Unit 6 in VID1b is Ready

There are 51 new tutorials, a new knowledge check, and a new test for VID1b that are ready for beta testing now. The unit only takes about two hours to complete for most students. Unit 6 reviews the existing shots and shooting rules, and then introduces about 30 new kinds of shots. Each new shot has several examples, with a full explanation of the shot’s purpose and scenarios where it might be used. The KC and test are designed to measure application of these shooting rules, not just the definition. So the test shows an example of a shot (NOT one they’ve already studied – an entirely new example). The students must identify which shot type it is. I hope that this unit will teach students to incorporate a much wider diversity of shots and shot purposes into their projects. Please let me know if you find any mistakes.

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Khan Academy Talent Search

I’m entering two of my instructional videos in the Khan Academy Talent Search! If you liked these videos with your students then please leave a comment for each on YouTube (links below):

  • U7d1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZ-xCq3w1sM&feature=youtu.be
  • U3a3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBckjMkXOlY&feature=youtu.be

#khanacademytalentsearch

Unit 3 in VID1b is Ready

Unit 3a teaches communication history and media literacy, with a focus on film and television history. The test at the end of Unit 3 is also ready. Subunits 3b through 3g are not scheduled to be finished until later, but they are optional units that some teachers won’t use. Georgia removed most of the media literacy component from the video 1 course. I’m planning on developing those subunits in the future, but they are a low priority. The test at the end of unit 3 is ready, and it ONLY assesses knowledge from unit 3a. Unit 3 was the last unit that I intend to develop before this school year is over. I DO intend to create the final exam for VID1b, and should have that ready in about two weeks.

Learner Power – The Full Explanation

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Learner Power starts with the assumption that empowering students to take ownership of their own learning is the best way to prepare them for the modern world. Today’s young people will need to continuously learn new skills throughout their working lives. This means that students should recognize what they don’t know, should seek out opportunities to teach themselves what they don’t know, and should be able to assess the efficacy of the learning opportunitites they find. The core job of Learner Power is to teach students that skill set.

A Learner Power classroom should be project based. The projects should be chosen by students, and should be determined by them as much as possible. But each project should be deeply tied to the curriculum. In an ideal scenario the project should require that students learn the curriculum in order to create the project. Students should begin the project without knowing how to complete it, and should then go and aquire the essential skills along the way while making the project. Much of the learning will occur when students work through the interactive instructional modules that are part of this model. The modules are designed to provide just-in-time learning that students can quickly use to gain the skills they need on demand.

But learning modules alone can’t answer every question, and can’t anticipate the needs of every learner at every level. Students in this situation can easily become nervous, especially if they have little prior knowledge or little experience setting their own pace. Learner Power is designed to create a scenario where the students are in the position of needing to aquire new knowledge and skills in order to overcome a problem. And this scenario is designed to create an ideal environment for a teacher to provide the human guidance and scaffolding that students need to have deep learning experiences.

The teacher’s role in a Learner Power classroom is to be a coach, mentor, and executive producer. In a Learner Power implementation the teacher is free from lecturing, and has time for individual questions. This enables the teacher to have deeper conversations with students, to individualize instruction, and to focus on the actual needs of individual students.

Teachers in this scenario should be subject matter experts who are adept at recognizing what knowledge students already have, knowing what new knowledge students need to solve their specific problem, and then providing that new knowledge in such a way as to scaffold students toward a deeper understanding while ennabling the students to take over responsibility for their own learning. Many students adapt quickly to taking responsibility for their own learning. Some do not, however, which means that the teacher must also be able to identify which students need more direct assistance so that they don’t become overwhelmed. The Instructional Technology component of Learner Power plays a role in helping the teacher manage the different needs of all of these learners at once.

The core piece of Instructional Technology in a Learner Power classroom is a shared Google Sheet called the “project manager.” Students use the project manager to set goals, describe what they’ve learned, and check off their progress through the course. The spreadsheet automatically calculates their “milestones” earned and rewards them with a resulting “level.” The project manager also enables collaboration and communication by helping students collect and share feedback with each other and with the teacher. Students see each other’s milestones as well, which gamifies the environment and helps them monitor their own progress against the rest of the class. Finally, the teacher can use the spreadhseet as a real time window into exactly how fast each student is progressing through the course. This asists the teacher by showing when students fall behind and might need extra help.

The other piece of Instructional Technology is the learning modules. These should empower the students as much as possible. Some instructional design, especially in the adult learning world, is designed to stand on it’s own, without a teacher. In a Learner Power classroom, however, the learning modules should be designed to supplement face-to-face instruction and to ennable the teacher to focus on big concepts and complicated ideas. In a Learner Power classroom students should experience the full range of learning experiences: self paced online learning, small group learning, and whole class discussion. At the beginning of a Learner Power course the teacher should provide lots of scaffolding and help. But by the end the teacher should be able to step back and allow the students to move forward on their own. The purpose of Learner Power is to ennable autonomy.

95% of Students Achieve High Growth

Starting this school year (2014-15) I implemented a pre and post test for Video 1a. So far 36 students have taken both tests, and 95% of them have earned scores that qualify as high growth. Georgia considers high growth to be when a student’s post-test score is at least 45% higher than his or her pre-test score. Georgia also measures teachers based on student growth. A teacher in Georgia is considered to be “exemplary” if 30% or more of his or her students achieve high growth on an official SPG test. In that light, seeing 95% of my students achieve high growth seems pretty impressive! I think that the Learner Power model is working here to both teach students the curriculum and motivate them to do well. I need to add that the Learner Power test my students take is not an official Georgia SPG test. That test is yearlong, and most of my students only take 1 semester of my class. There haven’t been enough of my students taking my district’s official SPG test to run that data, yet. I believe that my Video 1a pre and post tests are tightly aligned with the Video 1a curriculum. These scores indicate to me that the test is aligned well, and that students are learning the curriculum.

What is a Learner Power Curriculum?

The backbone of Learner Power is a class curriculum. By curriculum I mean a full list of student learning objectives and outcomes for a course. Most teachers already have district, state, and national curricular objectives that they must follow. Many also have instructional calendars and mandated tests. A Learner Power curriculum combines all of these expected learning outcomes into one master list. I follow a standard process for objective writing practiced by professional instructional designers. While many schools have curricula that are broad, instructional designers write out explicit objectives that include every skill, piece of knowledge, and behavior that students are expected to master in that course. For example, the Learner Power video 1a course is a single semester, and has 477 items in it’s curriculum. A key is that every item in a curriculum be measurable. When I build a Learner Power course I find it helpful to divide curricular items into two categories: those measurable by objective means, and those measurable subjectively.

Once a curriculum is in place it’s pretty straightforward to build a course around it. The project manager, for instance, is simply a list of all the items in a course’s curriculum. And each learning module teaches one item in the curriculum. The objective curricular items are organized into self paced units that end in tests, where each test item corresponds to one curricular objective. The subjective curricular items walk students through the process of creating a project that will be assessed with a rubric. A few curricular objectives in a course are behavioral. These are usually embedded around student projects, and are designed to help students know how to behave while creating their projects. Behavioral objectives help students know what the expectations are, and help teachers create the classroom atmosphere that will help their population of students be productive.

Each item in a Learner Power curriculum must begin with one of the following terms. These are standardized vocabulary words that instructional designers recognize as clarifying what kind of student performance can be measured after the students have learned the objective. All Learner Power curricular objectives are assumed to start with the phrase “Student will be able to…”

  1. demonstrate (follow a particular rule requiring complex decision making)
  2. generate (create a learning artifact that solves a problem – such as a project)
  3. classify or identify (apply concepts to information or problems)
  4. state, list, recite, or summarize (give the right answer orally in response to a question or identify the correct answer on a multiple choice test)
  5. choose (exhibit a particular behavior, such as cooperating with group members)
  6. execute (perform some action, such as manipulating an object)