Students Reflect on Their Learning


Since I first posted my Taxonomy of Reflection in Jan 2010, I’ve seen it put to use many ways (including a financial reporting specialist).  Yesterday Silvia Tolisano posted “Reflect…Reflecting…Reflection..” a thoughtful application of the model to elementary students. Beginning with “brainstorming vocabulary words … that encourage reflection,” she details the steps they followed with their students and includes some inspired reflective thinking by 2nd – 5th graders.

Of course once you start thinking reflectively, you realize that your school must become a more reflective community. For more on that subject see my Prezi “The Reflective School.” Here’s Silvia’s take: 

We needed to take a step back to become a reflective teacher- community before we could expect our students to become a reflective-learning community and our school a reflective school culture. We are starting to work towards that by making it an official theme that is running through all our Professional Development.

She concludes her post with “21st Century Learning Reflection” a great Vimeo that looks back on the evolving technology use in her school. I highly recommend her post, and be sure to contribute your ideas for supporting your reflective learning community. 

Image credit: flickr/sarah-ji

PBL Resource Site – How to Plan, Manage and Evaluate

pbl stem

This week I led a four-hour training session – “Project Based Learning in the STEM Classroom.” Here’s a link to the Google site I used to support my workshop. You’ll find links to a variety of resources to help teachers get started using a PBL approach in their classrooms – handouts, videos, project ideas – plus tips on how to plan, manage, and evaluate PBL. I included some Google forms as collaboration tools. They didn’t get much action, but they had potential for collaboration. (I reset them to no longer accept new data.)

For more on the workshop approach see my post “Solve This Problem, You’ll Learn the Skills Along the Way

Solve This Problem, You’ll Learn the Skills Along the Way

Wisconsin STEM Summit I’m in the Wisconsin Dells today to deliver a four-hour training session for CESA 6. It’s entitled “21st Century Skills in Action: Project Based Learning in the STEM Classroom.”  We’ll be using a Turning Point ARS and lots of activities so that participants experience the why, what, and how of PBL in the STEM curriculum.

Students explore their world with an expectation of choice and control that redefines traditional notions of learning and literacy. Educators are discovering that they can motivate students with a PBL approach that engages their students with the opportunity to behave like STEM professionals while solving real-world problems.

I was pleased to read an interesting piece in the NY Times on yesterday’s flight. “Computer Studies Made Cool, on Film and Now on Campus” (6/11/11). While the focus is on the growing popularity of computer science, it make a strong case for the project based approach to learning. 

The new curriculums emphasize the breadth of careers that use computer science, as diverse as finance and linguistics, and the practical results of engineering, like iPhone apps, Pixar films and robots, a world away from the more theory-oriented curriculums of the past.

The old-fashioned way of computer science is, ‘We’re going to teach you a bunch of stuff that is fundamental and will be long-lasting but we won’t tell you how it’s applied,’ ” said Michael Zyda, director of the University of Southern California’s GamePipe Laboratory, a new games program in the computer science major. With the rejuvenated classes, freshman enrollment in computer science at the university grew to 120 last year, from 25 in 2006. …

To hook students, Yale computer science professors are offering freshman seminars with no prerequisites, like one on computer graphics, in which students learn the technical underpinnings of a Pixar movie.
“Historically this department has been very theory-oriented, but in the last few years, we’re broadening the curriculum,” said Julie Dorsey, a professor.

She also started a new major, computing and the arts, which combines computer science with art, theater or music to teach students how to scan and restore paintings or design theater sets.

Professors stress that concentrating on the practical applications of computer science does not mean teaching vocational skills like programming languages, which change rapidly. Instead, it means guiding students to tackle real-world problems and learn skills and theorems along the way.

“Once people are kind of subversively exposed to it, it’s not someone telling you, ‘You should program because you can be an engineer and do this in the future,’ ” said Ms. Fong, the Yale student. “It’s, ‘Solve this problem, build this thing and make this robot go from Point A to Point B,’ and you gain the skill set associated with it.” With other students, she has already founded a Web start-up, the Closer Grocer, which delivers groceries to dorms.

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