Making a Way Out of No Way

The estimated reading time for this post is 2 minutes

It’s a favorite saying between my wife and me, “Making a way out of no way,” and I think it comes from her childhood and signifies a situation of hardship, lack of guidance, and lack of resources. I’m applying it to creating a hybrid Geometry course, but it’s not an exact fit. We are not facing hardship; we are a team of people working together in jobs dedicated to this task in the district office.  We don’t lack for guidance because we have curriculum specialists, math textbooks, math trainers and experts, and the internet available to us.  We don’t lack resources; we have computers, a small budget, and time and space for this work.

The corollary is really more like scaling Mt. Everest, or going to the moon, because our goal is to create a hybrid learning experience that allows students asynchronously AND immediate to engage in the same types of rich social interactions that we saw in Mr.C’de Baca. You could see that students, given a rich academic task, not only engage with persistence when sometimes the situation (intentionally) lacked clarity, but that they were negotiating those so important steps of finding or making friends in high school.

Below is a timelapse video of the student movement.  Watch this video in two ways. First, just watch. Second, pick one student and follow his or her path.

How do we create experiences as rich in negotiating meaning as this in a hybrid environment?  To that end, we will use a design-thinking approach,

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which often has a process identifying stages such as empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test.  Yesterday, we were merely watching and documenting student interaction as part of the empathize stage. We had a debrief during which we defined a key question for us based on seeing the students light up, engage and persevere in the class based on what we thought were a nexus of social factors including structure, curiosity, safety, some rules, not enough information, time and feedback: how do you create a similar balance in a hybrid environment where the balance of those elements pulls students forward through the content and language acquisition, rather than a more traditional model of the teacher pushing students through steps or activities. Next up: this morning we will have an ideate session where we rapidly generate possibilities where no idea is considered wrong to maximize and optimize our thinking going forward.

Here are a couple resources I found to guide us this morning.

These are not your father’s online courses we are trying to create (TOH to Oldsmobile commercials). We are trying to scale Mount Everest, to reach the moon, to step into an unknown landscape of rich learning that is unlike where we have been before.

Maybe we should refer to our department as the Land of New Pedagogies. Let’s explore!

For fun (or for those who don’t get the reference), here’s the 1988 Oldsmobile commercial that came to mind:

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Coordinating 21st Century Learning in Santa Ana & beyond. I practice art through photography. I raise funds for clean water with Team World Vision.

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Coordinating 21st Century Learning in Santa Ana & beyond. I practice art through photography. I raise funds for clean water with Team World Vision.

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