This past Friday my family and I drove to La Crosse, Wisconsin for Easter break. If you've ever traveled with babies before, you know to expect no sleep in a new environment. Friday night I got a notice from Dr. Joe Sanfelippo about a Twitter chat on Saturday morning centered around his latest book Hacking Leadership. I read the book and became extremely interested in his ideas...I wanted, no needed, to take part in this chat. Needless to say, I was up at 4; my son definitely wanted to make sure I was up early enough for the chat, lucky me, so I showed up for the chat 3 and a half hours early. Like my football coach used to say, if you're early you're on time, if you're on time you're late, and if you're late you better not even show.
The chat was awesome! Great discussions took place from education professionals around the country. One question in particular caught my attention...how do you ensure students/staff own their learning? Not only was this a thought provoking question, but it related to a different book I read, Renegade Leadership, by Dr. Brad Gustafson. By the way if you haven't read Renegade Leadership or Hacking Leadership, they are both a must read. Any ways, Brad has different challenges at the end of each chapter, called double downs, one such double down is to interview teachers or staff members in regards to staff/student ownership. That's exactly what I did for this week's blog. I completed Brad’s double down or at least attempted. My goal is for YOU to take away at least one thing to try in your life/practice. ENJOY!
Renee Simpson is a middle school health and P.E. teacher. She has been teaching for 16 years, 12 of which have been at Elk Mound Middle School in Elk Mound, WI.
Meg Marmitt (@meg_marmitt ) is a middle school SPED teacher. She has been teaching for 13 years.
Mike Proft (@mrproftelkmound) has taught multiple subjects at the middle school level. He has been teaching for 8 years 7 of which have been at Elk Mound Middle School in Elk Mound, WI.
Michael Kessler (@gbbcoach40). Father. Husband. Teacher. Coach.
Nicole Resch (@missreschemm) is the seventh and eighth-grade writing teacher at Elk Mound Middle School in Elk Mound, WI.
Here are the questions:
1.How have you seen student ownership in our building?
R.S.: Yes, I’ve seen students have strong beliefs and values in what they accomplished or finished.
M.M.: One example that comes to mind was our Renaissance Fair. Students had to plan and create different areas for the fair which was then open to the community and elementary students.
M.P.: In Social Studies I try to give students an opportunity how they want to present information they learn.
M.K.: The projects being created by our students have forced them to take ownership in their work.
N.R.: Student ownership in my 8th-grade homeroom is very strong; as of late, students have been asking to lead class and control discussions. It is so fun to watch and experience this.
2. How have you incorporated student ownership in your practice?
R.S.: I think I try to do this without calling it student ownership through choices we offer our students to complete a project on a given unit or lesson.
M.M.: When students have choice and understand the purpose of an assignment, I feel ownership increases.
Recently, I had students lead the class discussion after viewing a video. I met with them ahead of time and gave them some main points to address. Then they had control of the class.
Our end of the year unit in English 8 is another great example. Students have input on the topics and activities we do. This often leads to them feeling more ownership.
M.P.: In math I just try to have them understand that they get out of it what they put in.
M.K.: I have students take a multiple intelligence survey to determine their strongest intelligence, and the students have to present their findings using their strongest intelligence.
N.R.: Our last two units the students are in control of the topics we cover and how we cover those topics. We have very open communication both in person and virtually to ensure we are on the same page.
3. Do you have any ideas that you would like to use in the future to increase student voice/ownership?
R.S.: No, but it would be great to get ideas.
M.M.: I would like to have more student led discussions and lessons. I will continue to give choice on how students show what they know.
8th graders will be helping us develop our rubric for their summative assessment for this unit, which is writing and giving a Ted Talk. They are watching various Ted talks throughout the unit (Ted Talk Thursday) and not only reflecting on the topic of the talks, but the presentation of the talks themselves. We will than discuss what makes a good talk, what is important to include, and develop their grading rubric as a class.
Our ultimate goal is to have the top 4 talks (one from each class) present to entire 8th grade in the HS auditorium and do it up big. Then one will be given at 8th grade graduation. They will be short..5 minutes. Hope my vision works :)
M.P.: I do not at this time.
M.K.: Lets get students in on the planning process for units, lessons, years, etc.
N.R.: I would love to incorporate more student-led discussions in the future. Not only are the leaders more engaged, but the entire class is ignited and supporting their peers.
BTW (By The Way) The responses were suppose to be one sentence in length. Meg gets the gold star for going above and beyond. She’s really making sure you get a lot of reading time with this one!
Finally, I would like to give a HUGE thanks for the teachers that participated in this interview activity. It truly shows that they are taking a leap by letting the world read their responses. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE KIDS!