Why This Blog? Why Now? Why This title?

I am no longer blogging under duress. This part remains true: I had a blog once and I lost the password...and then, I gave up. I really am not a giver-upper, but there is a point of diminishing returns to anything that takes energy, passion, and vision and yet, doesn't work out. So, off I go again, wish me luck! AND knock on wood I have had luck. And it is sort of fun.

P.S. Why this title? I read this phrase today 6/16, don't remember where. I liked it. I'm using it. I might change it. It may or may not have relationship to the content.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

I've Been Reading this Book...

Some times I think the phrase "I've been reading this book..." might make people at my school cringe because now I will want to talk with someone about what I've read. I'm going to use my blog and spare my colleagues...I've been reading this book...Making Learning Whole How Seven Principals of Teaching can Transform Education by David Perkins...pretty hefty promise! I like what I have read so far. His seven principals are:

  • Play the whole game
  • Make the game worth playing
  • Work on the hard parts
  • Play out of town
  • Uncover the hidden game
  • Learn from the team
  • Learn the game of learning
It maybe to simple to say that he uses sports and game playing comparisons to get across the idea of learning sticks when you learn something compelling and in context. I've read the first couple of chapters and find a lot to think about with respect to designing learning expeditions. I think the most succinct quote might be, [conditions for learning are most favorable when], "its [learning] not in a vacuum. It involves the methods, purposes, and forms of one or more disciplines or other areas, situated in a social context." Thanks Mr. Perkins...that IS what we strive for in designing learning expeditions.

Something to ponder from Chapter 2. Mr. Perkins calls it "systematic archaeological digs into people's learning histories."

1. What is on thing you understand really well?
2. How did you come to understand it?
3. How do you know you understand it?

Do your answers reflect learning "wholes" like gardening, running, cooking, Spanish...?
Do your answers reflect doing, practicing, getting feedback, sticking with it...?
Do your answers reflect that you can "do it", teach it to others, explain what you are doing and why..."

I think the answers are revealing and illustrative of what learning actually sticks with learners and why? What do you think? Does anyone want to read this book with me?

Reaping the Rewards

I have struck PLN gold! I have been participating in a weekly chat called educoach with instructional coaches, principals, and others who have classroom coaching responsibilities in their respective schools or districts. The chat has been great in the sense that it is good to connect with others who have the same job, to hear about what works for them, and to know that some questions and challenges are pretty universal. We recently read and chatted about the newest edition of ASCD's Educational Leadership  that was devoted to instructional coaching...a book club that warps time and space...pretty neat.

Ok, you may think all the above is the gold...not so! I was lucky enough to be able to skype with a principal in a school that is beginning a journey with Understanding by Design. We have a lot in common. Our approach in planning Learning Expeditions...beginning with the end in mind, planning assessments, and then learning experiences is very similar to the unit design process for UbD schools. Our focus on inquiry, working like experts with relevant content is also very similar. We had a great conversation and exchanged emails so that I could continue the conversation with a couple of teachers at the school. We've traded email and am looking forward to building a relationship that benefits all.

Ok, the first and second paragraph are both gold, my point is that I can see the point of a PLN...may my PLN live long and prosper!