Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Do You Focus On Teaching Or Learning?

As the new school year approaches, do you begin with and remain focused on your textbook, your favorite lessons, and the same activities or projects from years gone by?  To put it in another way, do you focus on the teaching and not the learning?
Examine the following two lesson plans:
Lesson Plan (1)
Myth and Truth:  The "First Thanksgiving"
Students will complete a unit about Thanksgiving that is centered around the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians. Students will read and discuss myths related to the Wampanoag Indians while creating a mural representing these myths. Students will complete a worksheet about five blessings in their life, prepare recipes from the first Thanksgiving, and construct and play a Native American game.

How many times do we see this type of activity in classrooms?  What is the learning goal? How will we know if the learning goal is accomplished?

Lesson Plan (2)
Myth and Truth: The “First Thanksgiving”
By exploring myths surrounding the Wampanoag, the pilgrims, and the “first Thanksgiving,” this lesson asks students to think critically about commonly believed myths regarding the Wampanoag Indians in colonial America. Students will begin by considering the difference between myth and historical truth by reading “Of Plymouth Plantation” by William Bradford. They will then, in a full-class discussion, reflect on common myths related to the first Thanksgiving. By using a “myth-breaking” process, groups of students will further explore one myth commonly believed about the Wampanoag and the pilgrim settlers. Finally, students will share their findings while providing evidence during group presentations.
What is the learning goal of lesson 2?  How will we know if the learning goal is mastered by every student?
Do Learning Goals Really Matter?
Visible teaching and learning occurs when learning is the explicit goal, when it is appropriately challenging, when the teacher and the student both…seek to ascertain whether and to what degree the challenging goal is attained, when there is deliberate practice aimed at attaining mastery of the goal, when there is feedback given and sought, and when there are active, passionate, and engaging people…participating in the act of learning.”  --Hattie, 2009, p. 22

"It is important when we plan, to keep the learning goal at the center of it all!" - Shawn Blankenship

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