Monday, March 25, 2013

Chapter 3 -- Learning to Learn

Let me start this post by saying how excited I am about the diverse group of educators participating in this book group and how impressed I am each week by your thoughtful and enlightening contributions. I hope you are getting as much out of this conversation as I am! You are building quite the PLN right here. If you would like to connect outside of this blog, please feel free to share your Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or other social media handle in your comment to this week's blog post.

So, on to this week's topic. I don't know about you, but I typically think of unlearning in terms of bad habits or unhealthy coping mechanisms. Have you thought much about this idea of unlearning in terms of your teaching? As an educator, what do you need to unlearn and relearn? What is your strategy in doing this, if you have one? Share your thoughts on unlearning here. Also, feel free to participate in the Padlet (previously Wallwisher) from the Get Connected section at the end of the chapter. And while you're in Padlet, why not create a Padlet activity for your students? (To learn more about Padlet, check out this Wallwisher blog post that DeLyn Beard wrote as part of our Digital Learning Month Web 2.0 Challenge Blog.)

22 comments:

  1. I would like to "unlearn" that I need to create rubrics for my students prior to an assignment and better understand that students could construct rubrics as they are learning and creating so that the assessment reflects what students are learning as well as what is possible for students to learn through a carefully designed lesson that allows each student to be an active participant in their own learning.

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    1. Better to unlearn rubrics than to have never learned them! I agree with you. Student input a must.

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    2. Students do however need expectations for their learning and rubrics create a framework upon which they can build. There are also ways that teachers facilitate learning without inhibiting innovation.

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    3. Thank you for the feedback; I have used rubrics for a long time and now I want to look at them with fresh eyes to see how I can create the descriptors for levels of performance with my students, even if this means I have a different rubric for each class. We're moving in to a formal Argument Essay (seniors) so now's the time to do this. Do you have any experience with student-generated rubrics (not 100% student generated; the criteria will be the 5 argument standards + 1 grammar standard).

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    4. My district uses the 6 +1 Traits of Writing. Students in grades K-12 learn, know, and use the language of the rubric to discuss writing. There are resources here http://educationnorthwest.org/traits that I used to use with seniors. I would use one of their exemplars and the students would apply the criteria. As a class we would then brainstorm. Smekens Education also has amazing resources for teachers on writing and use of rubrics. What rubric do you use now?

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    5. C.,most of the rubrics I created with students involved technology. We also have a partnership with Purdue Calumet and have students and teachers learning through scenarios. They create rubrics as part of the process. I would love to know how your project works out.

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  2. I need to unlearn my need to be in charge of my classroom. Let me explain- I need to step back and give my students more control over their own learning at times. I love projects that teach tech and life skills as a culminating assessment, but I have a harder time trusting my students to learn on their own when it comes to mastering the content for testing. It's a whole paradigm shift. Sort of like flipping the classroom. I would like to try that too, but the control issue...I like to be the "sage on the stage" before I turn the kids loose on a project, and I struggle with the idea of them learning without me, if that makes sense. This chapter really made me think about how to improve as a teacher.

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    1. catanhistory,

      I'm so appreciative of your exploring the "control issue"--

      I hope you might share a bit more about your struggle with the idea of them learning without you-- It's come up in this thread for others too--

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    2. The assessment piece has always been the area I had to learn, unlearn, and relearn. From moving to formative assessment to guide instruction to focusing on student learning rather than student behaviors in my grading practices, I have had to unlearn many of the traditional approaches to giving students grades in my courses. Handing work in on time or bringing materials to class fall into behaviors not student learning. I almost wish teachers could give two grades for their course. One grade that measures learning and the other would assess the behaviors of a person as a student...on time to class, work complete, homework complete, and etc. Differentiation is another area that I had to research and learn in order to unlearn.

      In terms of technology, I had to unlearn technology as an "event." Because the initial configuration in schools was the shared computer lab and its infamous schedule, teachers had limited access and therefore formed a few bad habits. The event is essentially learning that one app for one project and never visiting it again. Students should be able to apply the learning in more than just that one event.

      Now my concern is that with so many new and wonderful apps available students could be required to spend too much time learning apps, depending on their coursework. I think that my district needs to move towards a more intentional use of technology and that there needs to be more conversations about learning outcomes. Writing this is me unlearning the "coolness" of new apps and considering students.

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    3. I agree- unlearning grading based on behaviors is a BIG one in my school. We don't give much outside of class homework now- most of us work more with our students to do the work in class and "waste" less time on "fluffy" activities. I don't keep track of late work points, participation points, etc.- just too much data for me- I give out pencils as needed (golf size), don't sweat the late work as long as I get it reasonably timed, etc.- while I'm not sure that doesn't promote bad habit later on with responsibility, it HAS made me better able to reach ALL students, not just the "good" ones. And I agree about the technology- we are a 1:1 laptop school, but still it seems like we have SO many options for doing projects that kids never get GOOD at using any of those applications- we have to find things that work and repeat them some at the middle school level- new and different content can't always come with new and different tech skills. I really like this conversation- it's helping me "unlearn" too!

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    4. I think the golf sized pencil is a great idea! We have a very active LMS, in fact our students scored higher than the state and national average on the Speak Up survey for things like turning in their work online and taking tests online. I do the training for the teachers on how to set these activities up and one of the most difficult things for some teachers to wrap their minds around is the "digital due date." I wish that I had taken their pictures when they were first confronted with that notion. Then the ideas of being able to resubmit was another tech moment of unlearning for everyone.

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    5. As teachers we need to give up some control. I am amazed how students can take charge when given the opportunity. If you give them the initial directives, they can come together and create some amazing results. They seem to thrive when given the opportunity to do so.

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  3. I agree that my thoughts on unlearning something was because I was doing it wrong. However, I like the thought of unlearning something to learn it different or better. The main thing that I would like to unlearn is how learning is done in my classroom. It is hard for me not to be in control of the learning. I do like the idea of the kids being more control of their learning and how they go about the learning process. I really like the idea of project based learning and flipping of the classroom and hope to intergrate it more in the classroom.

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  4. Woodrow Wilson's view of education was alarming, but so too was the notion of meaningful work of a connected community being focused on service learning and social justice. Does this not predetermine student futures in the same way William Wirt did through the Gary plan? I understand the importance of both types of learning but is it to provide the direction all take now that factory jobs are vanishing?

    Many teachers Pre-tech connectedness did not believe that learning only took place in school or that learning was linear. Many also knew the difference between passive and active learning. Ask any professional about the time spent outside of the school day reading professional journals and networking with others. Also, any teacher who was given a computer back in the day had to engage in their own prof. dev. As the author points out, our collaboration is different now because of tech. We have a faster, easier, and broader range but it did exist.

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    1. Therese,

      You said:
      "our collaboration is different now because of tech"
      and that resonated with me!

      I'm hoping you might share some examples of that how it necessitates some unlearning and relearning or not?

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    3. It also seems as if I need to learn how to post my blogs. Sorry, but I posted my response up above.

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  5. Several of these concepts are ones that were introduced while I was still teaching in the physical classroom. I remember struggling (sometimes unsuccessfully) with unlearning the idea of the Teacher as the Sage. My AP classes especially had a difficulty with this: they were often frustrated when, at the start of the course, I would not give them the “correct” answer after a possible interpretation had been discussed by several class members. It took them a considerable amount of time to understand that the right answer was not right just because I said so, but was one that they could support with documentation. Really, to me, the shift in the role of the teacher is a way of saying we are showing the way to catch fish instead of just handing the fish over. That being said, I love the way technology can be incorporated to allow a much less threatening way to allow the students to express opinions. The sites I explored all allowed the student the time to ponder and craft a response without waiting to be “called on” or being worried they might misspeak what they meant to say. I also love the idea of “flipping classes”. I think in many (but probably not all) classes it uses the classroom time more efficiently and allows students (and parents) more control over the lecture and how it is viewed and reviewed. This seems to be a way of imparting the necessary background material without keeping the actual classroom time so teacher centered. However, old habits die hard, and even as I typed that last sentence I found myself thinking, how could I be sure they will do the preparation for a flipped class and what could I do to check this….:-).

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    1. Nancy, if you find the answer to that question, please share it with me! While I have many podcasts for students to revisit content or watch so as not to fall behind if they are absent, I haven't figured out the equality of a flipped classroom. Okay, so Avon has a reputation of being a little better off than some other school corporations but we still have enough students without predictable and reliable access to technology at home for me to feel confident flipping my classroom. I love your comment about teaching students to fish and not just handing the fish over!!

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  6. The first thought I had after reading this question was regarding technology. We rely on so many free tools and app. Often the apps will require us to upgrade to the paid version or change just enough that we have to relearn how to use them with our learners. A recent example of a tool that is going away is google reader. While there are other tools that provide a similiar service, we still are going through the process of learning, unlearning and relearning. When observing this process in the classroom, I am often surprised how the students react. I would expect them to be flexible and go with the flow yet there are times when they become angry and frustrated about the change. The teacher has to be able to model the process of unlearning and relearning. She/he has to talk with the students to make them aware that change is constant and this will always be a part of their life. My observation is that the older the student, the harder it is for them to accept this idea of learning, unlearning and relearning. Educators must be lead by example.

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  7. I need to unlearn how to provide professional development. The passage in the book which described the "sit and get" experience really struck a cord with me. I want everyone I engage with to be able to "transfer the knowledge from my training to their classrooms and schools." I want to be able to provide support and follow-through in order to help them be successful. I hope by using various methods to provide connected learning. I was also moved by the following passage:

    "Schools have habitually prepared students for life by making them dependent on others to teach them, rather than placing power over learning into the learner's hands. Classrooms that operate like connected learning communities- where students do meaningful work related to service learning and social justice - prepare students for their futures, not ours."

    I see this firsthand in my daughter's learning. She excels when presented with an opportunity to do "real" projects in the classroom. She cares very deeply about special needs students and anytime she is given the opportunity to engage in activities related to this field, her work is outstanding! She is engaged, inquisitive, and excited. She is so excited about learning when given the chance to learn by participating in projects, giving speeches, etc. Unfortunately this is rare, she still encounters the "sit and get" method quite often.

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  8. I feel like I am in a constant state of "unlearn". I am a special education teacher and nothing, may I stress NOTHING, ever stays the same. We are working with an inclusion model and have wonderful technology. Maybe my "unlearn" would be to refocus on how to support the general education teachers in using technology to support the different needs of all the students. We have such great resources, but often go back to what is comfortable. Inclusion is certainly a process. Something that is every changing and I am constantly reminded that what works for one student in one classroom will not work for another.

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