I assigned the endangered species research project. When I started editing students' final projects, I was amazed with the breadth and depth of their presentations. Where did they come up with all these presentation ideas? I wondered. I imagined that some of the ideas came from their experiences viewing current nature-related animal shows on television. I also knew that we employed many, varied technologies in class this year, and children demonstrated a variety of ways to teach and illustrate concepts, information and ideas with those venues. Thus, I credited their wonderful endangered species presentation work to innovative nature shows and our classroom tech experiences.
Then I attended the last session of our IWB (interactive white board) professional development course, and watched my colleagues present their final projects. One of my fourth grade colleagues presented her IWB Midwest Regions introduction. I noticed that the creativity she employed in her presentation had been replicated by my students in their endangered species' presentations. She used ActiveInspire, and they figured out how to create similar show-stopping details using Google docs. Since my students attended her four-session Midwest Regions Tour, I realized that her modeling of a terrific presentation resulted in the wonderful creativity I noticed in their endangered species projects.
Hence, we can't underestimate the value of teacher modeling. When we make the time to research, create and present high level lessons, our students will then do the same. We also can't forget the value of shared teaching. We all bring different lenses and voices to our students, and when students have the opportunity to interact with more teachers, they have a greater breadth of models to follow. Finally, the fact that my team does break up the responsibility to teach regions amongst all four members of the team allows us to have more time to create deeper, more meaningful, multi-modal rotations, thus resulting in high level modeling for students.
This is a topic I want to investigate more. I look forward to your feedback and suggestions.