Although I had read most of his articles, Marc Prensky surprised me with these suggestions.
We need to find ways to integrate the kids into curriculum development and lesson plan development. Ask them, “How would you teach this?” When we’re developing a game, every day we take that game and we put it in front of people and ask “what sucks?” And then we change that. Have you ever heard of a teacher doing that with a lesson plan? Imagine if we really had this idea of interation. And we need to do that because that’s the speed at which everybody’s moving...
Do you think the kids are equipped to give curriculum advice?
Well, not all of them are. Supposed you took the top kids in the school and formed a committee or offered an elective in high school called curricular design or teaching design. And then take the top kids in one school and multiply that by all the schools in the world and you’d have some pretty smart kids working on this. Obviously not every kid would do this, but most kids will have an opinion and it would be the job of the committee to run it by them, but you want to get the kids who are most interested in this.
These are great ideas, ones I tried working on myself last year. Unfortunately, I had limited success, but I think it is definitely worth another try. In the middle of a year long interdisciplinary course (English/US History) for 10th graders, I was inspired by the idea of transparency, discussion, and working with a student teacher to try and open up the lesson plan process to my students. Darrell (my team teaching partner) was nice enough to humor me and go along with the experiment. It started with this post which we asked them to respond to in the computer lab. Only some of them took it seriously, as you can see by reading the comments, but a few of them continued to provide feedback over the next few weeks (read the comments at the bottom of any of the posts.) We also sent letters home and invited parents to contribute their thoughts, experiences, and expertise. Only a couple of parents took us up on this, but the dialogue that ensued created a better partnership and helped us to understand thier son or daughter better.
The results from this experiment were mixed at best. I need to find a way to better involve a larger protion of students and perhaps parents. I resisted offering any kind of credit for this believing that it wouldn't be genuine feedback if students were getting credit for doing this, but given the limited amount of feedback we received (when students were expected to do this on their own outside of class) perhaps I need to rethink this. I'm also not sure how the kids feel about having their parents particpate in this. I know having parent involvement is important, but I'm not sure if this is right the venue. It might work to stiffle the kids' own feedback. I guess I'll have to talk with them when I try this again in the Fall.
If anyone has experience with doing anything like this please let me know. I'll be working on revising this for my new class. I also really like Marc Prensky's idea of having a course (or committee) in which students have a say in lesson and unit planning and curriculum development. We have an Early Childhood class in which students develop lesson plans. Why not have students do it at the high school level where it will really have an affect on their education? Does anybody know of a school that has explored this?