Archives for category: “Student-centered” classrooms

Workplace skills Irvington_Vision_and_Current_Reality10_2015_2-GMK_pdf - BEST

What do we know about the future? Irvington_Vision_and_Current_Reality10_2015_2-GMK_Strategic plan

A slide from the Strategic Planning forum.

College preparation is not included. Nor does the facilitator see knowledge as important to the workplace.

This is constructivism.

Constructivists believe the world is changing so fast that the knowledge students learn today will go extinct by the time they graduate high school or college.

Therefore you should replace knowledge with empty skills that can be transferred to all the new jobs yet to be invented. 

That’s the constructivist position.

Cognitive science tells us that the constructivist position is wrong: empty cognitive skills do not exist.

Instead, skill and knowledge are flip sides of a coin: no knowledge, no skill. This is turning out to be true with athletics, too. Athletic skill draws upon knowledge stored inside long-term memory.

For the record, constructivism is a very old philosophy, dating back as far as 1900.

In one of the earliest manifestations of constructivism, progressive educators argued that working class students should be taught useful skills like sewing instead of Latin and Greek. Working class parents disagreed. They wanted their children to be taught the same elite curriculum wealthy children were taught.

Today progressive educators argue that no one should be taught traditional knowledge — rich, poor, or in-between.

They’ve updated the “skills” they believe children should be taught to a fuzzy array of workplace skills: leadership, “strategic planning skills,” etc. 

Constructivists believe public schools should become pretend b-schools, and that is what our central administrators, supported by a board majority, are doing.

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Kris Harrison’s plan for the district

2013

Definitions of Success 3.5.2013 – Superintendent definition & response

Tony Wagner – Rigor Redefined – Harrison vision – 9.24.2013replaces college preparation with “workplace” preparation

Rigor Redefined by Tony Wagner – October 2008

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2014
Creating IUFSD Vision for Technology – 1.28.2014 (annotated) 

Creating the Vision for Technology – 1.28.2014 (original)

Response to superintendent technology memo – 2.8.2014

Flipped classrooms in Irvington – Irvington Insight – 1.2014

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2015

District Technology Plan – Adopted 6.15.2015no mention of college preparation; no mention of Common Core

9-29_-_strategic_plan_presentation_FINAL “Framework for Strategic Planning”

STRATEGIC PLANNING FORUM: Irvington Vision and Current Reality 10.14.2015.2 – Strategic planing forum – GMKno mention of college preparation; no mention of Common Core

AND SEE:
Super’s plan: replace college prep with “workplace” prep
Teacher-centered v. learner-centered classrooms 
“Fast trends”
Teachers “taking risks”

This student (video: Flipped classrooms aren’t teaching) makes an important point about the damage flipped classrooms do to the teacher-student relationship.

Progressive educators believe in “horizontal” classes as opposed to “vertical,” hierarchical classes. Inside a horizontal class, everyone is a “learner,” and the teacher is just a guide on the side. As a result, the teacher-student relationship is weakened while the peer relationship is strengthened.

It’s ironic because districts like ours spend a small fortune to reduce class size, but our administrators, aided and abetted by parents on the board, use reduced class size to grow the distance between teacher & student instead of shrinking it.

The smaller the class, the easier it is to put all students in groups. Inside larger classes, the noise level alone makes small-group work untenable.

So we pay for small class size, but we get peer editing, learning stations, & flipped classrooms.

Flipped classrooms are especially beloved by progressive educators/constructivists because they move the teacher to video, and you can’t form a relationship with a video. Inside a flipped classroom, eye contact happens primarily between students, not between teacher & students. 

And see:
Teachers singing about becoming guides on the side
The choice

BEGIN: 1:50
“One method that is used in Common Core teaching is called the flipped classroom, where the students are given work that they don’t know how to do and given blanks or other worksheets and told to come back with the work done. I’ve experienced this more this year and it is incredibly confusing and a monotonous way to learn what I’m supposed to bring to the table. We’re expected to teach ourselves using a video. That’s not teaching. I’ve said this before in other speeches and I’ll say it again because it’s imperative to the survival of education. Teachers are irreplaceable. Irreplaceable. The bond they create, the knowledge they have, the opportunities a student has to ask questions and see multiple examples from a caring, knowledgeable person and not a computer screen is so valuable. One thing I’ve enjoyed most about school as I’ve gotten older is the bond I’ve been able to form with almost all of my teachers, past and present. This is what has let me enjoy school so fully until now. Take this away and you will have a irreparably damaged education forever.”
END: 2:55

Flipped classrooms aren’t teaching

10.10.2015 Teacher-centered v. learner-centered

In a learner-centered classroom, 7th graders “focus” on adjectives.

7th_grade_ELA_-_Kelly_Kozak_-pixels-_Timeline_Photos_-_Irvington_Union_Free_School_District_2_png

In a teacher-centered classroom, 7th graders learn the grammar of English composition:

7 CORE KNOWLEDGE – Gr7 – CKFSequence_Rev-4

And see:
6th grade English at Brearley
Teacher-centered v. student-centered

7th grade in a learner-centered school.

This is what constructivism looks like. Students study themselves, in groups; the teacher is a guide on the side.

7th_grade_ELA_-_Kelly_Kozak_-pixels-_Timeline_Photos_-_Irvington_Union_Free_School_District_2_png

Compare to 6th grade at Brearley, where students grapple with an “intellectually rigorous and coherent literature curriculum”:

Grade 6

  • Folk Tales (summer reading continued into the fall): A large number are read and a few are selected for class discussion. They include: “The Valiant Chattee-Maker” (Indian), “The Young Head of the Family” (Chinese), and “The Wonderful Tar-Baby” (African-American).
  • Ballads: Five Scottish ballads—“Sir Patrick Spens,” “Edward, Edward,” “Mary Hamilton,” “The Twa Corbies,” and “Barbra Allen,” the last two having available English counterparts.
  • Book of Genesis, King James Version, with some abridgement.
  • Greek mythology, based on selections from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, The Iliad, and The Homeric Hymns.
  • The Odyssey

Or compare our 7th-grade classrooms to 7th grade in Core Knowledge.

If administrators and board members listened to parents and taxpayers, this is the education IUFSD children could have: CORE KNOWLEDGE – Gr7 – CKFSequence_Rev-4

And see:
6th grade English at Brearley
Teacher-centered v. learner-centered

Technology in Classrooms Doesn’t Always Boost Education Results, OECD Says

. . . students who spend an above-average amount of time in front of a computer at school performed worse than other students, including those who might not use them at all.

In mathematics tests, the survey found that almost any time spent on the computer led to poorer performance on both written and digital tests.

Researchers found much the same results when students used computers for homework. They also found that students who used computers excessively were more likely to feel isolated or alone.

What teachers are taught in education school

Teachers as facilitators

Teachers can facilitate a student’s self imposed learning by using techniques like; peer to peer learning which is when students are left to their own means of discovering the answers to their exercises. After a lesson is introduced students can attempt to learn together and try to help one another solve the problems. Another useful tool for community learning in the classroom is reading or literacy circles. Students are given guidelines and challenged to find the answers as a group. Working together takes the pressure off of an individual and encourages shared learning. The teacher’s job is to introduce concepts, ask questions about the subject and show them what route to take but the students get to the answers by themselves.
SOURCE: Voices in Education | website written by 3 students working on Bachelors degrees in education at the University of Windsor
.

What the research says

ABSTRACT

Recent studies conclude that teachers are important for student learning but it remains uncertain what actually determines effective teaching. This study directly peers into the black box of educational production by investigating the relationship between lecture style teaching and student achievement. Based on matched student-teacher data for the US, the estimation strategy exploits between-subject variation to control for unobserved student traits. Results indicate that traditional lecture style teaching is associated with significantly higher student achievement. No support for detrimental effects of lecture style teaching can be found even when evaluating possible selection biases due to unobservable teacher characteristics.
SOURCE: Is traditional teaching really all that bad? A Within-Student Between-Subject Approach BY Guido Schwerdt and Amelie C. Wupperman | CESifo Working Paper No. 2634
And see: Harvard Study Shows that Lecture-Style Presentations Lead to Higher Student Achievement

You can find scattered studies showing success with student-centered learning in some settings.

You can find many studies showing success with teacher-centered learning.

What you absolutely cannot find is a large and respected body of scientific research establishing constructivism as superior to direct instruction.

Yet education schools teach student-centered methods as dogma.

Irvington Parents Forum at Yahoo Groups
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Irvington Union Free School District
BoardDocs
Irvington USFD Board Meetings – YouTube

From a UK teacher:

“It wasn’t until I had been teaching 11- to 18-year-olds for four years that I realized I had been consistently misled. Up until that point I had trusted my teacher training to provide the best of what had been discovered in the discipline of teaching and learning. If I had been shown a method or theory by which I could perform my job more efficiently, I assumed it would have been forged in the crucible of experience and evidence. I assumed that what we knew about teaching, say, chemistry, for example, progressed in a linear, accumulative way. But I found the opposite.

As a philosophy and religious studies high school teacher in the United Kingdom, I discovered that a good deal of what was considered orthodoxy in my profession was unsubstantiated. I believe many of my teacher colleagues in the United States have made similar discoveries.

In 2004, I had just emerged from the U.K. Department for Education’s Fast Track recruitment program into teaching, where I had spent weekends learning about Neuro-Linguistic Programming, a program called Brain Gym, and how to sort my students according to their learning styles. I was told that my students possessed multiple intelligences, and it was strongly hinted to me that the more technology I could accommodate into my lessons, the better their needs as digital natives would be met. My initial classroom design of rows and columns was frowned upon, and tables and horseshoes were recommended. And all because, I was told, the research confirmed each avenue.”
Group Work for the Good
Unpacking the Research behind One Popular Classroom Strategy
By Tom Bennett

And see:
Do we want to become a 21st-century skills district?

Irvington Parents Forum at Yahoo Groups
Irvington Parents Forum on Facebook
Irvington Union Free School District
BoardDocs
Irvington USFD Board Meetings – YouTube

This year 6th-grade math students have been given only one day of whole-class direct instruction per week.

They spend the other four days engaging in math activities or watching videos at a “learning station,” which they choose.

Many parents have hired tutors to provide the missing instruction at home.

None of our administrators takes responsibility for this state of affairs.

Details at the Parents Forum listserv.

Answer: yes

More technology in the classroom has long been a policy-making panacea. But mounting evidence shows that showering students, especially those from struggling families, with networked devices will not shrink the class divide in education. If anything, it will widen it.

In the early 2000s, the Duke University economists Jacob Vigdor and Helen Ladd tracked the academic progress of nearly one million disadvantaged middle-school students against the dates they were given networked computers. The researchers assessed the students’ math and reading skills annually for five years, and recorded how they spent their time. The news was not good.

“Students who gain access to a home computer between the 5th and 8th grades tend to witness a persistent decline in reading and math scores,” the economists wrote, adding that license to surf the Internet was also linked to lower grades in younger children.

In fact, the students’ academic scores dropped and remained depressed for as long as the researchers kept tabs on them. What’s worse, the weaker students (boys, African-Americans) were more adversely affected than the rest. When their computers arrived, their reading scores fell off a cliff.

[snip]

An unquestioned belief in the power of gadgetry has already led to educational snafus. Beginning in 2006, the nonprofit One Laptop Per Child project envisioned a digital utopia in which all students over 6 years old, worldwide, would own their own laptops. Impoverished children would thus have the power to go online and educate themselves — no school or teacher required. With laptops for poor children initially priced at $400, donations poured in.

But the program didn’t live up to the ballyhoo. For one thing, the machines were buggy and often broke down. And when they did work, the impoverished students who received free laptops spent more time on games and chat rooms and less time on their homework than before, according to the education researchers Mark Warschauer and Morgan Ames.

Can Students Have Too Much Tech? By SUSAN PINKER JAN. 30, 2015

AND SEE:

Speaking of “fast trends,” the superintendent hopes to establish a new “BYOD” policy this fall.

UPDATE 7/8/2014: I gather that the idea isn’t for parents to purchase devices, but for taxpayers to do so.

Laptops in the classroom have been shown actually to reduce learning, but public school administrators have rejected peer-reviewed research for many years.

Abstract
Recently, a debate has begun over whether in-class laptops aid or hinder learning. While some research demonstrates that laptops can be an important learning tool, anecdotal evidence suggests more and more faculty are banning laptops from their classrooms because of perceptions that they distract students and detract from learning. The current research examines the nature of in-class laptop use in a large lecture course and how that use is related to student learning. Students completed weekly surveys of attendance, laptop use, and aspects of the classroom environment. Results showed that stu- dents who used laptops in class spent considerable time multitasking and that the laptop use posed a signiWcant distraction to both users and fellow students. Most importantly, the level of laptop use was negatively related to several measures of student learning, including self-reported understanding of course material and overall course performance. The practical implications of these findings are discussed.
In-class laptop use and its effects on student learning by Carrie B. Fried | Computers and Education | 2007

Do we want to be a constructivist district, part 1

Constructivism in Practical & Historical Context by Brent G. Wilson | February 2010 | Draft chapter for inclusion in Bob Reiser & Jack Dempsey (Editors), Current Trends in Instructional Design and Technology (third edition). Upper Saddle River NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2011.

EXCERPT:

If you spend time with professional educators – K12 teachers, education professors, or even corporate trainers – you will run into the term constructivism. As its name suggests, constructivism sees learning as a process of constructing or making something. Constructivism says that people learn by making sense out of the world – they make meaning out of what they encounter.

[snip]

Constructivism is a theory or philosophy of learning “based on the idea that knowledge is constructed by the knower based on mental activity” (Skaalid, no date). It can be defined as “meaning making… rooted in the context of the situation… whereby individuals construct their knowledge of, and give meaning to, the external world” (Babb et al., no date). As an educational philosophy it came to prominence in the early 1990s.Based on writing of that time (Dunlap & Grabinger, 1996; Merrill, 1991; Savery & Duffy, 1996; and Wilson, Teslow & Jouchoux, 1993), the basic precepts are:

  • Learning is an active process of meaning-making gained in and through our experience and interactions with the world
  • Learning opportunities arise as people encounter cognitive conflict, challenge, or puzzlement, and through naturally occurring as well as planned problem solving activities
  • Learning is a social activity involving collaboration, negotiation, and participation in authentic practices of communities
  • Where possible, reflection, assessment, and feedback should be embedded “naturally” within learning activities
  • Learners should take primary responsibility for their learning and “own” the process as far as possible

Our superintendent is a constructivist who is pursuing constructivist reforms.

His predecessor was also a constructivist who was pursuing constructivist reforms (e.g.: “the high school vanishes“), but while she brought in balanced literacy and doubled down on Math Trailblazers, she was never able to transform the high school, possibly because the then-principal was a long-tenured veteran who publicly embraced the various directives but ignored them in practice.

He is gone now, and we are seeing constructivist reforms — flipped classrooms being the most obvious — in the high school.

“Constructivism” is the current term for “progressive education.” Another term: “student-centered.” Constructivist classrooms are student-centered. Traditional classrooms, the kind you would see at an elite college, are teacher-centered.

“Student-centered classroom” sounds like a good thing, but what it actually means is that students teach themselves in pods and pairs. The teacher is a guide on the side, not a sage on the stage. Nor does the curriculum hold authority over students, who choose their own books to read. (The middle school Reading Workshop is a student-centered class.)

So that’s where we are. Our current curriculum director is a “child-centered professional.” The superintendent is hiring a new curriculum director, and that person will also be “student-centered.”

The question: is this what taxpayers want?

Here is a definition of constructivist teaching from the article “Ubiquitous laptop usage in higher education: Effects on student achievement, student satisfaction, and constructivist measures in honors and traditional classrooms” | Christian Wurst a, Claudia Smarkola b,*, Mary Anne Gaffney a:

3. Constructivist teaching
Constructivism is a learning theory where individuals construct meaning from their own current knowledge. It is a way of attending to teaching that allows for a multiplicity of alternatives; it is a concept that is broad enough to allow for a great deal of variation but specific enough to provide guidance to practitioners. Many educational psychologists and curricular specialists have created lists of the traits that they expect to find in a constructivist classroom (Brooks & Brooks, 1993; Jonassen, 1991; Jonassen, 1994; Murphy, 1997; Partlow & Gibbs, 2003; Savery & Duffy, 1995; Wilson & Cole, 1991) A comparative analysis of these traits revealed ten general patterns that seem to be common to constructivist classrooms. They are:

1. Learning is collaborative and cooperative. Students work in groups or task-based ad hoc teams. These types of groups help students recognize the role of social contracts in the learning process.

2. Students have control and responsibility for their learning. Self-regulation strategies are encouraged. The teachers are more interactive and act as mediators, coaches or translators.

3. There is an acceptance of multiple perceptions of reality and students’ opinions are valued and actively sought by the teacher. Students are asked how they feel about a topic; they are not told what to feel about any topic.

4. Students’ learning is embedded in authentic, real world scenarios and problems are posed as actual situations. When possible, original data are provided to the students.

5. Instructional goals are negotiated not imposed. Students’ questions are valued and sought, and they control the pace and direction of much of the classroom activity. Instructors allow ample time, after posing questions, for students to frame answers. While these goals are often disparate, the solution is negotiated.

6. Assessment is both formative and summative. Grades are based (either in whole or in part) on portfolios, presentations and other forms of knowledge display. Formal examinations are not eliminated; however, their use is heavily supplemented by these other assessment media.

7. Learning is active. Teachers stress understanding rather than rote memorization. There is an emphasis on the integration of learning and life; students are urged to discover the interrelatedness of concepts and their application to the real world. Students are implored to explore alternative understandings and applications of the classroom concepts.

8. Classes are not highly structured. Topics emerge and meaningful digressions are permitted. Students are pushed to derive alternative outcomes for problems and to see conflicting points of view.

9. Teachers are the guides on the side; this often gives rise to the notion that the teacher is a co-learner. They pose problems and engage students in dialogue; they often give advice on how to find an answer to a problem but never directly provide a solution for the problem at hand. Their role is to help the students understand the task, not provide the solution.

10. The students are urged to become self-reflective and to aid their student colleagues in their self-reflection.

Constructivism has altered the roles of professors and students. However, the roles of professors and their students have been slowly changing over time. A key catalyst for this change began in the 1960s when rebellious students on college campuses challenged existing social traditions (Oldenquist, 1983). Students found themselves being treated as peers and participants in many college-governing activities (Joughin, 1968). In 1968, the American Association of University Professors and the Association of American Colleges issued a Joint Statement on Rights and Freedoms of Students. This document stated that students should be consulted on all educational matters and defined them as the immediate consumers of college educations (Joughin, 1968).

Do we want to be a constructivist district, part 2