In this issue we return to themes of adult learning and collegiality in schools. Katie Morrison and Matt Swanson describe an environment where interdisciplinary collaboration leads naturally to collaboration with artists and experts in the community. Dan Wise discusses lessons learned from “doing the project first” and creating prototypes of the work his students will produce. Zoltan Sarda and Amy Reising ask how we might best support not only new teachers, but also their mentors. Susan Foley and Gretchen Morse offer a broader view of mentoring in a school where everyone—students and staff—assumes the role of mentor or mentee, depending on the circumstances. Ewan McIntosh pursues mutuality as a design issue, maintaining that teachers do too much of the work in problem-based learning, and that students should learn to be not just problem solvers, but problem finders.
As usual, student voice and choice figure prominently in our offerings. At DC Prep—an inner city charter school under pressure to raise test scores—Katie Michaels finds ways to leverage “basic skills” routines to foster critical thinking as her fifth-graders engage in peer critique. Bobby Shaddox introduces “graffiti discussions” as a way to encourage all voices to emerge in the classroom. Peter Jana and Daisy Sharrock describe presentations of learning as an opportunity for students to engage in critical thinking through Socratic dialogue. Don McKay experiments with student choice in test taking, offering students the option of collaborating or work alone. Kiera Chase takes voice and choice into the digital realm, where students create math instructional videos, aided by peer and expert critique and inspired by the prospect of a public audience for their work. Cindy Jenson-Elliott advocates for autonomous, hands-on play as opposed to the pre-packaged, don’t-touch environments of certain futuristic visions.
Melissa Agudelo, in her own voice, offers a vision of the leader as one who listens, models, pushes, and supports the community in its efforts to reach all students. Tina Schuster Chavez describes her efforts to help her school achieve a diverse student body, and her realization that it’s not about marketing—rather, schools must earn the trust of the populations they wish to serve.
UnBoxed readers may use their smartphones to link to related content while reading. To get started, simply download the free Microsoft Tag application on your phone. Then, wherever you see a “tag” or icon, open the application and scan it with your phone’s camera. A website, video, or document will appear, offering further information and context.
The UnBoxed cards in this issue offer glimpses of projects and practices that we find inspiring. These cards are freely available on our UnBoxed website in a printer-ready format. Simply print, fold, share and discuss. Each card refers the reader to a web address for further information.
As a peer-reviewed journal, we wish to thank the K-12 and university educators who have reviewed our submissions and offered invaluable counsel. We invite all of our readers to join us in conversations about purpose, policy and practice in education by submitting your thoughts for publication or serving as a peer reviewer. To learn more, visit www.hightechhigh.org/unboxed