The first day of class is always interesting.

For the student, it’s the awkward feeling of new faces and wondering if this class is going to stick in my schedule. The teacher is faced with the decision to jump right into content, to sell their class, or to get the “normal” logistics out of the way.

Or… You can blow it up.

For three semesters I have completely blown up the first day in my Middle School Digital Media class by admitting that I don’t know what I am teaching because my students are challenged to design their syllabus. Using Design Thinking to frame the task students are given this prompt:

Your has been contracted by Mount Vernon’s Chief of Awesome, Trey Boden.

Mr. Boden’s Digital Life department needs a new syllabus that reflects 21st century skills in digital media because they want their classes to be as authentic and relevant to middle school students as possible.

I become their user and their peers become their community to draw insights from. Not to mention they become the determiners of what is authentic and relevant. They are the middle schoolers who will be affected by it.

So far this semester has been the best. I have more experience scaffolding the syllabus and assessments. Students have come in familiar with the idea of negotiated curriculum. Below are the emerging slides as we go through the design process.