rethinkED Project Summary

In our initial year, the rethinkED team has attempted to tackle a wide range of education projects. Please continue below for a brief synopsis of our previous and current work.

Chinese Language Reinforcement Project

The rethinkED team has worked with Betty Li and Lu Li, two Mandarin Chinese faculty members at Riverdale, to expand student exposure to Chinese language and culture throughout New York City. The project sought to meld language study, technology, and the diverse resources offered by the city’s boroughs and communities. The project began with several one-on-one meetings and on-site class visits. Our collaboration led to the creation of an interactive map, which students used to document their individual and group efforts to practice Mandarin and engage in Chinese culture beyond the Riverdale campus. The rethinkED team spearheaded off-campus engagement by organizing an outing for Riverdale students to interact with native Chinese speakers attending Columbia University’s Teachers College.

Alternative Assessments in Elementary Grades

Throughout the course of the year, the rethinkED team has supported fifth grade Riverdale faculty member, Meg Krause, in her efforts to forgo teacher-dictated grading and incorporate student-driven feedback as a guide in her classroom assessment. Project tasks have included weekly classroom visits, the exchange of relevant resources, and group brainstorming (ideation) sessions. The collaboration has resulted in opposite-page reflection sections in the students’ math notebooks as well as the use of exit tickets as a measure of student self-evaluation. Exit tickets require each student to select and explain the central piece of learning they received during the class session. Students can also identify a point of confusion from the day’s lesson. RethinkED is currently working with Meg to develop metacognitive prompt cards for her use during lessons, in order to help her easily integrate reflection in her lessons.

Student Engagement in Math through Project Based Learning

Several members of the Riverdale math faculty, across grade divisions, identified an interest in increasing student interest and ownership of their math development. As a mini-experiment, the rethinkED team collaborated with a team of teachers to investigate how project based learning (PBL) and meta-cognitive skills could lead to improved student learning. At the start, the rethinkED team conducted several in-person and phone interviews along with class visits to engage and learn more about the specific goals of individual teachers. Several but not all the projects focused on computer technology and software applications. The rethinkED team shared resources including academic articles, websites showcasing success technology products, and literature supporting the importance of real world based problem solving. The collaboration culminated in an on-site Riverdale workshop that provided an opportunity for faculty members to collaborate with colleagues across grade levels while also learning and discussing ways to implement technology and real world complexity in their respective coursework.

Project Based Learning and STEAM in Elementary Grades

The rethinkED team is currently working with members of Riverdale’s lower school faculty in preparation for this spring’s weeklong Project Based Learning initiative, centered around integrative STEAM education. STEAM is an educational push to incorporate the multidisciplinary teaching of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics in place of siloed teaching practices. To facilitate a common understanding across the school, we developed a handout which summarized STEAM and PBL along with examples of how these techniques have been used in classroom setting. We are in the process of conducting interviews and ideation sessions with teachers to gain a better understanding of their needs and to help develop themes, objectives, and activities from rudimentary ideas.

Project Booster Day

Most recently on April 11, The rethinkED team built off the momentum created by an IDEO workshop on Design Thinking. The rethinkED follow up session provide faculty with an opportunity implement and practice the five-step Design Thinking process detailed in the IDEO presentation. After preparing their goals and “How Might We?” statements beforehand, the faculty participants delved into ways that they can redesign a lesson plan or unit. Workshop members collaborated with members of the rethinkED team and the Riverdale Technology staff to prototype solutions to their specific projects.

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