Friday, April 20, 2018

Developing a positive learning identity / developing imagination / importance of play / and some great books


Education Readings

Students exploring the environment
By Allan Alach

Every week Bruce Hammonds and I search out articles worldwide to encourage a creative approach to teaching and learning. I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allanalach@inspire.net.nz

Letting Students Succeed as Themselves ( about NZ)

An American teacher shares a lesson learned during time he spent in New Zealand schools.

What if this idea were applied to other contexts? What if we in the U.S. worked to provide all of our students with knowledge to succeed and be proud in knowing who they are? School would be a different experience for these young people if they felt a connection to learning. School would be less about fulfilling external requirements and more about investing in a process that would be central to one’s current and future identity.’


Seven reasons people no longer want to be teachers ( from Australia)

How many of these ring bells for you?

‘It’s not surprising, then, that numbers of applicants for teacher education programs have slumped. The programs are long and intense, the creativity and relationships aspect of the vocation has been eroded, there is pervasive negativity in the media, and comparatively poor salary and working conditions.’


How Can We Begin Developing Imagination in Our Older
Imaginary astronauts
Learners?

'As younger children, play and imagination are at the core of learning. Nevertheless, the truth is that as we get older we imagine less and less. Since we know a creative imagination is more important to learning today than ever, it’s time to reclaim it. How do we make developing imagination a worthwhile goal for all grade levels?’


Why playtime is key to raising successful children

‘One approach to redesigning education systems and equipping children with the right skills is often overlooked. We need to provide opportunities for children to learn in the way most natural and engaging to them: through play. We also need to erase the false dichotomy often drawn between children’s play and their learning of academic content.'


How Kids Learn Better By Taking Frequent Breaks Throughout The Day

‘Once I incorporated these short recesses into our timetable, I no longer saw feet-dragging, zombie-like kids in my classroom. Throughout the school year, my Finnish students would, without fail, enter the classroom with a bounce in their steps after a fifteen-minute break. And most important, they were more focused during lessons.’


Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

To Advance Education, We Must First Reimagine Society

‘Because disaffection with the education system reflects a much deeper societal malaise, it’s imperative that we first figure out what kind of world we really want: a world populated by responsible adults who thrive on interdependence and community, or a world of “customers” who feel dependent on products, services, and authority figures, and don’t take full responsibility for their actions?’


PC pedagogy: How much technology should be used in Kiwi
classrooms?

‘But news that tech-executives in Silicon Valley are choosing to send their children to Waldorf Schools, where there's not a computer in sight, has also got people thinking. These parents are choosing the low-tech or no-tech education that teaches students the innovative thinking skills needed in the workplace. They develop the ability to think independently from a device, without a reliance on it.’


5 Strategies to Demystify the Learning Process for Struggling Students

‘Oakley recognizes that “many educators are not at all comfortable with or trained in neuroscience,” so she breaks down a few key principles that teachers can use in the classroom and share with students to help them demystify the learning process.’ 


Don’t Stress About Coding: Focus Shifts To Teaching Problem Solving Not Computer Skills

‘But many now recognize it’s not enough for students simply to know how to write code. The capacity to build a product or solve a problem requires an entirely different literacy. With this in mind, the focus of coding education is shifting from teaching the specific skill of coding to teaching computational thinking—or the ability to follow a step-by-step process to solve a problem.’



Dawn Picken (NZ): Quit the school caste system

What once was an egalitarian system, where brainiacs sat beside average and struggling children, has developed into a more rigid hierarchy for students at around age 11. Children who pass a rigorous test are separated into one or more gifted and talented classes per school, leaving less-gifted and talented peers in "regular" classrooms.’


From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Bali Haque.The failure of Education Reforms in New Zealand - with an emphasis on secondary schools. NCEA/ NZC and National Standards

Bali  believes that  power of a quality teacher depends on what he calls 'a state of mind' ; the individual teachers 'personal dispositions, attitudes  and assumptions'. This he says is reflected in the New Zealand Curriculum ( Teaching as Inquiry) which asks teachers to constantly ask questions about the effectiveness of what they are doing and be willing to change what isn't working. Such teachers believe all students can learn achieve provided the right conditions and help.’


Educational Books for Creative Teaching - to develop the gifts and talents of all students

‘So if you have time explore some of the links to some of my favourite books below. After reading my ‘review’ you might want to get the book for yourself – or share the blog with other teachers. How many are you aware of?’

Two very practical books - highly recommended


Friday, April 13, 2018

Developing creativity / students as scientists / Sir Ken Robinson the importance of the arts / the myth of learning styles and Tomorrows Schools


Education Readings

By Allan Alach
It's holiday time in New Zealand so take the time to check out a few readings

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allanalach@inspire.net.nz

Individual Testing is Killing Teaching

And it lead to each individual child in every class being tested individually. Each child’s strengths can be identified, and the gaps they have can then be specifically targeted. Teachers knew what each child needed, and could pass comment on this first hand to their parents or caregivers, through the wonderful National Standard reports that were sent home twice a year. Great.

Except that it is unmanageable.'


Stop Relying on Teachers to Teach Our Kids to be Good People!

‘I'm a big fan of teachers. Trust me. I am one. So is my wife.

But speaking as a parent, we are asking our teachers to do things we should be doing ourselves. While teachers are glad to help with the development of students, it is not their job to teach our kids to be good citizens. Teachers should be the BENEFICIARIES of us teaching our kids to be good kids.'


'Kids are born scientists' - Siouxsie Wiles talks STEM and sexism

'Kids are born scientists.

What differs between individual kids is whether they see themselves as able to have a career in science, and part of that comes down to whether they have seen people that look like them as scientists.’




What Happens to Student Behavior When Schools Prioritize Art. More wisdom from Sir Ken.

‘The arts classes gave the students fresh enthusiasm for learning, and the walls and corridors were soon covered with displays of their work, which itself created a more stimulating environment and sense of ownership by the children. “Kids do well,” Bott said, “when you design and build a school that they want to be in. Having great arts programs and athletics programs makes school an enjoyable place to be and that’s when you see success.”’


“Another nail in the coffin for learning styles” – students did not benefit from studying according to their supposed learning style

Individual learners
The evidence that debunks learning styles is clear, so why do I keep reading teacher comments that reference learning styles?

‘Their findings, they write – especially when considered in the context of past research – “provide strong evidence that instructors and students should not be promoting the concept of learning styles for studying and/or for teaching interventions. Thus, the adage of ‘I can’t learn subject X because I am a visual learner’ should be put to rest once and for all.”’


Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

The idea that we each have a 'learning style' is bogus -- here's why

Yet another article debunking learning styles. Got the message?

When I was at school, a fair amount of time was put into determining our “learning styles.” Teachers told us that some people learn better visually with pictures, whereas others retained information by reading or making notes. To be honest, I never worked out what mine was.
In a survey, 96% of teachers were found to believe in learning styles. But it turns out this theory is nonsense.’


How can we ignite the STEM spark at primary school

'With the right approach, a teacher can have a positive and lifelong impact on how students think
Dr Maerve  Liston
about science.

That’s why Dr Maeve Liston is on a mission to help teachers and parents to ensure that young students engage with science and technology at primary school, and develop problem-solving skills and scientific literacy that will stand to them no matter what they go on to study later.’


Why ‘Follow Your Passion’ Is Bad Advice

Steve Jobs
In other words, follow your passion. There’s just one problem: “‘Follow your passion’ is dangerous advice.” That’s a troubling claim, but it comes straight from Cal Newport’s investigation into “the details of how passionate people like Steve Jobs really got started”, as well as what scientists say predict happiness and fuel great accomplishment.

Newport’s not alone. In recent years, a host of leaders, academics, and entrepreneurs have all come to the same startling conclusion: nearly everything you’ve been told about following your passion is wrong.’


An Experts View: Sir Ken Robinson

Your new book offers wide-ranging advice for parents as they try to manage their children’s education. If you had to choose one takeaway, what would it be?’



Personalized Learning Isn’t About Tech

The key is giving students the decision-making tools they need to shape their own learning experiences Personalizing learning doesn’t necessitate investing hundreds of dollars per child in expensive hardware or applications—but it does require an investment in people and in fostering relationships between them. This investment can be as minimal as a few simple changes in mindset and practice, ones that move away from personalizing for students and toward personalizing with them.’


From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Together principals can do it

‘It is time they added their collective voices to the debate and this is easiest done by groups of courageous principals, defining what is important, and sharing it with others. And what they decide ought to focus on the needs of their students and communities and not the whims of politicians. Principals are in an ideal position to see the pressures that parents and the wider community have to face up to. They know well that, “it takes a whole village to raise a child.”’


The history of New Zealand's TOMORROWS SCHOOLS and time for fresh thinking?

A major and well overdue review of the current provision of education in New Zealand has been announced. Cathy Wylie, one of the review team, researched the so-called “Tomorrow’s Schools’ back in 2012, and Bruce summarises her findings in the article. Prepare for change!

‘Cathy answers the questions: What was the real effect of ‘Tomorrows Schools’? Has the New Zealand Schools system improved as a result? And what changes are needed now to meet our expectations of schools?’




Friday, April 06, 2018

The art of teaching - importance of creativity and the sharing of ideas


Education Readings

By Allan Alach

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allanalach@inspire.net.nz

Why Do Some Educators Burn Out While Others Seem to Grow More Passionate?

When you listen to someone who is burned out, they often point to circumstances as the reason for their malaise. There is lack of support, lack of resources, problems with students, parents, administrators, other teachers, lawmakers, the department of education, society, you name it. And all of those things might be true. But others faced with exactly the same circumstances seem to tell themselves a different story.’




What creativity really is - and why schools need it

‘Teachers often have biases against creative students, fearing that creativity in the classroom will be disruptive. They devalue creative personality attributes such as risk taking, impulsivity and independence. They inhibit creativity by focusing on the reproduction of knowledge and obedience in class. Why the disconnect between educators’ official stance toward creativity, and what actually happens in school?’


Are you over-scaffolding?

There are so many experiences and opportunities to learn that are not only happening in your classroom or professional development because you have taught it.  When we limit people to what we know or what we teach, we are limiting countless possibilities of what they know and can do without us.’


Time to leave formulaic conformist teaching
Ownership Through Inquiry

‘Are kids learning because they are intrinsically empowered to or are they compelled to through compliance and conformity?  The former results when learners have a real sense of ownership.  There are many ways to empower kids to own their learning. All the rage as of late is how technology can be such a catalyst. In many cases this is true, but ownership can result if the conditions are established where kids inquire by way of their own observations and questions.’


Who is for teaching?

‘That is, why can’t we firstly attract to, and then retain enough high calibre teachers in the
profession? It’s a long stretch to argue that it is because we have made it too difficult for people in other professions and trades to transition into teaching. It is a theme too common – to seek solutions to teacher shortages and questions of skill levels by dressing up time worn strategies of luring other workers to the teaching profession as something more than quick-fix answers.’


Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

21st-Century Learning Starting in Elementary School

A group of Georgia schools work together to emphasize project-based learning and STEM courses from the elementary years through 12th grade.

‘At White Oak Elementary, teachers build a strong foundation by alternating between PBL and more traditional units, typically doing at least one major project within each nine-week period. Even when teachers are not leading a project, they emphasize inquiry and use the workshop model for reading, math, and writing.’


Sparrows And Penguins

Powerful. Any penguins are in your class?

‘This is why I think labels are important. This is why I think “we’re all birds, let’s focus on our similarities instead of our differences” is harmful. This is how my autism diagnosis was like breathing, after holding my breath for 26 years.’


'We need to admit that the job of the classroom teacher has simply become too big’

New Zealand has the opportunity to escape all this stressful nonsense.

‘If this doesn’t unite the profession in a concerted effort to find the right work-life balance, to hold on to our longer-serving teachers and entice new ones into the fold, then we will continue to see even more classes taught by non-specialists or a chain of supply teachers, with all the adverse outcomes for equality of provision entailed.’


Stop the CRAPTIVITIES

For children to be CURIOUS about the world around them, following their own unique style of learning and to be engaged in the joy of DOING rather than the end result. Too often at this festive time of year, we feel under pressure to create products for the children to take home, cards, gifts & artwork. If WE feel this PRESSURE to get these products complete, spare a moment for the little ones who are sadly on a conveyer belt of activities of handprints and paper plates or as I like to call them “craptivaties”.’


Scrap age-based classes to boost school achievement

Underachievement in schools is commonly attributed to ineffective teaching methods, low expectations, poor student attitudes and behaviour, inadequate school resourcing and a culture that undervalues education. These may all be contributors. But could the explanation also lie in the way schooling itself is organised and delivered?’


From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Learning to be 'creatively rebellious'. The importance of the Three Ds: being Different, Disruptive and Deviant.

Sir Ken Robinson
Many people were labelled at school as 'students who challenged teachers or their learning processes as being" disruptive' and “rebellious”. As a result such students developed 'compliant behaviours that effectively kept them out of trouble. Others who rebelled often missed out on the chance to benefit from a traditional education.’


Educational change and leadership - bottom up!

'
All too often in recent decades schools are dictated to by the political whim of politicians with their eyes firmly fixed on popular approval - this is certainly the case with the imposition of National Standards. What is required is for schools to begin to share their beliefs about teaching and learning by building on the innate strengths of their students, their teachers, the school principal and finally groups of schools to develop a vision that all can work with in diverse ways.'