Getting into the zone

Posted on February 24, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

The Innovation Zone (iZone) is a community of innovative New York City schools committed to personalizing learning. The iZone project grabbed my attention as it challenges many of the assumptions we work to in education and therefore here at Totton College. Their starting point was to question the ‘givens’ that structure education such as the shape of the timetabled day, the need for students to be in school/College at all and to explore what technology has to offer. The key theme is absolute no-compromises-innovation.

So in izone schools digital resources supplement a teacher’s instruction. This means that students may spend 2 hours a day of what was traditional classroom teaching/learning time at a PC (but with guidance available) so the result is more blended personalised learning with careful individual tracking. Teachers have more time to plan lessons and often work collaboratively with colleagues to plan lessons to create an engaging curriculum and focus on each student’s needs. Have a look at the iZone site to see some of the practical changes that have been implemented and how these have had impact on learner engagement and success.

So this led me to wondering which seemingly ‘fixed boundaries’ we should be challenging Totton.

  • Should we be thinking about incorporating less ‘seat time’ into learning and spending more time planning learning?
  • Should we fundamentally change the College day?
  • How and where should a ‘lesson’ be delivered or should we move away from the concept of lessons and think only about ‘learning’?

The Principals managing  iZone schools are clear that the quality of the teachers is what matters (hear hear!). How could we approach our content heavy, highly prescriptive specifications differently?

We seem often, inevitably, too focused on the specification content and forget that modern technology and the flexibility and choices it brings is part of how our learners live and function and expect to work. So if we started with a blank slate… Comments please!

Alex Banks

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One Response to “Getting into the zone”

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Yes we’ve got to change and use the technology we’ve got to help us. I know that Phillip Griffiths gave his students the choice on progress review day to either come in or to Skype, I thought this was excellent, he actually talked to a parent too.

I’ve had Skype put into some classrooms here and I thought one thing that I could develop was to link with other colleges that teach customer service skills and the students could practice with each other using different scenarios. At the moment we would be using Skype for verbal calls and chatting not video as yet, but I’m quite excited about linking up with others. Skype is free as long as it’s one to one conversations.


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