When We Allow Their Imaginations to Shine

Step 1: Watch this   Step 2: Read the reflection Step 3: Ponder the creativity and the ideas that come forth when we empower students and then get out of the way so they can learn. Step 4: Leave Sarah a comment.  I’m once again left thinking about Dan Pink’s book Drive and the power of Autonomy, Purpose and Mastery in...

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Learning through Presentations

“How many of you have done the 18 minute, right before class, copy and paste, plagiarized, bullet point, turn and read off the screen PowerPoint Presentation? Be honest.” Every hand in the room goes up. We know it as educators, kids know it as students. The presentation really is about finding information, putting it on some slides, add some transitions and then telling the rest of the class what it is you found. Then there is the audience who is suppose to take notes on the information. A.K.A. copy the bulletpoints in bulletpoint format onto a piece of paper. Because there is so much learning in copying words from the slide to paper….NOT……and of course as you are busy copying the words you’re not listening to what the presenter is saying…not that it matters they’re just reading the words off the slides anyway.    What if there was a different way? What if the presentation was a story, a journey, an in-depth look into some aspect of a book, a time period as told through images and the research of the storyteller. What if the preperation of making the presentation was about learning? What if it was about crafting a story and understanding a topic to the point where you could stand and without notes, without bulletpoints tell your story.  That’s exactly what I’ve been working with in partnership with one of our high school English teachers. Let me give you the outline. Students in 9th grade English are reading To Kill a Mockingbird. A classic read for many students in high school. To help students understand the novel and the time period in which it takes place. Each student researches some aspect of the 1930’s. Students are given a list of topics or are free to come up with their own. Some topics include, Adolf Hitler, Fascism, The Great Depression, FDR, Women in 1930 America.  Students have free range to choose a topic (Autonomy) as long as they can tie it some how to the book, or how this might have affected the characters in the book in that time period.  Once they have chosen their topic and had a conversation about the angle they are going to take with it and how it ties to the book, they are set free to research (Mastery).  The Purpose is to craft a story on how or why they feel...

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Autonomy, Purpose, Mastery

  I’ve been reflecting a lot on Dan Pink’s new book Drive and thinking about how this applies to education and the work we ask students to do. My wife recently took 10 Middle School students on an Operation Smile trip into the mountains of Thailand near the Burma boarder. The Middle Schoolers spent their time playing the kids who came there to get surgery done. It’s a moving experience…the kind that shapes you as a person. When the students get back they are given one assignment…..reflect on your experience. Autonomy: Take as long as you need, and use the media that you want. Purpose: Share your experience with others. Mastery: You can reflect anyway you want: Essay, blog post, video, presentation, etc. One student decided to write an essay that I hope she decides to publish on her blog….it will bring a tear to any eye. And then there is Brian. The lone 8th grader on the trip who decided to express his emotions and reflection using video. I get asked by teachers how do you have students use media and make it a reflection not just a retelling of what happened? The answer, I believe, is in giving students a purpose. A meaningful purpose to reflect that is bigger than a grade, or an individual assignment. Yes…I’m going to make you go to Brian’s Blog to view the video in hopes that you too will be so moved by his creativity and message that you leave him a comment or pass along the message of Operation Smile to others....

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