What if we could provide better resources for families, to help their students through their educations?
This was the question posed by math educator Kristi Harris at Thursday night’s LearnZillion workshop, hosted by Wawasee High School from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Students and their parents were invited to attend, and several Wawasee educators also took time to contribute to the meeting.
LearnZillion is a free, online resource for students, teachers and parents to aid in mathematics and language arts based on Common Core standards. By visiting learnzillion.com students can watch video tutorials and practice solving problems in these subjects, and teachers can assign work to be done.
This year alone LearnZillion had over 4,000 educators apply to be part of the program. Only 140 were selected. Harris is one of them. This will be her third year working with LearnZillion, and she was one of six selected to host this workshop.
The goal was to bring some creative ideas to the table on how to improve the learning experience through use of technology like LearnZillion. Currently, LearnZillion is working on developing a free, full, online curriculum for students in grades kindergarten through eight. The main focus is keeping families involved in the education of their children.
Parents were grouped together with their students and others at four different tables, provided with pens, paper and candy to get them prepared. On the wall beside each group hung three posters with the writing prompts “Things I wish would exist;” “Things I wish would be better;” “How might we… ?” and “Brainstorming.”
Each group was able to independently hypothesize ways to improve current education, technology, testing and basically anything related to acquiring an education. After adding individual ideas to the chart, the groups created themes to summarize the ideas and voted on a theme they would most like to address.
As a group, a broad question was selected to present as a problem to solve and each group came up with solutions. Many of these ideas related to online resources and how to make them more accessible to families and students. Each person within the group used words and art to design a solution to the problem presented, and then shared their individual ideas without comment or question.
At the end of the brainstorming session, facilitators and parents used smartphones, tablets and computers to take photos of the ideas and share them to LearnZillion’s tumblr account using the hashtags “LZDesignWorkshop,” and “Wawasee.” A LearnZillion team will look over the ideas and provide feedback that parents can show their children.
Many hands went into the facilitation of the workshop, and all were encouraged to attend for however long they could. Dr. Thomas Edington, Wawasee Community Schools Superintendent, was able to attend for the second half of the workshop, and Wawasee educators Traci Henn, Joy Goshert, Lisa Ernsberger and Charlotte Jessie were integral parts of the full experience.