edutopia As a teacher, the library has always been an important, almost sacred place for me to go with my students. It was an opportunity to use the computer lab once in a while and look for books to help support research. Over the past few months, the library has taken on a new and different role for all students and teachers. Our library has become a place where I hang out during my prep period and brainstorm with my amazing teacher librarian, Courtney McGuire. We immediately started thinking about what we wanted to see in this space and talking to students and other teachers. Here are some of the things we have done to make the makerspace happen at our school. 1. One of the things that was really important was finding a space that was accessible to all students during the day. 2. Our student leaders emphasized that the space will need some start-up technology (computers, printers, etc.) and that it should come pre-filled with all kinds of tech goodies. 3. 4.
edutopia E.B. White famously quipped, "Humor can be dissected, as a frog can, but the thing dies in the process." At the risk of committing some sort of "humor-cide," a type of scientific dissection must take place if teachers are to consider harnessing the powerful effects of humor, not only to increase joy and enhance the classroom environment, but also to improve learner outcomes. The Funny Bone Is Connected to the Sense of Wonder Teachers understand that humor is inherently social. Essentially, humor activates our sense of wonder, which is where learning begins, so it seems logical that humor could enhance retention. A substantial body of research explains why we remember things that make us laugh, such as our favorite, hilarious high school moment or the details of that funny movie we saw last weekend. Foolishness as a Tool What does "correctly used" mean? "According to recent surveys, 51 percent of the people are in the majority.” Age-Appropriate Humor Do Avoid About That Frog. . .
edutopia The need to gain control of students is reaching new levels of desperation. An article in the Washington Post included the following: Three days a week, parents can take their misbehaving kids to A-1 Kutz in Snellville and ask for the "Benjamin Button Special," which Russell Fredrick and his team of barbers are offering -- free of charge -- to parents who want to try a novel form of discipline. The cut involves shaving hair off the child's crown until he begins to resemble a balding senior citizen, inviting that unique brand of adolescent humiliation that can only come from teasing classmates and unwanted attention. Humiliation Is Never OK My opinion about any form of humiliating students is obvious from the title of the book I co-authored in 2008: Discipline With Dignity. Last month, however, I was guilty of humiliating a student seriously enough for her to later tell me that it had been the worst moment of her college life. Prevention and Repair
edutopia "Creativity isn't about music and art; it is an attitude to life, one that everybody needs," wrote the University of Winchester's Professor Guy Claxton in the lead-up to the 2014 World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) dedicated to creativity and education. "It is a composite of habits of mind which include curiosity, skepticism, imagination, determination, craftsmanship, collaboration, and self-evaluation." Sounds like the perfect skill set for equipping young people to navigate an increasingly complex and unpredictable world. Encouragingly, there's plenty of evidence -- from both research and practice -- that most of the above can be taught in the classroom. In fact, innovation and education experts agree that creativity can fit perfectly into any learning system. But before it can be incorporated broadly in curriculum, it must first be understood. Creativity Starts in the Brain Complex cognitive mechanisms are required to produce creative ideas. Dr. Nurturing Creativity at School 1.
edutopia Linda: The United States is at a moment where it could really transform its assessment systems. Most of our testing is multiple choice tests, pick one answer out of five, which is something you will never do in applying knowledge in the real world. Our assessments need to evolve to reflect the skills and knowledge that we actually value and that we need schools to teach and our children to learn. Human beings are naturally learners. We are learning every moment of every day. In school, we have particular things to learn and we know that students learn more effectively when we're clear about what the goals are. Chinasa: I kind of like, I want like a goal in my head about what to do with information that I get. Erin: I look at the beginning of the year and I say, what are the big ideas that I want students to know in the whole year and what are the major skills I want them to be able to do? Linda: Assessment should occur early and often and throughout the process. Student: Connection.
Failure Is Essential to Learning | Edutopia One of my favorite things to say when doing strategic planning with teachers is that the plan has a 50 percent chance of success and a 100 percent chance of teaching us how to get "smarter" about delivering on our mission. I love saying this because it conveys an essential truth: Failure is not a bad thing. It is a guaranteed and inevitable part of learning. In any and all endeavors, and especially as a learning organization, we will experience failure, as surely as a toddler will fall while learning to walk. Unfortunately, in education, particularly in this high-stakes accountability era, failure has become the term attached to our persistent challenges. Why Failure Is Important Early educational reformer John Dewey said it best: "Failure is instructive. Instead, we see failure as an opportunity for students to receive feedback on their strengths as well as their areas of improvement -- all for the purpose of getting better. How do you make failure students' friend? One Student's Story
edutopia In the ever-changing demands of today's economy, even children with a solid knowledge base in reading, writing, math, and science are not guaranteed a stable career for the rest of their lives. In addition, an increasing number of graduates will have to create their own jobs. How can teachers foster the creativity, entrepreneurialism, and lifelong curiosity necessary for young people to thrive? Tools in the Hands of Children Brent Hutcheson and his team at Hands On Technologies wanted to see if putting tools into the hands of children could make a difference under adverse conditions in the township of Atteridgeville, South Africa. They used colorful manipulatives to come up with different exercises that allowed children to take the lead in exploring ideas and concepts both individually or in small groups. Children were far more engaged when they had hands-on tools that helped them develop their own understanding of the concepts being taught in both science and language subjects. 1. 2. 3.
edutopia Editor's note: Laura White, a preschool autism teacher and former manager of Ashoka's Changemaker Schools Network, is the co-author of this post. Teacher-researchers, design-thinkers, teacherpreneurs. . . Educators of all types have the potential to exercise their creativity, collaboration, and playfulness to improve education. When devising strategies to make education work for the 21st century, it's natural to think first about students. How do we prepare children for a rapidly changing world? Tempting as it is to put children at the center of all our education decisions, we must not start there. Here are some examples of identities that teachers have assumed in Ashoka Changemaker Schools that empower them to restructure learning. Teacher-Researchers The Opal School of the Portland (Oregon) Children's Museum honors the challenge of re-imagining teaching and learning by considering all teachers to be teacher-researchers. Design Thinkers Teacher Changemakers Teacherpreneurs The Next Step
edutopia What if we could dramatically improve our thought processes and learning strategies by tapping into the social genius of another? What if a classmate, colleague, or friend could help us recognize and claim our strengths, new habits of thought, and strategies from a perspective that we never imagined by ourselves? As human beings, our survival depends on others. Our ability to cooperate and collaborate has trumped the stress response state of competition within our species and throughout evolution. With a group affiliation to nurture these relationships, we can strengthen and reappraise our own thought processes. Ushering in the Conceptual Age The two aspects of being human that set us apart from other mammals are metacognition and the deep desire to belong or feel felt. Feeling the emotions of others, social acceptance, and cooperation are critical to our early development of the identity and industry stages. 4 Collaborative Metacognition Strategies 1. 2. 3. 4.
edutopia One need not look to superstars such as Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates to justify reasons for using code and programming logic in the classroom. There's plenty of literature that illustrates its positive learning outcomes. Coding in the classroom is linked to improved problem solving and analytical reasoning, and students who develop a mastery of coding have a "natural ability and drive to construct, hypothesize, explore, experiment, evaluate, and draw conclusions." But there are other compelling reasons for integrating code in the classroom. Reasons to Teach Coding 1. Wired Magazine reported that reading and writing code is the new literacy. 2. Coding in the classroom is a means of bridging the digital divide. 3. Temple Grandin, author and professor at Colorado State University and an autistic adult, said, "Without the gifts of autism, there would probably be no NASA or IT industry." Knowing there are programs for kids with ASD is good news for parents who shoulder the responsibility. 4.
edutopia "Like a pane of glass framing and subtly distorting our vision, mental models determine what we see." -- Peter Senge Early in my career as an instructional coach, I worked with an enthusiastic new high school teacher who inspired most of her students to demonstrate their learning in all kinds of creative ways. Her ninth-grade English class performed skits, recorded radio plays, and published magazines that were of exceptional quality and showed mastery of learning. However, a handful of students were never in prominent roles, produced mediocre work, and weren't mastering the content. In my observations, I had noticed a trend in the teacher's interactions with them -- she didn't push them as she did the others, she let them off the hook easily, and she gave them simple tasks. I felt a mix of fear (would I know how to coach her through this?) What Is A Mental Model? Mental models are our values, beliefs, and a series of assumptions about how the world works. A Path Toward Equity
Meet the School That Hates Rules — Bright “Hi Lucy. How are you today?” The young girl looked up at me as I gave her a friendly wave. “Hello,” she replied. “Awesome! “Five.” It wasn’t exactly an extraordinary conversation, but it was big for Lucy. Lucy was timid around me when I started my internship, so I was surprised that she was more talkative now. Lucy’s ease at interacting with adults may seem remarkable in a child of her age, but that’s the norm at democratic schools like this one. But a Sudbury school day isn’t a free-for-all. During School Meeting sessions, students and staff jointly vote on new rules, hiring decisions, and how to spend tuition. All students eventually serve as members of the Judiciary Committee (JC for short), hearing arguments from alleged rule-breakers and deciding the appropriate consequences, if any. Having witnessed the dynamics of the JC as an intern, I believe it’s a far more effective deterrent to disruptive behavior than detention or parent-teacher conferences. Illustrations by Marina Muun