Learning, Not Testing

Great article. Blue ribbon classrooms…
8 Things to Look For in Today’s Classroom


A colleague’s response:

Interesting … why is it so difficult to “find” it in today’s classrooms?

My response:

The first thing that comes to mind is that although one would think that the items listed are pretty obvious, the fact is that it is not easy. It’s about unlearning and relearning. Teachers have to start anew and become students in our changed world. It’s different from simply creating new lesson plans, educators really have to understand the power of connecting with colleagues outside the school walls and model exploration, vulnerability, failure, and problem solving. I’m not confident that all teachers know how to ask good questions or solve problems. I am confident, however, that we need to spend time teaching teachers how to demand this kind of skill in their classrooms.

Another major road block is the combination of Common Core, State Testing, and Benchmarks. I’m not saying that any of the aforementioned items are bad in and of themselves; however, if they drive the decisions educators make and cause teachers to sacrifice learning and critical thinking so they can “prepare” their students for schooling, it is impossible to find the 8 things listed in the post. It takes time to reflect on learning, and even longer to train students to identify and reflect on their own learning and progress. (it’s much easier to complete worksheets, than compile a portfolio).

I’ve been watching High Tech High School in San Diego, CA for a while. I’ve added a snapshot video of the magic they are making. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yie4q8LscBs) The truth is that the magic is not from Merlin, it is in the power of setting up a learning environment that is drenched in tinkering with a purpose. The conversations are about crafting problems and continually solving the how and the why. The chatter isn’t about filling bubbles or assigning HW. The students are focused and filled with curiosity. They have found a way to marry the “silos” of tech and academic. It might be worth looking into…

“In times of change, learners inherit the Earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists…” Eric Hoffer


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