Installment seven of a weekly post, Quotes of the Week.  (For more about QoTW, click here.) Sorry to have missed last week: in the past ten days I have been in San Francisco/Oakland, Washington DC, and Chicago.

  • What if every classroom had mostly writable surfaces on walls and cabinet faces?  The paint for this is cheap and it would utterly change the relationship between students, actions, information, and teachers.
  • What if someone kept a log of how much time a teacher is talking, and how much time students are talking?  What about the ratio of teacher questions to student questions?
  • What if we reduced the number of pieces of paper we hand out to students in a year by half? Is there a better way to learn than each student filling out a worksheet?

If every educator who follows this journey reaches out and connects with just one other school, think about the thousands of innovative nodes at work!

Journey Reflections after Two Full Weeks, Grant Lichtman

nb: If you aren’t already, you ought to be following Grant’s #edjourney here:

This is what motivates many test designers, whose ultimate goal is to expand what is taught in schools by expanding what can be tested. If we had better tests, they imagine—ones that could really assess abilities like creativity and collaboration—the door would suddenly open to a vision of education in which seemingly “soft” skills could be taught just as rigorously as what we consider the basics.

Things being as they are, we bristle at the idea of teachers feeling pressured to “teach to the test,” out of fear their students will otherwise score poorly on nationally mandated standardized tests. But what if teaching to the test didn’t have to mean mechanically training kids to crank out answers to invented questions? That’s the promise of a better test: By drawing a map that more accurately reflects our world, we may discover far more promising paths to get where we want to go.

What to Test Instead, Leon Nayfakh

Forms for team and self-assessment can be easily found online through resources such as the Buck Institute, and can be modified for many different classroom settings. These evaluations can then be translated into a score that reflects what each student put into a project. Students still see a final score on the project as a whole, which is important to pulling together a polished product, but are able to see that the contributions of each individual team member are accurately assessed. This “weighted” score also is a more accurate assessment of where they are with the skill of teamwork.

Practical PBL: The Ongoing Challenge of Assessment, Kate Piper at Edutopia

“We found that the high volume of information available these days seems to make most people feel empowered and enthusiastic. People are able to get their news and information from a diverse set of sources and they seem to like having those options.”

In fact, rather than feeling buried by information, people are getting more critical of its quality. “But these frustrations were accompanied by enthusiasm and excitement on a more general level about overall media choices,” Hargittai said.

Study Explodes Myth of Internet Based Information Overload, Shel Holtz

To design a school curriculum backward from the goal of autonomous transfer requires a deliberate and transparent plan for helping the student rely less and less on teacher handholding and scaffolds. After all, transfer is about independent performance in context. You can only be said to have fully understood and applied your learning if you can do it without
someone telling you what to do.

In the real world, no teacher is there to direct and remind  you about which lesson to plug in here or what strategy fits there; transfer is about  intelligently and effectively drawing from your repertoire, independently, to handle new situations on your own. Accordingly, we should see an increase, by design, in problem- and project-based learning, small-group inquiries, Socratic Seminars, and independent studies as learners progress through the curriculum across the grades.

The authors of the Common Core E/LA Standards [explain] “While the Standards delineate specific expectations in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language, each standard need not be a separate focus for instruction and assessment. Often, several standards can be addressed by a single rich task.” (p 5)

In sum, moving from Standards to curriculum requires careful reading and thoughtful interpretation to avoid the predictable misunderstandings noted above, while building the curriculum backward from worthy tasks offers the pathway to the performances envisioned by the Common Core.

From Common Core to Curriculum: Five Big Ideas Grant Wiggins

We need to make this fairy tale a reality. Student-centered learning is powerful, transformative and life changing, for teachers and students.  I’ll be honest, it can be difficult and messy. But once you’ve experienced it — once you’ve hung on for dear life until you see it work its magic — you’ll never go back.

Deep Learning Isn’t About Technology, Shelley Wright-

Pretty interesting stuff, huh? It’s already making me rethink the words and phrases that I use in my classroom with my middle school students.

If Edmonds is right, one simple language change could save me a whole BUNCH of frustrating moments and help me to create a learning environment where my students will be more successful by default.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Classroom Rules, Bill Ferriter

We have also used brainwriting with our teacher-learners in PLC to build ideas and understanding around PBL.  We have used brainwriting with our Department Integration Specialists to build common lessons on digital citizenship.

The brainwriting process is fantastic and yields great results.  The index cards and Post-it notes are bound to a physical space.  What if we shifted this experience to a set of Google docs?  Would we get the same good thinking?

Brainwriting: Collaborative Brainstorming Enhanced by Google Docs, Jill Gough

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