Tag Archives: experiential learning

#we the north

rubrics and open instruction versus direct instruction

First of all- both are necessary!

Direct instruction may have received a bad rap for a while, but little learning takes place without some form of clarification as to what is expected and how to make something happen.

Basketball Fever has been happening at our home these past few weeks, and being one who actually listens to the announcers in addition to enjoying watching the games, I have been able to focus on what the announcers pre-game and what onlookers pre-game suggest should happen to give their team the win! Sometimes the comments are wonderfully vague: “take more shots”; and I find myself visualizing the rubric that would acompany that statement” player took ball and aimed at basket” level 1, “player took ball and aimed at basket and ball hit rim” level 2, player took ball, aimed at basket but ball intercepted then other assist made basket -level 3, player took ball, aimed at baket and ball sailed clear through -level 4, with level 4 being the top expectation.  Then I considered if we simply handed the ball to players who had never been shown how to dribble, how to pass, how to toss the ball with a particular arm and wrist movement, that is minus any direct instruction and simply expected them to “do it!” Some might make the basket on their first throw, but would they know how to play the game?

For major and little league basketball comes with rules; and to play the game one needs more than “luck” though a little luck doesn’t hurt.  But first a clear understanding of the rules, the expectations, and how essential to the game each player’s participation is- raw talent plus practice, plus coaching, plus a willingness to make a mistake on the court and continue to play; direct instruction heard courtside when cheering coaches remember to use signals plus words to drown out any jeering bystanders, and practice that has led to near automatic responses – nearly automatic for in fact these quick turn arounds represent hours of practical review and the physical plus mental training that is demonstrated in seemingly effortless throws.

All deep learning demands this precision and dedication to craft and will by extension lead to a breadth of knowledge that in itself is the positive outcome of time spent in study- for we must remember that the major league basketball player does spend time studying his particular way of playing, or considering her individual way to improve- and in class or in preparing for a class this combination of direct instruction together with the more generalized rubric is still only the big picture focus on outcomes; students themselves being the players have to devise their own stretches, and then be encouraged to reach as far as possible and keep extending.

Cory Joseph NBA Stretch

 

 

After Volunteering at a Food Bank – and why you should too…

Allowing FOCUS:

 

When I have food in the house I can eat

 

When I eat I can breathe as in meditate and think clearly

 

When I can think I can communicate

 

When I can communicate I can get others to care

 

When I can get others to care the sharing begins

 

When we all learn how to share, the caring grows

 

It all begins with nourishment…

 

Written by me today, August 6, 2015

As as educator I see first hand the effects of poverty, ignorance, and marginalization.  Before we open doors in the hopes of opening minds this upcoming 2015-2016 school year, let’s make sure that our students actually do have the basics- they can continue to grow only with these necessities covered.

Using Visuals to Enhance Writing Skills

 

Eggroll

Sometimes it is the simplicity and the symmetry that draws the eye. When students are asked to create a story, offering a picture prompt plus open brainstorming together will allow students to recognize what is meant when asking for a written “thick” description and students may create a background or plot for?

Who might be coming to dinner? Is it an ordinary occasion? Where is the setting? At home or elsewhere? Could they add a mystery/suspense to their short vignette?

Image, plot, character study, setting, use of adjectives, vocabulary enhancer- all ages/levels, writing skills

Image from La vie et Belle hollymdunning.blogspot.ca spring eggrolls, Vietnam

Permission Granted – please DO

Sometimes a Great Notion… book and movie title and real life experiences…

I love using various art forms to enhance any level/grade lesson when English Literacy is the core focus.  We respond to art on two levels- primal and almost intuitive and academic- with the theories and knowledge which we have been taught engaging us in a dialogue with the object at hand.  Children who haven’t yet been “taught” to discuss the piece therefore comfortably share if they “liked” it! Watch a group of young children enter a new space, be it an art gallery or a playground, and see how they maneuver over the ground, tactile, involved, curious, and participatory.  The “new” emphasis on “maker” areas being developed within classrooms is really a return to a “tried and true” methodology; the idea that children and adults will gain through the combination of theory and practice- each on its own being only 1/2 of the story.

Here then to making math- the 1+1=2 understood as a form of literacy as well.  WE read scribbles, in what ever language, and we – people- humans- imbue these scribbles with “extra” meaning.  When the theory is unpacked, sometimes it is hard to believe that we have, as people, developed so many various ways to communicate our ideas, emotions, and hopes for the future- yes hopes, as I believe every artist/ writer/ designer and maker is offering a vision that contains within it a myriad of dreams and options for change.  Whether one is studying the presumed cognitive reactions of the mind and developing new theories with current scientific “facts” that today allow one to “see inside the brain” or creating music to share a set of emotions, creating/ making /doing /= participatory; ACTION is happening.

So as we enter into a holiday season that easily lends itself to the spirit of craft making, let’s cheer for those individuals neither famous nor well known who actively take time to: create personal decorations, write notes by hand, bake a present, sew an outfit,build a piece of furniture, carve a toy, redecorate their own living space…the list goes on and on…and reminds us to allow children to participate in these creative endeavors too- for they become the adults among us who maintain the ability to offer expression and with simplicity, beautify a day.

Reflections on “Apologies”, a Mayor/ and learning moments*

Maybe it is because I grew up in the 70s, when Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw  made famous the idea that “love means never having to say you are sorry”  in the film Love Story  (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0066011/), but having listened these past few days and once again today to Toronto’s current mayor, Rob Ford, stating “again, I apologize” (he left out the part about “drunken stupor” today, replacing it with “acting on impulse”) it seems that his declarations of “Love for the city” while apologizing for his actions, are finally wearing thin – what then is behind apologies?  

First off, we teach children to “say you are sorry”, and dutifully, many will.  Any parent or teacher after a period of working with others can become familiar with the difference between the apology offered up because one was caught versus the apology offered generously when the giver genuinely feels remorse at hurting someone.   The first type of apology is, as stated earlier – duty bound – expected – and rarely results in an understanding between parties.  The action is done, period.  The second type of apology may be the result of deep communication between or among people, or it may be the result of soul searching on the part of an individual – and I will digress for a moment to put in a positive word for the Arts and how they can encourage empathy; many pieces of ‘great literature’ deal with this soul searching conflict.   Back to the  problem that we, too often, encourage that simplistic “say you are sorry”  educational construct, beginning in preschool and continuing.  And the message absorbed could be, that the statement itself is enough.  

Sincerity though is different from duty.  Sincerity suggests that a person has some understanding of the pain caused, and in this case, Mayor Ford’s numerous apologies sound hollow.  He appears sorry to have been caught.  Does he appear to demonstrate understanding of how damaging the actions may have been?  NO.  Back to school, and places where educators have the opportunity to discuss just this difference in the meaning behind or within an apology.  Mayor Ford has mentioned he has been in a “drunken stupor” as if this were an acceptable excuse.  If he is encouraged to join a 12 step program he may again be told to “apologize”.  As both a parent and a teacher I have seen and heard all kinds of apologies. Little is more heart wrenching than being privy to the sincerely felt sorrow of one individual or group of people who actually acknowledge where and when they acted, perhaps without thinking, or, yes, maliciously.  Rarely is that genuine apology the result of sanctions or threats; it arises from something else.  Sincere commitment to understand another’s feelings.  As adults, parents, educators and in the case of Torontonians, voters, we are in a position to not only “practice acts of kindness” but to also demonstrate empathy.  The learning experience that Mayor Ford’ s implosion offers is strong: we can show why empathy allows us to recognize each other’s emotion; we can show whether we believe the public apologies ( recall, apologies given under threat of sanctions ); and we can take it outside the Toronto arena and look at relationships between and among countries.  Finally we can speak among ourselves, with our children, about the understanding that is reflected through our actions, and how saying “I’m sorry” needs to be accompanied by an action that extends beyond the words.  

Back to Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw  – watch the movie …. 🙂

* learning moments are like teaching moments only even better ’cause they allow for insights on both sides.