Thursday, April 23, 2009

You're invited to be a "virtual school board member"

I came across this blog post today from Karl Fisch at Arapaho High School in Littleton, CO. and I wanted to share it for several reasons:

1. It showcases authentic learning and student collaboration on a "real-world" problem (book selection), and how students will be presenting their findings and seeking input from a "real" audience (school board members).
2. It is a great example of how technology is being used for instruction, learning through collaboration, and sharing beyond the "4 walls of the classroom."
3. Karl Fisch has invited "YOU" to participate.... virtually...

Here are the details:
Anne Smith and Maura Moritz are having their ninth graders choose a book, read it, and then discuss it in small groups. That’s not all that different than what has been going on in Language Arts classrooms for quite a while, but they’re extending the idea just a little bit. The students chose books that are somewhat controversial (1984, The Fountainhead, I Robot, Little Brother, Anthem, I Am the Cheese) and have either been challenged or banned by school districts around the country (to be clear, not necessarily our school district). The students will read and discuss the books and then have to prepare a presentation for the school board arguing either in favor of approving the book for use or defending blocking its use. They’ll follow our district’s process for book approvals (pdf). In Anne’s case they are also using a Google Site with integrated Google Groups to help organize their thinking and collaboratively plan their presentations.

When the presentations are ready, the students – for their final exam – will actually make the presentation to selected members of our own school board that we’ve invited to hear the presentations. The school board members will listen to the presentation, ask questions, make them defend their positions, and generally be – well, school board members.

There’s only one problem with this plan. Some of our school board members already have commitments during our final exam times (pesky little things like graduation ceremonies for our sister high schools, for example). Hmm, what to do? I know, invite other folks in to be “school board members.” What other folks, you ask? Well, you, for example. ......


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