"Is your capacity for learning is fixed or fluid? Can you improve your intelligence and talents through hard work and practice, or are you stuck with the brains you’ve got? Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck says most of us have either a “fixed” or “growth” mindset when it comes to learning. Most of us can get through sixteen years of schooling regardless of which mindset we have, but when it comes to lifelong learning–learning for the sake of learning, without outside pressure–only a growth mindset will cut it."
An encouraging new report describes preliminary, first-year outcomes from a study of 3,000 middle school students that shows kids can, in fact, learn more in science classrooms that adopt a well-designed, project-focused curriculum.
"Wherever we are, we’d all like to think our classrooms are “intellectually active” places. Progressive learning (like our 21st Century Model, for example) environments. Highly effective and conducive to student-centered learning. But what does that mean?
The reality is, there is no single answer because teaching and learning are awkward to consider as single events or individual 'things'..."
These criteria really outline some solid principles that should direct our planning and thus be evident in our learning environments. Principles such as: student enquiry, work readiness, personalised learning, flexibility, authentic and transparent assessment. I like the focus on critical thinking here :)
While textbooks are clearly not obsolete, schools like Lawrence Intermediate School are learning to adapt to the impact the Internet is having on students — and figuring out how to take advantage of what it has to offer. In the end, there is no single right way to get kids engaged in learning, but it’s clear that these kids, at least, who are working in a SOLE environment feel a sense of empowerment, confidence and maturity.
"Blended learning is constantly evolving. And most of the innovations and refinements have been developed to support student-centered learning. That means leveraging technology into learning activities, in and out of the classroom.
There is mounting evidence that complementing or replacing lectures with student-centric, technology-enabled active learning strategies and learning guidance—rather than memorization and repetition—improves learning, supports knowledge retention, and raises achievement. These new student-centered blended learning methods inspire engagement, and are a way to connect with every student right where they are while supporting progress toward grade level standards."
In our emerging digital world, a new medium of exchange has developed: online engagement, especially via social media. Effectively engaging online requires a myriad of skills that we strive to foster in school – effective written communication, brevity and civility. These components are often highlighted in Digital Citizenship programs, but in tradition-bound K12 education, we often deride social media as trite or ineffective.
"It’s been four years since I first published my “Taxonomy of Reflection.” My interest in reflective thinking is rooted in a simple but powerful statement by Donald Finkel who wrote that teaching should be thought of as “providing experience, provoking reflection.” (Teaching with Your Mouth Shut)."
Grouping students is easy; creating effective student groups is less so.
The following infographic from Mia MacMeekin seeks to provide some ideas to help make group work easier in your classroom. The strength of this particular graphic is in the range of the ideas. The first tip refers teachers to Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal development, which frames student ability in terms of a range: what they can do unassisted, what they can do with the support of a More Knowledgeable Other (MKO), and what they cannot do even with support. This is different for each student, and understanding these ranges for students can help inform grouping decisions, whether you’re using a peer instruction model, ability grouping, or another approach.
"Education-bashing has become something of a national sport in the United States. From hurling criticism about slipping test scores, socio-economic disparity, dropout rates, to raising concerns about poor teaching standards and school resources, the popular narrative is that U.S. schools are failing children. There’s good reason for the pile-on: in many cases, the problems are real.
While most of the conversation around education reform centers on how to address these existing issues, another point of view has been gaining momentum over the last several years. It’s a point of view that is less focused on fine-tuning the current system for high performance—since the system was built in 1893 with the goal of churning out "good workers"—and more about rethinking education entirely and how it meets the world’s rapidly changing economy in the information age.
This topic is explored in depth in the feature-length documentary, Most Likely to Succeed, which premiered at Sundance and will appear at the Tribeca Film Festival April 24. In the film, director, writer and producer Greg Whiteley casts a light on the shortcomings of established education methods by focusing on one school that’s defying convention, San Diego’s High Tech High. While following two ninth-grade classes for a year, with classroom instruction unlike anything you’ve ever seen, the doc offers some inspirational ideas for how to help students rise to the occasion of an innovation economy that requires critical thinking."
Critical thinking. We all endorse it. We all want our students to do it. And we claim to teach it. But do we? Do we even understand and agree what it means to think critically?
According to Paul and Elder’s (2013a) survey findings, most faculty don’t know what critical thinking is or how to teach it. Unless faculty explicitly and intentionally design their courses to build their students’ critical thinking skills and receive training in how to teach them, their students do not improve their ski
The challenge with projects can be getting students to go into depth, think critically about their research - its relevance and the conclusions they draw and apply to the project. Some probing questions in this article to help.
The Importance of Project Based Teaching - An interesting blog that discusses conflicting thoughts about the merits of project based learning (PBL). Kilpatrick's (1918) principle that student engagement is achieved through student choice and Dewey's belief this was misguided. Dewey's focus with PBL was on the cognitive process and the tutor's role in extending the "act of thinking". Both important parts of PBL for my level 2 students, with the later being the teaching challenge. The article goes on to mention the teaching strategies embedded in successful PBL. "These included Piagetian programs based on challenges that cause learners to apply higher-order thinking and learn collaboratively, meta-cognitive strategies, problem-solving teaching, cooperative learning, formative assessment, challenging tasks, peer tutoring, and most importantly, feedback (what we call critique and revision)."
"Below I have outlined a number of tasks, for use with the iPad in the classroom. I believe that if you understand these 5 tasks from beginning to end, you will have an excellent foundation to build any engaging classroom activities."
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