Still Learning #isedchat

In the book The New Culture of Learning, which I briefly posted about a week or so ago, the authors conclude that the fusion between the two elements of information and experimentation, and the resulting transformation of both, is what defines this new culture. In a sense, it’s learning through play.

This past Friday, I concluded a three week teaching stint for SIG at The Overlake School. I have done a lot of reading about longer 90 minute classes, multi-age groups, process-based curricula, etc., and these past three weeks gave me the opportunity to experiment with those ideas.

It’s true one can learn a lot through reading, or be inspired by watching. I have to agree with the authors, though, that until you do it yourself, fail, learn and try again, play and experiment, the other kind of learning isn’t transformational.

My challenge for the coming school year will be to make sure my students are not only inspired to learn, but are given opportunities to experiment as well. I also want to try and have a good balance which focuses on both the processes as well as the skills.

One of the many reasons I blog is that I’m intrigued by the pros and cons of social media, something I’m still learning a lot about. And believe it or not, it was a tweet I responded to that led me to the summer gig. Aside from my own personal learning, it was great to meet and work with some wonderful educators and kids.

I’d love to write and reflect more about my experience, but I’m in the middle of nowhere and just glad there’s currently a small wifi signal so I can post this. So much for those who insist iPads are only consumption devices.

The new culture of learning is about mindsets and motivation. Hopefully, I can teach kids that.

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5 thoughts on “Still Learning #isedchat

  1. Don’t come to Florida. We teach skills to pass the state tests. Drill, drill, drill. You do not have time for such nonsense. Your mandatory lesson plans and benchmark accounting does not provide for such frivolity as experimenting and applying models of thinking. Your interest in these abstractions will shortchange the child and who do you “think” you are presenting this heresy? Obviously you are not fit to be a teacher. The bureaucrats not interested in processes. This is outcome driven and the skills are what count. If you want to do experiments play with your kid’s chemistry set. Skills get test scores up not creativity or paradigms of thinking. Creativity is a distraction. We need not be creative in finding the area of a rectangle. (I do hope you see this is my sarcasm against the system and I respect your idealism in cultivating young minds. I truly wish what you present would be the reality to achieve today’s demands. Unfortunately it does not fit in today’s system). The behavioral terms “the student will create, the student will design, the student will craft, the student will operate, etc.” are no longer objectives.

    • Thanks for your comment and I do hear your sarcasm and frustration. It’s one of the main reasons I teach at an independent school. Sure, we have skill-based benchmarks too, but there’s a level of autonomy far greater than when I taught at a public school. Maybe I’ll return someday, but it won’t likely be in Florida. Thanks for the tip.

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  3. I am adding my two cents to this topic as a middle school teacher from a different state entirely. I think that other states offer public school teachers a greater freedom to use things like student experimentation in their lesson planning. In Virginia we certainly have standardized testing, but I have found that using more constructive methods actually increases student performance on those tests. In fact, school districts invest significant money in professional development programs that help teachers to do a wide variety of things from incorporate technology into the classroom to using cooperative learning more effectively. I’m sure that the state doesn’t care how you teach the information as long as your tests scores are high, and solid teaching makes test scores higher. (At least, I find this to be true at the middle school level. This may be very different for elementary school students.)

    • Thanks for commenting. I have to agree with you about constructive learning and making things relevant to the kids. Not only do they learn the material in a more meaningful way, they retain it after. You could give them a test cold a year later and they would do better than a group that was ‘taught to the test’.

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