Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Learning Team: Specific Actions?

Who do you consider to be a part of the learning team?  I consider educators, family members, community members, administrators and students to be part of the learning team.  Yes, I subscribe to the notion that "it takes a village" to educate each other, and that we're all engaged in the process of learning, not just students.

As I move towards new models of education and learning, I recognize that one essential move is to employ the efforts of all when it comes to teaching children well. This action is most notably evident in our project base learning efforts.  As one teacher, I cannot physically disperse myself to all who need help at every juncture in the learning process, but I can employ the help and energy of the 25 students and many teachers in my midst to move all towards the learning goal.

Specifically, what does this look like? At this point in the curriculum, all students are nearing completion of their self portrait poetry anthologies--a final project that includes 5 poems, 5 reflections, images and one movie per child that depicts a poem that speaks to the child with matching music, images and words. This is the messy curriculum point--some are done, some are almost done and a few are still at the beginning stages.  So at the start of this week's effort to finalize all projects, I will match student coaches with students who are almost done.  I'll match teachers and myself with those at the beginning stages, and I'll also edit and publish each final project.  I'll have to look the projects over with a keen eye again at home to catch any last minute errors.

Hattie's research synthesis in Making Learning Visible demonstrates that the decision to employ students in helping each other with learning endeavors has a significant positive effect on learning for both the student coach and the student learner.  This action also makes it possible to integrate meaningful, multi-modal project base learning into classrooms with one-three teachers and 20-plus students--the kind of learning that has been integral in private schools with small class sizes.

How do you foster an invigorated, enthusiastic and productive learning team in your classroom or school?  What other suggestions do you have for me? Do you agree that this is one stepping stone when it comes to moving our classrooms forward from factory model schools to engaging learning communities?