To build the resilience of students who face adversity, we need to nurture the whole spectrum of their developmental needs.
Forty years of resilience research following children who face multiple challenges into adulthood has yielded a surprising but consistent finding: Most children and youth—even those coming from highly stressed or abusive families or from resource-deprived communities—do somehow manage to overcome their often overwhelming odds and become "competent, confident, and caring" adults (Werner & Smith, 2001).
Post written by Jessica DuBois-Maahs, a Medill School of Journalism candidate at Northwestern University concentrating in finance reporting and interactive publishing and business reporter for MediaTec Publishing in Chicago, Ill.
Gary Stager has taught in classrooms all around the world, and he said the common thread that binds exceptional learning experiences together is hands-on project-based learning.
In his 2013 ASCD Annual Conference session, "The Best Education Ideas in the World: Adventures on the Frontiers of Learning," Stager showed attendees videos of elementary school students building robots and solving complex engineering problems while appearing to enjoy the process.
The audience members smiled and clapped as they watched a young Australian student use nothing but pipe cleaners, LEGO blocks, and her brain to build a toy ballerina that spun. In his presentation, Stager theorized that this type of project-based learning can propel modern curricula because students use critical thinking in multiple disciplines to create the end result.
Today's world is entirely different than the one in which I was born. For context, I'm only 20 years old. Among all the advances in science and technology occurring every day are incredible advances in education and child development. We know more now than ever before about how the brain works and how that translates to learning. The research is quite clear: there are many types of learners, and the most effective ways of teaching convey the information in a variety of formats. Lessons that are engaging, interactive, and creative are best for knowledge retention.
One of my most memorable learning experiences was an 8th grade World History unit in which we researched and took on roles in a mock trial for Joan of Arc. Instead of reading a chapter in a book and answering quiz questions, we each prepared a series of statements to reevaluate the court's sentence in a modern context. Cast as Joan herself, I was quite relieved to be found "not guilty," but the real takeaway is found in the overarching lessons from this activity.
First, if you haven't read Tom Whitby's post "The Big Lie in Education," do so. This post is a follow-up from what Whitby has eloquently started.
While we are reflecting, refreshing, and recharging, lets reflect on what we are trying to teach our students and why. Take the premise uttered by many that education must prepare our students for the "Real World." What is this "Real World" that is often held up as a gold standard for anything educationally relevant in a time when everything is changing so quickly and dramatically around us?
Too often this "Real World" that people propose is an antiquated idea that bears little relevance to today, yet alone tomorrow. "Real World" cannot be an education system based on last century's framework. It cannot be a system based on last century's metrics nor last century's constrained concept of knowledge.
This clip presents several ways teachers have structured learning around big ideas and conceptual patterns so that students can connect to a compelling "why," or reason for doing something. Students design the criteria for assignments and take roles and responsibilities within each assignment to see it to its completion. Students or teachers can identify a real-world problem to work on, and technology can provide new avenues for students to collaborate and express their thinking. Learn more with ASCD Express.
There has been some progress in the last few years for interdisciplinary studies. It's a trend still in its infancy, but it is beginning to catch on due to great successes from early adopters. Schools are challenging their students with problems requiring learning from traditionally disparate subjects. What will be the next technology in education design to use the best methods of learning in siloed core subjects and apply those methods to other subjects? The first, and most obvious example, will be the use of the scientific method in traditionally nonscience classes.
We baby boomers grew up in an age of finite pie. There was only one pie and it could be divided into only so many slices. Even our pie graphs represent the totality of the resources we have to work with. There's only so much pie to go around. And the implications play out in how we think, act and define success. If you only have one finite pie, what flavor is it? How many people can it serve? How small can you make the slices? What does it mean if you simply don’t have enough?
All of this is a legacy of the Industrial Age, which was based on the availability of natural resources to feed growth. Empires were built by gaining access to raw materials that could fuel their economic engines. You could not sustain industrial success on finite resources, so you kept expanding the size of your pie. Of course, this works well as long as there are new lands to acquire and new resources to consume. But in the physical world, there are always limits. Be it foreign lands or fossil fuels, everything runs out eventually.
When teaching history, it is very easy to get caught up and lost in all the details of a particular lesson. I am especially drawn to political, diplomatic, and military history and have found myself spending far too much time in my Western Civilization courses on the fine points of the diplomatic maneuverings of the Congress of Vienna or the tactical skill of Hannibal during the Second Punic War. So, to ensure that my students have the big picture, I do the following:
At the outset of the course, I ensure that they understand the critical overarching themes and questions of the course.
At the start of each lesson, I indicate which of these are present in the day's lesson.
And finally, I require each student to have a "BIG IDEAS BOX."
A few weeks ago I was watching my daughters as they were working through drills during their weekly tennis lessons. I observed a group of elementary kids dutifully take their places, hit the ball, and then move to the next station. It was simple, efficient, and monotonous. Though they were learning the basics of tennis, the kids simply weren't having much fun. Their coach must have noticed because he immediately changed pace and led all the kids to an adjoining field next to the courts for a lively game of freeze tag. All the kids were laughing and loving it, though I found that it bore little resemblance to anything even remotely related to tennis. I was wrong. What looked to me to be free play was really the development of skills such as acceleration, lateral speed, and footwork. This coach recognized that sometimes you can leave the court and have fun while accomplishing goals.
Twenty-first century skills are quickly becoming taught and assessed in schools across the United States. Whether through explicit instruction or models like project-based learning, educators are realizing that lower-level content comprehension is not enough. The Whole Child Initiative calls for tenets that rely on these skills. Educators create a safe environment through collaboration. Critical thinking creates rigor and challenge. Communication can create engagement with the community. When we pair 21st century skills with content, we can create powerful and meaningful learning. The Common Core State Standards explicitly call for these skills, so through uncovering the 3 Cs in the Common Core standards, we can see how educators must teach and assess them.