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Let kids make informed decisions about real things in the real world

Young boy looking through round bubble window into giant aquarium

Will Richardson said:

Sure, the CCSS wants to promote and measure critical thinking skills. But the CCSS wants that to happen in the context of contrived situations within an increasingly irrelevant curriculum that most kids don’t care about and will forget as soon as the test is over. Applying those “skills” to the complexities of real life situations doesn’t much transfer if you don’t care about what you’re thinking critically about in the first place.

Give kids the freedom to make “informed decisions” about things they care about, real things in the real world, things that probably aren’t in the standards or on the test, and we’ll get a lot farther down the road to preserving what’s left of this experiment in democracy.

via http://willrichardson.com/post/116819785265/education-and-an-informed-democracy

Image credit: the bubble, Eleni Preza

The exam sham

Harvard

Mike Crowley said:

Teachers are being judged and schools rated based on test and exam results. How many kids are getting into Yale and Oxford, Harvard and Cambridge, we are perpetually asked. I have yet to be asked, how many of your students go to the college that is right for them? … how many are pursuing their passions? … how many are leading happy, fulfilling lives and believe that the curriculum was relevant to their daily, real-world challenges? No, we rarely ask the right questions.

via http://crowleym.com/2015/06/21/the-exam-sham-onwards-we-blindly-go

Image credit: Harvard, Anne Helmond

Become a reading warrior

Joy of reading

Pernille Ripp said:

I declare myself a reading warrior, and I believe you should as well. No more reading logs to check whether kids are reading. No more levels used to stop children from self-selecting books they actually want to read. No more timed standardized tests to check for comprehension. Being a fast reader does not mean you comprehend more. No more reading projects that have nothing to do with reading. No more reading packets to produce a grade that stops students from talking about books. No more rewards; prizes, stickers, lunches with the principal. We cannot measure a great reader by how many pages a school has read, so stop publishing it. Don’t publish your test scores. Don’t publish your AR levels. Publish instead how many children have fallen in love with a book. How many recommendations have been made from student to student. Publish how many books have needed to be replaced because of worn pages. Publish that, and be proud of the teachers that dare to speak up to protect the very thing we say we hold sacred.

Be a reading warrior, because for too long we have hoped that the decisions being made are always in the best interest of a child when we know at times they are not. No child is helped when we protest in silence, when we protest in the teacher lounge, or in our homes. We have to find the courage to speak up for the very students we serve. We have to practice being brave. We have to allow students to read books that they choose, to give them time to talk about their books rather than fill out a packet, and to allow them to self-monitor how much reading they are doing and then believing them when they tell us their truth. It is time for us to stand up and speak up. It is time to take back our reading instruction and truly make it about what the kids need and not what others tell us that they need.

via http://pernillesripp.com/2015/06/17/enough

Image credit: Joy of reading, Lord Marmalade

It’s time to move away from simple questions about technology integration

Adam Copeland said:

It is time for instructors to move from simple questions like, “Do you use technology in the classroom?” to the more complex, “For what purpose, and with what learning theories, should I engage digitally-enhanced pedagogies?” I have suggested a way forward that I have found useful, an initial attempt explicitly to address why, and for what reasons, I have proceeded with digital practices in the classroom. These four pillars – forming collaborative relationships with peers, preparing for citizenship, encountering difference and disagreement, and welcoming complexity – represent four possible emphases, and surely there are others. A teacher may wish to emphasize a particular pillar more than others. You and I can, together, develop practices that match with our courses, our pedagogical gifts, and our particular subject matter. Ultimately, I invite us to move away from easy answers, whether for or against technology in the classroom. The nature of these challenges still defies simple conversations around the departmental coffee pot, so let us, with digital wisdom, welcome the questions.

via http://www.hybridpedagogy.com/journal/teaching-digital-wisdom

Our teacher discussion protocol, trudacot, can help with this!

Summer school for kindergarteners

Kindergarten

Valerie Strauss said:

curriculum has been pushed down so much that kindergarten is no longer a time for kids to learn and socialize through play but rather for a lot of desk time with academic assignments. Sure, some schools break up the time so kids don’t sit there hour after hour, but the pressure on young children to learn to read and do math – even if they aren’t developmentally ready – and on teachers to ensure that they do learn – has become extraordinary.

Providing quality summer programs for young children is a laudable goal – and something school systems and city governments should offer. But requiring 5- and 6-year-olds to go to summer school so they can labor over academics is something else entirely.

via http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/07/13/and-now-mandatory-summer-school-for-some-kindergartners

Image credit: Kindergarten, Here We Come, Howard County Library System

We could surprise them and they could see that we are good kids

Criminal

Katrina Schwartz said

Many students at [Los Angeles Unified School District’s Roosevelt High School] felt the news media had mischaracterized their school and its students as criminals for figuring out how to get around the iPad’s security features, often to access educational information.

“We were really caught up in how they kept calling Roosevelt ‘hackers,’” said Daniela Carrasco, a former student.

[Mariela] Bravo doesn’t understand why the district would give students iPads with so many limitations. Her peers were looking up homework help on YouTube – and yes, checking Facebook, too – but that’s part of life.

“They have to trust us more,” Bravo said. “We could surprise them and they could see that we are good kids.”

Students were frustrated that the district couldn’t see that negotiating distractions on the Internet is part of life now. “We should have been trusted with those websites,” Carrasco said. “Instead of blocking them, there should have been emphasis on how to use those websites for good.”

via http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2015/06/01/how-students-uncovered-lingering-hurt-from-lausd-ipad-rollout

More nuanced responses from the students than the district…

Image credit: criminals crew_07, Phiesta’s way

When students develop learning objectives based on the standards

Steve Carroll said:

When we transitioned to Common Core we did an unpacking the standards process. More importantly, after we got through that process, we started a backwards design where we developed questions and learning objectives based upon the standards themselves and then translated that into assessment. Probably the biggest gains came after we let students start developing learning objectives based on the standards. We would actually give the students the standards and ask them, ‘What would you have to be able to do show mastery of this?’ The students themselves developed learning objectives.

via http://hechingerreport.org/lessons-from-the-principal-of-a-kentucky-school-that-went-from-one-of-the-worst-to-one-of-the-best-under-common-core

When I understand it, why do I have to repeat it twenty times?

Again and again

Students said:

“The teachers used to talk at us all the time, non-stop, but they never actually spoke to us.”

“Can you remember what it feels like to sit at a desk for a whole class, just listening? Have you any idea how much I just want to scream?”

“So, I get the practice part of homework, but when I understand the concept or idea the first time, why do I have to repeat it twenty times? Who made that the magic number of knowing?”

Mike Crowley said:

The truth is that we intuitively know what the word personal means and we understand that in order to make learning personal we need to make connections with young people, we need to make learning meaningful in contexts that are relevant to their current and future lives, and we need to stop doing things that we innately know no longer make sense. Young people want to do math and science, not observe it; they want to write for real audiences on blogs, not write the autobiography of a pencil; they want to address real-world problems in society today, not memorise the past; they want to create, explore, build, move, and express themselves and, most of all, they want to grow in an unshackled environment. Being talked at, sitting passively, engaging in rote learning – the vestiges of a pre-digital past – are no longer acceptable. There is no need for debate here. Our students are no longer listening. For them, learning is only ever personal, and, in order to engage them, to really help them grow, we need to keep the words of Alice in mind: “No, no! The adventures first, explanations take such a dreadful time.”

via http://crowleym.com/2015/05/10/gyre-gimble-fool-whats-the-point-of-school

The core of education needs to take into account the people that are in it

Sir Ken Robinson said:

[The standards movement is] well intentioned to raise standards, but the mistake it makes is that it fails to recognize that education is not a mechanical impersonal process that can improved by tweaking standards and regularly testing. . . . It’s a human process. It’s real people going through the system and whether the system takes into account who they are, what engages them, isn’t incidental. It is the core of what education is.

By the time [kids] are educated I want them to come out knowing what they are personally good at and interested in, what their strengths are and where they might like to go after school. I want them to feel confident that they can face the challenges that life will throw at them and they can begin to make their way to become productive members of the community.

via http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/04/21/sir-ken-robinson-has-a-lot-to-say-about-u-s-school-reform-it-isnt-good

Compliance remains the central goal

Alfie Kohn said:

Whether or not it’s stated explicitly, compliance remains the central goal of most classroom management programs, character education initiatives, and parenting resources. Sure, we stress the virtues of independent thinking and assertiveness, but mostly in the context of getting kids to resist peer pressure. If a child has the temerity to resist unreasonable rules and demands imposed by adults, well, then, bring on the “consequences” (read: punishments) to “hold them accountable for their behavior.”

What is so offensive about Skinnerian programs like PBIS or Class Dojo isn’t just their methods, which amount to extended exercises in manipulation, but their goal, which is to elicit mindless obedience.

via http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/04/26/how-to-teach-students-not-to-do-everything-they-are-told

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