Global Collaboration Week

Global Collaboration

Just a quick heads up on this one for any educators who look to integrate project based real world learning and global themes in their teaching.

Starting today, the Global Collaboration Week commences:

Global Collaboration Week

If you click on the link above this will take you to the website that explains how the week works, instructions on how schools can participate and the enormous array of projects that students can engage with.



Authentic Learning/ Project-Based Learning


Many teachers have changed the way they teach a lot in recent years, or at least added to their repertoire of teaching approaches. However, the pace of that progress has varied in different places and some teachers still struggle to transition.

So, it’s always useful to have access to resources and information from any source. This week I came across some very useful and interesting resources from a US Company, Hapara:

Hapara  – Resources – Authentic Learning

When you click on the link above it takes you to a resources page. if you scroll down or use the menu on the left side there are a number of useful infographics, some e-books and around 14 webinar recordings.

Some of the most useful resources include an e-book:
Real-World, Hands-On and project-Based: An Instructional leader’s Guide to Authentic learning
(PDF includes some useful links to further reading, sources and resources on the last page)

And two webinars stood out in particular:
What does it mean to prepare students to be succesful?
Leading the shift to authentic learning

There are also some interesting resources for making effective use of Professional learning Communities (PLCs). Quite rightly, they highlight that if the aim is to enable and motivate teachers to bring authentic learning to the classroom for students, so they learning methods for teachers should also be built upon authentic learning lines.

Rethinking Teaching

Mr Johnson is my newest classroom hero. I came across information about this award winning US teacher a few weeks ago and the more i learn about him and the way he has transformed his classroom the greater my respect for him.

Nothing suggests that this teacher is provided with a great deal more resources than any other teacher. But, the creative use of Project Based learning (PBL) and so much more of what he does is clearly inspirational, highly motivating for his students and it’s no surprise that his feats have been recognised already. I’m sure he’s destined to get a lot more recognition, but i hope also that other teachers will look to his inspiration.

Here’s a video in which he talks a bit about his motivations. What’s striking is that he is one of those whose motivation has come from a shockingly bad schooling experience and a desire and passion for something better for the children coming later.:

The classroom is called ‘Johnsonville’ and the teacher the self-styled Mayor. Students are citizens within this environment. They earn, contribute and have the scope to personalise their environment.

To support the Johnsonville environment there’s a Youtube channel, a WordPress blog site and clearly this high school drop out turned passionate educator goes out of his way to share what he’s doing openly, to inspire and encourage other educators to step out of their comfort zones, to create education spaces focused on the learners and to create environments where every learner can succeed in their own way:

Johnsonville – WordPress Information Hub

Stem Empathy Article – Bluejean

School 21 – Educating The Whole Child

Some fascinating video insights in to a London school that’s doing some great work using project based learning, strong focus on communication skills, oracy, student voice and the development of students with the ability to go out and make a difference in the world.

That ‘No Homework’ Letter

During the last month, an education issue that has long caused debate sprang to the attention of the world when a simple short memo from an American teacher to the parents of her class went viral across social networks. Here’s some reporting on what she wrote, and how the story unfolded;

Cristian Science Monitor – Should Second Graders Get Homework?

Understandably reactions varied widely and some were pretty extreme. Many educators quoted educator Alfie Kohn in support of the teacher’s perspective. His writings and analysis of many research studies concluded that there was little or no evidence to prove the usefulness of homework except when pupils were in a year when they were due to take competitive standardised examinations. This suggests that it doesn’t really do anything much for learning, but helps in memorising to pass exams. In fact, some commentators have even gone as far as to suggest that it has negative effects because it undermines motivation to learn – thereby becoming a negative influence on learning.

The final line of the teacher’s letter reminded me of the admonition to parents – “Make your home a place of learning, not a schoolroom.”

There is something a little naive and childlike at times about the internet when such things go viral. It’s not as though this teacher is the first person to advocate (or even to act on feelings against homework) elimination of homework. Even when working with Indian parents in both India and Sharjah, I’ve been able to support teachers who wanted to minimise the relevance and significance of homework. These, after all, are considered to be very traditionally minded parents with a penchant for hard work and a belief that academic outcomes must be striven for in the extreme.

It was no surprise to me that when the teacher in question, Brandy Young, chose to explain herself and provide more context she chose to emphasise school-home partnership and collaboration in the best interests of the child and their learning. I find it slightly disturbing that both these articles and some others I’ve read appear to see this teacher as an individual working in isolation.

I would very much hope that the project-based, collaborative approaches she espouses are schoolwide policy and not merely an issue of chance for parents as to whether their child is in her class or another teacher’s. Also, if the consistency isn’t there children are the first to recognise that they appear to be the victims of fuzzy thinking and inconsistent treatment. They then have to adjust to the different ideological bases of the different teachers. Teaching leaves ample scope for individual creativity, flair and style within the context of key standard expectations and approaches that should be school wide policy.

Huffington Post – Why I Did It – The No Homework Letter

In her explanation the teacher highlights her use of Classdojo as an alternative to homework. Whilst I believe she’s completely right to stress that homework as a means for parents to check on children’s learning is a weak justification, I’m not wholly convinced that Classdojo is the answer. Whilst some of the features, such as instant sharing of pictures etc, can be beneficial in building home-classroom connection, Where I’ve seen Classdojo used, I’ve been concerned that it became a distraction in the classroom, that the carrots and sticks approach of praise and negative feedback that will all be visible to the parent every day does not build self-regulating children with a growth mindset.

I’m very interested to hear what educators and parents think on the issues of homework and home-classroom collaboration and partnership. Please share thoughts in the comments box below.

Real World Problems as Classroom Projects

Right now, UAE is hosting the World Government Summit, with a formidable group of speakers and presenters.

I was interested to see this summary of a presentation by Paul Anderson, a teacher of Advanced Placement courses in a Montana, USA school:

World Government Summit 2016 – Paul Anderson

He talks of the ways in which reflecting on his own teaching and the experiences of students in his classroom lead him to change his views on what was needed, now and in the future.

%d bloggers like this: