Learning Walks:December 10, 2008

Standard

I spent a half a day today doing Learning Walks in one of our high schools.  My Career and Technical Ed (CTE) Coordinator and I spent time in several CTE classes, talking to kids and questioning teachers.  What I came away with is that we can learn a lot from CTE teachers.

The first teacher we visited is a tech ed teacher.  He has his kids work in teams problem-solving designs.  They huddle around a computer screen creating simulations, performing strength tests and determing the minimum thickness of metal or aluminum they can use on whatever they are working to create.  They do this without ever actually building a real model or prototype–it’s all virtual.  They can discuss the application to, say, the auto industry, who no doubt uses the same type of program when designing a vehicle, trying to minimize its weight and maximize its gas mileage.  But the real story here is what happened at the end of class.  Each student had to journal about what they learned and observed–not about the content, which is what I was expecting, but about the process of collaboration.  So they are thinking metacognitively about the teamwork–everyday.  The idea of having them reflect on the process of working together helps them hone their skills, process through whatever issues might arise, and become a more effective team.  This was 21st Century learning, right before my eyes!

Collaborative problem-solving and creative thinking were just about the theme of the day as I progressed through the CTE courses.  Sure, there were two classrooms that were less dynamic, but most were working together to determine why their small engine wasn’t working properly, to create funny pictures of teachers and classmates using Photoshop, or to design a logo for a mock website. 

I have conducted observations of CTE classes before, but I have never done learning walks of this many all at once.  As I was leaving the school, I realized that these guys do this stuff naturally. They get it. Dan Pink, Alan November, and Tony Wagner would be proud!

Advertisements

About jimangelo

I am dedicated to perpetual learning. I have worked in the field of education since 1992, spending most of my time in middle school. I started teaching in an alternative program, then moved to Virginia to teach special education. I spent three years as a middle school assistant principal, five years as a principal, and am now Director of Instruction for a 13,000-student school system. I have a BS in Secondary Education/English, teacher certification in special ed, a M.Ed. in Education Leadership, and an Ed.D. in Educational Administration and Policy from THE George Washington University. (Yes, THE, all caps!) I am committed to shifting the practice of teachers to an advisor/facilitator role, and strongly believe that we need to reach out to kids where they are, using technology and inspiring creativity. We should NOT expect kids to conform to us--we must adapt to them!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s