The title of today’s blog is “Letting Go,” but what are we letting go? Every directive we receive about how to teach involves the buzz word “scaffolding,”, but are we doing this too much? I have to agree with Grant Wiggins and say we need to provide more opportunities for students to produce a product that is their own by problem solving something that is meaningful to them. We must make our end products worth producing to the student. What can we do as teachers to meet the requirements of our district and pull away from scaffolding learning? I believe that we must change what this term means. We must differentiate because we have so many levels of learners in our classrooms; this includes Gifted, Regular, and Inclusion settings. We can scaffold assignments by providing different ways to produce the end product. Give the student the choice of how they want to solve a problem, and how they want to present their findings. Using Web 2.0 tools is one way to do this. Teachers need to put the material out there but allow the students to run with it and complete the “complex game” using tools of their choice. To many times we want to control everything, and this is a turn off for learning in a teenager’s mind. We need to show them the big picture by taking them outside the classroom to see what is going on in the “real world,” by showing them why science, technology, engineering, and math are so important in the future. Let them prepare for the job that hasn’t been created, because there are new jobs being created every day that encompass the vast changing world of the “Web.” Our lessons need to be more “scrimmage like,” by preparing them for the future by allowing them to choose the methods of how they learn and give evidence of their learning.
One problem I see is the evaluation tool that educators are being forced to swallow. My school feels like a factory. We are supposed to put the “parts” (students) in and yield a “product” (graduates) that is all exactly alike. The folly in this is that our students come to us with different base knowledge sets; they have gaps in knowledge due to curriculum changes, some are gifted and far ahead of their peers, and some are mentally challenged an my never be able to accomplish some of the standards that are taught in schools, but could be perfectly good in a non-academic setting say painting, welding, or some other vocational field. When will the powers that be understand that a person has strengths and weaknesses, and we as educators would love to be able to expand their strengths, work on the weakness, and just give them the tools they need to be successful in life? All these students with varied abilities sit in the same classroom. What we as teachers need to see is what a good coach sees: see their strengths and weaknesses and produce scrimmage situations where students work in teams that are carefully selected by teachers based on their students’ strengths and weakness. Let the students decide how to produce an end product that they can be proud of that uses the skills you have taught them to apply their knowledge to solve a problem that is new and different. We must have the strength to stand back and watch them “play the game.” Let the students create the essential questions needed to complete the task. Let them discover and use their strengths and recognize their weakness, and not let the weakness cause them to give up. We must instill perseverance in our students, in the words of Buzz Lightyear “Never Give Up, Never Surrender!”
Sources for today's blog:
Great Teaching Means Letting Go: Grant Wiggins
Inquiry: The Very First Step In the Process of Learning: Chris Lehmann