The Steiners on the floor above Of breakfast were partaking; Crash! came the rocket, unannounced, And set them all a-quaking! It smote a catsup bottle, fair, And bang! the thing exploded! And now these people all declare That catsup flask was loaded.
Want to ensure that students have an opportunity to learn in a robust digital environment everyday? If so, you will be pleased to know that today isDigital Learning Day. Join others around the nation and world and take the pledge to support the effective use of technology to improve education for all learners.
Back in November 2013, as we were driving home to Statesboro after attending a conference in Atlanta, my very good friend Joe and I passed a few hours along I-75 (and later I-16) talking about the current state of learning in Georgia and the rest of the nation. We lamented about the U.S. educational system’s preoccupation with standardized tests and other stumbling blocks to engaging, worthwhile learning for students. As we sped along on our way, the two of us decided that in 2014 we would do what we could to help people–students, teachers, parents, anyone really–learn how to learn.
To bring our goal to fruition, Joe and I decided to think about learning and teaching with a beginner’s mind. Though both of us know and use a great deal of technology and digital resources, we decided to begin our quest with a thoughtful exploration of the qualities of sound, meaningful instruction. In my search for enlightening resources about designing meaningful learning I was fortunate to find Nina Smith‘s blog, NotesFromNina. In particular, I found Nina’s presentation, Meaningful Learning and Teaching (one of How to Improve Learning presentations) to be fascinating and helpful. Lately, I have been reading and re-reading Pasi Sahlberg’s book, Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland? so coming across Nina’s work just served to whet my appetite for another Finnish educator’s views. In fact, I am very excited about reading her own book, Choosing How to Teach.
Joe is very kind and trusted friend of mine. He’s a gentleman who kindly and consistently serves me up a daily brew of philosophy, candor, and ideas, as well as a heaping helping of resources. Joe and I generally talk every morning as he makes the commute to the middle school where he works. I can always rely upon his cognitive concoction to take my brain in a different and much wiser direction.
Joe was, as he ever is, correct. Global Best Practices was well worth reading. The document contains a priority guide that explores twenty improvement priorities in three categories (Teaching/Learning, Organizational Design, and School Leadership). Each priority contains a performance descriptions and a means of scoring. The document is very robust, with excellent descriptors, sample strategies, and sample evidence. An administrator, lead teachers, and others in a school could take this resource, apply it its principles, and be all the better for doing so.
I am still carefully crawling through John Hattie and Helen Timperley‘s (2007) article, the Power of Feedback and tweeting the nuggets of wisdom I find. I have found much to share as Hattie and Timperley’s article is extremely well-written and brimming with best practices. My intent is to mindfully absorb this research and apply the authors’ advice in my work with university students.
One of the first steps I’ll be taking is reviewing the goals and objectives for the course. I want to make sure that what I think the students should master is worthy of their time and attention. I thought I did a fair job of selecting and explaining learning goals when I revised my course over the summer. Even so, I think revisiting the course goals again will benefit my learners. I will be focusing on whether our proposed learning experiences offer specific and challenging goals.