User Generated Education

Education as it should be – passion-based.

School Should Be More Like Camp

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Some things about me:

  • I love to learn, create, invent, ponder and imagine what can be.  I consider myself insatiable when it comes to learning
  • I hated school from 2nd grade through college.  It was painfully boring for me.
  • I loved summer camp.  I went to day camp for 10 years.
  • I have vivid memories of my camp experiences.  I have vague, blurred memories of school.
  • I feel that I learned so much more at camp than I did at school.
  • I believe that school wasted and basically stole my time.

So needless to say, I promote the idea that school should be more like camp. What follows is a chart comparing school to camp.  Which would you prefer to attend?  Which would you prefer your own children to experience?

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What follows are some excerpts of articles that reinforce these ideas.

From Why Can’t School Be More Like Camp

Focus on Relationships, Team Building, and Goal Setting

The first day of school would start with the teacher leading the students in team building activities and giving them ample opportunities to get to know each other. Kids would be paired and grouped in different ways to make sure that everyone learns everyone else’s name. New kids would be warmly welcomed by returning kids.  They would also learn about each other’s talents and interests. This conversation would be ongoing throughout the year to give kids the chance to share with and encourage each other as they learn new things.

Hands-On, Active Learning by Doing

If school were more like camp, hands-on activities would far outnumber multiple-choice tests. The information that really “sticks” is the stuff we do, so why is so much time spent on memorizing things that are forgotten within days?

If school were more like camp, students would spend less time sitting at a desk quietly working by themselves on a work sheet and more time practicing teamwork and collaboration, working on science projects and presentations, acting out a book they are reading, and building their creativity and problem-solving skills.

Students would be encouraged to delve deeply into topics that interest them, regardless of what’s on the list of standards.

A Positive Culture

If school were more like camp, teachers would be trained to create a fun, warm, and inviting place as much as they are trained to teach math skills. They would learn how to find what is special and unique about each of their students and help their students feel valued and included.  Teachers would check in with each student, every day, asking how they’re doing and providing support if they are struggling. Kids would be excited to get to school, and teachers would greet each student with a smile and a high five, hug, handshake, or fist bump.

If school were more like camp, kids would be cheering for and supporting each other as they learn new skills. Kids would celebrate each other’s successes by making daily “WOW” announcements and leaving encouraging notes. For kids who are struggling in some area, supportive peers would provide guidance and encouragement. Kids would openly talk about their areas of strength and weakness and support each other in improving.

Core Subjects Plus “Free Choice” Learning and Pursuit of Passions

At camp, we require that kids participate in certain activities, even if they’re a little scared. We know that they benefit immensely from challenging themselves and building new skills. But we also allow kids to pursue activities that they are passionate about. What if school could be the same way? Kids would be required to learn specific skills, of course, just like they are now. But they would also have more free choice options to pursue things they’re passionate about. Aspiring writers could have their own blog. Future doctors could do extra science research and experiments. If we showed more respect for kids’ interests and desires and let them spend more time on things that they are passionate and excited about, school would be a much happier place for them.

. . . and some more characteristics of camps which should be common school practices – from 5 Ways School Should Be More Like Summer Camp

Intentional, Intense Community

Summer camps make a point of helping the community to bond quickly through playing games, hiking and camping together (a.k.a. meeting and coming through a challenge together), telling stories around a fire, sharing sleeping quarters, and creating rituals around daily tasks like eating.

Facing Fears and Pushing Comfort Zones

At summer camp, kids do things they are afraid of.  They go swimming in creeks with snakes, they sleep in cabins with creepy crawlies, they go on 3-day hikes and sleep in the woods with who knows what kinds of monsters, they scrape their knees, and they don’t have their parents around to rely on.  Now if that isn’t just a recipe for learning coping skills and how to handle the unexpected, I don’t know what is.

Outdoors and Interactive

We already know that sitting in a desk and being lectured at is not the best way to learn.  There are also studies showing that environmental education boosts creativity, social skills, and problems solving skills.  So it’s clear that education should be more hands-on and more out of doors.

Regular Communal Singing

Singing a beautiful or lively group song is different than singing along to the radio.  It can bring a group together and can infuse a relatively mundane task with humor and joy.  But it takes time and commitment to build up a community repertoire of songs.  We have to take the time to teach them and sing them regularly so that is an inclusive activity.  There is little quite so touching as a group of young people harmonizing around a camp fire, or singing a song of gratitude to the cooks, or merrily caroling as they walk to the next activity.

Mixed Age Groups and Mentoring

This is something that summer camps get really right and most schools get really wrong.  At summer camp, kids are constantly mingling across ages.  Teen-age counselors are leading the activities and what could be more hip than that to a 10-year old?  Here is this older, totally cool person, who isn’t nearly so old as their parents, who they can jump on, and look up to and learn games from.  They get to see this older person making jokes, having conversations, dealing with problems, singing songs, having fun and generally being a model of (more) mature, multi-dimensional life.  In schools we separate the teen-agers from the pre-teens and both suffer.  The teens lose out on that sense of responsibility and accountability; they don’t get that sense that their behavior might influence someone else.  And the young ones only have teachers and parents to look up to, who seem so distant and foreign, instead of learning from a variety of ages and outlooks.

. . . and some others based on my own experiences.

Arts Integration

Doing art with a fully stocked art room is a central activity at camp.  All kids are artists at camp with accessible art projects like scratch art, lanyards, leaf rubbings, tie dying.  Children smile with pride at their creations rather than saying things like “I can’t draw” or “I am not an artist.”

Informal drama and theater is also part of the camp experience with talent shows, charades, and paper bag dramatics.   There is innate joy to expressing oneself through drama and theater without the fear of being graded or judged harshly.

Games, Sports, Movement

Sitting around passively isn’t part of the camp experience.  If the camper isn’t playing a sport, s/he might be going for a swim.  Then s/he runs to the art room, and after that – maybe a quick game of tag.  Kids aren’t (or shouldn’t) be told not to run (as in run in the halls).

Learning from Multiple Sources with Ongoing, Informal Assessment

Multiple means and avenues are used to learn to swim, tie a knot, identify a leaf, make a lanyard, and/or sing a song,  A combination of direct instruction, peer modeling, peer feedback, and natural consequences work together to help insure that most campers learn these skills.  Evaluation and assessment are indirect and ongoing – again coming from multiple sources.

. . . and finally, if we are serious about student engagement, motivation, and retention, then student satisfaction with and enjoyment of school should be a primary goal.  From the New York Times article, Why Can’t School Be More Like Summer?

Summer camps are by design happy places, run by people who clearly have been selected for their genial and outgoing personalities as well as their willingness to be ridiculous and silly on short notice. Camps embrace what Robert Louis Stevenson called “the duty to be happy”  Happiness is embedded in the summer camp business plan, and is central to what they do. If children  aren’t happy; they won’t come back.  Schools could learn a lot about student retention and achievement by taking a page from the summer camp happiness playbook.This is especially true right now.  Yet in all the talk about education reform, happiness rarely seems to make the list, even though there’s plenty of evidence out there about what an improved school environment might mean for learning and test scores, not to mention student attitudes and drop-out rates.

The bottom line, which is the focus of many of my blog posts, is that there is a belief that schools need to be the way they are.  They do not.

-

 

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

August 31, 2014 at 9:38 pm

The Importance of Authenticity Inside and Outside the Classroom

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I teach graduate educational technology courses at Boise State University to mostly in-service teachers.  One of them is Integrating Technology Into the Classroom.  It as a course with a project-based learning framework.  Learners are given a series of course projects and asked to develop learning activities for their particular content areas and grade levels.  Examples include developing a video library and associated lesson for their content area; developing a lesson for their content area that uses social media, etc.

This morning I received the following communication from a co-instructor:

Jackie, I thought you would want to know this.  I teach 514.  I ask each student to reflect on a “best learning experience” and this semester I have a student in 514 who wrote the following:

My experience of EDTECH 541 stands out for me as the best experience I have had in learning. I say this for many reasons, and they start with how the structure of the course allowed such creative freedom along with the exploration and experimentation of new tools. With every assignment, I just remember thinking how fun it was, and how great it was that a school class could engage me so much.

Each assignment just seemed to get better. It also seemed like everything just flowed, and the work I was doing had some real impact. I was using the skills I practiced and learned the night before working on the project, the next day in my workplace. I even helped coworkers based on some of the things I learned in the class.

A major moment in this course was some validation of my work that I was not used to. A few of my assignments were used as examples, and some were even tweeted out, and retweeted! The fact that a professional in this field (the professor) and others thought my project had real value and took the time to share it thrilled me. That has been one of the best moments in my education, because for the first time I felt my work extended beyond the gradebook. I also felt like my work gave me some validation and confidence that I just might be able to put some things on a resume that might land me a sought after position someday.

I also remembering throughout the course how great it would be to do that kind of work for a living. It validated my choice and the months I spent trying to find a master’s degree I wanted to pursue. And it was a vast amount of time. I looked for nearly 4 months trying to find something, and just by chance I discovered this program. The EDTECH 541 experience I had was worth it.

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Of course, educators love getting feedback like this.  It is affirming, but more importantly are the rewards the learner received.  Note that the tone of this communication was not about me as the educator but her as a learner and student.  This is what excites me the most.  Messages gleamed from this feedback:

  • Learners need to be given authentic tasks which asks them to put their “selves” into the learning projects.
  • As noted in this communication, school should be fun and engaging.
  • Skills being acquired by learners should be relevant and usable in their lives outside of the classroom (regardless of age).
  • The educator should help learners establish authentic audiences where the learners can share their work to authentic audiences outside of the classroom, to audiences of their peers.  (Note: peers aren’t necessarily others of the same age.  They are those who share the same interests and passions, who have similar perspectives of the world.)
  • Social-emotional gains are important.  Learners gaining confidence in themselves and their abilities should be an intentional goal in all learning environments.
  • The bottom line, which I have stressed in the past, is that the educator should set up the conditions for learners to say, “I am a good and confident learner,” rather than “You are a good teacher.”

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

August 30, 2014 at 9:33 pm

The Educator with a Growth Mindset: A Staff Workshop

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I had the great privilege of facilitating a staff workshop on growth mindsets for the teachers and staff at Carlos Rosario International School.

Staff were given access to the slide deck in order interact with the slides and resources during the workshop.

 

What follows are the activities along with resources used during the workshop.

It began with the viewing of a few “inspirational” videos.

Online resources were provided and small groups (prearranged prior to the workshop based on teaching disciplines) were asked to explore and list the characteristics of both growth and fixed mindsets.

They provided with a link to this The Educator and the Growth Mindset Thinglink (which contains lots of linked resources). Note – I created the graphic first using Piktochart.

The Educator with a Growth Mindset-1http://www.thinglink.com/scene/549674394805338114

They were also given:

The teaching and support staff were asked to bring their own devices.  This provided them the opportunity to explore the resources within their small groups:

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Each team created its own list of growth v fixed mindsets:

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Then came an experiential activity called, Flip the Tarp.  On one side of the tarp, using masking tape and markers, they listed characteristics of fixed mindset.

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On the other side, they listed characteristics of a growth mindset:

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They were then asked to flip their tarps.  They were instructed to have all their team members stand on the tarp with the fixed mindset characteristics facing up.  Their task was to flip the tarp, with no one stepping off of the tarp while doing so, so that the side with the growth mindset characteristics were facing up.

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After the activity, each group was asked to report to the larger group what they learned. Some of the responses included:

  • When we were given this task, we first said that there was no way to do it – a fixed mindset.  Then someone offered a suggestion, we built off of that and ended up with a growth mindset and finishing the task.
  • Each one of us had our own perspective about how to do this.  When ideas were thrown out, we developed other perspectives – thinking outside of our own boxes.

To reinforce and personalize concepts related to the growth mindset, the teams were asked to choose from photos taken of them during the Flip the Tarp activity (uploaded into Google+ immediately after the activity), add a caption about growth mindsets, and add a few slides to a collaborative Google Presentation that was being shared and developed by the entire teaching and support staff team:

The next activity was an educator self-assessment of growth mindset behaviors.  These can be found in the slide deck.  After reviewing these, Socrative was used to do an anonymous polling of these self-assessed and reported by the Carlos Rosarios staff.

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They were then asked to identify one or two of these growth mindset behaviors that they would like to work on and improve during the next semester.  These were shared with their small groups:

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The final component of the workshop was having the teams examine and develop strategies for increasing the growth mindsets of their students.

The resources they explored included:

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 http://mathequalslove.blogspot.com/2014/08/growth-mindset-and-sbg-bulletin-board.html?spref=tw

Then the teams developed strategies for working with their students:

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 DSC01429The teaching staff was left with this parting shot:

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Some Post-Workshop Teacher Feedback

  • I agree that it’s important to think about how we offer praise in our classroom and how that links to learning. I especially liked when Jackie said students should leave thinking their good learners, not that we’re good teachers. I liked her message and I agree that teaching our students about mindset can help improve their achievement
  • I agree with the idea of positive thinking. Presentation went quickly. Enjoyed the different activities.
  • it was great!  but it went a little fast. She kept moving when i would have liked her to explain some things a little more.
  • I like her message and she gave very good examples.
  • I thought what she shared were some good reminders and I look forward to being more purposeful about using her overall thoughts and more specific ideas as well.
  • I found the discussion portion useful.

 

 

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

August 29, 2014 at 2:17 am

The Educator as a Design Thinker

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[Note: This was originally written for and posted in the Heinemann Digital Campus. Unlimited access to more articles like this, as well as video clips and full-length books are available on the Heinemann Digital Campus. Subscribe at: http://www.heinemann.com/digitalcampus/referenceLibrary.aspx.]

Information abundance, emerging technologies, broad ranging social connections via social media, and the ability to create, produce,and  share original works of writing, art, inventions with authentic audiences have created a new age of learning, one that is qualitatively different than the 20th century.  Tony Wagner, author of Creating Innovators: he Making of Young People Who Will Change The World, stated “”The world doesn’t care what you know, but what you can do with what you know.”

Schools need to reflect these changes. Schools are doing Education 1.0; talking about doing Education 2.0; when they should be planning and implementing Education 3.0.  Some of the characteristics of of those living and working in a Web-Education 3.0 world include:

  • Understanding learning as a process; the how-to’s of learning.
  • Knowing how and where to search for resources, people, information when needed, also known as just-in-time learning.
  • Being able to make social, intellectual, interest-driven, and academic connections both face-to-face and virtually.
  • Adding to current fields of study, knowledge bases and content areas through giving feedback, sharing resources, creating content.

Design thinking has great potential to aid both educators and learners in developing these 21st century living, learning, and playing skills,  Many, including the Stanford’s d-school. are working towards integrating these ideas into educational settings to help insure that education is more aligned with real world skills and needs.

This movement to build a generation of design thinkers could not be more timely or more relevant. We are living in an age of increased complexity, and are facing global challenges at an unprecedented scale. The nature of connectivity, interactivity, and information is changing at lightening speed. We need to enable a generation of leaders who believe they can make a difference in the world around them, because we need this generation to build new systems and rebuild declining ones. We need them to be great collaborators, great communicators, and great innovators (Design Thinking in Schools: An Emerging Movement Building Creative Confidence in our Youth).

The intent of this article is to interest and motivate educators in using design thinking to approach their instructional strategies and curriculum from a fresh perspective; to learn and promote skills, attitudes, and knowledge that are more specific for their students as well as having them develop skills for being 21st learners both in and out of school.

Every day you design ways to interact with your students around content. You can follow a design process to be more intentional about connecting this content to the interests and desires of today’s learners by finding out more about the things that they do outside of school and connecting that to the content you are bringing to them (Design Thinking for Educators).

So simply put, when implementing the design thinking model, the educator approaches his or her learners with the question, “What do you want to learn?” and then uses the process of design thinking with his or her learners as co-creators to develop the curriculum and learning activities specific to their interests, desires, and needs.

Essential Questions

  • How can the educator use design thinking principles to inform instructional and curricular decisions?
  • How can the educator include their students in creating a learning environment informed and influenced by design thinking?

It is understandable that given today’s school climate of accountability, testings, standards, and scripted curriculum, going into a classroom without a plan other than to use design thinking to design the curriculum and learning activities can be a more than a little disconcerting or seem like an impossible endeavor.  But for educators who want to prepare their learners for functioning in today’s and future worlds, this process can be invaluable.  Benefits can occur even if the educator can devote some of the class time to this process (e.g. 20% time),

educator as design thinker

Guiding Strategies

  • The first and most important step in the design thinking process is knowing and empathizing with the audience, in this case, the learners. Learning activities such as interviews, learning surveys, get-to-know one another activities, and empathy development are used so the educator gets to know the students; students know the educator; and the students know one another. This is crucial step so that instruction and curriculum can be selected and tailored for each specific student group.
  • The focus is on processes – producing, assessing, developing, creating, revisiting,  revising. Learning content becomes secondary to developing the how-to skills for how to be a learner in the 21st century.
  • Ambiguity is normalized and failure is seen as iterative.  Reframing Failure as Iteration Allows Students to Thrive.
  • Group skills for design thinking include active listening, collaboration, conflict management are integral for the process.  Participatory, democratic, inclusive principles and methods guide decision-making. Design thinking honors all voices; acknowledging that everyone – educators and learners alike – have valuable input into the design, implementation, and assessment of the learning activities.
  • Continuous feedback loops for and by the educator and the learners help inform the process. Feedback or assessment is not a separate step or entity as is typical in the classroom. The educator and learners engage in continual evaluation of the efficacy of the learning activities through group discussions, writing, informal assessments, making revisions, alterations, and detours based on this feedback.
  • Deep reflection is part of the process. Related to continuous feedback is building into the process the skills and attitudes of being a reflective practitioner. This permits both the educator and learners to take a step back to analyze what is working and not working within and throughout the design process.

Benefits of Bringing the Design Thinking Process Into the Classroom

Some of the benefits of integrating design thinking into the classroom for both teachers and students include:

  • The curriculum becomes tailored to the student group being served.  Because the focus and intention is on tailoring learning to the student group as well as individual students, differentiated instruction and universal design for learning become inherently and naturally part of the process.
  • The educator and students learn the process to address ambiguous problems and concerns. The result is the development of tolerance for and skills to address ambiguous problems which is more aligned with how the real world works.
  • The educator and students develop skills related to innovation, creativity, critical thinking, problem solving – those skills valued by today’s workforce and society.

Resources for the Educator as a Design Thinker

Ideo. (n.d.).  Design Thinking for Educators Toolkit - http://www.designthinkingforeducators.com/about-toolkit/

Pfau, P. (2014).  Rethinking Education with Design Thinking - http://www.metropolismag.com/Point-of-View/February-2014/Rethinking-Education-with-Design-Thinking/.

Speicher, S. (2013).  Design Thinking in Schools: An Emerging Movement Building Creative Confidence in our Youth –  http://gettingsmart.com/2013/11/design-thinking-schools-emerging-movement-building-creative-confidence-youth/

Teachthought. (2013). 45 Design Thinking Resources For Educators http://www.teachthought.com/teaching/45-design-thinking-resources-for-educators

Video Teacher Voices: What does design mean to you?  http://vimeo.com/46066703

 

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

August 27, 2014 at 8:54 pm

Self-Regulation: The Other 21st Century Skills

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Due to the interest of my post The Other 21st Skills, I decided to individually discuss each of the skills or dispositions I proposed that are in addition to the seven survival skills as identified by Tony Wagner.  This post focuses on self-regulation.

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Self-regulated learning is the conscious planning, monitoring, evaluation, and ultimately control of one’s learning in order to maximize it. It’s an ordered process that experts and seasoned learners like us practice automatically. It means being mindful, intentional, reflective, introspective, self-aware, self-controlled, and self-disciplined about learning, and it leads to becoming self-directed (The Secret of Self-Regulated Learning).

Self-regulation is a cyclical process. Students who are motivated to reach a certain goal will engage in self-regulatory activities they feel will help them achieve that goal. The self-regulation promotes learning, which leads to a perception of greater competence, which sustains motivation toward the goal and to future goals. (The Role of Motivation in Self-Regulated Learning)

Self-regulation is not only an essential part of healthy emotional development, it is also vital for academic success. Many studies, like the 2010 research conducted by the University of Virginia’s Claire Cameron Ponitz and Oregon State University’s Megan McClelland, show that children with high levels of self-regulation do better on tests when compared to children with low levels of self-regulation. Some researchers even see the inability to self-regulate as the root cause of the economic achievement gap. (Supporting Self-Regulation in the Classroom)

Some of the characteristics of self-regulation include:

  • Uses metacognitive processes
  • Self-monitors frequently and adequately
  • Regulates and controls emotional and cognitive processes.
  • Possesses unique and situational problem-solving abilities
  • Manages time for one’s own benefit
  • Self-motivates
  • Self-evaluates
  • Self-consequates

Self-Regulation

The Secret of Self-Regulated Learning
self-regulated learning is the conscious planning, monitoring, evaluation, and ultimately control of one’s learning in order to maximize it. It’s an ordered process that experts and seasoned learners like us practice automatically. It means being mindful, intentional, reflective, introspective, self-aware, self-controlled, and self-disciplined about learning, and it leads to becoming self-directed. – See more at: http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-and-learning/secret-self-regulated-learning/?ET=facultyfocus:e56:223522a:&st=email#sthash.zz2jDBUT.dpuf

Helping Learners Develop Self-Regulation Skills

Educators can play a key role in assisting learners in building upon and expanding their self-regulation skills. Strategies include using metacognitive reflection questions both prior to and after learning tasks to assist students through a process of guided inquiry:

  • What is the best way to go about this task?
  • How well are my learning strategies working? What changes should I make, if any?
  • What am I still having trouble understanding?
  • What can I recall and what should I review?
  • How does this material relate to other things I’ve learned or experienced? Supporting Self-Regulation in the Classroom)

Self-regulated learning has meta-emotional and environmental dimensions, which involve asking oneself questions like these:

  • How motivated am I to do the learning task, and how can I increase my motivation if I need to?
  • If my confidence in my ability to learn this material sags, how can I increase it without becoming overconfident?
  • Am I resisting material that is challenging my preconceptions?
  • How am I reacting to my evaluation of my learning?
  • How can I create the best, most distraction-free physical environment for the task? (The Secret of Self-Regulated Learning).

In order to effectively “teach” or demonstrate these questions, educators can practice and model using these questions him or herself.  S/he can verbalize these questions and responses while modeling a learning task.  In other words, the learners can benefit from observing the educator engage in this metacognitive process.

Educators can also directly teach learners the phases of self-regulation:

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  1. Phase 1. Forethought/pre-action—This phase precedes the actual performance; sets the stage for action; maps out the tasks to minimize the unknown; sets realistic expectations and helps to develop a positive mindset
  2. Phase 2. Performance control—This phase involves processes during learning and the active attempt to utilize specific strategies to help the learner become more successful.
  3. Phase 3. Self-reflection—This phase involves reflection after the performance, a self-evaluation of outcomes compared to goals.

This material was taken from an excellent online self-regulation teaching module developed for-by the UConn Gifted Program - http://www.gifted.uconn.edu/siegle/selfregulation/section0.html

Building self-regulation skills is an ongoing process. Educators can use the 5 R’s to provide this continual support:

  • Regularity – Schedule time to practice daily
  • Repetition – Builds neural pathways that become habits
  • Reflection – Noticing sensations strengthens neural pathways
  • Research – Support kids in becoming prescriptive with which tools work best for them
  • Reach Out to Families – Share tools with parents/ care-givers to use at home (Supporting Self-Regulation in the Classroom)

Self-Regulation as a 21st Century Skill

Creativity and in-disciplined learning requires balancing the forces of order and chaos. Learning environments need to provide students a flexible structure within which students can experiment, collaborate, and problem solve. These are contexts that allow students to learn from both success and failure. Such open-ended environments, however, can be challenging to learners as well. They can appear chaotic and offer little guidance to students on how to navigate them. (Creativity, Self-Directed Learning and the Architecture of Technology Rich Environments)

Self-regulation has always been an important skill for learners to master, but changes in the learning landscape due to technological advances and open access to information have increased the necessity for this skill.

Learning Activities for Young People

Here are some activities for students to learn more about self-regulation:

 

Self-regulated learning also has meta-emotional and environmental dimensions, which involve asking oneself questions like these:

  • How motivated am I to do the learning task, and how can I increase my motivation if I need to?
  • If my confidence in my ability to learn this material sags, how can I increase it without becoming overconfident?
  • Am I resisting material that is challenging my preconceptions?
  • How am I reacting to my evaluation of my learning?
  • How can I create the best, most distraction-free physical environment for the task?

Metacognitive questions include these:

  • What is the best way to go about this task?
  • How well are my learning strategies working? What changes should I make, if any?
  • What am I still having trouble understanding?
  • What can I recall and what should I review?
  • How does this material relate to other things I’ve learned or experienced?

- See more at: http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-and-learning/secret-self-regulated-learning/?ET=facultyfocus:e56:223522a:&st=email#sthash.zz2jDBUT.dpuf

More formally, self-regulated learning is the conscious planning, monitoring, evaluation, and ultimately control of one’s learning in order to maximize it. It’s an ordered process that experts and seasoned learners like us practice automatically. It means being mindful, intentional, reflective, introspective, self-aware, self-controlled, and self-disciplined about learning, and it leads to becoming self-directed. – See more at: http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-and-learning/secret-self-regulated-learning/?ET=facultyfocus:e56:223522a:&st=email#sthash.zz2jDBUT.dpuf
More formally, self-regulated learning is the conscious planning, monitoring, evaluation, and ultimately control of one’s learning in order to maximize it. It’s an ordered process that experts and seasoned learners like us practice automatically. It means being mindful, intentional, reflective, introspective, self-aware, self-controlled, and self-disciplined about learning, and it leads to becoming self-directed. – See more at: http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-and-learning/secret-self-regulated-learning/?ET=facultyfocus:e56:223522a:&st=email#sthash.zz2jDBUT.dpuf

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

August 24, 2014 at 3:08 pm

Shouldn’t Education and Learning Be the Same Thing?

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Schooling and institutionalized education have become removed from true, instinctual, and human/humane learning.  Humans have been learning since the beginning of time with major discoveries and innovations historically and currently emerging in spite of school.  This is the biggest problem I have with schools – most are contrived and coercive and do not honor the innate human need and desire to learn, discover, and evolve.

If order to fully understand the purpose of school, the history of its evolution as an institution needs to be understood.  What follows is part of A Brief History of Education in the Freedom to Learn series published in Psychology Today:

If we want to understand why standard schools are what they are, we have to abandon the idea that they are products of logical necessity or scientific insight. They are, instead, products of history. Schooling, as it exists today, only makes sense if we view it from a historical perspective.

Adults in hunter-gatherer cultures allowed children almost unlimited freedom to play and explore on their own because they recognized that those activities are children’s natural ways of learning. With the rise of agriculture, and later of industry, children became forced laborers. Play and exploration were suppressed.  With larger families, children had to work in the fields to help feed their younger siblings, or they had to work at home to help care for those siblings. Children’s lives changed gradually from the free pursuit of their own interests to increasingly more time spent at work that was required to serve the rest of the family. 

As industry progressed and became somewhat more automated, the need for child labor declined in some parts of the world. The idea began to spread that childhood should be a time for learning, and schools for children were developed as places of learning. The idea and practice of universal, compulsory public education developed gradually in Europe, from the early 16th century on into the 19th. In America, in the mid 17th century, Massachusetts became the first colony to mandate schooling, the clearly stated purpose of which was to turn children into good Puritans.

Employers in industry saw schooling as a way to create better workers. To them, the most crucial lessons were punctuality, following directions, tolerance for long hours of tedious work, and a minimal ability to read and write. From their point of view (though they may not have put it this way), the duller the subjects taught in schools the better.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, public schooling gradually evolved toward what we all recognize today as conventional schooling. The methods of discipline became more humane, or at least less corporal; the lessons became more secular; the curriculum expanded, as knowledge expanded, to include an ever-growing list of subjects; and the number of hours, days, and years of compulsory schooling increased continuously. School gradually replaced fieldwork, factory work, and domestic chores as the child’s primary job.

Schools today are much less harsh than they were, but certain premises about the nature of learning remain unchanged: Learning is hard work; it is something that children must be forced to do, not something that will happen naturally through children’s self-chosen activities. The specific lessons that children must learn are determined by professional educators, not by children, so education today is still, as much as ever, a matter of inculcation

From the Time Magazine article, How to Bring Our Schools Out of the 20th Century

There’s a dark little joke exchanged by educators with a dissident streak: Rip Van Winkle awakens in the 21st century after a hundred-year snooze and is, of course, utterly bewildered by what he sees. Men and women dash about, talking to small metal devices pinned to their ears. Young people sit at home on sofas, moving miniature athletes around on electronic screens. Older folk defy death and disability with metronomes in their chests and with hips made of metal and plastic. Airports, hospitals, shopping malls–every place Rip goes just baffles him. But when he finally walks into a schoolroom, the old man knows exactly where he is. “This is a school,” he declares. “We used to have these back in 1906. Only now the blackboards are white.”

It really is a sad statement of the school system when some of our world’s greatest scholars have such strong critiques of institutionalized schooling:

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. Mark Twain

Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.  Albert Einstein

It is in fact nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curious of inquiry. It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty. Albert Einstein

In school I encountered authority of a different kind than I had ever encountered before, and I did not like it. And they really almost got me. They came close to really beating any curiosity out of me. Steve Jobs

I am beginning to suspect all elaborate and special systems of education. They seem to me to be built up on the supposition that every child is a kind of idiot who must be taught to think. Anne Sullivan

Knowledge that is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind. Plato

Since every effort in our educational life seems to be directed toward making of the child a being foreign to itself, it must of necessity produce individuals foreign to one another, and in everlasting antagonism with each other. Emma Goldman

Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality. Helen Beatrix Potter

What does education often do? It makes a straight-cut ditch of a free, meandering brook.  Henry David Thoreau

Education is one of the chief obstacles to intelligence and freedom of thought.  Bertrand Russell

Some of the overt and covert values and messages of our current institutionalized school system include:

  • Learning is difficult and involves hard work, discipline, repetition.
  • Obedience and conformity are valued.
  • There are winners and losers.  Winners are those who get the good grades; losers are those who do not.
  • There are experts, the teachers, the textbooks, the administrators, who know it all and should not be questioned.
  • Learning involves being quiet and sitting still in a desk.
  • Traditional paper and pencil tests can measure student learning.
  • Learning is about studying what has been and what is rather than what could be.

These educational practices are often taken at face value without being critically analyzed, dissected, and/or tested for truth.  Educators and all related stakeholders do not engage in serious contemplation around the question, “What is the purpose of school?” in order to analyze the efficacy of these practices.

I am not advocating for the abolishment of school.   Schools offer children and youth many resources they might not be able to get otherwise – communities of learners, mentorships, physical resources, emotional support.   I am questioning, though, the broad acceptance by many that institution has to be the way it is.  Isn’t a goal of education to learn the process of citizenship, democracy, the betterment of humankind?  If so, shouldn’t all of the stakeholders – educators, learners, parent, community members, politicians – engage in a continual process of evaluating and modifying the school system to best meet the needs and desires of all?   Evolution as defined as “process of progressive change or development, as in social or economic structure or institutions” is a natural process, but when schools are examined from a historical perspective, there is very little evidence of the evolution of the educational system.

The argument, the questions I propose are not new but until change occurs, they are worth revisiting and reconsidering,

school questions

As a parting shot, when discussing the purpose of school, can be summarized by a statement made by Daniel Katz in Reflections on Ferguson — What does education mean in a world like this?

School is an enterprise that is premised around hope and purpose.  In order to truly engage with the operation of school, a child has to believe that there are reasons and purposes that make sense and has to have hope that school will lead somewhere desirable.

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

August 20, 2014 at 7:58 pm

The Educator and the Growth Mindset

with 2 comments

I am facilitating an in-service on Growth Mindsets for Educators.  I created an infographic, Thinglink, and Slide Presentation of resources that I am sharing below:

The Educator with a Growth Mindset-1 Thinglink that contains links to Growth Mindset Resources http://www.thinglink.com/scene/549674394805338114

Google Presentation

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

July 27, 2014 at 1:24 am

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