Video

Fixed vs. Growth Mindsets In Children [VIDEO 0:56]

Consider this animated example of fixed versus growth mindset in a math classroom, created by GoStrengths. How can you nurture student willingness to take chances and learn from the outcomes in your classroom?

‘No Pineapple Left Behind’ and the Politics of American Education

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Reposted from engadget:

Seth Alter was a teacher for all of six months before quitting his job and going indie to make video games full-time. No Pineapple Left Behind, his second PC title, is more or less the story of why he left his students at a Boston charter school. As a special education math teacher, his sixth graders were expected to meet the same behavioral standards and educational expectations as their mainstreamed counterparts thanks to 2001’s controversial No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), which ties school funding to standardized test scores. Alter says that teacher evaluations are drawn from those scores as well. And because most charter schools are non-union, they can fire teachers for almost any reason, including low test scores from special-needs students who should have been held to modified standards in the first place. It doesn’t take a genius to realize just how flawed that logic is: It’s a system built to fail.

“A month before I quit, I was talking to a friend about my job and how it was getting me down,” Alter says. “I said that the main problem is that the school assumes that all of my [special education] kids are statistics. If I treat them as statistics, everything’s fine. But as soon as I start thinking about them as people, all of a sudden there’s a problem and I don’t have sufficient resources.”

In Pineapple, you play the role of a principal in charge of a school and your ultimate goal is to earn as much funding as possible. To do that, you need to ensure it produces the highest standardized test scores throughout a dozen different scenarios. By dehumanizing kids and turning them into pineapples (read: statistics) that makes it easier because “pineapples,” as they exist here, excel at testing and nothing else. Children are a bit more complicated: They each have their own individual learning styles and interests. “There’s just no management sims I’m aware of that consider the human implications of treating the workers as moneymaking tools,” he says.

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I Have a Dream: Teaching with No Grades

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Reposted from Ditch That Textbook:

In my dream, my students enter my Spanish class and automatically switch to conversational Spanish when they cross the threshold of the room. We tell stories, discuss topics, write about passions, create digital products in the target language. And nobody receives a grade for their work. They don’t have to. They’ve improved their skills, practiced them and put them into meaningful context. They have learned. That’s what they wanted out of the class. That’s what I wanted. And nobody’s concerned about the grades.

Hadley Ferguson is living a version of my dream. She teaches a seventh-grade history class that doesn’t assign grades – letters, percentages, etc. Ferguson, as she wrote on a post at SmartBlogs.com, gives them written feedback instead. Comments. Strengths. Their next steps for improvement. Most high-performing students still thrived in the gradeless environment. But the pure gold in this concept, in my opinion, is the empowerment of her middle- to lower-performing students. Their work, which may have received a poor grade despite their hardest work, was validated and they began to thrive. It was as if they were “freed from prison” and they were “willing to test their ideas and take risks that they never did before. It wasn’t a competition for the best grade;” Ferguson wrote, “it was a journey of learning that we are on together.”

I have yet to find a grading system that is fully fair:

  • Participation grades don’t reward students for doing their best quality work.
  • Grading on an overall performance rubric for the grading period can be subjective, even if there is evidence to support it.
  • Percentages of correct responses on worksheets, quizzes and tests can be a game of “gotcha” and don’t individualize.

They take away from the real focus of education: learning. We all innately want to learn. Even our most unmotivated students want to learn something, be it a method for beating their favorite video game or how to style their hair like their favorite celebrity. Our education system has excelled at turning learning into drudgery that’s quantified by an irrelevant scoring system.

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Standardized Testing is Not Teaching [VIDEO 3:31]

Chris Tienken makes the case that standardized testing is being given too much emphasis in public education. “Using the results from commercially prepared standardized tests to make important decisions about educators and children is education malpractice,” he contends. “For example, elementary school students will spend more time taking state standardized tests this year than a law school students spends taking the bar exam…and more time than the exams required to become a police office, teacher, and school superintendent.” Through these persuasive comparisons and thoughtful commentary, this video brings the issue of standardized testing of students to the forefront in the dialog among public education stakeholders.

What If We Pursued a Culture of Learning Instead of a Culture of Achievement?

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Reposted from Perkins Educational Consulting:

A culture of achievement places it’s focus on the most easily quantifiable and measurable results, test scores. As superintendents and building administrators work to keep their jobs and show they are successful it’s somewhat understandable (if not short-sighted) that this would be a focus. The unfortunate truth is that these tests are not measuring things important to creating the type of graduates society needs and is longing for. Most standardized tests attempt to measure content knowledge and understanding and not skills or thinking you would find on the upper parts of Bloom’s taxonomy. What this often creates then is an approach by administrators that demands a focus on identifying exactly what parts of the test students are not performing well (disaggregating the data) and pulling those students for intentional work on shoring up those specific shortcomings.

What if we pursued a Culture of Teaching and Learning? One that placed an emphasis on things like deep, rich inquiry and craftsmanship? What if the learning had no ceiling and students were authentically assessed and did real-world work where they uncovered and discovered content? What if instead of disaggregating data our teachers engaged in quality professional discourse about their work in ways that excited them and their students? A Culture of Teaching and Learning often produces great (test scores) achievement but a Culture of Achievement rarely results in great teaching and learning. A Culture of Teaching and Learning rewards and professionalizes teaching and helps create students who are empowered by their possibilities and less than concerned with test performance.

If your school is looking to create great thinkers and learners and not just students stuffed full of content take a look at your culture. If your school is wishing your students were excited to be there instead of feeling the tension of just trying to attend and endure take a look at your culture. Is your focus on test scores and “achievement” or do your teachers and students engage in ways that allow them to grow and make meaning out of their learning in ways that tests don’t measure and quantify? Is the purpose of your school to produce great test scores or students capable of thinking creatively and critically about things that matter?

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Secret Teacher: I want to be like Yoda, but I feel more like a Stormtrooper

luke-yoda

Reposted from the Guardian Teacher Network:

I think Princess Leia was right. The more that management tightens up in this way, the more our students will disengage. Already, the stress that teachers are put under seems to have been passed on to our students. More of them are suffering from anxiety and depression, hiding under the duvet and refusing to attend. Their eyes glaze over: all that hard talking about what was at stake in those management-led supposedly inspirational assemblies on that first day back in September didn’t give our students the self-belief or the determination they needed to succeed. It left them demoralised and defeated. One student the other day expressed a quiet cynicism that I had never heard before: “I can’t do it. I can’t. You only want me to pass because it affects your pay.”

I wonder if this will continue, if more will switch off. Perhaps things won’t get better, perhaps they will get worse. And if next year’s results aren’t back on track, some new draconian measure will be introduced. There’ll be a bigger Death Star, more powerful than the first.

When I started in this profession, part of me just wanted to be Yoda – brilliant, wise, thoughtful, able to make my students realise their potential. Today, almost 20 years later, I feel more like a stormtrooper: faceless, dispensable, following orders. It’s not a great feeling. I don’t want to be a stormtrooper. I want to be Obi-Wan Kenobi, finally training Jedis again. I want to be Luke Skywalker, finding a way to put everything right. I want to be Leia, standing up to the regime. I want to be the spark of inspiration again – that proton torpedo that sets up a chain of events that will ultimately change the universe.

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Learning vs. Knowledge Building

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Reposted from the Construction Zone:

The origins of knowledge building in education arise out of the work of Marlene Scardamalia and Carl Bereiter at OISE/UT. Their work in knowledge transforming and intentional learning—as it relates to the development of expertise—has been the foundation of their coining the term knowledge building. This work goes back to the mid 1970s and their development of CSILE—Computer Supported Intentional Learning Environments in the mid 80s.

People often equate knowledge building theory with that of constructivist learning, but Scardamalia and Bereiter make these distinctions:

  • Intentionality. Most of learning is unconscious, and a constructivist view of learning does not alter this fact. However, people engaged in Knowledge Building know they are doing it and advances are purposeful.
  • Community & knowledge. Learning is a personal matter, but Knowledge Building is done for the benefit of the community.

In other words, students engaged in knowledge building are intentional about their learning – they treat knowledge as an entity that is discussable. It is something about which they reflect and build upon. Also, students can be said not just to be in charge of their own learning, but also have responsibility for the learning of the group.

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