I had a student ask me a question one day, an irrelevant, “obvious answer” question. The situation happened day after day and on this particular day the answer was so apparent she looked at me and said, “I guess there are stupid questions!” The entire class erupted in laughter, and I often recall the experience when asked to evaluate my practice. The latest phrase describing non-creative students is “learned helplessness.” Unfortunately, my professional education has instilled in me just the opposite: an “I’ll do it myself,” traditional way of thinking, so my background leads me to instinctively “help” find the answer. Indeed this is a quandary. If my students have “learned-helplessness,” and I have learned-helpfulness, someone has to change. Cennamo, Ross, and Ertmer (2009) recommend teaching students how to learn as opposed to skills. My GAME (2009) plan will help me do just that.
What is my GAME plan (Cennamo, Ross, & Ertmer, 2009)? My specific ISTE indicators are promoting “student learning and creativity” and “reflection using collaborative tools (NETS-T 2.a. & 1.c.), yet I simply long for authenticity, engagement, and a learner-centered classroom (Cennamo et al., 2009). I wish to stop teaching and start guiding. Affording them opportunities for the kind of thinking that takes effort, decisions, and drive can only improve their lives. Critical thinkers become critical workers; therefore, for everyone’s sake, I must learn “a more constructivist approach” (Eagleton & Dobler, 2007).
What action will I take to ensure this difficult change? As I think back over our learning experience, I like Stiggins (2007) division of knowledge and skills and Eagleton and Dobler’s (2007) QUEST strategy for lesson development. Happily, Cennamo et al. present a wonderful chart (p. 31) to guide me in teaching self-direction through inquiry using an awareness of knowledge and skills. Before the school year begins, I will map out and develop weekly projects that include inquiry, authenticity, and technology according to the Maryland essential course of study (McDougal Littell, 2008) for English IV or British Literature. During the school year, I will monitor my plan weekly using a scale of 1-5 for lesson evaluation. A score of five will be a successful lesson in which students were challenged, creative, and self-directed. Any lessons or parts of lessons that fall below a score of five will be evaluated and modified.
Most of my evaluation and extension takes place during summer break when I not only get a chance to “clear my head” and decrease my stress level, my desire and time for life-long learning is restored. I spend much of my time in a refreshing mind-stretch, reading and pushing my abilities as close to the level of great teacher as I can. Post-masters I look forward to perusing, rereading, and rediscovering the excellent resources I have compiled over the past year. Future leisure to reflect and restore will certainly benefit my self and my practice.
Cennamo, K., Ross, J., & Ertmer, P. (2010). Technology integration for meaningful classroom
use: A standards-based approach. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
Stiggins, R. J. (2007). Student-involved assessment for learning. New York: Prentice Hall, p. 72.
International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). 2010. Nets for teachers 2008.
Eugene, OR: Author. Retrieved July 8, 2010 from http://www.iste.org/Content/NavigationMenu/