Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Week 2 -- Edge 1

Edge 1 is all about changing our way of thinking about education. In this chapter, Dr. Chen discusses ten areas of education where we need to move from either/or to both-and thinking. What are your thoughts about this idea and of these ten either/ors? Can you think of any other either/ors that need to change to both-ands? Share them and your thoughts on this idea.


  1. I enjoyed reading this chapter, and think the list is interesting. It makes sense because children are so unique; the same strategy is not best for every student. Good teachers make decisions about how to best help each child in their class on a regular basis.

  2. I also enjoyed this chapter, and found a great deal to take away. In fact, I was drawn in immediately by John Dewey's quote about students being unable to utilize real-life skills at school and vice-versa. Dr. Chen answers this dilemma by stating, "...if we just allowed children to ask and seek answers to questions they naturally ask, they would lead their own learning..." Learning is a joyful activity!

    Another interesting perspective came from the idea of schools responding to poor test results by subjecting students to "more intensive drilling, tutoring, and staring..." As an administrator, I was constantly telling students that if that they are doing isn't working, don't keep doing it - attempt a new strategy.

    "When we want the elephant to grow, we feed the elephant. We don't weigh the elephant." Brilliant!

    I really enjoyed this chapter, and I am looking forward to diving into The Curriculum Edge.

  3. Our group found this chapter very informative and thought provoking. The topic most discussed was the willingness of teachers to try new things and think differently in this time of high stakes testing and teacher reviews. We decided that it would take a courageous leader to allow teachers to be innovative in their classrooms knowing the potential consequences of low test scores. In this current climate, it seems as if "risk" is not an option for most teachers.

    We also agreed that more testing is not the answer to fixing the problems in american education. The elephant quote was one of our favorites. To instill a love of learning in our students, we need to create an environment where authentic learning by educator and students can occur and a fear of low test scores does not drive the instruction.

    we had an excellent discussion and are looking forward to dissecting learning edge #2, the curriculum.

  4. I was struck as I read this chapter by the fact that even though we have been pushing for "educational innovation" for more than 100 years, we still (essentially) teach the same way as our past colleuges.

    I think that many teachers feel stuck in the "either/or" mentality. They can either innovate thier teaching or they can teach to the test. They can either spread their lessons out over many days and present the information many different ways while addressing all learning modalities or they can move quickly to meet all the state mandated standards that must be covered in the little time they are allowed with their students. (I'm not saying this is right. ...it is just the way I see it).

    In an ideal teaching world, we would be able to innovate our classrooms while still teaching mastery (without the "test" hovering over our heads) and we would be able to meet all the standards while addressing all learning moodalities.

    How can we get to this ideal teaching world?? I have no idea, but I suspect it may be achieved through professional development (allowing teachers to learrn new - faster, easier - ways to present materials) and incorporating technology into the everyday teaching day so that differentiation can be done at the click of the button rather than by major lesson shifts/class groupings.

    I liked the quote "we feed the elephant, we don't weigh the elephant". I bet if we spent more time focusing on feeding our students rather than focusing on making our students make the weight, we could truely start sharpening the thinking edge of education.

    1. I just typed a 4 paragraph reply and lost it because I didn't have my Google account set up....
      To sum it up: I feel what Angy wrote summed it up very well. The ISTP+ ECA's and PARCC should be a testament of good teaching and learning, yet the stakes are so high, teachers teach to each standard, test standards and reteach standards without apply them to everyday life....Universal Learning Design School would be fantastic, but you would take a hit on these tests, at least to begin with - then the state will issue you a C or D or worse and print it in the paper - Headlines would read ___- school drops from an A to a D in one year...the the heat will be on.
      WE all know that we need more integrated classes...
      We are looking at beefing up our Project Lead the Way and Vocational areas - as well as becoming a 1:1 school - WE all know that this type of engagement is what is best for kids....Now we need money, professional development and some time to change mind sets...
      I would really love to implement the Brainology....again that takes $ - there is only so much time a day to work on Grants etc...

  5. I feel that hands on experiences and application are very important in the learning process. From the reading, I am asking myself how can this apply to my encouragement of transforming into 21st Century Teaching and Learning? I think the analogy of teaching basketball from textbooks is great. We need to embrace the core competencies, such as collaboration, digital literacy, critical thinking, and problem-solving in order to embrace today's learners.

  6. One of my favorite parts of this chapter is the either/or list, which I agree is much better as a both/and list. I like the idea of adding to it; right now I would consider the fiction/nonfiction debate in conjunction with CCSS, and the content/pedagogy teacher preparation divide.

    I have read several other references to Carol Dweck's work this summer, including Debbie Silver's excellent book, Fall Down 7 Times, Get Up 8: Teaching Kids to Succeed. Silver also talks extensively about praising student effort, rather than intelligence.

    The part of this chapter that I felt droned on a bit was the description of Sesame Street. Although many children have learned from it, I feel it made it too easy for parents to plop kids in front of the television rather than interact and teach them personally.

    1. Sorry, I just noticed again that the gmail account I'm using has my geocaching name instead of my real name, Susie Highley. I'd also like to add that it struck me while I was reading this chapter that I know I certainly enjoy discussing things and brainstorming ideas with others, so why would students be any different? I think the reason we hesitate is that we feel it's often hard to keep them on task and have truly meaningful interactions with others.

    2. Love the elephant quote!! I have always thought that we need to cut way back on the testing and focus on what students really need to move on to the next grade level. I have had my kids in groups to put on large paper everything they know about the topic I gave them. Everyone had to participate and everyone had to present to the class. They don't miss these problems on their homework because they were part of the teaching!