November 17, 2016
(Photos: Sammy Magnuson/ Center for Inspired Teaching)
On October 15, Inspired Teaching’s Cosby Hunt served as an expert mentor and facilitator at Think It Up Live, held at Cardozo Education Campus in Washington, DC. Think It Up is an initiative driven by the Entertainment Industry Foundation, which aims “to excite students about learning, celebrate teachers, and help innovate the learning experience in America.” The event brought together student-teacher teams to create projects designed by the students to benefit their communities.
Cosby facilitated a session called Infusing Rigor: Ensuring a high level of academic rigor and tying the work to college and career readiness, with Jennifer Wood of EL Education and Laura Schroeder of the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education. Together, they helped teachers think about how to enable students to take ownership over their own learning, challenge them to think in new ways, inspire exploration of meaningful subject matter, and apply learning in a real-life context.
The sessions helped guide teachers and students as they returned to their projects. Teams then fleshed out their ideas, with the support of the expert mentors, and presented them to their peers, teachers, and other experts for feedback.
2014 Inspired Teacher Leader Sarah Elwell brought a student team from McKinley Technology High School. Her students decided to focus on ensuring equitable access to play, through a project that brings playground equipment and other games and tools to low-income communities. Their idea was motivated by an understanding of the cognitive, social, and behavioral benefits of learning through play. As a student explained, “Play helps with collaboration and working together to solve problems.”
Sarah shared with her students that she, too, had learned through play, even as an adult – in the Inspired Teaching Institute. She said, “It was hard at first. I didn’t expect it; I didn’t feel comfortable. But that’s where learning takes place: outside of your comfort zone.”
Jodi Ash, science teacher at the Inspired Teaching Demonstration School, supported her students as they developed a project designed to bring together the middle and lower schools for a physics lesson at a trampoline park. The older students will teach the lesson to the younger students, building community and establishing positive peer role models, all while they learn and play together.
Ms. Ash (right) works with other teachers to ensure their students’ projects are infused with rigor.
At the end of the event, each student-teacher team received $1,000 to jumpstart their project. Next, they will submit the project descriptions to DonorsChoose.org to receive crowdfunding to turn their ideas into action.
You can learn more about Think It Up and their efforts to support and celebrate student-centered learning at thinkitup.org.