Leadership · Curriculum · Lifelong Learning

In my last post: 3 Takeaways from My District Presentation, I expressed my passion–and the need–for learning by doing:

“The reason why learning by doing is so powerful is because when learners do something or create something, they actively live the experience. Their brains archive the message, recall key words and ideas, and light up when learning new content. They construct a unique memory that they’ll forever associate with the (potentially-uninviting) content. More importantly, they’ll be able to distinctly remember, apply, and transfer their memories to new learning opportunities in the future as a result of personalized ownership. That’s valuable.”

Any way you measure it, setting up the resources, means, and infrastructure to learn by doing every day takes hard work. It’s not just the mental connections required to do so, but it’s also physically straining to race around arranging manipulatives and materials like this every day. While your fitbit shows 25,000+ steps in any given school day, the sit-and-get teacher is at 2,000. And what’s more? Test scores aren’t that far apart.

So, is there value in literally going the extra mile to have amazing, learning-by-doing experiences every day?

Also, is it realistic to have these amazing lessons every day? If every day’s amazing–are any of them amazing?

While routine reigns supreme for some classroom management things, variety is the spice of life. I could not imagine learning the same way every day. I believe there is a time and place for all formats. What if learners could copy notes; read books and other publications; watch videos: and follow hands-on labs and step-by-step investigations–all in one week?

Better yet…

What if learners could create reflection tools such as sketchnotes, memes, or blogs; write and illustrate books and other publications; create videos; and meaningfully manipulate labs and step-by-step investigations in a personal way–all in one week?

At any rate, the time we invest in learning together has to mean something.

Even though every lesson isn’t a homerun, so to speak, these questions are worth asking about our experiences:

  • Who am I influencing? How am I serving them?
  • Am I making a meaningful difference in their learning?
  • Am I providing opportunities to construct meaningful memories?
  • Am I intentional about making (at least) some things unique?
  • Am I varying my instructional format, or does every day look the same?
  • Will I be able to help kids easily recall their learning processes and shared experiences when reviewing, or will I reference a slide deck or textbook pages?

Number 5 in Dr. Steven Weber‘s tweet here is really making me think: Do kids spend more time in compliance or contribution? A quick twitter-search of “@curriculumblog contribution” reveals a feed of passionate posts on this stark contrast.

George Couros and other thought leaders have posted a lot quality content on related matters, such as compliance, engaged, empowered.

All of this has me wondering how the manners in which we teach directly impact learning outcomes. I’d argue that providing opportunities to create and do something goes a lot further in the lives and learning of kids than receiving information.

What are your thoughts?

What are your thoughts? Comment here!

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