education

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.

 

Compliance and the Adjacent Possible #IMBC

In the intro to the Innovator’s Mindset, George Couros writes:

“The structure and type of learning that happens in many schools does not fulfill the needs of the twenty-first-century marketplace. When students graduate, many of them are good at one thing: school. They have mastered rubrics, they know how to ace tests, and they have figured out how to wor with specific parameters. But the world is not a series of rubrics! To succeed, they will need to know how to think for themselves and adapt to constantly changing situations. And although we say we want kids to think for themselves, what we teach them is compliance.”

I think this statement clearly shows the great divide that has opened up between the learning experiences that happen in school (formal educational setting) and the learning experiences that we can engage in if we are self-directed and motivated. Information and knowledge are available on our networks, and the internet has blown up the “learning box.” There is no box, after all. Go find a video tutorial on YouTube, enroll in a MOOC for free, post a question on your Twitter feed and get answers from people who are experts in many fields of knowledge, go to a Maker Space and take a carpentry workshop, you name it. Learn how to navigate the networks of knowledge and people, and in the process you lapidate your lifelong learning skills.

Informal learning prompts the kind of behaviors and actions that help shape lifelong learner mindsets. It pushes you to acquire skills that you will need to solve problems, to pose new questions, to investigate and be able to collaborate to finding or building solutions to complex problems. Schooling or traditional, formal learning experiences prompts compliance. It needs to standardize, control and measure. I don’t mean to say that formal learning experiences are fundamentally bad in all its aspects. There is a lot of value in direct instruction or in a good lecture from a competent teacher or expert. But that’s not all there is to it, to learning. There are a million other ways we can “measure” learning that do not involve a room full of people sitting in rows and silently taking a test which will amount to a numerical score.

How might we approximate the traditional, formal learning experiences to the informal learning experiences? How might we strike a balance there? What does that blend look like in the classrom? What does it do to the traditional school roles that presuppose authority, power and hierarchy?

George cites Steven Johnson on the concept of the “adjacent possible.” I find it very powerful because it means that the collective journey to exploring possible answers to the questions above within one’s community is where the transformation lies – it IS the transformation. Steven Johnson states (as cited by George Couros):

“The strange and beautiful truth about the adjacent possible is that its boundaries grow as you explore them. Each new combination opens up the possibility of other new combinations. Think of it as a house that magically expands with each door you open. You begin in a rom with four doors, each leading to a new room that you haven’t visited yet. Once you open one of those doors and stroll into that room, three new doors appear, each leading to a brand-new room that you couldn’t have reached from your original starting point. Keep opening new doors and eventually you’ll have built a palace.”

There is no recipe for innovation in education. What there should be is a predisposition to listening rather than telling, to working together rather than alone. To being vulnerable and saying “hey, I don’t know where this road will take us but I’m open to finding that out together, as a community, and with a focus on our learners.”

For our book club folks, George Couros poses this question for the introduction read:

Why do you believe that schools need to change, and what are the opportunities that lay in front of us?