Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Head Space - FOD time

I recall giggling to myself when Jeremy Kedian asks a room full of leaders how much time do you block in your week for FOD time.  We all innocently asked what is FOD time?  Why it is Foot on Desk Time!  Jeremy has a valid point how often do we free ourselves and engage in a most valuable pursuit meaningfully?  He did not mean the incidentally caught time e.g driving from A to B.  The busyness all too often 'drives out the important'  Hamel et al
What importance do you place on this reflection time.  As many suggest it is reflecting on what worked and didn't work so well that true learning results. 

Monday, October 27, 2008

Taking Time

On Friday we had a Teachers Only Day to take time to delve into the second half of the New Zealand Curriculum.  The minister has been generous in allowing schools this time.  
Over the last three and a half years we began this process by developing a shared vision.  The vision statement and picture took six months to create.  The following year was spent making sense of one of the vision concepts Life Long Learning.  Since then each key principle in the vision has been unpacked collectively, a huge amount of time was focussed on developing students learning capacity.  Julia Atkin's question "What is powerful learning?"
Hence it was now time to take the time to focus on "What is powerful to learn?"  
There has been an imbalance in schools interpretations of the previous curriculum developments.  Covering content has out weighed building students ability and capacity to learn.  We have before us an incredible opportunity to re think the balance.  Importantly as we were reminded by watching 'Did you know - 2.0' we must look to the future rather than our past to responsibly enable our students to thrive in their future world.
Questions we continue to ponder on;
What is the essence of .......? e.g science, maths, the arts
What are the key concepts, enduring understandings that students should develop?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Assessment - Motivating or Harmful

Assessment has huge potential ......
to motivate or demotivate learners. Everyone has a story to tell about their own school experience. There seems to be a direct correlation between assessment performance and school experience. Good grades - good experience. Bad grades - Bad experience. The hierarchy of subjects traditionally valued most started with Sciences, Maths, English ....... with arts sitting somewhere on the bottom. Students who didn't do so well in the subjects at the top of the list learnt early that I'm 'dumb', D's, E's, low exam scores demotivate. Self worth plummets and the spiral spins downwards. Future opportunities diminish.

Assessment shouldn't be harmful. Rather it should motivate, provide honest feedback and challenge students to continue to learn and achieve.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Power of a Shared Language

I walked into a year 1 class today and asked them what they do to be successful learners.  One stated "I persevere, when I don't know a word I keep trying and try and trying".  Another said "I take risks, I am not afraid to give it ago".  These responses are a vast contrast with what 100 sampled students said when interviewed three and a half years ago.  I attribute such growth and development in students ability to describe and apply life long learning dispositions to collaboratively developing a shared language.  The seven qualities decided upon were

Created by Red Beach School Staff

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Learning conversations - I'm Stuck!

An example of a learning conversation with some 10 year olds.  They have lots of great thought.  The challenge is for students to be challenged enough to experience being stuck to apply this thinking.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Spilt Screen Approach to Teaching and Learning

Maybe the balance has been wrong for too long. Knowing a whole lot of information in curriculum areas seem to have dominated and out weighed what is powerful to learn in most schools for some time. Teachers have been pressured and constrained to get through content and meet standards to the detriment of equipping students with the necessary 21st century skills, dispositions and knowledge required for a dynamically different future. As many have stated there won't be simple answers to future problems.
Of much interest and focus globally over the last decade has been the development of learning competencies and thinking skills the necessary dispositions to equip learners with knowing what to do when you don't know what to do.
As an Educator working in a learning institute how much time do we spend doing this?, actually intentionally talking about processing what is is to be a successful learner. There traditionally never seems to be much time left for that. Teaching content seems to come first.
I encourage educators to approach content and the building of learning capacity as equally important. Guy Claxton suggests a split screen approach - in equilibrium - balance. Am interested in others thoughts around this.

I guess it then presents the question is doing Less well, indeed More? and What really is powerful for students to learn?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Life Long Learning

Life long learning. An often banded about turn of phrase since the turn of the century. What does it really involve? What do we need to do in our schools to ensure students are leaving with the necessary skills, attitudes and dispositions to continue to learn throughout life? What needs to take place in our classrooms so that students build confidence around knowing 'what to do when they don't know what to do'? Honestly how many times a day would a students truly be challenged and put in a situation where they are 'stuck'? Isn't it experiencing these 'I'm stuck' situations that true learning occurs?
Students responses are always enlightening - I quizzed some students recently about what teachers could improve on. The responses 'stop teaching us stuff we already know' certainly caused some deep reflection. What percentage of kids feel challenged on a daily basis? How many learn in-spite of what we do?
One needs to direct some more conversations with students and teachers about getting to that ZPD (Zone of Proximal Development) Vygotsky. After all isn't that the best way to develop Life Long Learning attitudes and dispositions?

Goal Achieved!

I was sitting at Ulearn 08 and kicking myself that I hadn't got bogging again long before now.  I started blogging in 2004.  A friend challenged me to get blogging and I quickly found it was an invaluable way of capturing ones thinking and showing how it continues to evolve and grow as time goes on.
I paid my yearly subscription (haven't things changed) and when the provider went bust I lost all my entries.  A good lesson to learn.  I guess I will be better at backing up everything now.

Looking forward to getting going again.  Goal started I said I would come back from Ulearn and start blogging.  Next entry of more educational value

As Eric Butterworth quotes "Don't go through life, grow through life"