Edutopia | WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
Facebook
Edutopia on Facebook
Twitter
Edutopia on Twitter
Google+
Edutopia on Google+
Pinterest
Edutopia on Pinterest Follow Me on Pinterest
WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
Subscribe to RSS

Simple Ways to Cultivate Happiness in Schools

Print
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Share
Blogger Elena Aguilar asks, how might you bring more happiness and well-being to your school?

Comments (23)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Danielle Jones's picture
Danielle Jones
Credential Student

Hi Elena. I love your post! I am a first year credential student and I am currently working towards my Elementary Education/Multiple Subjects Credential. I found this post to be very helpful. I am an emotionally driven person and care so much about the well being of children. Making sure children are happy and feel safe while in school is so important for the learning process. In fact, when I reflect on my past school experiences, the grades I remember enjoying and learning the most from teachers that executed at least one or two of the ways listed above. Whether it was doing a project outside, music being played while we did class work, or even just remembering if the teacher smiled made me feel differently about my experiences in school. I will in fact keep this post in mind when I become a full time teacher. Thank you for sharing!

Jill Brown's picture

I have developed a program that enables your staff to create a positive climate in your school! The Generation Text Online Positive School Climate program consists of several simple activities that require no supplies and no preparation.
Objectives:
1. To create an atmosphere (for educators and students) within the school that:
** Allows for academic & social growth
** Enables people to feel trust and respect
** Allows for achievement motivation
** Is fair
** has order and discipline
** has positive student interpersonal relationships
** has positive student-teacher relationships
** has high morale
** allows for the opportunity for input
** Allows for cohesiveness
** Is caring

2. The opportunity to learn specifics about the person, not just a "number" or "student" in a class or school.

3. To understand the events that people experience outside of school and how if effects the.

4. For educators and students to feel physically safe in their environment.

5. For educators and students to attend work and school free of ridicule, harassment, intimidation and bullying

The first activity, called High/Lows, is an extremely effective method of building a bond within any group of people. If this activity is conducted on a weekly basis, you will be amazed at how quickly this tool works to build a positive climate within a classroom.

How to get it started:

I suggest using this activity with the education staff in your building to kick off a school wide program. By first having the staff participate in this activity, it allows them to understand how simple it is to implement with their students. In my experience, "proving" to your staff that this activity is easy to implement, is the biggest hurdle in motivating and expecting educators to take on additional tasks in their job description. Once educators witness how this activity makes classroom management a whole lot easier, the positive results will be exponential!

Depending on the size of your group, you may need to split into several groups. If this activity is just one activity of many, similar to the format at a retreat, it is best to keep it moving quickly. In order to accomplish that, I would suggest splitting the attendees into groups of 10 - 15 people.

For teachers who are working towards a positive climate for their class, it is important to have all class members participate in one group. Have your group get into a circle. Each group should choose a facilitator or someone to keep the activity moving (in a classroom, the teacher is the facilitator).

How it works:

To begin, the first participant in the circle will share with the rest of the group their "High" of the week, or the best thing that happened to them. The facilitator or others in the group may ask questions or comment. When doing High/Lows with kids, the facilitator role is an important one in order to keep the activity moving. Next the person who is talking will share their "Low" of the week, or the worst thing that happened to them. Going clockwise, each person in the circle should share their High/Lows.

The idea of this activity is to offer an existing group of people the opportunity to learn two current things about each person. It is natural for people to be most concerned with self-centered thoughts. This activity allows each participant to focus their thoughts on someone other than themselves, as well as practice their active listening skills. As a result of this activity, classmates begin to understand motives or circumstances of why people may act out or react in various situations. Once this activity is practiced on a consistent basis (I like choosing a particular day of the week and doing it in the beginning of class) you will see that participants begin to "notice" things about other people. Once people are not focused on self-centered thoughts and needs, they begin to see what they have never seen before. As a result of this new realization, participants are able to see opportunities to help those who may need support and comfort.

Assessment:

Following the high/lows, you may want to emphasize with your staff the purpose of this exercise. I believe that it is always better to ask the participants what it is they learned rather than lecture them; therefore I use a 21st Century strategy. Here is a list of discussion questions that allows for this exercise:

* Why do you think we did this?

* What did you think about the facilitator (you and the person who was running the exercise)?

* Do you think we cared about what you were saying? Why? How could you tell?

Suggested answers:
** Shook my head
** Told a personal story
** Asked questions
** Smiled
** Looked at you

Good Luck and Enjoy!-

Jill Brown

Bev Kirk's picture
Bev Kirk
multi-subject credit recovery high school teacher

One thing I have done in my secondary credit recovery classes in a public all-special education school is spend a couple of days a month devoted to student-selected appropriate social interaction (aka non-lesson periods). We make lists of things we enjoy and schedule a day when we may concentrate on some of those. These have included beadwork, cooking, drawing, painting, reading, creative writing, geocaching, woodwork, board games, etc. Attendance is always better on those days and the events promote sustained high interest for many of the kids.

Andy XU RUNYUN's picture
Andy XU RUNYUN
From Shanghai, China. A volunteer in Walnut Valley Unified School District.

Somehow, as educators, we have to deal with "anger management" , even cultivate ourselves in becoming a relaxed person before we can cultivate "real happiness" at our schools/school districts.

Catherine O'Brien's picture
Catherine O'Brien
I teach sustainable happiness.

I was just watching the video that grade 10 students in Nunavut created to share their views of sustainable happiness. I think it portrays nearly all of the elements in your article Elena!

http://youtu.be/GMcfhSkSP0Q

Marc Helgesen's picture
Marc Helgesen
university efl (English as a Foreign Language) Japan

I teach English as a Foreign Language in Japan. I find it useful to build on ideas from Positive Psychology in my English classes. I have a website with lots of free downloadable activities for that at http://ELTandHappiness.com.

Enjoy.

Heidi A. Olinger's picture
Heidi A. Olinger
Educator, Social Entrepreneur + Founder of Pretty Brainy, Inc.

An Excellent Framework for Daily Life
Guidelines on cultivating happiness, such as this terrific post provides, are needed because too often we experience a happiness void, provoked by how we live and work. In sum, our voids inform our values: we value happiness because we need more of it to balance the grind. Regarding "blast good music," "get outside," and "move your body," these create an environment that cultivates not only happiness, but creativity and creative thinking. The list of tools the post provides can be --- perhaps must be --- among the "how-to's" we provide students for learning how to learn.

Natalie's picture
Natalie
paraeducator from San Jose, CA

Teachers who get the older kids to sing are awesome! I had a high school teacher who used the "Shave and a Haircut" ditty to get our attention when the noise level was too high. I also had a college professor who got us all singing a cheesy song about thermodynamics/molecular motion.

zep's picture
zep
Education Specialist

"spend a couple of days a month devoted to student-selected appropriate social interaction (aka non-lesson periods). We make lists of things we enjoy and schedule a day when we may concentrate on some of those." If every teacher took a small step like Bev our kids would be happier, as a ripple effect we would prevent a number of student suicides and prevent a number of Newtown type tragedies; some day, hopefully soon, we'll transition from a focus on our kids $ making potential to a focus on our kids :) making potential.

Discussion What Did I Assume About My Students' Summers?

Last comment 11 hours 38 min ago in Mental Health

blog A Look Inside the Classroom of the Future

Last comment 2 hours 52 min ago in Education Trends

blog Cracking the Code of Student Emotional Pain

Last comment 2 days 14 hours ago in Brain-Based Learning

blog The Importance of a Healthy Teacher Ego

Last comment 5 days 8 hours ago in Health and Wellness

blog The Value of a Real Apology

Last comment 18 hours 2 min ago in Social and Emotional Learning

Sign in to comment. Not a member? Register.

Subscribe to RSS

Project-Based Learning: Debunking the Myths and Fallacies

Print
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Share
Edutopia blogger Bob Lenz makes a case for confronting all the misleading beliefs about project-based learning.

Comments (23)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Greg Reiva's picture
Greg Reiva
High School Science Teacher

Over the past 5 years I have greatly increased the presence of project-based learning models in my science curriculum. I have employed these new methodologies that utilize an inquiry-based approach to doing science. These educational initiatives have increase my students' intrinsic motivation to lean and I have witnessed rising levels of engagement in the research going on in the classroom along with increased quality with respect to student performance. Please check out my blog to read about some of these avenues of exploration that I have used in the science classroom: http://greducation.blogspot.com/

Sarah's picture

This is a clear and simple explanation of the benefits of PBL in supporting students academic growth (to know, do and reflect). Not only is PBL engaging, it gives the students responsibility for their learning and allows students to explore content information through creative methods. It also stimulates higher levels of thinking which ultimately leads to deeper, long-lasting understanding.

Whitney Hoffman's picture
Whitney Hoffman
Producer LD Podcast, Digital Media Consultant, Author

Hi Laura!

I think your comment about whether P sin PBL stands for project or problem is an interesting one. This dovetails nicely with a discussion we were having on another thread, about how cross curricular PBL might work, and how do we separate the different sorts of PBL from one another. For example, there's projects that are meant as capstones and are meant to demonstrate a student's mastery or integration and contextualizing of learning, and then there's the inquiry, essential and authentic question PBL where there is no singular right answer, but the learning comes as the problem is worked on and explored, rather than as "just" a synthesis of what's been learned in class. How do we clarify these differences when the language we use is the same? I haven't figured that one out yet, or how to make this difference clear to folks who are newly exploring PBL.

John Larmer's picture
John Larmer
Editor in Chief at the Buck Institute for Education

Whitney, the two "PBLs" and other "X-BLs" is the topic of a blog I've been writing this week and hope to post here soon, so your question is well-timed! A partial answer to the question of whether a capstone- or synthesis-type of "project" is the same as PBL - which thread is this discussion on btw? - is discussed in an article I wrote here: http://www.bie.org/tools/freebies/main_course_not_dessert

Whitney Hoffman's picture
Whitney Hoffman
Producer LD Podcast, Digital Media Consultant, Author

Hi John!
I look forward to reading your post. I read the PDF, and I guess I stil think there's a) the typical "Show and tell" poster/diarama/powerpoint which is rubric driven and largely doesn't require any particularly deep thought or insight, it's just time consuming.
b) Capstone sorts of projects, like Sally Smith, which use the project or group and activities as a way to contextualize learning from academic classrooms and reinforce that learning, but may not require a central authentic deep question or problem to solve;
c) Problem based learning that resembles "Project Runway" where everyone starts with the same challenge and materials and needs to find a creative solution that meets the heart of the challenge and
d)Project/Problem based learning that is essential question driven, where kids research and ask more and more questions along the way, hopefully teaching and exploring solutions to real world problems and seeking to impact their community, such as when the kids at Science Leadership Academy found a method to create a flow vs. batch process for biodiesel, that is now being used in a few villages in central america to help meet energy needs.
However, when we call all of these things "PBL" (and BIE uses the terms interchangably...) there's a big problem- how do we make the language more clear and less "secret jargon" like, so more teachers will up the ante on what they consider PBL?

Laura Thomas's picture
Laura Thomas
Director, Antioch University New England Center for School Renewal, Author of Facilitating Authentic Learning, Director of the Antioch Critical Skills Program

I think that it might be a matter of a continuum of experiences- for teachers and for students. In the CSP we talk about using an over time/ with experience x/y axis, with messiness of problem on the x and scarcity of resources on the y. (You can see a picture of that here: https://twitter.com/CriticalSkills1/status/400314645312843776/photo/1) The project/ problem/ task/ whatever doesn't matter as much as whether it's meaningful and challenging based on the learning outcomes and the students' and teacher's experience and needs. To me, projects are inherently less messy because it's clear what students need to make (my bias, I'm sure), problems get messier as they get more real-world. Resources can be limited to the material in a book, a packet or a curated set of links, or the teacher can make it harder to find what you need by providing less scaffolding. "Everything you need is in this packet, this set of materials on this table, in our classroom not including the web, in this classroom including the web links here, in the the classroom and the library and the web, or 'gee, I don't know. Where could you find what you need to get this done?'"

Samer Rabadi's picture
Samer Rabadi
Online Community Manager

Laura, steadily building towards messiness is useful as it stretches mental muscles that would otherwise lay dormant. But then that's one of PBL's strengths, isn't it?

Laura Thomas's picture
Laura Thomas
Director, Antioch University New England Center for School Renewal, Author of Facilitating Authentic Learning, Director of the Antioch Critical Skills Program

I think so- no matter which P you put in your PBL. :-)

Sign in to comment. Not a member? Register.

Subscribe to RSS

Happiness: A Key Outcome of Equitable Schools

Print
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Share
Slogan on a wall in Thimphu's School of Traditional Arts
How might we apply the country of Bhutan's Gross National Happiness index in our schools?

Comments (2)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Don Doehla, MA, NBCT's picture
Don Doehla, MA, NBCT
2015 California Language Teacher of the Year, Co-Director Berkeley WL Project at UC Berkeley Language Center

Keep us posted if you find the funds! Great quote, Elena. I wish you well as you seek to live by it! I want to try too :-)
Cheers,
Don

JonathanMESAAZ's picture
JonathanMESAAZ
High School English Teacher

Dear Ms. Aguilar,

After reading your blog, Happiness: A Key Outcome of Equitable Schools, I have some comments and questions.

I know one of the many goals of Common Core is to give high school graduates the tools necessary to be "college and career ready". As part of an ever-changing curriculum that creates 21st-Century learners, is there a push to focus on what could be accurately labeled business languages? Chinese, Japanese, and Spanish. And, is there also a plan, possibly national plan, to phase out some of the more traditional, less-spoken European languages? German, French, and Italian. And, I am not saying these languages are less important, I am just writing because I have students request the former and not the latter as additions to the curriculum.

I am very interested because the term "globally competitive learner" is a new buzzword that was used in a seminar I attended that focused on Common Core Standards and how to integrate them into cross-curricular lesson plans.

I also ask because many of my students speak Spanish at home and look to our school to teach them a language that they would otherwise not have the opportunity to learn.

I enjoyed your blogs.

Thank you,

Jonathan

Discussion What Did I Assume About My Students' Summers?

Last comment 11 hours 38 min ago in Mental Health

blog A Look Inside the Classroom of the Future

Last comment 2 hours 52 min ago in Education Trends

blog Cracking the Code of Student Emotional Pain

Last comment 2 days 14 hours ago in Brain-Based Learning

blog The Importance of a Healthy Teacher Ego

Last comment 5 days 8 hours ago in Health and Wellness

blog The Value of a Real Apology

Last comment 18 hours 2 min ago in Social and Emotional Learning

Sign in to comment. Not a member? Register.

Subscribe to RSS

Common Core in Action: Writing for an Audience

Print
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Share
Edutopia blogger Rebecca Alber provides meaningful writing tasks for all grade levels that are aligned to the Common Core.

Comments (12)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Lisa Mims's picture
Lisa Mims
5th grade teacher /Education blogger

Blogging is an excellent way to give students an authentic audience! I use Kidblog, it's extremely safe!

Doug Silver's picture
Doug Silver
Former teacher, reformed administrator, and now digital developer.

I think the focus on more rigorous writing in K12 is long overdue. States that are backtracking away from the CCSS also seem to shying away from the complex writing that is expected. I worry that the result will be the reliance on the same old state test of short, constructed response items being the performance measure. Writing helps teachers understand thinking - how students got to the conclusion - more than any other process. It is through that act that teachers can better understand the way a child thinks as much as what they think. Understanding an individual student's process is the key for differentiation and individualized learning. We need to have tools that support that mission. Thanks for raising this issue and please keep it at the forefront.

chemtchr's picture
chemtchr
chemistry

It escapes me what this has to do with the Common Core writing prompts. I did it in elementary school, and I'm 64.

For the Common Core, we can say, "You will be told to pretend you have a target audience, but this essay will be scored by a computer algorithm. No human eyes will see it, and no human mind or heart will respond. ".

Samer Rabadi's picture
Samer Rabadi
Online Community Manager

I want to second Lisa Mims' suggestion about blogging. Not only do students get practice writing for an audience, but they get to develop digital citizenship skills at the same time.

Mart Grams's picture

Agreed, Common Core is so wishy-washy that it says nothing. Even the example given supra, well duh! As you say, we did this as an elementary student, and never could enter jr high if not competent. No one would be in HS without being able to. CC is about weak teachers, expensive equipment, and mediocre standards.

Becky Fisher's picture
Becky Fisher
Education Consultant

I love the idea of the "audience" being different. It really opens up students to a world of possibility. It also invites opportunity to teach about digital citizenship, because as digital citizens, students will need to know how to write for different audiences.

Blogs are a great way to practice writing for a public audience. It also teaches great discipline and is a fun way for students to share their work with others.

It's great to embrace these new aspects as an opportunity to create new assignments, especially for a digital age!

Dan Callahan's picture
Dan Callahan
Professional Learning Specialist, Edcamper, Graduate Professor

We love finding ways to provide our students with a real-world audience. Blogging is an excellent one, as our first graders love to show off their blogs to parents and grandparents. It can also be powerful to convert writing into other formats such as video. My kids will always step it up when they know they're making videos that will be posted to our school's YouTube channel.

Whitney Hoffman's picture
Whitney Hoffman
Producer LD Podcast, Digital Media Consultant, Author

I think finding a real audience for writing is key. So many times, writing becomes a rather restrictive and dull conversation between a teacher and student- even having them imagine a larger audience, and even a very specific audience helps students find that voice they need.

I think the common core standards are trying to make sure kids have key skills that are built on year after year, and there are many ways to approach them. While I have heard many people are upset because they require more of teachers and students, my response there is basically that life expects more as well, and no one ever said this was going to be easy. What we have to do is find a way to let kids practice skills nd get real feedback- like from a blog- so they can see the work they do has a life beyond the page.

John S. Thomas's picture
John S. Thomas
First & Second Grade Teacher/Adjunct faculty Antioch University New England

Audience means everything when writing and it can really help motivate students. Last year my second and third grade students were studying bears. We shared several current events about bears getting into trouble through interactions with humans in NH. We wrote several letters to the editor which were printed in many newspapers throughout the state of NH. The students wrote about the bear safety tips they had learned about in school. We wrote the letters collaboratively using the Smart Board. We started by using Kidspiration to get our thoughts organized. Then using the outline mode students took turns suggesting sentences, editing previously written sentences, and revising and reorganizing the letters. The interactive white board proved to be a great tool for the collaborative writing. While we were writing on the next to last day of school, the students knew it was recess but didn't want to go until the letter was complete and had included everything they knew about bear safety. I believe they were very determined to write such a finished piece because they knew the community was going to read it.

Sign in to comment. Not a member? Register.

Subscribe to RSS

Teaching for Justice: 10 Ways To Unravel Systemic Oppression

Print
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Share
How do you confront any racial injustice at your school? How do you reflect on your own potential biases in the classroom? Blogger Elena Aguilar offers ten tactics to help teachers answer those questions.

Comments (3)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Laura Thomas's picture
Laura Thomas
Director, Antioch University New England Center for School Renewal, Author of Facilitating Authentic Learning, Director of the Antioch Critical Skills Program

Great piece. I want to share it with my colleagues and my students RIGHT NOW!!

Some of my favorite tools around this work come from the School Reform Initiative (http://www.schoolreforminitiative.org), the Coalition of Essential Schools (http://essentialschools.org) and Paul Gorski both individually (http://paulgorski.efoliomn.com) and through his organization EdChange (http://www.edchange.org)

Joe Balbontin Jr's picture
Joe Balbontin Jr
President and CEO of Urians of Bayugan International, Inc. (U.B.I.)

Very good write up! I want this to be shared to our U.B.I. scholars in Urians of Bayugan International, Inc - UBI Bayugan, Agusan del Sur so that they will learn the meaning of justice to become part of their upbringing and all throughout their lives.

Keith Heggart's picture
Keith Heggart
High School Teacher from Sydney, Australia

Hi Elena,
Great post, and thank you for sharing it. As some one who is passionate about social justice in our schools, I was really impressed by your list. The best part, I thought, was that you identified 'systemic oppression'. Often, we forget that school can be oppressive by their very nature - students are limited in what they can or can't do, what they can wear, where they can sit, when they can talk. Discussing these ideas can be a good starting point for understanding of oppression - with the added bonus that students are far more likely to be able to talk about their own experiences easily!

Sign in to comment. Not a member? Register.

Subscribe to RSS

Young Global Leaders Put Innovative Ideas into Action

Print
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Share
How are you preparing your students to become global leaders who can make good things happen locally?

Comments Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Sign in to comment. Not a member? Register.

Subscribe to RSS

Why Students Should Discover The Liberty Bell's True History

Print
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Share
Blogger Maurice Elias offers up lessons on The Liberty Bell to inspire students to ask critical questions and look more deeply at the world.

Comments (2)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Savio Rebelo's picture

This is a great suggestion thatcan help nurture not just a love for history lectures but also a love for research at a very young age. Schools in many countries in Asia, especially China have been adopting this approach in schools to stimulate their students to think and try to research on a visit to a historical site.

Once again, this is a good idea. I will try it out with my class.

Jaime's picture
Jaime
Librarian at Pocono Library

This is a great suggestion to foster love for history. I am trying to look for a balance between vanilla history of Philadelphia, and the more controversial portions. We tend to whitewash our history, and ignore the less mainstream events and characters from our city. I am currently researching Ida Craddock, an early civil rights martyr from Philly, with one of my high school senior classes. So interesting!

http://www.squidoo.com/ida-craddock

Sign in to comment. Not a member? Register.

Subscribe to RSS

How to Close the Achievement Gap: Arts Education

Print
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Share
Edutopia's Anne O'Brien shares recent findings that indicate the importance and need for arts education.

Comments (1)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Lisa Yutzy's picture

Thank you, Ms. O'Brien, for your research and insight. I am certified K-12 in the the Visual Arts, and greatly concur with your findings. In eighteen years of teaching at-risk youth, I have seen repeatedly how the Arts develop perseverance and higher-order thinking skills in my students. Furthermore, it increases a student's self-confidence about his/her learning skills, which translates across the content areas, improving achievement.

I particularly appreciate your observation that incorporating the Arts into core areas is not a substitution to a well-developed Arts program. This is true not only because of the inherent value Arts Education holds, but the venue it offers to build positive relationships with students which might otherwise go unreached.

Finally, you noted that these reports cited "correlation not causation". Were there reports supporting causation?

Thank you,
Lisa

Sign in to comment. Not a member? Register.

Print
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Share
Edutopia blogger Elena Aguilar explains why one film now tops her list as a must see for all educators.

Comments (1)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Melanie Link Taylor's picture
Melanie Link Taylor
Educator, Blogger, Southern California

Thank you for clearly enunciating the plight of our students. I will work to find 'Fruitvale Station' in our area.

Sign in to comment. Not a member? Register.

Print
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Share
Edutopia blogger Ben Johnson offers up teaching and technology tools to differentiate classroom learning.

Comments (5)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Sha's picture

I really like the thoughts of turning to technology and using project based learning. I am getting to learn more about technology and with math. I taught science last year so the type of programs I used last year is different from what I am using this year. We use a tablet called MobiView that I am not comfortable with using yet but I am sure once I get the hang of it I will become more comfortable.

Kendra Grant's picture
Kendra Grant
Learner, Teacher, Parent, Entrepreneur, Volunteer, SOOC Designer. UDL informs practice, process & product. It's all about Transformative Learning.

Thank you Ben for promoting the idea of automatic DI. As a classroom teacher, I used technology to create an "All Access Classroom" meaning I used it to provide learners with multiple ways to access, process and produce information to meet their learning needs. For example, there was always more than one-way to "read" text or more than one way to "report" on a topic. However, to create this level of automaticity requires intentional design. Just as my car has an "automatic transmission", I recognize the gears don't shift without a lot going on under the hood. The same applies to cooperative learning and project based learning. To create automatic differentiation requires intentional design. If we just have students work "cooperatively" on a task without them understanding what this looks like and sounds like, it often results in one or two students dominating or students always assuming the same roles. Teaching students how to work in cooperative groups and (self) assessing those skills will help students recognize and understand their strengths and needs and apply this understanding to cooperative group work. The same is true for project-based learning. I don't believe "The students automatically choose methods and learning strategies that coincide with their needs and interests" without explicit instruction, candid conversations and self-reflection. In Universal Design for Learning, the goal is for students to develop metacognition: to become self-reflective thinkers that understand how they learn; who can then work cooperatively and productively with others.
In any classroom I believe there are two additional learning goals beyond planning what students will "Know, Understand and Do". They are Connect (How will students help build, and work within, a community of learners?) and, Reflect (How will students develop metacognition?) As students better understand themselves as a learner within a supportive community of learners, then cooperative learning and project based learning can be effective vehicles to support automatic differentiated instruction.

Wowzers's picture
Wowzers
Wowzers offers online Game-based Math curriculum for Grades 3-8

Great post, Ben. Love your "Turning to Technology" section. The advent of mobile devices and adaptive, personalized learning technology has really opened the doors for educators.

To learn more about using digital learning tech to help personalize your instruction, be sure to check out our digital pamphlet, "Personalized Learning Article Three-Pack" at http://blog.wowzers.com/bid/311972/New-Digital-Pamphlet-Personalized-Lea...

Tim's picture

You provide some good information about differentiation and bringing technology into the classroom. As a high school teacher, I can relate to differentiated instruction and the importance of meeting needs of all learners. I use both cooperative learning and project-based learning, but do not always see students choosing an area they are most comfortable with. I like students to work outside of their comfort zone and develop the important 21st century skills society expects of them. The technology you discussed sounds very beneficial to the classroom teacher and the way a teacher can differentiate instruction through the e-Learning feature. Advances in pedagogy are accepted and implemented by many educators, but technology still lags behind and is slow to implement. Technological advances are not slowing down in society, so maybe it is time for school's to invest more in technology so students can be better prepared to enter the workforce. Technology is a win-win for both the education system and the student.

Ken Wong's picture

Hi Ben, thanks for your post. We are designing a training program for teachers on differentiation incorporating technology. I'm looking for some sample ideas and programs perhaps from this site. Thanks again.

Discussion Technology and Pre-K

Last comment 6 days 9 hours ago in Professional Development

Discussion 6 Myths About The Flipped Classroom

Last comment 2 weeks 3 days ago in Flipped Classroom

blog The Common Core and Digital Skills Development

Last comment 3 weeks 5 days ago in Common Core

blog 6 iPad Apps for Creative Writing

Last comment 1 week 2 days ago in Technology Integration

Schools that Work Instructional Coaching: Driving Meaningful Tech Integration

Last comment 1 month 4 days ago in Technology Integration

Sign in to comment. Not a member? Register.

Pages