Friday, April 19, 2019

Jo Boaler and math education and inquiry learning

 Jo Boaler: Math teaching is about 
developing positive attitudes towards the subject

 Educational Reading Friday 20 April 2019

Easter Friday
Holidays are a time to catch your breath and to think about how to make teaching better for both teachers and students. Allan and I are no longer involved in teaching but we hear enough
from teacher friends, and reading comments on Facebook, to know that all is not well.

We both caught an interview on Q&A with Jo Boaler (Professor of Mathematics at Stanford University) someone both of us have long admired. To us, her short interview about maths teaching holds an answer to educations problem in particular with maths.

Maths has always been a difficult area. Many teacher are
themselves not that confident and are easily convinced to take on board any number of math schemes but sadly our position on International Tables has steadily fallen.

Its thus worth listening to what Boaler has to say.

Boaler says that current approaches leave far too many  students with maths anxietyand this, in particular, applies to girls. Her video  was about ensuring students develop positive
Jo Boaler
attitudes towards maths
or any learning area. For too long schools have focussed on achievement and one dimensional programmes and this has resulted in an obsessive and exhausting assessment and documentation regime. What has been missing is not paying enough attention to student attitudes towards maths.

When qustioneed about the success of Asian students Boaler made some important points. The key point underpinning Asian success is the belief by parents, teachers and students,
that all everyone can do maths (or any area of learning). In Western cultures, Boaler says, ability is seen as important some people are just better at maths and girls not so much!  Western teachers also use ability grouping while in Asian classes (as observed by Boaler) children are taught as a class in discussion groups and only cover a few problems a lesson they do fewer things well. As a result positive attitudes are developed.

Bruce reflected back to his time as a class teacher where he
determined not to use text books, work sheets, or ability grouping – all common practice at the time. He made every attempt to make maths both enjoyable and challenging studying with his class maths patterns, triangular numbers, measuring, counting, tessellation,  history of number, number in other cultures, keeping rainfall data, transects in science, magic numbers,  math cooking, maths and art …….. The classroom
Graph number of eed in a pod
displayed a variety of maths activities. And maths was related, where possible, to whatever study area the class was involved in. Bruce wanted his class to appreciate what maths was really all about and for all to have positive attitudes towards the subject.

Unfortunately it didnt work out so well. When his students went on to Intermediate school a couple of boys came back to tell him the teacher at the intermediate had said all the kids from his class couldnt do math! Bruce asked if the boys were in ability groups. They said they were and in the top group!! He then asked
the boys how come this was the case if students couldn’t do maths? The boys were confused and the next day they returned with the answer the teacher said none of the students could use a text book!’ One of the boys was a member of the recent tax review group!!

The next year he introduced textbooks in the last months to avoid the issue but his students were given the message that realmaths is doing maths and text book are to be seen only as practicemaths.

Bruce and Allan both wish they knew about Boaler in their teaching days.

Teaching students learn and love maths
Facing up to the elephant in the classroom - the mind changing ideas of Jo Boaler
‘Jo Boaler makes two main points maths can be a fun activity for all students but to achieve this needs the removal of an approach based on ability grouping.  The one in five currently failing in our schools, (notwithstanding the effects of poverty) see themselves as failures, as defined by numeracy and literacy, and the premise of this book that  this is, in good part, to the result of the use of ability grouping. Jo Boalers book reports on the depressing research to back her position on ability grouping.’

Learning to love maths - moving away from ability grouping. Prof Jo Boaler
Links to excellent resources.
Jo Boaler writes, far too many students hate maths. As a result adults all over the world fear maths and avoid it at all costs. Its the subject that can make them feel both helpless and stupid.Maths more than any subject has the power to crush childrens confidence.

Mathematics in education and ability grouping
To develop developing maths understanding and an appreciation of the power of maths through teaching maths through activities and investigations preferably integrated with the classes current inquiry study(ies).

Why Kids Should Keep Using Their Fingers to do Math
‘Stanford professor Jo Boaler writes in The Atlantic about the neurological benefits of using fingers and how it can contribute to advanced thinking in higher math.’
Think youre bad at math? You may suffer from math trauma
Teachers may like to reflect on this when carrying out those pointless timed Numeracy assessmenst.
Tying speed with computation debilitates learners. People who struggle to complete a timed test of math facts often experience fear, which shuts down their working memory. This makes it all but impossible to think which reinforces the idea that a person just cant do math that they are not a math person.’

'Schools have forgotten about fun for fun's sake'
‘We make a mistake trying to inject fun into lessons - we should simply aim to make schools more fun in general.’
Exploring literacy: How six schools lifted achievement?
‘How can schools support students to make progress in reading and writing? To explore this question, the project identified schools that have sustained positive achievement in literacy over five years, and asked what they did to achieve this. The goal was to uncover common themes which might help other schools work towards similar lifts in literacy achievement and no mention of phonics!!!!
Future focused education at Taranaki high school takes flight
Once the biggest school in Taranaki, Spotswood's roll has been in slow decline for two decades as it struggled to remain an attractive option against the city's four single-sex high schools. More liberal and less bound by tradition than those high schools, it is undergoing a radical transformation that could completely change the way the school is viewed both from within and without. It is one of just six schools in New Zealand using the progressive Disrupted programme.’
5 Ways to Boost Science in the Classroom
‘At the core of science is the wonderment of inquiry. Encouraging this inquiry is how you bring science into the classroom, transforming your kids into budding scientists who want to discover the whys hiding behind everyday phenomena. Luckily, there are ways to turn your classroom into a laboratory of discovery without fire and explosions! Here are our favourite ways to boost science in the classroom.’
What is inquiry based learning?
In our quest as educators to prepare our kids to enter the world to thrive and succeed, we constantly strive to empower them with the best aptitudes for doing so in a rapidly-changing world. These are the abilities of independent and critical thinking, creativity, curiosity, and the drive to learn anywhere at anytime. Ultimately, few instructional methods accomplish this quite like inquiry-based learning
Will Education Be Pointless 30 Years from Now? — Part One
Its too late for evolution. Its time for disruption!'
#3quotes from Montessori
‘Maria Montessori is a controversial figure in education. She is considered by many to be a true visionary, while others consider her methods to be detrimental. She was highly critical of formalised education systems and believed they actually obstructed children's potential to learn. She saw transmission methods of teaching as a great travesty, and worked incessantly to create alternative methods of education that were more child centred and which led to greater levels of engagement with learning.’

Friday, April 12, 2019

What is a creative education? - Elwyn Richardson, Sir Ken , Guy Claxton, John Holt

What is a truly creative education?

Creative teaching Readings
  Friday 12th April

Bruce and I spend time each week gathering articles that encourage a creative approach to education.  This of course begs the question what makes a classroom creative?

Bruce has been involved in encouraging creative approaches to education for decades. First as a
science adviser, as a teacher, an art adviser, principal and an independent education adviser.

At the beginning of this year Bruce was asked to give a session at the school he was once principal of at their TOD to share the main ideas arising from his experience over the decades.
Perhaps the main idea Bruce mentioned was to develop your classroom, or school, as a community of learners.

 Bruce drew the attention of the staff to the philosophy of Elwyn Richardson who saw his classroom as a community of artists and scientists exploring their immediate environment and personal experiences. To us both Elwyn’s book In the Early World (recently republished by the NZCER) is still the best example of creative teaching. All schools and teachers should have a copy.

As a Science Adviser (and even earlier as a Nature Study Specialist) Bruce said that exploring the natural world is as important as ever and, as part of this, it is important to help students learn through sensory awareness.  Such awareness and appreciation provides motivation for expression
through a range of media but will contribute for students to protect and value the environment.

In the mid 80s Bruce was involved in the Waikato School of Education’s Learning in Science Project (LISP). Essentially this was based on finding out what students know and then to challenge their understandings ; to value their question  and current theories and to note how their view had changed (or not) due to learning experiences. Contrary to current views knowledge is as important as the learning process. Classrooms should reflect the before and after views of students.

As an art adviser Bruce focussed on helping students express ideas through art and valued the idiosyncratic expression of every learner.  Much of what many teachers today call creativity is craft at best and decoration at worst – and, all too often, little can be seen to differentiate each learners efforts.

Bruce’s teaching experience followed a long career giving advice. The main message he learnt was that giving advice and doing it are two different things.  Having to cover the whole curriculum was a real challenge and took him time to come to terms with.   Bruce made the point
that take advice with care – many who provide advice have had little practical experience of what they talk about.

So these were the points Bruce shared which align with my own views. We both believe that in an education that focuses on accepting learners for what they can do and building on their strengths – to develop their unique passions and talents.

 We both believe that all students will learn if it makes sense to them, if they can see the point of what they are doing.

We both believe that the teacher’s role is to create classrooms as communities of learners full of challenging experiences to attract student’s curiosity. As Jerome Bruner has written ‘teaching is the canny art of intellectual temptation’. If we see our classrooms as a subtle mix of an artist’s studio ( in including all media), a scientist’s laboratory, a work room and an art gallery then students will learn to do, in meaningful contests, the very things teachers currently spend far too much time on – literacy and numeracy. Too much valuable teacher time and energy is wasted on assessment and

Two last points. Teachers should do fewer things well and, strangely in this fast paced world, to slow the pace of students work to both encourage in-depth thinking and to give time for teachers to come alongside learners to help as required. Students, all too often, think that first finished is best and by rushing develop fragile learning.

Students are born to learn. We mustn’t let schools get in their way. If in doubt read Elwyn Richardson’s book and also watch the two videos about his work at Oruaiti School.

Allan Alach

For those interested in Elwyn Richardson’s book

Reclaiming the joy of learning : In the Early World ( NZCER)

‘Oruaiti School functioned as a community of artists and scientists who turned a frank and searching gaze on all that came within their gambit. Curiosity and emotional force led them to explore the natural world and the world of their feelings…..Studies and activities grew out of what preceded them. New techniques were discovered and skills practiced as each achievement set new standards’

In the Early World

Here’s a movie, filmed by Elwyn Richardson in 1961, with his added commentary, that shows some of the amazing art work produced by his pupils.

Song of the Bird

Following on, here’s another video that looks at Elwyn Richardson’s work and which includes Richardson talking about his teaching.

A gifted Taranaki teacher Bill Guild implements Elwyn’s ideas

Bill Guild was a key figure of a group of Taranaki teachers that had gained reputation for the  creative programmes they were implementing.  Bill - who by the way turns 93 this year and is as enthusiastic about creativity as he ever was and a whiz on his Apple  Computer

John Dewey an educator for the 21stC

The progressive ideas Bruce and I hold relate to the writings of John Dewey. So many of the ideas talked about today have their genesis in the writings of Dewey .

Dewey placed a premium on student meaningful activity in learning and participation in classroom democracy. His belief that students must be ‘invested’ in what they are learning echoing calls today for school to present ‘rich, real and relevant learning’ to combat growing student disengagement.’

Guy Claxton’s  book ‘What’s the  Point of School’

This book is powerful and timely examination of why our schools are built to fail, and how to redesign them to meet the needs of the
modern world.' The challenge of redesigning schools is a big ask but the book gives lots of very practical advice about how to create enthusiastic learners and more effective teaching. In particular the 'learning power' ideas gives guidance to how New Zealand teachers can implement the 'key competencies' of the new curriculum.’

Time to re-read John Holt -

The Joy and Sorrow of Rereading Holt’s "How Children Learn" Here, summed up, are John Holt’s great insights about children’s learning.'

We must reverse the ‘outcome oriented’ educational monster we have unleashed

Our students need to be content creators, not memorisers As the New Zealand Curriculum says students need to ‘seek, use and create their own knowledge’.”

What Students Do Better Than Teachers

Moving from exchanging words to exchanging ideas is a big shift that doesn’t happen just because there is a question and answer exchange. There is a certain trust inherent in any meaningful communication.’

9 Elephants in the (Class)Room That Should “Unsettle” Us

I’ve been collecting a list of these “things that we don’t really want to talk about in education” in hopes that it might challenge us to bring those elephants out into the open and ignite some much needed conversation about how to deal with them. Here are nine of them.’

The Artistry of Teaching

‘There is one goal [of education] that, if not achieved, makes the achievement of all other goals very unlikely. That goal is to create those conditions that make students want to learn; not have to learn but want to learn more about self, others, and the world. The overarching purpose of schooling and its governance is to support that goal, i.e., to create and sustain contexts of productive learning supportive of the natural curiosity and wonder with which children start schooling.’

Seven Myths Keeping Teachers from Implementing Creative Projects

Every year, I ask my pedagogy students about their most memorable learning experience as a student. Inevitably, it involves a creative project. These were the moments when learning stuck and often it was when they fell in love with the subject. But these were also the experiences that taught them collaboration, project management, flexible thinking, and a growth mindset.’

#3quotes from Rogers - Steve Wheeler:

‘Although he originally practised as a psychotherapist, Carl Rogers was intensely interested in education. His 1969 publication Freedom to Learn is now considered a classic of education. It was certainly required reading during my own teacher training. Rogers' approach to both psychotherapy and education was humanistic and thus person-centred. His view on learning was that children needed to be fully engaged rather than passive in the classroom.’

4 Ways to Develop Creativity in Students

‘When Benjamin Bloom identified what he called the taxonomy of the cognitive domain, he ranked
synthesis (creativity) as one of the most difficult skills to master because a person has to use all of the other cognitive skills in the creative process. Since, according to Bloom, creating is the highest
order of thinking, it should be in the forefront of all learning environments and an end goal. When students create what they imagine, they’re in the driver’s seat.’

Sir Ken Robinson: How to Create a Culture For Valuable Learning

‘Robinson believes education is “to enable students to understand the world around them, and the talents within them, so that they can become fulfilled individuals and active, compassionate citizens.” He doesn’t deny that learning information about the world is important, but he says it’s equally important for students to understand their own talents, motivations and passions if they are going to lead lives that satisfy them. The current system of conformity and compliance leaves no space for this type of self-exploration.’

Saturday, April 06, 2019

The need to identify and share teacher expertise

Educational Readings
6th April 2019

The need to identify and share teacher expertise

We’ve always believed that the real experts in education are those that actually do it. Obviously such teachers gain support from those distant from the classroom but if it doesn’t happen in the
classroom it doesn’t happen. And I also believe the further experts are away from the classroom the easier it is to give advice.

A long time ago, before the introduction of self-managing schools, there were plenty of opportunities for schools to collaborate. Teachers were chosen to attend and contribute to national and local in-service courses.

Today the focus in on our school not our schools. 

In the last year or so an attempt was made to introduce a community of schools approach but all too often this was simply a means to introduce Ministry dictates such as National Standards. It
was, at least, a start to move to more collaborative environment.

The Tomorrow’s School Review has at its core the idea of hubs which would introduce the idea of our schools rather than our school. Time will tell if this eventuates but one idea regional principals groups could do is to identify teachers with recognised, expertise in local schools and to share this expertise by means of a website with all schools in the area. There may be schools with beginning teachers coping well that other beginning
teachers could visit; there might be teachers with expertise in the creative arts, technology, physical education, mathematics science, inquiry learning, integrated studies, and play based approaches to learning etc.

There may be the need to select principals/teachers to act as an organising committee and a need also to employ a person with
website development skills.

Something along these lines would not only enable the sharing of ideas between schools but also to return teachers expertise central to educational development.

Bruce Hammonds
Allan Alach

Last week we shared readings both for and against the ideas included in the Tomorrows School Review.

Here is one more to consider

I’m a school principal – here’s why I support the Tomorrow’s Schools changes
‘The independent taskforce report on Tomorrow’s Schools recommends big changes to school governance, and a lot of principals are up in arms. Auckland high school principal Claire Amos explains why she’s not one of them.’

The Art of Looking: Eleven Ways of Viewing the Multiple Realities of Our Everyday Wonderland
An invitation to the art of observation: Together, we became investigators of the ordinary, considering the block — the street and everything on it—as a living being that could be observed.In this way, the familiar becomes unfamiliar, and the old the new.’

Drawing isn't just an art form, it's also a tool.
We often think of drawing as something that takes innate talent, but this kind of thinking stems from our misclassification of drawing as, primarily, an art form rather than a tool for learning.Researchers, teachers, and artists are starting to see how drawing can positively impact a wide variety of skills and disciplines.Drawing is not an innate gift; rather, it can be taught and developed. Doing so helps people to perceive the world more accurately, remember facts better, and understand their world from a new perspective.’

They Say There's No Such Thing As A Stupid Question
They say there's no such thing as a stupid question, but I beg to differ. We hear stupid questions almost every time adults and young children are together.’

High School Doesn’t Have to Be Boring
Debate, drama and other extracurriculars provide the excitement many classrooms lack. And they can help overhaul the system.’

How to Teach Students Historical Inquiry Through Media Literacy And Critical Thinking
Today, most people look up information they don’t know on the internet, including students. So it’s even more important that students have tools they can use to make educated decisions about what they trust online.’

How to unlock students’ internal drive for learning
One of the key components of engagement is students’ excitement about what they learn. Yet most schools extinguish that excitement.'

Learner Agency. What’s it about?
Learner agency is about having the power, combined with choices, to take meaningful action and see the results of your decisions. It can be thought of as a catalyst for change or transformation. Within a school context, Learner Agency is about shifting the ownership of learning from teachers to students, enabling students to have the understanding, ability, and opportunity to be part of the learning design and to take action to intervene in the learning process, to affect outcomes and become powerful lifelong learners.’

Learning Is Different Than Education
…all our problems tend to gather under two questions about knowledge: Having the ability and desire to know, how and what should we learn? And, having learned, how and for what should we use what we know?”

International Women's Day: What factors are at play when girls are excluded from mathematics?Jo Boaler:
‘In a recent survey National Numeracy asked a sample of adults
how they felt about maths. This showed that more than twice the proportion of women (30%) than men (14%) said that maths made them feel uneasy.  Why might this serious gender disparity exist – even in the 21st century?'

#3quotes from Holt Steve Wheeler:
Holt was best known for his progressive approach to education, and his criticisms of state-funded
school systems. I have drawn three quotes from his 1983 classic How Children Learn (first published in 1964) and have added some additional commentary.’

 A couple of Oldies

Tapping into the student's world
'Every student brings with them memories and ideas gained from the experiences they have had. All too   often this personal form of motivation is overlooked by teachers who seem to think they have better ideas to use - their own. It is as if students come to school as blank slates ( tabula rosa) when instead they come with a wealth of ideas to share but to do their ideas need to be valued.’

Importance of observation
Drawing is an ideal way to break through habitual ways of thinking. All too often our students see but they do not look. Observational drawing has long been an important means for some teachers to develop deeper consciousness in students - to assist students see through their habitual ways of seeing and to develop new awareness.’