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New Experiences and Different Perspectives

creative commons licensed (BY-NC-SA) flickr photo by mrkrndvs: http://flickr.com/photos/aaron_davis/14422391611

Yesterday I took my daughter on her first train trip into the city. She had a ball and loved every minute, but what struck me was what grabbed her attention the most. One of the most interesting things was the digital billboards. It is not that she had not been to a shopping centre before and spotted the oversized posters, but these had the extra appeal of having the sheen that comes with a digital image cycled every few seconds. She stood and watched for minutes, mesmerised. Me, I couldn't think of anything more boring, until it dawned on me, I was seeing this from the wrong perspective, this was her experience to have. So I let her be.

This all kind of reminded me of the efforts to introduce change in the classroom and the experiences that such actions bring with them. At the opening day of the TL21C program, +Will Richardson suggested identifying one thing that you could change in your classroom, 10% lets say and starting there. Inspired by this challenge, I went back into the classroom with a focus on providing students with more choice as to how they go about things. So whilst watching Jobs for Business Studies - something that the students had decided on in order to further unpack how people and organises become successful - I explained to the class that they needed to take notes. Sharing my own practises, I explained how when I learn, whether this be attending a professional development presentation or reading a text, I take notes in the margins in order to develop a deeper understand. I then put the question to them as to how they take notes. Some spoke about graphic organisers, while others chose dot-points. I let them be.

As much as I wanted them to fill their pages with endless scribbles and musings, many were taken by the prospect that the decision was up to them, rather than dictated to them. For some this was a little too much and they got a bit lost, while others started concocting ideas of creating a collaborative document. In the end, the experience was not necessarily as I had planned, but instead of stepping in and hindering the wondering and explorations, I simply provided students with some feedback in regards to their choices, particularly in regards to depth and detail.

I am not sure if this is the most profound change that has ever occurred in my classroom, however to me it was a change in the right direction, a move away from teacher authority to student autonomy. What are some of those minor changes that you have introduced into classroom and how were they perceived by students? I would love to know, share below.

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