Thursday, April 12, 2007

Weaving -- quite a tapestry!

Trying to wrap my brain around and weave together so much good reading in this last week and now it seems to be coming together. It started with the discussions at Weblogg-ed on a degree for social computing. Will continued with these questions (in a later post) that resonated with me!
"Can we systematically teach students to “see the big picture” in ways that will allow them to construct their own process that might actually come close to replicating that formal educational process?
Or do those types of potentials only come at a later age or from experiences that cannot be replicated in a K-12 system?"
I think good answers can be found in Chris Lehman’s comment to David Warlick’s post on SLA in Edutopia
• Chris Lehmann said,
April 8, 2007 @ 1:50 pm
Thank you… all of us at SLA were *thrilled* by that article — they really captured a sense of our school, we felt.
And you touch on something that I’m mulling in my brain, trying to get to a point where I can write about it coherently, but essentially it’s this:
It’s about the pedagogy — the power of all of our ideas — first and the technology second. At SLA, the technology tools we use inform/enable a constructivist / connectivist pedagogy, not the other way around. That’s why, I think, we have been able to build such a strong culture there in eight months, because it’s never just been about the laptop. In fact, when we interviewed kids for next year’s class, our students would really get upset if an interviewee answered the question, “Why do you want to come to SLA?” with “You all get laptops.”
I actually said “Yes!” out loud when I read that and knew a post should be brewing.

And then this from Chris at Practical Theory who really says it better than I ever could:
School 2.0, for me, is John Dewey's Constructivist dream made real by the use of 21st Century tools.

We must create schools that allow students to dig deep into the world of ideas, setting up structures where traditional subjects lines can be crossed. We must use the tools at our disposal to allow students to research, collaborate, create and communicate. And we must work side-by-side with our students, developing the relationships that the students need to learn how to navigate a changing and difficult world.

And then, every decision we make has to be in service of those ideas.
Twenty or thirty years younger, Chris, and I’d be one of your applicants to become a member of the SLA community!

It’s my sense that SLA is “systematically teach(ing) students to “see the big picture” in ways that will allow them to construct their own process that might actually come close to replicating that formal educational process.. “ as Will asks. I’m wondering if another piece that can help with that teaching is found in Mel Levine’s “The Essential Cognitive Backpack” in the most recent issue of ASCD’s Educational Leadership. Just a snippet:
Cognitive Backpack Gear

Interpretation (becoming an in-depth comprehender)
• Forming, grasping, and applying concepts
• Accessing and using prior knowledge and experience
• Understanding through verbal, nonverbal, and experiential pathways
• Forming multiple vivid mental representations of new knowledge and ideas
• Monitoring degrees of comprehension
• Analyzing expectations (overt as well as unspoken)
• Systematically evaluating ideas, issues, people, and products
• Assessing opportunities
• Actively processing information inputs
• Balancing or integrating detail with the “big picture”
• Finding a balance between “top-down” and convergent thinking
Where would our students be given the right cognitive backpack and “John Dewey's Constructivist dream made real by the use of 21st Century tools”? Watching what happens here at SLA and here (these are projects from Darren Kuropatwa’s calculus classes; he has posted about Developing Expert Voices here) could provide a pretty exciting picture! What a great start!

1 comment:

MeganMc said...

Hey Lani,
Thanks again for another great post on my blog. As a response to your post I did not get as many taxonomy levels integrated into the lesson, as I would have liked. Being a student teacher I was limited to my time allowed to teach and concepts to teach. It was a review lesson about fractions. I wanted to have them create fraction flags but we did not have time for that part of the lesson. But I am definitely thinking about higher order thinking skills and the construction of knowledge you talked about in your post. Like you were wondering in your post if there could ever be true construction of knowledge, if the best as we can do as teachers is guide students to partial construction of their own knowledge then they are taking ownership of what they have learned hopefully that can assist them for the future.