Monday, September 11, 2017

From Consumers to Creators: Students Design Curriculum

Tired of the traditional two-week review of safety rules each year, Ms. Hendrix at Northwest High School decided to put students in the driver's seat of their learning. Her chemistry students were tasked with creating an online, self-paced "Science Safety Education" course that caters to high school students and includes videos, presentations, and assessments. Student Alexis noted they were basically designing curriculum.

One of my favorite aspects of this project is the student ownership of their work. Hector said that his time spent in this project felt productive because he knew it was going to be put to use. Students were creating, all while knowing that there would be a specific audience. This project enabled student choice while staying within the teacher's required parameters and TEKS. Giving up control of an assignment can be scary for teachers, but the ownership and genuine learning that takes place as a result is invaluable to students. Hector added, “It’s cool because [what we created is] actually going to help someone later.”

labsafetymoodle.PNGStudents were ultimately able to redefine their learning using video editing software (WeVideo, iMovie App, and Adobe Spark), Google Drive and Slides, and various Moodle features to collaboratively teach future classmates.

Essentially, each team of students was responsible for a different Lab safety and procedure topic. There were many topics to be covered like journaling, recording scientific data, creating charts and graphs, and the history of science. Each team had to create a note-taking presentation resource, a video, and various assessments for their unit. The teams collaborated to culminate everything in a final product for the next year’s science students to use at the beginning of the school year.

Ms. Hendrix was sure to leave the actual creation of the course to the students, but did help them format it into Moodle so others could benefit from their hard work. Payton said, “[This project] made me reflect on how I learned as a sophomore, and I was able to apply that for other students.” In creating the course, students had to think critically about how people learn, what type of learning sticks, and what resources and content would be best for their intended audience. Everett added, “...we had multiple people who learned different ways in our group, and so each person was able to contribute differently.”
student safety video.PNG
The teams pulled from existing resources and created brand new ones. Many students embedded student-made videos into their Google Slide presentations. Alexis’s team worked hard to make their video entertaining. “We wanted it to be funny because ours was … about doing a write-up,” Alexis noted. “It’s a boring topic for some, so we wanted it to be funny considering our audience [was] teenagers.” As always, some of the biggest learning moments came as students reflected on their work. Hector reminisced, “Out of all of the things that I did that year, I feel like this had the biggest impact.”

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