Summer Teaching Institute Reflections, day 4

July 23, 2015 by Joshua
in Creativity, Education, Leadership

I’ve written about inquiry-driven project-based learning and learning leadership and entrepreneurship. It’s a style of teaching that’s one of the main foundations of how I teach and coach leadership. It’s different than lecturing. Here’s why I avoid lecturing when I lead and teach.

This week I’m attending Science Leadership Academy’s intensive Summer Teaching Institute. Science Leadership Academy is a school founded on inquiry-driven project-based learning, so it’s one of the best places to learn it.

To help reflect and share what I learn, I’m posting daily notes here.

Day 4


  • Exercise: Make passive course exercises they gave us (like “have the students do a lab”) active by having everyone suggest an idea (like “have the students describe the effect of the discovery on science after it first happened”)
  • Solo work
  • Students led exercise on how to handle challenging student situations (like students talk too much, too little, have problems at home, etc)
  • Went to student mural outside to draw on it
  • Solo work, with description of specifics for our presentations tomorrow
  • Reflect

No new theory today. Getting down to detailed work. We’re all generally done the struggling part where we’re trying to figure out direction where it’s hard to work because you might not go in that direction in the end. More visibly active work where you know what you’re doing goes in a direction you want to go.

The course uses the technique to teach the technique. We are learning how to prepare to teach, in the process experiencing what we expect our students to teach. When you feel engaged on the project you work hard because you want to.

The outdoor mural is interactive, enduring, participative, and overcame life hurdles of bureaucracy. It’s a public wall painted black with phrases like “I believe _____________” on it where you fill in the blank with crayon. The school got permission to paint it. Simple.

Reflecting now having nearly finished my unit and comparing it to how I did it last semester, it looks like it will be/have//

  • More interactive
  • More open—that is, asks more open-ended questions
  • Connects to students lives more
  • More engaging
  • More fun
  • Less me telling them what to do. Probably more motivating them to want to do things
  • Involve more modes of expression—using movies, plays, documentaries
  • Have more group work

I think the students will like it more and will get more out of it.

Rather than just telling them what to do, I think it will put them in the mindset of wanting to figure out what to do and give them structure for how to do it. I wrote something like that after EduCon before. I think I’ll improve that much more again.

Beside the structure of what I’ve come up with, it will take practice to develop the skills to present this stuff effectively. Only teaching once a semester means progress will happen slowly.

I’m already working on other units for other classes.

I feel like each class session is its own adventure. Before I just thought about what to present to motivate the homework. The homework was valuable so I liked assigning it and hearing back from them. Now it’s about raising a whole range of issues to approach to the issues the exercises are about in many ways and acting on them.

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