Maker Mindset

Pause to reflect…

Jackie Gerstein at UsergeneratedEducation pushes us constantly to think through the educational mandates and silver bullets to focus on students and their learning. What will best guide students to become thinking, caring, productive persons?

The first thirty-eight slides of her presentation [ below ] provide thoughtful background theories and key questions to consider for our classrooms.

 

Slide 8: Something to do. We lost this when state standards developed in the 1990s. We removed the authenticity of doing and replaced it with intangible verbiage, which would have been the learning had we continued with the doing.

Slide 22: The most important question for classrooms – because doing is learning.

Slide 27: Love this question. After all, aren’t we trying to make the world better?

Slide 29: The Soft Skills – the process of planning, searching, gathering, sharing, collaborating, listening, debating, revising. The skills we learn through doing and doing together.

With each of these first thirty-eight slides, I say – that’s what what we need to consider! That’s our goal… I appreciate that Jackie shares these slides and continues with examples in the latter part.

Jackie’s Thinglink provides more information to consider:

Refer to the work of those who focused on learning as opposed to standards or skill objectives. Review the work of Dewey [and here], Vygotsky, Bruner, Papert [and here]. For Language Arts, see the work of James Moffett [ and here ].

Play to Learn…

Consider these ideas and questions. Consider the students in your classroom. When did we lose the doing? We learn what we need while doing something. We learn the strategies as we go, with support from our collaboration with peers or colleagues. Every time we do something, we build on what we learned before. That is the power of project-based learning. Students today are fading out in classrooms, bored with the posted objective; they want to learn what is of interest to them — or a question, an issue that piques their interests. With information readily available, it is the questions asked about that information that leads to learning and understanding it; it is what we want to do with the information that allows us to learn deeper. It is the sharing and collaborating with a shared purpose that propels us to do more and better to discover an answer and produce the results for others to contribute; this is learning. It fits in any classroom.

How will we as educators bring the power of the question and the doing back into our classrooms?

dewey_doing


Source of Quote

Dewey, John. Democracy and Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education. New York: Macmillan, 1916. Print. p. 181

 

Cross-post

Reframing Henry

Pause…

Change the way you think about it.

Thanks to Paula for this bit of wisdom.

That’s my goal for reframing the focus on skills / test prep to include  Authentic Projects.

Play…

I’m going to turn around my last post about blaming Henry Ford  and think again about community of learners in the classroom, like when I taught writers and readers workshop.

Communities are messy; they aren’t the perfect working machine; they change and flow from one need to the next. And they get stuck in ruts. They need to “Change the way you think about it.”

I’m going to start by asking my students what “work” they want to do — as readers, researchers, and authors. Perhaps, we’ll change our way of thinking about our skills together, as a community of learners.

It’s actually starting from them now. We just finished a short iSearch project in which students learned questioning, research, collaboration, analysis, interpretation, presentation, speech. Two students asked, based on their chosen article [ Drama VS Bullying ], if they could create a video about their learning. Their work will be my first model for the others… They have changed the way they thought about their research. I love that.

Blaming Henry

Pause…

How do we change our thoughts on grading so that we are teaching and assessing for learning with feedback so students can improve? Teaching for learning does require patience, reteaching, kid-watching, and engaging tasks that require thought. I don’t want to catch kids — I want to inspire them to be more.

Play…

I’d like to also to change our thoughts on assignments that focus on one objective. People don’t learn to ride a bike by 1) practicing pedaling, 2) practice steering, and 3) practice braking before 4) putting them together. No, we get on and ride. Shouldn’t we dive into good books? Write about what know and read about? Then get feedback on how to do it better, based on the real work being done?

I blame Henry Ford for breaking things into pieces and organizing assembly lines. Many of our schools with students who need more positive experiences are just like assembly lines — not places where we actually “do” stuff together, and learn to get better. Students enjoyed the work, did better on more skills, learned more, and liked school with authentic projects — something that required integration of skills with mini-lessons and flexible grouping to help. We created posters, brochures, skits, models, memoirs, video-memoirs — filled with our learning and all requiring reading and writing. When I’m told to post my objectives every day, it seems that we are focused on the parts and not the whole; we’re teaching the bits and not understanding the world of authors, scientists, historians, etc. We’re pushing the pedal, but not steering towards anything authentic.

What do you want for your child? Objectives for Test Prep or Authentic Projects ? Tell your school board today, and tomorrow, and the next day.

 

Jump in the middle…

Welcome !

 

“Beginnings are always messy.” ~ John Galsworthy, English novelist and playwright

Pause…

I teach writing; beginnings are always a mess: where does one start?

We Power Write (Peter Elbow) to foster the flow of ideas from ideas in the mind to ink on paper. But when it comes to starting a piece of writing, even with many ideas brainstormed in a web, free-write, or list, the paper in front of me seems too open. How will I fill it?

Students struggle with this, so we practice jumping into action, in the middle.

But what is the middle of a blog?

Fast forward to August 31st, 2010. The first day of school welcomes everyone with an evening barbecue. It’s a great time to introduce new staff, explain a few classroom projects in homerooms, and enjoy conversation with families from last year. Students who have graduated often attend and lament their leaving and entering the high school, a scary step. Students rush to their new homerooms — does it look like last year? “You changed things a little, Ms. Edwards.”

Yet, I have no picture of the barbecue to share. Most programs (from reading programs to federal “title” programs) expect schools to foster family involvement. On these occasions, we need pictures to add power to the words we enter on our reports.

So here’s my beginning, a reflection into the future to plan forward. For a history of how this blog really started, please refer to the page, pause2play history. One reason are these words from Teaching Unmasked by John Spencer:

“Still, in the middle of May, I always feel that I should have done more. I should have given better feedback on work. I see some students and think, “I hardly know you.”

I so identify with that. It’s a sinking feeling because I let the fast pace of forced objectives obscure the time needed to know each student. I should have slowed down, taken one more day for sharing, one more day for writing/conferences, one more choice project each quarter. Each of those would meet objectives and meet the human requirement of personalized learning.

Play…

I’ll continue to encourage students to jump into the middle to start their writing. And, on barbecue day, I’ll grab a couple students to document the evening using our class cameras. We’ll start a portfolio of our family involvement. Because that’s more important than the official report.

And, I will check more frequently, “Who don’t I know yet?” What project will build our community so each student is known?

This is what this blog is about: jumping in the middle of an idea, pausing to reflect, and planning how it will or how it could play out in the classroom community.

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