Educational theory and practice have begun to appear more frequently in the popular press. Terms such as collaborative learning, project-based learning, metacognition, inquiry-based learning, and so on, might be new to some audiences, but they have a relatively long and well-documented history for many educators. The most widely-known and promising pedagogical approach is constructivism grounded on the work of Piaget, Vygotsky, and Bruner. Given how it has transformed my own understanding of pedagogy, teaching, and learning, constructionism seems ripe for a similar resurgence — like a phoenix rising from the ashes of Taylorization and standardized testing. Constructionism brings creativity, tinkering, exploring, building, and presentation to the forefront of the learning process.
Over the last decade my teaching has undergone a dramatic transformation as I played with many methods for getting my students to learn not only through doing, but also through creating. Initially this interest was sparked by a belief that targeting the highest level of Bloom’s Taxonomy (revised) would lead to mastery in all the other cognitive domains. Later it was bolstered by an interest in creating more collaborative learning opportunities for my students.
I also felt passionately that anything my students create should have an authentic audience. I realized, after reading the works of influential writing theorist Peter Elbow, that when they wrote essays for me, they were writing to be judged, not writing to inform. Elbow argued that:
"When students write for teachers, they are writing ‘uphill’ in the authority dimension: instead of having the normal language-using experience of trying to communicate ‘across’ to others in order to tell them what’s on their mind, they are having the experience of trying to communicate ‘up’ to someone whose only reason for reading is to judge the acceptability of what they wrote and how they wrote it."
My first experiment was in having them write essays for their classmates, and although it was a vast improvement, still the audience seemed less than authentic.
Fortunately, my efforts to transform the way I teach came at the same time we were experiencing the societal shift from information consumerism to a production and remix culture. Now my students could write for a truly authentic audience through blogs, wikis, and websites.
As I strove to facilitate learning through creating, I realized that text-based creations were only the surface and started to build learning experiences in which my students explored and leveraged the wealth of creativity tools which were freely available online, including podcasting, screencasting, online presentation, mindmapping, animation, and infographic tools.
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Are You Teaching Content, Or Teaching Thought? by Terry Heick Thinking is troublesome. For one, it is an intimate act splicing time and space. It is done right here, but it spans moments in the pasts...
Founded in 1943, ASCD (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) is an educational leadership organization dedicated to advancing best practices and policies for the success of each learner. Our 175,000 members in 119 countries are professional educators from all levels and subject areas––superintendents, supervisors, principals, teachers, professors of education, and school board members.
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What percentage of your time is spent convincing people to give up something they value (like time, energy, attention, or money) in exchange for something you offer? This was the question posed by Daniel Pink, the first keynote speaker at this year’s ASCD conference in Los Angeles. He shared a study where 7,000 Americans participated, and …
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I read this whenever I forget the importance of changing the trajectory of a child's life every single day by making 'school' a place where they can thrive, and wonder, and learn what they need to reach their best imagined future.
I often hear language learning is much easier when you are younger, and that we must teach our young students another language when they are young so that they can be ‘more competitive’ in an increasingly globalized, connected world. While I don’t argue with that at all, there are many other benefits that come from being …
According to the latest data, video for homework is on the rise; mobile computing is "beyond the tipping point"; and most kids don't use traditional computers to connect to the Internet at home. Those are just three of the major trends revealed in the 2013 Speak Up Survey from Project Tomorrow.
CEA and the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) have teamed up to provide you with relevant and timely information based on current empirical educational research. The primary goal of this project is to get relevant and needed research into the hands of parents and other interested people.
Donna Fry (@fryed)'s insight:
What does the research tell us about standardized tests?