Some old questions & thoughts

I told Moose the last time I saw him that I would post something to the Vena Cava blog. And I always struggle to get my thoughts into full written sentences, but I have to start somewhere. So I’m going way back.

Recently, I came across an old word doc of mine titled “thoughts.” I honestly had no idea what it was. It was typed in June 2013. It was a mostly bullet-pointed list of my ideas and thoughts from the 2012-2013 school year. Sometimes I responded to my own question or thought, sometimes not. Occasionally it was just an idea I wanted to try. I wanted to pull out some of those that caught my eye. The really is no order or logical connection with some of them but I figured I’d share them as a starting point. I tried to separate thoughts a bit by color:

  • Real curiosity (we model it)
  • Ask a question that we don’t know answers to. Maybe we have thought about them before, but never figured it out. We can model curiosity. On the rock wall kids want to try what I am trying, I don’t tell them they have to, they want to. When I tell students that I haven’t solved a problem, they want to beat me to the solution, but they also have to explain what they did, and they want confirmation that it is right. “Mr Cox is this right?” “I don’t know guys I haven’t done it yet, tell me what you did” I can think faster than they can explain. Even if I can’t that means they must explain better or more in depth.
  • Allow google, just give a goal 
  • Real questions/problems

I also really like the idea of ”learn(ing) right along with the students and this makes the class so much more authentic and relevant for everyone involved”

With the navigation system analogy, what if we looked at it as if the destination is X. And as a teacher we know that, we’ve been there before, but rather than the teacher being the navigation system, we are the co-pilot to the student driver.

  • So the student says “I have navigation.”
  • Teacher: “Cool. Let me know if you need something.”
  • Then the student says “I want to go to “blank” but the navigation just says go north.”
  • Teacher: “Yeah I’ve never been there, lets figure this out.”
  • Then we are on the trip together.

We need to treat kids with respect

resource room (all subjects/all students)

  • TED talk: Sugata Mitra’s “Hole in the Wall” experiments

As teachers we could model curiosity and desire to learn. Mitra said “if there’s stuff on Google, why would you need to stuff it in your head?” I don’t see why we don’t use Google, allow it everyday. For it to work, we would have to ask “real” questions/problems, or better yet let students ask real questions.

About a month ago, a humanities teacher came into my math class just to see what we were doing. They ask some students what we were learning about. The students were so excited to be able to explain to their humanities teacher what they were doing in math. What if they could be asked those kinds of questions everyday?

Article: Glad You Asked About the Digital Generation – Posted by Ian Jukes on February 19, 2013

– The digital generation will never accept the traditional stand-and-deliver educational model. They need to be in a situation where they’re controlling things, and that can never happen in the current school environment we provide for them.

  • Is what I’m doing and thinking right? I feel like I have the best of intentions with students. I am trying to give students autonomy
  • Class ideas – Bring your math questions (interest, credit card, banking, sales, paying a bill),  problem solving class
  • Why are we afraid of change? What would you do with 30 kids? (if you had to teach them everything)
  • We need to look at people and change based on needs.

Cross-curricular is important because it’s real. Rarely do we come across problems that are isolated in one subject area. I fear that I’m not completely familiar with standards. I am currently looking into how all our math standards are met by IMP to see what’s “covered” and what still needs help. Many of the units from IMP can incorporate other subjects. High dive – physics. Small world –bio? cell growth, exponential growth, almost any kind of graphing, history of math and how we discover formulas. Problem of the week write up – English (how to communicate our ideas on paper or verbally) Some ideas are there, some could be found with student help and ideas, ask a student what they want to learn about/discover then as the “expert” help them design the path to get there then see what standards we meet.

21st century learning needs to be relevant to student, (ie student should find their own interest in it, not forced by teacher) Some kids want to just go, we have to figure out how to let them. Can we be learning with them? That’s truly unpredictable outcomes.

Cool quote from: Jefferson “The purpose of public education isn’t to serve the public, the purpose of public education is to create a public”

I’ll try to be a little more concise and less wandering for my next go. -sc

One thought on “Some old questions & thoughts

  1. The ‘Digital Generation’ seems to be such a paradox, though. As you mentioned, they will not accept stand-and-deliver, but I would say perhaps NOT because it takes them out of control… because they (read: we as a society) are perfectly happy to consume Netflix and YouTube rather than be in control and CREATE stuff in our free time now-adays, right? We even know that our decisions are subconsciously influenced by everything we consume online and in media, yet we don’t seem to be too concerned about that. It almost seems like this all makes us become unengaged with the world (passive consumers), and then it is only when a teacher ‘standing and delivering’ asks you to then take charge and show your learning that we say ‘no, I don’t want to do that.’ I say this based off of seeing kids in a classroom that has ~5-10% lecture time and ~90% GroupThink/Create time, and where kids often still aren’t engaging even when they are ‘in control’ of what they learn & work on (not if they are learning and working). All this to say that this is a topic that still confounds me and I think the final word is far from spoken! Let’s keep exploring it.


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