Tony Gurr

Posts Tagged ‘learning’

What EXACTLY are the “Skills” needed by 21st Century TEACHERS? – The “Robocop” Upgrade…

In Classroom Teaching, ELT and ELL, Quality & Institutional Effectiveness, Technology on 18/02/2014 at 3:24 pm

21C Teacher (Robocop ver) 160214 TG

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I have been heard to say that you can’t throw a rock into the blogosphere these days without hitting a post or article on the 21st Century “something-or-other”.

Love it or hate it – the notion of 21st Century Skills is one of those HOT topics these days – especially in Turkey. Sadly, however, the discussions on EDtech here seem to be dominated by some very strange creatures…you know them as:

21C Digi Cheerleaders

…IDIOTS, mostly!

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The real problem is:

Digi Cheerleading Rabbits

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IDIOTS that are breeding like bloody rabbitson steroids!

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IDIOTS that (still) do not link the 21C concept to real LEARNing – choosing instead to focus on what seems to be both the engine and the fuel of the 21st Century…..

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Don’t get me wrong…I’m not some kind of EDtech luddite who wants to put a stop to the so-called tablet and akıllı tahta dönemi we are currently witnessing in Turkey.

Turkey is my adopted home, I am a “milli enişte” and I am amazingly proud that I helped co-create one of Turkey’s first “digital natives” (and also one of the toughest and most beautiful, too – ask me about the “Türk kızı” who took down men twice her size on the Turkish TV version of “Wipe-Out”).

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I am a “daddy”, too!

A very proud one….

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21C LEARNing FIRST

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But, my business is LEARNing (as if you didn’t know) – not TECHnology. And, I’m interested in how we actually “do” something with all the talk-we-are-talking these days – talk about the new kids on the curriculum block:

  • INDEPENDENT, CRITICAL and CREATIVE THINKING
  • PROBLEM-SOLVING and CREATIVITY
  • COMMUNICATION, COLLABORATION and SHARING
  • COGNITIVE and EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE
  • ETHICS, ACTION and ACCOUNTABILITY
  • LEADERSHIP, AGILITY and ENTREPRENEURIALISM
  • CURIOSITY, EXPERIMENTATION and RISK-TAKING
  • SELF-DISCIPLINE, RIGOUR and REFLECTION
…even:
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IMAGINEERING
(a wonderful “skill” that brings many of the above together)… 
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 21C SMARTBoards and DUMBIdeas

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We know here in Turkey (not that different to the rest of the world…really) that we still have major challenges with:

  • ORAL and WRITTEN COMMUNICATION (the 3R’s in TURKISH) – of course!
  • ENGLISH LANGUAGE (the 3R’s in ELL)

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But, the TECH (and the so-called “new digital landscape”) still gets many more column inches and pixels than student LEARNing.

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Our raging debate, a debate that others in the US and Europe have picked up, centres on Turkey’s plans to purchase 15,000,000 tablets over the next few years (as part of the Fatih Project) – and has international and domestic commentators really talking:

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Actually, I’m not sure if we should be talking about the tablets (the PM was today…again and again and again) – we should be discussing the skills the tablets are supposed to be ushering into Turkish schools.

…and, the impact of these skills on TEACHers.

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In an earlier post, I discussed how these 21st Century realities are creating a new set of roles for TEACHers:

However, discussion on how these roles translate into a new evolving set of teacher skillsliteracies and fluencies has been (very) limited – especially, in Turkey.

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Isn’t it time we started to ask some REAL questions:

  • What skills do TEACHers (in Turkey) need as we continue our march into the 21st Century?
  • How many of these skills actually relate to how we deploy and use TECHNOLOGY?
  • How many of them relate to effective LEARNing and TEACHing?
  • What do TEACHers actually think themselves – and what do their LEARNers think?
  • How effectively is TEACHer (and LEARNer) LEARNing being promoted and supported (in Turkey)?
  • What else needs to change to make the 21st Century “wishlist” a reality?

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Hey, maybe we can even start asking some of the most basic questions.

Questions like:

21C TECHnology SECOND

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I’d love to see some fresh ideas and comments. 

If not (and you are a lover of “bedtime reading”) – here’s a little list of some resources on allthings21Cskills:

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Tony’s 21st CENTURY LEARNing Library

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What if…

In News & Updates (from the CBO), Our Schools, Teacher Learning, Teacher Training, The Paradigm Debate on 17/09/2013 at 4:44 pm

What if 08 (WWZ Poster) TG ver

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Yes, Rosie! I love my Zombies, too…

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What if…?

Imagine for a second…we changed the way we thunk about what goes on (or should go on) in our classrooms.

You know…

What if 01

…did a bit of a swap!

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Not only in what we thunk…but also in how we talk about what we thunk.

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Would the world come to an end, acaba? Would the Zombie hordes that tormented Brad Pitt and his ever-so-sweet movie family over the Summer…move into our cities, suburbs and schools?

I know, I know…the zombies have already taken our Ministries, our School Boards, our “Reform” Agenda – but Brad did “win” out in the end…did he not?

By fighting on the “front line”!

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Many of us have already taken the first step. I mean…we have been asking:

What if 03

…even though we might not like the term “business”!

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AND…we already kinda recognise that…

What if 04

LEARNing is sooooooo much bigger…

…and something we (as TEACHers) cannot (however much we may want to) do on behalf of our students.

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Nope!

Brad kisses a zombie

No Zombie apocalypse!

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I mean…a few simple questions is all that it takes to get us there:

What if 02

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Mmmm – ouch! But, a nice “ouch”…

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Hey, here’s a thunk…what about if all TEACHers-In-Training (you know, those lovely TEACHers-To-Be) had these questions at the heart of their “curriculum”…lecturers that “felt” these questions in their bones…and “walked their talk”.

I wonder what impact this might have on these TEACHers when they get to “do business” – in their own classrooms?

Pretty much the same in the case of humanities – …what if we had humanities educators that (instead of teaching their students “about” books or what so-and-so “meant” in lines 14-15 on page 69) help their students to LEARN about life, work and themselves…”through” reflecting on books!

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Afterall…

What if 05

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Hey, just a thunk

What if 06

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The alternative, I fear, is waiting for those other Zombies to come up with the next:

What if 07

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And, this time…Brad is not around to save us!

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Who will my students BECOME after they LEARN with me?

In Classroom Teaching, ELT and ELL, Teacher Learning, The Paradigm Debate on 18/07/2013 at 9:25 am

TEACHing is not LEARNing

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This little image is one of the very first I did for the blog – almost 3 years back!

It’s been downloaded so many times – hey, some people have even conntacted me and asked me for “permission” to download it (yes, there are many nice guys out there…gals, too). Others have suggested that I add a word or two…we could probably add many!

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Not that you need me to tell you…but I was kinda stating the obvious when I did this – and, I was also linking it to two other questions that TEACHers ask themselves on a Monday morningor Sunday night:

The toss up (LEARNing vs TEACHing)

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Very different, aren’t they?

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It’s not really a toss-upit’s a choice!

I’ve found that the TEACHers who ask the second question “do business” very differently to those that ask the first. I’ve also “confessed” (and recently re-booted the post in which I made that confession) that I used to ask the first far more than I ever asked the second.

So…how do we get from that second question to the one I have used at the title of this post?

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Well, I thunk it’s a question of what matters…or, to be more specific, what we thunk matters…and what we do to breathe life into that thunk.

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Go back to that first image, for a minute…I was suggesting that there are 11 things that are really important in allthingsLEARNing.

If you had to choose 3 of them, what would they be?

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  • FUN, perhaps? It’s important, for sure…but it might not make the top 3, yes?
  • What about REFLECTION? Yes, that one might be in there.
  • FEEDBACK? The LEARNing lubegotta have that in my top 3!

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Or, maybe, it’s EXAM PASSES!

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For me, top of the list would be:

Change (Margaret Mead quote) Ver 02

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Come on! Only 18 words there…you know the ONE!

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Need another clue?

Change (David Thoreau quote)

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It’s in there TWICE

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OK…I know you have got it by now – but I just wanted to throw in this one, too

Change (Maya Angelou quote) Ver 03

I know, I know…but I did take all that time to prepare it!

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Besides…who doesn’t love the She-Hulk? I bet Maya Angelou does…

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Change (Leo Buscaglia quote)

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LEARNing has to involve change…change in the way the LEARNer thinks, feels and acts.

It’s not just about LEARNing “stuff” or it shouldn’t be. The “stuff” we are creating these days is growing at exponential rates…and if our goal, as TEACHers, is to simply TEACH this stuff, we might as well just pack up and go home – and leave it all to the tech we now have!

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This is why our questions have changed…have to change.

Just asking “What should I TEACH today”? …is a “stuff question”.

Asking “What should my students LEARN today”? is an improvement…and, asking “What should my students be able to do with what they LEARN today”? – is even better!

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However, asking:

Who will my students BECOME

…is a whole new ball-game.

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A ball-game that scares the crap out of many TEACHers!

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Indeed, many TEACHers I have discussed this question with tell me it’s an impossible question – especially those that work in the ELT “racket”. They tell me that primary TEACHers (even university TEACHers) have a shot at this – they are well-placed…they have enough stuff to TEACH…they can shape minds (and souls)!

A friend of mine once told me, “I’m beginning to think that all that stuff about you being a LEARNatic is true…Come on! I’m just a bloody language TEACHer…I TEACH grammar…sorry, language communication skills…I help kids with the 4 skills…and vocabulary”!

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Read that again…

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My friend is, by the way, a great TEACHer. But, he is notgreat” because of his knowledge of grammar…nor because he knows how to TEACH the 4 skills (rather than just “practice” them using a silly textbook).

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but...

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…look at how he describes himself!

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I wanted to slap him upside his head when he said this! Instead…I think I made him pay the bill!

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Why do so many TEACHers put themselves down in this way?

Maybe it’s because this is what institutions have LEARNed themI don’t know!

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Change (Seth Godin quote)

My friend is a great TEACHer because he really knows how to “connect” with his students…and because the quality of his interactions with his “kids” allow him to make a real difference to the way those kids think, feel and act – and I ain’t only talking about GRAMMAR!

You see…it doesn’t really matter “what” we TEACH…what discipline we work in, yani! Afterall, none of us really “TEACHes courses”, do we?

We TEACH kids, teenagers, young adults…and even old farts like me!

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When I had this discussion with my old pal, it took a long time to convince him (what the heck…he was paying the bill)! Seth Godin had not published his latest book The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?

I wish he had! Perhaps, we’d have fewer TEACHers saying the type of things my friend was saying.

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Seth’s book has also led me to add another little question to my list:

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Who will I BECOME (as a TEACHer)

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…far more important for us as EDUcators, yes?

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Afterall, we (also) need to remember the words of Ellen Hocam:

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Change (Ellen Glasgow quote)

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Wonderful BEDtime reading for every TEACHer (and their dogs):

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The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly? by Seth Godin

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What is “Reflective Savvy”?

In ELT and ELL, Quality & Institutional Effectiveness, Teacher Learning on 14/07/2013 at 12:32 pm

REFLECTION (Jack Sparrow GET IT)

I really don’t know why I used the bloody word “savvy so much…

…when talking about allthingsREFLECTION in LEARNing and TEACHing.

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The thing is…IT is totally the RIGHT word – just a bugger to get across to people that might not have come across it before.

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One can be everso terribly clever and explain that it comes from the French savoir faire” (even though Google Translate does not, again, do a very good job with it) – but it don’t help, if they ain’t heard of that either.

I actually picked up the term from my dad…growing up in north Manchester, he was the only person I ever heard use it…and he used it a lot (…even “made up” tens/hundreds of more phrases using the word).

Now, you see where I get it from!

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When I started to learn French, I thought that he might have picked it up because he grew up so close to France (New Haven, near Brightoneven though everyone called him “Cockney Doug”…he never bothered to correct them). That, of course, was silly – New Haven was just as working class as north Manchester – even today, working class kids just not “do” languages very well (clearly…Geography, too)!

It was not until I saw Johnny Depp (as Captain Jack Sparrow) in the movie Pirates of the Carribean that it “clicked

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NO, my dad was not a pirate!

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But, he did “fake” his age to get into the Navy and “sign up” for the Second World War…to escape his family and the UK!

You also see where I get that from!

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Sailors…and pirates…use the term “savvy” a lot. And, so does the Urban Dictionarythank God!

No, I did not write that entry…but I could have, yes?

There’s also a very good story about my dad – involving a boxing match, an officer-who-wasn’t-a-gentleman and a dishonorable discharge (that my dad was VERY proud of)…but, I’ll save that for another post!

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Of course, I use the word to talk about reflection…or what it “is” about those TEACHers and EDUcators that seem to get more from their students…more for themselves…and more money!

OK – two out of three ain’t bad!

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REFLECTION 17 (Reflective SAVVY) TG ver 03

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It’s a Sunday today and I hadn’t planned on writing very much at all for this post!

In factmy big task for today was actually supposed to be more focussed on finally working out exactly where I now live here in big, bad İstanbul! Some people (the phone company…but the internet guy disagrees) tell me I live in Suadiye…other people (the electric company) tell me I live in Erenköy…and then, yesterday, one of my wife’s old friends from Dubai told us we actually live in Şaşkınbakkal (which roughly translates as the “confused grocer”he ain’t alone)!

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So, I’m going to leave you with a few thunking questions:

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How “savvy” are you with your own reflective practice?

How do you know this?

What do you do with this “savvy”?

How do these things help you get better at what you do with what you know?

If someone asked you “evidence” this “reflective savvy”, how would you do that?

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And, as a little Sunday “treat”…some of my favourite thunks on the nature of reflection!

Enjoy…8

REFLECTION 16 (Pearce quote)

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REFLECTION 15 (Woon quote)

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REFLECTION 14 (Levithan quote)

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REFLECTION 13 (Cicero quote)

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REFLECTION 12 (Confucius quote)

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REFLECTION 11 (Ronald quote)

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REFLECTION 10 (Frost quote)

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REFLECTION 09 (Drucker quote)

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REFLECTION 08 (Kierkegaard quote)

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REFLECTION 07 (Rogers quote)

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REFLECTION 06 (Socrates quote)

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REFLECTION 05 (Camus quote)

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REFLECTION 04 (Confucius quote)

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REFLECTION 03 (Alfadi quote)

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REFLECTION 02 (Wheatley quote)

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REFLECTION 01 (Wordsworth quote)

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REFLECTION (Jack Sparrow GOT IT)

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Yes, I know that was a bit of a cop-out…but the images/quotes were nice, yes?

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The Mother of all Curriculum Myths …(the RE-boot)

In Curriculum, The Paradigm Debate on 07/07/2013 at 7:26 am

Learning,

Reflecting,

Thunking,

…in big, bad İstanbul

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I lied…

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This one will be the last of my 500K celebration re-boots – but I wanted to try a little experiment.

This post was written in February 2012 and represented the very first time I had ever tried to get my thunks on curriculum down on paper (in a systematic way)…drawing on all the things I had learned over the past couple of decades.

However, when I decided to do the re-boot – I wondered what it might look like if I took away all the quirks that I use in my bloggery style.

You’ll notice there was no opening graphic

…there are no weird bits of bolding, no quotation marks (on words and phrases that do not really need them), no imagesat all!

Does it make a difference?

Can you still SEE (or HEAR) me?

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YOU tell ME…

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This be the REblogged post (header)

While cruising blogland this week (not sure if that little phrase is as suitable as it could be but my daughter is still telling me I have to stop saying surfing the web – as it shows my age), I saw that a number of bloggers had discovered the work of those really sensible folks at ICG (Independent Curriculum Group).

I’ve been following the schools that make up ICG for some time – impressed by the fact that all of them are really walking-their-talk with regards teacher-generated curriculum.

Come on…who is not going to be impressed by a bunch of schools that know their stuff with regards student learning and who put that stuff at the heart of their decision-making? 

Apparently, quite a few of us!

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What got the blogosphere buzzing this week was that the ICG schools had boiled their thinking down to a series of neat sound bites (sadly, sound bites still seem to get more attention than the serious thinking that underpins them these days) – and created a set of myths: 

  • Basic Facts Come Before Deep Learning This one translates roughly as, “Students must do the boring stuff before they can do the interesting stuff.” Or, “Students must memorize before they can be allowed to think.” In truth, students are most likely to achieve long-term mastery of basic facts in the context of engaging, student-directed learning.  
  • Rigorous Education Means a Teacher Talking Teachers have knowledge to impart, but durable learning is more likely when students talk, create, and integrate knowledge into meaningful projects. The art of a teacher is to construct ways for students to discover.  
  • Covering It Means Teaching It Teachers are often seduced by the idea that if they talk about a concept in class, they have taught it. At best, students get tentative ideas that will be quickly forgotten if not reinforced by a student-centred activity.  
  • Teaching to Student Interests Means Dumbing It Down If we could somehow see inside a student’s brain, its circuitry would correspond to its knowledge. Since new learning always builds on what is already in the brain, teachers must relate classroom teaching to what students already know. Teachers who fail to do so, whether due to ignorance or in pursuit of a false idea of rigor, are running afoul of a biological reality.  
  • Acceleration Means Rigor Some schools accelerate strong students so that they can cover more material. ICG schools are more likely to ask such students to delve deeper into important topics. Deep knowledge lays a stronger foundation for later learning.  
  • A Quiet Classroom Means Good Learning Students sitting quietly may simply be zoned out, if not immediately, then within 15 minutes. A loud classroom, if properly controlled, included the voices of many students who are actively engaged.  
  • Traditional Schooling Prepares Students for Life Listening to teachers and studying for tests has little to do with life in the world of work. People in the work world create, manage, evaluate, communicate, and collaborate, like students in ICG schools.

 

Now, lots of you might think that these myths are pretty obvious – but the fact that we still have so many soft spots in our schools and education systems (around the globe) tells me that these myths are, in fact, based on the underlying assumptions that guide the decision-making of many teachers, their administrators and schools and the ministries that (all too sadly) hold the reins of our educational systems – and that these assumptions remain invisible to many.

What was interesting for me was that the ICG myths were not, in the traditional sense, directly linked to the what we believe curriculum is all about – despite the very name of the group that produced them. However, the fact that so few of the myths might be viewed as curriculum issues shows the quality of thinking that these schools are engaged in…IMHO!

I have to say, however, that I felt the list was missing something…not just a few other myths that we could all probably add to the list…something bigger!

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For me, there is a more sizeable myth that underpins the set suggested by ICG. This mother of all myths lies at the work of veteran educators like Harry and Rosemary Wong and has been most effectively hinted at (or sound bitten) by people like Ann Parker:

Effective teachers don’t cover the curriculum… – they uncover it.

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The myth is essentially this:

Curriculum is best conceptualised as content – arranged as a teaching plan

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Now, I’m not sure where this mother of all myths came from – but we can feel its omnipresence in almost every corner of education. We find it in universities and the way (far too many) lecturers see their own curricular as being the topics they will cover and the order in which these topics are to be delivered to learners.

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Wikipedia (*) has also helped to promote this understanding through its definition of what curriculum is all about:

…the set of courses, and their content, offered at a school or university

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There are still many teachers in our primary and secondary schools that begin their lessons with utterances like ‘What page were we on last time’? – and then instruct students to turn to the next one for today’s lesson… It is this type of approach to learning and teaching that has led many a teacher to believe that they could not possibly survive without the textbook – and has created the even more cynical and insipid version of this myth:  

Curriculum is best conceptualised as the content pages of our textbooks!

Wouldn’t publishers and their textbook writers just love this understanding of curriculum to win out?

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The thing is that it wasn’t always like this – and the solutions to this challenge do not seem to be available on our present or future list of how to fix things in education. As we look at commentary on the future of education in today’s blogosphere and the solutions to many of the challenges we currently face in education, we keep coming back to one word – technology! 

Sorry, that is just dumb

Technology is not going to save education – the quality of thinking from those involved in educational decision-making is going to do that. And, the starting point is challenging the underlying assumptions and myths that all too often dominate our decision-making.

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The Greeks and Romans had nowhere near the technology that the average family home or teachers’ room has access to today – but they had a far superior conceptualisation of what curriculum is mean to be all about:

…the original meaning of the term curriculum was ‘racecourse’

and the understanding that curriculum represents a meaningful and purposeful progression to some predetermined goal.

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Far from being about delivering the content on the course outline or covering the textbook, this understanding of curriculum got it right with its emphasis on purposeful progression and a predetermined goal

Yes, the Ancient Greeks and Romans knew that curriculum needs to begin where it ends – with the learning of individual students and with the thinking of teachers and educators about how this can best be realised.

If we look closer at what the great teachers of the time did with what they knew about curriculum, we also see many things that are missing in more modern conceptualisations of what curriculum is all about: 

  • A curriculum should answer the question what are we here to do for our students – it is the fundamental expression of our purposes, aims and convictions (as educators and institutions).
  • Curriculum thinking cannot be divorced from the values and beliefs of those involved in creating it. A great curriculum uncovers the underlying assumptions and aspirations that educators have for their learners and themselves – it is more than content, it is a conscious educational philosophy given form and substance.
  • Just as a curriculum needs to be seen as an expression of an educational philosophy, it also needs to be viewed as a framework of educational values that informs problem-solving on a day-to-day basis. A curriculum needs to scream this is who we are and this is how we do business – not simply list a series of dry topics to be presented by an equally dry teacher.
  • A curriculum has to be centred on learners, their learn and what they can do with that learning…!
  •  Effective curricular need to be more than about what we are teaching today (or Monday morning). Curriculum needs to move beyond now into the future learning of students and graduates – and is only as good as the way it prepares learners to keep on learning after the experience of formal education is over and done with.
  •  When teachers and learners only conceive of curriculum as a document, we might as well pack up and go home (these words are a rough translation of what Aristotle said). A real, breathing curriculum is one that teachers and learners see as an on-going process of questioning of what ought to happen and an on-going process of problem-solving with regards how to make that happen in practice.
  • Curriculum is a process, a process that gives us a way to imagine, explore, and critique ways of thinking about the purposes and practices of a curriculum. This very process helps teachers and educators grow as much as their learners – it allows them to revitalise their subjects and disciplines and look for more ways to cross traditional boundaries so as prioritise making a real difference to the real lives of their very real learners.
  • Assessment and curriculum are the currency used by teachers and students and they should embody the very nature of the relationships we hope to build in and out of the classroom. As such, teachers and educators need to have a central role in designing not only the learning opportunities and assessment activities – but also the curriculum itself. Before students can own a curriculum, teachers have to be invested in and believe in it.
  • Curriculum also needs to be viewed as interactive process of designing, experiencing, evaluating and improving what learners can do with what they know – this cannot be done by teachers alone, it is (or should be) a true process of co-creation.
  •  If a poor curriculum is one that looks more like a tick-box checklist of things to be poured into the heads of students, a great curriculum is one that has at its heart a meaningful sequence and structure that involves iterative revisiting and expansion over time – and one that makes room for co-creation by students. Concepts, themes and topic areas need to be revisited with greater sophistication, learners need to be given opportunities to demonstrate earlier understandings and also be presented with newer challenges and projects imagineered to lead them to higher ability levels – challenges and projects that also explore their evolving view of both learning and the world they are building through that learning.

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Perhaps, it is no coincidence that these ancient teachers did not have textbooks (or iPads) – neither did they have publishers, textbook writers and software developers constantly hawking their wares back then!

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In a nutshell, we need to start viewing curriculum as:

the expression of educational beliefs – in practice – or the whole educative process

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Yes, it is true that in today’s world content, textbooks and course outlines need to be factored in – but if we limit ourselves to these components, we are actually preparing the ground work for all of the myths that ICG have outlined for us.

If we do not include a vision of the type of graduate we are working to create (and not just a version for wall decoration), teacher talk will remain at the heart of the teaching process – and covering it will still be equated with teaching it.

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We need to see curriculum for what it really is – not a document (or table of contents from a textbook) but what we do with what we believe it is all about:

  • Graduate Profile
  • Content
  • Course Outlines
  • Textbooks
  • Projects
  • Self-Study Modules
  • On-line Learning Resources
  • Practice Activities
  • Homework
  • Assessment Critreria
  • Tests
  • Feedback
  • Student/Teacher Interactions
  • Teacher Values
  • Educational Beliefs
  • Institutional Vision

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Curriculum needs to be about choice and principles (I stole that from Covey) – and those principles need to be:

  • Spiral
  • Purposeful
  • Explicit
  • Values-centred
  • Learning-driven
  • Future-orientated
  • Living
  • Dynamic
  • Teacher-owned
  • Creative

 

Now, tell me if that ain’t better than the myths and their mother!

 

 

(*) Since this post was first published (on 20th February, 2012) Wikipedia has changed its definition of curriculum…Mmmm, do not ask me why.

So You Think You Can TEACH?

In Classroom Teaching, Teacher Learning on 19/06/2013 at 7:33 am

SYTYCD 01

Yes…even I have a fewguilty TV pleasures”!

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Now, you would know this…if you read the blog closely:

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The show – So You Think You Can DANCE – brings my wife and I to tears so often we are embarrassed (but NOT with eachother).

The BEAUTY of being able to express yourself so well…through dance…is something both of us are totally new to (or we were…till a few years back).

Actually, many people said (when I was a younger “delikanlı) that I was not half-bad when I trip the light fantastic or shake the old hips (they were so much younger then). I just loved letting my hair down…and “did” what I do in the classroom – expressed MEself!

My darling wife, Nazlı Hanım (OMG! Google Translate is as awful as ever), was at the back of the queue…when this “stuff” was being dished out – same with cooking skills! Tell me again why I took a Turkish bride – no belly-dancing, no love of cooking (but she has done so much of it – for her family…day-in-day-out)!

…25 years of marriage is built on many things…many other things!

DarlingI SEE YOU (always will)…nuff said!

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BUT, we both LOVE the show!

Heck, we will even lie (OK…tell little “fibs” – go to #07) to family members and friends (we love so much – sorry guys) and turn down dinner invitations…just to sit at home and watch these “kids” do their thing…together!

TOGETHER…that is the deal!

 Success (what it really looks like) TG ver

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There’s a bit of the show that we both loveadore, even!

All the “kids” get to Las Vegasto dance for their lives…literally! They have to compete (over days and days) to get to the “Top 20”.

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OK – as an EDUcator, I always hated “competitions”…schools pick the “best” kids (to “show off”), “coach” them to death, and take credit for what the kids would have done anyway!

BUT…this is a DANCE competition…and only the best can survive!

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SYTYCD (TG ver)

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During “Vegas Week”, after days of grueling “battles”…there’s a TEAM-based phase. All these super-talented (and ambitious / hungry) “kids” are asked to listen to a bit of music and CREATE a new dance piece…in a group of 4 or 5!

This part of the show has Nazlı Hanım and I wiping our eyes for hours (and more than a little bit pissed off about all the “prima donas”).

The THING is...

…this phase is where CHARACTER “shines”.

These exhausted kids (after 3 or 4 days) have to stay up all nite and CREATE a routine…a routine that will make the judges “cry” (NOT just Tony Abi and Nazlı Abla)…and get them closer to that “magic Top 20”!

I cannot repeat what Nazlı Hanım says about Adam…and all his crying (he is BTW – a lovely guy)!

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Of course, there’s a lot of “hype” and “fake drama” (Tony Abi and Nazlı Abla are not that “thick”)! BUT, these dancers try to do (and are tested on) what matters!

For a performance…that will bring tears to Tony Abi and Nazlı Abla’s eyes…these kids will find out what each dancer brings to the “game”, they will interpret the MUSIC (the classrom environment and LEARNers…for us TEACHers)…LEARN to ADAPT to eachother and work to make the “audienceFEEL (also the LEARNers…for we TEACHers)…

They stay up all night…they question…they fight! 

They work it out…they WIN!

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UNcover Welcome NEO 02

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In the world of EDUcation…we TEACHers also stay up all nite (hopefully not just to grade tests), we question…we fight (with our wives mostly…Nazlı Hanım refers to my string of desktops, laptops and mobile devices as “Tony’s mistresses”)!

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Isolation (Wagner quote) Ver 03

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But, what a lot of us do not do (enough) is…do all this “together”…

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We “dance“, we do… but…many of us look at it, sadly,  as an individual sport!

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Here’s what I thunk

I wish more of us realised that the notion of MY course is really a bit silly!

What matters (really matters) is the kidsand their LEARNing! More of us need to look at SCHool not as a series of courses (and their tests) – but rather as a number of years that make up the LEARNing “career” of a student.

From the mouths of babes (TG ver)

WHEN…HOW…WHY…did “we” LEARN “them” this!

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If we did that, we might be more tempted to stop preparing individual lessons plans…and start looking for ways to produce the best LEARNing opportunites we can – the best LEARNing environments

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TOGETHER!

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Nigel…if you ever need a co-producer (cum judge) or two for SYTYCTNazlı Abla and I are in!

LEARNing (Adams quote) Ver 02

MOTİVASYON – …when TEACHers “LEARN” other TEACHers!

In Classroom Teaching, Our Schools, Our Universities, Teacher Learning, Teacher Training on 15/06/2013 at 5:25 am

A couple of posts ago…I left things with the word LEARNacy!

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Nativation (blog)

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That was a test…and a few of you still need to hit that “little, red word” (I have one of those lovely chaps/chapettes, their “happiness engineers”, at WordPress just sitting there…just for me…analysing my blog data…and she works 24/7…for “free”)!

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LEARNacy is a real word…honest to God!

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But as I have already done a load of posts on it, suffice to say…time to hit the “little, red words” again”:

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Come on…it’s weekend… – “bedtime READing” is what weekends were imagineered for!

X

LEARNacy (new ver TG)

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When I work with TEACHers on motivation, sometimes I get the feeling that we (as a profession) thunk that it is a whole different story…when it comes to kids in the CLASSroom.

To get round this, I try a little exercisea little “pop quiz”…if you will:

Motivation (the QUIZ)

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TEACHers actually like this question (esp. when we take “money” off the table – I am sorry…there is nothing wrong with wanting to “feed your family” and it’s high time we stop beating up on TEACHers for “needing” what every single one of us needs) …and the answers we get would surprise you:

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Motivation (the ANSWERS)

Yes, we TEACHers are human beings, too!

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Now, I think I may have actually “stolen” this idea from somewhere – but, can’t…for the life of me…remember where. The point is that we all need to see that “kids” are not that different to us (when we get them away from the EXAMocracy mentality…and the silly pressures that parents…yes, mummy and daddy…place on their kids)!

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Many of our motivations for coming to school…are social, emotional…all that touchy-feely stuff!

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When we ask TEACHers (as I did with the idea in the last post) if they can apply (or adapt) these “understandings” to their CLASSroom practice, they can…they do:

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Motivation (the AKP plug)

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…but for some reason – this little graphic has been getting me in trouble of late! I paid bloody good money for that image!

so TOLERATE ME!

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Neyse…this is where…and all TEACHers “love” this…we get people to:

Share Share Share

YES! …again! TEACHers looovvveee sharing…and giving helpful ADVICE!

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but...

Even with all this thunking and sharing going on in my TRAINing room…I still get the occasional “question”, every now and again. The kinda question no trainer wants to get when they have just run a great workshop or seminar:

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Motivation (final question from TEACHers)

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Tony! Go on…TELL ME!

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I have another “graphic” up my sleeve…for times like that:

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Motivation (the CHALLENGE)

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Your choice!

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Just remember this one thunk – TEACHers always do it better with other TEACHers!

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BTW…Put these books on your SUMMER READing Listyou will not be disappointed!

MOTİVASYON – …when students “LEARN” their TEACHers!

In Classroom Teaching, Our Schools, Our Universities, Teacher Learning on 14/06/2013 at 2:57 pm

Motivation (Hattie quote) Ver 04

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Sure, there are lots of ways we TEACHers can learn about what motivates our kids (and young adults).

One thing I have been doing a lot of recently is asking TEACHers to “adapt” their own private LEARNing to the classroom context. For example, a while back there was a brilliant bit of “informal research” that came out from:

Kaplan Study 01

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…really, really accessible from that internet-thingyyou know the one all our bloody kids are addicted to!

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When I show this to teams of TEACHers, I ask them to have a thunk about what this might be “saying” to us – as classroom EDUcatorsthat can’t perhaps put little Zeynep on a flight to New Zealand (…she would probably love it, BTW)!

This often “hurts” a few heads…

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…Of course, I just get a tingly sensationall over…when someone says:

Motivation (Eureka)

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Now, if the “climate” feels right…I might throw in another question or FOUR:

Motivation (5 FQs for TEACHers)

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…or (just) continue to look at the stuff from those lovely chaps at Kaplan:

Kaplan Study 02…and they starting wishing they could put Zeynep on a plane to you-know-where!

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The other stuff in this survey is more interesting. For example:

Kaplan Study 03Look at that % again…most governments would “kill” for a majority like that!

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And…what about “music”?

Kaplan Study 04How many of YOU did the exact same thing?

…all my early Turkish came from İbrahim Tatlıses! OK – and bit from Sezen Aksu

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If you do not much Turkish music, you have to “hit” those “red links”!

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Want more?

Kaplan Study 06

This is where start to “see” the power of paragogypeeragogy, even!

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Kids will work together on this stuff for hoursand hours….and hours – and then whine-themselves-to-sleep because they forgot to do the “worksheet” you asked them to complete for the pop-quiz tomorrow morning!

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No…I’m not going to say that we should all start watching TV or listening to music for 5 hours a day (but maybejust maybe, come up with a way to get the kids to do that after school…with their friends – because they know they are going to “TEACH others” some of the stuff they LEARNed themselves (and eachother)!

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Creativity (Angelou quote - NEW)

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AND…No (again, sorry!), the secret is for us to: FIRSTask our kids stuff like this – and then, SECONDlook for ways to use some of these elements to “spice” up the “pacing document” we have to get through.

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You “see” me?

See me (glasses and classroom)

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You “see” the KIDS?

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OK – so, how many of YOU use music / movies / TV…to do all this?

What resources do YOU use?

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Could YOU help us ALL…?

Share Share Share

Yes, right now…go to the comment box and give us a few URLs! 

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Even better…can you give us the URLs that your KIDS suggested to YOU?

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Motivation (avatar phrase)

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Sevgiyle kalın…sevgili hocalarım!

Motivating our LEARNers…or “Co-Creating” a CLIMATE of LEARNacy?

In Classroom Teaching, ELT and ELL, Our Schools, Our Universities, Teacher Learning on 12/06/2013 at 1:51 pm

YES (red exlam tilted)

…I know!

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A few of you are saying things like:

The SECRET (Expletive)

Hey…do not shoot the “postman”!

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OK…let me call on a few “bigger” guns…to convince you:

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Motivation (and fishing)

What? 

You want a “bigger gun”?

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The SECRET (Covey)

Go ondisagree with my favourite rahmetli hocam – I dare you!

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Yes…

I am BACK

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Let me tell you…some of the real “secrets”

but...

we have to go a bit negative on our own asses (or “arses“)…just for a wee minute (go on…guess away at my cultural heritage there)!

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Firstly, “motivation” in the classroom (or out of it for that matter) is not about:

Motivation (sweeties)

Dentists just hate us when we do that!

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Nor is it about:

The ABCDs

No, you cannot watch another movie for 2 hours…Zeynep!

It’s not Friday, yet!

It ain’t

It ain’t even about the TECHnology we use:

Is is the TECH or the QUESTIONS

My “digital cheerleader” pals are gonna hate me for throwing that one in!

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It should also never be about…

Motivation (abdication and Darth Principal)

Darth…is that a “carrot” or a “stick” in your mechanical hand?

…or are you just happy to see…my kids in detention again? We call that strategy “abdication of responsibility” (where I come from – did you guess, yet)…and you’ll never pass probation like that!

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Good TEACHersGreat EDUcatorsjust know:

Classroom Management (feet)

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Oh, yes…and, always make sure this is LOUDest message in the room:

Success (in my classroom)

…through who they are, what they do and how they LEARN themselves!

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The alternative…?

Ms Pushover

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But, motivation is about sooooooo much more than “classroom management” – perhaps, we should say CLASSroom LEADERship“…

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Besides, didn’t we already say:

The SECRET (Really, really)

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As I hinted, in my post early last week:

3 things from 30 years

…that last one is kinda important, esp. the bit about the “voice“!

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When we ask “kids” and I have worked my way through pre-school to supporting PhD candidates – they frequently tell us they want certain things…things that do not vary that much:

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GREAT TEACHERS 04

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Yes, that one at the top of list…is the one they say the most (esp. when they are not very “happy”).

Time we start to “hear” it…

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OK – don’t believe me and my preference for very unscientific methods…other “big guns” (female, this time – to show you I am an “equal opportunities” blogger):

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TEACHing and LEARNing

Told you so!

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Take a closer look at MY list again – yes, I know that Julia and Jean’s has a sexier “soundbite” quality to it – but mine is also based on what kids and young adults have told me again and again…and again.

Honest – look at that face of mine…you could buy a second-hand car from me!

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What other elements do you see?

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John Hattie (quote)

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What’s all that stuff about “real”?

Yes, I know Julia and Jean said that, too!

But what does it mean for YOU…for your LEARNers?

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Another “big gun”, anyone?

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Palmer QUOTATION - Circle of Trust

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A “cannon”, perhaps?

Rogers QUOTE (Facilitation of LEARNing)

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…and three cannonballs, me thunks:

3 cannonballs (quotes Carl Rogers)

I know…another “guy” talking about “guys”!

But…he is “THE guy”!

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Yesterday, Laurence talked about “allowing” kids to keep in touch with their “childlike heart” duh…they are kids…and even young adults (and TEACHers) respond to this approach.

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It’s about being “real”NOT just “covering” the curriculum!

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It’s about LEARNingNOT just “TEACHing at” them!

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Learnacy ZONE

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It’s about LEARNacy

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Personal Reflections on MOTIVATION – Guest Post (by Laurence Raw)

In Classroom Teaching, Guest BLOGGERS, Learning & Parenting, Our Schools on 11/06/2013 at 3:53 pm
I have decided to take the day off – to allow you all to ponder my last couple of posts.
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We have been looking at the issue of motivation – and the current challenges across canım Türkiyem have been causing more than a few of us to reflect on our lives, our work and our families.
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This guest post is the result of both these processes.
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Laurence (guest post header 04)
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The question of how to motivate learners is a difficult one.
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I was talking to my fourteen-year-old niece last Sunday, who is contemplating changing schools, as her current institution is “boring” with its incessant focus on exams and knowledge-based education.  I asked her what she would like as an alternative, and she quoted her father, who had previously described her as “a creative person.
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A good education in her view should help to stimulate creativity.
Creativity (Maya Angelou quote)
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However “creativity” is a slippery term.  Entire schools exist in universities devoted to “the creative industries;” despite the positive-sounding nature of the term, many of their members are caught in the educational treadmill of producing papers and/or research, or finding outside funding for projects, so as to ensure their futures.
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Failure (failure zone)
It would be great if we could adopt alternative visions of “creativity”for example, by encouraging our learners to rearrange what they know in order to discover something they do not know.  Maybe we need to remember what the fourth century BC philosopher Mencius once said: to promote an atmosphere of creativity we need to remember how “great is the human who has not lost his childlike heart.”
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I told my fourteen-year-old niece of how I used to amuse myself; as an only child, I didn’t have many friends and learned how to play on my own.  I used to make up stories, using my soft toys as characters; and subsequently wrote them down on an old typewriter.  Through this activity I learned how much I liked to write; I continue doing so to this day.  In other words, that “childlike heart” within me still blazes, even though it’s a long time since I played with my soft toys.
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A genuinely creative classroom values the “childlike heart” in all of its members, learners and educators alike.  It permits experiment; lets people take risks; and does not place any stigma on failure.  As Tim Harford once remarked, success always starts with failure as individuals learn from their mistakes and are encouraged to creative something new and different.  They can only achieve this in a mutually supportive atmosphere, once which recognizes that all of us, whatever our age and/or experience in life, have that childlike quality within us.
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Learnacy ZONE
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This is a far more important motivation for LEARNing than any of the rulescurricula, syllabi, and exams – that govern the most classrooms.  Thomas Edison was once asked by one of his laboratory attendants: “Mr. Edison, tell me what rules you want to observe?”  The great inventor replied crisply: “There ain’t no rules around here.  We’re tryin’ to accomplish somethin.'”  Exactly what that “somethin'” might be in the classroom should be determined through collaboration between educator and learners.  If everyone listens to each other, then they will learn to value their “childlike heart.”
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Risk-taking (quotes)
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None of these ideas can make my fourteen-year-old niece’s search for a good education any easier, as she decides whether to find a new school or stay at her existing one.  But at least by listening to her “childlike heart,” she might sustain her motivation; if she can find like-minded people to work with in any type of institution (the home, at school, in a private course, or wherever), then perhaps she can recognize the value of LEARNing.
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LEARNing vs TEACHing 02
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Maybe we should all recognize the importance of this.
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Laurence Raw

(aka @laurenceraw on Twitter)
Baskent University – Ankara, Turkey
Editor: Journal of American Studies of Turkey
http://baskent.academia.edu/LaurenceRaw
http://www.radiodramareviews.com