Moved to Action
Knowing that our textbook needs would be left unmet for at least two years I decided to act. We wrote our own textbook as a year-long project based learning challenge. I had my students create their own textbook. I used our districts chunked TEKS, or standards similar to the common core. Each six weeks students would adopt a TEKS and create an interesting interactive piece that students could learn from as they use it.
Failure is Part of the Process
Initially, when given a choice students will always pick the easiest thing. (This truly surprised me…I don’t know why.) I thought for some reason they would use the time to create beautiful imaginative masterpieces. They went straight for the PowerPoint and essay writing…strange right? After the first submission being heavy in essays and PowerPoints it had to set some rules. I curated collection of “cool tech tools” that the students had to use 5 out of the 6 submissions.
Knowledge has Power
Trying new things was empowering for students. After the rough start they bloomed. Students became the class experts in that software and would help tutor each other. Some students took great pride in knowing many different apps, and websites that did “cool” stuff. And would poof up when other students asked for help.
Power in the Cloud
Everything started off so good. Students would send, or share their drives with me and I saved it all to my hard drive. However, that was a plan I quickly regretted. My poor computer died three times the year I assigned this project. Make sure the students turn in to a Google folder, or on Edmodo so if there is a meltdown you still have access to it.
Where is it now?
The textbook is still out there and kicking. After year one, I was moved up to 8th grade. Now a dear friend is carrying out the project having students fill in the blanks, and add “stuff” to it that make it super fun, and interactive. He has noticed the same surprises. Creativity takes practice, time and a community where risk are celebrated.