheived higher attendance rates (about 15 people out of 70) when workshops have been presented that are time-relevant and highly practical (learning how to use our LMS gradebook at the beginning of the year, for example). Next year, we hope to continue our work in an informal fashion since it has been difficult to keep up with the pace of the project without release time.
Learn more about our project and download files and artifacts by visiting our project website.

 

About Action Research Projects

Action research is a process in which Powerful Learning Team members collaboratively examine their own educational practice systematically and carefully. Action research is:

  • Disciplined inquiry into a problem or possibility within the school or classroom
  • Collaborative and usually takes place in a community of practice
  • Meaningful, positive, and reflective
  • Data-driven, action-based, improvement-focused
  • Transformative

View all Action Research
 

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Sheryl is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Powerful Learning Practice. She works with schools and districts from around the world helping them to infuse technology into their curriculums and by leading other digital conversion efforts. Sheryl also consults with governments, educational organizations and non-profits in development of their various professional learning initiatives. Sheryl is a sought-after presenter at national and international events, speaking on topics related to digital and online learning, teacher and educational leadership, online community building, and other educational issues impacting children of poverty. Sheryl served on the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Board of Directors for six years. She co-authored The Connected Educator: Learning and Leading in a Digital Age with Lani Ritter Hall. Sheryl has four children and four grandsons, Luke, Logan, Levi and Tanner and a trio of dachshunds. You can find out more on her blog and on Twitter @snbeach.
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