Scratch is a computer program that teaches kids how to program by basically using building blocks that snap together.

Part of a Community

I have many beefs with most LMS’s I have used, I will not make a list ranting about them here. However, one thing that bothers me about most LMS’s is the lack of community. This is MY class, with MY curriculum. If another teacher has a good module, how do we utilize what other teachers are doing?

I am a big proponent of teachers working smarter and not harder. This is one reason I am such a fan of Twitter. Rather than spending hours “figuring something out,” if after a decent try, I throw it out onto Twitter to let my PLN help me. Of course, on the flip side I am always quick to aid my PLN. It’s a give and take. If I am starting lesson planning, I will first see if anyone else has a lesson they are willing to share with me. Why recreate the wheel? Any lesson plans I create, I put out onto Twitter also.

Twitter works for me, but is not the most efficient system. Someone who has a great lesson plan that I might want to use may not be online at the time.

 

Sharing Innovation

When a teacher has a new idea, new project, an innovative approach, how does that get out to the larger education community? Twitter is fleeting. How long will it take for that idea to take hold and become mainstream? Most teachers I know are working dawn to dusk and hardly leave their room to eat, they certainly don’t leave their room at lunch time.

Here is part of my dream for an LMS

Blocks

What if there was an LMS that would snap curriculum together more like Scratch snaps actions together. If curriculum, projects, activities, discussions, etc… were created in “blocks.” Color coded blocks.

Each block would allow full HTML editing rights, embedding of video and attaching of resources such as PDF’s and of course integration with Google Docs.

If teachers could grab a lesson block and pair it with an activity block and pair that with a small group activity block and then grab an assessment block. Snap, snap, snap, lesson done.

The blocks only contain the lessons or activities, not student information. This way blocks can be shared.

Sharing

If these blocks could be shared in an environment kind of like Amazon. Searchable. When you click on a block you see teacher reviews. You would also see suggestions for similar blocks.

The blocks should be easy to add. Either by default they upload when you publish for student view or a simple “submit” or “submit and publish” link in the designing of the block.

I would like to see it be possible to publish your course or at least be able to see a block in context. This would allow teachers to borrow entire curriculum sets or be inspired for ideas. In looking at an entire course the individual blocks can be sent to a teachers block library or all of the blocks could be sent.

Since most states have adopted the Common Core a tagging system could be implemented that would make the blocks useable for most of the United States.

Paid

I am not a fan of teachers paying teachers. We all work really hard, the key to surviving and enjoying our jobs is to collaborate, share the load. I would hope that some teachers would take the time to create high quality blocks and tag them appropriately. To really make this work though, I would want a system where teachers who spend the time to create high quality blocks and are particularly talented at designing content could be paid.

Currently the government pays for textbooks and materials. If instead of funding textbooks, or in addition to, the education department funded the talented teachers across America what kind of signal would that send as to the value we feel about the teachers. Textbook companies are about making money, not about what is best for the kids. If teachers had the control over the curriculum, if the textbook was not handed to them, how much more focus might be on what is best for students.

Blocks are submitted to the community, as the blocks are rated and used in other teachers courses, the system would use an algorithm to determine the reach and use of the block and assign credits to the teacher.

Blocks should be able to be edited and modified. The algorithm that determines how much a block has been used should also determine value add. If a different teacher adds to a block and publishes that block, the algorithm could determine how much value that contribution made based on amount of changes made as well as how popular that block is over the original block. Thus when a modified block is shared, the original author would still be receiving credits.

Differentiation

Blocks would allow for differentiation and choice. If blocks could be stacked on top of one another, the student could choose different resources for their learning as well as blocks to extend their learning.

Activity or assignment blocks could also be stacked to give students choice in how the demonstrate their learning. That would have potential for increased student motivation.

My Crazy Dream

To make lesson planning easy, to create a nationwide culture of sharing, and to help new ideas have a way to make it into classrooms everywhere.