Tips for Teaching with Generative Topics

One aspect of developing a practice of teaching that focuses on understanding is using what is called “generative topics”. These are topics that are both interesting to students and to teachers and often reach across curricula. Because of their open-ended nature, they are accessible to students of various abilities and also can yield a wide range of resources.

Yet, with so much open about generative topics, how can we as teachers use them to bridge our students towards thinking, learning, and ultimately understanding? Continue reading “Tips for Teaching with Generative Topics”

A Framework for Teaching for Understanding

Every teacher incorporates, knowingly or not, a framework into their classroom practice. This is the skeleton, or bones, of a course and helps provide reference points for what needs to take place in class.

A framework is vital for a couple of reasons – to help consciously focus on your practice so that improvements can be made during reflection and also to create a way to discuss with other teachers how to institute necessary changes. Often times, we are tasked with collaborating with others and if we do not have a framework in place, there will be lots of frustration regarding what approach should be taken. How free are you to teach a shared course the way you want? Having a framework in place helps ease such tensions. Continue reading “A Framework for Teaching for Understanding”

Five Superpowers of Implementation of Project Zero

Tina Blythe left us with a final, inspirational message as we all began to stir for home with minds filled with ideas.

What have you found? Was it strategies or a mindset?

What will you do with it?

She reminded us that adaptation is not easy. Nothing works “out of the box”. The question became, how do you adapt with integrity? The ideas themselves should be what is essential about the framework (and don’t get hung up on terminology). Heading back to your context, what questions are people asking that you think PZ is the answer to? What needs are you addressing?

There are 5 Superpowers that we are now armed with as we venture back home.

  1. Professional Friendship – the contacts that we have made offer support, respect, and patience. We can always lean on others to gain perspective.
  2. Power of Failure – any complex system means it won’t be acquired easily and will take multiple drafts and attempts. Get comfortable with failure and ambiguity – as you should be modeling it for your students as well. Try at least one new thing, don’t go crazy, and fail “spectacularly”!
  3. Power of Wonder – we need more wonder in our classes and practices! Avoid being busy! Let things linger, use silence (W.A.I.T.) effectively, not everyone will agree! Slow down and absorb – we are born with a sense for wonder!
  4. Power of Questions – What do you think? What makes you say that? Could you please help me? Opt for inquiry over advocacy! Invite others to observe your class and invite feedback. Questions lead to process over product as the quality of the questions become more important than the answers. Open ended questions do not necessarily have straight forward answers – and complexity is not acquired easily.
  5. Power of One – when asked who is the most influential person in their life, 78% of people polled refer to a teacher. Students will experience relationships and will recall those more than the content they learned. Work on forming relationships with those around you.

Giving Change Legs with Project Zero

As I have been reflecting throughout my week at Project Zero here at Harvard, we started to have the internal “yeah, but…” dialogue. We here in attendance are all on board – we are the early adopter crowd that had to convince someone to get here and that our time here would be worthwhile. But what would be the next steps once we got back home to our schools? David Perkins had a few insights.

Continue reading “Giving Change Legs with Project Zero”