Tag Archives: teaching

Taking an advanced course should not be synonymous with copious amounts of homework

High school student Carolyn Walworth said:

It is time to rethink the way we teach students. It is time to reevaluate and enforce our homework policy. It is time to impose harsher punishments upon teachers who do not comply with district standards such as not assigning homework during finals review time. It is time we wake up to the reality that Palo Alto students teeter on the verge of mental exhaustion every single day. It is time to realize that we work our students to death. It is time to hold school officials accountable. Right now is the time to act.

Effective education does not have to correlate to more stress. Taking an advanced course should not be synonymous with copious amounts of homework. Challenging oneself academically and intellectually should be about just that — a mental challenge which involves understanding concepts at a deeper level. The ever increasing intertwinement between advanced courses and excessive homework baffles me; indeed, I would say that it only demonstrates our district’s shortcomings

via http://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/2015/03/25/guest-opinion-the-sorrows-of-young-palo-altans

Option 3: Actually USE the smartphones

Door sign: Cell phone prohibited

Murphy & Beland’s recent study is making the rounds online, particularly among those who are eager to find reasons to ban learning technologies in classrooms. The economists found that banning mobile phones helped improve student achievement on standardized test scores, with the biggest gains seen by low-achieving and at-risk students. Here are my thoughts on this…

The outcome measure is standardized test score improvement. Is that all you care about or do you have a bigger, more complex vision for student learning? For instance, creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and problem-solving are difficult to assess with a standardized test. Most schools I know didn’t adopt their learning technology initiatives for the sole purpose of test score improvement. (if they did, how sad is that?)

The accepted dichotomy in this study and the media seems to be 1) doing low-level knowledge work while smartphones are banned, or 2) doing low-level knowledge work while smartphones are present (and, presumably, distracting). Neither of these two options addresses the fact that decontextualized, low-level work isn’t very interesting or engaging to many (most?) students, particularly those who already find that traditional schooling doesn’t meet their needs very well. So, faced with the opportunity to do something else, many students do. Youth today aren’t any different than when we were young and adults made snarky, woeful comments about us. They just have different opportunities and resources. How many times were you bored in high school? Lots, so admit that if you’d had access to a smartphone or your friends on Facebook back then, you would have turned that way too. I know that I sure would have. Let’s stop blaming students and/or demonizing technology as an evil succubus and address the real problem, which is disengaging learning environments. The solution to that problem is not to try and force students to pay attention to and comply with our boring lessons. That’s not teaching students ‘grit.’ That’s an indictment of our failure to differently imagine learning and teaching.

How about a third option, that of doing higher-level learning and USING the smartphones to help with that? That sounds pretty good to me. Why isn’t this ever brought up as an option to be considered?

Image credit: Cell phone prohibited, SmartSign

Dog-and-pony show [SLIDE]

Dog and pony

Dog-and-pony every day, please
(not just when someone visits)

Should students’ best learning experiences only be during formal observations?

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See also my other slides, my Pinterest collection, and the Great Quotes About Learning and Change Flickr pool.

How many of our questions can Google and Siri answer? [SLIDE]

Google and Siri

How many of our questions can Google and Siri answer?

Download this slide: .png .jpg .key .pptx

See also my other slidesmy Pinterest collection, and the Great Quotes About Learning and Change Flickr pool.

Are they learning or just parroting? [SLIDE]

Parroting

Are they learning or just parroting?

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Image credit: Parrot’s portrait, Patrick Bouquet

See also my other slides, my Pinterest collection, and the Great Quotes About Learning and Change Flickr pool.

The problem with ‘any time, any place, any path, any pace’

Any time, any place, any path, any pace

In most online courses and/or ‘adaptive learning systems’ …

  • Students do low-level work at times that are convenient.
  • Students do low-level work from places that are convenient.
  • Students do low-level work on their own, unique path.
  • Students do low-level work at their own, unique pace.

But it’s still low-level work. 

Digitizing, chunking, and algorithmizing worksheet-like learning tasks doesn’t move them out of the domains of factual recall and procedural regurgitation. The modality doesn’t change the substance of the learning task. Until we are willing to address the kinds of work that we ask students to do on a day-to-day basis, not just the delivery mode, the any time, any place, any path, any pace mantra isn’t going to change a thing…

Filling up versus drawing out

Pouring water

Geoffrey Cohen & Sara Goldrick-Rab said:

Many people think that educating a child is akin to filling a cup. Open heads and pour in knowledge, skills, and virtues. This metaphor is seductive because it calls on deeply-held stereotypes that paint poor and minority children as not having enough drive and smarts.

But the original meaning of education is “to draw out,” not to “fill up.” . . . [we] need to create classrooms that draw out what students already have inside them. Often times, current performance underestimates potential.

[We need to address] the dearth of opportunities for teenage students to feel like [they are] respected and valued in the asylum-like settings of many middle and high schools

[We need to address] curricula that prioritize busy work over reflective thinking that awakens students’ curiosity

via http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/04/19/what-psychology-tells-us-about-student-achievement-and-how-it-is-ignored

Image credit: mandykoh

When not to extend the school day

Clock

Howie Knoff said:

I am not in favor of extending the school day (or year) when students need the extra time to learn things they should have learned earlier in the day. . .  for example, when students did not learn because of:

  • Disruptive or inefficient school schedules (including excessive numbers of transitions, and the constant flow of different groups of students in and out of the classroom during the day);
  • Ineffective (initial) instruction (including when teachers are poorly trained, inexperienced, unprepared, or have too many different student skill levels to teach at the same time);
  • Poorly designed curricula (including curricula that are not developmentally well-matched to the students, or when teachers are teaching students who do not have the prerequisite skills to succeed in the core curriculum); 

and/or because

  • The students are unmotivated or disengaged (including when engaged students are in classrooms with disengaged students who disrupt instruction or create a negative learning environment). 

When these situations are present and the school day is extended to give students more hours of instruction, the additional time is basically compensating for gaps, weaknesses, or ineffective practices. This is inexcusable and should never occur as (a) it tacitly condones these debilitating conditions; and (b) will be unproductive if the same conditions persist during the extended hours.

via http://conta.cc/1DuoYHM

Image credit: timlewisnm

 

Privileging the spreadsheet over the individual

Carl Hendrick wrote:

in many schools it would appear that teachers are working significantly harder than the pupils in their charge, and not so much because the kids are lazy but rather because of an institutionalised miasma that is obsessed with measuring everything (usually poorly) that privileges the spreadsheet over the individual and which has infantilised the process of learning to such a degree that actually knowing stuff is deemed less important than merely appearing to know stuff

via http://staffrm.io/@carlhendrick/dmRoWd4V1D

School is broken

Will Richardson said:

I think the fact that only 44% of our kids reporting engagement in high school strongly suggests [that school is] “broken.” I think the difference of educational opportunities for the kids in Camden v. the kids at Lawrenceville Prep is “broken.” I think spending an inordinate amount of time on curriculum that will soon be forgotten, curriculum that most kids don’t care about despite our best efforts to make them care, curriculum that then gets assessed in ways that really don’t show if kids can actually apply it and is used to evaluate teachers in a blatantly unfair way… all of that is “broken.” 

via http://willrichardson.com/post/114524327210/can-we-talk-about-change-without-hurting-feelings

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