Mrs. Erickson and I have collaborated on many projects but the Learn Launch 2016 event, hosted by the Harvard Business School, was by far our favorite. As always, we were excited at the chance to collaborate and share our ideas with other like-minded individuals, but this time was special. For the first time, we were accompanied by four amazing students, Maria Antonellis, Bridgette Philibert, Alek Valles, and Serena Scharn. Their presentation of, The Collaboratory: Where Student Choice is Student Voice, was well received by all attendees. After a very enthusiastic ignite speech our students couldn’t keep visitors away.
We were humbled, but not surprised, to watch our students eagerly share projects, ideas, and much enthusiasm for learning in this course. Unbound by traditional methods these students embraced the idea of choice and flourished. Choice for learning, choice for topics, choice for content delivery, choice for book assignments, choice for technology, and even choice for assessment. They rose to the challenge going above and beyond what was expected, every time.
Included in the exhibit was a showcase of student work and projects from Mrs. Erickson’s Topics of Psychology course as well as a 3D model to represent an idea for our Classroom of the Future, The Collaboratory. The course is designed to provide students with choices of what they will learn and how they will present it and in some cases even how it will be assessed. At the Learn Launch event, students from this course walked visitors through a tour of their websites. Each website showcased a variety of innovative and creative projects self-selected by each student. The final products ranged from cleverly crafted edibles, to puppets and movie magic with green screens and collaborative imaginations.
One student went so far as to create a 3D virtual model of the classroom which was later used in a short video production. Students superimposed themselves in “The Collaboratory” while they talked about learning and this rooms possibilities. In this classroom, mobile pieces of equipment can be manipulated and reconfigured on the fly to allow for access to a variety of materials, collaborative groups settings e.g. large group, small group, open space, movie creation, brainstorming and more. The whiteboard walls and tables allow for small and large group collaboration while the green screen walls allow students and staff an opportunity to create authentic learning experiences. The creation stations allow for 4 devices to plug into one LCD display so small groups can communicate, share and problem solve ideas. Technology abounds in the Collaboratory, providing resources that foster 21st-century skills which focus on curriculum content in relevant and meaningful ways. Students have access to collaborative tools like Google Apps for Education, and video conferencing software that have the potential for communication with peers, parents, content area experts, and anyone on the planet.