As I plan my lessons and projects with student interests in mind, as I encourage their collaboration and problem-solving, and as I teach the lessons from the standards to deepen their thinking, their process, and their products, I am always brought back to this: learning is messy.
Learning is messy, and recording and reporting that learning is even more messy. And the messiness is this: we are each unique — and how and what we learn is just as unique; it cannot be forced into a standard, a score, a grade. Each learning is more than the parts — it’s the wonder of the people creating it — the thinking, evaluating, organizing, designing, and working together to create their understanding to share with others.
Learning is a conversation filled with sharing, explaining, questioning, acknowledging, and suggestions. Learning is improving every day.
So how do we show that?
Lately, the work of Ron Berger has been tweeted, and, upon researching, I discovered he is the Butterfly Teacher, that marvelous focus on critique, feedback for learning, for improving. In this Education Week Blog Post, Ron Berger explains this messiness, this focus that is real learning. How do his students know their work demonstrates expectations? Models, standards, common criteria, and expected attributes of complexity, craftsmanship, and authenticity [this is a pdf of this excellent resource]. These guide analysis of both student work and teacher assignments, which means reflection, conversations, feedback, and revision.
Learning is continuous and reporting and grading is a reflection of the current status of learning.
I’ve been struggling with this; I always struggle with this. I searched my computer for “thoroughness,” and discovered this set of attributes I had developed years ago during my elementary, self-contained, project-based classroom for grades six, seven, and eight. This served as our guide towards excellence.
Looks like I’ve got some more reading and research to do to improve my work and to develop the attributes with my students for what learning projects look like when students have choices to develop their demonstration of learning about our topics, a process that is messy and engaging. — What is a quality project, something more than a number?
How do you establish the criteria for quality work within the messiness that is real learning?
Please join the #140 WC Challenge — see link at top right.