Blog Archives

Rethinking How Students Learn: Teach Less, Learn More

I know, this blog is turning into the “Rethinking How Students Learn” blog lately. My apologies, but I like reflecting on what I’m reading and I hope you’re enjoying reading the posts. By all means, don’t be passive; chime in with some comments if you please.

The country of Singapore has undertaken a massive initiative, with four key “visions,” that will help them take education to the next level – “21st century learning.” They are:

  1. Thinking Schools, Learning Nation.
  2. Teach Less, Learn More.
  3. Tight, Loose, Tight.
  4. Professional Learning Communities (as discussed in my last post)

“Thinking Schools, Learning Nation” is about fostering in students a core set of life skills (thinking, creating, problem solving, collaboration, wonderment, tolerance for ambiguity, and persistence). “Wonderment” and “tolerance for ambiguity” are two characteristics not often included in 21st century skills, but I find them intriguing – and may just have to revisit them in a future post!

The “Teach Less, Learn More” is closely related to the first vision and promotes “teaching in ways that help students learn without being taught.” It seems paradoxical at first glance; how will my students learn if I don’t teach them? The truth is, when we provide students an essential question and allow them to explore the potential answers, we are building in them skills that will make them lifelong learners. As stated in the book:

The change process is about evolutionary thinking, not revolutionary thinking, and it all begins with critical collaborative conversations. While their system has traditionally compartmentalized the curriculum by disciplines that honor quantity…they find that this structure can be deliberately shifted to…honor the quality of student outcomes.

“Tight Loose Tight,” is also very intriguing approach. According to the authors of this chapter, Robin Fogarty and Brian M. Pete:

The T-L-T formula combines an adherence to central design principles (tight) with expected accommodations to the needs, resources, constraints, and particularities that occur in any school or district (loose), when these don’t conflict with the theoretical framework (tight) and, ultimately, with the stated goals and desired results.

The best part of the T-L-T philosophy is the message that schools CAN evolve without sacrificing the educational philosophy and characteristics that have defined them in years past. As a school, we can still promote rigorous learning, quality leadership skills, and compassionate service to others. We just have to figure out how to do it in a 21st century context – for our students’ sakes.

That’s where the PLC (the fourth Singaporean vision) comes into play. If we (the teachers) work together as a team, through various scopes and methods, we can achieve success for our students, our school community, state, nation, and the world.

With our help, Heritage Hall students will continue to learn, to lead, and to serve…the world…in the 21st Century and beyond.

Advertisements

Digital Citizenship Fluency

All the 21st Century fluencies are learned within the context of the Digital Citizen, using the guiding principles of leadership, ethics, accountability, fiscal responsibility, environmental awareness, global citizenship and personal responsibility (http://www.fluency21.com/fluencies.cfm).

The first week of school I used a paper magazine produced by the FTC to discuss with the students how to “Live Life Online.” This was a great resource because it includes several articles and short quizzes for the kids on crucial issues that they face almost on a daily basis such as sexting, cyberbullying, online etiquette, and how to analyze advertisements from companies. It also provided several real life dilemmas to the students that I used as bell ringers and also some as closing activities for the end of the hour.

This was truly beneficial because I found out that most of the students were not aware of the legal consequences that accompanied actions of sexting or simply forwarding a message they received by email or text. They were also not aware that typing things in all caps on text, email, or social networking sites is considered to be “online yelling” and they need to make sure they monitor their tone of voice.

These lessons helped me lead into the use of our class edmodo.com page because I first had the students and parents sign a responsible use policy before they were aloud to create a profile on the website.

I approach the global aspect of this fluency by using the CNN Student News in my class at least once a week. This news cast is written on a middle school level but allows the students to have insight on the issues of our country as well as issues that are affecting other nations of the world.

This fluency is critical to Heritage Hall due to the 1:1 movement beginning to take place. Our students will be “connected” on a daily basis while at school and must have the knowledge and skills to effectively navigate and contribute to the online world.

Going beyond the use of technology Heritage Hall is already approaching some aspects of this fluency by adopting a new set of core values; courage, responsibility, kindness, and intellectual purpose.

Resources used: