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Showing posts from May, 2014

Teaching is...

We did this activity through-out my M.Ed program. We did it recursively so we could see how our opinions and ideas were changing. It was a huge component of the course (in my opinion, the most important aspect). You might enjoy it. I do it several times a year. Keeps me grounded in my philosophical beliefs (which are evolving).

A little background...

Teaching is a hard thing to define. Get a 20 teachers in a room to define teaching and you will get 20 different definitions. That shows that teaching is highly personalized endeavour. The one thing that everybody will agree on is that teaching is about learning. Learning is another minefield to define. There is no consensus and shared idea of what it means. What we can agree on though, is that it has something to do with knowing. Knowing is one of the major battlegrounds (why all the war metaphors?) of philosophy, and has been debated from the time of Aristotle (and likely before). What does it mean to know something? How do you know you …

Who is driving the inquiry?

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Stay with me here. This is not just a story of what we did, but rather a look into how we inquire. I will need your feedback and ideas by the end of this!

What we did

We started out investigation of natural landforms and settlement in a fantasy world with the following provocation (story is a powerful tool, even more powerful when you find yourself in the middle of you taht you can influence and change):



This generated much discussion and debate over the best place to settle. Each kid had a different theory and a different idea. The information in the text was scarce, but important. The scarcity led them to struggle with the ideas. It was hard to bridge the gap between each students understanding, and obvious that a consensus would not be reached. We reflected about why that was, and we realized that we needed more information. But, what information?

Students then shifted their focus from solving the problem, to asking questions to help them solve the problem. What else do you need to …

A Reading List, "Complexity and Education"

Life is not linear. Neither is teaching, learning or knowing.
Education is evolving out of the industrial age, and adopting a new set of metaphors.
We used to talk like this: With its exclusive emphases on preset educational aims and objectives as markers, a dead map of curriculum is compelled by a strong need for closure and certainty in the institutionalized schooling. In the very dead map, the predetermined objective is not only the starting line but the finish line of the prepackaged race track of curriculum: while both teachers and students are motivated by the set objective at the beginning, the ultimate aim is to produce uniform-qualified-students-as-products to reach this same line in the end. Julie Yie And now people are starting to talk like this: In this constantly restructured living map of curriculum, both teachers and students do not haste to reach the predetermined destination along the marked path on the dead map but take their time walking ‘like an elephant’ to enjoy…

Assessing Understanding: Looking for feedback (Pt. III)

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I have come a long way from the first post and the second. I see now how the conceptual understanding has evolved. I knew that the first unit was topical, but I was hoping to get to the concepts through the topic. Usually I do not do this, but since this topic is right outside our window, in our everyday life, I was hopeful (more on this later). Still, I find the latest incarnation to be the most effective and gives us the most room to play.




The topical-ness of the unit is gone. We can still look at the Danube in regards to all these, but it also gives us room to branch out and look further. I like this, even though I am still partially in love with the idea of place based unit of inquiry. It gives them more room to navigate and leaves space for self-directed inquiry.

As for the rubric (which was the point of all this, and goes to show how the overarching structure is so important) is much more conceptual.


This time I focused on the verbs in each box. I am still thinking about a comme…

Assessing Understanding: Looking for Feedback (Pt. II)

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After the first blog post I received some critique from trusted voices (and a wonderful comment) I have gone back to the drawing board and gutted it again. I wonder if is now more conceptual. The last line of inquiry feels out there, but there is a curriculum need to have it in place. Interestingly though, the navigation bit is really interesting, as it is just outside our window down the street, and we can watch and inquire as the boats float by (literally).


It still feels kind of fragmented, but at the same time it feels whole. I like it and I don't like it. I like that it goes into history, geography, cultures, and science (possibly ecology as well, as when we take a walk along the river, they will certainly notice the giant machines dredging). It leaves the door open for some interesting questions. Interestingly, since this is the last unit of the year, I have a pretty good feeling and sense of what type of questions they will ask, and I can predict where they may take it. I w…