Reflection and the Student Centered Classroom

» 27 April 2014 » In Presentations, Reflection, Students, Teachers » 2 Comments

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This week I head to Grand Prairie TX to work with teachers and students at Adams Middle School. We’ll be demonstrating high value learning strategies that foster rigorous thinking, student engagement, and deeper student reflection on themselves as learners.

The key to fostering reflection is scaffolding more choices for students to make about key elements of the lesson. Providing options gives students more to think about. Divergent student products gives students a chance to explain and defend their thinking. Student can then compare outcomes with their peers, assess successes (and failures) and design improvements. See my post The Reflective Student: A Taxonomy of Reflection

Students can be given "appropriate" choices to make about:

  • Content - what knowledge and skills will be studied?
  • Process - what materials, procedures, etc will be used?
  • Product - what will students produce to demonstrate their learning?
  • Evaluation - how will the learning be assessed?

We have a variety of activities planned for the week including workshop sessions focussed on how to foster students engagement when using learning strategies for defining, summarizing and comparing. For example, when we ask students to summarize we should giving them the opportunity to use their higher order thinking skills to analyze the patterns, evaluate what's most significant to them and craft a unique summary. 

While summarizing has been shown to be one of the most effective strategies for building content knowledge, that gain only applies when students are allowed to make their own judgements about what’s important and frame their summaries for an audience. When we ask them to "learn" the teacher's summary - they are reduced to memorizing "another fact."

Our training sessions will be followed by classroom walkthroughs - PD works best when you can make the connection to the classroom. I’ll also have the opportunity to work with some groups of students on the Marshmallow Challenge to demonstrate these approaches. 

Student centered Look-fors

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Use Haiku Deck to Build Academic Vocabulary

» 22 May 2013 » In Ed Tech, How To, Literacy, Visualizations » 4 Comments

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Haiku Deck is a free, student-friendly tool for teaching common core vocabulary standards with motivation and creativity. Good defining skills are rooted in collaborative negotiation of meaning rather than memorizing glossaries and testing via two-column matching questions. The genius behind Haiku Deck is its simplicity – just type in text and use its built in search tools for related terms and images. With minimal design choices, student can focus on visualizing vocabulary and sharing their thinking with peers.

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How to Motivate Student Writers

» 16 August 2012 » In Ed Tech, How To, Literacy, Projects, Publishing, Reflection, Strategies, Students » 2 Comments

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A step-by-step guide to student writing that demonstrates the power of student choice, authentic audience and self-reflection. Sixth graders are motivated by writing “Traveling Through the Human Body with ABCs” for a third grade audience. The project demonstrates how to help students master content and develop project management and teamwork skills. The power of publishing enables students to think like writers, to apply their learning strategies and to organize and express their learning. It exemplifies the best of the information revolution – students as creators of content rather than as passive audience.

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Free Webinar on Higher Order Thinking – the Student Perspective

» 26 January 2012 » In Ed Tech, Events, PD, Presentations, Web 2.0 » No Comments

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One of this year’s resolutions was to begin offering webinars. (not that I don’t enjoy airports) I recently completed my first pilot (description below) and I’m looking for three school sites who would like to try a free pilot webinar and offer me some feedback.

I think professional development should model what we want to see in the classroom. So I’d like to start with an 45-minute experiential webinar called: “Higher-order thinking skills (HOTS) – What’s that look like in the classroom?” We’ll watch a few short video clips, do a few activities to model instruction at different levels of Blooms and then reflect on the experience.

Find out more and submit a request for free webinar. I will select from requests that demonstrate you’ll be easy to work with!

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Studio H Classroom: Design. Build. Transform. Community

» 20 November 2011 » In Events, How To, Strategies, Students, Teachers » No Comments

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“Studio H: Design. Build. Transform” is a new exhibit that just opened at Portland’s Museum of Contemporary Craft. It offers visitors an opportunity to immerse themselves in the design process. Studio H embodies the key elements of project-based learning while inspiring and empowering student as change agents in their community. Studio H is a public high school “design/build” curriculum that sparks rural community development through real-world, built projects. By learning through a design sensibility, applied core subjects, and industry-relevant construction skills, students develop the creative capital, critical thinking, and citizenship necessary for their own success and for the future of their communities.

The MoCC’s Studio H exhibit re-imagines the gallery as a laboratory and teaching space. Visitors get see how students were taught a non-linear design process based on a more authentic learning environment that grows out of a dynamic interplay between research, ideation, development, prototyping and building. The exhibition asks viewers to reflect on how that process can teach the next generation of designers to transform the world for themselves. Artifacts from the studio classroom in rural Bertie County, North Carolina (where Emily Pilloton, and Project H partner Matthew Miller, teach design thinking to high-school students) are on display and illustrate how a socially engaged design process can result in significant and positive solutions.

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Rigor, Relevance, and Project Based Learning

» 06 November 2011 » In How To, Presentations, Strategies, Visualizations » No Comments

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Your students explore their world with an expectation of choice and control that redefines traditional notions of learning and literacy. Increasingly educators are discovering that they can motivate students with a PBL approach that engages their students with the opportunity to think like professionals while solving real-world problems. This workshop gives participants the why, what, and how (to get started) of PBL. Includes my resources and notes for my day-long workshop at SW Wisconsin Business and Education Summit.

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Solve This Problem, You’ll Learn the Skills Along the Way

» 12 June 2011 » In Strategies, Students » No Comments

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Students explore their world with an expectation of choice and control that redefines traditional notions of learning and literacy. Educators are discovering that they can motivate students with a PBL approach that engages their students with the opportunity to behave like STEM professionals while solving real-world problems. I’m in the Wisconsin Dells to deliver a four-hour training session for CESA 6. It’s entitled “21st Century Skills in Action: Project Based Learning in the STEM Classroom.” We’ll be using a Turning Point ARS and lots of activities so that participants experience the why, what, and how of PBL in the STEM curriculum.

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How to Use Web 2.0 to Teach Literacy Strategies to Struggling Readers

» 03 March 2011 » In How To, Literacy, Strategies, Web 2.0 » No Comments

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We’ll focus on three core skill areas central to the Common Core standards – defining, summarizing and comparing using my guide to “18 Strategies for Struggling Readers.” Plus I’ll introduce some great websites that they can use with the strategies – the new digital literacy meets the old text literacy.

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Eight Look 4s When Observing a Classroom: What the Teacher Teaches – What the Students Learn

» 06 February 2011 » In Leadership, Strategies, Teachers » No Comments

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“Look 4s for School Leaders.” It’s a succinct guide for principals, instructional leaders and can be used as reflective prompts by teachers. Put these in your toolkit and don’t forget they are all critical aspects to Common Core mastery.

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9 Questions for Reflective School Reform Leaders

» 22 November 2010 » In Commentary, Ed Policy, Leadership, Reflection » 8 Comments

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Schools will need to become places that create engaging and relevant learning experiences, provoke student reflection, and help students apply the learning to life. Here’s nine reflective questions for school leaders to consider. They’re organized around three themes and a concluding recommendation.

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