Greater Learning Through Same Model and Technology

I talked to a student who had been in the same English classes with several friends from 9th through 12 grade. Each year they had a different teacher and each year that teacher taught them “their” way of writing. When the students got to 12th grade, they just said to the teacher, “Tell us how you want us to write.” She taught them her “official” way of writing. These students are living proof that constantly changing what we expect of students results in less than proficient writers.

How can we expect students to improve in their writing if we constantly change how they should write? They will only improve when we build on one consistent model. They same is true for all subjects.

Do you get together with your department (K-12) to talk over what you expect of students and what model the students will follow? Do various teachers produce Power Points, emovies or podcasts to demonstrate that consistent model? Do other teachers help develop scaffolded handouts or Power Points that guide students through the model?

2 Responses to “Greater Learning Through Same Model and Technology”

  1. 1 Carl Anderson March 26, 2008 at 6:12 am

    Aren’t we talking about standards here? I would contend that the writing experiences these students have had has prepared them well for the realities of this world. They have a keen awareness that there is diversity in writing styles and are also aware that people who hold power (in this case the power to assign grades to them) have personal and professional biases that they need to be aware of. To say we should only teach one way could leave them woefully unprepared for life when they leave their current institute of learning. Of course this scenario can also be used to turn the spotlight back on us as teachers to help us recognize our own biases.

    For years I felt strongly that my own high school art teacher was wrong in his approach to the art curriculum because he did not explicitly and directly teach us about the art elements and principles or give us a clear overview of how major art movements fit into the grand timeline. These were things I found extremely important when I went to college and felt cheated by my high school experience after experiencing something new and seeing students who went to other high schools had an entirely different kind of art education. It was one reason I initially decided to become an art teacher. It has taken me a long time to come to realize that what he did for me was just as valuable and his way of teaching art/ his art curriculum was just as valid as an art curriculum derived from state or national standards delivered by pedagogies that have in recent years become widely accepted as the “correct” way to teach.

    Any kind of standardization in the curriculum is subject to a bias, usually that of a dominant or privileged group, and fails to see the richness that is part of our reality.

    This also reminds me of my high school math teacher who made up his own language that we all had to learn before we could understand his lessons. I know he found this to be entertaining but it also helped us stretch our minds, see new possibilities, and view math creatively. I would have missed something if someone came along and told him that it was wrong to use Optalk because all the other math teachers used English.

  2. 2 hgtuttle March 26, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    You make a good point about the value of diverse ways of learning things. The problem with these struggling writings is that they never learned the basics well enough to understand the variety that their teachers introduced. The variety to those students simply became more and more confusing. At present, even though they graduated high school, they still have much difficult in writing a paragraph.

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