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Educational Environment of the Future



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In the Learning Center One South area many schools, especially those at the secondary level, have been slow to accept the principles of true engaged learning, in spite of the push initiated with the ISBE Technology Integration Program funding. It has come to our attention that the major cause of this hesitancy is a lack of understanding on the part of the administrators and teachers as to the meaning and benefits of engaged learning for students. Thus, as part of the staff development process in this area, we would like to address this gap.

The future school project consists of those administrators and teachers from all curricular areas in the Learning Center One South area who are interested in exploring and incorporating engaged learning techniques into their classroom curriculum. In groups, participants will initially be involved in designing the perfect school environment of the future. Throughout this simulation the participants will be engaged in an authentic "engaged learning" activity. Through the development of the future learning environments, participants will also be involved in learning various aspects of the indicators of engaged learning and best use of technology for the classroom, as well as have the opportunity to design their own learning. Ultimately participants will design a unit for their own curriculums and students based on the engaged learning model and best use of technology. The suggested time length for this staff development design will be 13 weeks, meeting once a week for 3 hours each. Although we would like to be a bit more creative with this timeline, we are under obligation to provide graduate credit within a traditional university's system.   Perhaps the online communication opportunity that has been well planned out and tested before the start of the first meeting, will serve as in infusion within the course for use by the participants as part of their  "just in time" learning experience. All teams of participants have been working with one of the facilitators before our first meeting to test their connecting capabilities and at a minimum learn to begin using Blackboard.com.

The syllabus has been made available before this first meeting. They will be introduced to the indicators of engaged learning through a simulation presented as a problem to solve. In order for the participants to "feel" the process they will be challenged to create a learning environment of the future. As the learners progress through the development of their future school there will be ongoing, constant teachable moments which highlight the "indicators of Engaged Learning" and "attributes of Best Use of Technology". Adult learners need to have an opportunity to design their own learning, just as students in the classroom should be able to make some choices in the direction of their learning.  The course is facilitated by a team of educators, Gina, Barbara, and Luci. designed with a contructivist pedagogy which, hopefully, will promote new thinking for the future of education in rapidly changing times.

back to the top

Beginning/Getting Started

The first session is just beginning. Numerous strategies are used to establish an environment for learning that will establish a professional spirit and a care giving atmosphere for our adult learners. Table materials and packets have been passed out at the round tables set up for 5-6 participants.  Poster size welcome mats were placed in each doorway inviting participants to enter and meet their classmates. It is important that the environment encourages collaboration and using this room design adds to this support.  Music is playing softly in the background, visuals are up all over the room that address student learning, PowerPoint is looping with a few reflective statements about learning and characteristics about engaged learning, and refreshments are available. Walls were decorated with appropriate engaged learning ideas. Networked computers had been turned on, Internet Explorer had been started and all machines were on the class home page, ready for action.

A pre-assessment chart has been created and posted as an enlarged poster as they enter the room.

Please place a check which indicates your answer.
1. How often do you use the Internet?
2. What is engaged 
I have heard the words engaged learning. I use the indicators of engaged learning in my classroom. I could teach this class.

We definitely start on time to honor their time.


Opener:  Barb begins, "Welcome to the "Educational Environment of the Future!" She asks each of them to introduce themselves and ask them to share one expectation from this learning experience that they hope to achieve from this course.  Barb starts and shares hers.  Each of the  participants share their expectations as everyone takes a turn.  Luci and Gina, two other facilitators, introduce themselves and share theirs as well. 

After introductions, Barbara goes on to explain the logistics of the class with a discussion of the syllabus, any forms that have need to be submitted, and explains a little about why we were here, a little bit about how the class would progress over the next thirteen weeks, including methods of evaluation using rubrics developed by the groups and instructor, weekly tasks such as journal entries and responses on the bulletin board, observations and note taking of group discussions and activities in the group work, reporting to the group, posting a special project, and developing your own engaged learning lesson.


Gina continues. "We are eager to work with you to develop a valid, authentic project for you to incorporate into your curriculum. We would like to begin by having you observe a video snippet from "Bugs Life".  How many of you have seen it? "  A few of the participants indicate that they have.  Luci plays the video. (This snippet is taken from the the beginning of the tree visual shown in the beginning to the part just after it says that " You are the trained professionals".) Mary, a participant, says, "Now I have got to see the rest of that movie!"  A prepared PowerPoint slide is used as a visual in the background, while Gina picks up some of the pieces from the snippet in this manner.  "You are the:

Gina explains that the time had come to take a long hard look at our educational institutions and ask if they were really preparing students for the 21st century. What, if anything should we be doing differently in our schools in order to make certain that we were reaching all students and sending them out into society as the best, most prepared individuals they could be?

Barbara continues, "What could you be doing differently in your classrooms to make certain that your students are engaged in learning at all times? What would you need to change your classrooms? What would you need that you do not now have available to you?

From the tables, we can hear one participant saying to another, "Boy I would have more computers in my classroom and do something with them everyday." Another participant is heard to say, "I would get rid of class periods." Yet another participant chimes in, "I would like all of my students to enjoy what they were doing more than they seem to now."

"Great!", I say. "I am hearing that you are ready for a change. I am so pleased to hear that!" Educational change, in the era of technological reform needs a deeper understanding and is a challenge for all of us. Change happens without even trying, but "good change", that is something that does not come easily.
(Jaimie McKenzie).

Luci Sweder, one of the facilitator says, "I believe that the real starting point for "good change" rests in your hands and minds because you are the the real designers of the future!!!" To reaffirm this statement, let me read this exciting invitation for you.

To all Teachers,

The National Education Association and American Federation of Teacher are sponsoring a challenge to find a design for the best learning environment of the future! The primary goal is to engage all students in learning to their fullest potential!!! Your challenge: Design a new type of learning environment. What does it look like? Where is it? Who will attend the school? Is it a building? Is it a virtual environment? What is the mission? What is the curriculum? How do the students learn?

Arthur raises his hand and asks, "why would I want to design a whole school - what would I get out of it - I have enough work to do already."

Luci answers, "Well your design could be one of three lucky proposals, which will be funded by the unions and you could be paid as a consultant to actually put your design into practice. It would mean that the classrooms in your school would now contain everything you say you need to teach your students to be really successful in the 21st century. Wouldn't you like to teach in a school where everyone meets your specifications and the curriculums are designed by you in place of your having to follow somebody else's directions? Haven't you ever felt that if you could do it your way, you would?"

Gina adds, "Some view our schools as failing the youth of America. Low test scores and ineffective practices are being brought into the spotlight. This is your chance to make a difference!" You will work in teams of 3-4 people to accept this challenge. To help everyone get started, what are some ideas that some of you might share to help us begin?

From one participant, "Well, what would we do?" Another spoke up, "What would our school for the future look like? Is it a building or a virtual learning environment, or some combination of the two?" Yet another said, "Where would our school be located - could it be anywhere any way we wanted? A fourth individual said, Well who would go to our school? Could we develop our own mission?" From across the room came, "Do you mean we could choose what the curriculum contains too? Wow!"

John answers: "We would want to decide what does the learning environment look like? Where is it? Who will attend?" Mary says, "Is it a building? Is it a virtual environment?" Jerome asks, "What is the mission? What is the curriculum? How do the students learn?"

Gina says "Those are some really good thoughts! Yes, you are going to be able to choose all of those things for your future school environment! How can we gather some of this information? Any suggestions?

John says," Since I use the Internet regularly, I might start to use google.com or Altavista to research instructional pedagogues. Mary responded, "We should try to reflect and think about what characteristics do the children have today that are unique for their time. These answers might guide us to discover some new answers. Amy says, " That's right, we have to think outside of the box to design good learning environments.

Gina guides the group back to the question. Those are good reflections, but before we begin to look into the future, however, let's spend just a few moments brainstorming some of the educational philosophies and practices of the past. With people at your table generate a list and star those items that your group feels had particular merit."

Alice asked, "how about listing what would we want to leave out of your new school?" "Good thought" Gina says, "go ahead and list those items too."

back to the beginning and get started section

Middle/In Progress

Phase I

Teams began to discuss and we as facilitators migrated from group to group listening to discussions and periodically asking questions. Participants were saying things like, "remember the open school concept?" "What about schools with no grades?" When the discussions begin to slow down, the groups were pulled back together and each group reported out two ideas they felt had the most merit and two that had little. Groups form and enthusiastic conversations began. Each group was given three pieces of post size newsprint paper and markers to list their ideas and questions - one for those things they want in their learning environment, one for those they do want left out, and one for questions needing to be answered. After about 35 to 40 minutes the teams were ready to report out. A spokesman from each group reported on the group's lists.

Here are their results.

Gina says, "Mary, could you please record the results on the Smartboard?"

What We Want In Our Future Learning Environment What We Don't Want In Our Future Learning Environment
students collaborating in groups to solve problems stagnant curriculum
teachers moving between students as they learn and work stagnant teachers
teachers and students being challenged together ritualistic, mandated schedule
an open atmosphere for learning behavior problems
students generate topics to study the state telling us what to do
teaches as learners uncooperative staff
parents and community as experts uncooperative students
teaching staff that is invigorated uncooperative administration
exceptional teachers uncooperative parents
alternative assessment  
high tech facility that constantly changes to keep up with progress  

Many good ideas had been generated and there was a strong desire for a type of classroom where the teachers are less "lecturers" and more helpers, where students take more responsibility for learning and learn to problem solve, time periods as we currently identify them are gone, learning takes place in all four learning styles, learning is real and not artificial, collaboration with communities and other students is encouraged, adequate space is available for working, technology plays a much larger role in learning and, of course - the pay is excellent!

"Great, you have come up with some really good ideas!"

Barb jumps in and says, "Next in your groups discuss what has changed in education in the immediate past. What is different today than yesterday? What opportunities are available today - what would you like to do tomorrow in your classrooms that you are not doing now?" Again the groups discuss and the facilitators float from group to group learning and asking questions. Bringing the groups together again, a list of recent innovations were charted on the smartboard and discussed by the participants. Each group reporting included mention of technology in the classroom, as well as emphasis on problem solving for students, group work, alternative forms of assessment, and possible virtual schools.

"Great ideas!" "Now it's time to dream a little. If you could have anything in your classroom that you wanted and teach any way you thought best for student learning and preparation for life in the 21st century, what would you want to see? Brainstorm what your ideal classroom/school might include. Make a list of the items you generate."

"What if we have questions? Can we also generate a list of questions we would want to have answered before we could design a school?" Barb says, "That is a good idea as you continue your progress."

back to the start of Phase 1

Phase 2

Luci, one of the facilitators says, "You have some good suggestions to begin with.  We have prepared an Internet site where you can begin by reading the challenge yourselves and begin your investigations. By using this site you will be able to gather information to dream and design the learning environment of the future. You will be connected with mentors and futurists in education. When your team (members signed up as teams for this class) meets, you will be able to discuss the product that will result from this model. You will work on eproject as a team to collaborate and share ideas, documents in development and create presentations to share. You can invite and add mentors to this site to review your conversations and assist you with your project. We also value your expertise and have provided you with an opportunity to add additional resources to the resource page.  Your team can use Inspiration to create a mind-map for those would like to brainstorm as a mind map.  Here are a few suggestions that you might want to include as you begin.


After one hour we will come together as a group and share topic areas that you feel are relevant and that you want to include, questions, and suggestions.  The lab is available with computers with Internet access for all teams. If some of you brought your own laptops, you can connect them to the Internet easily because we use DHCP.  If some of you prefer, there is chart paper  and markers for you to craft some ideas.
Do you have any questions before you begin?" No one had any questions at this time.  Luci says, "If you do have questions please ask as you proceed.  We also have a questions chart up on the wall with post-its, if you have any questions that you would like to post as we proceed.  See you in the lab in 10 minutes."

The teams move into the provided area and begin their discussions and explorations.  The team of facilitators assist any teams with their technical and content needs.  They facilitate and guide as needed.  Teams work to decide on topic areas in education that they would want to include in their designs of the future.  Some of the teams select to use Inspiration, word processing, data bases, and other application software to meet their needs. All the teams assess the resources and learn how to add more suggestions for everyone to use. During this time they can also select on a presentation format the team would like to use.

Note: Following is an example of the facilitation of teams and communication happens during that hour

The facilitators circulate among all the teams to assist as needed. Let's listen in on some of their

Team 1
Harry says" OK, so we want to look at alternative teaching and learning styles. How can we research them?" Julie responds, "I know of a school on the web that is kind of like this-maybe we can email them for some tips on what makes their school work" Juan replies, "Governor Ryan wants a virtual school, we can look at the Web site for that" Terry notes, "We can look online or in the library to see what they did in the 60's for the "Open School" concept, or, "Modular Teaching". Peggy says, "We can research what is being done in California and other progressive areas today"

Gina tells the group, "You posed some options for investigating the information. On the website for this class you will see a link for "Our Future School". There are some links that may help you as you progress through your research. Remember the Internet is open to you for research. Behind you in the media room are all sorts of professional materials for you to peruse as well." Please remember to have a recorder post your ideas on the bulletin board for all to see.

Team 2
Michael is asking, "We want a staff that is exceptional but we don't know where to begin. Do you have any ideas?" Barbara replies, "It sounds like you are asking How can we identify criteria for analyzing best practices in teaching? What other questions does this bring to mind?"

Tom replies, "How to come up with criteria to assess lessons and instructional methods?" Penelope responds, "I want to know which opportunities and styles have the most promise for the future of educating youth?"

Barbara responds, "Great-now where can you go from here?"

Michael again, "We need to look for models of teaching that we know have worked like problem-based learning and critical thinking. We could use the Internet for that. Also, aren't there teaching standards we can look at?"

Barbara answers, "There certainly are, and if you go to our class Web site under resources you will see them. There are also some other links that may be helpful." Please be sure to post your ideas on the bulletin board for all to see.

Team 3
Megan begins, "We already know that we want a "home" building for bringing staff and students together for some face time. How about we talk with some architects online to see what they suggest?" Billy says, "I like that, there are books in the library on school architecture, too. I will check some out" Agnes says, "Harold and I can come up with a list of things we think should be in the building while you all are looking"

Luci says, "Your discussion is centered around the physical structure. I see that you have come up with some ways to find out what is currently being constructed or tried. Have you considered asking what students may want in a building?

Haroldo comments, "There are some links on our site I saw, we an go there to look."

Luci says, "all right then, please be sure to post your ideas on the bulletin board for all to see."

Team 4
Jerold asks, "What are we going for here?" Tom answers, "How does learning impact students?" Pamela next, "How have students learned the best?" Candy asks, "What keeps kids engaged?" Anthony says, "What keeps staff invested?"

Gina asks, "You seem interested in what is actually going to be taught and learned. Have you considered ways in which you can get that information?

Tom says, "Yes, I have a bunch of expert sites on educational impact on students. Lisa and Joan are going to start with those" Meredith says, "There is a Web site on that charter school we toured last year, I can look at it and email the principal, too" "There are always the state and national standards, also. I can get them online says John"

Gina responds, "Sounds great, Please be sure to post your ideas on the bulletin board and email to add resources for all to share.

Team 5
Alice stated, "It will take forever to research all those areas. What if someone from each of the teams splits up and form into groups to each take one area. Then we can pool the information we find. Nobody will have to do everything." Another participants said, "yes, then we can all look at the information and still write our own proposals for the IEA/NEA/AFT contest." I wonder if everyone might agree?

After one hour, the teams return to the other room for discussion and sharing of topic areas. Barbara reviews what is needed to proceed.  "Each team will offer one topic area that they feel is important to be included in their future school design.  We will continue to go around until all topic areas have been included.  During this process you will be given the opportunity to add additional comments to each of the areas.  We will look to see if there are any similar areas that could be combined until we agree upon the topic areas."  Teams contributed and the following list resulted from their contributions.

Questions which were repeated frequently included:

All teams wanted to create and develop a Web site for this project. They would still present the project on week 4 of class

Gina says, "I saw some amazing things going on in each of the groups and says, Now comes the challenge of creating a presentation for the AFT and NEA. Now we have established the categories for your future school design.  For next week, please research these areas, posting your findings on the journal site for your team.  All teams can read information posted by the other teams.  Perhaps you want to discuss how each team will accomplish this before you leave here tonight.  We want this to be your decision of how it will work best for your own group."

Gina continues, "Please read the article that am passing out called " Designing Great Rubrics".
Here are some additional rubric sites to view as well:

               Landmark Project
               Education World
               Brevard Rubric Site
               Kathy Schrock Site

Gina concludes for the evening by saying, "Next week we will start by having you offer suggestions on how to edit the rubrics that were suggested for this project.  We want to include your thoughts and ideas to be sure that we have included important areas. Don't forget about recording your thoughts in the journal area. This journal experience will help all of us capture what it feels like to work through this process. See you next week."

back to the start of Phase 2

Week 2
Phase 3

The teams return the following week and Luci facilitates the the opening meeting of teams, while Barb and Gina check technology preparations and functionality.
Luci says, "Welcome back!  I have enjoyed reading your postings and contributions that will help all the teams proceed.  I just want to reassure you that if you are having some technical difficulties of posting or using Blackboard.com, we will provide and assist you as needed.

"It is time to talk and clarify any questions about assessment and how you will be graded in this class. . I have some ideas. Perhaps you can generate some more. Assessment is ongoing. It does not mean taking one big paper and pencil test at the end of the course. We will be looking at your weekly journal entries, where you respond to our questions and reflect on what you have done for the day. We will also be continuously looking at the notes and research you keep in your individual participant journals. During class periods, we will collect assessment data by observing each of you at work within your groups, as well as when you report out to the group/class, post information in the bulletin board for all to see, respond to others' posting, and your participation in chat sessions. You will have two very definite projects due for the class, the first being your future school proposal for the IEA/NEA/AFT contest. That will need to be assessed too. You will have most of the evening for work time after we discuss rubric editing. "

From your postings the facilitators have summed up your responses for rubrics for this first project.


Needs Developing
Research Missing Key Information, Experts Not Contacted, Online Resources Not Utilized Missing Key Information, Experts Contacted, Online Resources Utilized Complete Information, Experts Contacted, Online Resources Utilized
Collaboration Worked Independently, No Group Interaction, Contribute Little to Project Worked Together, Group Interacted Positively, Most Contributed to Project Worked Together, Group Interacted Positively, All Contributed Equally
Presentation Information Incomplete, Web Page Not Functioning, Information Disorganized Information Incomplete, Web Page Functioned, Information Organized Information Complete, Web Page Functioned, Information Organized

Review this and see if there is something that you would like to add.

One of these participants suggested that maybe the class could take about 30 minutes, look at these sites rubric sites again and any others they could find on the Internet and then as a group generate some ideas for the future school rubric. The teams were given the time requested.

After about a half hour the group met together again and the following items were generated for the future school rubric:

Four individuals volunteered to break away from their current groups for a period of time, take these pieces, add attributes, and work everything into a rubric format for assessing the future school project. The entire class would then look at the finished product and make suggestions. Barbara would join them. By the end of the evening everyone agreed to the rubric designed by the subgroup. Take a look.

Barb explained that the rubric would be posted on the future school web site for all to see, so that they could refer to it often in the following weeks as they worked on their proposals.

back to the start of Phase 3

Phase 4
Now the teams will continue to work in the lab and mini-sessions are provided for members of the team who are in charge of web design, postings, and other needs on one to one.  The other members of the team will continue to work on the future school development.  Facilitators take on various guiding and coach roles as the teams work.
The entire class meets back in the meeting room before leaving.

Gina revisits some of the common difficulties and questions groups are having.  Each team briefly reports out where they are at and what needs to be done.  Gina says, "Continue to post your journal responses and updates to the journal pages.  Presentations will occur during week 4.  Even after the presentations, you will be able to edit your future school designs to your websites, before submitting your entries to the NEA/AFT competition."

Over the next couple of weeks the participants in their groups looked at many sites on the web, email colleagues and schools across the country to see what types of learning environments were evolving, and talked with educational experts both on the web and on the telephone. Groups chatted with each other at prearranged times throughout the week to keep each other posted about their findings. Much information was posted in the threaded discussions and individuals from other groups were beginning to make interesting comments. Each step of the way they recorded their findings, as well as their own preferences, both in a discussion board format, as well as in their own online journal. In class, computers were in use almost constantly as some participants were doing research on their topics, members of the teaching methods group were checking e-mail to see if they had gotten a response from alternative schools in California, members of yet another group were logged into a chat with an architectural firm in northern Illinois who specialized in school construction.

A couple of members from the building group were meeting with two members from the methods group to discuss information they had both found on the Internet regarding virtual schools. They traded information and web sites. One participant was heard to exclaim, "Wow, I thought I found a lot, these sites are all different. I had no idea there was so much up-to-date information available on the web." This group then decided to set up a chat with a one of the oldest virtual high schools on the east coast to discuss pros and cons of virtual schools, as well as a chat with Max McGee from the ISBE and see how the virtual high school for Illinois was progressing. When everything was ready to go, the facilitator indicated she would be interested in participating in these two chats also.

Many times the facilitator saw, as well as read in online journals and email that the participant groups checked the rubric to see which parts of the project had been completed and which were still pending, Facilitators were available in class, as well as by chat, discussion and e-mail to answer questions, guide the participants, as well as to keep enthusiasm at a high level. Facilitators also checked journal entries to see that everyone was on task and not struggling in any way. In addition, facilitators kept track of threaded discussions, as well as the number of times individuals were making comments and adding information.

Along the way, the facilitators gently assisted participants by adding web sites and video tapes that each group might want to look over, including some really neat examples of engaged learning in action in various educational environments around the country. No judgments were passed - just suggestions. The curriculum group was especially excited about some of the things they were seeing in the engaged learning realm.

At every meeting the room was always a buzz with activity and class time went quickly. The next two weeks were spent designing multimedia presentations and web sites. As luck would have it, there was somebody in each group who had a working knowledge of PowerPoint, Hyperstudio, Astound, web page design, etc. There was much action in the chat room and over e-mail as participants worked at home during the week designing web pages and presentation slides. Where they were sketchy or got stuck we were available to facilitate getting the job done. Since the main focus of this task was the presentation of the new school technique, presentation modes were kept simple. When they thought they were almost finished, one group decided they would fill out a sample copy of the assessment rubric in order to self-assess their plan. Other groups hearing that, decided that would be a great thing to do too.

One night the facilitators had to finally chase everyone out of the classroom. Class ended at 9:00 PM and at 9:45 PM three groups were still working furiously on their philosophies and presentation. It seemed that one group had needed just a little more information from the Internet and were excitedly exclaiming that they had finally found just exactly what they needed. "It just couldn't be time to quit already! Couldn't they stay just a little longer?"

While the final decisions were being made and presentations were being generated participants continued to keep up their journals each time they worked, including an outline of the major aspects of their new educational environments. The facilitators also continued to spend a great deal of time answering e-mail, chatting, and assessing progress as the groups worked.

back to the start of Phase 4


Week 4-5
Phase 5

Teams return and present their projects. Rubrics are used by the entire class to evaluate and be constructive colleagues for the other team projects in the area of  "Web design" and "Proposal Development."  Teams can than be given the comments and evaluations so that they can edit their contest proposals.

Presentations were finally made to the class the 4-5th weeks. Many diverse, but great ideas were presented and justified for future school environments. Various aspects of engaged learning, if not EL itself and integration of technology were evident in most all of the presentations. Each group not only rated their own presentation against the rubric, but also rated the presentations of the other groups, as well. That way the participants felt they would have a variety of opinions and would be able to make last minute changes before their proposals were sent off to the contest.

When the presentations were completed, participants were asked to assimilate what they had learned about both the process they had gone through, as well as the environments they had generated. After some talking one participant said, "you know what? I'll bet you just put us through an engaged learning process to teach us how to do it." "Wow" another participant said, "I was so busy designing the environment and doing the tasks, I did not even consider that. It was a fun way to learn." Yet another participant indicated that the class would not have been able to do this project nearly as fast or effectively without the power of the Internet.

As facilitators we were ecstatic! "I'd like to teach my students this way? Today, not in the school of the future, spouted on of the class members."

"You can, you know! Because your actions just proved - that one idea for a school of the future can work today." Participants eagerly agreed that they would like to learn more about integrating engaged learning with technology into their current classrooms.

"Okay, that's where we will go." Participants left the 5th night armed with a list of web sites on engaged learning, some print sources, and a copy of Plugging In, as well as online examples of successful projects utilizing the engaged learning indicators. They were asked to begin thinking about three topics they might like to turn into an engaged learning unit.

Weeks 7-13 Continuation of the Course

The class continues with reflections about their simulated experience engaged learning. They begin the 6th week by identifying the indicators of engaged learning that they experienced, the ones that they did not, and suggest ways that they could be cognizant of ways to include most of the indicators in their own engaged learning lesson design and development that they will be developing the second part of this course.  

Throughout the next two weeks participants split into groups and discovered for themselves the various aspects of an engaged learning classroom. Based on the readings and discussions they evaluated a number of weak engaged learning lessons and attempted to suggest improvements to them. The computers were used extensively as a source of materials, information, and examples. Those participants that could, also took a field trip on two occasions to visit both an elementary school and a high school class which were using engaged learning concepts. Both visits were taped for those who could not attend so they too could share in the engaged learning experiences. Participants who went to the schools were excited to talk to the engaged learning teachers and find out why they like teaching this way.

Regular journal entries indicated that the participants were beginning to think they could also take a stab at teaching integrating engaged learning and technology. Participants from schools having little technology were having more problems with that aspect, but our local ROE offered some traveling laptops to the participants which might make the job a little more "doable", if scheduling could be worked out.

Participants have chosen their three topics and with the help of the facilitators and their classmates have narrowed their choice to one topic for their first engaged learning unit.

About week 8 a group of participants with the help of the class again designed a rubric for assessing the new engaged learning lessons/units that were going to be developed. The rubric was referred to frequently and again participants performed self-assessments with the rubric to check their progress.

Projects themselves, as far as they are completed, will be shared with everyone in the last two weeks of the class. They will be presented either as multimedia presentations or better yet web sites hosted on our server or combinations of the two. By the end of the course all projects will have been rated against the rubric by the designer, three of their peer participants and the facilitators. During one of the last sessions, participants will reflect on what they have learned and evaluate the process they went through to learn engaged learning. (Yes, those "school of the future" proposals will be sent to IEA/NEA/AFT for possible inclusion in their publications.)

It still remains for the participants to actually teach the unit in most cases. However, the facilitators have made plans to stick with the participants, via e-mail and discussion boards through the second semester as they teach their engaged learning unit. After the units are taught the participant and one facilitator will meet face-to-face to discuss what went well and what needs to be revised. Plans for future engaged learning units will be discussed.

In June the entire class has asked to meet for one last night to culminate the experience and discuss future plans as a group. All engaged learning projects will remain on our web server for future groups.


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Created for the Fermilab LInC program sponsored by Fermi

National Accelerator Laboratory Education Office and Friends of Fermilab, and funded by United States Department of Energy, Illinois State Board of Education, North Central Regional Technology in Education Consortium which is operated by North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL), and the National Science Foundation.

Author(s): Barbara Holdiman, Gina Keifer, and Lucianne Sweder
Lincoln-Way High School District 210, New Lenox, IL
Lockport High School District 205, Lockport, IL
Professional Development Alliance/Regional Office of Education for Will and Grundy/Kendall Counties, Joliet, IL
Learning Technology Center One South, Joliet, IL
Created: February 25, 2001 - Updated: March 25, 2001