Jeff May TRI Report

"How can collaboration be fostered in the development and implementation of the new TIJ1O curriculum?"

Jeff May TRI Question

Question:
  • How can collaboration be fostered in the development and implementation of the new TIJ1O curriculum?
  • What barriers exist that deter collaboration, and what rewards are likely to make it worth the effort?
  • How can the use of a common TIJ wiki be promoted to teachers who have never used one before?
    • How can "best practices" be documented and accessed?
    • How can standardized lessons be presented, but in a way that allows individual agendas by different teachers
  • Where will I gather information, projects and resources from?
Rationale:
Each instructor "re-invents the wheel" to suit their own local resources and teaching expertise. The Benchmarks program has attempted to standardize many of the resources between schools; what's needed next is a convenient, timely and effective way to "standardize" the experiences between different instructors.

The skills developed in a tech class are "cumulative" - missing an early unit can compromise a student's ability to learn later skills. As students are away from class due to illness, vacation or field trips, the student needs a clear manifest of the lessons they missed, and the resources to catch up on their own time.

"Desire 2 Learn" has been a popular tool to organize and deliver online curriculum, but is being rolled back as costs are being cut by the board, and 3rd party solutions like wikispaces are becoming available.

My proposal is to build the framework of the new curriculum.for a TIJ1O course into a wikispace, and begin populating it with the resources to deliver the content. The document can then become a reference for:
  • Students
    • As a course outline and daily agenda
  • The Instructor
    • To plan and deliver content
  • Colleagues
    • As a reference and source for lessons ideas




Solution

A wikisite has been secured at TIJ1O.wikispaces.com - the site is intended to be shared with
  • Teachers
    • I am inviting and encouraging TIJ1O teachers to join it, and populate it with "ready-to-serve" lessons.
  • Students
    • I will encourage TIJ1O teachers to direct their students to it for specific, and even daily lessons and activities.



Functions

The system allows participating teachers to efficiently:
1. ORGANIZE
  • The wiki can be used to
    • Plan lessons online - Daily, Weekly or for the entire term
    • Archive and prepare materials
  • ADVANTAGE - Teachers can work from home or school without confusion as to where the "most recent version" is


2. DISTRIBUTE
  • Use the wiki instead of photocopying
    • Course Outlines
    • Class Notes
    • Calendars or schedules
  • ADVANTAGE - Rather than typing first, then photocopying later, the typed content is immediately published saving time and cost. Additionally, the typed material is easily edited or updated online should the material require corrections.

3. COLLABORATE
  • The wiki would allow multiple teachers to:
    • Post and share lessons, resources, exercises and assessment strategies. Draw from this ever expanding bank of material, but customize the sequence of presentation in class
    • Support each other by posting or answering frequently asked questinos. Pool and refine common ideas and best practices
    • Observe - "Silently" observe the lesson plans of colleagues ("lurking")
  • ADVANTAGE - Teachers can be far more productive, save huge amounts of time, and improve the quality of their lessons if they are willing to contribute and share with other teachers.

FEATURES:
  • Curriculum Documents - The complete 2009 TIJ2O Curriculum Document online for easy reference
  • Common Units - the MAIN MENU acts as a course outline of common units
  • Individual Instructor's Agendas - The "Instructors" Link provides an index of any participating teachers, and links to their customized class agenda
  • Teacher Tips - Tutorials can be prepared and housed on the site for TEACHERS to use the system (ie. How to add photoshop title graphics)




Rationale

After some consideration, I believe the biggest obstacles to collaboration are:
  • Time
    • Finding COMMON time to get together, share ideas, and learn new teaching techniques is very difficult during the working schoolyear. PD-Days are excellent, but few and far between, and often have broader agendas than the concerns of a few class-based teachers
  • Accessibility
    • Common lesson plans, resources and evaluation instruments can be difficult to share between teachers at different schools because:
      • BEAM email accounts limit the total filesize for each user (30MB), and the duration that posted items remain available (30 days). This can be modified and expiration extended, but this is not the default, and failing to do so results in lost information.
      • SERVER SPACE is not shared between different schools
  • Routine
    • Once we begin our teaching year, we fall in to our own familiar routines immediately. It takes a great deal of commitment to observe and try out a colleague's system, unless:
      • Those systems are especially intuitive with a very shallow learning curve
      • The systems are adopted by newer or inexperienced teachers who are eager to adopt standardized resources and routines
      • The new systems can be integrated into the current routines without adding the burden of extra time or work

I truly think the use of 3rd party wikispaces can overcome each of those obstacles
  • Time
    • Collaboration doesn't need to require synchronized participation - participants can contribute or consult when time allows
  • Accessibility
    • So long as teachers are equipped with web-access in their classrooms and from home, the resources are always online
  • Routine
    • The wiki provides very simple formatting tools, as well as some more sophisticated multimedia formatting for advanced users
    • Wikis (and tutorial sessions) are being promoted by the board
    • Teachers can observe (or borrow) the routines of others daily, and implement new techniques as they see fit




Project Status

  • Participants
    • A handful of teachers (Jen Shaw, Eric Leduc, James McIntyre) who are familiar with wikis have expressed a willingness to join the project. I'm hoping that after this presentation, members of the D&T classes will join and contribute the work they've prepared as well.
  • Lessons
    • A few key units have been fully prepared - many more are awaiting development. As I teach my course in the Fall, I will be adding material as I go, and I'm hoping other participants will do likewise. It COULD fill up quickly if different teachers divvy up the units and start at different parts in the curriculum.
  • Tutorials
    • I've developed a sample "Teacher Tips" video to demonstrate a simple concept. I think the format of step by step text instructions, accompanied by shorts videos could prove to be an effective way of overcoming participants uncertainty or reluctance, and could model solutions for delivery of student materials in the classrooms as well