eSchool news, (free education subscription) the article "Five things students say they want from education: Technology, creativity, and choice are among the features students would like to see in school" reminds us what students behavior indicates to teachers daily: they want interactive technology, teacher mentors who respect and care about them, innovation (lectures are boring), choice, and real-world application and relevancy. If I want kids to learn, I've got to change -- how about you?
How can I build a community of learners, design better assessments for learning, and encourage the development of vocabulary?
Simply Said ) To keep a PLE organized, the resources from both personal and professional collaboration and sharing, see Spruce-up iGoogle and Diigo to Organize.
explain how Professional Learning Communities focused on student learning can be effective:
This project is my part of the collective capacity, the sharing to improve student learning with my colleagues within my PLC. Throughout the William Zinsser explains: "Writing is thinking on paper." and "Writing and learning and thinking are the same process." Getting the ideas from one's brain in one's own words onto paper requires creative thought and critical thinking. We need to honor those attempts, and provide more time for them so the learning becomes understanding. And with this site, as I gather ideas from what I have learned,
That's what we do. That's what we have been learning in MSP. And the ideas, tools, and strategies in this project provide not additional activities, but rather the chunking and feedback activities needed to discover what the students understand and misunderstand so teachers can reteach and guide students to the deeper understanding that sticks.
The writing and sharing of writing digs into motivation as well as assessment. Gerald Graff suggests that education can be improved if we "provide students with a way into real academic and cultural conversations." He suggests that "all writing is 'deeply engaged in some way with other people's views,' with something they 'say.'" So, as we ask students to think, think and write, think and share, and think, review, and revise, students are motivated to understand each other and to prove or revise their own ideas. Graff says, "For it is what others are saying that motivates our writing and gives it a reason for being." In asking students to write, therefore, we also ask them to write in a response to to the lesson or to each others' responses to the the learning, with the added requirement that they state the "others" ideas as part of their reflection. This helps them connect ideas-- and provides a clearer dialogue for the reader of their work. Graff also reminds us that to summarize an idea crucial to the lesson concept, that the summarization requires analysis, appreciating other viewpoints, gathering essential information, and managing the details and facts. By promoting critical discussions in class and in writing, we help students to think as authors, mathematicians, and scientists. Clearly, we must take time for this in order to determine each students' understanding of our lessons.
The strategies in this project allow the teacher to chunk ideas, provide time for students to stop and think, and expect that the teacher and student will assess those chunk times for understanding. Indeed, Marzano's research in "reteaching" provided the structure for ideas in this project. He refers to the introduction of new topics to include quick assessment and then break the new ideas into "chunks" with re-assessment activities in between each chunk to verify understanding. In addition, these activities allow the teacher to assess previously taught concepts to ensure that students are ready for new ideas.
Graff adds "In the words of Gregory Clark, associate dean of humanities at Brigham Young University, “Learning outcomes assessment forces us out of ourselves, shifting our attention from what we as teachers do— to what our students actually learn.”
What do we want our students to know in math and science? -- our standards; our student's needs
How will we know if our students are learning? -- chunk learning and assessment strategies for frequent monitoring
How will we respond if students do learn? -- choice, extensions
How will we respond if students do not learn? -- reteach, more time, another tool or strategy, peer tutors
This project provides some tools and strategies for chunking, sharing, and extending lessons as ongoing assessments in the process of learning.
Vocabulary Instruction by Marzano. A site with its review and many resources exist here: jc.schools.net
Every teacher knows how valuable a working vocabulary is to learning and understanding. Many kids are exposed to conversations, books, museums, travel, sports and science camps, and other engaging family activities that enrich their understanding of how the world works today and in the past, with a rich vocabulary that accompanies those activities. A good listening vocabulary, those words you understand in conversation, guide the understanding of written word. When learning new ideas, listening is key. We "listen" when we read others' work to understand and respond to it. This again suggests the importance of bringing the academic vocabulary and content into the real conversation of students. Automaticity and academic vocabulary is important, but what is more important is lifelong learning. Becoming a wordsmith is fun. In my classroom, my wall is adorned with Donald Murray’s quote, “Writing is hard fun.” Vocabulary is “hard fun” too. But key to learning new words is putting those words into one’s own frame of reference with one’s own images, words, and connections and using the words correctly in daily use. Vocabulary is required learning. While the teacher must direct the learning of specific vocabulary for their content area in each lesson, students should also consciously construct their own improved vocabulary. How students learn new vocabulary should not just be teacher directed, but also interest driven (new buzz word: passion). The activities in this project provide opportunities to listen to our words in conversation and discussions and in written work for class or on blogs. Which brings us right back to listening: Wordsmiths listen to the way words work wonder in our minds.
Leaders of Learning How District, School, and Classroom Leaders Improve Student Achievement
Graff, Gerald: "President’s Column: Assessment Changes Everything." MLA Newsletter 40.1 (Spring 2008). http://tigger.uic.edu/~ggraff/graff_articles/mla_spring2008.pdf http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2008/02/21/graff http://tigger.uic.edu/~ggraff/Gerald_Graff,_Ph.D./articles.html http://tigger.uic.edu/~ggraff/graff_articles/unbearable_pointlessness.pdf
Marzano, Robert. (2010) Reviving Reteaching. Educational Leadership October 2010 | Volume 68 | Number 2 Interventions That Work Pages 82-83 http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/oct10/vol68/num02/Reviving-Reteaching.aspx
Paulo Freire: Last Interview, 1996.