In what ways does WtS serve as a model that helps others think more creatively about how to design learning?
For me, one of the most interesting aspects of WtS is the collaboration between adults. In most educational settings, a course is taught by one teacher, though occasionally courses are team taught. However, the number of adults teaching a course almost never rises above two. WtS on the other hand seems to be a true team effort. Yes, Bill and Tim take the lead but all the mentors have important roles to play, whether it is commenting on blogs, brainstorming with individual teams or leading a short activity outside to stretch our legs. At the retreat last weekend, I suggested to Bill that each team report out on their initial planning process so that teams could glean useful ideas from each other. He took my suggestion and incorporated it into the agenda when all the teams came back together. I'm not sure this level of collaboration and trust between teachers exists in many schools today due to compartmentalism, departmentalism, and grade level silos. Thus far, the adults have done a good job modeling a high functioning team, which is key since we ask the students to work in teams. Each adult brings a unique skill set to the table and the high level of trust and collaboration we have allows for us to design learning experiences of high quality.
How can our WtS team bring an even more creative approach to how we design, orchestrate, and report our students learning?
Being new to the program, this is tricky for me to answer at the moment. However, I would echo what Ben said about required reading on the new group topics. There were some specific requirements around research when students were looking at their individual topics and I wonder if students will be as well-read on their group topic if they dropped their original topic and picked up a new one last weekend. I also wonder if there will be opportunities for feedback from the group at upcoming retreats. Will groups report out on progress and get feedback from others on things like depth of research, presentation methods, even writing conventions in blog posts or other writing?