A different kind of ‘flipped’ learning: Students teaching students

Learning should be centered on the student, not the teacher, McGuire writes.

American philosopher, psychologist, and educational crusader John Dewey often wrote about education reform, and although he died in 1952, several recurrent themes in his writings have special significance for modern teachers.

Dewey continually argued that education and learning were social and interactive processes. He also believed that students thrive in an environment where they are allowed to experience and interact with the curriculum and that all students should have the opportunity to take part in their own learning.

My beliefs as an educator mirror those of Mr. Dewey’s: Learning should be centered on the student, not the teacher. And isn’t that really what flipped learning is all about? It’s about compelling teachers like me to reflect on our practice and rethink how we reach our students. It’s about encouraging students to set the pace so that truly individualized instruction takes place. It’s about stirring teachers and students alike to change the way they’ve always done things.

As a teacher at Granby Elementary School in Columbus, Ohio, I orchestrated a more interactive style of instruction, including my own version of reversed teaching methodology—or “flipped instruction”—in which students taught students. This new and improved approach, in which I served as a facilitator rather than a sage on the stage, raised academic outcomes, produced a greater sense of collaboration between classmates, and heightened the level of student engagement.

(Next page: How students teach each other in McGuire’s classes)

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School database loses backers as parents balk over privacy

A $100 million database set up to store extensive records on millions of public school students has stumbled badly since its launch this spring, with officials in several states backing away from the project amid protests from irate parents, Reuters reports. The database, funded mostly by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is intended to track students from kindergarten through high school by storing myriad data points: test scores, learning disabilities, discipline records – even teacher assessments of a child’s character…

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National Federation of the Blind, MPAA join forces to back book treaty

The National Federation of the Blind and the Motion Picture Association of America announced that they are working together to support a treaty that would allow published works that have been converted to formats more accessible to blind and visually impaired users — such as audiobooks — to be distributed around the globe, The Washington Post reports. “There is a book famine that affects the worldwide blind community,” said Chris Danielsen, the director of public affairs for the National Federation for the Blind, in an interview with The Washington Post

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No Child Left Behind: Pass or fail?

If you are a parent of one of the 50 million public schoolchildren in the United States, the odds are your child has taken a standardized test within the past few weeks, The Hill reports. The odds also suggest that you took such a test yourself once upon a time, though probably not as early or as often as your kids. You and your children have the federal No Child Left Behind Act to thank for the modern ubiquity of standardized testing…

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The Common Core is only the beginning of how U.S. schools need to change

In 1994, I was a part of the Clinton Administration team responsible for gaining Congressional approval and supporting the state implementation of the Goals 2000: Educate America Act — the education reform legislation that launched the standards movement, Jennifer Davis reports for The Huffington Post. Twenty years later we finally have a set of rigorous and common math and English standards, the Common Core State Standards, adopted by 45 states. While these internationally benchmarked standards in two subjects represent a groundbreaking step forward, we cannot wait another twenty years for American schools to focus on the broader subjects and skills that are necessary to prepare students for success in our changing world…

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10 popular, banned books

Reading is still a central part of learning, and with the current emphasis on eBooks and 21st century learning in school and campus libraries, it’s hard to imagine any book under restriction. Nevertheless, every year, more books are placed on the American Library Association’s (ALA) “challenged” books list.

For many children and young adults, there is no greater pleasure then becoming lost in fictional worlds characterized by engaging people and settings of times past or future…and if there happens to be curse words or a scandalous event, well, that’s all part of the narrative.

Yet many parents and school and campus staff take exception to some fictional works, presenting “challenges”­­—formal, written complaints filed with a library or school requesting that a book or other material be restricted or removed because of its content or appropriateness—through the library association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.

(Next pages: 10 banned books)

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Education group voices suport for Calif. ed-tech funding

California’s proposed budget would eliminate key technology programs.

The ed-tech group Computer Using Educators (CUE) Inc.’s Board of Directors passed a resolution in support of the California Technology Assistance Project (CTAP) and the Statewide Educational Technology Services (SETS) project, both of which are in danger of being unfunded and eliminated from California’s proposed budget.

“CTAP is the only statewide technology program in place in California. Along with SETS, CTAP funding assures districts and teachers that they have the tools, the training and the proper resources for educating 21st century students,” said Robert Craven, CUE board president. “This is especially critical when Common Core standards are being implemented. The technology must be there and must be functional so that testing is accurate and is not disrupted. To implement an entirely new system without a solid infrastructure is worrying. We could not believe in this more strongly.”

(Next page: The resolution)

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Free service allows bully reporting by text

If the school official needs more information, he or she can text back to the student.

Students are getting a new weapon to fight back against bullies: their cell phones.

A leading ed-tech company on May 29 announced it would give schools a free and confidential way for students to tell school officials via text that they are being bullied or are witnessing bullying. Blackboard’s TipTxt program could change the school climate—or reveal just how pervasive student-on-student harassment has become.

“Kids have cell phones. They have mobile devices,” said Blackboard chief executive officer Jay Bhatt, whose 9-year-old daughter is already sending digital messages to her friends. “They’re constantly interacting with their mobile devices.”

Blackboard, which provides products to more than half of the nation’s schools, will offer the service for free starting immediately. Texts sent through the confidential program will be routed to school officials, who then will determine how to investigate.

(Next page: More information about the free service)

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