Monday, October 26, 2015

Discovery Learning

Excellence in Education: Combating Student Burnout Through Discovery Learning
Learning should not be a sit and get experience (full disclosure: I never mastered this as a teacher). Students should be able to participate as individuals and teams in making decisions about their learning and they should be afforded the opportunity to discover and learn based on their prior knowledge.
So one of my pet peeves is when in science classes labs are nothing more than following directions. That’s akin to doing a puzzle with someone telling you where each piece goes--easier but not at all fulfilling.
So when I walked into Mr. Parks’s biology class the other day, I was excited to see students doing labs that required inquiry and resembled the scientific process. Students were gathering data through experiments followed by making hypotheses to better describe and understand what was going on. Finally, students interpreted the data and made conclusions. And yes, often their original hypotheses were wrong (and that’s a good thing)!
Later in the week I ventured into unfamiliar territory for me: Ms. Rowanhill’s AP Physics class. Now in all honesty, I have absolutely no clue what they were doing despite several students clearly articulating their experiment to me. But here’s what I did see and I do know. First, collaboratively students recognized a problem, tested various solutions, searched for relevant information, developed a strategy and tried the strategy. Again, sometimes the solution worked but more often they failed. Along the way, the students discovered something unattended and not accounted for (something even Ms. Rowanhill didn’t know about one of the pieces of the equipment used for the experiment).
As I left the class, the students “argued” about who made the discovery.
While the focus of this entry was on science, I think it pertains into inquiry learning that we can all aim for:
  1. Students explore and problem-solve
  2. Students are engaged and interested in the process
  3. It’s okay to be wrong. Students can learn more from a difficult process and focus shouldn’t be on the end product.
  4. Feedback was provided in a variety of ways--sometimes by peers, sometimes by the teacher but often the experiment itself provided feedback to the students.

Need to Knows
Positive Referral Link :

Shout Outs
From Ms. Seale: “A huge thank you to Garry Gibson for his help on Tuesday retrieving my emails! (you saved me)”

Calendar Items
October 27, 28: Writing SOL NO Mustang Morning

October 30, November 2, November 3: No School for Students

November 2: Grades and special education progress reports due

Connected Educator Month is wrapping up:
Teachers can earn a minimum of 5 recert points if you document participation in a CEM event and/or connect your teaching to CEM Themes. If you’re “connecting” be sure to let Bert know!

On Monday’s #vachat (8et): Tech’s Role in Our Schools with Brad Currie

No birthdays this week.

Worth Your Time
America’s Smart Kids Get Left Behind This is one of those articles that challenges a lot of what we do and how we do it. It’s a conversation starter and not one that I necessarily agree with.

Google Classroom: Making a Copy for Each Student Alice Keeler is must follow on Twitter and if you’re using Google Classroom--or want to--her website is one you should always be reading

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