Active Learning – People learn by doing things, making mistakes and correcting them. The example given is that kids don’t subject themselves to lectures and tests on physics before playing sandlot ball. The book example does make the sandlot game seem more organic than it really is. The kids do have some background knowledge of the rules, and older kids do show younger kids the basics. Kids don’t naturally know how to stand in the batter’s box. Even after being shown, I still held my hands backwards. I do think that adults’ attempts to make every child successful at everything the first time, is hurting our kids. They need to learn to fall on their rears, get up, dust themselves off, and try again.
Constructive – Students need to explain what they observer and how that fits in with what they already understand. Repeated reflection and restating what they understand and questioning what they do not understand will result in deeper understanding.
Intentional – Students need to have a goal for learning, something personal not just passing the TAKS Test. In the past technology has been used to meet the needs of teachers not students. We need to use technology to meet student goals.
Authentic – Teachers tend to remove the problem from the real world application. We are in such a hurry to “cover the curriculum” that we give them the algorithm with no context. This is especially true at a school like mine, where the students’ background knowledge is so limited.
Cooperative – Every teaching text I read promotes cooperative learning as natural for humans. Thing is I constantly hear complaints from students and parents that they hate cooperative learning activities, that the good students are carrying the poor students, or having to take over teaching responsibilities. I do need to bounce ideas off other people and talk things out – but those are people I seek out. If we let kids choose their groups – the thorny kid is always left out. That leads to bullying. I am going to try and have more fluid groups this year. Each student will have his/her own project, but given the chance to work with other kids while creating the project. Sometimes I will group them randomly – like with the 2nd graders creating their own constellations. That worked great – Only one argument out of 6 classes. Sometimes I will just open the floor, do X if you have a problem check with a neighbor first to see if you can solve it together. Long term groups don’t seem to work very well for my projects, especially with this group of 5th graders.