First of all, a blessed Happy Easter to all those who celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.
And Chag kasher v’same’ach to my Jewish friends who celebrate Passover.
Now for today’s very short #AprilBlogADay post…
What needs to stop in order for Education to move forward? What practice, tradition, instructional strategy or anything else “must die”?
It will be an amazing day when educators stop rewarding students for standing in straight lines, for being quiet, for being good, for jumping through hoops, and anything else for which they are rewarded. Along with that, grading must die. Then children will start to really learn.
Here are some resources to learn more about this simple, yet necessary idea.
Alfie Kohn interview about his book Punished By Rewards.
I’ve been given a genius hour this morning. State testing is happening right now at my school, and only half of the staff is charged with testing different groups of students at any one time. The other half of the staff has an extra long “prep” period, or what today I am calling my “genius hour.”
Yesterday, I followed the excellent tweeters from the first day of authorspeak2011, a conference featuring 99 Solution Tree authors, currently underway for three days in Indianapolis.
One of my favorite tweeters, Angela Maiers (follow her at @angelamaiers), sent out a tweet about genius hour. I retweeted it, saying I wanted to hear more. Angela’s first tweet was inspired by Dan Pink as he talked about motivation. (I sit up and listen when I see tweets inspired by Dan Pink; I just wrote a blog post about his work last week.)
Of course, as I read it, my thoughts turned immediately to my genius students! How exciting!
I have a day already picked out for genius hour–the morning before Thanksgiving in America because I know I will have some extra time with them. It’s on the books–our first genius hour!
Here are my initial thoughts. (These are open to revisions, via your suggestions!)
One full hour for 11 randomly-chosen teams of 3 to work together. They will be charged with communicating, collaborating, and creating. They will have freedom within their group, though, to work on more than one idea. They will have access to three computers, if needed.
By the end of the hour, they will connect and contribute, reporting their genius work to the world on at least one blog post.
We’ll have 35 minutes at the end to report back–three minutes for each group.
Here are some guiding questions in case they need them:
What new idea do you have that you want time to develop?
What skill can you master?
What tool can you learn to help you work more efficiently?
What tool can you learn to do work more beautifully?
What tool can you learn to help us communicate better?
Now, I have just finished my first genius hour! Actually, it’s been about 1.5 hours. I have never before been able to research, conceive, draft AND post on this blog during a school day. This morning, I have done all those things, as well as planned a potentially revolutionary lesson plan for 33 junior highers. Pretty productive morning, I’d say, thanks to the fact that I was given a “genius hour”!
I find it sad that my students are busy taking state-mandated tests while I get to have a genius hour.
What else should I add to our first student genius hour? Have you done or will you do genius hour with your students? Please report about it on Twitter with the hashtag #geniushour.
I just returned from a conference for adjunct faculty at Buena Vista University. The keynote speaker was Troyce Fisher, a great educational leader in Iowa. She helped us unpack the college’s vision statement:
BVU’s Vision We aspire to be a remarkable educational community, focused on learning, challenging every student, faculty and staff member to set and meet the highest standards of academic achievement, character, conscience and compassion.
My greatest takeaway came from the Dan Pink RSA Animate“Drive” video (below). When people are engaged in meaningful work, the motivation for them to do better is not for pay; they are motivated by autonomy, mastery, and purpose.
Autonomy – When people are self-directed and engaged, they do wonderful things. Management needs to get out of their way.
Mastery – People have an urge to get better at stuff. We do it not to get wealthy, but because it’s satisfying. Technically-sophisticated highly skilled people all over the world are working for free. (e.g., Linux, Apache, Wikipedia). Challenge and mastery are great motivators.
Purpose – When profit becomes unhitched from purpose, the results are uninspired workplaces and people don’t do great things. Flourishing companies are animated by purpose.
I like that I am part of an organization that aspires for every student, faculty, and staff member to “meet the highest standards of academic achievement, character, conscience and compassion.” It seems they know something about what I have learned over the past year about motivation, being a lifelong learner, and 21st century learning for all students.
Now, my question is, can I apply the motivating qualities of autonomy, mastery, and purpose to my full-time teaching job with 7th and 8th graders?
Autonomy – Can I get out of their way and let them make decisions on how and what to learn? Hmm…I’m not sure. We have the Iowa Core/Common Core hanging over our classrooms, feeling stifled at times. However, I believe there is freedom built into the standards. I know my 7th and 8th graders cannot be as autonomous as adults who have already found their way into engaging and meaningful careers. I still have to offer some structure. As Steve Hargadon recently said at #ITEC11, “When we balance structure and freedom, we unleash individual energy and potential.” I am working on what that balance of structure and freedom looks like in my classroom.
Mastery – If I manage to give them some autonomy in choosing their way, then the projects they are working on should be things they are motivated to do well and get good at.
Purpose – Education can be purposeful. It has to be for more than the grades they earn on their report cards. What a lame excuse for a motivator! I tell my students, if it’s only about grades for them, then let’s just all pack up and go home now.
We just finished a wonderful “unit” in 8th grade exploratory, where students planned and accomplished a Relay Recess for all the students in K-8 in our school system. Talk about purposeful! They were motivated! They were given lots of autonomy in the planning (along with the ready support of four of their teachers), they were given time to pull it off with excellence (mastery), and the purpose was obvious when we saw the wonderful time that was had by the K-8 students, survivors and other guests. (More posting on our American Cancer Society fundraisers and the Relay Recess later.)
What do you think?
Can we give students meaningful work all the time so that these intrinsic motivators guide them? Rather than the “payment” of the grades on their report card?
Here is the Dan Pink video. It’s really enlightening!