Innovation

7 Ways in Which our VISION 2020 is Coming to Life

2018 has been an exciting first year in our Innovation Project – Vision 2020! Have a look at how much we have accomplished so far:

We began the year with our 1st Maker Summit during our In-Service. All our teachers engaged in it either as facilitators or as participants of a series of hands-on and maker learning experiences with the purpose of giving you guys a taste of what maker-centered learning could look like in our classrooms. The 1st Maker Summit was also the kick-off of Vision 2020. Over 2018, an important step was taken in the realization of our innovative Vision for 2020: Our team of Course Coordinators partnered up with our Innovation Mentors to design Maker Activities to be incorporated in our courses. Since then, many teachers have been exploring the creative possibilities of maker-centered language learning with our students. Our Facebook group is sizzling with new activities and projects being shared by teachers every day.

Right after our In-Service and Maker Summit, we began engaging in the CoDesign Labs. The name itself says it: the Labs were creative sessions designed and facilitated by our Innovation Specialist, Clarissa Bezerra, in which our school leaders, Asa Norte and Águas Claras teachers engaged in co-creating innovative ideas to be implemented in our school. The hottest ideas, as selected by the groups themselves, have been compiled in our Community’s Innovative Ideas Platform, which you can access HERE. In 2019, teachers from Asa Sul, Taguatinga, Sudoeste and Lago Sul will have the opportunity to create together in the CoDesign Labs.

We have just finished the third Digital Learning Lab Module on Google Slides! This year we offered three modules: Google DriveGoogle Docs, and Google Slides for teachers to learn the basics of these very useful tools for learning. We had around 35 teachers taking the modules and tweaking their Google skills in order to design and facilitate new and better learning experiences leveraged by these intuitive and friendly Google tools. The Lab modules were co-moderated by Clarissa Bezerra, Mariana Sucena, Ana Netto, Erika Oya, and Innovation Mentors José Antônio, Pedro Tapajós, Bárbara Duarte, and Flávia Franco. In 2019, we will offer a rerun of those modules, but we also intend to offer a module on Google Forms and Google Classroom.

The Shifting to a Maker Mindset mini course ran twice in 2018, with a group of around 15 teachers attending it in May, and a group of around 20 of our school leaders in August. The mini course was designed and facilitated by teachers Ivna Trevas and Leonardo Sampaio, both Lago Sul teachers working in the Bilingual Adventure course, where maker-centered learning plays a major role in the learning process. Teachers and leaders were able to experience the thrill of making as part of learning, and also understand and discuss the methodological and pedagogical implications of MCL (maker-centered learning) applied to language learning. Also in October, Erika Oya designed and facilitated a workshop on Bilingualism for teachers interested in diving into the bilingual teaching and learning universe, which has become increasingly more important for our school. In November, two sessions also on Bilingual teaching and learning will be offered and facilitated by Daniela Lyra, our Makerspace Instructional Designer, and Lago Sul Branch Manager Denise De Felice.

In July, during our In-Service, a group of around 20 teachers, including Course Coordinators Domingos Di Lello and Maria Da Luz Delfino, designed and presented posters in which they shared Maker activities that were successful in the classroom. Teachers engaged in discussion with poster presenters and were able to ask all types of questions about the activities. It was a highly energizing morning. The idea was to get everyone motivated and confident to try new approaches in their classrooms. In October, we ran a mini showcase again with the participation of teachers Bárbara Duarte, Alan Borges, Victor Hugo Andrade, Tatiana Faria, Ricardo Nardelli, Flávia Franco, Daniela França, Talita Lima and Hugo Lima during the 1st Maker Day Brasil in our Asa Norte branch. The larger community could see all the innovative activities that our teachers have been facilitating in our classrooms. Our 1st Maker Day Brasil was a huge success!

One of our goals within the Vision 2020 innovation project is to have all our teachers and academic staff become Google Certified Educators – Level 1. Last year, around 12 teachers became Google Certified, some of whom at Level 2, such as Paola Hanna, Leonardo Sampaio, and Ivna Trevas. This year, Branch Managers, Course Coordinators, Resource Center and Makerspace staff members will also engage in preparing for the certification at Level 1. We believe that the very learning process that takes place as a result of the Bootcamp training could be rather transformational, enabling the educator to find and design new opportunities leveraged by technology. In 2019, we will keep pushing towards that goal of certifying our educators.

In September, a group of approximately 30 early adopters entered our Vision 2020 Shared Learning Platform. They have begun engaging in a learning cycle which has been structured inside a Google Classroom. During their learning journeys, participants engage in the self-assessment of their educator digital competence levels. They will later engage in self-reflection and will establish an attainable goal to increase their digital competence and apply their learning to the classroom. The platform is running in beta mode, and soon the group of early adopters will be invited to take part in a face-to-face gathering that will help them take the next steps in their Vision 2020 learning journey. Invitations to join the platform will soon reopen, so stay tuned!

2018 has been a year to nurture a CLIMATE and a CULTURE that are welcoming of innovation. We are gradually learning to take more risks, to fail fast and apply our learnings in our everyday practice as a community. Our LEADERSHIP is also working on incorporating those values in their everyday practices and in changes that have been and will continue to be implemented from now on in order to drive innovation.

In 2019, we will continue this cultural work, which will help shape a new MINDSET. We will also keep encouraging PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT by offering a framework for learning via our Vision 2020 Shared Learning Platform, along with plenty other learning opportunities for all those who share an Innovator’s Mindset in our community.

JDO & CTJ Global Partnership Program

We are thrilled to share some news about a great innovation initiative which has just begun in our school. It’s the JDO Global Partnership Program, a partnership between the JDO Foundation and Casa Thomas Jefferson whose main goal is to develop teachers’ and students’ global and digital citizenship skills. The partnership was born of a recent connection made between Beth Rabello, Denise De Felice, Mariana Sucena and JDO’s CEO Heather Rooney during the 2018 ISTE conference in Chicago in March.

JDO’s misson is to provide an enriched educational experience for U.S. and international classrooms (students aged 8-14 years) by providing state of the art technologies (if needed), and professional training to the educators managing these technologies. JDO facilitates global collaboration among partner schools to enable students to be accomplished, well-informed digital citizens. The Program matches international partner teachers and provides a framework to build co-curricular lesson plans that will inspire creative and innovative collaborative learning experiences for students.

Our students and the students from Betsy Ross Elementary School and Benito Juarez Elementary School, both located in Anaheim, California, will  collaborate weekly through email, Google Classroom, and blog, and they will also connect in a live setting via Google Hangouts. We have six Teens 6 groups piloting this project. Two groups in our Asa Sul branch with teachers Lilian de Melo and Victor Hugo Andrade, two in Sudoeste with teachers Abimael Almeida and Candice Rauter, and two in Lago Sul with teachers Helena Stegawski and Natalia Duda this semester. Teens Course Coordinator Sílvia Caldas is working closely with the team, coordinating all pedagogical aspects for the success of this wonderful project.

JDO also offers free professional development modules on various relevant areas related to innovative teaching practices leveraged by digital technology, which is totally in synch with our own innovation and teacher digital transformation program, Vision 2020. As a matter of fact, the six teachers involved in this project will be the first ones to start their Vision 2020 learning journeys by taking advantage of all the learning that will take place during the development of this partnership during this semester. (Stay tuned to find out more about how you can start your own Vision 2020 very soon!)

The Casa mission is to facilitate and deliver unique learning experiences for our students. This partnership will ceratinly foster plenty of opportunities for us to do just that. Not to mention that we are very proud to be the first school in Brazil to have been invited to be a partner in their program.

Stay tuned for more JDO & CTJ Global Partnership Program updates soon. We are working to make this project a success so that more Teens 6 groups, or even other courses, will be able to take part in such a enriching and connected learning opportunity for teachers and students alike.

 

We Are Lifelong Learners

 

On January 24th, 2018, we held our 1st Maker Summit. The purpose of the event was to immerse our teachers in Maker-Centered-Learning experiences, which required them to manipulate technologies, tools, and even methodologies, such as Virtual Reality apps and glasses, Osmo kits, Stop Motion and Green Screening video tools, as well as Design Thinking.

Here are some of the things we hoped to achieve with these immersion experiences. We wanted our fellow teachers:

  • to have the student experience by diving in the challenges right from the start. We wanted to give them space to tinker, to play with the tools being used in each experience;
  • to reflect on the hands-on, immersive experience and the difficulties, challenges, successes, and insecurities that surfaced. We wanted them to connect to those feelings that arose while they engaged in each of the experiences together with their peers;
  • to identify possible opportunities for the use of those technologies, tools and methodologies in our language classroom, in the different courses and levels we teach.

Our Reflections on Your Feedback A week after the Summit, the team of facilitators, made up of teachers, innovation mentors, course coordinators, and members of the Makerspace staff, sat together to look into and discuss the feedback provided by you, Summit participants. We would like to share two valuable findings that came from our reflection and discussion of the feedback you gave us about your experiences throughout the Summit.

FINDING #01: On RESILIENCE

We facilitators understood – from both our own impressions and your feedback – the critical importance of being prepared and able to deal with technical issues that hindered the original plan for some of the experiences. We need to plan for the shortcomings, and we need to know what to do, how to adapt the activity we had in mind in case a technical issue occurs. In a few words, we always need a plan B. But most importantly, in our view, we need to learn to ask for help, and NOT to be put down by these difficulties to simply decide that we will never try doing that again ever. Instead, we need to build and model the resilience that we desire our students to develop in the face of adversity and failure. It is our belief that our students greatly benefit from observing how we teachers, grown-up professionals, handle difficulty and failure, and we need to show them that we can be resourceful and that it is OK to fail, as long as you learn from it and grow as a result of the experience.

FINDING #02: On AUTONOMY

Some teachers left comments saying they missed more detailed, step-by-step type of instructions for engaging in the experiences. In fact, there were some complaints about “lack of instructions.” Knowing that we facilitators had deliberately planned to keep step-by-step instructions to a minimum, hoping to enable teachers to have a taste of discovery-driven learning, these comments and complaints got us thinking about how we are all accustomed to learning environments where the teacher is the source of all knowledge and the one responsible for leading the learning, for scaffolding it via step-by-step instructions to be followed by the students. The experimentation and tinkering dispositions, which are dispositions that lie on the core of the Maker mindset, seem to make us teachers a bit nervous and insecure, and understandably so. We teachers have been taught that we need to be in control of everything that is happening in our classrooms at all times. A noisy classroom is commonly considered a messy classroom, making the teacher vulnerable to all kinds of judgement of his/her “classroom management skills.” In other words, we need to come to terms with the fact that learner autonomy may look and sound messy in the classroom at times, and we need to develop new skills to harness this creative energy for learning.

A Few Other Findings

We facilitators also gained the following insights thanks to our collective reflection and discussion about your feedback and our own feelings regarding our experiences putting together and facilitating the experiences:

  • We need more preparation time together before the event takes place;
  • We want to make the pedagogical gains leveraged by the use of the technologies and tools clearer to teachers;
  • We want to keep on building on our strengths and learning from our failures, without being paralyzed by them.

#Vision2020

We consider the Thomas Maker Summit the inauguration of Vision 2020. In many ways, this event embodied the core values of the program: