What’s wrong with this picture?

I always enjoy Valerie Strauss’s Answer Sheet blog in the Washington Post. She frequently provides a platform for teacher voices and education issues so often drowned out by the drumbeat of test and standardization mania.

She had a great piece last week
What a Classroom Engaged in Real Learning Looks Like

It’s about the work of Aleta Margolis of the Center for Inspired Teaching, a D.C.-based nonprofit organization that works  to foster the best teaching practices.  It’s about  what classroom elements to  look for when kids are engaged in deep learning that builds independent thinking and analytical skills.  The idea is to use a bingo card checklist as a visual aid to observation.  It has eight items and please read the article for good examples of what each looks like in classrooms.

  1. Independent problem­ solving
  2. Students struggling and persevering
  3. Physical movement and serious play
  4. Students imagining creative approaches to challenges
  5. Real world connections
  6. Wide variety of student work and types of assessment
  7. Student ­led discussions
  8. Social ­emotional skills and empathy

The next time you have the opportunity to visit a classroom, take a moment to observe closely. Do you see compliance or true engagement? Are students pulling facts out of a book or are they building independent problem solving skills and meaningful connections? Just as in life, the answers in excellent classrooms need to be earned and never spoon-fed. The same is true for the questions. When you visit a classroom and are able to fill your bingo card, you’re seeing inquiry-based instruction that empowers students and positions them to be leaders of their own learning. Every child deserves that type of education. What other “bingo card boxes” would you add to the list?

I’m sure PDS teachers could come up with some good additional items for the bingo card. And anyone touring PDS would be sure to see many examples.

The article quotes a teacher who explains:“I used to think it was good teaching to stand in front of a class and lecture and have students quietly doing work alone at their desks, but I don’t think that anymore.”

Screen Shot 2015-04-12 at 7.39.08 AM

And now check out the picture that went with the story.

Disconnect or what?

Happens all the time. The model of school in most people’s heads seems to be just that – teacher at the front- sage on the stage -, desks in rows, isolated learners, students answering teacher questions and waving their hands in the air.
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