Sunday, February 9, 2014

Curiously Collaborative - Student-Driven Learning

Yesterday, I attended EdCampSTL, a professional development "unconference".  Basically, it is a professional development conference run for teachers by teachers.  Teachers come in, sign up for presentations/conversations they'd like to facilitate, and attend presentations/conversations in which they are interested.  My teaching partner, Melissa Hellwig, and I attended a session and gave two sessions of our own, 20% Time, a project we are doing with the kids on our team.  For more info about 20% Time, go to

I've always been a proponent of putting teachers in a room together with no program or agenda.  What naturally occurs is sharing, building and creating.  It is in this way that EdCampSTL is different from traditional professional development.  Teachers learn more in an "unconference" setting than they do in the traditional manner.

So....I got to thinkin' "Why can't we do something like this in our classes?"

I talked to many like-minded teachers this weekend who felt that it could be done if they were not locked into a rigid curriculum.  A colleague, Patrick Dempsey, sent me a link to a short documentary video called "Future Learning".

Educators in this video talk about the future of learning and how the necessary skills will be different for them than it was for us when we were growing up.  According to Sigata Mitra, the most important things a student will need are reading comprehension, information search and retrieval skills, and how to believe.  So, with all that I have learned this weekend, I believe that I am doing my students a disservice by continuing to drill social studies content into their heads.  I've always tried to make it fun and different, but it remains content-based.  Now, I want to break from the way I've been doing things.

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