Monday, March 30, 2015

Worth Reading...

Sharing a few favorite posts from the past few weeks.


1. What Teens are Learning from 'Serial" and Other Podcasts (Flan)- Shares how teachers are using popular podcasts such as Serial to model outcomes expressed in the Common Core.


What do students learn from the experience? “They enjoy it so much that they don’t realize they’re learning at the highest level,” says Alexa Schlechter, a 10th-grade English teacher at Norwalk High School in Connecticut, who had never used a podcast in class before trying “Serial.” Listening to and engaging with “Serial” helps many students address one of the main challenges in developing their analytical skills: getting beyond simple explanations of what happened, and figuring out how and why an event occurred, she says. Poring over text of the transcripts in class to uncover answers, students also develop their critical reading skills, she says.


2. Why Realizing the Full Promise of Education Requires a Fresh Approach (Vangelova)- This is the second of a two-part conversation with Yong Zhao about standards, testing and other core elements of the modern system of education, and the assumptions that may be standing in the way of meeting the real learning needs of all children.


In the alternate vision, individual differences are not flaws to be fixed; the emphasis instead is on helping all students to identify and develop their areas of interest, and to build on their strengths. Standards, curricula and tests would play a very minor role, as tools to be deployed only when they can help a particular student to progress. Learning would be organized around individuals, instead of classes and grades. And rather than looking to schools and teachers to manage students’ learning, we should “give children autonomy, trust that they want to learn, and let them become owners of their learning enterprise.”


3. How Should Learning Be Assessed (Vangelova)- This is the second of a two-part conversation with Yong Zhao about standards, testing and other core elements of the modern system of education, and the assumptions that may be standing in the way of meeting the real learning needs of all children.


Tests are just one form of assessment, he points out, and limited in what they can accurately measure. Important qualities such as creativity, persistence and collaboration, for example, are tricky to measure, because they are individualized and situation- or task-specific (someone may collaborate well in one group setting but not in another). And no test can measure whether children are receiving “a quality learning experience that meets the needs of individual students.”


4. All I Really Need to Know (About Creative Thinking)I Learned (By Studying How Children Learn) in Kindergarten (Resnick)-  paper argues that the “kindergarten approach to learning” – characterized by a spiraling cycle of Imagine, Create, Play, Share, Reflect, and back to Imagine – is ideally suited to the needs of the 21st century, helping learners develop the creative-thinking skills that are critical to success and satisfaction in today’s society.


5. Stanford’s Most Popular Class Isn’t Computer Science- It’s Something Much More Important (O’Connell)- interesting course imbuing higher eds with the capacity to make important life decisions.
Here's what they learn: gratitude; generosity; self-awareness; adaptability. All reinforced by design thinking-based tools, from a daily gratitude journal to a deck of cards featuring problem-solving techniques. In lieu of a final exam—the class is pass/fail—students present three radically different five-year plans to their peers. Alumni say they still refer back their "odyssey plans"—a term that Evans coined—and revise them as their lives and careers progress.


6. Finland schools: Subjects scrapped and replaced with 'topics' as country reforms its education system (Garner)-  Finland is pushing an initiative forward to scrap traditional “teaching by subject” in favor of “teaching by topic”.



Subject-specific lessons – an hour of history in the morning, an hour of geography in the afternoon – are already being phased out for 16-year-olds in the city’s upper schools. They are being replaced by what the Finns call “phenomenon” teaching – or teaching by topic. For instance, a teenager studying a vocational course might take “cafeteria services” lessons, which would include elements of maths, languages (to help serve foreign customers), writing skills and communication skills.



8. Larry Rosenstock- Learning {RE}imagined