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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in 21st century learning
Posted by on in Teaching Strategies

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Cognitive Overload. Unfortunately, we do that a lot. We often overwhelm students with information when we present it to them. What's worse, we teach them to do the same to others when they present. We are killing them. Well... We're killing their learning...

So, it is only fair we call the police on ourselves... Or stop the insanity...

Talk About 1 To 3 Key Points And Expand On Them

One way you may be killing your students is by doing too much. They say: Say Less! They mean it. So never, ever spend the entire class period presenting. Such practice is questionable even in college. And, it's NEVER student centered.

This is what most of my college experience was. Presentations were meant to be interactive, but usually only a small percentage of students asked questions or commented.

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Posted by on in Project-Based Learning

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First, we kill our students creativity. Next, we ask them to be creative and wonder why they have such a hard time.

We always aspire for our students to move away from fact regurgitation and move toward higher level thinking and deeper understanding. When we ask students to brainstorm and generate ideas, provide solutions to problems, or to think and reason critically, we are really asking them to be creative. The sad truth is that by standardizing education we often kill creativity. The hope lies in the fact that creativity is an acquired skill that can be improved.

If we make a conscious decision to change things up in our classrooms, to change the way we educate our students, we can increase their creativity. With increased creativity they can innovate and be more successful.

The human brain is composed of gray matter and white matter. Gray matter stores knowledge and is used when we think. White matter is tissue through which the brain transfers and connects information. Scientific studies show that extraordinarily creative individuals have more white matter than others. This is good, because it proves creativity is something we can get better at.

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Posted by on in Teaching Strategies

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I love this quote by David Geurin, a Missouri high school principal. Check out David's blog for more progressive and game changing teaching and leading ideas.

Here's another quote I love and wholeheartedly agree with.

"Our job as teachers is not to "prepare" kids for something; our job is to help kids learn to prepare themselves for anything." - A.J. Juliani

What I take away from David and A.J.'s words is that the future is uncertain. The jobs of today will not exist tomorrow, but individuals who will possess the skills to learn anything, be able to reflect, creatively problem solve, take risks, stay persistent, and bring innovative solutions to the marketplace, will indeed be successful, regardless of what the future brings.

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Posted by on in General

quiet students

Recently, I read a study about the importance of the practicum experience for pre-service teachers (Leko and Brownell, 2011). Reflecting back to my own experience reminded me that, first of all, I am closer to retirement than the dawning of my career, and second, times have certainly changed. My practicum focused on maintaining control. Control meant that learning was happening in your room.  Old school evaluations focused on students in their seats, quietly listening to the words magically cascading from the teacher's mouth. Compliant students equated to the best possible environment for learning.  The best possible environment? For whom?  That question rung heavily in my mind, sitting, stirring, until my professional self was able to pull it out, clean it off, and whole heartedly evaluate what was happening in my classroom. 

There were no lightbulbs going off in my room.  There was not a place for discovery in my room.  There were, however, no behavior problems.  I was comfortable at the expense of my students. I knew that if I were to change there would be obstacles to overcome. My room was going to be noisy.  Students were going to be moving.  I needed to learn how to facilitate my students learning and let them lead the way.  This process began by giving the students choice.  Differentiated instruction was the new buzzword.  As my students chose their path of learning, this meant the room was not uniform and not quiet.  My stress level soared and my discomfort was palpable.  This, however, was my problem.  This was the beginning of the journey that would change my professional career and allow me to see  what was possible not only for my students but for me as well. 

Fast forward a few years.  A student, from the past, visited my classroom as a parent (this is mortifying if you haven't experienced it yet).  They walked in and exclaimed, "Wow! This looks so different!".   Thank goodness.  Thank goodness, the room looked different.  If I were about to teach a second generation the same as the first, that would have been hard to swallow.  My room now has few tables.  I have moved to flexible seating where couches and overstuffed chairs have replaced the institutional seating of the past.  My overhead lights are barely on as the room is now lit by lamps.  Paper no longer exists in my room as we are now 1:1 with chrome books.  Those are the visual aspects of my room that are different.  Pedagogically, I have not only changed zip codes but moved continents. 

Currently, students decide their own path to mastery and I facilitate the journey.  What does that look like?  A group of students are sitting on the floor creating a brick film about the rock cycle.  Another group of students are coding a game that will journey through this same cycle.  The discussion is often loud but meaningful.  The excitement is often boisterous but celebratory.  The change is powerful and I would never return to the days of quiet compliance. 

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Posted by on in Blended Learning

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2-4 kids and a Smartphone... Nice and easy but powerful. The ticket to awesome.

Check it out.

As teachers, we often do too much and the kids too little. We give a lot of information, but little processing time in class. Luckily, there are easy ways to change that. Check out my other posts on using tech to make instruction more student centered: School Isn't The Movies: Unlecture Video Instruction and I Stopped Lecturing, Because I Want My Students To Learn.

Today, we talk 30 second videos. The idea is to record a 30 second or shorter video explaining, or comparing, or contrasting, or giving examples of whatever it is you’re learning.

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