For each topic there were experts or expert groups. Not only did this empower my students, but it removed me from much of the teaching. The students researched their topic, found digital resources to share, and then put this knowledge together to create a lesson for their peers. These lessons included a personal presentation, digital tutorial and an interactive notebook page that included QR codes for all applicable digital resources. If a student had a question about puns, France, or the partial products method of multiplication they had an in-class expert to consult. They also had access to learning resources created by their peers, whom they know and trust. They would visit these resources repeatedly simply because they were created by classmates. That never happens with a textbook.
This didn't always work smoothly, but it was much more effective than my old model of lecture based lessons followed by paper and pencil assessment. There were the typical problems of a group member not pulling their weight, personality clashes, getting off track and the like. But these are real world problems that these students will face throughout their lives so I believe that they need to learn how to deal with them now. This is actually where I did most of my "teaching" and it was a very effective use of my face to face student-teacher time.
- Break unit into topics and assign experts.
- Formulate the research question which will keep the research and the content creation on target. This is the most important step in the entire process so make sure they are open ended and focused.
- While students conduct the research coach them on research skills, note taking and most importantly, culling of unnecessary facts. This is the most difficult part for students, but if they continually reference their focus question then it helps tremendously. See Howard Rheingold's free webinar on Net Smarts and helping students develop their "crap detctors."
- Create the presentation. This includes the oral presentation given to the class, as well as the digital and notebook resources when can be used as references from then on.
- Direct questions about topics to the experts rather than providing any answers.
So back to the seven skills... is this what my students were doing?
- Critical thinking and problem-solving
- Collaboration across networks and leading by influence
- Agility and adaptability
- Initiative and entrepreneurialism
- Effective oral and written communication
- Accessing and analyzing information
- Curiosity and imagination
- Critical Thinking