Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:
David Kirp, author of several major books on early childhood education, a model school district, and several other topics, describes a noteworthy educational innovation (everything old is new again):
“These students are grouped at tables, each corresponding to a grade level. The hum of conversation fills the room. After tackling an assignment on their own, the students review one another’s work. If a child is struggling, the others pitch in to help.
“During my visit to one of these schools, second graders were writing short stories, and fifth graders were testing whether the color of light affects its brightness when seen through water. The teacher moved among the groups, leaning over shoulders, reading and commenting on their work. In one corner of the classroom were items, brought to school by the kids, that will be incorporated in their lessons. The students have planted a sizable garden, and the vegetables and…
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In this article, he notes that many of our policymakers have come to believe in the magical powers of standardized testing, especially when high-stakes are attached to them. He notes with disappointment that there is no difference between George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind and President Obama’s Race to the Top program. Neither has succeeded, he says, and neither will ever succeed. He explains patiently that tests can’t cure poverty, nor can they close achievement gaps rooted in poverty. Only direct action to address poverty can cure poverty
Originally posted on Techspiration:
If you ask a group of 30 elementary to middle school children what their favorite video game is, chances are a large percentage of them will answer: Minecraft. Minecraft is a sandbox construction game. In order to survive in this online word, players “mine” or harvest materials such as wood, stone, and ore to build objects. These objects have certain properties depending on the crafting recipe and the materials used. More importantly, however, you can stack the stuff you mine into amazingly complex shapes, allowing you to build tall towers, sprawling cities, and even whole worlds.
With its open-ended, crafting environment, Minecraft encourages active learning through critical thinking and creative problem-solving. There is no doubt that it has the potential to be very useful in education, but can it be successful? In order to be successful, classroom tools require not only a well-designed environment, but an inspired and forward-thinking teacher who…
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In preparing students for the world outside school, what skills are important to learn? This goes to the heart of the research addressed in the Deeper Learning Report released by the National Research Council of the National Academies of Science in Washington.
Simply defined, “deeper learning” is the “process of learning for transfer,” meaning it allows a student to take what’s learned in one situation and apply it to another, explained James Pellegrino, one of the authors of the report. “You can use knowledge in ways that make it useful in new situations,” he said in a recent webinar. “You have procedural knowledge of how, why, and when to apply it to answer questions and solve problems.”
To deconstruct the definition of deeper learning further, the researchers came up with what they call three domains of competence: cognitive, intrapersonal and interpersonal. Cognitive refers to reasoning and problem solving; intrapersonal refers to self-management, self-directedness, and conscientiousness; and interpersonal refers to expressing ideas and communicating and working with others.
In fact, the perceived need to personalize probably comes from this way of thinking about education in the first place. If the point is to dump a load of facts into children, then it may be necessary to adjust the style and rate of dumping – and to help teachers become more efficient at it. But if the point is to help kids understand ideas from the inside out and answer their own questions about the world, then what they’re doing is already personal (and varied). It doesn’t have to be artificially personalized.
Imagine a world where resources were limited to what was found in the classroom or the school closet known as the “Curriculum Materials Room.” Picture a world where students wrote letters with pen and paper to communicate with other students and adults outside of the building. Due to postage costs, the teacher either sent the letters in bulk or paid for stamps out of his or her own pocket. Can you recall a time when student interests like skateboarding or video were never used as part of learning curriculum because the tools needed were either too expensive or not yet conceptualized? Do you remember a time when non-traditional learners struggled, and absenteeism meant a high likelihood of students doing poorly in school, and possibly having to retake the course?
The University of Mississippi
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e Planning Guide is based on the book, Deeper Learning: How Eight Public Schools are Transforming Education in the 21st Century. Deeper Learning, as described by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, is the means for teaching students to use their knowledge and skills in a way that prepares them for real life by mastering core academic content, such as language arts, history, math, and science. The students also learn how to think critically, collaborate, communicate effectively, direct their own learning, and believe in themselves. The book is intended to inspire parents, educators, and external stakeholders about what is possible and to provide examples of key strategies and common practices used by eight different schools to ensure students develop Deeper Learning (DL) outcomes.The Planning Guide offers practical guidance on the conditions that have to be established for schools to truly change their practices to ensure students leave school with the sophisticated content knowledge and skills needed to be critical thinkers, problem-solvers, collaborators and communicators. It is our hope that the Guide, with its series of exercises and set of resources that demonstrate how schools can create the conditions that are necessary for Deeper Learning, will help you develop a strategic plan to transform your school.
When researching student motivation and gamification late last year, I came across the most comprehensive gamification framework I’ve ever seen. Developed by gamification expert Yu-kai Chou, it was an ambitious effort that distinguished black hat gamification (which is “bad”–think Farmville and Candy Crush) from white hat gamification (which is “good”–think Minecraft or even an ACT score). (It’s also copyrighted, but they graciously allowed us to use it.)
While it is designed not as an educational framework, but rather as a way to demonstrate gamification and its many strands, gamification is about human encouragement and motivation. For educators, student motivation is one of the pillars of a academic performance. While the terms are sometimes misunderstood–and risk becoming cliche as we continue to talk about them topically rather than specifically–student motivation and student engagement are prime movers in the learning process. Without either, teaching is an uphill battle.
John Dewey is one of the giants in the history of educational theory, and it’s difficult to isolate one of his specific theories to discuss here. He was influential in so many areas of educational reform, that to choose one theme would do him a disservice, so I will highlight several of the areas in which he was ahead of his time.
Since the fall of 2003, after NCLB required high-stakes testing in all 50 states, we have systematically scoured news outlets and scholarly journals for accounts of the impact of high-stakes testing. We have amassed a significant collection of evidence highlighting the distortion, corruption, and collateral damage that occur when high-stakes tests become commonplace in our public schools.
We found reports and research about individuals and groups of individuals from across the nation whose lives have been tragically and often permanently affected by high-stakes testing. We found hundreds of instances of adults who were cheating, including many instances of administrators who “pushed” children out of school, costing thousands of students the opportunity to receive a high school diploma. We also found administrators and school boards that had drastically narrowed the curriculum, and who forced test-preparation programs on teachers and students, taking scarce time away from genuine instruction. We found teacher morale plummeting, causing many to leave the profession