What Do Students Want to Learn?

Isbister, Kathy

Educational Theory

What do students want to learn? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://teddintersmith.com/innovation-playlist/what-do-students-want-to-learn/

Summary: I found this link on the Innovation Playlist website, under the heading “Student-driven learning”. In the video, the State Superintendent for Public Instruction in Virginia details an idea a middle school Principal put into action. Students were asked to write down something they would like to learn on a post-it note. The notes were collected, and a few 30-minute blocks were set aside during the year to teach subjects students suggested such as “How to tie a bowtie” and “How to change a tire”. It was a small innovation, but a success because it opened conversations at the school about relevancy and engagement.

Evaluation: While the setting for this video is dry (a man at his desk), and the introduction is dry, it is brief and shares a powerful experiment conducted in one middle school. The speaker stresses that this activity did not have to happen frequently to be meaningful, and I think that is an important point. Students have a long memory for activities they enjoy, whether they happen frequently or not. If this particular experience is not recreated multiple times during the year, it does still demonstrate to students that they can ask for learning experiences that are personally relevant and there are resources available to provide the information they seek. While they may not always be able to have an individual lesson with an actual instructor on “how to tie a bowtie”, they can still see that this is a valid question someone felt it was worthwhile to answer, and if they have other information needs in the future they may seek out answers rather than just let those types of questions fade away.


School Libraries, Librarians, and Project-Based Learning

DeMonte, Jennifer

ET-Project-based Learning

Foote, C. (2017). School libraries, librarians, and project-based learning. Internet@Schools, 24(1), 12-13. Retrieved from http://web.a.ebscohost.com.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=10&sid=da5e9fab-57dc-47e6-a316-e7c6ba1be109%40sessionmgr4008

Summary: This article details necessary qualities in both physical and online spaces for successful project-based learning to occur. The focus is on the role of the library and the librarian in supporting students throughout the process.

Great ideas to help librarians re-envision their use of physical and online spaces to help students during the inquiry process and to support collaboration between students and deep engagement with problem-solving.


How Design Thinking Can Empower Young People

Kinsella, Jason

ID (Inquiry and Design)

How design thinking can empower young people. (2013). Edutopia. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/video/how-design-thinking-can-empower-young-people

When it comes to design thinking, it’s helpful to see it in action. This eight-minute video documents teens who are living in a homeless shelter engage in a collaborative design thinking challenge to improve the space and services at the shelter.

I really like the way they frame design thinking as a three-step process: Dream it. Design it. Do it. I think this simplifies what may seem like a complicated process into something easily understandable. However, it is important for viewers not to forget about the reflective and iterative aspects of design thinking.

Lastly, this example of teens completing a design thinking challenge shows teens engaged in a real world problem–an essential element to the design thinking concept. This is a great resource, in my opinion, for anyone first learning about student-centered, inquiry-based teaching and learning.

The SAMR Model Explanation

Name: Tipton, Kathryn

Main Topic: Education Theory and Practice (ET)

Citation: Hamilton, E., Rosenberg, J., & Akcaoglu, M. (2016). The Substitution Augmentation Modification Redefinition (SAMR) Model: a Critical Review and Suggestions for its Use. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning, 60(5), 433-441. doi:10.1007/s11528-016-0091-y

Link to Article

Article Summary: An explanation of the SAMR Model of learning, and suggestions for its use in the classroom.

Article Evaluation: Short and sweet, this is for those of us who have no idea what the SAMR Model is, or how it can be used. Very informative and useful for those of us who are not teachers and are still learning to traverse the world of educational acronyms.

Creating Hybrid Spaces for Exploration

Subramaniam, M. M., Ahn, J., Fleischmann, K. R., & Druin, A. (2012) Reimagining the role of school libraries in STEM education: Creating hybrid spaces for exploration. The Library Quarterly: Information, Community, Policy. 82(2) pp. 161-182.
Summary: This article examines the role of school libraries in STEM education from a sociocultural approach. The article stresses the need for school libraries to create hybrid spaces for STEM education and to maximize the roles school librarians have in that education. The authors propose that teachers and librarians take on an active role in STEM education through advising, collaboration, and technology. The authors further propose that librarians are in a unique position to create an environment for active participation for STEM activities which will further aid students in creating a STEM identity.

Evaluation: Though focused on STEM education, the takeaways from this article really stress basic elements of teacher-librarianship and library space. They stress libraries being active learning commons, collaboration with teachers and librarians advising students on resources and technology to provide transformative experiences for learning. 

Transforming pedagogy: changing perspectives from teacher-centered to learner-centered

Jana Brubaker


Dole, S., Bloom, L., and Kowalske, K.  (2016).  Transforming pedagogy: changing perspectives from teacher-centered to learner-centered.  Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-based Learning, 10(1).

This article reviews the similarities and differences of problem-based learning and project-based learning, which was interesting to me.  Both are inquiry based, and have similar processes, but different results.  Project-based learning results in a product, or an artifact, while problem-based learning results in solutions rather than products.  One important similarity between the two is the role of the teacher as a facilitator or a coach.  Another similarity is that both are cross-curricular and emphasize student choice.  Both contain what is needed for deeper learning and content mastery.  This deeper learning transfers to other contexts.  
Although research is beginning to show that these models of learning produce deeper learning, they are difficult to implement in schools that are focused on standards-based learning and assessment.  Such a big change in pedagogy takes time.  Teachers need to be able to discuss, think about, and practice teaching in this way before implementing it.  The authors conducted a field study in which they offered an online summer course, with one week of field experience, on both models of learning.  After returning to the classroom, they interviewed the teacher participants to find out if they were using these models of learning. Sixty-four percent of the teachers said that they were still using the models due to the course and field experience and 100% said they would recommend those models to others.

Most of the teachers said it was a great learning experience for them.  They learned how to maintain order in an environment that appears more chaotic.  They were able to focus on critical thinking and problem solving skills in a new way.  They learned how to differentiate and allow students to take control of their learning.  Student participants also had positive experiences.  Classroom climate was reportedly better.  Student-teacher relationships improved too. Overall, the article helped me gain a better grasp of the differences between the two teaching models.

Blending Technology into Project Based Learning

Alan Phelps
ET-Inquiry and Problem-based Learning
IL-Other IL Models

Lenz, B.; Kingston, S. (2016, January 21). Blending technology into project based learning. P21 Blogazine. Retrieved from: http://www.p21.org/news-events/p21blog/1832-blending-technology-into-project-based-learning

This is a very good article which takes an in-depth look into the idea that Project-Based Learning (PBL) + Technology = Deeper Learning.  The article defines what they mean by deeper learning and, interestingly, it examines how different types of technology have varying effects on student learning. It also looks at what other things need to be present along with technology to increase student learning. The article then goes on to look at the various ways PBLs and technology can be integrated into the curriculum. The authors of this article also authored a book in 2015 called Transforming schools: using project based learning, performance assessment, and common core standards.

I really enjoyed this informative article about project based learning andBuck Institute for Education’s Gold Standard PBL 101 Workshop. I attended a 2 day Buck Institute Project Based Learning workshop 10 or so years ago and got a lot out of it. I still have the workshop binder and will revisit it when I get a chance. When I taught history I did a lot of project based units and additionally, I did a lot of outdoor experiential project based learning.  I found that when PBLs were prepared and executed well, they created a very rich learning experience for the students. Since then, PBL have fallen a bit out of favor in education but I believe strongly in a PBL based curriculum.