Tag Archives: Ditch that Textbook

4 Tips for Building Peloton Style Choice Boards

The following post was written as a guest post for Ditch That Textbook. You can also read the full post on the Ditch That website.

Peloton is a fitness powerhouse brand. It started with a bike connected to a monitor back in 2012 and now has expanded its equipment, subscription fitness classes, and apparel business into a successful lifestyle brand. Whether you are one of the multi-million passionate users or not, educators can take lessons from Peloton’s business model and the fitness instructors themselves in order to spread happiness and deep learning into our classrooms remotely and in person.

Our job as teachers is to inspire and lead our students to success. Playlists, choice boards and hyperdocs are part of the blended learning model that help create active student learner opportunities. We can use our playlists and hyperdocs like Peloton instructors to personalize, connect, and embrace our community members – our students. 

Here are four tips for building Peloton style choice boards

1. Create thought provoking learning experiences

Instructor: Ally Love

Ally Love (@allymisslove) is one of the most diverse instructors  in her music and classes. She is “thoughtful, thorough, and tough.” My favorite classes are her “Sunday’s With Love” because she states,  “it is about movement that is thought provoking.” Her motto is “if it is hard  – good.”

As teachers we want to create learning experiences that are thought provoking and thorough. When designing your playlist or choice board choose thematic activities that get students thinking like Ally Love. Create learning opportunities that allow students to explore, reflect, and dig deep into a topic.  

Check out this hyperdoc created for the Centennial of the 19th Amendment that provides students opportunities for students to listen, view, and learn about a topic so they can evaluate and reflect on how this information impacts the decisions and actions they make today. 

Here are four tips for building Peloton style choice boards

1. Create thought provoking learning experiences

Instructor: Ally Love

Ally Love (@allymisslove) is one of the most diverse instructors  in her music and classes. She is “thoughtful, thorough, and tough.” My favorite classes are her “Sunday’s With Love” because she states,  “it is about movement that is thought provoking.” Her motto is “if it is hard  – good.”

As teachers we want to create learning experiences that are thought provoking and thorough. When designing your playlist or choice board choose thematic activities that get students thinking like Ally Love. Create learning opportunities that allow students to explore, reflect, and dig deep into a topic.  

Check out this hyperdoc created for the Centennial of the 19th Amendment that provides students opportunities for students to listen, view, and learn about a topic so they can evaluate and reflect on how this information impacts the decisions and actions they make today. 

2. Learn to lean into the discomfort

Instructor: Tunde Oyeneyin

Tunde Oyeneyin (@tune2tunde) is one of the newer instructors for spinning and her “Speak Up Ride” on June 3, 2020 is a must for everyone as it reflects on our turbulent times today. Tunde wants you to “lean into the discomfort” as she speaks up and out about racism, white privilege, and moving forward together. This ride is so powerful, I want to emulate powerful lessons that are grounded in our everyday lives like her. Another thing about Tunde’s rides is that she talks about her 70 pound weight loss and how she did it in micro-steps.

Many of our students come into our classrooms looking to make giant leaps in reading, writing, and thinking. Tunde reminds her riders that if we want to see growth, every baby step we make will lead to bigger gains. When curating your playlist, provide smaller steps for everyone to reach success. Moving from point A to point B might require some students to choose one path and another student go a different route.  

Choice boards can be simplified for students by the number of selections and modifications in order to accommodate diverse learning styles, needs, interests, and skills. Choice is important. On this Dystopian playlist there are required tasks and then a few added opportunities for students to level up if they choose.  

3. Set your students up for success.

Instructors: Cody Rigsby and Jess King

Speaking of modifications and scaffolding, Cody Rigsby (@codyrigsby) and Jess King @jesskingnyc) will tell you that they are “setting up for success.” Teachers need to do the same  for  students, set students up for success and modify  with no pressure. Additionally,  Jess and Cody always bring fun and surprise to each class. The popular songs these instructors include on their playlists set the pace for the class. 

Take cues from Cody and Jess by adding a little fun and games to your playlist with VR field trips, Kahoots, and collaborative activities. Peloton has started introducing rides that couple instructors together for double the engagement – learning is not an isolated event or experience and when we are designing choice boards and playlists, don’t leave out collaborative opportunities.

This  vocabulary HyperDoc was created for teachers to help understand the role of vocabulary in content area classrooms. After teachers were able to explore and reflect, they collaborated to create a product to share with the whole group their new understanding.

4. Offer activities that honor student voice and agency 

Instructor: Christine D’Ercole

Christine D’Ercole’s  (@iamicaniwillido) catchphrase is, “I am. I can. I will. I do.”– Enough said. Christine is a pro track cyclist who is all about changing your inner monologue and empowering you to love yourself.  Many of her rides she will tell you “it is not about the leaderboard or the numbers, but the fact that you are here.” I associate this with number and letter grades because so many of our students use number and letter grades to define who they are.

Christine reminds riders not to focus on the numbers. Similarly, let’s move away from too many tasks that distract from real learning. Offer activities that honor student voice and agency.  This poetry playlist allows students to choose which assignments they want to complete.  Students are empowered when they are given choice and know their voice will be heard. 

These are only a few of the teachers you will meet through Peloton, there are so many others who are just as awesome and provide engaging opportunities both physically and mentally. Peloton’s recipe for success comes from its instructors and the Peloton community. We all get on our bikes and treads for different reasons but our instructors have us coming back for more.

As teachers we are committed to our students, building a safe classroom community where students come back because they are engaged, empowered, and inspired. Like Peloton, we can create opportunities for our students to discover their true potential through the power of playlists and blended learning opportunities.  

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3 Creative Ways to Ditch that Essay

* The following was written as a guest blog post for Ditch that Textbook published on 9/3/2019. To read the post on the website click here

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Why should essay writing be the majority of student writing in school? There are lots of other options. Here are three good alternatives to consider.

What are your most memorable experiences throughout your middle school and high school career?

I know, you are thinking about all the exciting and engaging essays you wrote. That five-paragraph essay where you explained the theme of a text. Each paragraph was informative and persuasive, providing robust evidence and analysis to support your claim.

Probably not.

And what about in your classroom today, how often are students writing essays similar to your youth?

Words do not exist only on a page in a two-dimensional space any longer. Today, words are multisensory experiences that are seen, heard, and experienced through podcasting, filmmaking, storytelling, gaming, and virtual reality. Writing has evolved in genre, medium, and dimensions.

Teachers have been called upon to empower learners and to bring creativity into educational spaces to promote critical thinking, problem-solving, and design thinking while at the same time bolster communication skills. Writing is a key communication skill necessary in school and out to articulate thinking and clarify ideas. In the classroom, students write to learn and also write to showcase their learning.

Why relegate essay writing as the majority of student writing in school? We can give lots of other options.

Here are three alternatives to traditional essays

Podcasting

Podcasts are an effective medium to share knowledge and experiences, and students can easily create their own. Podcasting with students improves literacy skills and creates an authentic audience for writing. When podcasting, students are not just reading aloud their writing but purposefully and carefully choosing their words, narration, and dialogue to communicate their ideas.img_0819

After listening to Sean Carroll’s podcast “What Would Stephen Hawking Do” on Story Collider, I thought why not switch the theme to “What Would Our Founding Fathers Do?” regarding current political issues of contention. For example, a group of students research, write and podcast what Abraham Lincoln would do about gun laws, while another group addresses how Alexander Hamilton would handle the illegal immigration debate.

There are many different styles of podcasts. How you want students to present their podcasts is a decision that you and your students have to make. By offering students choices there will be a diversity of products, students will have agency, and their voices will be at the forefront of their finished products.

More resources:

Script Writing and Movie Making

img_5525Writing a script for a film has its own specific format and requirements. Like writing any good story, when creating a movie, students need a beginning, middle, and end. Most importantly the story needs conflict to drive it. Students have to create authentic characters that viewers will empathize with.

Have students write their own fictional stories then storyboard their ideas to convey the plot, conflict, and characterization before going into movie-making mode. When students are creating films, writing their own scripts, and making choices about lighting, sound, and editing, they are demonstrating critical analysis, creative collaboration, and multimedia communication skills.

Documentary films are another format. Check out the Op-Docs series on The New York Times. This series highlights short documentary films about aspects of life that are often hidden or unspoken like incarceration, living with a disability, and facing obstacles. These documentaries highlight real people and true events. Creating documentaries allows students to research and investigate topics relevant to their own lives, make insightful arguments, and illuminate different perspectives.

More resources:

Multigenre Writing

Why just box students into writing one genre per unit? If teachers allow students to show their understanding and knowledge of a topic with a variety of types of writing, there is an opportunity for choice and creativity. This goes beyond just allowing students to choose one genre or format. What if students could blend genres across one writing assignment to produce a multigenre piece that includes poetry, narrative, images, and songs to reveal information about their topic? In a multigenre project, each piece might work independently to make a point, but together they create a symphony of perspectives and depth on a subject. Check out this student example!

The writing your students create for their multigenre project can be powerful and inspiring. With the help of digital tools like Adobe Spark or Book Creator students can amplify their projects for digital storytelling.

More resources:

Writing is a vehicle for communication. Today our students are bloggers, filmmakers, gamers, authors, innovators, and influencers. How amazing would it be to sharpen their strengths and abilities in our classrooms to create something that surpasses the traditional school essay?

 

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