Guest blogger Chris Preston shares three unifying concepts identified by his team during a year of action research around inventive thinking: The learning experience must be (1) authentic, (2) connected, and (3) collaborative. “At the conclusion of our instruction,” he says, “many students commented that they would approach solutions to questions much differently in the future: ‘It changed how I look at projects,’ one said, ‘by really opening up my surroundings to more insightful sources of information, and not focusing just on knowledge I can find here at school.’”
“This past school year,” writes guest blogger Margaret Haviland, “our exploration of World War I was designed to enable students to construct their own knowledge and their own meaning within a framework established by myself and my intern. This framed, project based, self directed approach was our method all year.” The task before her students: “Figuring out what they needed to learn, both to answer the questions we generated together and to understand the topics they wanted to more completely understand.”
We are not teaching our students to pursue passions, says guest blogger Tim Holt. Instead, we are teaching students to pursue predetermined pathways that they may or may not value. Too often, they leave their passions at the doorway of education and career, and maybe pick them back up when they leave the building. For the most part, they have to pursue our passions on their own time, outside the official learning paradigm.
So it’s summer, and I’m on my back porch thinking about my teaching over the past year and wondering what I did well and where I could improve. I can be quite philosophical about it in June. But come August, I want a sharp, logically designed, power-packed unit to start off the year. I want to set the bar high and give my students room to find out what they’re made of.
The interactions my students had with award-winning Lesotho educator Moliehi Sekese would not have been possible without my ability to connect through Facebook, Twitter, Skype and Blogs. All these social media tools combined give teachers the power to create personal learning networks on a global scale. And the benefits are not yours alone. Your students will soon learn to appreciate how open the world has become!
California high school teacher (English/ESL) and resources guru Larry Ferlazzo is famous for the “Best of…” lists at his home cyberturf: Websites of the Day. He has well over 600 of them, the last time we looked. Our idea for this interview is basically to pick Larry’s brain and garner some of his best of the best of the best — especially in areas we might loosely call “21st century learning.”