Thursday, January 23, 2014

What Do You Ask Students to Produce?

Those who are working with me (or perhaps are within a five thousand mile radius of me right now) know that I am more than just a bit fired up about deeper learning for our students and for the educators at our school, in our district, and at our local university.  To their credit, my staff has been incredibly patient with me vibrating as I walk down our halls, and more than polite in saying things like 'this is REALLY fascinating, but I kinda have to get back to my class'.  Bless them, and I hope that they can forgive my exuberance as we move forward.

In order to learn more about deeper learning, I have enlisted the use of Twitter, connected with a number of members of my PLN, been clipping every blog, graphic and article that I can find into Evernote, phoning places like High Tech High, and soaking up everything that I can from meetings with people like the Dean of Education from our local university.

However, I also wanted to try something new--I had heard a great deal about MOOCs (both positive and negative), but wanted to find out for myself how an asynchronous, self-directed learning environment would work for me.  And as luck would have it, there was a MOOC starting that was perfectly topical for my headspace right now, and as a result, I have joined more than a hundred other educators in a nine-week, Deeper Learnng MOOC.

Currently, we are in week one.  And along with a number of readings, there was a live event this evening (which I had to miss--not quite home from school yet).  Fortunately, it was a Google Hangout that was archived, and I was able to watch it an hour and a half later.

Deeper Learning MOOC - Week One Google Hangout

Tonight was a panel discussion that included people like Larry Rosenstock, CEO of High Tech High, Eduardo Briceno from Mindset Works, a number of teachers from High Tech High, a few others from various educational organizations, and a tenth-grade student from High Tech High named Maya.

There were a variety of different questions about deeper learning that were posed with responses from different members of the panel.  These ranged from queries such as "Is deeper learning for everyone?" (short answer - 'yes') and "What needs to happen for adults if we are to follow and model deeper learning?" (short answer - 'work together, not in isolation').  But one of the most interesting bits (at least for me) posed by the moderator was around assessment:  "How would we know that deeper learning is going on?" This struck a chord with me:  some of the consistent questions that I have heard from our staff are "How do you assess problem-based learning?" or "How do I assign a mark to deeper learning?".  I would guess that these are questions that educator might ask, especially in those in a system that is so traditionally based in numbers and letter grades.

Larry Rosenstock took the lead on this one, and his answer resonated with me.  He said that 'the proof of the pudding is in the tasting--looking at student work is a really powerful way to see what has been going on'.

Seems simple enough, doesn't it?  Makes perfect sense.  A simple man I am, but even I can get to the idea that the evidence of learning is, the evidence.

But it made me ponder a further question:  What is it in education that we ask students to produce?  And perhaps more specifically, relative to the attributes that we as a staff (and now our parents, and very soon our students) have determined our students need to be successful at and beyond our school, are the artifacts we are tasking our students to produce allowing and requiring our students to demonstrate these attributes?  Are they allowing and requiring our students to demonstrate 'deeper learning'?

I am really enjoying the DL MOOC so far, and I can already see how it is going to stretch my thinking. Over the next few weeks, I am looking forward to investigating my questions from today's session with our staff as we begin to analyse the tasks we assign to our students through the lens of our attributes.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for taking the time to comment on my blog!