#ISTE17 Reflections Post 2 (of 3)

My #ISTE17 Post 1  focused on ways to thoughtfully and purposefully let go of classroom control to foster a growth mindset, while also providing students with brain breaks.  Up next…

2. Giving students choices! 

3. Having students create, create, create!

We educators appreciate having options, don’t we?  When it comes to PD, we enjoy having the freedom to do meaningful work that is relevant to our students.  When we attend conferences like ISTE, we choose the sessions we’d like to attend.  Shoot, we even get up and leave when a session isn’t meeting our needs and try another session instead… or we choose to meet up with folks in hallways and lounges to talk about philosophy, what’s happening in our own districts, and share stories about our successes and challenges.  We educators-as-lifelong-learners prefer choice.  Having choices makes us feel like our time is being respected.  Having choices makes us feel trusted as professionals.  Having choices empowers us in our own learning.

How often are we giving our students choices?

and

How often are we empowering students to create?

Thinking back to #NCTMAnnual San Antonio, the session that celebrated this idea the most (to me, of the sessions I attended) was  Classroom Dessert: Putting Assessment into Students’ Hands with John Stevens and Matt Vaudrey A.K.A. Classroom Chef.  Here’s a photo I snapped from this NCTM session, showcasing a sampling of ways students can demonstrate their understanding.  When I saw this slide and various student examples, I understood more deeply and concretely the POWER of student choice.  Whether a student uses paper and pencil (an aside… this can still be a valid choice, even in this 21st century!) OR creates art OR a video OR a song… if understanding was demonstrated, the student LEARNED. Period.

Fast-forward to ISTE – I had the pleasure of attending The Power of Music for Learning: GarageBand and Tuniversity.  If you haven’t seen the press, Pharrell Williams, Brent Paschke, and Kiko Doran collaborated to create a GarageBand-meets-iBooks multi-touch book experience that teaches students how to create music through the reverse-engineering process!  The beautiful Tuniversity book presents all of the layers of the song “Happy” for students to tinker with and explore, empowering learners to understand deeply the process of creating music with GarageBand.  Those in attendance not only viewed a heartfelt video message straight from Pharrell himself, but also got to learn from Brent and Kiko in the flesh, while rewriting our own “Happy” lyrics and creating our own recordings!  (P.S. Here’s a sampling of mine!)

As we were having fun tinkering in GarageBand, I instantly remembered seeing the word “Song” on Classroom Chef’s slide back at NCTM.  I remembered that I used to have students write “Math Carols” every December, and perform them to the class before winter break, and how much fun (and sometimes painful, ha) they were to hear.  I want to bring more choice and more fun to the creation and assessment process.

Okay, so some of your are reading this and thinking, wow, that sounds fluffy.  That sounds like it takes/wastes too much time.

Hanging out with Brent Paschke, long-time guitarist of Pharrell Williams!

Whelp, you don’t know what your students can create until you let them.  I still value tremendously the creation process that my students have worked through in creating their own math eBooks using Book Creator the past few years.  Having students create their own media and housing these creations in a book has been a worthwhile project and process.  Add to our options using GarageBand to create a song!

And… a huge and affirming #eduwin of #ISTE17 was meeting Darren Best and hearing about how AP Calculus students in his district used Book Creator to author Calculus eBooks after seeing the work my students did in Math 8 and Algebra 1.  Woot!

One last thing!  I finally got to meet Dan Kemp of Book Creator!

Stay tuned for more #ISTE17 reflections…

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