Last fall, Sarah Winchester, an Atlanta-area teacher and a network leader for Project ReimaginED, created a mini-writing workshop for eighth grade language arts students enrolled in an online course. Rather than send them document after document to analyze, she divided the students into groups and assigned each group an article, a question and a Google Doc.
" "On one day, the kids worked together to answer the question that was connected to the article. A week later, we worked as graders and reviewers, where the students had to make comments on the document and how to make it better. It was all done anonymously. And they loved it," " Winchester said.
It gave the students a chance to use technology that allowed them to learn how to think more critically, and Winchester thought it was such a great success that she is now trying the same technique in a more traditional classroom setting.
Her writing workshop is an example of the types of entries Winchester and her team are looking for in the Project ReimaginED contest. The contest is the opportunity to show other teachers and administrators how technology can enhance the classroom experience and meet the Common Core standards. At the same time it allows students to build on their own technical know-how and address the ISTE Standards. As Winchester pointed out, students are already digital citizens. They are taking selfies with smartphones. They are adept at using a variety of apps. So the students are already a step ahead when it comes to using various technologies in the classroom.
However, Winchester thinks that teachers are sometimes hesitant to include technology offerings in their classrooms. What Project ReimaginED does is allow teachers to see what their peers have already or plan to implement in their classrooms and encourages teachers to try technologies in ways they may never have imagined.
Entries don't have to be complicated. The primary goal is to create something that has the students practicing the skills that the Common Core addresses, such as analytical thinking, understanding how to decode a document, being able to explain how to do a math problem.
" "At the same time, you want to have something that is engaging," " said Winchester. " "It should have the students connecting rather than just sitting there in their seats. Activities like a student creating an infographic or posting something to the class blog or even collaborative writing via Google Docs are the ones that we're looking for in terms of entries. We want to see the perfect blend of Common Core standards and technology." "
" "I think this is an amazing opportunity," " Winchester added. " "These entries are the types of things that, as a teacher, you want to do." "
The real benefit of entering Project ReimaginED, Winchester said, is that it provides examples of what great teaching is and the kinds of lessons that teachers could do. " "If you ask a teacher what they can do to make teaching more integrated with technology, most of the time they have no idea what to do," " Winchester said. " "But when you provide examples like this, showing them how to use the technology available, it is a great thing." "
The Project ReimaginED contest begins today. Entries should include a description of the learning activities, measures of success, and an explanation of how the lesson addresses specific ISTE Standards and Common Core State Standards. Got a questions about Project ReimaginED? Contact Sarah Stoeckl.