Make better Mirrors.

“Any fool can know. The point is to understand.”
― Albert Einstein

How can we better teach students to understand their own learning?

Earlier in the month, I put together this post on reflection and refraction: or my thoughts on the need to make sure our networks are part of the reflective practice.  Incidentally, just this week, a group of teachers and I tapped into the collective wisdom of Madeleine Brookes as she toured us through her thoughts on connectivism and blogging (do read her post here). Then, just this morning I listened to one of my favorite pop-culture podcasts (The Slate Spoiler Series), as they ran through the various theories and reactions to the film Mother!, if you have seen the film, I think you’ll enjoy it too (click here).  I mention all of this, because I think mixed together, they speak to a need to diversify perspective when reflecting. In order to make reflection serve the dual purpose of engaging learners with their own learning AND developing networks that foster critical thinking, reflective activities have to hook our imaginations.

Protocols for reflection should be adaptive.

One thing that I love doing as an educator is crafting questions.  It is something I have invested a lot of time in, and it is the reason I am obsessed with podcasts.  Listening to interviews, eavesdropping on professional critics has much to teach us about question-design.  Anyone who listens to Desert Island Discs knows there is a craft to drawing out better answers. Dana Stevens, film critic, and podcaster is my yoda when it comes to provoking her co-hosts to dig deeper into their responses, you can hear her here. Perhaps the #1 take away I have from years of listening to Stevens is this: don’t let opinions float, and don’t let people ‘off easy,’ great conversations are often the result of great challenges.

How can we ‘be more Dana’ in the classroom?

  1. If your students are blogging about a learning experience, partner them up with a reader who will ask five why’s in response—engender provocation within the portfolios.
  2. Use metaphors. Ask your students to rethink their course, that lesson, a project, an experience as a sport. Huh?  I walk through that in detail here.
  3. Use the WOOP method to encourage students to take ownership within their own learning structures.  You can enjoy a long-listen about the theory here (see another podcast!), or take the WOOP challenge and watch this 5-minute tutorial, or check out the WOOP app. The process of identifying and acknowledging the internal obstacle is huge.
  4. Remember that a small change can have a big payoff: Ask this question: If you had just 30 more minutes to revise/plan for that project/event before it launched, what should you have done with those 30 minutes and why?
  5. In small teams, take turns building journey and empathy maps.
  6. Hit the whiteboards and draft out your force field analysis.
  7. Encourage students to be flexible in their reflection–when they are thinking critically about what happened and why, encourage them to return to earlier posts/statements with this question: “Why might the exact opposite also be true?”
  8. Get out the timer, and quickly offer up snapshots of your learning, Nicki Hambleton explains the process here.

What’s your favorite way to engage with reflection?


mirror flickr photo by sharing user info with oath is wrong shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

 

Greencasts: Podcasts for Sustainability

Looking for podcasts to help explore issues of sustainability?

Alper Tecer listen Via Flickr Creative Commons
Alper Tecer
listen
Via Flickr Creative Commons

Here’s a list of great podcasts to help you and your students think green:

 

1. Is business action on climate change believable? – Guardian Live event

2. What’s the science behind climate change?

MIT faculty members discuss the history and science behind Earth’s warming climate, and whether anything can be done to mitigate a rising global temperature.

3.Hot In My Backyard

 Lots of people were wondering if global warming had finally arrived, here at home. This week, stories about this new reality.

4. The fate of Arctic sea ice – Science Weekly podcast

6. The Rhino Hunter: courtesy of RadioLab* Explicit Language

7. Galapagos Today, the strange story of a small group of islands that raise a big question: is it inevitable that even our most sacred natural landscapes will eventually get swallowed up by humans? And just how far are we willing to go to stop that from happening?

8. Everything Is Connected

In this hour, TED speakers explain how everything in nature is connected, and how we can restore its delicate balance.

9.  Warm Regards For those of us who think about climate change often—like unhealthily often—there’s sometimes a sense that you’re missing the story. Climate change is quite possibly the most important thing humans have ever done—I mean, we’re altering our planet’s atmosphere perhaps at a faster rate than at any point in Earth’s entire history. Yet it can often feel remote, abstract, and lost in a sea of statistics.

10. Freakonomics The gist: a team of economists have been running the numbers on the U.N.’s development goals. They have a different view of how those billions of dollars should be spent.

 

 

Image Credit: Alper Tecer
listen
Via Flickr Creative Commons

In and outside of the lines

Featured Image:  “Zen” by

 

 

“Drop Everything and Zen,” is a quick, ten minute transition: students are provided with ‘adult coloring pages,’ and we take time to check out part of an episode from a podcast.  I’ve curated a list of podcasts meant to drum up some interest in a variety of stories.  I’ve selected podcasts which make for excellent media-diet infusions.  Here’s my list of great recommended listening:

This transition is about listening to an interesting story, and listening to ourselves: to that quiet voice that tries to remind us to slow down now and then, to stretch.  How can you throw down a kinder ‘welcome mat’ to students? Please share your transition ideas as a comment below.