Friday, February 17, 2017

Leadership quotes /the writing process / educational technology / curiosity / creativity / rigour and what has really changed?

'It's a miracle that curiosity has survived modern education'

Education Readings

By Allan Alach

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allanalach@inspire.net.nz

The Writing Process Isn’t Linear. So Why Do Schools Keep Pretending That It Is?
Read this!
‘If you conduct an online image search for “writing process,” you’ll find many charts that lay out the steps—brainstorming, drafting, revising, editing, publishing—in a nice linear fashion. It’s as if these visuals assert, “We brainstorm on Monday, draft on Tuesday, etc.”

However, professional writers don’t check off the steps of the writing process as they move through it. As any experienced writer will tell you, the writing process is recursive, not linear.

Steve Wheeler
Learning spaces of the third kind
First Steve Wheeler article of the year:
Students carry technology in their pockets, information floats through the air, and the they use their own devices to seek and capture it. There is a sense that learning can occur without the teacher being present in this same space, although the teacher may be there anyway, as a co-learner as much as a facilitator. Education is co-constructed, and the tools and technologies provide the scaffolding to support the learning. Students learn by creating, connecting, discovering and sharing.’

Curiosity Is the Cat
Here’s a Will Richardson article that reminded me of this quote by Albert Einstein “It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.
‘I’m becoming more curious about curiosity. I’m beginning to think it’s the only “C” that truly matters, and that it’s been badly disrespected in all the conversation around the 4Cs or 7Cs or however many Cs that people have been throwing around.I mean really, when it comes to learning, what comes before curiosity?

Critical thinking doesn’t, because if you’re not curious as to whether something is true or fake or accurate or real, you won’t really think very hard about it.

Five-Minute Montessori
Many of today's hot topics in education were addressed by iconic educator Maria Montessori nearly a century ago. The video below (5 1/2 min) - along with this Wikipedia link - provide a quick overview of this method of schooling (the video is an adjunct to a book promotion but still works).’ 

Why Creativity?
‘I would argue that without creativity there is the danger of not challenging what we do and why we do it. Possibly to go blindly along with what we are told without question for we have no drive, no vision of how things could be different, no need even, to do anything different.
Is your school curious enough?

 Without creativity in our lives, we risk seeing the world only as a series of things we are directed to achieve in the way we are shown to achieve them.  Should we forgo challenge and accept obedience?

3 Ways To Encourage Creativity In Your Classroom This Year
‘As educators, when it comes to creativity in the classroom, we can take the path of least resistance and take creativity out of the learning process or we can create an environment that fosters creativity in learning and allow kids to explore their talents. Fostering creativity in learning in the classroom doesn’t have to be complex or complicated. Here are 3 ways you can encourage creativity in your classroom this year.’

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Breaking the Cycle of "Baby Stuff”
Challenging the Goldilocks Rule
‘For years, teachers have been using simple benchmarks, tests, or other assessment tools to select materials that attempt to align with students' abilities. This is often known as the Goldilocks Rule—selected books are not too difficult and not too easy but supposedly just right. Unfortunately, this was how all three boys ended up confronting baby stuff at their schools.’

How to Combine Rigor with Engagement
‘The imperatives are clear. On the one hand, we have an obligation to equip all children with a baseline level of literacy and numeracy. Rooted in concerns about equity and given teeth by recent accountability policies, this obligation has become a central goal of schooling in the United States. On the other hand, however, we know that the basics are no longer enough. To successfully negotiate modern life, adults need the capacity to tackle open-ended problems in creative ways—a capacity that requires both critical-thinking skills and the disposition to persevere.

Right-Sized Rigor
‘At the core of our quest to increase rigor is creating a common understanding of rigor that speaks to all students. Too often, we dismiss struggling students as unable to work at rigorous levels. In fact, "Rigor is creating an environment in which each student is expected to learn at high levels; each student is supported so he or she can learn at high levels; and each student demonstrates learning at high levels" (Blackburn, 2013).’

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

What has really changed in our schools the past 50 years?
Reflecting on teaching beliefs – are things better now?
‘The other day I had the opportunity to visit a school I began my career visiting in 1960. During  a discussion with the principal she mentioned the classrooms had been developed into innovative (or flexible) learning environments. I couldn't help suggesting that I bet the daily classroom programmes/timetables haven't changed much since I first visited the school 40 plus years ago ( with exception of availability of information technology). If anything the current emphasis on literacy and numeracy had reinforced the timetables of earlier times taking up the morning time with the rest of the Learning Areas squeezed into the afternoon period. Hardly flexible teaching? Hardly progress?’

Educational Quotes 5: Leadership and Teamwork
Some quotes on leadership to think about.
‘Imposed bureaucratic 'top down' changes have resulted in school being 'over managed and under led.' Now is the time for courageous leaders, at all levels, to emerge and add their 'voices' to the debate. There are no experts with 'the answer' - we will have to invent the future ourselves together as we go along.’

The Treaty of Waitangi - what do your students' know?
‘A wise teacher should take advantage of important events in New Zealand history such as the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.
As the celebration comes early in the year it is a good opportunity to introduce the students to how they will be expected to learn in the class; how to work together to develop critical thinking; how to value their own ideas; how to deepen their understandings and how to apply lessons learnt to their own class.’

Friday, February 10, 2017

Education Readings : maths/ philosophy / constructivism / the arts / 'slow learning' and the problem with 'modern education'.


Time for new thinking about education

By Allan Alach

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allanalach@inspire.net.nz

Schools are supposed to help students master the dominant information landscape of their time
‘Our new information landscape is digital bits in the ether instead of ink dots on paper. There is no
foreseeable future in which we go back to analog. One of schools’ primary tasks is to help students master the dominant information landscape of their time. Schools are knowledge institutions preparing students to do knowledge work. So let’s be clear about what our new information landscape looks like:’

How Playing With Math Helps Teachers Better Empathize With Students
‘Unlike other professional development opportunities, the focus of these circles is not on lesson plans or pedagogy. Most of the time is spent working on and discussing a problem that the facilitators bring, with the hope that teachers will rediscover what they love about math and how it feels to be a learner.’

Teaching kids philosophy makes them smarter in Math and English
‘Nine- and 10-year-old children in England who participated in a philosophy class once a week over the course of a year significantly boosted their math and literacy skills, with disadvantaged students showing the most significant gains, according to a large and well-designed study.’


Piagets Constructivism, Papert’s Constructionism: What’s the difference?
What is the difference between Piaget's constructivism and Papert’s “constructionism? Beyond the mere play on the words, I think the distinction holds, and that integrating both views can enrich our understanding of how people learn and grow.’

Skinning Cats Alive.
Phil Cullen:
Schools as 'testing factories'
‘A toxic form of managerialism hit the fan in the mid-80s; and we lost sight of the kids. These aliens organised and started running testing factories replacing real people who’d been-there-done-that ,organising schools of learning and mentoring others on the way. These good guys were cunningly dominated by absurdists who forced fear-laden testing on kids and have now done more damage to Australia than the Japanese could ever have done. Fear-laden swotting of a kind never known before has replaced decent teaching. The load on small pupils during normal learning time, the likes of which no previous generation has had to tolerate. is enormous. Kids are still our future, but you wouldn’t think so.’

Okay campers rise and shine and don’t forget your booties
Want to be an artist? Watch Groundhog Day.
‘Here’s a popular version of “The Creative Journey”: A genius comes to the end of his trip, closes his eyes, concentrates, and then the idea comes to him, fully formed.
When I’m working on my art, I don’t feel like Don Draper. No, when I’m working, I feel more like Phil Connors from the movie Groundhog Day.’

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

The HeART of the Matter - the Gordon Tovey Experiment.
The film was about the programmes Gordon Tovey implemented, while under CE Beeby, as the head of Arts and Crafts in the Department of Education from 1946 until 1966.  You may be familiar with the work of Elwyn Richardson at the Far North school Orauti, which was part of what was known as the Far North project or experiment. Part of the essence of the experiment was to nurture the creativity of children and allow them to explore and express themselves It was part of the child centred driven philosophy that emerged from the First World War and the Depression in the first Labour government's education policy to give children better opportunities.’

What Would Be a Radically Different Vision of School?
‘In his vision of this third narrative, reformers would focus on creating an education system that supports inquiry-based, student-centered learning, where students are encouraged to find entry points into the mandated curriculum in ways that are meaningful to them. Technology is an integral part of Richardson’s vision because it allows students to create and demonstrate their knowledge.’

Task Library
Great ideas for Maths
Provided by Dan Murphy (ex Winchester School PN/NZ)
Such great ideas
‘A school without tasks is like a school without books.Students investigate books to explore literature and develop language concepts and skills in context.
Students investigate tasks to explore mathematics and develop mathematical concepts and skills in context.’

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Slow learning needed for fast times!
‘Slow learning they believe is essential for our lives and learning by giving depth to our experiences and providing insight for creativity and ingenuity. All too often, in contrast, students are rushed through learning to cover curriculum material. First finished is best seems to be the order of the day. As a result ‘slow learning’ is neglected in schools.

A future Vision for Education
Ideas for  schools developing modern or innovative learning environments
For modern learning environments?
Imagine a school where every child would see themselves as an investor in their own learning. Older children would frequently coach and mentor younger children. Those who were more advanced in a subject would help those lagging behind. Children would help teachers design learning programmes, their parents would be parties to these discussions .The children would see it as their responsibility to learn in their own time, often using online tools provided by the school .Although every child would have a personalized learning plan, most learning would be practiced in groups but these would not be organized into rigid year groups, class membership would be in part determined by aptitude and appetite’.

What the modern world has forgotten about children and teaching. and solutions to ensure all students learn
Is our ‘modern’ education system harmful to students?
‘Modern Western learning and teaching based on 'collecting data on human learning  of children's behaviour in school is like collecting data on killer whales based on their behaviour at Sea World.’

Friday, February 03, 2017

Education Readings - digital skills/ information literacy/ Seymour Papert / personalised learning / creativity and Sir Ken Robinson



By Allan Alach

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allanalach@inspire.net.nz

8 digital skills we must teach our children
‘Moreover, there is the digital age gap. The way children use technology is very different from adults. This gap makes it difficult for parents and educators to fully understand the risks and threats
that children could face online. As a result, adults may feel unable to advise children on the safe and responsible use of digital technologies. Likewise, this gap gives rise to different perspectives of what is considered acceptable behaviour.
So how can we, as parents, educators and leaders, prepare our children for the digital age? Without a doubt, it is critical for us to equip them with digital intelligence.’


Information Literacy and Document Learning
‘Information literacy consists in the ability to identify, search effectively for information, locate, filter, discern the quality of information, evaluate, analyze, tag,  categorize, re-mix, create new types of information and effectively use and communicate the findings well for an issue or problem at hand.’ 

The Critical Thinking Skills Cheatsheet
‘Critical thinking skills truly matter in learning. Why? Because they are life skills we use every day of our lives. Everything from our work to our recreational pursuits, and all that’s in between, employs these unique and valuable abilities. Consciously developing them takes thought-provoking discussion and equally thought-provoking questions to get it going.’

 Can constructivism avoid our children turning into Stormtroopers?
‘Seymour Papert, who I had the opportunity to spend time with in those years, had developed a learning theory he called “Constructionism. Papert had been a student of Piaget and Vygotsky who had developed philosophies about the nature of knowledge called Constructivism and Social Constructivism respectively.’

Eight Big Ideas Behind the Constructionist Learning Lab
Following on, here’s more about Seymour Papert’s constructionism.
‘The first big idea is learning by doing. We all learn better when learning is part of doing something we find really interesting. We learn best of all when we use what we learn to make something we really want.’

Why Spatial Reasoning Is Crucial For Early Math Education
‘There’s a well-known rift between those who believe the only type of developmentally appropriate early childhood education is a play-based one, and those concerned that relying solely on any learning that comes out of play could put students coming from impoverished backgrounds at a disadvantage. Research has shown that students from lower socioeconomic groups enter school with significantly less mathematical knowledge, and it is difficult to overcome that gap without intentional mathematics programming. But, at the same time, traditional teacher-led instruction often isn’t developmentally appropriate for five-year-olds.

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

What Do We Really Mean When We Say 'Personalized Learning’?
‘The idea of personalized learning is seductive — it implies moving away from the industrialized form of education that pumps out cookie-cutter students with the same knowledge and skills. After decades of this approach, it is clear that all children don't learn the same way and personalization seems to honor those differences. However, that term has taken on several different meanings.

Die in the Ditch - Non-negotiable Principles for Learning Design
Marie Abraham - Principal
Principal Hobsonville Point School NZ
‘An important and very rewarding part of our development journey has been sharing our thinking with the hundreds of visitors that we have hosted. This has reminded me of the passion and openness that so many teachers have to make schooling as engaging and relevant as possible for learners. Almost all have agreed that students are struggling to engage and find learning stressful. They also recognise that teaching has become a hard slog with reduced rewards. Many also acknowledge that schools are becoming more like centres of assessment rather than centres of learning.All of the visiting schools want answers to the question of what can be done at their school and, in some cases, believe that after a visit they will discover a model they can transplant into their own environment. Of course, they soon realise this is unlikely.’

Sir Ken Robinson: How to Create a Culture For Valuable Learning
“If you design a system to do something, don’t be surprised if it does it,” Robinson said at the annual Big Picture Learning conference called Big Bang. He went on to describe the two pillars of the current system — conformity and compliance — which undermine the sincere efforts of educators and parents to equip children with the confidence to enter the world on their own terms.”

How One Teacher Let Go of Control To Focus On Student-Centered Approaches
‘When Kristine Riley saw a colleague she admired and teachers she followed on social media extol the learning advantages of letting go of control in the classroom, she decided to give it a try. "I started out small," said Riley, who teaches in Edison, New Jersey public schools. It took about a year, maybe a year and a half, to abandon her top-down approach to teaching and replace it with what she calls "structured chaos.”'

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Creative Schools – an impossible dream?
Education for conformity
Educators who believe that education is more of a process of creating stimulating environments to allow students to begin the process of helping the young explore what it is that they are best suited for have always been in the minority. Most teachers have little choice to put programmes into place that have been defined by their school, by those distant 'experts' that determine the curriculum and, most invasive of all, by those who determine the means of assessing students learning. When the latter is in the hands of the politicians supported by compliant principals then the possibility of creativity is all but lost.’

The artistry of teaching and future learning attributes
The future of learning depends on the artistry of the teacher
‘The future of education will be substantially determined by the shared perception of the purpose of learning, and that this is best expressed in terms of the needs of the learner. A focus on deep and profound learning would determine the qualities of a learner of the future. This in turn has implications for the quality of the teaching provided.’


The artistry of the teacher