The Case for Teaching Integrated Skills vs Separate Subjects

I think that we need to have deeper discussions about the importance of teaching and integrating skills versus teaching separate subjects. This is important to help children experience success in school and beyond.

We should learn more about how to best teach the skills for learning across the disciplines vs the disciplines themselves.

This is..

  • NOT just because of the growing support for curriculum that involves application and communication,
  • NOT just because many students are bored studying topics in isolation,
  • NOT just because many businesses are advocating for key skills like problem solving for the future, and certainly
  • NOT just because it promotes more organic and authentic assessment opportunities….

BUT because the wicked problems we face in the world cannot be solved out of a single discipline of knowledge.

For example, our students won’t find much on the internet that merely pertains to one discipline.

This is not to say that studying the disciplines are unimportant. Indeed, subject specific areas are a means of obtaining a strong knowledge base, and answering essential questions.

In addition to this knowledge base, skills are the thread that brings knowledge and experiences together, and helps us to apply them to new situations.

That is why I think we need to seriously begin to look at the skills we need that help students to look at the world across disciplines.

When we help students to harness the skills, we help them to identify and recognize problems as meaningful contexts for knowledge. Students are then able to take different kinds of perspectives, and create new knowledge and solutions.

This is not without some serious issues however.

Here are some of the problems we face when we try to teach the skills across the disciplines vs separate subjects:

  1. It adds layers of fatigue for us educators. Let’s face it, our report cards require us to make sure we have helped our students to succeed with the specific roles inherent in each subject area. i.e., experimenters in science, essayists in writing, analysts in social studies and history. We barely have enough time to cover and assess the disciplines let alone start integrating them.
  2. Integrating skills across the disciplines is no quick fix. It requires greater planning and knowledge of the disciplines ourselves. It requires us to recognize and help students to draw upon the roles and characteristics of each discipline.
  3. We need to understand the main disciplines all at once to help students identify and create essential questions.
  4. There are no ‘thematic units’ available, with worksheets and final assessments and measuring tools at the ready. Measuring skills requires infinite flexibility, and no guarantee that all curriculum will be covered with each student.
  5. Ensuring that our students are well versed in choosing various assessment methods can be challenging. Particularly when we focus on specific assessment methods for each discipline. Students then need to be taught different ways of presenting their learning. Each discipline has its own ‘way’ of conducting assessments. ie., Writing up a science experiment, analyzing a text, writing a test – (I bet you can guess which subjects those forms of assessment could possibly fit into.) Empowering students to choose the best one for the skills they are demonstrating is challenging.

We can overcome these problems by:

  1. Ensuring that students co-create the success criteria of each skill, and that we always refer to them.
  2. Harnessing each discipline to help create essential questions for students. Prompting students to recognize when they have their own questions and let them come up with imaginative answers.
  3. Visually showing how the ‘Big Ideas’ connect to the problem students are solving. Then have students explicitly identify the skills they are using in each area.
  4. Recognizing that all disciplines are flexible. They are always changing based on new research, society and politics. Knowledge is ever-growing and changing. Students have knowledge to share. Student knowledge changes as they grow and mature.
  5. Allowing students to be assessed in different ways. Each student does not have to conduct the same assessment to demonstrate their growing knowledge.
  6. Harnessing the feedback that your students are already giving each other, and teach them how to do it effectively. Continually helping students to give and receive feedback. Make feedback part of the daily social fabric of the classroom. Make it a #feedbackfriendly classroom.
  7. Connecting the feedback with the vocabulary of specific skills that students use. Words matter.
  8. Helping students to have a growth mindset. We can do this by giving them appropriate scaffolds to help students improve their skills no matter what they are learning. The onus is on us here.
  9. Helping students take risks, and manage frustration. Too much frustration won’t help anyone. Teach students the skills to manage frustration, and understand that some frustration is essential to the learning process.
  10. Organizing our lessons around problems that need to be solved, then drawing upon specific disciplinary knowledge to help students solve those problems.
  11. Helping students plan for dealing with new information. Mental models work great here – not as a means to an end, but as an ongoing process.

 

What you can expect is that students will begin to talk and converse in ways that involve the key words, sentence starters and conversations that highlight skills. They will start to recognize that they have questions in the first place. They will ask questions that are meaningful to them, without worrying that they are asking the wrong questions. In this way, they will begin to engage more freely in problem solving, they will collaborate more with others, take more initiative with their learning.

Students will also begin to take more ownership of their learning, and begin to feel respected as individuals. Students will begin to understand that what they are learning has real connections to the outside world and what they are interested in. When they search the internet, for instance, they will realize that no topic is ‘just’ about science, or math, and that all issues are interrelated, and that they have it within themselves to ask questions, manage frustration, integrate their own knowledge, values and experiences, and make a plan for moving forward.

At the end of the day, the most important ‘answers’ are those that have come from the students themselves, based on their own skills. Not the answers from a specific discipline.

My call to action is for us all to consider how we can integrate skills within and across subject areas for our students. How will we help them to be successful in the world?

 

Deborah McCallum

c 2017

Professional Learning: Does it work?

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I have been doing some research lately into Training Evaluation, and quite unexpectedly have become intrigued at how we measure professional development and whether it really works.

A lot of time, money, effort, resources, blood, sweat, and tears goes into PD. We as educators provide and receive PD regularly, but does it change our learning stances? A learning stance could be viewed as our own theory of learning, which impacts how we will continue to develop professionally. These stances cannot help but impact how we choose to change, or not make changes in our own practice.

Sometimes, educators might believe that we have the ‘right’ way, or that ‘we know what works in education’, or ‘we alone understand what the students need’. I do think that these stances can become problematic, in that they can prevent us from learning, growing and evolving with our students. If we are thinking about student learning, in addition to justifying money spent on PD, then we need to think about this uncomfortable area.

Also, in education we may focus more on the design of the Professional Learning, including learning principles, sequencing of training material, and job relevance. However, one area where we may be able to improve includes an increased emphasis on trainee characteristics including ability, skill, motivation and personality factors. In addition to work-environment characteristics including supervisory and peer support. All of which have tremendous impacts on learning, and perhaps this is a reason why schools tend to maintain their ‘culture’ over time. It becomes more of a situation where the learning gets changed to fit in with the culture, versus the culture changing to retain new learning. I think that this embodies a ‘transfer problem’. Can we truly transfer our learning from our professional development, and if so, how would we measure that?

Some interesting information that I have processed include 3 prevailing strategies that can be used used that could prevent us from making substantial changes to learning. (I will need to re-evaluate where I found similar information).

I have re-applied them with my own questions about how we as educators possibly deal with new information.

3 Strategies to avoid Change:

  1. Finding ways to reject the new content we are being presented with
  2. Modifying any new content to make the changes less demanding. This includes modifying the content as close as possible to current practice so that we can say we already teach that way, and
  3. Pinpointing only the content that we can easily implement. This means that we teachers will use elements of the content that we can easily apply to our teaching without changing it fundamentally.

I can’t help but wonder what this all means for education. Myself, I can see #2 and #3 happening quite unconsciously. After all, learning is very hard. Learning new things is uncomfortable. It can be very easy to look at a new professional development opportunity assume that it is already quite similar to what we already do – thereby missing key information that could be important.

I have many questions regarding the 3 strategies as well.

First, are they merely proof of the human condition and how we want to learn in ways that help us to feel comfortable? If we remain comfortable, what are implications of this for our students?

What about our educational institutions? How can our schools actively create cultures where we teachers value this feeling of being uncomfortable with learning? Does this behoove educational institutions to create new organizational cultures? How can leaders work to shake up learning cultures that need to change? Who, or what variables, decides whether a learning culture needs to change anyway?

At what point can we take a step back, feel confident in what we are doing, and give ourselves that pat on the back for working so hard and having a competent learning stance? Can we do that? Should we do that?

How do motivation and prior experience impact whether we will allow ourselves to become uncomfortable with learning? And finally, how do we accurately measure the transfer of learning in the first place? Can our learning stances change?

Finally, if we knew the answers to these questions, would it change the way we provide Professional Development for educators?

Does PD work and how do we know?

Certainly a lot to think about. Much more than what can realistically be discussed in a small blog post.

What are your personal insights on this? 

 

Deborah McCallum

c 2016

 

Spatial Reasoning and Student Success

 

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Spatial Reasoning

This year, I have had the privilege of designing a brand new makerspace for our school. In addition, I have been able to focus on visual-spatial reasoning as the thread that pulls together science, math and technology.

What is spatial reasoning?

According to the Ministry of Education, Spatial reasoning is the ability to engage in reasoning, and understand the location, rotation and movement of ourselves and other objects in space. It involves a number of processes and concepts. More information about this can be found here: http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/literacynumeracy/LNSPayingAttention.pdf

 

Why is Spatial Reasoning important?

There already exists a very strong body of research that spatial thinking correlates with later performance in math. In addition, research consistently demonstrates strong linkages between spatial ability and success in math and science — and those students with strong visual and spatial sense are more likely to succeed in STEAM careers.

It is absolutely clear that early exposure to visual-spatial reasoning is very important.

However, as educators, we traditionally have failed to recognize that our youngest students are actually able to perform way above the expected levels of spatial reasoning. We generally leave these tasks for older students. This has to change.

Not only is this a problem because we are neglecting our youngest students who already come to school with a high level of spatial-reasoning skills, but this also means that our youngest students are not having equal access to spatial reasoning activities that they are able to perform. This is a social justice issue. Especially when we consider that visual-spatial reasoning positively correlates with later performance in math (Mazzocco & Myers, 2003). If we know the research, and have the opportunity to employ high quality spatial reasoning activities for all students in Kindergarten, should we let older curriculum and older beliefs hold us back? Do we recognize when we are teaching in the ways that we used to be taught? What if we had the ability to ensure all of our youngest students engage in spatial reasoning? How would this impact their future?

In fact, students who experience issues with math, often have difficulties with geometry and visual spatial sense (Zhang, et al., 2012). This to me sounds like an amazing opportunity to understand mathematical achievement via spatial reasoning. The earlier we recognize this, the earlier we can respond.

Wouldn’t it be great if we gave all students the ability to access higher level learning associated with visual-spatial sense right from the get-go? Imagine the impact this could have in overall math achievement throughout our students entire school career, and beyond, in their STEAM based careers.

To me, I think this behooves us to ensure we have access to makerspaces – regardless of where they are located in our schools – to promote visual spatial reasoning skills.

What do you think?

 

Deborah McCallum

c 2016

References:
http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/literacynumeracy/LNSPayingAttention.pdf
http://tmerc.ca/research/
http://www.pme38.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/RF-Sinclair-et-al.pdf
Mazzocco, M. M. M., & Thompson, R. E. (2005). Kindergarten predictors of math learning disability. Learning Disablilities Research & Practice, 20(3), 142-155. doi:10.1111/j.1540-5826.2005.00129.x
Mazzocco, M. M. M., & Myers, G. F. (2003). Complexities in identifying and defining mathematics learning disability in the primary school age years. Annals of Dyslexia, 53, 218–253
Zhang, D., Ding, Y., Stegall, J., & Mo, L. (2012). The effect of Visual‐Chunking‐Representation accommodation on geometry testing for students with math disabilities. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 27(4), 167-177. doi:10.1111/j.1540-5826.2012.00364.x

STEAM Job descriptions for Curriculum Planning

 

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Using job descriptions can facilitate program planning and student learning. A job description provides us with rich opportunities to extract content areas, learning goals, success criteria, and rich tasks for learning. It just doesn’t matter if the position is paid or not, volunteer or mandatory. The point is that you will often find key information about skills that are important in our world today, and perhaps discover more relevant ways to teach those skills.

In my quest to make learning relevant for students, I have begun to look at job postings for S.T.E.A.M. related work, and think about ways that I can apply them to the curriculum. There are a great number of possibilities that crop up when we consider how our curriculum can be interpreted through the lens of a real job.

Consider the following job description in blue. As you review it, consider the cross-curricular, and integrated learning opportunities that may present themselves. Consider the project-based learning opportunities you can use to help students gain the necessary skills to apply for this job. Where do various technologies fit into this picture?

Check it out: 

_______________________________________________________________________________

BRIDGE DESIGN TECHNICIAN

Organization: Ministry of Transportation
Division: Provincial Highways Management
City: London
Job Term: 1 Permanent
Job Code: 12682 – Engineering Services Officer 3
Salary: 
$1,122.02 – $1,410.37 Per Week*
*Indicates the salary listed as per the OPSEU Collective Agreement.
Understanding the job ad – definitions

Posting Status:

Open
Job ID:
99401
Apply Online
View Job Description
Are you looking for a new challenge? Would you like to apply your knowledge of civil engineering technology and computer abilities in a new way?
Consider this opportunity in structural design while contributing to the safety of Ontario’s transportation system.

What can I expect to do in this role?

In this role you will:
• Prepare scale drawings depicting bridge details and materials for review and approval;
• Prepare associated contract documentation according to Ministry standards using required software;
Review bridge site plans and preliminary geometry information supplied by consultants;
• Carry out quantity calculations and cost estimates;
• Provide and assist in the training of regional staff in bridge inspections, in the use of computerized bridge detailing systems and bridge management systems;
• Provide interpretation of standards, specifications and policies as required;
• Assist in bridge inspections by carrying out inspection of simple structures, and updating and maintaining related databases;
• Provide technical guidance, training and advice to junior staff on bridge drafting and contract preparations, durability and construction issues with complex structural details and innovative techniques ensuring safety and economy;
• Answer queries on technical issues from other jurisdictions as required.

How do I qualify?

(aka learning goals and success criteria, criteria for rubrics and other assessment methods)

Knowledge of Bridge Design

• You have knowledge and skills in the design, detailing and contract preparation of provincial bridge contracts.
• You have knowledge and skills to be able to inspect bridges.
• You have knowledge in bridge design and detailing principles, and ability to consider various constraints such as materials, fabrication and production techniques.
• You have practical working knowledge of the varied and complex safety issues related to the design of bridges.

Communication Skills

• You have well-developed oral and written communication and presentation skills.
• You can use consultation skills to identify needs and maintain effective working relationships with regions and other functional teams
• You are committed to customer service.

Research and Project Planning Skills

• You can understand and interpret engineering plans and profiles, technical reports and relevant codes of practice.
• You have knowledge of project planning in order to design, detail, implement, lead and manage a number of concurrent projects of varying degrees complexity, individually or within a team environment.
• You have demonstrated analytical, planning, scheduling, project management and work coordination skills.

Computer Skills

• You can use computer systems and their applications, including Computer Aided Design (CAD) systems and database systems.

_________________________________________________________________________________
Now that you have had a chance to look at this, tell me you are not inspired by the sheer opportunities to connect science, math, technology and literacy? How many skills can be extracted and channeled into balanced literacy and math activities? How many rich tasks can be created? What projects and inquiries can be facilitated? How will they culminate into an end of unit(s) assessment task that includes applying for this job?
How can we help students figure out what they need to do next in order to ‘prove’ that they have the skills to apply?
What if my students were given a small bank of job descriptions, and they need to choose one that looks interesting that they will apply for.
Here are a few steps to consider:
1. Conduct your hypothetical job search
3. Teach the feedback skills that enable all students to engage in higher quality feedback and assessment as learning processes.
4. Find the Big Ideas
5. Plan your projects, centers, and assessment protocol.
6. Reflect
7. Share
Job searching can provide key information into the skills and knowledge that are important in our world. They can even help inform our curriculum planning and instructional design. Next time you are wondering how to infuse math, science, literacy and more into your short and long range plans, consider starting with a job search.
Deborah McCallum
c 2016

Makerspaces for All

 

 

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Over this last year, I have had the opportunity to understand what Education for All, Learning for All, differentiation and equity on deeper levels due to working in a Makerspace.

Learning is about problem solving, creating positive math mindsets, constructing and building knowledge through hands on activities, and most of all, promoting equity. No where is this more true than in a Makerspace.

However, I think that we have very deep issues pertaining to equity in our schools and classrooms. The ways that things are traditionally done simply do not facilitate success for everyone – but this is what education is all about – doing whatever we can to help students be successful.

Makerspaces (or S.T.E.A.M. Rooms – Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math), are opportunities for new kinds of teaching and learning that promote equity. Based in Constructionism, Makerspaces are designed to give students the ability to build knowledge themselves with hands on tasks. Our students do not have to learn from the teachers experiences and knowledge, they can actively build it themselves.

Working in a Makerspace means that timelines need to be flexible. This fits in beautifully with Growth Mindsets. Students should not have to feel bad because something wasn’t built by the end of the period – this alone does not prove how much a student learned. What matters is the knowledge built from the experience and the process.

 

 

Consider this example for a moment:

A class is given a design challenge that brings in many elements of structures in science and math concepts with geometry and spatial reasoning. There are multiple entry points, where students can build as simple, or as complex as they would like. Next:

Student A builds a structure in 5 minutes, whereas Student B struggles with the process for an entire learning block, and does not come close to finishing.

The most important questions become: What was learned? What value did each student get out of the process?

Student A feels great because they built something on time. It came fast, and easy. However, student A did not learn anything.

By contrast: Student B doesn’t finish, feels terrible about not finishing. Frustration levels go high. Self-esteem drops.

Both develop a fixed mindset about learning.

What a travesty it would be if Student B did not have the opportunity to understand why there was struggle with the process? What if this student struggled because they were figuring out a very complex piece of learning for them? What if they were taking the risk to learn, even though the stakes might be high?

Student B did not take the easy route. Student B made mistakes. Student B is experiencing frustration which is what happens in learning. Student B doesn’t realise that they are reinforcing an image of not finishing in time as being a bad thing.

Student A doesn’t feel the need to learn anything new. Student A believes that finishing quickly is a good thing. Student A doesn’t have a teacher who will continue to provide opportunities to take the learning even deeper. Student A’s learning stalls, yet Student A benefits from an image of being a model student.

 

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Can you imagine if people were not allowed to change their plans, make mistakes and start fresh? Or worse, what if we as educators are the ones sending these messages to our students that they cannot?

 

I always ask my students, What would happen if an engineer did not ever change plans, make mistakes and even start over?

Now, some students need scaffolding with this – they need to understand what an engineer does, and they need to understand that ‘creating’ and ‘making’ follow a process. They need to understand that we design new ideas and structures to help people.

But when they do understand this, it really seems to click with them. They would WANT an engineer who is designing a bridge, for instance, to stop, revise plans, fix mistakes and start over if necessary. This is far more advantageous than quitting after a mistake, or quitting because work needed to extend past a deadline.

Therefore, working in a Makerspace has to mean becoming flexible with timelines and tasks. It has to be about building knowledge in ways that are very new in our school systems.

My experiences in creating a community atmosphere where students have choice and voice, has taught me a great deal about student learning. It has taught me that I do not have to ‘control’ student learning, yet I can facilitate the learning and help students meet their learning goals in many ways.

This has a huge impact on classroom management as well. In fact, the biggest behaviour issues that surface are the ones directly related to problem solving skills, and from having fixed mindsets. Not from students feeling bored, ‘dumb’, or disconnected from learning.

The fact is, that providing students with different ways of doing things, and providing students with opportunities to learn differently and share their voices in different ways produces greater focus, growth mindsets, and student-centered knowledge building opportunities. In my humble experience, this demonstrates that all students can be successful with opportunities to learn in different ways. It promotes equity.

This takes differentiation and Education for All to a whole new level. We are not differentiating so that students can do what WE want them to do all the time. We are differentiating for them – so that the students can build knowledge in ways that are personally meaningful to them. While still meeting the learning goals. While still learning about the Big Ideas.

What does this look like? 

  • We are facilitating, asking questions, promoting student inquiry.
  • We are starting with the Big Ideas.
  • We are setting key learning goals.
  • We are clustering the specific expectations around them – from many different subjects.
  • We are allowing students to design, plan, construct, and then allowing them to write about it, reflect, problem solve, engage in visual-spatial reasoning. All skills that are proven to increase reading scores and help students to become literate learners.

In addition to problem solving, promoting positive math mindsets, and having the opportunity to build knowledge and understanding in new ways, I believe that Makerspaces have the powerful opportunity to begin to promote equity for students in our school systems.

 

Deborah McCallum

c2016

The Big Ideas in Education and STEAM

 

How do we plan for STEAM?

We start with the Big Ideas.

 

Attached is a chart I created to link the Big Ideas in Education with S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math). Big Ideas in Education STEAM

This chart is specifically geared toward the Ministry of Ontario curricula that address STEAM subjects, and specifically for Grade 3. However many of the Big Ideas remain the same across grades.

I also included overall expectations where there were no explicit big ideas already mapped out– just to get the picture.

The next step after this chart, is to first ask ourselves what other specific variables might come into play. We don’t need to have them all mapped out first however. Some specific expectations arise when student inquiries take us there.

Next, we need to think about the teaching strategies we will use. Our choices will depend on our students interests, inquiries and needs. They will also depend on social justice variables including equity, access, and privilege.

Finally, we will consider what tools will best support us.

Things to think about:

  • How does this relate to Growth Mindsets?
  • How can we harness strategies that help us understand what students are thinking, vs helping get the ‘right’ answer?
  • Can we be flexible enough to allow students to share their thinking in many different ways without being judgmental?
  • How can we help students document their own learning and engage in ongoing reflection?
  • How will our strategies help us to create a #feedbackfriendly classroom?

 

If you choose just 1 Big Idea, this does not mean that you are stuck only teaching that one subject. Remember that when you cluster the specific expectations around the Big Idea, they can be from any subject. However, you can also choose 1 or more Big Ideas to make explicit links to different subjects from the start. It is my belief that we cannot plan ahead for all specific expectations that will be met. If we did then this is treating education as a knowledge repository where students come to get the information from the teacher about the specific expectations. When we know the curriculum, we can allow for flexibility and let student inquiries, learning needs, interests and more guide us to the specific expectations that can be taught with various strategies and tools that best helps our students to achieve. All the while, still ensuring that we are covering the curriculum. It also allows for innovation, collaboration, and connections to real life.

Check out the attachment here. It always helps me to see the Big Ideas in one place.

Big Ideas in Education STEAM D

 

Deborah McCallum

c 2016

5 Steps for Planning the Big Ideas in Education – with Pokemon Go

Big Ideas in Education

Big Ideas in Education

Always start with the Big Ideas in education when you plan your days, weeks, units, and years. 

Avoid starting with Pokemon Go.

When you start with the technology, you risk gaps in learning – lest your practice become about the tool and not the curriculum for student achievement.

Does this mean not to use Technologies like PokemonGo ? Absolutely not. 

In fact, there many new resources and ideas being shared for using Pokemon Go with our students. (By the way, if you are interested, here is a link to ones that I have curated so far:

Curated Pokemon Resourceshttps://flipboard.com/cover/@deborahmccallum/pokemon-go-8vdrlbhmy)
https://cdn.flipboard.com/web/buttons/js/flbuttons.min.js
We know you have wonderful ideas for integrating Pokemon Go into your classrooms and learning environments. And you should have a curriculum that is flexible enough to follow student needs, interests and inquiries.

Planning lessons and units is hard work. There are a plethora of variables that educators need to keep in mind when planning. 

It can feel very overwhelming when we are met with new fad or trend that we feel like we need to integrate. 

We shouldn’t feel this way, and we don’t have to, because we always come back to the Big Ideas. Within the Big Ideas we remain flexible, and attuned with our students.

In other words, we are not planning for Pokemon Go – we are planning for the Big Ideas and our students. Our planning can include Pokemon Go, but only as it connects with the Big Ideas, and the learning needs, inquiries, interests of our students. We are helping students to achieve according to the curriculum. Not the technology. 

The Big Ideas lead to inquiries and problems that need to be solved. But let’s be clear,

Pokemon Go is neither a ‘Big Idea’ for learning, neither is it the ‘Problem’ that we need to solve.

Pokemon Go it is a tool. A resource. And like all tools and resources, there will be pros and cons that impact student learning.

Pokemon Go is definitely a trend. But can we still use it to support the Big Ideas? Absolutely. Particularly if we are always planning with several key steps in mind that I will outline below. 

It can be very useful for student learning for many reasons. It can support the curriculum, it can harness skills and technologies that modern learners need. Technologies absolutely have a place in our schools and with students – provided we are always attending to equity, access and issues of social justice with students.

However, Pokemon Go is not THE curriculum. It is not THE Big Idea. It is not THE inquiry. It is not THE problem that will need to be solved. Nor is it THE expectation or Learning Goal that will need to be met.

Rather, it is just an amazing new tool that can be harnessed to support the Big Ideas, inquiries, learning goals. It is a tool to support the kind of problem solving that is happening in our learning environments. For instance, it can be harnessed to support the Big Ideas, problems and inquiries surrounding mapping skills, visual-spatial literacy, graphing, measurement, vocabulary and much much more.

The following are 5 Basic Steps to help educators keep the Big Ideas in mind

  1. Find the Big Idea that will flexibly guide your learning over the course of a lesson or unit.
  2. Next, cluster all of the specific expectations around this idea from across the curriculum. This does not necessarily have to be planned ahead. When we are knowledgeable about the curriculum and our students, and the different types of technologies that exist, then we can ‘go with the flow’, and see what specific expectations end up being met based on student inquiries and problem solving.
  3. Create and follow new inquiries with the students as they happen.
  4. Identify the problems that need to be solved within the Inquiries. Always start with the problems.
  5. Finally, decide what tech tools will meet that need.

Within each Big Idea, lies a new world of wicked problems and amazing new inquiries that really open up how our students think and reason. When new inquiries take shape, we begin to see the problems that need to be solved. Educators can work to harness the inquiries and harness the problem solving process with students as they relate to the Big Ideas.

Always stick to the Big Ideas first. Find your Big idea, cluster your expectations around it from across the curriculum.

Next, identify the ‘problem’ connected with your Big Idea. Once you know what that is, then you can decide what technology tool to use.

Always keep in mind: Pokemon Go is neither a Big Idea for learning, neither is it the problem that we need to solve. It is a tech tool that can help us solve various problems and connect with the Big Ideas that we have identified for student learning.

 

Deborah McCallum

c 2016

Feedback Matrix for Instructional Design

The art and science of giving feedback is complex. What may appear to be quite easy to give, while at the same time quite difficult to fit in a busy schedule- is actually a complex process that we need to involve learners in.

The following is a Feedback Matrix that I created to help educators consider the variables that go in to feedback processes with learners. These considerations will facilitate the design of your learning environment with learning tasks built on a strong foundation of using the #feedbackfriendly classroom as a pedagogy.

The variables considered are:

  • Teacher Variables
  • Student Variables
  • Subject
  • Context or Place
  • Learning Goals
  • Tasks to Reach Goals
  • Achievement

The Feedback Matrix by Deborah McCallum

 

This framework supports the idea that we can design our learning environments for Feedback Friendly Pedgagogies that are inclusive, collaborative, and support modern learners.

Please consider the chart as a guide for creating your own Feedback Friendly classroom

Deborah McCallum

 

Feedback_Matrix_by_Deborah_McCallum

Deborah McCallum

c 2016