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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in authentic learning experiences
Posted by on in Early Childhood

After fourteen years of teaching child care professionals and teachers about preschool learners, one of my college students, with sweet, enthusiastic innocence, told me that her threes understood the word “hypothesis.” That in her center, they teach a “word a week” to the children. And their philosophy? Their motivation? “We have to get them ready for being four.” I suggested that the children are learning to be three. Why push them?

Her program is called an Academy. That says a lot. A Facebook friend, who owns a center, confessed that using the word “Academy” in her school’s title was a marketing decision. She is uncomfortable with it because her program is a process-oriented, creative program where children learn organically—through play experiences, with teachers as guides. But she bit the bullet and chose that word—Academy—to bring parents in.

“Academies” ask two-year-olds to glue noodles to a paper plate, then ask the teacher to glue on the letter “N. They display these almost identical pieces on a bulletin board in the classroom so parents will think their toddlers are learning something (they’re not). They call this academics. Many parents believe that an early academic start (mimicking public school) is good for their children. You can’t blame them. They so want to believe they are giving their children a jump start. All they know is from their own experience, and they don’t remember school any further back than early elementary school. These are the biases they base their choices on. These biases don’t come from developmental theorists, or from the hallowed history of child care and early education. They certainly don’t come from today’s leaders in the educational field. They come from the cultural memory of the industrial age. Ken Robinson calls this a mechanistic approach to education. This approach is outmoded.

We want to prepare young children by allowing them to grow organically, and learn through curiosity, imagination, and creativity. These three qualities are immensely important. They won’t perpetuate the mechanistic, industrial world view of the 19th and 20th century, but will prepare a generation to become the talented, productive, individual human beings that we will need in the future. How can we educate parents to demand the best for their children? By educating them about what the best is.

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

 preschool

"Let's start at the very beginning. It's a very good place to start. When we read we begin with A B C...."

Who knew I'd love teaching littles? Not me, that's for sure. 

Preschool KWLW: Here's my learning update, month seven of my what was I thinking in year forty six? Who else in their right mind would start over, at the very beginning. Like how to hold a pencil, how to handle a book with love and repair ripped pages. I think I'm doing pretty well with the goals of the literacy grant, but I'm not working in sequential order like I usually do. I feel so out of sync, then all of a sudden, voila! the pieces come together.

Show and Tell and Circle Time offer time to structure, hold a class meeting for a couple minutes, sing, stretch and say our affirmations. Growth Mindset oozing from every pore of all of us. I lead Circle two days a week. I set and Close and bring puppets, props, a costume, tell stories, you know where I'm going here. Family learning.

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

“I always wanted to be honest with myself and to those who had faith in me.”
– Rafael Nadal 


Have you ever had to “unlearn” something? Do you think Yield Signs are still yellow (as you may have learned), or do you know that they are red?

yieldsignyello

What about the planets? Do you still remember the mnemonic device “My Very Elegant Mother Just Sat Upon Nine Porcupines (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, Pluto)”? Or do you know that Pluto is no longer a planet (due to scientific discoveries between 1992-2000).

Have you ever had to unlearn a concept like leadership or professional learning? Well, Nick Polyak and I have a book coming out in March 2017 with the following title: The Unlearning Leader: Leading for Tomorrow’s Schools Today, with the following chapter titles:

Chapter 1: Unlearning Connection
Chapter 2: Unlearning Planning and the Change Process
Chapter 3: Unlearning “That’s the Way We Have Always Done it”
Chapter 4: Unlearning Fear of Social Media
Chapter 5: Unlearning Professional Development
Chapter 6: Unlearning Leadership

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Posted by on in Education Technology

mind reading

Imagine if you could hear every single student's thinking, thoughts, and ideas on a topic, and respond to each and every one of them without finding time to schedule individual student conferences. Imagine if your students could let you know how well they understood the topics covered during the week. Imagine how much insight you could get, and how you could adjust your teaching to meet the needs of individual students.  

Well, a few weeks ago I came across Recap, a free student video response and reflection app, on my Twitter feed. It allows me to hear every single student's thinking, thoughts, and ideas, allows me to respond to each and every one of them. I checked out the site and immediately put it into action in my class calling the Recap assignments, #flashbackfridays. For 6th graders, not much is cooler than the hashtag. 

My 6th grade students instantly took to it. Every one of my students are able to share their insights through a reflective process in a way that is relevant and meaningful to them. They can respond to the Recap assignments on any device that has a camera and microphone, and after they are done recording, they assess their learning about the topic(s) by selecting a "thumbs up," "thumbs sideways," or "thumbs down." Videos can range from 15 seconds to 2 minutes or longer if need be, as determined by the teacher.  

My Recap assignments are simply questions for my students to share their thinking with me. Teachers have the option of asking one or more questions for their students to respond to. So a teacher could ask a general question such as, "What are three things you learned this week," request more specific feedback from students like, "Tell me the steps for dividing fractions," or even use the 3-2-1 prompt idea. Also, while I view each student's response, I can type a response to them while their video is playing. If I need to pause or rewind a their video, I can. Recap then will breakdown the students's responses into how they self-assessed their learning for quick reference for the teacher. Finally, once the due date has come, Recap will automatically create a daily review reel. 

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Posted by on in Teaching Strategies

Think. Design. Create. Test. Analyze. Think. Design. Iterate. Test. Solve. Improve. Solve better.

Think you're done? Think again!

The Design Thinking Process is really a cycle that looks something like this:

b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_2251.JPG

Take the iPhone. Apple releases a new model every year. Why? Profit of course! But, each version is better. It offers something new. Something desirable. Something that solves a past problem and improves the user experience.

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