To help encourage conversations and dialogue about learning through experiences, our topic/question for the dinner table is: What experiences made you a better learner this year? Be specific. Learning Via Experiences (Week of 5/20/18) (This is an anonymous Google Form)
Blake's Guiding Lights
Blake's Core Values: Respect, Responsibility, Resourcefulness, Reflection
Our Essential Question: How can we cultivate and curate the progression of student learning and growth?
Our Mission: Blake Middle School believes in a living mission statement, based on the concept that our community seeks and respects knowledge, integrity, character, wisdom, and the willingness to adapt to a continually evolving world.
With the cooler spring weather on Friday afternoon and rainy day on Saturday, I hope that everyone was able to find some time to relax over the weekend. We had some nice time together as a family with sports, family celebrations, watching the Celtics, and trying to 'just be'. On Sunday we had some more baseball practices and tryouts for summer ball and had a nice family dinner before the week began!
So, how can we do this with all of the pressures, expectations, and mandates that we feel as educators and parents? I think we can take a 'Someday-Monday' (Tom Daccord) approach - 'Someday we can do...., but on Monday we can do....'. We do not need to overhaul all of our practices - rather, we need to make sure we remain intentional in our work and, as our mission says, maintain a 'willingness to adapt'. In just the past week some of these experiences stood out...
- Monday's faculty meeting: listening to one another's SIDKY (Something I Didn't Know Yesterday), sharing strategies to connect with our students as we end the year, and being present as a learning community. We must view our roles as educators as 'learners first'.
- A sampling of responses from this past week's topic/question of the week - 'If it were up to you, what would you choose to learn about this week?: the constellations, computer science, the Boston marathon bombing so we can understand it, reactive vs proactive intrinsic motivation, long boarding, the human anatomy, art, sign language, real-world skills and not just book smarts, our roles as educators with special education, WW II, marine life
- Attending the LLP's Celebration of Learning (congrats to Maura B. for completing her administrative program!) at the MSAA's offices Thursday evening and Matt King's words: We work with people who have different perspectives; Don't confuse who you are with who you might become; We hope we have given you a lens to what you will and are experiencing. One of his key messages was that experiences are invaluable and we need to listen and be open to all of them - and, we will continually grow through them.
- A phone conversation with Jamele Adams on Friday, discussing some future work for our community on race, equity, and inclusion: We can never ignore the human element; We need to ask the questions we never dare to ask; We have more in common than not; need to enter a regimen of dedication. These phrases are applicable to experiential learning through discussions, discomfort, and community.
- Grayden's 2nd grade open house: Viewing the 'year in review' and having Grayden walk us through his classroom/learning through his lens, and having the opportunity to hear him and his classmates hare their biography projects. At all ages and at all times, there is learning to be done - and, engagement with all of the ages will foster a community of learners.
In looking to assess and articulate our own 'Someday/Monday' approaches to this train of thought, the post below highlights the concept of heutagogy (self-determined learning) and is an entry point for conversations, planning, and action...
Learning Is Non-Linear. Why Not Curriculum?
by Stewart Hase in TeachThought
This brief post shares that dictionary definitions of learning, according to recent neuroscience and research, are archaic and as an alternative presents two levels of learning. In so doing we begin shifting the thoughts and beliefs that learning from linear to non-linear and therefore need to begin thinking about our systems for teaching, curricula, and formal/informal learning as well.
More recent neuroscience evidence has led me to think that learning can be thought of in at least two levels. There are probably more but two will suffice for now. On the one hand is the acquisition of knowledge and skills or what are better known as competencies. On the other is deeper learning, when we make associations in our brains that lead to Ah Ha!moments or new insights.
While we like to think in a linear fashion, this is not actually how we learn in situ. By ‘in situ’ I’m referring to learning that occurs naturally, out of the confines of educational systems. It is the learning that occurs minute by minute in our lives and, as one example, accounts for about 70% of learning in workplaces. Learning as a matter of course is pretty well non-linear, with a random component based on serendipity, or misfortune if it is an unpleasant outcome, and the ‘learning moment’. Learning mostly occurs when our attention is captured by need, trial and error, doing, and an innate desire to master and to know.There is something highly motivational in have unanswered questions residing in the mind.
Most curricula found in education systems or training programs are designed in a linear fashion. They are unnatural. Teachers and trainers, like other humans, want to order ‘stuff’ in such a way that it apparently makes sense: this leads to this leads to that thinking. Most curricula, despite sometimes referring to higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy in the objectives, is at the competence level of describing, explaining and demonstrating. This leads to rather stilted forms of didactic teaching, the ubiquitous slide show, the passive learner. All of which is unnatural and we wonder why learners have problems in motivation and learning.
How about if we did away with the linear curriculum, the linear way of teaching? Please note, I am not advocating getting rid of curricula or of the need for competencies. Both are essential. What I am talking about is thinking about the curricula in a non-linear fashion. The flipped classroom is a start in the right direction in that it at least takes the emphasis out of delivering content and more about discussing it or doing it. Yes, that’s right! Go into problems, issues and the complex before acquiring any initial pre knowledge or skill. Forget linear. Think again of how we learn in situ. It is demand based and we then use our smart phone, tablet, computer, a library, or some wise sage to find the answer to the questions in our mind. It is usually in response to a problem we need to solve. If we know how to learn then we have all the tools we need.
With only a little over four weeks left of school in the 18-19 school year, I hope everyone will join me in trying to keep these focal points in mind...
1) Maintain and foster a sense of willful hope in and for our students
2) Think about ways we can shift the linear to the non-linear (fostering relevance, making connections, and opening up options) and then try a couple of ways
3) View each moment we have as a potential experience for learning for our students and ourselves
These focal points align with our mission and will, I hope, foster reflection and a sense of purpose for our learning community.
I look forward to the work that lies ahead for all of us.
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