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Top 10 Posts of 2012: Deep, Meaningful and Creative Learning

Top 10 Posts of 2012: Deep, Meaningful and Creative Learning
Flickr: CriCristina It may come as no surprise that the ideas that are top-of-mind for educators, parents, and policymakers are the very topics conveyed in the most popular MindShift posts this year. Giving kids the tools to create, teachers the freedom to innovate, making students’ work relevant in the real world, giving them access to valuable technology. These are the aspirations that have resonated most with MindShift readers this year. Being able to use the Internet and operate computers is one thing, but it may be just as valuable to teach students how to code. So much about how and where kids learn has changed over the years, but the physical structure of schools has not. The conversation in education has shifted towards outcomes and training kids for jobs of the future, and in many ways the traditional classroom has become obsolete. Can creativity be taught? At its core, the issues associated with mobile learning get to the very fundamentals of what happens in class everyday. Related:  CreativityPD Me

How Einstein Got So Smart – 10 Learning Hacks How would you feel if many people thought you were the smartest person in history? How might your life be different if you actually were that intelligent? Although we often think of Albert Einstein as one of the smartest people ever, we don’t investigate what it was that made him so. Einstein…the Failure? Before you get the list of Einstein’s learning habits, consider some interesting facts about his early life. These things represent just a taste of the irony about his early life. 10 Things Einstein Did to Get So Smart From what I can find, no one has compiled details about how Einstein actually studied. 1- He daydreamed and contemplatedWho has the right to say what is absentmindedness and what is pure genius? 8- He Relied on Faith to LearnEinstein’s faith was that by inquiry and discipline you could learn things about invisible objects or phenomena. Get this high resolution graphic (pdf) on Einstein’s Learning Hacks – for free! Sources (contains some commissioned affiliate links):

Seeing Students As Co-Collaborators The traditional model of education is hierarchal, with organizations and administrators of learning on top and students and their families receiving the learning somewhere below. While this made sense in the past when public education–inclusive systems of public education at that—were still finding their way, there is little excuse for such a workflow as we approach 2013. Embedded in this simple pattern are troubling implications that sabotage learning processes from the beginning. In informal and as they occur learning circumstances, the concept of power and currency is highly dynamic, constantly shifting based on context. If you are researching for the best fix for a leaking roof or an injured lower back, you might seek experts, or demonstrated expertise. In these situations, you are constantly evaluating information and re-contextualizing it—understanding what you hear or read, and seeing how it makes sense to the specifics of your situation. But what would be the benefits if it did?

Beyond Knowing Facts, How Do We Get to a Deeper Level of Learning? As educators across the country continue to examine the best ways of teaching and learning, a new lexicon is beginning to emerge that describes one particular approach — deeper learning. The phrase implies a rich learning experience for students that allows them to really dig into a subject and understand it in a way that requires more than just memorizing facts. The elements that make up this approach are not necessarily new — great teachers have been employing these tactics for years. But now there’s a movement to codify the different pieces that define the deeper learning approach, and to spread the knowledge from teacher to teacher, school to school in the form of a Deeper Learning MOOC (massive open online course), organized by a group of schools, non-profits, and sponsored by the Hewlett Foundation. So what defines deeper learning? Educators often discuss the difficulty of teaching students who don’t seem to want to learn. Related

Creativity 'closely entwined with mental illness' 17 October 2012Last updated at 06:49 GMT By Michelle Roberts Health editor, BBC News online Novelist Virginia Woolf killed herself Creativity is often part of a mental illness, with writers particularly susceptible, according to a study of more than a million people. Writers had a higher risk of anxiety and bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, unipolar depression, and substance abuse, the Swedish researchers at the Karolinska Institute found. They were almost twice as likely as the general population to kill themselves. The dancers and photographers were also more likely to have bipolar disorder. Continue reading the main story “Start Quote It is important that we do not romanticise people with mental health problems, who are too often portrayed as struggling creative geniuses” End QuoteBeth MurphyThe mental health charity Mind As a group, those in the creative professions were no more likely to suffer from psychiatric disorders than other people. Continue reading the main story Troubled minds

Students as Teachers – Designers of Weekly Activities Start this month by discussing with students your Do Now questions and make explicit your daily goals. Shift the responsibility to your students while supporting them as they create the check-in activity. Goals Start class with an engaging activity.Empower students to design, evaluate and reflect about a student check-in activity.Foster a more collaborative student centered classroom. Activity Plan: Students as Designers Organize your class into pairs, then assign each group a week and topic during the fall term. What are Do Nows? Since your last class there have been numerous opportunities for students to improve their understanding or make false connections and lose track of where you left off. So how do you gauge what your students understand at minute zero of class? As students trickle into class have them log into your Socrative room and engage in an entrance activity of two to three questions. Examples Do Now activities:

What Does ‘Design Thinking’ Look Like in School? Design Thinking Getty Images Design thinking can seem a bit abstract to teachers. It’s not part of traditional teacher training programs and has only recently entered the teachers’ vernacular. Design thinking is an approach to learning that includes considering real-world problems, research, analysis, conceiving original ideas, lots of experimentation, and sometimes building things by hand. But few schools have the time or wherewithal to integrate these processes into the school day. But at the Nueva School in Hillsborough, Calif., a small, private school for grades K-8, design thinking is part of every class and subject, and has been integrated throughout the curriculum with support from a dedicated Innovation Lab or the iLab. “It’s really a way to make people more effective and to supercharge their innate capabilities,” said Kim Saxe, director of Nueva’s iLab, and one of the champions of design thinking. [RELATED: What Do Wii Remotes Have to Do With Science?] Related

Why I Let My Students Cheat On Their Exam by Peter Nonacs| On test day for my Behavioral Ecology class at UCLA, I walked into the classroom bearing an impossibly difficult exam. Rather than being neatly arranged in alternate rows with pen or pencil in hand, my students sat in one tight group, with notes and books and laptops open and available. They were poised to share each other’s thoughts and to copy the best answers. As I distributed the tests, the students began to talk and write. All of this would normally be called cheating. Who in their right mind would condone and encourage cheating among UCLA juniors and seniors? Animals and their behavior have been my passions since my Kentucky boyhood, and I strive to nurture this love for nature in my students. Nevertheless, I’m a realist. Much of evolution and natural selection can be summarized in three short words: “Life is games.” So last quarter I had an intriguing thought while preparing my Game Theory lectures. Gasps filled the room. “None,” I replied.

Study Shows How Classroom Design Affects Student Learning As debate over education reform sizzles, and as teachers valiantly continue trying to do more with less, a new study suggests that it might be worth diverting at least a little attention from what’s going on in classrooms to how those spaces are being designed. The paper, published in the journal Building and the Environment, found that classroom design could be attributed to a 25% impact, positive or negative, on a student’s progress over the course of an academic year. The difference between the best- and worst-designed classrooms covered in the study? A full year’s worth of academic progress. The study was conducted over the 2011–12 academic year, with 751 students in 34 classrooms, spread across seven primary schools in the seaside town of Blackpool, England. So what did they find? Read more here. [Hat tip: Wired] [Image: Brain and Board via Shutterstock]

3 Ways to Make Meaningful Connections with Your Students Too often, I've heard teachers talk about how helpless they feel when it comes to reaching out to their students. The days of being the person whose job it is to exclusively provide students with an education -- and nothing more -- are long over. Honestly, some will say those days never existed. I've never wavered in my belief that teachers are much more than people passing out curriculum. For some students, school is the best part of their day because it offers an escape from their life at home. As teachers, it's important for us to understand that there is so much more to students than the life they lead in class, and it is important to show interest in a student outside of the day's homework. The First Five Minutes I have written about the First Five Minutes before, and it is something I strongly believe. I can learn so much about my students in these few minutes each and every day. Attending Extra-Curricular Activities Be Available

Critical Thinking in Everyday Life: 9 Strategies Most of us are not what we could be. We are less. We have great capacity. But most of it is dormant; most is undeveloped. Improvement in thinking is like improvement in basketball, in ballet, or in playing the saxophone. It is unlikely to take place in the absence of a conscious commitment to learn. Development in thinking requires a gradual process requiring plateaus of learning and just plain hard work. How, then, can we develop as critical thinkers? First, we must understand that there are stages required for development as a critical thinker: We develop through these stages if we: In this article, we will explain 9 strategies that any motivated person can use to develop as a thinker. There is nothing magical about our ideas. First Strategy: Use “Wasted” Time. The key is that the time is “gone” even though, if we had thought about it and considered our options, we would never have deliberately spent our time in the way we did. When did I do my worst thinking today? Go to top

30 Habits Of Highly Effective Teachers Editor’s Note: We often look at the qualities and characteristics of good teaching and learning, including the recent following pieces: How A Good Teacher Becomes Great What You Owe Your Students Ten Secrets To Surviving As A Teacher The Characteristics Of A Highly Effective Learning Environment How To Be A Mediocre Teacher So it made sense to take a look at the characteristics of a successful educator, which Julie DuNeen does below. 25 Things Successful Teachers Do Differently by Julie DuNeen If you ask a student what makes him or her successful in school, you probably won’t hear about some fantastic new book or video lecture series. What students take away from a successful education usually centers on a personal connection with a teacher who instilled passion and inspiration for their subject. Are teachers reaching their students? 1. How do you know if you are driving the right way when you are traveling somewhere new? 2. We can’t all be blessed with “epic” workdays all the time. 3. 4. 5.

6 Steps to Help Students Find Order in Their Thinking Like magic, the fish turn into birds and then back into fish. M.C. Escher's tessellations have a way of grabbing your attention and forcing your mind to make sense of the impossible figures on the paper. The Merriam dictionary describes tessellations as, "a covering of an infinite geometric plane without gaps or overlaps by congruent plane figures of one type or a few types." A geometry book I have on hand describes tessellations as geometric forms that make use of all available foreground and background space in two dimensions by repeating one or more different shapes in predictable patterns. To tessellate a single shape it must be able to exactly surround a point, or in other words, the sum of the angles around each point in a tessellation must be 360. Using the six steps listed below, tessellated thinking might be a way to help students make order out of the mental chaos our young learners often experience: Step 1: Routines and Predictable Patterns Step 2: Create Habits of Mind

d.school: Institute of Design at Stanford 7 Essential Principles of Innovative Learning Big Ideas Culture Teaching Strategies Flirck:WoodleyWonderworks Every educator wants to create an environment that will foster students’ love of learning. Researchers at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) launched the Innovative Learning Environments project to turn an academic lens on the project of identifying concrete traits that mark innovative learning environments. Their book, The Nature of Learning: Using Research to Inspire Practice and the accompanying practitioner’s guide, lay out the key principles for designing learning environments that will help students build skills useful in a world where jobs are increasingly information and knowledge-based. “Adaptive expertise tries to push beyond the idea of mastery,” said Jennifer Groff, an educational engineer and co-founder of the Center for Curriculum Redesign. [RELATED READING: How Can Teachers Prepare Kids for a Connected World] Educators can also test ideas with students before implementing them.

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