Learning leads to more questions!!

I have been flirting with the idea of blogging for a LONG time and with gentle encouragement from Edna, I have finally decided to put all excuses aside and just give it a crack! 

I’ve recently returned from an amazing, thought provoking 5 day Project Zero Classroom conference at Harvard University and whilst I feel inspired, enthused and full of hope, I also feel overwhelmed and out of control with a mess of ideas crowding my head! Everyone has been so excited to find out what I have learnt and what I have to share with our school community.  I’ve needed the last 3 weeks, since coming home, to question and process the following:

* Do I make complex ideas accessible to my students or do I merely simplify the complex ideas?

* In my classroom, what messages are the students receiving about learning?

* Do I “teach” my students or do I create an environment in which they can learn?

* How can I thoughtfully group students for collaborative learning – precisely, effectively and efficiently?

* How could I provide more opportunities for productive student conversations?

* How well do I navigate between ‘wild’ teaching and ‘tame’ teaching?  Do I have the right balance?

* Do I take the time to notice and name what is being learnt by my students?  Do they notice and name what they are learning?

* How can art be used across the curriculum, to stimulate thinking?

* Do I educate beyond the culture of intellect?

* Why is character more important than intellect?

* To what extent do we consider truth, beauty and goodness when guiding our students’ learning?

* Does our high school enact the curriculum within a culture of thinking or does it teach “The Curriculum”?

As Ron Ritchhart stated in one of his plenaries, “evaluate the questions learners ask not the answers they give.”  At the moment when you ask me “what did you learn at Harvard?”  I can only answer with the many questions I now have!

 

About lanafleiszig

Lana Fleiszig is the Numeracy Co-ordinator and a Year 6 Mathematics teacher at an IB Primary Years Program school in Melbourne, Australia. Learning with understanding is at her core.
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19 Responses to Learning leads to more questions!!

  1. rolat2 says:

    It is true that learning leads to more questions. Your questions linger with every teacher who is a learner. I am in the same situation and I feel that our learning is based on students’ thinking. I have just released a Blog on Learning in progress and I will be reflecting on the same questions throughout this coming year. This is the link if you are interested: http://learninginprogess.blogspot.ca/

  2. I love these thought provoking questions that you have articulated so well because they exemplify the thinking that all of us should have, the focus and value being placed on what the students are learning, not what we are teaching. My school, Alvin Dunn Elementary in San Marcos, California is beginning its first year as an International Baccalaureate Primary Years Candidate School, so these questions can be very useful in guiding our own inquiry process as a staff.

  3. So interesting that the questions you pose are being asked around the world. Looking forward to them getting enough momentum so that EVERY teacher is asking them.

    • lanafleiszig says:

      It’s great to have a forum like this where we can bounce around ideas and questions. I’m looking forward to exploring these questions over the next year or so – and I’m sure I’ll be left asking even more questions! Thanks for your comment.

  4. Layla Sacker says:

    I have read the questions you are exploring with interest as each one of those shifts around my head at different times. At the moment I am fascinated by the power of the Arts to stimulate and clarify thinking. I explore different perspectives when I am thinking this way. I am historian, artist, storyteller, scientist and then I try to see the art as the viewer of the time or culture might see it. Wow what a journey that has been ! Thanks for these insightful questions.

  5. Mr. Cummings says:

    I, too, had the opportunity to attend PZC back in 2011 and returned feeling much the same way. I decided to begin putting my learning into practice by spending last year focusing on the thinking routines. They were new to me at the time, but it was a tangible starting place. This year I am working toward better backward design by using the TfU framework. It should be interesting. I understand your feeling overwhelmed. I felt that way, too. I hope to hear more about your experience and how your teaching is impacted by it.

    • lanafleiszig says:

      Thanks for your comment Mr Cummings. It’s always good to know that someone else is also feeling the same way after such a mind boggling conference. I will certainly keep you posted as I clarify how my teaching and more importantly my students’ learning is impacted. I like your idea of one focus at a time. I’ve been using the thinking routines for a few years now so I think I’ll start with efficient and purposeful groupings for collaborative learning. Did you attend any of Rhonda Bondie’s sessions on differentiation?

      • whatedsaid says:

        Lana, not sure if you know this… Philip once saw me post about one of our morning groups reading Making Thinking Visible’ and he joined in via Skype!

      • Mr. Cummings says:

        I did not attend any of Rhonda Bondie’s sessions. Lisa Verkerk’s session on reflective art journals left a huge impression, though. I was moving to a new school, grade-level, and subject area a the time so I really wanted to focus on the class design. My culminating project was to write my through lines for my 6th grade reading class.

        I’m curious what you learned about purposeful groupings, though. I hope you’ll share some of that when you have a chance. Thanks fro replying.

        -Philip

  6. Love the list of questions that the PZC session has churned in your mind, and this itself is the beauty of understanding based learning… we are constantly thinking, reviewing, rearranging and reforming our own understanding as a result of the inquiry cycle. I would love to use some of your questions to provoke some of my teachers to think more deeply about their class room practices… and want to know if that would be fine with you?

  7. I ws inspired enough after attending PZC in 2007 to enrol in a degree at Harvard! I too found that I returned with far more questions than answers, and a complete inability to respond when people asked me “What did you learn?” It has taken over a year of reflection and massaging into my practice for much of the reality of those questions to really sink in. What a great journey. Thank you for sharing.

  8. lanafleiszig says:

    Wow – what degree did you do? I’m jealous before I even know what it is. I guess when we stop reflecting on our practice it’s probably time to get out of teaching! Thanks for your comment Cameron.

  9. Jocelyn Blumgart says:

    Wow lan, such thought provoking questions. I would love to join you on your journey of asking these questions of myself. A great post, keep blogging I love what you have to say.

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