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The Ultimate Education Reform: Messy Learning & Problem Solving

The Ultimate Education Reform: Messy Learning & Problem Solving
Have you ever gone to the doctor with a rather vague problem? The kind of problem that has no obvious solution? “Doctor, my elbow hurts.” “Doctor, I have a runny nose.” “Doctor, look at this rash.” From that ambiguity, we expect our physicians to narrow down something that could have a thousand origins to the one specific cause, then make it all better with one specific treatment. We tell the mechanic: “My car is making a funny noise, can you fix it?” A quarterback asks: “What’s the best play to run, coach?” We might ask a decorator: “I need help redoing this room. We might ask friends: “What do you think is the best car for me to buy?” Some of our ambiguous problems are mundane: “What toothpaste should I use?” From our first activity in the morning until the last thing we do before we visit dreamland each night, we are constantly engaged in a series of problems to solve — some easy, some hard. So what’s this got to do with school? I love ill-structured problems. In pursuit of the messy answer Related:  Project Based LearningECE ResourcesThe Learning Process - Building a Philosophy

Dispelling some misunderstandings about PBL I spend a good chunk of time on Twitter, often participating in or lurking on a Twitter chat. I have seen project based learning — PBL — a topic of discussion, but at the same time, I see a lot of claims about PBL that are just not true. What bothers me about these claims is not that they are wrong but that these misconceptions lead to further problems when implementing PBL. “I do projects all the time.” “I don’t have time to do a PBL project and all the scaffolding needed and lessons.” “I have to focus on standardized test prep and don’t have time for PBL.” “Students will copy each other’s products.” Obviously, there are many more concerns and misunderstanding teachers may still have about PBL. Andrew Miller serves on the national faculty for the Buck Institute for Education and ASCD.

John Dewey on the True Purpose of Education and How to Harness the Power of Our Natural Curiosity by Maria Popova “While it is not the business of education … to teach every possible item of information, it is its business to cultivate deep-seated and effective habits of discriminating tested beliefs from mere assertions, guesses, and opinions.” “Do not feel absolutely certain of anything,” philosopher Bertrand Russell instructed in the first of his ten timeless commandments of teaching and learning in 1951. And yet formal education, today as much as then, is for the most part a toxic byproduct of industrialism based on the blind acquisition of certainty and the demolition of the “thoroughly conscious ignorance” that gives rise to real progress, both personal and cultural. In How We Think (free download; public library) — his timelessly stimulating 1910 treatise on the art of reflection and fruitful curiosity — John Dewey, one of the most influential minds of the twentieth century, distills the purpose and ideals of education with remarkable clarity and conviction. He later adds:

The Maker Movement: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants to Own the Future "Knowledge is a consequence of experience." -- Piaget Many teachers know that children learn best by doing. Champions of project-based learning have decades of research to support this, including Edutopia’s own compendium. Should we worry that making in the classroom is just the new-new thing, soon to be replaced by some other newer new-new thing? I also think that "making" shouldn't be just making anything. A computer with appropriate software means that opportunities for design, simulation, precision, accuracy, measurement, feedback, sensors, data, and programming are not just possible, but greatly enhanced. Meaningful Learning One of the first people to understand the potential of computers in education was Seymour Papert, a mathematician who worked with Piaget and helped found the MIT Media Lab. Papert defined a learning theory, constructionism, that holds the key to understanding the educational potential of the Maker movement: This is much more than hands-on learning. Human Assets

How to Foster Collaboration and Team Spirit Teaching Strategies Flickr: woodleywonderworks By Thom Markham Once they get to the working world, most students, in almost any job, will collaborate as a member of a team. And every student needs to be prepared for that environment — partly for employment opportunity, but mainly because the deeply embedded mental model of learning and creating as an individual process is obsolete. But collaboration doesn’t necessarily come naturally to students. Second, import and adapt the high-performance principles common in the work world to teams in the classroom. Examine individual strengths within collaborative context. Thom Markham is a psychologist, school redesign consultant, and the author of the Project Based Learning Design and Coaching Guide: Expert tools for inquiry and innovation for K-12 educators. Related Explore: collaboration

Experiential Learning & Experiential Education: Philosophy, theory, practice & resources Several authors (e.g., Kraft, 1991; Richards, 1977) have pointed out that experiential learning dates back beyond recorded history and remains pervasive in current society, whether formalized by educational institutions or occurring informally in day-to-day life. In this sense, experiential learning is not an alternative approach, but the most traditional and fundamental method of human learning. Ironically, the current perception of experiential education as different is probably less due to new developments in experiential learning than it is to the normalization of didactic teaching as the mainstream educational methodology. Since the 1950's there has been a growing focus in writings and research specifically on experiential learning. Major sources for such material related to experiential learning in the outdoors are journals, conferences, books (e.g., edited texts that focus on current thinking in experiential learning such as Boud, et al., 1993; Weil & McGill, 1989), and websites.

The Power of "I Don't Know" The role of teaching has evolved. No longer are we the carriers of knowledge, giving it to students and assessing if they can repeat facts successfully. We are, instead, tasked with teaching students how to find answers themselves. And it all starts with a simple three-word phrase: I don't know. Adopting a comfortable "I don't know" attitude is far more accurate for what we need to do as educators then pretending we know it all. But in school where every client is a work in progress, we need to cultivate a certain excitement in not knowing something. Changing Attitudes At the start of each year, I have to train students that I will not be feeding them answers. Rather, I will teach them how to develop questions. I will also teach them that when I ask them a question it's OK if they say, "I don't know." "I don't know" has been so negatively ingrained that it can make a student feel powerless enough that just the mere inkling of it tickling their brain can shut down learning. 1. 2. 3.

What Project-Based Learning Is — and What It Isn’t Screenshot/High Tech High The term “project-based learning” gets tossed around a lot in discussions about how to connect students to what they’re learning. Teachers might add projects meant to illustrate what students have learned, but may not realize what they’re doing is actually called “project-oriented learning.” And it’s quite different from project-based learning, according to eighth grade Humanities teacher Azul Terronez. Terronez, who teaches at High Tech Middle, a public charter school in San Diego, Calif says that when an educator teaches a unit of study, then assigns a project, that is not project-based learning because the discovery didn’t arise from the project itself. “If you inspire them to care about it and draw parallels with their world, then they care and remember.” For Terronez, the goal is to always connect classroom learning to its applications in the outside world. When Terronez assigns a writing project, it’s rarely just for a grade. Related

STEM Challenges | Preschool Matters... Today! From the National Journal: ” . . . And let’s not forget the optics. Science is still for nerds, Bill Gates’ fame aside. These are teenagers we’re talking about, after all. To the average girl on the street, meeting the Seattle Seahawks is still way cooler than meeting a superstar rocket scientist. Even if she rooted for the Broncos.” If that girl’s in preschool, though, she doesn’t yet think that the Seattle Seahawks are cooler than Sid the Science Kid. How can we ensure that she never does learn these lessons about STEM? Yet, many of the challenges for upper grades teaching plague earlier grades, too. Consider this a plea for putting a fair amount of these newly committed teacher training dollars into early education. –Kimberly Brenneman, Assistant Research Professor, NIEER

Five U.S. innovations that helped Finland’s schools improve but that American reformers now ignore Originally published in Washington Post, 24 July 2014 An intriguing question whether innovation in education can be measured has an answer now. The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development in its recent report “Measuring Innovation in Education: A New Perspective, Educational Research and Innovation” measures Innovation in Education in 22 countries and 6 jurisdictions, among them the U.S. states Indiana, Massachusetts and Minnesota. One conclusion of the OECD’s measurement of innovation between 2003 and 2011 is that “there have been large increases in innovative pedagogic practices across all countries … in areas such as relating lessons to real life, higher order skills, data and text interpretation and personalization of teaching.” The United States did not do very well when compared to other participating countries overall. “Not surprising,” some commented, pointing to tougher accountability measures and an obsession with standardized testing in most parts of the country.

What You Need to Be an Innovative Educator Innovation isn't a matter of will. Like most things worth creating, critical ingredients pre-exist the product. In the case of innovation in education, many of those necessary ingredients are simpler and more accessible than they might seem -- which is, of course, good news to an industry already up to its nostrils in oh my gosh for the kids we must have this for the kids yesterday for the kids admonishments. Whether you're innovating a curriculum, an app, a social media platform for learning, an existing instructional strategy, or something else entirely, innovation in education is a significant catalyst for change in education. If our data is correct, you're probably a teacher. And if you're a teacher, you're probably interested in innovation in the classroom, so let's start there -- with project-based learning, for example. Project-based learning is an example of innovation, but probably not the way you'd expect. PBL promotes innovation in education by making room for it. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

This is an example of Bruner's notion of "problem finding"-- encourage learners to discover problems, and that will give them the opportunity to solve the problems. by tomparmelee Apr 24

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