There were a number of breakout sessions at the GTA facilitated by our lead learners (all Google Education veterans) and the first one I attended was "Creating Your World". Now on the face of it, this was a pretty straightforward workshop using Youtube.com/editor to create a short video in the cloud. Now I am not going to go into the technicalities of using YouTube editor as, to be honest, it is very straightforward (which is a good thing btw!) but instead, I am going to jot down what I think the lesson plan was for the session and I am sure that the dastardly duo of Tom Barrett and Jim Sill will correct me where I am wrong.
So for starters (or what I would call the engager activity) Tom and Jim showed us this picture and asked us to just look at it and then to write down on post-it notes a title we would give the picture.
The notes were then stuck on the board as a gallery. This simple technique engaged us immediately in learning, opened up our minds to the fact that there was no right answer and let us engage with the session at an emotional level - all fantastic ways to really hook kids into learning (but something which some would see as a waste of time before getting to the cursed content!) It was fantastic to see a bunch of serious educators totally immersed in the task of coming up with a title that evoked their emotions. I came up with "window of wonder" which although on the cheesy side evoked images of childhood dreams and magic so worked for me. The gallery of post-its were then shared which was a great opportunity to share the learning of others and straight away put us in the frame of mind that although this was an individual task, we were all in this together, building a sense of learning community.
After that, we moved into what I would call the input/construction phase. The task was to use this picture as a starting point and develop a short film which would evoke curiosity and wonder in the world (how's that for success criteria!). Jim gave us the minimum technical starting points we needed to get going and we were off. It was great to see that the input was minimal and the creativity and construction began immediately. We were pulled back together for mini-inputs on adding titles and sound, but if you did not need that input, you were able to continue. Tom and Jim circulated as guides on the side, demonstrating questioning, affirmation, challenge and support.
After 15 minutes or so, we moved onto the demonstration phase of the session and Tom told us how we were to look at the work of the person next to us and using the critique protocols from Ron Berger's wonderful book; "An Ethic of Excellence" (be kind, specific and helpful) we were to give feedforward on areas that we thought could be further developed. This was done in the context of prototyping (or redrafting as Berger calls it) so it was fine to not have a perfect product, indeed, we were given the advice to fail fast and iterate; brilliant advice but how often do we allow our students to do this?
After the demonstration phase, we went back to the construction phase and redrafted our work based on the feedforward provide and this for me was key - any type of assessment, be it critique, teacher comments or even a summative test should never be the end, it should always be followed by a chance for the learner to use that feedback as feedforward and improve his or her work.
In the final phase (and, in fact sprinkled throughout the session) was the chance to be reflective, to look not at what we were learning, but how well we were learning, which strategies helped us and, at a meta level, how we could use these strategies in our own classes.
It was great to see that the session modelled very much the planning cycle we have embedded over the last year at John Monash Science School shown below:
On the face of it a simple session but done with such pedagogical mastery and passion, the technology became invisible and the learning was the focus.
For what it is worth, here is my video which is still a bit rough (especially the end) and I really should take any feedforward you have to improve it...