That next week, I went into school thinking I would pose the question to my students. If money was not an object and any resource was available, what would be in the ultimate classroom to make the best kind of learning. While I had 1 or 2 students whose minds went immediately to big TVs and video games, once the ideas started rolling in, the students were hooked, and they moved away from these topics and into more focused ones. We used our newly freed up chalkboard space to create a giant mind map of all of our ideas. They just kept coming.
Over the next week, we continued to add idea to our giant web. I was amazed that the students' ideas were right on par with what the current research is saying as well. Without ever opening up a book, the students had captured some of the key components of 21st century learning. It was at this point that I connected with our IB coordinator Deb Wadden. My thoughts was that this might help fuel a research project. However, Deb suggested that I make it our class's IB Exhibition Project. Essentially, this is a project based learning activity that spans over multiple weeks, ending in a final presentation. During this time, we took our inquiries further when I asked my students to add questions they had related to each of the aspects of the ultimate classroom listed in our web.
To aid us in our next step, I took the students ideas and questions and typed them in a Google Doc. It was at this point that I really got to see what the students were asking, and in almost every area, I saw very practical meaningful questions that showed a curiosity beyond what would benefit solely themselves, my students had blown me away with their thoughts and questions.