Before starting a new unit, could I post outcomes on a wiki and a list of past assignments, possible choices, suggestions, and then ask kids, or other teachers, or other kids from around the world who may stumble upon the space (or be led there for that matter) for suggestions?You should read the entire post - he has some interesting thoughts. I've been thinking some of the same things (although not quite as eloquently). I'm not sure if it would be through a wiki, or a blog, or something like Writely, or even something else I haven't discovered yet, but I think the technology would be the relatively easy piece of the puzzle. Clarence lays out the groundwork that he's thinking about in his post, and I think that's a great start.
I think this has great potential to not only imcrease student engagement in our classes, but also improve teaching and learning. As I've been saying all year (incessantly, I know) - it's the students' education, not ours. How much more powerful and effective could it be if they had much more say in it? As Clarence indicates, there would have to be ground rules and certain items that would be non-negotiable from the teacher's standpoint. And we would have to start very slow - both in terms of number of units and how we encouraged students to participate. I also think inviting other teachers to participate in addition to the students has some great potential.
There are two main conditions that I think are necessary to try something like this. One of them - as always - is time. Time for the teacher to plan and manage this (although ultimately - if successful - this could be a time saver). The second condition is a teacher willing to take a risk - which I think is a huge issue for many of us. But if this was successful, think of the power of collaborative planning. Think of how amazing our classrooms could be if the best ideas rose to the surface. It could truly be implementing "best practices" - and best ideas - in our classrooms. And how powerful would it be for our students to become their own best teachers? As most teachers will attest, we didn't really learn our subject areas until we had to teach them to someone else. Why not give our students that same opportunity?