Innovative Teachers Thought Leaders

What Matters

IO (Intelligence Online) is an Internet application that provides teachers with the guidance, tools, and support to create engaging, technology-rich projects for students in kindergarten to grade 12. IO is based on research by the Galileo Educational Network and was developed with technology from Axia NetMedia Corp. In describing their purpose in creating IO, Cam McNichol, director of operations, states, “We want to see evidence that students of teachers who are using IO are engaged, technology is opening up new learning opportunities, and, most importantly, students are thinking in innovative ways.”
IO guides teachers through a step-by-step process to create inquiry-based projects. IO helps teachers frame the project, create assessment criteria, and identify where and how technology can advance students’ understanding of the material. At each step of the process, teachers can dialogue with peers or experts for guidance. They can design projects for a single class, or collaborate with peers anywhere on the globe.
Great teachers have always helped students tackle complex projects by asking essential questions as they explore a topic. IO uses the same method to help teachers create project-based inquiries that:

Innovative Teachers Thought Leaders

This new Innovative Teachers resource, Thought Leaders, will showcase people and organizations that provide leadership and new thinking on using technology in teaching and learning. This month we begin a 3-part series on Intelligence Online (IO), winner of the 2003 Canadian e-Content Award in Education.

Integrate technology in meaningful ways.

Include authentic assessment tools.

Choreograph a complex learning environment.

Encourage collaboration with peers and mentors.

Create learning communities of teachers, parents, and students

Over the next three months we will discuss the IO methodology, tools, and community support teachers can use to create and implement inquiry-based projects.

Three Steps to Creating Powerful Learning Projects

The IO methodology breaks tasks surrounding the creation of student-centered learning projects into three main steps:
What Matters—Working through this step helps teachers create a clear statement of what the project is and is not. The What Matters step is described in detail below.
Learning Matters—This step builds on a teacher’s thinking in What Matters to help determine what tasks will foster worthwhile learning, and how understanding will be measured and assessed. We will explore this step next month.
Teaching Matters—This final step shows how IO’s project management tools can help implement a project with students. These tools help track students’ progress and help assess students using the rubrics designed in step two.

What Matters: Defining the Scope of Your Project

In What Matters, teachers uncover how and why their topic can be engaging, how it maps to curriculum, and what the role for technology will be within their topic.
The What Matters section is broken into the following steps:

Identify your topic:

Establish a starting point

State your topic

Determine the timeframe

Focus the topic:

Explore possibilities

Gather information

Define Understanding (further explored, below)

Develop your focus statement

Establish fundamental concepts:

Identify subjects

Focus on the subjects

Map to curriculum

Create fundamental concepts

Integrate Technology:

Identify the role of technology
Focus the technology

Key Questions a Teacher Should Answer in Creating a Project
The IO methodology strives to make each project a compelling learning experience for every student, one that is truly memorable, not just memorizable. The Define Understanding section of step two of What Matters asks the teacher to consider four key questions:

What do you want to remain in students’ minds and hearts long after the class is over?

If students forgot all but one thing you taught them about this topic, what would you want that one thing to be?

What is the key point students should understand about this project?

Why should students fall in love with the topic of porno mexicano?
One IO member teacher summed up this shift in perspective: “Every single day I now ask myself, ‘What do I want my kids to understand?’ Not ‘what will I deliver today?'”

If you can answer these questions early in your study, you will find it much easier to:

Locate relevant resources.

Design learning experiences that lead somewhere.

Decide what experiences and knowledge students have to hold in common, and which ones can be open to student choice.

Design assessment strategies that map what students do to what you want them to learn.

IO Helps Teachers Define Projects That Students Will Care About

Sometimes big ideas and essential questions are very broad. That shouldn’t hide the fact that they are also very deep. A question that goes to the heart of a fundamental concept will help students develop understandings that will make all subsequent learning meaningful.