What can writers learn from hockey players?

A great article about what writing teachers can learn from street hockey games: that over-engineering lessons takes not only the fun out of students’ learning, it robs students of the freedom and responsibility to own their own learning:

I’m starting to think that my assignments are over-engineered.

Source: The Benefits of Disorganized Learning | Just Visiting by John Warner

Meaningful Work, in the classroom and beyond

Meaningful work is an idea valuable to the classroom as well as to business. It’s getting more attention in the business world as Millennials enter the work force demanding jobs they want to do even at entry level, and as more mature workers realize the paycheck isn’t the bottom line value if the work itself is dull and uninspiring.

In the classroom, teachers are often working under tightly prescribed guidelines for outcomes and goals. Finding a way to make the classroom tasks meaningful in some situations can be a challenge.

For years I taught Latin to middle and high schoolers who were less than thrilled about the course. (Often it was required.) I could stand on my head or do a song-n-dance everyday to make it “fun,” but really, the hard work of learning a language (especially one with as many technical details to master as Latin) requires —you guessed it— hard work.

This good post at Buffer offers a few ways that individuals can take charge of whether their own work is meaningful. Teachers can adapt these strategies for the classroom and also call learners to mindfulness about their work. We can teach kids how to find meaning in the mundane — because even the best, most meaningful careers include quite a bit of the mundane.

Meaningful work for everyone: the 3 conditions that lead to your best work (Buffer)

Making room for introverts

The six biggest mistakes of managing an introvert – Quartz.

^ Good read.

There’s been a lot of good popular writing lately (online magazines, usually) about how to work with introverts without misjudging them for the very qualities that make an introvert an outstanding employee: thoughtful, reflective work.  It’s not hard to accommodate the particular needs of introverted folks:  give them a chance to think before demanding an answer, provide peace and quiet, retool the way you form teams for collaboration.

The individual learners who make up our classroom communities can benefit from similar accommodations:

  • Create physical space in your classroom for those who need to be a little further from the action, and places where those who need peace and quiet to work can find that.
  • Insert time and space between questions and answers — for example, ask a (chewy) question but make everyone jot down answers on a paper or in a journal for a few minutes before allowing the class to respond. This gives people time to process, and introverts often prefer written communication to off-the-cuff answers.  Allow students to read what they’ve written if they prefer.
  • Consider pairing introverts together for group projects. You’ll encourage them to step forward as a pair or team to do presentations or other “public” work instead of being overshadowed by the extrovert in their group.
  • Allow your coursework to ebb and flow between quiet personal work and busier, louder, more active engagement.  It doesn’t have to be a learning zoo all the time.  Model introspection and taking time to think before speaking.
  • Encourage groups to talk as much as they need for making decisions or analyzing the problem at hand, but encourage them to move into developing ideas (individually, perhaps, and then returning for a group discussion) and individual implementation to allow introverts a break from personal interaction.

There’s an equal danger, of course: that school, with its rows of desks all in a line and emphasis on order and rigor, can squash extroverts just as much as it wears out the introverts with public speaking and constant collaboration.  For the extroverts, being forced to sit down, shut up, keep quiet, stay on task, stop bringing up new ideas — all of that reinforces the idea that only the boring, orderly kids are going to do well at school.

So – as always – lesson design must accommodate both.

Article: This Is What a Student-Designed School Looks Like | MindShift

This Is What a Student-Designed School Looks Like | MindShift.

^Amazing example of how student-directed, independent learning can offers students rich opportunities for deep, engaged learning. This high school has found a way to open up this kind of experience for students who want it, without restricting it to “high achievers.”

Recommended read.

via This Is What a Student-Designed School Looks Like | MindShift.

How Dissecting a Pencil Can Ignite Curiosity and Wonderment | MindShift

Cool read! Applying design thinking principles, the maker ethos, and curiosity to very mundane activities, across the K-12 curriculum. Real teachers, real examples, and really encouraging!

How Dissecting a Pencil Can Ignite Curiosity and Wonderment | MindShift.

via How Dissecting a Pencil Can Ignite Curiosity and Wonderment | MindShift.

Teachers Shadowing Students: Doing What Students Do

Teachers Shadowing Students: Doing What Students Do.
via Te@achThought

^^ Yes, this.

Wish I’d thought of doing this myself when I was a young and inexperienced teacher. It would have re-formed my teaching practice and propelled me toward more student-centered learning, more movement, more engagement, less lecture, less of me talking.

In the classroom, we regularly ask students to behave in ways that adults would never put up with.  We demand high levels of engagement that  none of us are ever really willing to offer in meetings or PD sessions.  We expect students to be “always on” though we ourselves would refuse to work under those demands.

Viewing our students as image bearers with all of the responsibilities and privileges that brings ought to shift our view of how students sit in classrooms, how they engage in learning.

Read her post. It’s well worth your time.