Posts Tagged 'Educators'

Schools, Please Don’t Kill Our Creativity

At a workshop I attended yesterday, Barry Dahl mentioned this unforgettable lecture by Ken Robinson at the TED conference. In his incredibly adroit and humorous talk, Robinson maintains that schools today thrash the creativity out of kids. I would argue that the final death knell takes place once they enter today’s corporate work world.

In another inspiring lecture, Tim Brown, the CEO of IDEO champions the importance of play in productivity of design and innovation.

Tim Brown Teaches Adults How to Play at a Lecture

Tim Brown Teaches Adults How to Play at a Lecture

How can we, as educators promote creativity and play in our classrooms, while teaching important knowledge and skills? I feel that developing curriculum driven by “student created content” is key to developing the creative minds that will build our future. I don’t know about you, but as an old doddering woman, I would rather live in a world built by the next designer of earth shaking technologies and innovative policies that help promote progress and not in a world populated by people who are fettered by rules that squelch creativity and productivity.

“It’s in the making of things that kids actually do their learning”

(Exerpt below is from an article I wrote for our company blog.)

Creating content in schools extends past the traditional class-report or diorama making. I found this wonderful example of the King Middle School in Portland, Maine. I believe that this school is really putting the approaches to 21st Literacy Education in a Action. The video provides examples of how the school integrates subjects like science, English, math with technology education.


Click the photo to view the video. Note the video will open and play automatically in another browser window.

The kids participate in truly constructivist activities, by developing videos, artwork, and collaborating on the development of music and music scores. All of these activities and projects require formal knowledge in writing, math, science, research and history that used to be taught to students via textbooks in an isolated context. Here are a few quotes from the short film that really captured my attention:

“We don’t use textbooks, per se… we do a lot of research in class.”

“The approach is to bring out the best in every student.”

“It’s in the making of things, that kids do their learning.”

The school also partners with businesses like a local printing press to develop products. The students work together as teams to develop items such as books for the press. These students also have the opportunity to work with professionals like the professional documentary maker who help them improve the quality of their videos. They get real-life experience and are encouraged to stretch and deliver quality projects. They are not coddled or isolated from doing ‘real work’ because they are not ready to do it on a ‘professional level.’

As I finished watching the video, I realized that many teachers might have issues with the fact that some students contributed 7 pages of work to a final project while some contributed only three paragraphs. I like the attitude that these teachers at King have that “Everyone does what they can.” Plus everyone should contribute to the project using the skills and talents that they have. Perhaps a student who needs help with math but has kinesthetic talents can choreograph a dance, and teach the other students how to perform the dance to be included in a final project. A student who lags in writing but has design skills might lead the team that develops the costumes or set. Both students are exercising their communication and leadership skills in helping other get their tasks done. Students who are better at writing can help coach these students when they have to do the written component for the project.

I think the comment that sums up the value and power of this approach to education was made by the kids of King Middle School themselves, “No one feels stupid here anymore.”

Why wasn’t I born twenty years later? I would have loved to go to school in a place like this. Seeing examples like this really makes me excited about the work we do here at PLS because I believe that in what we do we strive to make learning experiences effective and powerful.

Do you have to design learning experiences differently for Digital Natives?

From the Learning Circuits Question of the Month

  • Do you believe that we have to design, develop and deliver instruction differently for the so-called Digital Natives?
  • Are there differences in learning expectations and styles or can we just design good instruction and know that it meets all generational needs?
  • If you have an audience that includes natives and immigrants, how can you effectively design instruction without breaking the bank?

It’s probably best to design learning experiences from a Constructivist approach. Digital natives will become easily bored with traditional essays and quizzes. Why not have them create content in different media. I also believe that engaging more digitally savvy individuals with the less savvy digital immigrants is a good thing. Everyone should be coached to help each other learn and to ‘slow down’ or explain things when someone does not understand. This might help alleviate the feelings of frustration from the digital immigrants.

Some suggestions for learning experiences/projects:

(note this list will probably grow… this is just what I have off the top of my head)

Wiki

I love wikis because they teach people how to play nicely with each other when creating content in a virtual space.

  • Team built wiki (each group or individual is responsible for a different content area).
  • Media share – every week someone must share a media piece or link to content/info/resources for the class subject in a common wiki area. They provide information on why they chose the item and the classmates post comments on the items in the class discussion for this page.
  • Wiki story – students work together to write a story/narrative in the wiki
  • Virtual Art Gallery – students showcase their artwork (art, painting, video, music, etc.). Other students can provide feedback
  • Research Data – students can link to spreadsheets and text on data they’ve collected for experiments

Video/Media

  • Develop an interpretation or a satirical take on a book or television show
  • Produce a documentary or interview session on the topic of interest
  • Video sharing – have students create video responses to a topic and to each other’s views on a topic

Podcast/Audio

  • Write a regular radio show or drama that discuss or treats the content or subject. I love this idea!
  • Virtual audio responses – students can provide brief audio feedback on assignments and posts rather than written ones. This makes interaction with each other more personal in an asynchronous way.

Second LIfe

  • Develop a playground representative of a period
  • Develop an interactive story area where students can interact and act out a story. They can even create their own interpretation of events in a story and take snapshots in order to retell it
  • Develop a museum dedicated to a subject

Second Life Events for Educators

Bunny Kiwitz at the Sloodle 101 class

If you’re interested in learning more about Second Life or how to use if for educational purposes, I suggest you take a look at this calendar: http://sledevents.blogspot.com/
Many events are listed here and even have slurls (secondlife link locations) that allow you to teleport directly to the site in SL. Remember, you have to have the SL application installed, and you can get that from the Second Life official website.

I was able to attend most of the Sloodle 101 class (that occurs every Wednesday 2x a day). I highly recommend it. Hopefully, I’ll have time in the next few days to blog about my experience in the class.



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