It may feel a little unusual to think that the more your students talk in class, the more they might learn. But that is just what we, researchers and professors at the Stanford Graduate School of Education, have found to be true. Constructive conversation and meaningful interaction throughout a lesson not only develop students’ crucial communication skills, but also give them a richer understanding of the content.
Although new education standards in college and career readiness highlight collaboration and communication as critical skills, this type of peer-to-peer interaction is actually quite rare in the classroom. While common activities such as whole class discussions, jigsaws, and think-pair-shares can produce the appearance of constructive interactions, they often don’t provide enough substantial opportunities for students to engage in back-and-forth dialog, especially for ESL students.
So what can we do to make sure our students are getting the opportunities to learn deeply about a specific topic AND hone their communication skills?
How can we HACK education?
My family raised leaders. Both my sister and I are outspoken, driven, and in general, change agents. I can remember my sister starting a petition and spearheading a change to a policy that allowed girls to play football with boys at recess (they were afraid we’d get hurt). Secondly, though, we were also raised as innovators. We competed in the self-choreography division at dance competitions when we were little, using routines we created on our own. And I can remember developing my own recipes as an eight-year-old child — potato chip peanut butter cookies were one of my most loved originals. Put leadership, innovation, and creativity together, and the environment was ripe for the birth of a hacker. Read more
We’ve created a number of interactive videos to help us all examine how content known in the NGSS as Disciplinary Core Ideas can be taught using the Science and Engineering Practices, as well as the Cross Cutting Concepts.
Watch — and contribute your own thoughts and ideas — as a group of fourth graders plan and conduct an investigation to determine how to build and then improve a magnet that can be turned on and off. In this video, a fifth-grade class works with a model of the sun and the Earth. Their teacher asks questions as they collectively develop an understanding of their model.
And check out Scientific Modeling With Young Students at Tch Video Lounge, a collection of many of our interactive videos.
Author’s note: This is a continuation of my post Design Thinking, Empathy, and Equity, that was published earlier this year. It feels particularly timely to share after the racially divisive and violent events that marked this past month.
I have no doubt that our students will return to our classrooms in August with questions we’re afraid or unsure how to answer, and possibly with fear and frustration. I want to offer up the following as one possibility for how we can move our collective equity work forward. Building empathy in our students is a beginning step toward the creation of a more loving society, and perhaps design thinking can get us there.
When engaged with fidelity, the design thinking process is a rigorous one that truly engages students in deeper learning. If we’re grounding this work in equity, the process shouldn’t be rushed. In fact, the seemingly fluid process of design thinking should include pauses. Such pauses should take place after students have started building their empathy muscles, and are approaching the stages of prototyping and testing.
The Boeing Company has teamed up with Teaching Channel to create 10 Science and Innovation curriculum modules as part of the company’s 100th anniversary, which is being celebrated for the next 100 days. The modules, which were originally designed by teachers paired with Boeing engineers, have undergone multiple stages of revision designed to adapt them to better meet the goals of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).
An iterative process is necessary as teachers, school leaders, and coaches work to realize the vision for science teaching and learning that the authors of the Framework for K-12 Science Education and the NGSS imagined.
The first, and perhaps most important, step in this process is for educators to better understand the shifts in teaching and learning called for in the NGSS. Read more
Over the course of the last week, I watched in horror as the imaginary world I live in, or lived in, came crashing down around me. I built myself a world where discrimination was largely a thing of the past. A world where people worked together to achieve equal rights for all. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told my daughters, and even my students, that things are different now. I lied. I lied to the children; I lied to myself. We still live in a country where it is open season on black people.
Is it possible for learning to be so compelling that school wouldn’t have to be compulsory? Is it possible for our classes to offer learning experiences that students would actually opt into?
This is the challenge that was stuck in my head going into this past school year.
Steve Masson, a high school teacher connected to the Hudson Valley Writing Project, spent the last three weeks of school working with his juniors and seniors on a #WhatsMyIssue video project in connection with Letters to the Next President 2.0. Letters to the Next President 2.0 (L2P 2.0) is an initiative that empowers young people, 13-18, to voice their opinions and ideas on the issues that matter to them in the coming U.S. Presidential election.
As teachers, we all know the cycle. It seems just as our heads stop spinning from the end-of-year craziness and we have some downtime, we just can’t seem to help ourselves from reflecting, reading, learning, and planning for the upcoming school year. Not to say this reading, learning and planning isn’t mixed with a healthy dose of beach, pool and golf outings, but no matter how hard we try to relax, we just can’t seem to shake the teacher in us. Now that my head has finally stopped spinning and I have some relative downtime, I wanted to reflect on what has been such an incredible learning year for me.
The climate, or culture, of a school is one of the most important factors in its success. In fact, you can almost feel the climate of a school within seconds of ringing the buzzer for entry. A culture of collaboration and excellence provides the climate for consistent success for students and increased job satisfaction for teachers. Working towards creating this generative environment is a worthy, yet difficult goal.
Whenever you invite humans into the process of any complex work, there’s the inevitability of error, miscalculation, or failure. What’s also possible in this space, and I think what makes this process so messy and beautiful, is the potential for teachers to change, grow, and create transformative teaching experiences.