Ninety-one percent of respondents to a recent CDE survey agreed active learning better prepares students for college and careers than traditional education frameworks. So why is it that it’s more common to see rows of desks facing the front of the room instead of workspaces designed for collaboration and exploration in today’s classrooms? Unfortunately, students can often lack the communication, critical-thinking and problem-solving skills they will need in their careers when they graduate. This paper helps school districts change that outcome. It discusses the benefits and challenges of active learning and offers real-life examples and strategies to help districts make their learning environments more engaging and collaborative.
Project-based learning is a great way to engage students, to encourage collaboration and creativity, and to promote authentic work and assessment. But it’s hard to:
-set a high bar for high quality project deliverables; - assess projects objectively especially when they’re all different; - help students with low level skills engage in challenging projects; - mitigate the free rider problem of loafing team members; - provide enough but not too much formative feedback and support; and - avoid big knowledge gaps resulting from a string of projects.
As a teacher, you put a lot of thought into how to make your class and the material as accessible and engaging as possible. You think about what you know, and how you first learned it. You think about what your students already know, and how to use that knowledge as the foundation for what you're about to teach. And, as if that's not enough, you think about how to make your content so engaging that no matter what else is happening (lunch next period, upcoming prom, or the latest social media scandal among the sophomores), your lesson will hold your students' attention. All that thought goes into a lesson, and still there are students spacing out during class or seeming to fall behind. Working so hard and still not reaching every student can be frustrating. And you have no one to blame but yourself -- you're hogging all the best learning in your classroom.
New research has found that adults with a busy daily lifestyle tend to do better on tests of cognitive function than their less busy counterparts.
Indeed, people who report greater levels of busyness tend to have superior cognition, especially concerning memory for recently learned information, said Sara Festini, a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Vital Longevity of the University of Texas, and lead author of the study.
ATAR was a prime example of a measurement that inhibits creativity, Melville-Jones said. She argued that schools should scrap it altogether and illustrated her point from her own personal experience.
“I had a wonderfully compliant academic son who lapped up everything the [NSW] Higher School Certificate had to offer, [who] is still studying at the age of 25, whom the ATAR suited perfectly,” Melville-Jones told Education Review. “I also have another son who is incredibly abstract and creative, who struggled so hard through the HSC and came out the other end disillusioned and flat and restricted and confined. That saddens me.
“I don’t believe the ATAR is everything. I believe the ATAR is very restricting, and stops students from being able to explore their own possibilities to become confident,” she said. “People come out of the HSC anxious, and we need to build confidence in those senior years and not do it after they leave school.”
The Continuum of Motivation does involve learner voice, choice, and engagement. All of the continuums have elements that drive the learner to build agency. This continuum and the other continuums moving to agency will be featured in our new book, How to Personalize Learning, to be released Fall 2016. All the continuums will include additional references and research that support how the continuums support learners, personalized learning and moving to agency.
Each day in face-to-face classrooms across the world, educators spend most of their time delivering content through lectures and class discussions. The time honored ways of content delivery are necessary, argue some, because students must learn content in order to gain mastery of the discipline or subject.
A frequent result of the current paradigm is a group of passive students, which educators agree can lead to boredom, attention deficits, behavioral issues and other unintended consequences.
Is there a better way? Yes, says Dr. Lodge McCammon, and with training educators at every level can “flip” the classroom experience, changing the paradigm entirely from passive information delivery to active learning experience. At home, students discover the content at their own speed, and then they spend their time in the classroom engaged in applying concepts and working hands-on with material, freeing educators from running on a hamster wheel of content delivery.
The types discussed in the infographic above range from activities heavily dictated by the teacher on the left to ones heavily run by the students on the right. The coolest thing about this inforgaphic is the pictures that accompany it. Using swim instructors and students as an example, Mackenzie illustrated the differences in how much the teacher assists the student according to each level of inquiry. Between this and the accompanying descriptions below the image, it’s easy to visualize these levels in your classroom and how they might work with your lesson plans.
Is there a level of inquiry that you would’ve included that’s not on the infographic? Can you think of another way to illustrate the different levels of inquiry? Which type do you usually use? In what situations do you use which type?
Kim Flintoff's insight:
I suspect there are interim forms that include elements of each of these. These seem to be polarised and don't seem to include collaborative and negotiated dimensions.
As I’ve written before (What PBL Can Do For Your School…And What It Won’t) project-based learning can be an amazing tool for student, teacher, and school growth but only if you’re getting great thinking and learning as a result. It’s not enough to just have students making something or doing hands on, experiential work.
Quality PBL takes advantage of built-in and designed levers of quality that helps the teacher as facilitator align the thinking and learning we’re after in our students. As the graphic above shows, it’s these 5 Levers of Quality working in concert that elevate the desired thinking and learning whether that be content standards, skills, or both.
In a truly creative classroom, teachers need to plan time in their lessons for change and growth. They must allow children to transition from knowledge-gathering and memorizing to synthesizing and puzzle solving. This comes from using their imagination, and encouraging students to do the same.
Imagination is what stays when teachers are gone from their students’ lives. It’s what students have taken from a creative classroom and into real life. While basic knowledge and facts are important building blocks, imagination is the synthesis of that knowledge. Its the vehicle that gets them from point A to point B on their own.
Collaboration is the beating heart of effective vocational education spaces, an architect has said.
Mark Freeman, from specialist educational architecture firm Gray Puksand, recently completed a $5.1 million VET facility situated in Melbourne’s Somerville Secondary College. Freeman said he worked closely with VET specialists and Christopher Lloyd, the school’s principal, to understand the types of spaces the tech college needed.
He further explained it’s this collaborative approach to design that creates a similarly collaborative learning space for students.
“Many technical schools of the past have tended to focus on traditional skills like woodwork or metalwork and have tended to be reasonably male-centric in a way,” Freeman said. “Part of what we wanted to do here was show not just the school but the region that there were pathways for female students to participate in what have been traditionally male-oriented domains like plumbing and building construction. [We also wanted to promote] broad male and female student understanding of how various skills and types vocational training relate to a much broader area of building construction and technology.”
Explore ideas for PBL in your classroom Project based learning creates engagement in learning.
You know that real-world scenarios and project based learning will engage students, deepen learning and provide rich problem-solving opportunities. Many educators struggle with how to connect ideas from the curriculum to these learning opportunities. We created these resources to help get you going!
This Ideas eBook will provide proven top quality project based learning ideas that are easily customizable. These ideas will:
Create relevant, meaningful learning Cultivate problem-solving skills Connect curriculum to the real-world Foster creativity Enhance collaboration Develop an understanding of PBL Make learning fun!
Research shows when people are curious about something, not only do they learn better, they learn more. It should come as no surprise, then, that inquiry-based learning is proving to be an effective education model. Inquiry-based learning occurs when students discover and construct information with the teacher’s guidance. It is a learner-centered model that arouses students’ curiosity and motivates them to seek their own answers. Increasingly, technology is the foundation of an effective inquiry-based lesson. Download this Center for Digital Education paper to learn more about inquiry-based learning and how you can support this model in your classrooms. The paper also offers sample lesson plans that draw upon inquiry-based strategies with the integration of technology.
Education frequently takes place under the guidance of educators, but the trend of learners educating themselves is on a continuous upward movement. The reasons may include freedom to choose, no fear of questions being asked, learning at one's own pace and place, absorbing at one's own capacity and much more. The self-learning trend has been empowered by cutting edge educational technology innovation.
With the 42 model, based on peer-to-peer learning, students at the 200,000-square-foot Fremont campus, pay no tuition, come and go freely day and night and have neither teachers nor lectures. They’re assigned to programming projects for some of the school’s research partners, and are able to use more than 1,000 top-of-the-line iMac computers connected to high-speed broadband networks and large-capacity storage servers.
Building collaboration skills today means building global collaboration skills. Educators have their work cut out for them Ed note: Innovation in Action is a monthly column from the International Society of Technology in Education focused on exemplary practices in education.
It’s one thing for today’s students to connect with the world and to appreciate the diversity and significance of potential interactions through everyday, real-time interaction. It is a whole different challenge to be able to collaborate with learning partners across town — or around the world.
The latter, in truth, is what all educators and learners should be aspiring toward, but the reality is you cannot run before you can walk. Unless educators understand and experience the power of using digital technologies for online collaboration in a local context first, it is likely that jumping head-first into global contexts — with its myriad challenges — will not be successful.
Most discussions on the future of school focus on education reform. Authors and policy analysts ask questions like, how can we change existing institutions to improve on their outcomes? We get discussions like those around federally subsidized student loans, funding for schools, school vouchers, the viability of charter schools, and what ought to be included in exam standards for coming years. These questions, while valuable, miss the broader point of education and the marketplace today. We sit at a pivotal moment in the history of schooling and education. Thanks to a number of market forces, primarily led by leaps in technology and its relation to education costs, it is finally possible to realistically remove education from school (as we know it) for the population at large.
Kim Flintoff's insight:
Is a deschooled society likely even though its totally possible? I suspect the gaps in the implementation plan discussed here relate to other social constraints and controls that dictate the function of schools... they serve to contain and restrict the free movement of minors during the working day... and as we seem not to trust children, or society that's a big next step...
I notice that there are at least ten instances of the use of “I” and “my.” Instead of creating an environment driven by learners, it was one driven by me, the teacher. It was my classroom, and I was dictating how and what learners would be expected to learn on a daily basis. In general, my classroom ran smoothly, I had very few discipline issues and learners met my expectations a majority of the time, but those attending my class were doing only that, attending. Engagement was low and they were doing the minimum to achieve a grade, all while not learning to their potential. They did not enjoy coming to my class for the most part and simply jumped through the hoops to get by and meet what I consider to be high expectations. Enrollment numbers for my courses, mostly upper level electives, were low and I wanted to increase them. The question that I asked myself pertained to how I could encourage learners to take my class while meeting the goal of having them achieve the same high level of expectations that I have had for them throughout my career.
Currently, evolving ways of communication, interpretation and creation of meaning are challenging the ways people view themselves and the world, altering their learning demands and needs. Closely related to this process of change is the need to re-conceptualize schooling. Working within these realizations, the theories of affinity spaces and multiliteracies pedagogy are brought into the foreground of the discussion to consider: What are the requirements of school for the twenty-first century? What are the potentials of affinity spaces and multiliteracies pedagogy to empower meaningful school-based learning? The core of this chapter reports on the development, implementation and evaluation of a theory based framework named Affinity Multiliteracies Practice (AMP) with the intention to provide an example of a teaching and learning approach to schooling that acknowledges students’ multiple and diverse identities, experiences and capabilities while also equiping them to become the flexible and dynamic learners required in the twenty-first century.Official Full-Text Publication: Re-imagining Schooling: Weaving the Picture of School as an Affinity Space for Twenty-First Century Through a Multiliteracies Lens on ResearchGate, the professional network for scientists.
Across Australia some of these ideas are being put into practice. Some schools have dropped the notion of year levels to enable them to meet children at their point of need and acknowledge that not all students learn at the same pace.
Computer programs are enabling instruction tailored to the student by assessing where they are at and providing a tailored curriculum.
Capabilities , such as personal and social capability and critical and creative thinking, are being embedded in the curriculum. Work is under way to develop assessment measures. Teachers across Australia are working on developing new models of practice to support this approach.
We need to accelerate the change. We are wasting too much of students’ learning time and are failing to amplify their talents. To continue along the current path is increasingly unscientific, unjustifiable and plain dull.
But the biggest difference between doing projects and really great PBL lies in the Rich Inquiry and Authenticity. While it may not be possible, feasible or even necessary to do full-on PBL all the time the enduring residue of working in that brain-space is the almost immediate increased level of inquiry on behalf of teachers and students and the pursuit of more meaningful and purposeful work.
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