I was planning on spending the afternoon catching up on my non-teaching-related reading (currently enjoying The Blue Plateau by Mark Tredinnick) but I made the mistake of looking at Twitter. WhatEdSaid pointed me to a blog I haven’t come across before, MakingThinkingVisible’s Blog by Gareth Jacobson, and it so inspired me that I had to go online and write this post.
He is currently teaching a Grade 2 class and his most recent post is on a classroom experience using de Bono’s thinking hats. He comments that the most powerful tool he used in this class was to ask two questions: “What are you thinking?” & “What makes you think that?” Other posts I looked at referred to a technology called Typography (he has an example on the International Declaration of Human Rights that is impressive…altho’ now its final plea for freedom for Aung San Suu Kyi is now, thankfully, history), a link to Prezi presentation on new assessments (New tools for your old toolbox) by Stephen Davis and one on David Perkins and mindfulness in the classroom.
I had a brief look at the Stephen Davis presentation and liked the sound of a few of these (I’ve made a metnal note to try Wallwisher with my senior classes next year and ask them to post questions related to their understanding as they try homework questions and realise that they have missed a vital key ingredient to their overall understanding that prevents them from using the theory to do their homework). I admit to also having some major reservations about a number of these as I don’t believe that they are new tools – just the same old tools tizzied up by new technology! We have to always be on guard to ensure that the technology we use actually serves the learning we want to engender. Form should not hijack function, or, worse, so obscure the function that it becomes a meaningless activity. We, as educators, always need to be mindful of purpose.
Which brings me back, again, to the work of David Perkins and Ron Ritchhart on mindfulness. I revisited the seminal article : Life in a Mindful Classroom – Nurturing the Disposition of Mindfulness after reading Gareth’s blog and again re-focused on what is important in classes. For teachers and for our students. Another one of Gareth’s posts refers to a presentation that he has given on developing reflective practices within his students. I think it could apply equally well to teachers. As we necessarily have to focus our attention on exams and reports at this time of year, let’s not forgo time for reflection on the academic year about to close and the one ahead of us…the one that allows opportunity for improving on what we have done this year.
May we never lose sight of the main game.