Let’s end the week with a challenge. Can we capture the ideas about learning presented in this week’s discussion on active processing with inspirational posters (you know like the ones in the faculty lounge of your high school or in Barney Stinson’s office)? I think we can! So here’s the plan.
Below are quotes from some experts about the importance and complexity of focusing on student thinking. After each quote we’ll represent the main idea of the quote in an inspirational poster. If you have a better idea for the poster, bring it on! It’s challenge time.
We believe this view of teaching, as little more than the delivery of content, is not only an overly simplistic view of teaching, but also a dangerous one in that it puts the focus on the teacher and not the learner, casting the learner in the passive role and assuming that learning is merely taking in what has been delivered. As a result of this view of teaching and learning, assessments focuses on the degree of absorption by the student of what the teaching has delivered.
In contrast, when we place the learner at the hub of the educational enterprise, our focus as teachers shifts in a most fundamental way that has the potential to profoundly affect the way we define teaching. With the learner at the center of the educational enterprise, rather than at the end, our role as teachers shifts from the delivery of information to fostering students’ engagement with ideas.
–Making Thinking Visible; How to Promote Engagement, Understanding, and Independence for All Learners by Ron Ritchhart, Mark Church, and Karin Morrison.
(To learn more about their work and find strategies for making thinking visible, check this website)
In research with experts who were asked to verbalize their thinking as they worked, it was revealed that they monitored their own understanding carefully, making note of when additional information was required for understanding, whether new information was consistent with what they already knew, and what analogies could be draw that would advance their understanding… The model for using these meta-cognitive strategies is provided initially by the teacher…Ultimately students are able to prompt themselves and monitor their own comprehension with teacher support.
How People Learn; Brain, Mind, Experience, and School edited by the National Research Council’s Committee on Developments in the Science of Learning, John D. Bransford, Ann L. Brown, and Rodney R Cocking, with additional material from the Committee on Learning Research and Education Practice, M. Suzanne Donovan, John D. Bransford, and James W. Pellegrino.
When we teach in “mother robin” fashion — trying to mentally chew up everything for our students so we can put it into their intellectual beaks to swallow — students tend to become, if I can slightly mix my metaphor, “Polly parrot” learners:
“I can’t understand anything unless you tell me exactly how and what to say and think. I need you to figure out everything for me. I shouldn’t have to do more than repeat what you or the textbook say.”
Unfortunately, the more students grow in this direction, the more teachers try to amplify their mother robin teaching to accommodate it. Growth on either side produces a compensating growth on the other. By the Middle School level most students are deeply entrenched in learning, and teachers in teaching, nothing but lower order, fragmented, surface knowledge. Teachers feel by this level that they have no choice but to think for their students, or worse, that they should not require any thinking at all, that students are not really capable of it.
-“The Art of Redesigning Instruction” by Dr. Richard Paul
Have a great weekend! And stay inspired!