Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Discussing Who Owns The Learning - #CyberPD

See this post at Cathy Mere's Reflect and Refine for what's going on with this summer's #cyberPD.  She's also hosting the first conversation of chapters one and two and linking up!  Today, join us here!  Cathy's friends, Laura Komos (Our Camp Read-a-Lot), Jill Fisch (My Primary Passion) are our two other hosts.  Join in, or at least visit to see what others think of this book, Who Owns The Learning, by Alan November.

A thread that appears to be running through the book is the idea that this proposal, the Digital Learning Farm, is based on the idea that in the past, kids who lived on farms had much more authentic work to do with their chores.  And they had to learn the why and how of those chores at least some of the time in order to be effective in their daily lives as contributing members of the family.  They couldn't decide to skip their 'homework' because lives surely depended upon it, the animals they fed, the plants cared for, etc.  He also sites the 'teacher's helper' role of students in one room schoolhouses, and states "The power of purpose and meaningful contribution has been missing from our classrooms and our youth culture for some time."



            I teach in an independent school where students choose individual topics to study.  That is the curriculum!  Students (K-8) collaborate with teachers to design their studies, choosing essential questions to begin research, and teachers work hard to find authentic ways to connect those topics with the outside world.  Learning is need based.  Alan quoted Tony Wagner, Harvard researcher on page 5: "The essential skill of the 21st Century is knowing how to ask the most interesting questions." 

           It's a progressive school that values its innovative approaches, but we are also facing the challenges of learning and integrating new approaches that intersect with technology and widening student interactions with more than our local experts.  Students are out of the building often, learning about their topics through day trips to places and to interview people as experts.  
           Both these chapters are so exciting to me as much of what I am reading connects directly with what we do at my school, and Alan is describing "next steps" that will enhance our approaches to technology.  It is exciting that others, including Alan, are advocating authentic and purposeful work as motivating factors for students. I believe it works and have seen it be an active force in student learning at my school. The quote by Daniel Pink on page 13 is important: "the most important predictors of high-quality work are autonomy, mastery, and purpose."  I am reminded of Peter H. Johnston's book, Opening Minds, that you happened to read together last year.  I recently attended a workshop where he emphasized four fundamental human needs:  autonomy, belongingness, competence and meaningfulness. They connect directly to Alan's advocacy for autonomy, authenticity, and high-quality work, 

A little more:  

I liked the idea that all of us are in this together, from superintendents to principals to teachers to students.  

I liked the description of a new kind of library and will share this with our librarian.  She and I and her assistant work hard to find ideas that will bring more students into the library, but it is not easy.  Our classrooms have extensive libraries and technology, so there is less need.

I liked hearing about the math tutorials and think this is one area to be explored.  I am now the school's literacy coach, but taught middle-school-aged students (6, 7, 8)  for a long time.  I often had students peer coach, and they also taught lessons to others, but that isn't the same as a lesson online.

I liked the excitement of Alan November's voice in his words!

20 comments:

  1. Linda,
    I enjoyed your post. Many of your thoughts rang true with me. One thing that really lept out though was the way you described your school. Sounds like an amazing place to learn. Really amazing.
    Tony

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Tony. At my school, we wish constantly that people would believe in students' choices, that they really will pursue learning if they are given the freedom to do so. It's an important leap of faith that November appears to be advocating!

      Delete
  2. Linda,

    I agree with Tony - your school sounds amazing. I would love to come and visit someday. My school is an Expeditionary Learning School so we try while we pursue student questions and try to go deeper into topics by doing fieldwork and connecting with experts, we don't let students completely choose their studies. I would love that, though. I am glad that I found your blog through this conversation. I look forward to reading more about your school.

    Jill

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you could come visit sometime, Jill. We love visitors coming to learn about what we do! But we also know we cannot rest on what's happened in the past either, there is much that we can do with technology as well, to bring our students into those choices, too. We are similar to an Expeditionary School & have a number of them in Denver, and new ones starting as charter schools. Thanks for reading!

      Delete
  3. Linda,
    I'm so glad you are able to join the conversation. I want to visit your school! It sounds interesting and exciting. You mention finding ways to utilize local experts and this is something I really need to improve in my classroom. With the internet, there are so many opportunities to tap into experts that I do not take full advantage of in our daily learning.

    Like you, I think Johnston's work complements the writing of November. Many of the ideas discussed by Johnston must be in place for this to work at a digital & global level.

    I look forward to future conversations around this topic (and more glimpses into your school),
    Cathy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree about the Johnston/November connections. Johnston also spoke of balance in power between the teacher and student, even in the ways we interact. Making more and more choice available is another way, and November seems strongly for that too. Thanks Cathy, this is exciting to hear from all the participants!

      Delete
  4. Thanks so much for joining in on the conversation, Linda! I loved reading about your school and its intriguing format. As we move forward with CCSS and more testing, I hope we can all grasp onto the importance of giving ownership to students. I think we'll be looking to schools like yours to help lead the way! I'm looking forward to reading more about your experiences and insights as we continue our discussion.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Laura. I've continued to learn more about the standards in Common Core in order to make connections with our school's philosophy. It isn't easy, but I think one could, with a bit of movement, give students choice and ownership within the expected parameters. I hope that others will like looking at this too!

      Delete
  5. Linda,
    As always, when you describe your school I am amazed. What a wonderful place to learn and work. Wish we lived closer to you.
    Katherine

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe sometime you'll get to Colorado for a vacation, Katherine. I'm sorry we didn't have the chance to talk more at the All-Write. Next time!

      Delete
  6. I caught the excitement in Alan November's writing, too!

    And wow! What a school where you teach! Sounds like a dream.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If people read this book, surely they will see the excitement of possibility! Thanks Mary Lee. Yes, our school is a good place of learning, but we are not without our own challenges, are always trying new ways to do better.

      Delete
  7. Hi Linda! I love hearing about your school - as exciting and frightening as it may be to let go and allow so much choice. I can only imagine the possibilities and the true learning (autonomy, mastery, and purpose). Thanks for connecting Johnston and November. I read the book last year, but it's separated in my mind. I'm sure it was helpful hearing Johnston recently! :) But the connection is real and strong -- and reminding us what is important in our classrooms today!

    I hope you are able to learn some tech tips, tools and tricks to help teachers and students utilize technology to enhance learning. I'm glad you are part of the conversation!
    Michelle

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi-it was great seeing you in the conversation, Michelle. I am keeping a list of all the tech apps, etc. people are mentioning. It's going to be great to learn and then take these back to school in August! I'm looking forward to more! Thank you!

      Delete
  8. Hi Linda!
    As always, you bring a unique and uplifting perspective to the conversation! When your students begin choosing their work, how do you start? What are your first steps? How does the work look for different grade levels? And do you emphasize more of the learning process or products? Also, how do teachers assign grades? Sorry for bombarding you with questions but it sounds like your school is a model school similar to what November is talking about...thanks for your thoughtful post-with so many of us wanting to visit your school, maybe we could do a google hangout in the Fall! What do you think?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amy, I'm on my way out right now. I'll try to answer later when I have more time in order to give serious thought to your questions. Thanks. I didn't know you were in on this. Did you post, too? See you...

      Delete
  9. Linda~ Again your school sounds amazing, I hope Jill will include me on the field trip! I LOVED Johnston and look forward to building on last years work!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Deb, I'm sorry I missed last year. I love Johnston's book and feel they will serve as a good foundation for this discussion too.

      Delete
  10. Hi Linda,

    What I absolutely love about online learning is encountering various perspectives on education. You describe your school as progressive (which philosophically it is ie no grades, inquiry driven etc.), and yet you state that the integration of technology as a meaningful pedagogy is a challenge. For many educators, "progressive" would suggest high tech usage ie being a Google school. Thank you for reminding us that great learning opportunities are not singularly connected to technology.

    Julie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And we have a good amount of technology going on, but few are exploring new applications that would enhance what is already there, i.e. encouraging that exploration with students too. Thanks Julie.

      Delete

Having a conversation is a good thing!