Whenever I visit a classroom...I am not looking at the teacher, I am looking at the kids. I want to know what they are doing. Why? Because that will tell me about the learning. The person doing the work, is the person doing the learning. BUT beyond that...what IS that "work"? It matters.
When I left the classroom almost four years ago, any time I had a platform, I spoke about the 4 Cs (Critical thinking, Communicating, Collaborating and Creating)...and I still do. I am surprised how many educators are still not familiar. Every time I speak about it- I spend a little extra time on that last one. Creating. What does that mean? When I pose that question, it is usually answered with things such as art projects, maybe a slide show or two...something to be displayed. I respond with "creating doesn't necessarily mean some involved thing that is to be displayed at Open House." In fact, I hope it isn't.
Creating can come in many forms. To me, creating is any artifact of true learning. Something to show that students have analyzed, synthesized and understood in order to produce something. What is that something? It could be a conversation, it could be a letter, an essay, a comic, a skit, a song, a sketch, a discussion...the list goes on and on. What it isn't...a worksheet. It isn't fill in the blank, circle or draw a line to the correct...It isn't cut, place and paste. Our kids can do more...our kids can do better...they deserve better.
A few years ago, my friend Jon Corippo shared this idea of "Flipped Blooms" and it just made sense. Since then, I talk about it, I present on it, I share it every chance I get. I think now it is time to write about it.
Back when I went to "teacher school"- Bloom's was the "thing". We were told to use it as we lesson plan. We were told it was a continuum, that started with the most important pieces at the base, and we can move students up.
I graduated from a well know college and I honestly can't say I remember much of what I was taught. Why? I had no context in which to connect the learning to. I learned facts and theories, but I don't believe I understood. It didn't stick, and that is sad. Both of my kids have told me that it has been and is the same for them as they move up the ranks. To me, this is a tragedy.
Are my kids prepared for their future? Can they creatively problem solve? Can they take in information from different sources and DO something? I hope so, but I don't believe they had that practice in school.
"Analyze over memorize"- Alice Keeler
That hit home for me! I'm taking that one and using it! My daughter struggles with memorization, always has. Her and I have come up with different techniques for her to compensate. But here is the thing...last week, she had to memorize and "perform" the Pre-amble to the Constitution, just as her brother did and just as I did. She stressed and stressed and stressed. She spent so much time memorizing and practicing this thing. *I'm not saying that there isn't a time and place for some memorization, I just am always questioning purpose and learning. She did it, like a champ, because that's who she is. Afterwards, I asked her what the words meant. She had no idea. She said "I don't need to understand it, I just have to say it." What a missed opportunity.
Now, I'm not saying that the teacher didn't teach it, I'm not saying that there wasn't an attempt at creating understanding. I am saying, that for my kid...it didn't happen. There was no stickiness. In the brain, out the mouth and gone. Poof!
Now, contrast that with an activity she told me about a few nights ago...same class. They each had to create four "bills" that they wanted passed. They then had to take their bills to the "house" and "senate". And it went on from there...the whole process of how a bill becomes a law. They did it. She was able to explain the whole process, with understanding, because she was a participant in her own learning.
Guess what? I had to Google the process. True story. I have definite deficits in my own learning that until very recently, has left me at a disadvantage in life. Now with Google and Youtube at my fingertips, I can research...but to understand...that takes much more.
This post was inspired by my own kids, students, many observations and conversations and the tweets below:
Mother, teacher, TOSA, GCE Level 1 & 2, Encourager of others.
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