Tag: learning sciences

Competency-Based Education Quality Principle #7: Activate Student Agency and Ownership

November 26, 2018 by

This is the eighth article in a series based on the book Quality Principles for Competency-Based Education. You can find the section on Principle #7 Activate Student Agency and Ownership on page 59. The links to the other articles can be found at the bottom of this page and will be updated as they are posted.

What is student agency?

The standard reply in our field these days is “voice and choice.” Certainly, “voice and choice” is a pithy memorable phrase. It also has value in that creating opportunity for students to have voice and choice in their daily lives is a relatively easy practice to introduce in the classroom. (more…)

Competency-Based Education Quality Principle #6: Base School Design and Pedagogy on Learning Sciences

November 21, 2018 by

This is the seventh article in a series based on the book Quality Principles for Competency-Based Education. You can find the section on Principle #6 Base School Design and Pedagogy on Learning Sciences on page 54. The links to the other articles can be found at the bottom of this page and will be updated as they are posted.

 

If I had a magic wand and could go back eight years, I would make clarifying the pedagogical principles the first step in moving toward personalized, competency-based education. At the time, districts and schools were primarily using engaging the community around a shared vision and purpose as the first step. And it is indeed a powerful and important step. However, when teachers are trying to implement a personalized approach while still believing in fixed intelligence, considering students as empty vessels to be filled with knowledge, and depending solely on ‘carrots and sticks’ to motivate, it’s too easy to come to the conclusion that the approach isn’t effective.

We can’t underestimate the power of the beliefs we bring to our work. They are invisible but shape every thing we do. They are difficult to pin down because they don’t operate in isolation – they are dynamic within our full set of beliefs. And when it comes to bias, we may be ashamed that we carry stereotypes that shape our beliefs about other people and seek to hide them rather them bring them to the surface.

“One of the biggest changes is from assuming that the stand and deliver approach to learning in which teachers deliver curriculum and students are expected to just give it back on tests actually works. We are inching along in our understanding that scholars have to be active learners and that we need to build on what they already know. We can’t assume what they know – we need to discover it. Without the data, we are at risk of just making up stuff and spinning our wheels. If you are making me learn letters when I already know them, you are not helping me reach my potential.” – Cynthia Lamkin, Lead Learner, Otken Elementary School, McComb School District, MS, 2018

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3 Tools to Engage Ownership in Your Classroom

November 19, 2018 by

Photo by Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action

It’s easy to say teachers should give students more ownership of their learning. It’s easy to say students have to be motivated to learn. It’s easy to say teachers need to give up more control of the teaching and facilitate more of the learning. It’s easy to say but they are definitely NOT easy to do.

When students are drivers of the learning and not just passive recipients, it turns a dormant classroom into a thriving incubator of innovation. Many educators want to do all of these things but are too often left to figure out how to do it. (more…)

Competency-Based Education Quality Principle #4: Foster the Development of a Growth Mindset

November 7, 2018 by

This is the fifth article in a series based on the book Quality Principles for Competency-Based Education. You can find the section on Principle #4 Foster the Development of a Growth Mindset on page 45. The links to the other articles can be found at the bottom of this page and will be updated as they are posted. For more on equity, see Designing for Equity: Leveraging Competency-Based Education to Ensure All Students Succeed.

Think about it: The traditional system of education is built upon the belief that intelligence is fixed: there are smart people and not-as-smart people, there are winners and losers, and there is little anyone can do to change someone’s innate ability or potential.

I don’t believe there is any reason to discuss the psychological insights offered in Carol Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success or resources on how to help yourself and students in your classroom develop a growth mindset, as this is a set of research that is becoming embedded in schools across the nation (and possibly globally!). However, if for any reason the adults in your school have not become familiar with and knowledgeable about how to develop the growth mindset in themselves and others, stop reading this article and spend your time on Mindset. This is a non-negotiable step in creating a system of education designed for success for all. (more…)

Competency-Based Education Quality Principle #3: Nurture a Culture of Learning and Inclusivity

November 2, 2018 by

This is the fourth article in a series based on the book Quality Principles for Competency-Based Education. You can find the section on Principle #3 Nurture a Culture of Learning and Inclusivity on page 41. The links to the other articles can be found at the bottom of this page and will be updated as they are posted. For more on equity, see Designing for Equity: Leveraging Competency-Based Education to Ensure All Students Succeed.

We made a mistake in the first few years of CompetencyWorks. We simply underestimated the importance of culture – the underlying values, beliefs, rituals, and relationships that shape an organization or community – in making the transition to a competency-based system. Many schools and districts are making the same mistake when they focus on the structural or technical changes without first paying attention to culture. In fact, I’d throw out the hypothesis that the districts that couldn’t figure out how to implement proficiency-based learning well in Maine and advocated to terminate the policy of proficiency-based diplomas never took the time to adjust their school culture. (more…)

Are You a Neuroteacher?

September 26, 2018 by

This is the fourth book in the series Conversations with Authors About Competency-Based Education.

I hadn’t realized that the concept of the “empty vessel” in which we pour knowledge into children’s brains was still lurking in my mind, shaping what I was learning, until I read Neuroteach: Brain Science and the Future of Education by Glenn Whitman and Ian Kelleher. Over and over again, the authors reinforce the idea that for learning to happen, the mind must be active. Over and over again, they also reinforce the idea that “teachers are brain-changers.” They explain that a neuroteacher is “one who intentionally applies research from the field of mind, brain, and education to his or her instructional design and work with every student.” (more…)

The Power of Connections

September 12, 2018 by

This is the third article in the series Conversations with Authors About Competency-Based Education.

It’s always fascinating when you read several books in a row that you might not have thought were at all related but when read together forge an overarching set of ideas. It happened last week when I read Who You Know by Julia Freeland Fisher and Daniel Fisher, Better Together by Tom Vander Ark and Lydia Dobyns, and The Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone by Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach, one right after the other. My breakthrough thinking was that we understand ourselves and assess ourselves as individuals – individual people, individual teachers, individual schools. And certainly there is always a story to be told through this singular lens. However, there is another analysis that tells quite a different story. Who are we, what do we know, and what do we accomplish through our relationships, connections, and collaborations? (more…)

9 Lessons from Brain Science from Melina Uncapher

June 5, 2018 by

This post originally appeared at Getting Smart on April 13, 2018.

A high school chemistry teacher and a grandmother with Parkinson’s disease spurred Melina Uncapher’s interest in science. She earned her Ph.D. in neurobiology at UC Irvine. Her doctoral work, completed a decade ago at the beginning of the smartphone revolution, was on learning when attention is divided. (more…)

Key Findings: Science of Learning and Development

May 21, 2018 by

Click image to enlarge.

Although the high level findings of the science of learning often seem like common sense, the interplay between the different domains of research isn’t as simple. And we know that the education system is full of practices that are not only misaligned with the science of learning – they may actually be inhibiting and, for some students, even harmful. I’ve read two papers that support Turnaround for Children’s Building Blocks for Learning recently: (more…)

The Culture Code: Creating a Culture for Competency-Based Schools (Part 1)

May 14, 2018 by

Los Angeles Lakers vs. San Antonio Spurs, Wikimedia Commons

This is the second book in the series Conversations with Authors About Competency-Based Education.

Earlier this year, a collaborative process of practitioners developed a description of what every student should experience in a personalized, competency-based school (See What Will Students Experience in a Competency-Based School?) The second item in this list of ten is:

I feel safe and am willing to put forward my best effort to take on challenging knowledge and skills because I have a deep sense of belonging, feel that my culture, the culture of my community and my voice is valued, and see on a daily basis that everyone in the school is committed to my learning.

I’ve been thinking a lot and talking to people a lot about what it means to have everyone, students and adults, feel safe and that they belong. The learning sciences inform us that one can’t separate out cognition from emotion: Feeling safe is an important condition for anyone to make themselves vulnerable to seek and accept help, take risks, and put out extra effort knowing that they might fail. This is one of the reasons that has convinced me that culture is critical and that the school and classroom culture needed to make competency education work is substantially different than that described as the culture needed for high achieving traditional schools. In fact, creating a culture of learning, inclusivity, and empowerment is identified as a principle for equity as well as quality.

I stumbled upon a book, The Culture Code, by Daniel Coyle that has been eye- and heart-opening about what it takes to create a culture of safety. It’s a super quick read but I’ll highlight the core messages of the book here for you. His thesis is that high-performing culture can be created through three skills: 1) Building Safety; 2) Sharing Vulnerability; and 3) Establishing Purpose. (more…)

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