Shifting Learning – What Did You Learn At School Today? We hear a lot these days about project based learning, inquiry based learning, etc… What does that mean? What does it look like when schools shift away from “drill and kill” learning towards big ideas, questions, and “no right answer” kind of learning? And what kind of questions can ‘we’ ask to support students in their learning?
“The proper question is not, ‘How can people motivate others?’ but rather, ‘How can people create the conditions within which others will motivate themselves?’ ” — Edward Deci
In the past number of years we have gone through a very positive and significant transition at our school. Through the work of the staff (current and previous), we have moved from a punish and reward mentality to one that is focused on creating the conditions for students to learn the skills to be successful. We have gone from long line ups of students at the office at the end of lunch to maybe one or two students ‘arriving’ at the office during an entire day. Most of the issues we now deal with are minor and dealt with in the moment in a learning manner, away from “the office”...
* We don’t need better assessments; we need different assessments that help us understand students as learners and constructors of their own ongoing education instead of knowers of information and narrow skills. * We don’t need better teachers; we need different teachers who see their roles as master learners first and content guides or experts second. * We don’t need better schools; we need different schools that function as communities of inquiry and learning instead of delivery systems for a highly proscribed, traditional curriculum.
… the idea of a fully networked, progressive learning environment would for the vast majority constitute *different* and would require us... to redefine the future.
I realized that my role is not to be “the innovative one”, but in actuality, it is to help create the best environments for our school division to allow the brilliance of others to create the innovation. This needs to be an environment and culture that is created for every person from student to superintendent. The more we tap into each other, the better we all are.
I used to think that we needed to make a shift in our classrooms from “teacher focused” to “student focused”. But through my work, and then seeing the photo below, that statement wasn’t quite right. The best environments are learner focused. It is an “all in” idea that learning is something we do with our students, not to them.
Relationships Before Rigor Their PBL protocol is designed to put students in the driver's seat of their learning and is followed consistently throughout Manor...
Zipkes begins with the three R's, which he is quick to note should be engaged sequentially, but not in the conventional order of rigor, relevance, and relationships. Rather Manor begins by building relationships, then incorporates relevance and rigor. "Many schools try to put the rigor in first, but then they've already lost many of the students," he explains. "If you don't have a relationship with the students, they're not going to do anything for you; if it's not relevant, you're going to bore them. But when you look at relationships and relevance and then rigor, you're going to hit all students."
I have been involved with schools that have an advisory system — but it seems very challenging to bring it into the public school system since teachers are not trained to be advisors. How do you suggest we work towards solving this issue?
The most important thing is this: Prioritize it. So what does that look like…
1) Schedule it with real time and don’t make that time the dumping ground or the place you steal time from every time something comes us...
2) Don’t assume that teachers know how to care for children – teach them how to.
3) Make it matter by making it a core function of the school.
4) Don’t make it “just another class.”
...Kids should never be the implied object of their own education...
By Chris Lehmann at the Science Leadership Academy
“People come from all over the world to the Sydney Centre for Innovation in Learning. Typically they come to see buildings, spaces and furniture. They leave seeing the possibility for reconstructing their own learning spaces, pedagogy, teams and thinking...
What is the best opportunity for innovation in education?
The best opportunity for innovation in education occurs when school leaders are willing to take measured risk and make structural changes to the way their learning community works. This requires a team approach and necessitates swinging all group times away from meetings and to recurrent personal professional development. Everyone in the community needs to view themselves as a lifelong learner with a potential to improve.
"... Because the thing is… when you move to a more inquiry-driven, student-empowered school, it really does affect everything. When students become empowered to ask questions and seek out answers, everything changes, and you cannot -- and should not -- think that you can leave inquiry at the classroom door. When teachers see themselves as learners and researchers and planners, they will question traditions and policies. And as a community, everyone has to learn how to bring these ideas to bear to make the school whole."
All the learning starts from projects and then builds on the knowledge. Developing the skills of the students comes before the learning outcomes. Projects don't occur at the end of the unit to show the teacher what they learned; the units are the projects and the teacher draws out the learning in the context of the project. Students say if it is work worth doing, then they work hard to do their best. Motivation doesn't seem to be a big issue.
Projects are completed to the best of the student's ability, not to the completion date. To draw out the best possible work, the school has created "critique protocols" that provide real feedback from a variety of sources. Students keep going on their projects and "tune" them to reflect deeper and more meaningful connections. At the end of projects students always demonstrate their learning to "real audiences." Throughout the process students document their learning, encouraged to erase or delete nothing.
1. Create an Atmosphere That Inspires Innovation The Expert's Perspective: Robert Farrace: "Guiding the culture of the school is one of the most important things that a principal has to do. Unfortunately, it's also the most difficult. A lot of principals are stuck by the question, 'How do I get from where I am to where I want the school to be?' "How do you go about moving a collective set of values and beliefs that a faculty has built up in a school over years, perhaps even generations? What steps do you need to take to move that toward the kind of culture that allows for innovation?" The Habit in Action: "Our mission statement clearly says that we teach responsible citizenship and lifelong learning," explains Patrick Larkin. "I don't think that you can teach responsible citizenship in the year 2012 if you're ignoring digital citizenship and the use of technology." Yet, as recently as 2007, Larkin's Burlington High School in Burlington, MA, didn't allow students to access web-enabled mobile devices during the school day.
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