Kari Webb says:
If you give a kid a fish, she’ll eat for a day. If you teach a kid to fish, she’ll eat for a lifetime.
But… if you let that kid investigate a local fish population, working alongside regional experts in fish management and the aquatic environment – she may develop a love of STEM which will launch a career in sustainable resource management, with the goal of feeding the whole planet.
I am increasingly convinced that an essential component of STEM education is the inclusion of locally-relevant problem solving. . . [T]his is the hook which will capture the minds and the hearts of our youngest problem solvers. We need to match STEM-mentors with teachers and students, and then encourage everyone to jump into the deeper waters of collaborative, student-centered, problem-based learning.
STEM challenges are real, and real challenges often involve failure, messiness, and unexpected complications (anyone who has ever gone camping knows the truth of this statement). The role of the STEM professional is to help students press through the set-backs, ultimately establishing precisely the sort of tenacity (e.g., grit) that Iowa’s future demands. . .
Iowa should cast the STEM-net in deep water, looking for a catch that includes STEM business partners, non-formal educators, and teachers and learners from just about every discipline.
FedEx Day: a 24-hour hackathon in which individuals or teams work on new ideas and new projects. Participants must work on something that’s not part of their daily work and, most importantly, they have to deliver something in 24 hours (in the words of Seth Godin, “they need to ship“).
Here are some resources on FedEx Days generally and for schools specifically. Happy innovating!
General resources and information
- What it takes to do new things at work, overnight
- Atlassian ShipIt Days: FAQs and past events
- How to deliver innovation overnight
- Lighting corporate passion: Everything you need to know about FedEx Day
- 10 reasons why you should organize a FedEx day
- Six Feet Up’s fifth FedEx Day yields 13 successful projects
- ShipIt: A little pamphlet for people who can
In a comment on Dan Willingham’s recent post, I said
we have plenty of alternatives that have been offered, over and over again, to counteract our current over-reliance on – and unfounded belief in – the ‘magic’ of bubble sheet test scores. Such alternatives include portfolios, embedded assessments, essays, performance assessments, public exhibitions, greater use of formative assessments (in the sense of Black & Wiliam, not benchmark testing) instead of summative assessments, and so on. . . . We know how to do assessment better than low-level, fixed-response items. We just don’t want to pay for it…
I don’t think money is the problem. These alternatives are not, to my knowledge, reliable or valid, with the exception of essays.
And therein lies the problem… (with this issue in general, not with Dan in particular)
Most of us recognize that more of our students need to be doing deeper, more complex thinking work more often. But if we want students to be critical thinkers and problem solvers and effective communicators and collaborators, that cognitively-complex work is usually more divergent rather than convergent. It is more amorphous and fuzzy and personal. It is often multi-stage and multimodal. It is not easily reduced to a number or rating or score. However, this does NOT mean that kind of work is incapable of being assessed. When a student creates something – digital or physical (or both) – we have ways of determining the quality and contribution of that product or project. When a student gives a presentation that compels others to laugh, cry, and/or take action, we have ways of identifying what made that an excellent talk. When a student makes and exhibits a work of art – or sings, plays, or composes a musical selection – or displays athletic skill – or writes a computer program – we have ways of telling whether it was done well. When a student engages in a service learning project that benefits the community, we have ways of knowing whether that work is meaningful and worthwhile. When a student presents a portfolio of work over time, we have ways of judging that. And so on…
If there is anything that we’ve learned (often to our great dismay) over the last decade, it’s that assessment is the tail that wags the instructional, curricular, and educational dogs. If we continue to insist on judging performance assessments with the ‘validity’ and ‘reliability’ criteria traditionally used by statisticians and psychometricians, we never – NEVER – will move much beyond factual recall and procedural regurgitation to achieve the kinds of higher-level student work that we need more of.
The upper ends of Bloom’s taxonomy and/or Webb’s Depth of Knowledge levels probably can not – and likely SHOULD not – be reduced to a scaled score, effect size, or regression model without sucking the very soul out of that work. As I said in another comment on Dan’s post, “What score should we give the Mona Lisa? And what would the ‘objective’ rating criteria be?“ I’m willing to confess that I am unconcerned about the lack of statistical ‘validity’ and ‘reliability’ of authentic performance assessments if we are thoughtful assessors of those activities.
How about you? Dan (or others), what are your thoughts on this?
I have strong feelings about what kids should learn, which is why I’d put them in charge of their own educations. Experience assures me they’ll get where they need to go, and do so more efficiently than will otherwise be possible. Experience also tells me that won’t happen as long as they’re fenced in by a random mix of courses required because they’ve always been required, by courses based on elitist conceits, by courses shaped by unexamined assumptions. The core’s boundaries are far too narrow to accommodate the collective genius of adolescents.
Kids bring to the curriculum vast differences – differences in gender, maturity, personality, interests, hopes, dreams, abilities, life experiences, situation, family, peers, language, ethnicity, social class, culture, probable and possible futures, and certain indefinable qualities, all combined in dynamic, continuously evolving ways so complex they lie beyond ordinary understanding.
Today’s reformers seem unable or unwilling to grasp the instructional implications of those differences and that complexity. They treat kids as a given, undifferentiated except by grade level, with the core curriculum the lone operative variable. Just standardize and fine-tune the core, they insist, and all will be well.
That’s magical thinking, and it’s dumping genius on the street.
Don’t tell me I’m naïve, that high school kids can’t be trusted with that much responsibility, or that they’re too dumb to know what to do with it. Would it take them awhile to get used to unaccustomed autonomy? Sure. Would they suspect that the respect being shown them was faked and test it out? Of course. Would they at first opt for what they thought was Easy Street? You can count on it.
Eventually, however, their natural curiosity and the desire to make better sense of experience would get the better of them, and they’d discover that Easy Street connected directly to all other streets, and that following it was taking them places they had no intention of going, or even knew existed.
What if we removed the passive course-to-course drudgery of the school day? What if there was no schedule? What if students were left with a list of coyly worded benchmarks targeted at creating quality humans, and we just waited to see what they could do? What if teachers were seen as mentors for projects designed to help students meet those benchmarks?
Shawn Cornally via http://www.good.is/posts/why-it-s-time-to-eliminate-class-schedules
Nothing in education puts a bigger ceiling on learning than limiting kids to what’s in the textbook. We live in the age of iPads, Google, and Skype. To the learner that wants to know more, do more, and explore more, the opportunities are there. We just have to think outside the book.
Krissy Venosdale via http://venspired.com/?p=3225