Archive for July, 2013|Monthly archive page

Kid, I Am Listening

In activities, education, reflection on July 31, 2013 at 4:54 pm

I promised Paul Aniceto that I would blog about the Student-Led Conferences that my students held with their parents this school year and elaborate more on the process itself.

This is just one of the many opportunities parents get to know what their children do in school – we have a class blog they follow, I send weekly overviews of our activities in a PDF format via e-mail, we meet in October for a Target Setting conference and more. I will focus solely on this type of conference because I don’t think many schools outside the IB community use it and, well, you might find it interesting.


The students are the ones who lead the conference. The teacher is simply a host who documents the process (yes, I had a photo cam and a flipcam in each hand – multitasking, anyone?)

The portfolio is a selection of student work chosen by the students themselves. Each piece is accompanied by a written reflection by each student.

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Not Pretty

In education on July 29, 2013 at 2:12 pm

Documentation is not pretty pictures of engaged children.

Rather, it captures the thinking process:

What motivated [students] to begin, continue, change direction?

What were the breakthroughs, the pivotal remarks or actions?

How did they solve the problem?

The goal is to enable whoever reads a panel to understand what the child attempted and how they went about it, to see stimulus, process, and outcome. ”

A. Lewin-Benham


Let’s Game…Or Not?

In education on July 24, 2013 at 12:45 pm

It is no secret that I am against gamification of learning so if you want to argue about it that is not what I intend to here. What I wanted to focus on is one aspect of gamification that seriously undermines education: games related to the world’s most serious issues – hunger, poverty, war, gender and others.
I tweeted these this morning upon coming across a website that listed 26 Learning Games to Change the World

“Online games that deal with the world’s toughest issues. Scoring points will change the world?

This gamification of pain and misery is so unnatural. Literally playing with them. What kind of children do we nurture?”


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Know, Do, Understand – 2

In activities, inquiry, planning on July 22, 2013 at 8:39 pm

As promised, I am illustrating the teaching-learning process through the lens of what students know, do and understand. The planning looks simple and linear but learning is not.



I explained the power of provocations here and also gave several examples. For this inquiry unit, Plant Power, my team and I decided for a setting provocation – we changed all classrooms to resemble different habitats (mine was a rain forest). pizap.com13680471415711

The entire classroom resembled a rain forest – vines hanging from the ceiling, leaves and flowers across the desk etc. I also placed books, magnifying glasses, plant-related experimental tools. As expected, it had an extraordinary effect on children – aside from the “Oh!” triggered by the dramatic change, it spurred curiosity about plants – which, you might agree, seems such a “known”, familiar topic as plants are everywhere. Read the rest of this entry »

Know, Do, Understand – 1

In inquiry, planning on July 21, 2013 at 9:22 pm

I promised in a tweet exchange with @oldandrewuk that I would blog about the planning process. Below is my thread of replies.

Re: Skills (vs) knowledge  There is a distinction between prepositional knowledge (facts) and procedural knowledge (skills). The misconception occurs when educators think of each as completely independent and/or generalize. Skills are knowledge-based but that is a correlation not causation. I may know the structure of a car (knowledge) but not be able to drive it (skill). The opposite is true as well – I may be an excellent driver yet have very little understanding of how a car works, how I can fix it and so forth. 

        Where teachers are wrong is generalizing.  Analyzing historical documents is different from analyzing literature works, for instance. Hence, “skills” (analyzing, comparing etc.) are knowledge-dependent.  Prepositional knowledge (facts) alone cannot trigger/develop procedural knowledge (skills).  Committing facts to memory is critical but not the final step. I, too, think a strong curriculum is the foundation for effective learning but not the only one. Being “fluent with facts” enables you to do things but only superficially. Knowing Shakespeare’s works does not make you a literary critic. When I plan lessons I have a distinction between what students should know, do and understand. I’ll elaborate in a future blog.

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