Saturday, September 26, 2015


Neuroplasticity - the brain's ability to grow and change over time depending on experiences is a departure from traditional understandings of the brain, and intelligence, as a fixed structure.  Neuroplasticity underlies the popular "Growth Mindset" thinking.  It also explains how the brain of the "digital native" - those who speak DFL - Digital as First Language (most of the students), is structurally different from the brain of those who have DSL - Digital as Second Language (most of the parents and teachers).  But DSLs can immerse themselves and become bilingual.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Comparison - traditional versus collaborative teaching

From: labelled for resuse
Here’s a scenario that my 14 year old son and myself made up to illustrate the difference between a traditional teaching model and a collaborative teaching model.  The difference that we were discussing between traditional and modern teaching is the traditional is based on the “one to many” model and the collaborative is based on “many to many” teaching, where the students themselves are teachers.

There are many shades of difference that we could have put in between the models and probably ones that go way beyond the “many to many” we’ve described.

This could be a level 4 social studies achievement objective: Understand how people participate individually and collectively in response to community challenges

Teaching Activity
Traditional – “one to many” model
Modern  - “many to many” model
Setting up the learning intention
We are learning Kate Shepphard’s role in shaping New Zealand culture through campaigning for women’s suffrage.
WALT identify effective responses to challenge and apply them in our own lives
Pre-lesson preparation
Teacher finds out about Kate Sheppherd.  Prepares work activities that help students learn about her life.  All the information will come from the teacher in the form of oral instruction, projected digital displays*, bookwork or worksheets.
*The teacher may actually be a digital whizz and make fabulous digital learning displays but this does not necessariy make them a teacher who supports collaborative learning.
The teacher will spend time teaching the students how to:
Do effective Google searches,
Identify useful information etc according to my previous blog post: how to find information

Then establish with the students some criteria for what useful information will look like in this context.  This will include some discussion on characters who have shaped history through responding to challenge.

Students will be encouraged to follow characters they personally find interesting.
Seating plan
The students will need to get their information from the teacher so they will have to sit in rows or desks groups, or in a mat area where they can all clearly see and hear the teacher ie. traditional class structure.
It won’t matter where or how the children sit as they will be accessing their information from their devices.

Their environment may well look like a café.
Where will the teacher be?
At the front
With the students.
Who will the teacher interact with mainly?
The whole class
Individuals on an ad hoc basis
Individually as once the students start gathering the information via their devices the teacher will have access to their thinking processes beyond “real time.”
In groups as students will be grouped to learn the skills (linked above) according to their needs.
Once the information is gathered/learned what will happen next?
There could be a test to find out how much the students remember about Kate Sheppherd.

Or the students could make a presentation to share their learning.  This will be the re-sharing of information in a different format.  The most likely choices would be a poster, or a Powerpoint.

There is some element of many-to-many learning if the students share their information back with their peers.  But not much because they all had the same information.
The teacher will move the children into “relational” thinking.

This could be by identifying some challenging circumstances that people identified as shaping history have faced and comparing them with circumstances they have faced or could face in their own lives.

The teacher could initiate this by modelling the process with a challenge from their lives.

The children would need to be given tools to do this sort of comparison e.g. a venn diagram in digital format, or a Popplet where they can brainstorm and reorgnise information.

They would need to be able to categorise aspects of a challenge – eg. People, conflict, physical hardship etc.

At this point students would be accessing each other’s learning online and giving constructive feedback to each other according to co-constructed criteria.
And after that….
Summative achievement data is entered – students know x amount of information about Kate Sheppherd.

The next unit is being planned.
Students will identify an area of challenge in their life.  If they can’t come up with one, their challenge could be about self knowledge – they don’t recognise challenge, or avoid it – the teacher might have to be a bit creative when helping these students.

They can make a resolution to change one aspect of their behaviour based on what they’ve learnt and see how it affects their challenge.

Extended abstract: They could then set up a challenge helpline or coaching service for younger students.  They could publish guidelines for identifying the aspects of challenge and giving strategic advice on behaviours which will help to meet different challenges.  This could be run through a blog.  Or it could be run in person on the playground like a peer mediation program.

Or they could set up a challenge counselling program for their own class.
Or they could identify a problem in their own school or community, analyse and categorise its components and use what they have learnt about people who shape history to apply positive action to the problem.

OR they could write an app where people can enter information about their challenge.  The app will categorise aspects of the challenge and then analyse how historical heroic characters have met similar types of challenge and give feedback on strategies they can apply to their problems.  They could make a game app along similar lines. They could then sell their apps to Google and retire before they even finish school.  :)