Learning all the time

As the school year winds down, I’ve had a bit of time to think about what the year was like and the things that happened. I was commenting today with Heather¬†Theijsmeijer about assessment and learning with high school kids on her post, and I mentioned the NPDL project that I was involved with this year. (I was also involved in a cool project with Heather, but that’s another post… )

I’ve posted a summary of the project here on this site if you’re interested in how the whole thing went down, but it was definitely a highlight of the year. New Pedagogies for Deep Learning is based around Michael Fullan’s ideas of the 6C’s, and how to help kids learn deeply about things. I think the part that I finally wrapped my head around this year, is that this is all a work in progress. The big, untold secret about education is that NOBODY has the answers, and that all we can do is work towards a better understanding of how to best help students learn. So with that in mind, an¬†NPDL project was cooked up. As luck would have it, Jamie Reaburn-Weir and I had a chat about wanting to try some sort of collaborative project with our classes. As she’s an English teacher, and I’m Science, the ideas was definitely one that intrigued us. So we had some discussion and landed on a project where our classes would work together to collaboratively create some digital media to demonstrate learning in a variety of ways.

As I eventually came to realize, the biggest thing that I took away from the project was that getting students to do reflections was really valuable. Both for them, and for me in terms of what the next steps would be to continue to deepen the learning. Some students’ reflections, as well as a video chat Jamie and I did are posted on the Reflections page of the project summary. I think that the idea of using audio and video to do reflections is important as well. Some of the students did written ones, which were good, but they didn’t have the flavour of hearing voices and seeing faces. Those things are important too.

The NPDL opportunity was one that paid dividends in not only the student learning, but also the teacher learning. And as we continue to leverage our networks of colleagues, I realize that the learning doesn’t have to be limited to those that are explicitly involved in a particular project, you just have to be open to trying different things out. And if someone offers an opportunity to try something, you should just try it.