We do not learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience. ~John Dewey
This week I am sharing my highlights from the chapters 6 & 7 of The Innovator’s Mindset. These chapters focused on learning, particularly engagement vs. empowerment and solidifying learning through reflecting.
Some things resonated for me, specifically the quote from Bill Ferriter about empowerment, and the pages in which Couros juxtaposed School vs. Learning.
At first thought, engagement is something I believe we as teachers look for in our students- we want them to be engaged in the content, engaged in our class, actively doing; engagement is a good thing, right? Reflecting on Ferriter’s quote though, makes engagement more something we are doing to our students to get them to want to learn what we have to teach them. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but as Couros said, something we as teachers should keep in mind when our students are with us. Perhaps we can have both. Perhaps our students can be engaged and empowered at the same time- they can engage with our content and be empowered with choice to use their strengths and passions to share their learning, pursue their questions, and learn more.
I’ll leave you with these highlights.
- It is imperative that we teach learners how to be self-directed and guide their own learning, rather than rely on others to simply engage them
- “Engaging students means getting kids excited about our content, interests, and curricula.” Empowering students “means giving kids the knowledge and skills to pursue their passions, interests, and future.” ~Bill Ferriter
- If you had to choose between compliant, engaged, or empowered, which word would you want to define your students?
- “Freedom is actually a bigger game than power. Power is about what you can control. Freedom is about what you can unleash.” ~Harriet Rubin
- Our job as educators and leaders is not to control others but to bring out the best in them.
- We need to create the same opportunities for our students as those we would want for ourselves.
- Innovation cannot be relegated to a one-off event.
- The shift in our thinking must focus on what learning truly can be, not what is has been.
- School is scheduled at certain times. Learning can happen any time, all of the time.
- School is standardized. Learning is personal.
- School often isolates. Learning is often social.
- School promotes developing your own questions and finding answers.
- Thinking you already know the answer can keep you from exploring new options.
- Before we decide how best to communicate our vision, we have to establish one; we have to articulate the desired characteristics of our learners and the optimal learning environment.
- The people who help set the vision and mission are most likely to embrace it.
- If we want innovative students, we need to be innovative leaders and educators. If we want to create a culture of innovation we must first focus on furthering our own learning and growth.
- Providing choice allows students to build on strengths and interests to make learning relevant and fulfilling.
- DEAR time should be an opportunity not only for reading, but to also “Drop Everything And Reflect.”
- It is important that “innovation” does not become an event for our students but the norm.
- Let’s start asking kids to find problems and give them a sense of purpose in solving something authentic.
- Teaching students how to assess themselves, rather than just do it for them, provides another opportunity for reflection.
- Portfolios are a great way for learners to share their knowledge and document the learning process.
- Looking back helps students develop their own understanding of where they have been, where they are, and where they are going.
- What if we recognized and built on learners’ strengths?
- Dreaming is important, but until we create the conditions where innovation in education flourishes, those dreams will not become reality.
This week I am sharing articles and posts that I think are timely and important.
I just read this article about the importance of helping and teaching our students not only about how to be good digital citizens, but also how to be good digital leaders. Just because they don’t see themselves doing anything stupid or silly online when they Google themselves does not mean that they should not be found at all. We need to help and encourage our students to create a positive digital footprint so that they can be found when Googled, and that when they are, it shows their leadership, innovations, and inspirations.
Since many are implementing digital portfolios, I thought this EdWeek article by Larry Ferlazzo about the importance of making reflection a habit would be appropriate to share. EdWeek articles require a log in to read. This is free to subscribe to with your school email and a password.
I read an article from The New York Times about teaching math and in it was this great site for math riddles to be used for problem solving and critical thinking that I thought you might like to try with your (older for many riddles) classes. The riddles range in difficulty from easy to very challenging and topics from Geometry to Algebra, probability, logic, and more and would probably be best if these were worked on in small groups so students can practice problem solving collaboratively.
Here is a site that I shared last year but that came by again in my Twitter feed this morning. Hstry.co is a cool site for learning and creating using interactive multimedia timelines like this featured one on Life in the Colonies or this one on Using Twitter in your classroom. You can include text, images, videos, and quizzes in the timelines you create and then share or embed these on your site. One drawback that I have is the inability to filter timelines by subject. The site is free to sign up and free to create, though access to some of the really great bundles that Hstry.co creates (and there are some really perfect ones for our 4th and 5th graders) are for premium users at $49/year. Beyond that, it’s pretty cool.
That’s all folks.
It’s May so it makes sense to look back on the school year to reflect and assess how things have gone with the change in my job from specialist to integrator. We have had the Mac laptops for a year (we got 1 cart last April, 5 more last summer), the teachers have all had theirs for a year, the students have had access for almost the whole school year at this point so it’s a good time to see what we have done. And of course, it’s also a good time to see what there is still left to do, hence-half empty.
- Teachers are comfortable with their Macbooks
- Teachers and students are using the laptops everyday for something, whether it is a visit to First in Math, Spelling City or an application like Pixie, the teachers and the students are using technology in some way.
- Some first grade students are blogging
- Many fourth grade students are blogging
- Fifth grade students are blogging (this is not new but still . . )
- We have made connections to other classes through blogs, skyping and Mystery Skype
- A third grade class skyped with a Veteran for Veteran’s Day and also shared their biography museum with a class in California
- A first grade class has tweeted about and shared pictures of their Painted Lady butterflies and has received comments from other first grade classes in other schools
- Second grade students have shared their love of and improvement in reading through podcasting
- Many students are creating and sharing their work with others
- Teachers are beginning to think about ways to integrate the technology in purposeful, natural ways
With that being said, there is still more work that needs to be done:
- I would like all students and teachers to be blogging about their work, their reflections and their wonderings
- Meetings for brainstorming and sharing need to be a priority and I need to make it happen more often
- Though I met with many teachers and went in to many classrooms regularly, there were some that I did not go in very often, or much at all and that is something I would like to change, even if it is just to check in to see what is happening
- I would like to see more classes collaborating with others via skype and making connections with other classes
- I would like all students to be creating and sharing their work with others, creating a lasting legacy of their learning
Yes, much has been accomplished this year, but there is still so much to do.
So what do you think- half full or half empty?
photo credit: jenny downing via photo pin