My Time on APlusEdTech Podcast

A couple months ago (yes, I’m behind big time), I was interviewed for the APlusEdTech Podcast. This podcast is hosted by Ashley McBride, who I was lucky enough to just sit down at a table with during ISTE.

Ashley asked to talk with me because she wanted to learn more, and share with her audience, my creation of my Student Tech Support Squad (what my students lovingly call “Shreff Tech”).

One of the cool things I was reminded of while recording this is that my class is now an official internship. The course is actually called Guided Workplace Learning and is in the course description as internship. What makes that cool is that it can go on their resumes as such, building true work experience. Hats off to my school district for making that a reality.

One thing that I didn’t feel like I went into much was the additional projects I throw at my students. I have the advantage of having students attached to me, which not many instructional coaches are lucky enough to have. I asked for that, because I need to be connected to kids.

Since my class is kind of informal, I get the chance to do whatever I want with them during the year, and like I said in the podcast, that gives me 7 periods a day of guinea pigs to experiment on. I try a lot of random projects, but often incompletely, incorrectly, or at the very least, inaccurately. For example, last year, I tried to do a 20-Time kind of assignment, pushing my students to explore their own passions and set meaningful goals for the year. It was a total bust, mainly because I didn’t follow through with the kids and give them enough structure to work in.

So, this year, I am focusing my students’ attention in shorter bursts. I’m doing this through a project system called Independent Study Points (or ISPs, and yes, my kids get a kick out of the acronym).

The way ISPs work is there is a long list of project options. Some of the ones I’ve included are Portfolio Blog, Podcast Reflection, Book Presentation, Current Event Presentation, and Teach Shreff Something. In addition, students have the option to suggest their own project types, and I approve them (I say yes 90% of the time).

Each of these projects are worth various points, typically 10 to 20 points, mostly depending on the time commitment to make them possible. Each 9-week quarter, students have to earn 100 points in whatever combination of projects they want.

What’s nice about this system is that they still get to focus their attention on things that interest them, or their passionate about, but it isn’t a 6 month long project where a lack of focus has long-term detriment. It is also a lot easier for me to track their completion and discuss with them, especially since presentations make up a lot of the options.

I have to point out that this isn’t my idea. The framework of ISPs came from a presentation I saw with Beth Scanlon and one of her peers a couple years ago.

Anyways, if you’d like to hear more about my Shreff Tech program and my kids, or just want to listen to Ashley and I chat back and forth, then click play below. Also, don’t forget that you can listen to more of Ashley and I when she was a guest on my show, Episode 18.