Thursday, June 5, 2008

Teaching for Tomorrow Part 2

Please post your comments on Section 2: Six Ways to Teach for Independent and Higher Learning here. What do you think we are doing really well? What areas should we be focusing on for improvement?


  1. As a 2nd grade teacher the closest I get to teaching the 6 ways to independent and higher learning is in science (FOSS). As I reflect upon our curricula, perhaps the elementary science kits are most focused "self-discovered learning" (p.21).

    I found the "fundamental shift" (problems (or discovery) first and teaching second) (pp.28-39) to be profound and more realistic to the real world. This should also reduce the "fear of failure" (pp. 40-44) by empowering students to take more, and ultimately better, constructive risks. This shift is also more realistic in that it promotes better decision making when there are no clear-cut "right" or "wrong" answers (p.43).

    Ultimately, the need to "reevaluate evaluation" (pp. 44-48) is necessary for us to deploy our time, energy and resources most effectively. "What gets measured, gets done," is an unavoidable truth (p.45) that too often causes the evaluative "tail" to wag the instructional "dog" (p.48).

  2. Thanks Dave for your thoughts. I agree that we have long thought of science as an obvious place for constructivism. However, I wonder if we shouldn't be expanding into other areas as well. I guess writers and readers' workshops are a beginning. But as long as unit tests are the ultimate evaluation, we are not able to determine if kids really understand literacy in the sense of can they find relevant, reliable information when needed or can they interpret the information to make sense of it or can they effectively communicate what they have read. Instead, we test to see if they know what color the dog's collar was in the story or have them spit out irrelevant facts as an evaluation.

    As for teaching our students to think, I agree that many teachers (me included) find it very rewarding when we can give students the answer. It makes us feel valued. We really need to look critically at our role in helping students learn how to solve problems.

  3. HI
    Interesting discussion. I found this section to connect with what I know about good gifted education. I am a firm believer in constructionist approach. It amazes me how we ask V21 students to be the one's who have all the answers but we should be having the ask the good questions.

    It still amazes me how we teach in isolation.. even in math. We don't connect various math strategies for multiplication, we don't ask why does this method work. We need to.

  4. I really enjoyed the fact that the book gave us specific examples and ways to teach for higher learning. After I read the first chapter, I was feeling a little anxious, like the book was going to tell us everything we were doing wrong, and then not give us concrete examples of what we could or should be doing to better the education students receive. It is so familiar when McCain described a classroom where students were paralyzed in their tracks when the teacher isn't telling them what they should be doing. I really want to work at helping my students become more independent learners and accept that they might have to struggle a bit to get to where they need to be. That is one of my faults. I always want to jump right in when I see a student struggling, but after reading this section, I realized that there are times where it is good for a student to find their own way without having the teacher jump in to fix things. What are they going to do when there isn't a teacher there to tell them what to do? I also really liked the idea of making sure that things are like things they would experience in their life, making the lesson relevant in their life. I think most teachers do their best to make things relevant and meaningful, but this book gave me even more ideas of how I can do this. In the past, I have had students act as travel agents, and have seen the strong success of that unit. This book has encouraged me to continue to find those connections to make my units as meaningful as possible. The students could take on the role of an editor, a critic, a film director, talk show host, disc jockey, etc. There are so many possibilities for my classroom. I am excited to implement a few changes so that I can start "teaching for tomorrow" in my corner of the world. :)