Thanks to our principal, Mr. Hinds, for showing “Bring on the Learning Revolution!” during our final staff meeting of the school year today. I had seen Sir Ken Robinson’s other TED video, “Schools Kill Creativity”, but had somehow missed this later lecture from Sir Ken Robinson. I really loved everything about this inspirational speech, but one part sounded eerily like something that I have observed myself in our educational system. Sir Ken Robinson says, “I think we are obsessed with getting people to college. Certain sorts of college. I don’t mean you shouldn’t go to college, but not everybody needs to go and not everybody needs to go now. Maybe they go later, not right away.” He speaks of finding the passion of our students and of not trying to stick to such a linear progression in our school systems, where everyone is expected to travel the same route from Kindergarten to College. I hope more people will view his video, and participate in bringing about this learning revolution.
77 Web Resources for Teachers to Try this Summer is a web booklet created by Richard Byrne of Free Tech 4 Teachers. If you have not had time to check out his blog during the school year, this is a nice sampling of some of the great resources that he offers daily. You may have heard of Google Earth already, but have you heard of Google Body Browser? Or, how about Classics for Kids, which offers lesson plans for teaching about classical music? The summer is a great time to explore these sites, and to think about their applications for the classroom.
Here is another summer recommendation for parents: How about choosing one or two “Sick Science” videos each week to watch, and then supervise your child performing the experiment? These videos, produced by Steve Spangler Science, are short how-to videos for all kinds of science projects that can be done at home. One of my personal favorites is “The Shrinking Chip Bag”, but that requires an old microwave and definite parental supervision. For a less “electrifying” example, check out the video below on moving toothpicks with sound. You can also find it at http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLC02CFDE5690E4010
Read, Write, Think has a page of recommended summer activities that would be good to share with parents. ”Bright Ideas for Summer” includes links to four activities that could be used with students in 2nd-8th grades. I’m already planning to use “Can You Convince Me?” with my 9 year old daughter! All of the activities have recommended links, resources, and plans for implementing. Bookmark this site for something different to do on a hot summer day!
A couple of posts ago, I linked to an interesting post by Heather Wolpert-Gawron in which her eighth graders give suggestions for engaging students in class. Mrs. Cunningham, a first grade teacher at my school, decided to find out what her group felt about ways to stay engaged, and videotaped their responses. The video is below, or you can go directly to her post here (please give the class a comment, as they love feedback!). Mrs. Cunningham and I were both amazed about the similarities between the 1st grade and 8th grade responses. (She did not share the 8th grade ones with her students.) I am also quite impressed by the vocabulary and speaking skills of Mrs. Cunningham’s kids. Great job, Mrs. Cunningham’s Class!
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“The thing is, every student is engaged differently…but, that is okay. There is always a way to keep a student interested and lively, ready to embark on the journey of education. ‘What is that way?’ some teachers may ask eagerly. Now, read closely… Are you ready? That way is to ask them. Ask. Them. Get their input on how they learn. It’s just as simple as that.”
The above quote is from a student in California teacher Heather Wolpert-Gawron’s class. It is part of a list of 10 suggestions for student engagement that Wolpert-Gawron gleaned from her eighth-grade students. I don’t think any of the ideas on the list are surprising, but the fact that they come from the students, rather than “experts” in the field , gives them a bit more credence, in my opinion. You can check out the rest of the list by clicking here.
In “Flipping Bloom’s Taxonomy“, Shelley Wright proposes that, in the 21st century, our students would benefit more by beginning with “Creating” and working their way to “Remembering”. She gives some great examples of how this can be applied in the classroom in her article. The concept seems to be both simple and revolutionary at the same time. Her final statement is that, “Blooms 21 actively places learning where it should be, in the hands of the learner.” If that is the result of this approach, it seems to me that it is well worth trying.