How might student learning improve if assessments were innovative, authentic, and playful?
Learning can — and should — be fun, but when it comes to assessment, teachers can be very serious. However, there’s no need for the fun to stop when the assessments come out. On this episode of Tch Talks, Dr. Yoon Jeon Kim, a research scientist at MIT Teaching Systems Lab, and Louisa Rosenheck, a designer and researcher of educational technologies in the MIT Education Arcade, come together to discuss how thoughtful design of authentic, creative, and playful assessments can engage students, help them to learn and grow, and allow them an opportunity to demonstrate their skills and abilities in a more personalized and meaningful way. YJ & Louisa — both self-proclaimed “assessment nerds” — discuss types of playful assessment, assessment tools, connections between assessment and social and emotional learning, and their shared goal of empowering teachers with assessment literacy. Perhaps, moving away from traditional assessments and embracing a little whimsy in the classroom just might be a key leverage point to impacting the way students learn in schools. Listen in to find out more.
School just got out, so hopefully, as an educator, you’re taking time to relax. But we all know that most teachers don’t shut their minds off completely in the summer. You’re probably already thinking about the year ahead. One thing you might be thinking about is how to better serve your English Language Learners (ELLs), especially since they continue to be a growing population in U.S. schools.
In this episode of Tch Talks, educators Sarah Ottow and Nicole Shimizu share their list of five things you can do to reach and teach your ELLs during the next school year. Their ideas are practical and fairly easy to try, and there are some ideas you can staring work on this summer! Listen to find out more.
What’s possible for newcomer education? And how can we accelerate language learning, affirm students’ identities, and help them get on track to graduation and post-secondary opportunities, while creating a learning community of high supports and high expectations?
ENLACE, a program for ninth and tenth grade newcomer students at Lawrence High School in Lawrence, Massachusetts, is working hard to answer these questions. On this episode of Tch Talks, Allison Balter, founding principal of ENLACE, shares her story of getting ENLACE started two years ago and what she’s learned from this experience so far. She talks about how teachers at ENLACE work towards supporting students’ learning of both content and language simultaneously. Allison also describes how ENLACE helps students feel a sense of belonging when they are physically so far away from their home countries. Listen in to find out more.
Can teachers use spoken word poetry as a tool for literacy, empowerment, engagement, education, and community building across content areas?
Poet, performer, and educator Sarah Kay says absolutely, YES! Sarah is a founder and co-director of Project VOICE, an organization that uses spoken word poetry to entertain, educate, and inspire. Through Project VOICE, Sarah is dedicated to promoting empowerment, improving literacy, and encouraging empathy and creative collaboration in classrooms and communities around the world.
On this episode of Tch Talks, Sarah discusses the origin story of Project VOICE, her own introduction to spoken word poetry, and her work as a poet, an educator, and a bestselling author. Whether speaking from her heart or from her head, Sarah believes that spoken word poetry can be an important educational tool that will have a lasting positive impact on your students’ motivation, creativity, self-esteem, agency, and their desire to share their own stories and listen to the stories of others. Listen in to find out more.
What are the questions that your students carry inside of them but rarely ever discuss?
2015 National Teacher of the Year Shanna Peeples wanted to find out. What started as a small idea or strategy to help students build empathy transformed into nearly 15 years of work helping children — and adults — voice the questions they carry inside them. On this episode of Tch Talks, Shanna talks about why it’s important for both students and teachers to “Think Like Socrates,” to allow students to take ownership of their own learning through authentic questions, and to leverage student questions as learning experiences that develop critical thinking.
For Shanna, curiosity is key, and allowing students to own their learning through creating questions is the most fundamental change a teacher can make in their teaching practice. Listen in to find out more.
When teachers solve problems, they inspire their students to solve problems, too. How can teachers use their best strategies as a launching pad for deeper learning and professional growth? And how can curiosity, co-creation, and collaboration before a lesson idea is formed be a game-changer for classroom practice?
On this episode of Tch Talks, Ashley Lamb-Sinclair, Instructional Specialist and Deeper Learning Coach for Fern Creek High School in Louisville, Kentucky and 2016 Kentucky Teacher of the Year, joins us to talk about her work with School Startup. This pilot program is where three cohorts of Teacher-Founders are engaged in the design process to rethink and redesign deeper learning in their classrooms and professional learning communities.
She also shares her recent adventures as founder and CEO of Curio Learning, an app that helps teachers discover new ideas and curate them in a personalized way. The app also facilitates collaboration with other educators in order for them to grow as professionals and find the ways to best help their students.
Ashley believes that if every teacher woke up to the awesome influence he or she has, there would be a drastic overhaul of the system and that — bottom line — it takes a teacher to transform learning.
What is Critical Creativity?
To Dan Ryder and Amy Burval, critical creativity is “students using creative expression to demonstrate deeper thinking and the nuances of understanding content.” It’s a portmanteau of sorts, which has the potential to turn ideas into action and push your students toward deeper learning and meaningful understanding.
Dan and Amy believe that, “When students make connections, transform knowledge, and articulate the reasons behind their creative choices, learning becomes more sticky, meaningful, and authentic.” Articulation of creative reasoning is key, because as students learn the power of explanation, rationale, and intentionality, they shift from passive pupils along for the ride to active drivers of their own learning. And the best part of this shift is that it occurs in the midst of purposeful play.
On this episode of Tch Talks, Dan Ryder, Education Director of the Success and Innovation Center at Mt. Blue High School in Farmington, Maine, joins us to talk about his and Amy’s new book, Intention: Critical Creativity in the Classroom, and how a little rigorous whimsy can help you transform learning in your classroom right now.
Does social-emotional learning really make a difference for at-risk students? In Part Three of our series on Social and Emotional Learning, Daniel McCutchen, a recently graduated student from Austin High School in Austin, Texas, joins Tch Talks to discuss his experiences in an intentional SEL-dedicated course. Daniel is not only a former learner, but also attends national conferences and presents on the topic with his teacher. Learn how SEL helped Daniel adjust to the demands and expectations of high school, to prioritize the most important things in his life, and to develop life skills that he is able to apply in a variety of circumstances.
LaVonna Roth is passionate, driven, successful, and accomplished. Yet, following what has become a theme among the women I’ve interviewed, she’s human and thus, is challenged at times by her own self-doubt. As the founder of S.H. I. N. E. (an acronym for Service, Heart, Inspire, Navigate, and Exceptional), LaVonna engages teachers and students in “funshops” where they work to reflect on their passions and make plans to accomplish work motivated by the same.
LaVonna refers to the dynamic educators with whom she works as Edustars (Educational Rockstars) and works to help inspire teachers while also advocating for teacher self-care — which together leads to exceptional educators. Sitting down to interview LaVonna, I could hear the passion she speaks to in her voice. Lavonna and I covered a series of topics. Listen to the entire conversation.
Minecraft Global Mentor Jessica Pilsner joins Tch Talks to discuss how we can help students express themselves and their original ideas through Minecraft. Listen as Jessica explains how she unleashes her students’ creativity as they build and solve problems together within the world of Minecraft.