Thursday, September 26, 2013

Doing More With Less

Usually in education, when we talk about doing more with less, we are talking about money or resources. This time, I'm talking about less content. What if instead of covering all the material in our curriculum, we covered less?

I've been paying a lot of attention recently to the impact of feedback on our students. Turns out, we don't often do a very good job of providing timely, specific feedback. More importantly, even when we do, we don't provide time for students to respond to that feedback. Think about it. How often do you give students feedback on a project or learning target and then provide them time to relearn or rework it so that the feedback is meaningful and impactful? For me, the answer is easy... not often enough.

What if we spent more time on each concept or product? Yes, we would have to make some tough decisions about what we don't have time to teach, but we would be providing such amazing learning opportunities for our kids. I have used this example before, but my son's experience in Destination Imagination has been very eye opening for me. The kids are given a challenge in November and they have to come up with a solution by April. During that time, they try ideas out. Some fail, some succeed but need to be built upon. The lesson for those kids is that ideas need to be reworked. They need to be fleshed out.

Another key lesson in this design is that learning is hard. It requires hard work and stamina. Easy answers don't build stamina. They eat away at it. Our students expect answers to come easily. If they don't know, they give up. Feedback should provide the carrot to help them want to keep working at it.

Here is a great video that demonstrates the impact that specific feedback can have:

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