Often when we are designing curriculum or planning units of work, we stop and think about what do we REALLY want students to get out of this learning or unit. A previous Principal, I worked for used the idea that we should develop our students to be counter cultural - meaning they would need creative and critical thinking to be able to achieve something with their life.
I came across this idea in a different way in my ongoing professional reading - A 21st century education: reimagining learning for a new era. In this, the author reminds the reader of 10 points to consider when thinking about what education should be in the 21st century - I particularly like number 8 which reminded me of my aim to be and develop counter cultural learners. Use this checklist and consider how your classroom is moving towards this aim and working with future skills
In today's society there is a lot of pressure on our kids. They are pressured to perform, be beautiful, fit and healthy. (Just to name a few.)
In one of our modules for Academic Edge, Knowing Me, we look closely at the natural talent and ability of the child to help them discover their genius. Yes, everyone is a genius.
We use a unique personal development and profiling tool, Talent Dynamics for Young People, to help the child discover what they are good at, what are the best roles for them in teams and groups, how they can contribute and play their part, and develop skills to apply to school, home and life.
Recently, this article, 52 Character Building Thoughts for Children grabbed my attention.
The suggestion is to use these positive statements in a variety of ways. For example, each week you could begin the class time with one of the statements. It could be placed in a prominent place in the classroom so each day the students would see it. They could discuss how it might apply to them. They could live out their week using the statement and then reflect on what they learned or what activities they engaged in.
These are my top 5 favourite statements from the list.
Which statements resonate with you?
What positive statements could you add to the list to share with your kids?
In observing student teachers, I have noticed developments in their teaching practice, over time, have been dependent upon how well they respond to problems and this seems to indicate how they learn. This, of course, is anecdotal commentary however it has had me reflecting on how grit and resilience impact student learning in general. Some teaching resources are here.
It seems there are numerous “elements” as to how to cultivate grit and resilience:
We also need to consider how people learn - 6 Scientific Principles Every Teacher Should Know – which is what we are about at Academic Edge.
It seems, therefore, that for students to be successful in their learning and study, we must incorporate:
This may be a useful diagram to use with your child or students also when you are getting them to set goals or become more aware of their learning habits.
Continuum of Motivation TM by Barbara Bray and Kathleen McClaskey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on work at bit.ly/continuum-motivation* Graphic design by Sylvia Duckworth
Jamie Mackenzie, an American educator and creator of fno.org coined the phrase 'The Question is the Answer' over 20 years ago. While the reference he used on his website related to developing effective questions to conduct research it can also be used powerfully to help guide student's decision making when it comes to their learning in general and more specifically their study skills and academic achievement. As educators and parents we can offer lots of advice and make suggestions about what students should do but by putting the onus back on the child to answer to strategic questions not only forces the student / child to become reflective but also empowers them to create their own solutions.
So what sort of questions are we talking about... here are a few to get you started both as an educator and parent.
What are your favourite (and least favourite) subjects and why? Do you think this impacts on how successful you are in each one? How can you change your thinking / mindset about subjects that you don't like to make them easier to handle?
What are the key skills that you need in each of your subjects to succeed? (e.g easy writing, calculations, remembering large amounts of information, analysing text etc.) How good are you at these skills? What do you need to do to improves them? What might be a goal you can set yourself that will help you improve that skill? (e.g doing a practice essay every week).
If the student failed a test you might ask - what are three things you learned from this test? What are you going to do differently next time?
To help a student understand their learning style you may ask - when can you remember information most effectively? When you hear it, see it, speak about it with friends, draw it in a picture?
When in the day is the most effective / least effective time for you to learn and remember things? The most effective time will be when you should aim to focus on learning new information. The least effective time is when you either go and have a beak, do exercise or socialise or undertake 'low stakes' academic activities.
These are just a few ideas of the kinds of questions you can ask - the trick it to ask more questions about what a student should do in a situation rather than you tell them what they should do. This could be the difference between empowering and disempowering them.
In The New Basics report published by the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA), digital literacy has been identified as an essential transferable skill that will allow young people to be enterprising in their work/career choices for the future.
With the changes to business models and structures, there is a need for employees to be digitally literate. 4.2 million Australian job postings from 2012 to 2015 were collected and analysed. Employers listed the enterprise skills they desired and there was a 212% increase for digital literacy (an extra note was a 158% increase in critical thinking as an essential skill).
In a nutshell, the following graphic from Media Smarts provides a good overview of the interrelated elements under digital literacy.
The Media Smarts site helps to unpack the complexity of digital literacy within an education setting. It provides detailed information about digital literacy and related digital issues (e.g. cyberbullying, online ethics, cyber security),
research and policy content, information for parents and teaching resources for teachers.
Deeper learning consists of the following skills or aptitudes :
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
New Pedagogies for Deep Learning
Understanding yourself and how you learn is essential in developing these skills, perhaps consider your students discovering more about themselves in order for you to learn more about them?
What are business owners looking for in young employees?
Often a strong work ethic is important; being hard working, having a strong drive to achieve, persevering and sticking with the task, staying focused.
For others they are looking for someone who can ask good questions to help the business stay viable in an ever-changing world. Having an employee who engages in good discussion, embraces problem solving, is open to learning new things, knows when to seize an opportunity.
Tony Wagner, in The Global Achievement Gap (2014, pp. 14-42), identifies 7 survival skills for the new world of work.
How is your school providing opportunities for students to develop these new work order skills?
P.S. You might like to also read 17 habits of the most highly respected employees by Bill Murphy Jr.
Metacognition is more than thinking about thinking. According to Ritchhart from Harvard there are 3 aspects:
The question for educators is how do we plan for and implement these types of strategies and visible thinking processes? Ritchhart has provided a list of 10 ideas to start a culture of thinking. A thinking culture is a part of a learning culture. For students to learn effectively, thinking is core to their toolkit for learning. What thinking routines do you use in your classroom or for your own learning?
Our job as educators is to create dangerous thinkers!
We are experienced educators passionate about students achieving their potential, and believe that to do this they need highly developed and personalised learning and study skills