Education Readings November 24th

By Allan Alach

The demise of national standards in New Zealand schools opens the door to a return to more progressive, child centred learning. In the first article, Bruce Hammonds gives his take on the possibilities in the post national standards classroom. All progressive teachers should read this.

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allanalach@inspire.net.nz

Organising the school day for 21st Century Teaching – the Craft of Teaching

Bruce Hammonds:

‘What ‘message’ does the timetable, or the day’s organisation, in your classroom give? Does it reflect past expectations or future thinking? Which learning areas are given the most prominence? Which areas are neglected? With the termination of the reactionary National Standards the time is right for progressive thinking re classroom organisations to be considered.’

http://bit.ly/2mQ8azD

Progressive Education Is Not Just Child’s Play

‘Despite the incontestable evidence of what is best for young children, our society continues to tolerate – often celebrate – schools and educational methods that directly contradict several hundred years of evolving knowledge. At least among sensible educators, the importance of play and discovery for young children is a consensus belief, despite policies that often make it hard to teach that way.’

http://bit.ly/2B3V30f

The importance of keeping a beat: Researchers link ability to keep a beat to reading, language skills

Anyone want to have a go at trying this in their classroom?

‘Because hearing sounds of speech and associating them with the letters comprising written words is crucial to learning to read, the Northwestern researchers reasoned that the association between reading and beat synchronization likely has a common basis in the auditory system.’

http://bit.ly/2jOaztK

Why Art And Creativity Are Important For Kids

‘Schools that eliminate art programs are doing so at their peril. No one questions foundation subjects like reading and math for the development of competent citizens, but not enough people are inquiring about how important art and creativity are for kids.

The importance is paramount. Arts and creativity nurture well-being and assist learners in creating connections between subjects.’

http://bit.ly/2hN07OO

Always asking questions

‘Hopefully, in most cases, the entire experience is about asking questions. But the curriculum often militates against good question times. It is so stuffed full of unnecessary content, there is far too little time left for teachers to help children to frame their questions. They must make time, because the bloated curriculum shows no signs of going away just yet. Questioning is far too important to gloss over or push into a corner. Give the kids time to ask questions.’

http://bit.ly/2hL1f5l

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Creative by Nature

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” ―Pablo Picasso

‘All human beings are creative by nature. Young children know this in their hearts, but as we grow older most of us begin to have doubts. We live in a culture that discourages creative thought and wants us to believe that artistic ability is rare. Over time, most of us learn not to color (or think) outside the box.

http://bit.ly/2B4ljrf

What Should Schools Teach?

‘In the UK, decades of political meddling in the curriculum have resulted in endless lists prescribing what – and how – teachers should teach. How refreshing then, that unlike many educational policy prescriptions, What Should Schools Teach? does not offer a dazzling list of innovative academic hybrids, along with an interactively inspirational flowchart of how to deliver them.’

http://bit.ly/2zvpqjB

Genius Hour in Elementary School

‘Educators know a good idea when we see one (even if Google eventually ended the program). We want that vibrant creativity pulsing through our classrooms. We can visualize the end, filled with projects in which our students have connected with experts, filled journals with intelligent thinking, and explored with curiosity. How do we get from this euphoric idea to a classroom reality.’

http://edut.to/2iIA0cD

Have we forgotten that children are still just children?

‘We seem to be so desperate to jump on the next bandwagon, to shape our classrooms for the future, to teach these supposedly ‘different’ learners, who are so ‘different’ to how we were, in progressive ways. But what is it that has made them so different? My thinking has now meandered to this point….children are no different to how we were….they are still just children.’

http://bit.ly/2jhs4yB

Here’s How to Apply the 4P Approach to Building a Creative Classroom

‘What is a creative classroom? Creative learners are not linear thinkers. Contrary to popular belief, while others have a plan from the beginning, creative learners are different. They might need to play first and experience the medium before they begin to come up with ideas of their own. That’s why the students in a creative classroom strive for innovative solutions to unexpected problems.’

http://bit.ly/29A6uUX

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Learning is about constructing meaning.

Marie Clay was more than about reading

‘Marie Clay was ‘constructivist’ or more accurately a ‘co-constructivist’ believing, like such researchers as Jerome Bruner, Piaget and Vygotsky that students create their own meanings and that this is best achieved by sensitive teacher interaction, always leaving the responsibility of learning in the child’s hands.’

http://bit.ly/1kV5g08

John Holt quotes on learning – more pertinent than ever

‘The freedom and anti-authoritarianism movement of the 60s challenged traditional views in all areas of life. Creative teachers of the time had access to a number of writers spreading the message of an alternative approach to education. I am reassured that there are still  many creative teachers doing their best; unfortunately far too few innovative principals. With this in mind I thought the sharing of John Holt’s quotes are as relevant as ever.’

http://bit.ly/1NA7pAS

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Education Readings November 17th

By Allan Alach

Now that the curse of national standards is being removed from New Zealand education, the way is clear for schools and teachers to really let loose. Bruce Hammonds’ two articles on Elwyn Richardson provide a really good insight into this teaching genius of the 1950s, whose work is very relevant today in the post national standards world.

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allanalach@inspire.net.nz

The Northland school teaching with art

‘There is a place for the arts in the teaching of all subjects across the curriculum. Teaching becomes lively and fun; children are ‘doing’ rather than sitting, and the classroom becomes an environment where students love to learn. This is a simple definition of ‘arts integration’ which is being researched by educators globally: A small school in Northland has taken the ideas on board and the results are proving remarkable.’

http://bit.ly/2ARsCmX

Teaching to Forget

Much of the ‘learning’ children do at school each day is gone by the time they walk out of the school gate…

‘The truth that we all know but are loathe to discuss is that the vast majority of what kids “learn” in our classrooms will soon be forgotten. We know this because we ourselves forgot the vast majority of what we learned in classrooms when we were in school.

And the other truth that we don’t want to admit is that the grades that we give that are supposed to show what a student has “learned” are pretty meaningless considering that student will forget most of the “learning” once the grade is given.’

http://bit.ly/2APqf41

Engaging Practice: Making in English Language Arts

Use creative technology tools to engage struggling readers and writers.

‘Creative multimedia tools allow for multiple forms of representation, providing an opportunity for students to demonstrate understanding while practicing literacy skills through writing (text), reading (audio), and illustration (picture walks and visualization). “When students publish their own books, you tap into their innate desire for recognition as they learn to connect to literature, play with language, and beam with pride at their accomplishments,” shares California educator Linda Oaks.’

http://bit.ly/2hCDOib

It’s Time for a New Core Curriculum

‘If we were starting the American school system from scratch today, knowing what skills our students will need, we could change the subjects and not base them on what big-time publishers want us to focus on with our students.  Building on some of the great work from FutureReady.org, the ISTE NETS for Students and keeping in mind those most desired future job skills from above, I would propose the development of the following 7 courses for every student:’

http://bit.ly/2hCjJcb

6 Strategies For Dealing With ‘Difficult’ Students

‘As a new school year approaches, the guidance offered by six “pillars” can help you stay at the top of your game by dramatically influencing even your most challenging students to want to behave and achieve. Each pillar is explained followed by a few hands-on suggestions. Add or substitute other methods within each pillar to reflect your style and preference.’

http://bit.ly/2zGhCLq

A Surprising Strategy Makes Kids Persevere at Boring Tasks

‘With the onset of early childhood and attending preschool, increased demands are placed on the self-regulatory skills of kids. Children need to start completing tasks that may be much less interesting than the myriad of entertaining distractions around them. Researchers have been interested in how to develop self-control and perseverance in children by teaching them tactics like averting their attention away from distractions.’

http://bit.ly/2hEzJtY

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Use Einstein’s Educational Philosophy to Boost Your Learning

‘Although he overall did well in school, Einstein was skeptical of the schooling system and strongly disliked academia’s restrictions on learning. Here are 10 things we can learn from Albert Einstein about school and education: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”’

http://bit.ly/2zE8neB

Why This Second Grade Handout Should Be Your New Creative Manifesto

‘Last week, I attended curriculum night at my daughter’s school. In discussing the things the kids will be learning this year, the teachers handed us the chart above. My first thought was, what an amazing thing to give a bunch of second graders. I am sharing it with you. I feel like this is as good a guideline for a creative department I’ve ever seen. A simple chart for all teachers at all levels.’

http://bit.ly/2A1c0vP

How This School Library Increased Student Use by 1,000 Percent

‘To adapt to changing student needs, some school libraries are reinventing themselves as makerspaces, but this Ohio library took a slightly different approach. Now they’re seeing incredible results. A library as a place where students did hands-on work, an extension of what was happening their classrooms toward more personalized learning.’

http://bit.ly/2yKi9rO

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

What’s the Point of School?

What’s the Point of School asks Guy Claxton

‘The purpose of education’ Claxton writes, is to prepare young people for the future.Schools should be helping Young people to develop the capacities they will need to thrive.What they need and want, is the confidence to talk to strangers, to try things out, to handle tricky situations, to stand up for themselves, to ask for help, to think new thoughts’ ‘This is not to much to ask’, says Claxton, ‘but they are not getting it.’

http://bit.ly/2p5BukY

Reclaiming the joy of learning 

and also

A new inspirational book about Elwyn Richardson – New Zealand’s pioneer teacher

Two articles about the great NZ teacher Elwyn Richardson that all teachers should read.

‘What matters is a curriculum that places children’s natural curiosity at the heart, so that they are encouraged to explore who they are and the world around them.This is evident in Elwyn’s use of an integrated curriculum, focusing on intriguing questions that motivated children to pursue avenues of enquiry. He encouraged the freedom to explore, the opportunity to observe closely, and the discipline to record findings in various ways. He also upheld the value of the arts as a vivid means of expression and not secondary to other subjects. He also realised that one subject informs another; that scientific understanding is enhanced by the aesthetic, and vice versa.’

http://bit.ly/2zMetXW

http://bit.ly/2ijzjXb

Looking back

Dr Beeby and the first Labour Government set an example for today

‘Today teachers need to look back to ideas that have been sidelined by the imposition of the current technocratic curriculums of the 90s and to appreciate that it is these curriculums that have caused our current confusion and distress. Dr Beeby believed in a creative role for education. He reminded those present in 1983 that the most important thing realized about education in the previous decades had been the discovery of the individual child. It is not that individuality wasn’t appreciated earlier but that the school system was based on a mass education vision which made realizing such an idea impossible.’

http://bit.ly/1sPo0SY

Education Readings November 10th

By Allan Alach

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allanalach@inspire.net.nz

What every teacher should know about … memory

‘There is a wealth of psychology research that can help teachers to improve how they work with students – but academic studies of this kind aren’t always easy to access, or to translate into the realities of classroom practice. This series seeks to redress that, by taking a selection of studies and making sense of the important information for teachers.’

http://bit.ly/2m5JIdq

Walking backwards into the future

Steve Wheeler:

‘When we consider the future we tend to strain our minds to imagine what will come next. And usually we fail miserably. Perhaps instead we should follow the Maori tradition and build our own future on the shoulders of giants. In the case of education and the future of learning we should consider what those who have gone before us have achieved, the lessons they learnt and the trajectory they have set us on.’

http://bit.ly/2AlfXHI

Listening, Not Testing, Will Improve Children’s Vocabulary

‘While we may actively teach our children to read, oral language skills (the ability to learn words, form sentences and to communicate abstract ideas) is a defining human characteristic and, of these, it is vocabulary which is the pivotal skill. Children grow up acquiring these skills driven by, in Canadian telly-don Stephen Pinker’s words an “instinct” for language.’

http://bit.ly/2iFdiBo

Mouldy cheese and minibeasts: tips for teaching science in primary schools

‘Classroom teachers have a lot of freedom to teach investigative science frequently and creatively, and some do so beautifully. However, in general, there is not enough help for teachers in this area, with just under a third of primary school teachers saying they had no support for science in the past year, and a quarter saying they were concerned they might not be able to answer pupils’ science questions. So what can teachers do to increase the focus on science at primary level?’

http://bit.ly/2zoLCv8

Math Class Doesn’t Work. Here’s the Solution

‘Until we change the way we teach math to emphasize learning and exploration, rather than performance, we’ll continue to produce students who describe their math experience as a hamster wheel, or worse, a prison. We’ll continue to produce anxious students who experience fear when they see numbers. The performance culture of mathematics has destroyed a vibrant, essential subject for so many people.’

http://ti.me/2AlMKfG

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Modern Learning Environments … innovation or disaster?

‘With glass walls, funky furniture and 60 children in a big open plan room where two teachers share the space, education consultants’ will explain the trend in classroom

design as an open, flexible learning environment in which inquiries are shared and interventions are devised collaboratively. Ask some of the men and women at the coal face of the modern learning environment about their experience teaching in buildings like this, and the answer is often less complicated.’

http://bit.ly/2yiW57w

Comparison is the Thief of Joy

‘Learning is about discovering your purpose and passion in life. Schools should provide diverse pathways and opportunities for students to develop and unleash their special abilities and unique talents…not standardize them.’

http://bit.ly/2hgecE4

Change, Beliefs, And The ‘F’ Words

Some advice if you are serious about transforming your school. Here is a summary of the main messages of the latest  uLearn Conference. The new Minister is removing National Standards and lightening the assessment load but if this is all that happens it will be a lost opportunity.

‘The annual uLearn conference is over for another year, and as the new term begins it’s worth taking a little time to reflect on the ‘big ideas’ we came away with — the overarching themes and messages that persisted through the various keynote, spotlight, and workshop presentations. I had the privilege of doing a quick summary at the end of this year’s conference, and want to share that in this blog post as an ‘aide memoire’ for those who are interested. For me, there were three ‘big ideas’ that kept surfacing (four if you count my two “F” words) which are expanded on below:’

http://bit.ly/2jd908n

How School Leaders Can Attend to the Emotional Side of Change

‘“All of us respond to a change that someone says or does not because of what it is, but in terms of what it means to us,”“Resistance to change is normal and necessary,” Evans said. “If you are part of some big change in your school and you aren’t expecting resistance, there’s something wrong with your plan.” But he also points out that resistance can be overcome when leaders understand its source and empathize with teachers. Evans shared several tips on how to manage change.’

http://bit.ly/2m4Q0K5

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

The rebirth of education – a real Renaissance

‘If we want to be recognised as a creative and innovative country, a country at the leading edge of change, then the most important asset we have is the talent and creativity of our citizens. Once such a vision has been defined then schools can follow the lead or better still be seen as leaders.’

http://bit.ly/2eWbNyB

Learning to be ‘creatively rebellious’. The importance of the Three Ds: being Different, Disruptive and Deviant.  

(This blog not for traditional school principals!)

‘Organisations that want to develop innovative cultures that enable leaders to be intentionally disruptive and deviant will flourish in the 21stC. And schools should be at the forefront  of developing innovative cultures. Risk adversity and fear of failure gets in the way of embracing disruption and deviance as the basis of developing innovation.’

http://bit.ly/2pI6e9L

Joyful Learning

‘Wolk introduces his article by saying, ‘joyful learning can flourish in your school if you give joy a chance’. John Dewey, in 1936, wrote that ‘to what avail if students absorb prescribed amounts of information…. if in the process the individual loses his own soul’. More recently, in 1984, John Goodland in his book ‘A Place called School’ after surveying high schools, wrote that he found an ‘extraordinary sameness’ and that ‘boredom was a disease of endemic proportions, ‘ he asked, ,why are schools not places of joy?’

http://bit.ly/1H493Fb

Education Readings November 3rd

By Allan Alach

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allanalach@inspire.net.nz

Now What: Recovering from the Standards Era

‘The damage caused by the National Standards policy of the previous government will not be easily undone.  The side effects have had somewhat of a cancerous impact on our education system, and a careful approach will be needed in order to support teachers through this next transition.’

http://bit.ly/2gMk6wl

The end of National Standards and the role of researchers and academics

Article by Professor Martin Thrupp, one of the loudest academic voices who battled against national standards.

‘It’s great, though, that New Zealand primary schools will now be able to spend less time shoring up judgements about children – judgements that have often been pointless or harmful – and instead spend more time making learning relevant and interesting for each child. Removing National Standards should also allow teachers to be less burdened, contributing to making teaching a more attractive career again.’

http://bit.ly/2lnvSmj

Longworth Forest selected as part of Finnish “HundrED’s 100 Global Education Innovations Project”

‘Longworth Forest was established in Poraiti, Napier, in 2014 by Linda and Bruce Cheer, and seeks to provide children 5 – 7 years of age with safe and semi structured opportunities to experience risk and challenge, to problem solve and enterprise, all at the child’s own pace. It is a child led approach which gives children the power to initiate and drive their own learning, to make meaningful choices and to discover and develop their interests. Through regular outdoor play, children learn to develop positive relationships with themselves and others as well as a bond with nature and an understanding of their place in the natural world.’

http://bit.ly/2llL7Mf

My Students Are Addicted to Screens

‘In my kids’ everyday lives, this type of constant technology reliance doesn’t make them better students. It doesn’t give them access to more information. It makes them dependent on instant gratification and sensory overload. Their minds are submerged in a soup of constant noise and conflicting demands for their attention. Stringing together thoughts and coming to reasoned opinions becomes increasingly difficult. This isn’t to say that technology has no place in the classroom.’

http://bit.ly/2h59bSu

Teaching kids real maths

‘I’ve been doing some research about teaching mathematics, and decided to start by reading and listening to the thoughts of the British technologist Conrad Wolfram, who for a number of years has been arguing that we need to rebuild a maths curriculum for the computer age and that students should be calculating “just like everyone does in the real world”.  His argument is that school maths is very disconnected from the maths used to solve problems in the real world, and that it needs to be more practical, more conceptual and less mechanical.’

http://bit.ly/2z4qTtH

A Troubling Side Effect of Praise

‘Teachers often use praise to reward good behavior or correct answers. But there’s a potential downside to this common choice: Praising young children for being smart can increase the likelihood that they’ll cheat, according to a new study in Psychological Science by an international team of researchers.’

http://edut.to/2iR18ci

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Are We Innovating, or Just Digitizing Traditional Teaching?

‘A few months ago, I noticed an increased amount of discussion around the notion of blended learning. Many of these conversations started on a similar note: “We’re blended—all of our teachers use Google Classroom” (or Edmodo, Schoology, Canvas, Moodle, etc.). However, in probing further, I often discovered that these tools had merely digitized existing content and classroom procedures.’

http://edut.to/2z4RmHB

10 Tips for Creating a Fertile Environment for Kids’ Creativity and Growth

‘There’s a common misconception that the best way to encourage children’s creativity is simply to get out of the way and let them be creative. Although it’s certainly true that children are naturally curious and inquisitive, they need support to develop their creative capacities and reach their full creative potential.Supporting children’s development is always a balancing act: how much structure, how much freedom; when to step in, when to step back; when to show, when to tell, when to ask, when to listen.’

http://bit.ly/2z6JQi0

Why Learning and People Should Come First

‘My primary objective for all multiday workshops is to illustrate the vital role that technology can play in improving teaching, learning, and leadership.  Most of the first day is spent on emphasizing the importance of a pedagogy first, technology second mindset. The bottom line is that if we don’t get the instructional design right first, then the chances of technology improving learning outcomes is slim to none.’

http://bit.ly/2zXMbIT

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

The transformative Power of Interest : Annie Murphy Paul – Dan Pink and Carol Dweck

‘If there is just one message I could share with parents, educators, and managers, it would be about the transformative power of interest.’ Annie Murphy Paul. The development of every student’s unique set of talents and gifts is the challenge for a 21stC of education and so far few schools have yet to appreciate this challenge.’

http://bit.ly/1eUbjRf

The rise and fall and rise again of teacher expertise

‘Schools need to be seen as ‘professional learning communities’ that respect creative teachers as true co-leaders with ‘principals who can develop such learning communities can create creative schools with extraordinary teachers, and make learning stretching, creative, fun and successful.’ A new sense of excitement could well be on the horizon. Only those who have been around long enough will know this sense of possibility is not new – but this time perhaps the time is right?’

http://bit.ly/2zbYi8a

Back to the future.

‘Twenty five years after retiring Bill Guild (currently  91 and still an enthusiast) has been invited back to his old school to share his ideas about quality teaching and learning. It is a half a century since Bill took up his appointment at the school.. Tapping into the wisdom of the past is a powerful idea – and it turns out Bill’s wisdom is very current .Bill was part of a small group of Taranaki teachers who worked hard to develop creative classrooms in the 1970s.’

http://bit.ly/1KzIEUx