By Allan Alach
I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
This week’s homework!
Wobbly no more: Work on analogical processing helps children learn key engineering principle
Vygotsky in action?
“Children love to build things. Often half the fun for them is building something and then knocking it down. But in a new study children had just as much fun learning how to keep their masterpieces upright — they learned a key elementary engineering principle.”
Education reform: Jekyll or Hyde?
This article, by Warwick Mansell, a freelance journalist and author of Education by Numbers: the tyranny of testing (Methuen, 2007), is about United Kingdom education policies in the run up to their forthcoming general election. As is usually the case, this article has relevance all over.
“The question is whether it is possible to talk meaningfully about supporting teachers to do their jobs well while at the same time espousing ‘zero tolerance of failure’ when the schools in which they work underperform. I think this is a very difficult circle to square, in the reality of how schools operate: the hunch must be that if you use ‘zero tolerance’, so making schools extremely fearful as to their next bad set of results, you probably will make them unattractive workplaces for many teachers or would-be teachers.”
How Visual Thinking Improves Writing
“Younger kids typically love to draw and aren’t too worried about the outcomes of their artwork — until they get older. By the time they’ve learned to read and write, art takes a back burner to academics, primarily because of what most schools prioritize. Over time it becomes harder for kids to think in pictures the way they once did. But what if students were encouraged to think in pictures alongside words?”
The 4 biggest mistakes that teachers make when integrating technology
“Being a passionate educator, leader, and coach, I hope for a classroom where everyone (including the educators) are willing to take risks, make mistakes and learn from them; where technology is used as a tool to enhance learning and pedagogy..
Pedagogy before technology! Get integrating, be willing to take risks and immerse your students in the wonderful learning opportunities that technology provides.”
To Advance Education, We Must First Reimagine Society
“The formal school system needs to be “turned upside down and inside out.” It should be based on the biological system of weaning — i.e., gradually reducing children’s dependence on teachers. Teacher-student ratios should be high in the early years, then decrease dramatically in adolescence, when “the whole community has to become a place of learning,” with mentorships, apprenticeships and other hands-on learning experiences complementing highly self-directed classroom learning.”
Ten obvious truths about educating kids that keep getting ignored
This list, by Alfie Kohn, has been around for some time, but its well worth revisiting.
“If we all agree that a given principle is true, then why in the world do our schools still function as if it weren’t?
Here are 10 examples.”
Story Hui: Bringing Data To Life Visually
(Thanks to Liz Stevenson)
This downloadable booklet from Story Hui is targeted at a New Zealand audience, but there’s a wealth of useful suggestions for teachers all over. Note – ‘hui’ is a Maori word for a gathering, a meeting. Another Maori word used in the booklet is ‘whanau’ which is an extended family group. Also, ‘koha’ means ‘precious gift’.
From Liz’s email:
“It is a tool for evaluating learning and is not standards based. It’s about using story, drawing & questioning to show clear evidence of engagement, wellbeing and interpersonal capabilities. The feedback from teachers who have trialled it has been overwhelmingly positive and in many cases it seems to have removed a lot of stress. People feel that at last they can really show the whole child’s learning – and if a literacy judgement is not great – then that is only a small part of the bigger story.”
Hattie’s research is wrong: Part 1 and Part 2
Distinguished New Zealand educator Kelvin Smythe has major concerns about John Hattie’s ‘research’ and as a result is writing a series of articles outlining his concerns. Here are the first two parts:
“So influential has Hattie’s research become and Hattie along with it, that to critically examine it, whatever the outcome, if integrity and validity of policy information is valued, should be welcomed by all in school education, in academia, in government bureaucracies, by governments, and by Hattie himself. If readers take a stand (as I have) that the egregious errors are just that, the only path remaining is that Hattie has been astonishingly careless and ignorant in the maths, statistics, research design, understanding of curriculum, and presentation. “
Part 1: http://bit.ly/1yDXG6y
Part 2: http://bit.ly/1yDY7Oi
This week’s contributions from Bruce Hammonds:
Have we lost sight of the purpose of education – to create the conditions to ensure all students develop their creativity or is it about testing and accountability?
“If only New Zealand schools would take the current Zealand Curriculum (2007) seriously. Imagine if every student left our school system as a ‘confident life long learner’ , all with a positive ‘learning identity’, and all able to ‘seek, use and create their own knowledge’.
I live in hope.”
National Stigma – two teachers speak out
This is a letter from two teachers, posted on the Save Our Schools New Zealand website, that expresses their angst at the impact of New Zealand’s National Standards on children in their classes. National Standards are not too far removed from the Common Core Standards in USA (of course that’s a coincidence) but instead of a testing regime teachers are required to use their judgement to rate children’s achievement against relevant standards.
“We are two teachers who have been teaching for about 21 years each but we have never had to deal with anything as heart-breaking as reporting to parents about their child’s achievement in relation to national standards. We feel we have been ‘bullied’ into implementing these standards, have not been consulted during any part of the process and labelled as uncaring and unprofessional when sharing our concerns. Here is the reality of National Standards for us.”
Build an Innovation Culture – With the Right Leaders
Bruce’s comment: A short but powerful suggestion about the need for leaders to develop a creative culture. As they say – ‘culture counts’.
“But building a culture of innovation is not easy. Any change initiative is challenging building a culture of innovation is one in which many organizations fail. At the center of it all is the leader.”
Evolution of the “good” teacher
A great read for the thinking teacher! What is good teaching? Does any body really know? The below link struggles with some possible answers. What is clear is that no approach fits all students.Teaching is in the middle of a change, an evolution, a revolution — the intensity of the description depends on whom you ask. One could argue that this change is natural and part of an ebb and flow cycle, but this change feels faster, and possibly more frenetic — likely due to technology’s role in the change. Is good teaching now for the 21st-century markedly different than it was previously?
Developing a Growth Mindset in Teachers and Staff
Bruce’s comment: I still run across teachers who have not heard about Prof Carol Dweck and her notions of fixed or growth mind-sets – here is a link from Australia for those who want to catch up or just refresh themselves.
“However, in my work, I have found that the notion of developing a growth mindset is as equally applicable to staff and teacher performance as it is to students. This article begins with a brief discussion about the difference between the two mindsets, what that means for education, and concludes with some ideas for how school leaders might seek to develop a growth mindset amongst their staff.”
From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:
Teachers’ key role in fostering creativity.
Bruce’s comment: So what is the teacher’s role in a creative classroom?
“Essential characteristics of creative teachers, according to one US researcher, are a commitment to: deepen the understandings of the world of each learner; believe in the creative ability of all students; encourage empathy in students; value creative expression in learners; teach in ways that facilitate it; adapt the curriculum to meet students individual needs.”
Slow learning needed for fast times!
Bruce’s comment: In this fast paced world maybe it’s time to slow down, enjoy the experience, and and do fewer things well?
“Slow learning they believe is essential for our lives and learning by giving depth to our experiences and providing insight for creativity and ingenuity. All too often, in contrast, students are rushed through learning to cover curriculum material. First finished is best seems to be the order of the day! As a result ‘slow learning’ is neglected in schools.”
We need leaders not accountants.
“It was interesting to read an article by Elizabeth Moss Kanter saying, ‘number, numbers, numbers – is that what preoccupies the school system today – tests and school performance statistics’? It is not that she doesn’t believe in measures but if school systems focus too much on complying with such demands they are in danger of being taken over by accountants not leaders.”