Monday, September 7, 2015

"What's Going on Here? A Take of Two Visions" by Smith

What’s Going on Here? A Tale of Two Visions:

After reading, What’s Going on Here: A Take of Two Visions, I kept the activity we did the first class in the back of my mind.  It was almost instantaneous because “…we learn from people around us with whom we identify.  We can’t help learning from them, and we learn without knowing that we are learning” (Page 3).  I felt that the activity we did, by jotting down things we learned and who inspired us to learn them, was not something I would naturally think about, because it is “effortless.” I could not help to think about who I am as a person, my identity, and the influences that made me-- who I am. 

After talking with Tina about what I learned over the years, many of the things I listed were not academic.  They were all things I identified with and whom I identified with.  For example, skateboarding, snowboarding, and surfing are all things I have or had a passion.  These were mainly the topics I shared.  I learned these things because it was something that interested me.  I understand my passions and how I learned them.  I know if I posed this question to students I probably would not get "Mr. Kard teaching me how to graph quadratic equations."


Now my question is how I can use my student’s interests and identities to engage them in math.  I know twelve students from my advisory, but what would happen if I knew all my students right now at the beginning of the school year? How would a forum of interests become the topic in my math class?  This is now a goal by the end of September.


The visions of learning also made me think of my content and my presentation to students.  I have a passion for mathematics and I “sell it” to students as best I can.  By “selling it” I do not mean a prescribed and generic conversation about why math is important.  But I learned that creating dialogue about a different topic makes students less anxious and more excited about the subject. It is unrealistic to know all my students will have the same passion for math that I did.  I do know that having conversation about what makes students interested in learning math makes students make connections.  In the Smith article, “the official theory is unsound and dangerous, and we must help each other to gain the confidence in the alternative point of view, which all the real-world evidence… demonstrates is right” (page 5).  I fell this statement hits the nail on the head.  It is important that teachers implement effortless learning based on self-interests that is a social and promotes growth (Project-basedLearning or PBLs).  The link I provided reminds of the differences between "the classic view of learning" and "the official theory of learning."  I feel this philosophy of learning and teaching makes the teacher/student dynamic more engaging.

5 comments:

  1. Ken - I love the quote from Dewey! I also connected his ideas about learning by DOING to the points Smith makes about classic learning theory in his article. Skateboarding, snowboarding, and surfing are all perfect examples of this. Each of those is not just one discrete skill, but require a range of different "doings" that you figured out how to put together in order to glide over land and sea. They are complex and thus have the potential to be more intriguing and personal - just like your PBLs.

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  2. Yes! I agree with Brittany - this Dewey quote is absolute perfection! FYI, I was so inspired by our conversation last Wednesday that I had my students do the same activity on Thursday - write a list of things they enjoyed learning and who they learned it from, and then share with the people around them after about ten minutes. The conversations that resulted within the small groups were amazing - and I found myself able to learn at least one thing about each student that hinted at both their interests/hobbies and learning styles and habits. They were so energized and excited to talk about this, and I overheard one student say to his peers, "wow, this English is already better than last year - and it's only the fourth day of school!" I can't wait to be able to tie their thoughts and responses into the various things that are on our learning agenda this school year!

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  3. TIna, I was also inspired to use the write a list of things they enjoy learning activity, and its in my lesson plans for this Friday. I agree with Ken, what if we knew our students before we even started the year? How would that change our planning for the year? I am lucky enough to work at a school where I have students for grades 6-8, that means if I stick around here I will know most of my students at the beginning of each school year. I can't wait to see what that is like. Also, I loved the Dewey quote, I skipped the picture at first because I was trying to read through the text, but when I went back to it I thought of how great this is for what I have planned for the year. I brought block scheduling into my week just so I could have 80 minutes to really DO something. I'm so excited for this school year, and I love these discussion we have because they really inspire me.

    Ken: PS can you send me those "assessments" (can't remember what you called them)?

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  4. Ken,
    I love your graphic, and I think the quote it contains is a fantastic model to remember when in front of the class. I may use this tomorrow, but I will give you full credit I promise. I wanted to comment specifically to your example of learning to skateboard and snowboard, because I think it is here where Smith fails to recognize the power of reinforcement and punishment, which he attributes to official learning rather than classic. When you fall off your skateboard or snowboard, you are getting immediate feedback in the form of punishment (I have the broken collarbone scars to prove it) while when you land a move that you were attempting, whether intrinsically, or because your peers deem it "sick move bruh" you are reinforced. I think these types of reward and punishment scenarios are very powerful, and valuable, and contribute greatly to learning the things that stay with us forever. I think your PBL opportunities create an excellent bridge between the skills you are intentionally teaching and the classic style you are trying to incorporate, I can imagine students years from now remembering how they solved the country's economic crisis much more than worksheet #4. Keep up the good work.

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  5. Ken,
    I love your graphic, and I think the quote it contains is a fantastic model to remember when in front of the class. I may use this tomorrow, but I will give you full credit I promise. I wanted to comment specifically to your example of learning to skateboard and snowboard, because I think it is here where Smith fails to recognize the power of reinforcement and punishment, which he attributes to official learning rather than classic. When you fall off your skateboard or snowboard, you are getting immediate feedback in the form of punishment (I have the broken collarbone scars to prove it) while when you land a move that you were attempting, whether intrinsically, or because your peers deem it "sick move bruh" you are reinforced. I think these types of reward and punishment scenarios are very powerful, and valuable, and contribute greatly to learning the things that stay with us forever. I think your PBL opportunities create an excellent bridge between the skills you are intentionally teaching and the classic style you are trying to incorporate, I can imagine students years from now remembering how they solved the country's economic crisis much more than worksheet #4. Keep up the good work.

    ReplyDelete