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.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Still Reading That Same Book...

Well, I'm still reading Making Learning Whole by David Perkins. I find it well written, easy to read, and rich in content worth thinking and writing about. Hence I'm taking my time and reflecting on each chapter or so. This last part I read...the chapter called "Working on the hard parts", speaks to the idea that without deliberate practice, deconstructing and reconstructing the hard parts in a task we are just practicing our mistakes. Of course one has to find the hard parts, embrace and anticipate the hard parts, and develop a theory of difficulty in order to deliberately practice, reconstruct, and reintegrate.

A thing I find interesting and affirming is that some of  the concepts I truly believe in keep coming up. One of those concepts is feedback...not just any feedback, but the type of feedback that guides the learner. Raising questions and seeking an assessment of understanding.

Perkins mentions embedded communicative feedback (pg 85). That is feedback that communicates specific information to the learner in ways that are authentic and in real time. This reminds me of what we are doing in my school both with students in reading, and writing workshops and with our teachers in coaching cycles. Teachers spend significant time during the independent learning block of a workshop conferring with students about their reading or writing. Embedded communicative feedback! Our embedded communicative feedback is based on Lucy Caulkins "conference architecture" in writing and Patrick Allen's "RIP" model for conferring in reading. Both structures work and kids and teachers benefit.

Teachers also spend significant time in coaching cycles, a process informed by the work of Linda Dorn and Carla Saffos. Like conferring during the independent learning time in a workshop, coaching cycles are coaches and teachers conferring during an instructional block. In both instances we shoot for authentic embedded feedback in real time.

The other concept I find interesting and affirming is the value of revising and redeeming one's work. The phrase "revise and redeem" comes from a talk given by Linda Darling Hammond during an Expeditionary Learning national conference a few years ago. Darling-Hammond was talking about the value of a second look and the changes that result. Perkins builds on the act of revising and redeeming by describing steps of revision as "deconstructing and reconstructing". Perkins puts a further spin on the idea by adding the concept of isolating the hard parts and he speaks of "the rhythm of isolation and reintegration" that is fundamental to learning from the hard parts. (pgs 88-89) To me this is a bit like practicing a word or sound in isolation and then taking that deliberate practice back to the text (reintegration.) I'm going to steal that phrase also. We'll combine revise and redeem with the rhythm of isolation and reintegration and the importance of deliberate practice.

More later...the ideas of anticipating the hard parts and going into a teaching learning cycle with a specific theory of difficulty.

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