Thursday, December 19, 2013

Student Voice and Participation in Teacher Project Tuning Session

As our building continues to push forward with Project Based Learning (PBL) and striving to challenge our students and ourselves I have reflected on the many key areas we need to work and develop to make the necessary steps to achievement.

As an instructional coach I have noticed that one of the key elements to developing a quality project for learning that is missing is project tuning.

Project Tuning is a systemic approach to helping a teacher tackle a question or mental block that they have in their development of their project. It is an approach that is very powerful and allows the staff to bond and offer insight. It allows the teacher who is tuning to hear perspectives from outside of their department and/or grade level.

Project Tuning is awesome and is something that we have continued to improve upon as we do more and more of these. The issue is that we don't have enough teachers using this key piece. As we work to provide a structure and schedule for teachers to tune I also started working on another key element to project tuning: STUDENT VOICE

This first semester we had 8th graders work on a Choose2Matter project that we titled #BettPassion. One of the groups, Iowa High Five, is focusing on Student Voice. I brought them in last week to discuss the possibility of branching out student voice to a "behind the scenes" element of project tuning.

Last week we met with them and the principle to discuss this idea. They were excited at the opportunity. We talked about the system and things that need to be worked out.

I typed up two documents for them as well as the teachers to provide them with some structure.

Wednesday we were able to pull four of the girls into my room to do an actual project tuning and give them some practice. We had the opportunity to tune a project for a teacher that has an idea and is able to put his guard down to allow these students to practice.

It was amazing! We had one other teacher show up along with our principle and myself. The students jumped right in and nailed it. They provided some great insight that we don't always think about as teachers and adults. They were open and honest and really provided a lot of great ideas. I was quite impressed by their maturity and honesty. I know it can be tough to really open up as a student to teachers and admin.

We are going to continue to find ways to include at least two students in each project tuning session from here on out. We will have to work on developing a pool of students to use. It really needs to be thought through because you need students who are honest and willing to speak the truth while also having a maturity level to handle this opportunity.

I am so excited to continue this journey and help enhance the power of student voice in our building. I will continue to provide documents, reflections, and hopefully a few video sessions to show how these project tunings operate.

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