September 21, 2020

What Should Students Do and Experience?

That is the question that I continually use in working with professional learning communities and coaching conferences. Once teachers have identified outcomes or student achievement goals they need to consider what would students have to do and experience to develop those outcomes. Then they are ready to design learning activities that can produce those outcomes.

Administrators doing walkthroughs and classroom observations need to be clear on those student behaviors that produce desired results…So what are you looking for?

The February 2, 2011 edition of Education Week (Vol.30 No 19) had three articles that made me think about “what students are experiencing and doing”.

In Mastery of Science Eludes Most Students, NAEP Scores Indicate: (pg10) Erik Robelen reports that 1-2% of students at the, 4th, 8th, and 12th grade score at the advanced level in science. The percent scoring proficient decreases from 34% at 4th grade to 30% at 8th grade, and 21% at 12th grade.

What would students have to do and experience to increase the success rate in science?

The National Assessment Governing Board says the test measures problem solving and applied sciences with a greater emphasis on “what you can actually do with your knowledge, and not just how many words and equations you stored in your brain.”

What are you observing students doing in your science classrooms?

In a commentary, Not for Art’s Sake Only; Arts Education and 21st –Century Skills, (pg22) Bruce Taylor writes that the skills routinely employed by artist and arts educators…creativity, critical thinking, problem solving as well as communication and collaboration…are the 21st century skills our students should be gaining. Yet, in many schools, time in arts programs have been severely diminished. With the time constraints placed on existing arts programs, students may be taught to perform without actually learning anything. They might just be remembering lines, notes, steps, and terminology.

Taylor states that arts connect to emotions and emotions are connected to thinking. He suggests that we need teachers who think and create rather than follow prescriptions generated by people removed from the classroom.

We should be seeing the artistic process as we observe teachers and students.

What are you observing in classrooms?

Lastly in a commentary by Margaret Honey and Eric Siegel, The Maker Movement: Encouraging the Hand-and Mind-Connection (pg 32), you can read about constructing as a natural instinct that drives learning.

Makers organize themselves into thriving communities to create objects that they are passionate about and to engage others. Makers delight in tinkering, hacking, creating, and reusing materials and technology.

“By creating spaces where individuals can dig deeply into their passions and take time to explore, tinker, and invent with like-minded others, the maker movement affirms the kind of deep learning that matters. It is our natural inclination to create as we learn and to learn as we create that is at the heart of the movement.”

See a Maker’s space.

Can you find students being “makers” as you observe in classrooms?

On your next walk-through watch what students are experiencing and doing. Do you find them engaged in the actions that will produce the outcomes you want?

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