Passion Projects at OUHSD

As we wrapped up our conversation, Jay shared an exciting development at Oxnard Union High School District: OUHSD Passion Projects. With Passion Projects, teachers proposed taking on projects to make things better at the district…all the while rejecting extrinsic incentives! It’s a super fun conversation that was enabled in part by Alludo!

Full Transcript

Passion Projects with Jay Sorensen (Full Transcript)

DAMON: We just finished recording, and as we're kind of saying our goodbyes, Jay shared with me this kind of exciting learning or evolution that's occurring in the district with passion projects and I thought this is something, and it should really be shared. So, Jay tell me about this passion project.

JAY: All right, so we are using Alludo for gamified professional development. And last school year was our first year using it. And it was the end of the school year, and we had a handful of teachers that had completed all levels of the game, which was awesome.

And so I set a meeting with them to discuss what the next steps were going to be. Going into that, I was kind of thinking, you know, we're going to design Level four. Or maybe we're going to make a switch to going to do badges. Teachers are earning certain badges beyond the levels of the game.

But what actually happened, which was great, because it came straight from the teachers, very organic, was the teachers wanted to have passion projects.

So basically, their idea was, they wanted to have a project that they would work on all year long, so in place of another level or earning a particular badge. They would work on something that they were passionate about, that they were excited about. And then they wanted it to be something that could benefit the district.

The idea was, taking something maybe they're already doing. Either in their classroom or at their school, and maybe developing that a little bit more, and then how can that go beyond their classroom or their school? How can they then make that something that other sites can do as well, which was awesome. So awesome to hear!

DAMON: That is awesome. And I am super excited that Alludo could play a little bit of a role in that. But it can't be the only thing that got you there. What are some of the steps along the way that you felt were important in getting to this point?

JAY: I mean, I think whether it's Alludo or whatever platform you know, the idea of the gamified PD has so much choice built in.

Going back to talking about giving students voice, teachers want choice and the things that they're doing, they want to find meaning and they don't want to be told this is what you're doing or, you know we've all sat through boring meetings and trainings.

Having that choice in what they're doing, having the flexibility in the time they do it the way they do it. Again, very much like the classroom.

I think that was a huge part, and it sort of helped lead them to a point where they could then go beyond it with another choice of their own.

Ah, and the other thing I want to add, we have incentives built into our game. And so my first thought, when they were telling me this was, what are the incentives?

Maybe we're getting him some cool new thing for their classroom or whatever. They said No, they didn't want that. They felt like, that would make them sort of a target, or people would sort of look down on them and would be turned off by the projects. The project is purely for their passion, and like I said, they wanted something that would be for the betterment of the district.

DAMON: That is so intrinsic motivation, congratulations. That's a huge step.  So congratulations to you, and to your teachers. Have you landed any projects yet, Or have they started one or what are some of their projects.

JAY: So yeah, they're in various stages of their projects. The other thing is, we've had a whole bunch of people that have finished the game since then. And so we're starting to onboard people into their projects. And I just had five more to finish this week.

DAMON: That’s awesome! We're going to have to have a Passion Project Cohorts.

JAY: Yeah, another great problem that I have right? I got too many teachers that want to do passion projects for the district.

We had one teacher, an English teacher, Allison Holicky who's using Flipgrid initially having students to sort of like book reviews, using Flipgrid.

Across her school, she has little signs posted with QR codes, and they’re by grade level. And there's freshman, sophomore, junior, senior. And then there's a fifth one for teacher. Teachers sharing books that they've read and that they're excited about.

She's going to build the momentum up with that at her school and then start to sort of package it so that other people can take that and run with it at their sites.

I have another teacher who's really getting into website building and is going to help the principal sort of build out their school website. We have people working, going back to the T3, working more in depth with the T3.

We have a teacher, Verity, all of who's actually our Gold Coast CUE Teacher of the Year. Who wanted to do sort of the Brew CUE and we call it Oxnard U Brew, we are getting teachers together to sharing ideas is always powerful, But then we also were talking about having the book clubs. We've combined those and I helped come up with the name of BUI, books under the influence.

So, she's going to be leading those. We’re starting with the EDUProtocols book.

So just getting teachers together and sharing ideas on a specific book that sort of the group collective will be reading

DAMON: Was Jon Corippo, in on that meeting, like pushing for that book or did it come organically?

JAY: He’s not, it’s just like everything else. It was organic coming from our teachers. Well, maybe he should buy the first round. I don't know

DAMON:  He should. Well, that is awesome, thank you for sharing that with me.  I love hearing that intrinsic motivation and transformation within districts and education. So that's something that we really want to advocate. So thank you so much for sharing that and hopefully will have another conversation on this.

JAY: It's just so cool that it really is organic and really did come. There was a lot of things, as you mentioned, that sort of set the stage for that, but that it really, truly just came from the teachers. This is powerful.

DAMON:  Well, that is awesome. Congratulations on making that happen that's fantastic.