Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!

Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!
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Teaching is the profession that teaches all the other professions. ~ Author Unknown

My goal is to reveal one teacher's humble journey of self-reflection, critical analysis, and endless questioning about my craft of teaching and learning alongside my middle school students.

"The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called 'truth'." ~ Dan Rather

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Students as Intelligent Creators and Consumers of their Own Learning

Professor Garfield Gini-Newman says intelligence "implies flexibility and creativity, the ability to slip the bonds of knowledge into meaningful use." Intelligence, then, becomes how we use and locate information to solve a variety of real world and complex problems.

It is no surprise that kids today have their brains wired differently than previous generations. They are more visual, more comfortable at multi-tasking, and have become great scanners of information who can develop internal, natural filters in what they are reviewing. These kids are part of a "participatory culture," where, according to Gini-Newman, 50 percent of adolescents create media content and over 30 percent of them share content with one another online.

In my first lesson with him, Gini-Newman explained that "distributed intelligence" involves the role resources, such as libraries, the Internet, tools, and experts, play in helping us to solve problems and meet various challenges. People possessing this kind of intelligence are able to select appropriate resources to solve problems of many kinds. After all, in the 21st century, intelligence is now immediately "distributed" around the world. Our students are bombarded with this information constantly. The challenge becomes encouraging and motivating them to be better readers and thinkers about the information they encounter. How do we create this kind of collaborative, meaningful community in our classrooms??

The problem with our students being so programmed to multi-tasking is that the more they multi-task, the less deliberate and focused they become. Therefore, according to neuroscientist Jordan Grafman, we need to teach kids when to multi-task and when not to.

Gini-Newman argues that two imperatives for 21st century education emerge:

1. To understand and respond to children growing up in an ever-increasing digital and global world.
2. To prepare children for success in an increasingly complex digital and global world.

As educators, several goals emerge to work on every day with our students:

1. To ensure learning is meaningful and has the potential to be transformative.
2. To create classrooms of true inquiry where students are invited to explore critical issues and make reasoned judgments in light of evidence presented.
3. To ensure classrooms are interactive and collaborative.
4. To find ways to help ALL students engage with the curriculum in meaningful inquiry.

We often presume that certain students CANNOT think. And THIS is a huge problem. Students play an active role in monitoring their own learning. Our real challenge, then, becomes nurturing a classroom community where students see themselves as reflected as part of the global community built on a valued culture of respect and understanding. Can we rise to the occasion?

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