As the person most directly responsible for our schoolâ€™s professional learning, I have been wondering what professional development looks like when you turn Bloomâ€™s on its head and ask teachers to encourage students’ creative thinking early in the learning process. Teachers need to model their own creative thinking and embrace “messy” assessments.
Every state requires high school students to take a US History survey course. For the makers of the SAT Subject Test, every event, every President, every person of note is of equal importance and equally likely to show up on the examination. If I were a college admissions director I would want an assessment that sought to tease out a young person’s sense of what it means to be an engaged citizen, not how many facts they know about President James Garfield.
In her new position as Westtown School’s Director of Teaching & Learning, Margaret Haviland says she is “mindful of the many ’21st century learning’ advocates who hold up for us a world in which our students will work in jobs that have yet to be created and likely will hold numerous jobs over the course of their lives. I see this school year as one of living into that experience as I sort through what this new position I’ve accepted will look like.”
The first Westtown School World History Film Festival has come and gone. Two weeks before Thanksgiving my students were channeling Ken Burns â€” and serving as witting accomplices in my continuing shift toward student ownership of learning. This year I decided to continue the individualized learning approach I used last year in our unit on the Mongols, but I chose the communication medium beforehand: documentary film. Greedily, I wanted a broader audience for my students’ work, and I wanted an excuse to learn to make this sort of film. Here’s what we learned!
The kind of continuous exploration, reinterpretation and flat-out invention pursued by Rembrandt and his students are at the heart of good education. Their search for empathy and for representations of Jesus that bridged the gap between human and devine suggest to history teacher Margaret Haviland ways in which educators can help students today better understand what they value and how that shapes their decisions and actions.