Inquiry-Based Teaching

Oakes, Constance

Topic:  Educational Theory and Practice (ET)

Bibliographic Citation: Kohn, A. (2013, October 29). A dozen essential guidelines for educators. Retrieved from Alfie Kohn website: https://www.alfiekohn.org/blogs/dozen-essential-guidelines-educators/

Summary:  An article by Alfie Kohn, an author, and lecturer on education and parenting. This is a short listing of the core principles used in progressive education that nicely explain what an inquiry-based or project-based classroom should look like and what it shouldn’t.  

Evaluation/Opinion:  I find this article/list to be a great way to quickly get an understanding of how inquiry-based learning works and looks.  I like that it does say it is messy. I think it also lets teachers see that it can be a shift out of their comfort zone as their thinking and teaching will change as they move into an inquiry-based program.

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Creativity & Critical Thinking

Oakes, Constance

Topic: Inquiry and Design (ID)

Bibliographic Citation:  Richardson, J. (2014, October 17). How to think, not what to think [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dluwVks444

Summary:  This is a TEDxBrisbane talk with Jesse Richardson, the founder of schoolofthought.org.  In his talk, he discusses the need to stop teaching students information and to start teaching them how to think.  His thinking is that we need to teach children how to think creatively. By doing so we will be teaching students not only how to think, but how to be adaptive and how to innovate in order to solve problems.  Along with this, we need to teach critical thinking skills to teach students to be able to change their thinking and be able to be wrong which then leads to growth.

Evaluation/Opinion:  I found this TEDx to be engaging and I liked his view that thinking creatively and critical thinking skills are two sides of the same coin.  The School of Innovation is intriguing as is yourlogicalfallacyis.com and yourbias.is. I agree that this is what we need to be teaching our youth so they will be ready for the world we are leaving them.

How useful is the idea of “learning styles”?

Smith, Chloe

ET

Toppo, G. (2019, January 9). ‘Neuromyth’ or Helpful Model? Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2019/01/09/learning-styles-debate-its-instructors-vs-psychologists

This article describes the divide between advocates and critics of the idea that different individuals have different “learning styles,” while pointing out that the theory, while popular with many educators, has been largely debunked by scientists. Toppo points out that the idea is not supported by current psychologists and educational researchers. He quotes Scott Barry Kaufman’s argument that belief in learning styles can actually be a “harmful myth,” since it encourages students to have fixed mindsets about what and how they can learn. On the other side, educators who support the idea of learning styles say it’s about encouraging students identify their preferences, not their inherent abilities. Toppo concludes by pointing out that, while the idea of learning styles is a limited and inaccurate paradigm, the larger context is that different ways of learning are appropriate to different tasks. The important thing is to individualize instruction and present information is multiple ways.

I found this article to be a clear overview of current thinking on the topic of learning styles. It is geared towards educators at the college level, but the ideas are relevant to teaching and learning in a wide array of venues.

Student Agency for Powerful Learning

Dilworth, Marianne

ET

Williams, P. (2017). Student agency for powerful learning. Knowledge Quest, 45(4), 8-15. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1136307.pdf

In his article “Student Agency for Powerful Learning,” Williams defines student agency, and then explores how school librarians are uniquely qualified to nurture this attribute in students. Williams states that students develop agency when they have a strong sense of personal integrity and efficacy. When students demonstrate respect for themselves and others, and feel empowered to act, they are more likely to take responsibility for their learning. Fostering student agency requires a pedagogical power shift away from traditional models of education.

Williams offers some practical suggestions for school librarians to lead the way. These suggestions include encouraging recreational reading, and collaborating with students on library design. To develop student voice, students can create books or artwork that become part of the library’s collection. Having students then cite their own work gives them a sense of ownership and identity as a creator. Williams argues that using these strategies to establish a collaborative, student-centered learning environment will help students ultimately become successful agents of their learning.

I found this article to be an interesting and engaging overview of the concept of student agency. A school community that aspires to build a learning commons, must first have a strong program that builds student agency. I like that Williams makes the clear distinction that encouraging student agency does not mean that he is advocating for an anything goes educational model. Instead, he states that structures and guides must be put into place that allow student creativity and voice to flourish.

Educators, Parents Debate the Common Core

Sue, Jason

CA

APA Citation

CBS Sunday Morning. (2014, September 14). Educators, parents debate the Common Core. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xpptv5bSIi0

Summary

Despite being a federal initiative, Common Core was started as nationwide collaboration from the state level to develop nationwide standards. 45 states and D.C. initially adopted Common Core and were offered grant money in return for participation. One of the benefits of Common Core was that it raised the standards of states like Tennessee and allowed more accurate comparisons of the academic achievements rates of various states. Despite these benefits, implementation of the Common Core has not been without pushback.

Many conservatives felt that the federal government should not be dictating curriculum even if it was the states who had the power to accept or reject Common Core. Opposition to Common Core was also strong in Progressives states. One of the criticisms of progressives was that the standards that Common Core set were unrealistic; and to support their argument, they singled out have specific test questions as being too difficult for certain grade levels. Education can be condensed into a series of increased standards. While Common Core may be flawed, it was a step in the right direction.

Evaluation

This is an outstanding synopsis of the controversy surrounding Common Core.

 

Learning Styles & Multiple Intelligences: Theory Integration

Gifford, Kellsie

ET – Educational Theory

Learning Styles & Multiple Intelligences: Theory Integration [Video file]. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVg9n0l0Gf0

This video provides a dynamic look into the various learning styles and how the teacher can best adapt to each. Short, sweet, and engaging, the video gives great insights for those who are new to the education field.

I really appreciate that there is a focus on providing activities for each type of learner, which is something that I struggled with as a student in my younger years.

‘Teaching at the desk’

Goering, Patricia

ET

Elmborg, J. K. (2002). Teaching at the desk: Toward a reference pedagogy. portal: Libraries and the Academy, 2(3): 455-464. doi:10.1353/pla.2002.0050

Elmborg describes how one-on-one interactions with students at the reference desk can model the writing conference and use socratic-style questioning to lead students to finding their own answers to reference questions, learning valuable information literacy skills in the process, instead of simply giving them the answer or a list of best sources.

As a teacher librarian, I found this source to be a practical tool to take advantage of reference questions as teachable moments.