Refresh and #C4C15

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Refreshing this blog after stumbling on the fact that one of my PLN friends, Matthew Brewer, is a Teacher of the Year for Washington State! That’s awesome!  But what’s more important is what that means: it means he has important things to share about teaching and learning.  Please read his blog here: Learning by the Lake.

In Customers or Products, he reminds us that education is about the student — and the passions and talents that are their potentials for our futures as well as theirs.

Schools exist as a means to give students the opportunity to experience a myriad of different opinions and points of view as they discover their own natural passions and abilities.

Think about that. I know those in my PLN who live this — their #geniushour programs promote it.

And how about this idea from the same post:

…build a generation of careful and critical thinkers who have tried and failed just enough to know what they can and cannot do and aren’t afraid to push their mental and physical limits. We need students who can identify in themselves their own passions and convictions and can pursue those passions and voice their convictions with energy and enthusiasm.”

I agree completely, and hope that in our work together, that my students find their interests and strengths, passions and talents. I offer choice and team projects based on focus statements that allow students to ask their own questions.

And this idea is something I’m working on

Education is individualized as much as possible

and assessment is a conversation,

not a spreadsheet.

It is the conversations that encourage students to improve, when our class work is valuable enough that students want to improve.

Our Google Apps allow that conversation to continue online through peer and teacher comments on student work, offering feedback on what is done well and suggestions for what could be better. The focus is on the work, not a grade. I’ve also changed my rubric, which I’ve blogged about here [ Ideas for Rubrics: Feedback ].  I think of above and meeting standards as an “I see” comment and below standards as “I suggest” comments. From the comments and conversations, students understand exactly how to improve and revise. My assessment is conversation, not spreadsheets, and my students learn by doing, not “getting done.” My students and their learning is not finding facts, but is finding focus. And it is through that focus that students discover not just a “how to,” but also “how I believe.”

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Congratulations, again, Matthew, on your work and the recognition of that work as “Teacher of the Year.” I’m thankful to be inspired by you.


 

This post is part of

Ben Wilkoff‘s #C4C15 Comments for Community Project

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