Redesigning Education: Designing for Deeper Learning

 

 

What counts and what matters in learning?  Contrary to centuries of practice, it is not really the grades.

Since April of 2017 I have been reading about and, now, practicing gradeless-ness in my high school 9th and 10th grade English classes.  Sure, I know that such a practice is not new, at least not in independent schools, but what I did not know was how widespread the practice had become in public-school classrooms around the nation.  The Facebook group, “Teachers Throwing Out Grades“, and more recently, the group “Teachers Going Gradeless” have been incredibly active in promoting this movement, and its history is as old as our system of public schooling itself.  While seemingly counterintuitive, given most Americans’ experiences in public school, going gradeless is a key aspect of the move to deeper learning….

Visit my work at plusus.org to continue reading.

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Redesigning Education: Iterating towards Mastery

maker-words

I recently listened to a podcast with Scott Looney, Headmaster of the Hawken School in Cleveland, Ohio, and also the founder of the Mastery Transcript Consortium.  Mr. Looney discusses not only the project-based work he has introduced at Hawken, but focuses a good deal of his time on the history and philosophy around the Mastery Transcript Consortium–a group of independent and public schools devoted to shifting the high-school transcript away from meaningless letter grades, Grade Point Averages, and Carnegie Units (HS credits) to something more representative of the skills and knowledge students possess and the actual work  they can do….

Post is continued at:  http://plusus.org/redesigning-education-iterating-towards-mastery/

Why Design: Reading and Writing the World.

 

 

I was/am an English major.

The confusion in verb tense stems from a shift in how I act within the world. For years I buried my head in books. Fictional worlds allowed me to explore a myriad of human experiences I would never have had the chance to understand outside the covers of books. I spent years in college honing my skills at reading these worlds, divining the author’s deeper motives (if such is even possible) and understanding the intentionality at the heart of writing.


Head over to www.plusus.org/our-thoughts/ to read the rest.

Extraordinary Design Thinking: The Extraordinaires Strike Again!

On Monday, July 18, I had the opportunity to get back into the Professional Development sphere.  Working with PlusUs , I was able to do a 1/2 day of professional development for teachers in Philadelphia’s University of the Arts “Professional Institute for Educators.”  The class is being taught by Phil Holcombe, founder of PlusUs and an instructor for the PIE program.

It’s been almost a decade since I’ve done any kind of teaching at the continuing ed level outside my own district, but stepping back in was easy.  I pulled out a couple of improv games to set the culture (thanks @wickeddecent and @lndeutsch), organized my deck of Prof. Development activities, bought about $25 worth of toothbrushes (my “go to” object when asking people to look for innovative designs and to read intention out of those objects–post a comment if you want to know more about toothbrushes and how my concern for dental health lead me to design), grabbed my Extraordinaires Design Studio and a few bags stuffed with materials to run the Cooper Hewitt’s “Ready Set Design” activity with the Extraordinaires as the client.

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I’ve said this before, but there’s no better way to help someone understand what design and design thinking are than to actually engage them in a short project that’s deep in empathy for the user and allows them to work quickly and collaboratively.  Reflecting afterward sets the learning and allows it to serve as a touchstone for all the other activities and learning to come this week.  (It’s a week-long class.)

Again, if you’re trying to help people understand the “what” of design and design thinking, I can’t recommend the Extraordinaires enough.  In 30 minutes learners can run through empathy, definition, ideation, prototyping, and feedback.  Running that order the first time through, for first time design thinkers helps develop a familiarity with DT as a heuristic.  Second and third iterations are possible, and a more organic approach to DT starts to take over.

 

 

A View from the Crossroads: Rethinking College Admissions

THE BEAUTIFUL DANGER OF COFFEE AFTER 2PM

Saturday night, somewhere around 12:20 AM, I was searching my twitter feed and came across a post from Grant Lichtman.  The tweet linked to a report from the Harvard Graduate School of Education entitled, Turning the Tide:  Inspiring Concern for Others and the Common Good through College Admissions.”  (Yes, I was up at 12:20 AM.  That warning about coffee after 2PM?  It’s true.)

I fell asleep looking at the report, but had the presence to mark it so I could check it when I woke up.  I’m glad I did because it represents work that has the potential to create a sea change in education at all levels….

Check out the rest of this post at Plusus.org