In a previous post, I reviewed at length, and not positively, the new film 2 Million Minutes, the 21st century solution; I expressed especially that it failed by not being a film about teaching and learning. I have also reported this on Twitter; Bob Compton himself has seen and responded to my criticism on Twitter, and he tweeted back to me: “I have over 100 hours of classroom footage – what would you like to see?”
I just banged out this following list really quickly after a long day at school. I saw none of these things in the film. This is a quick “top twelve list” of what the classroom learning I would like to see happening in a school that is described as the 21st century solution:
1. Teachers facilitating a Socratic dialogue, with multiple follow up and challenging questions for deeper thinking, taking the time to really guide students to take the time to reflect, examine, and create new thinking about a topic, and not seeming impatient to get back to the regular lesson.
2. Teachers saying to a class that they are so interested in a question or a topic students have brought up that they are setting aside the lesson for the day to pursue this student-generated topic in depth and at length.
3. Teachers of all subjects explaining how the school schedule is designed to allow them plenty of time to diversify instruction and do in-class project and problem based learning without being rushed or short for time or anxious about “coverage.”
4. Teachers explaining and exemplifying that it is not important for students to learn the topic in breadth, but that instead that they will be learning only select topics in depth. Be great to see them use Wiggins-like language of pursuing essential questions and trying to master the big ideas.
5. Teachers beginning class, or setting a new curriculum in place, with challenging, complicated, broad problems, problems with real world connections, and then stepping back as students first work to tackle these problems.
6. Teachers asking students after (or before) completion of a math problem or a science lab, to explain three other ways to solve this problem or test this hypothesis.
7. Students working in groups, groups of 3-5, on a long term project that has multiple parts and has real-world significance. We could see them designing their own experiments, or brainstorming their own ways to research the question; we could see them divide roles and develop time-tables for accountability; we could see them producing reports and demonstrations of learning.
8. Students talking about the school-day schedule and how it supports them in taking time to think, reflect, re-group, refresh, re-create, and collaborate; students talking about how school gives the time (and quantify that, in specifics) to pursue their interests and broaden their strengths; students explaining how teachers work to support them in reconciling their interests out of school with their school-responsibilities.
9. Students talking about how the tests don’t really matter, and that they are less interested in AP test results than they are in what they have really learned about a subject, and that they feel like the have learned things that will help them make a difference in the world and can explain that difference.
10. Students working together or independently to publish their learning on-line to broader audiences than their teacher/classmates; students presenting learning to audiences outside of the classroom; students demonstrating mastery of critical skills in real-life situations.
11. Teachers talking about the role of assessment other than the AP test, and how they measure and report student learning, and how they use rubrics for measuring skill mastery, and how assessment influences instruction.
12. Teachers and administrators talking about how they measure the success of their school in ways beyond the AP; how they know how well students are doing in college and early in careers, and how that information informs their ongoing curriculum development.
13. Students using laptops and or smart phones, to investigate and research topics, independently; using digital tools to measure lab experiments; using computers to write and record and film and podcast their answers/solutions/ideas/essays; students going on-line to publish their results.
14. Teachers discussing with each other at length and in detail about any or all of these above teaching and learning techniques; teachers visiting each other’s classrooms and giving each other genuine, thoughtful feedback; teachers looking at student work and discussing it in detail; teachers honestly acknowledging aspects of their teaching they are struggling with and need help with.
15. Students working in groups to discuss multiple solutions to a problem, and identifying the pros and cons of each solution, devising new original solutions and identifying the pros and cons of each solution, and then preparing a report educating their classmates on the best approach they have devised, acknowledging its potential weaknesses and responding to them.
16. Students explaining to their teachers: how they think they should be assessed on a unit; or how the teacher can change a lesson to make it more effective for their learning; or how the teachers can better use technology and social media in a learning experience project. Students could be shown designing themselves a rubric for assessment, or discussing what a quality demonstration of learning would be for the unit.