17 Comments

  1. gary bass

    Great post George (..as in, i like and agree with that you have written.)

    My pet issue is the use of the term ‘technology’
    STEM in particular has now been taken to mean computer technology.

    Technology has usually been the construction or use of tools to improve the achievement of a task.

    The emphasis on STEM (principles) would seem an ideal opportunity for larners to problem solve using the materials and tools available.
    Many interpretations choose STEM to be using computers to put on a screen what was previously achieved on (a) paper (worksheet!)

    I would like ‘T’ in STEM to return to using materials technologies wood, metal, fabric, plastic and food and problem solving to achieve a desired ‘product’. This would necessarily require design, construction, prototyping, review and final product. everything can be improved, so the ‘final’ could be seen as the latest work in progress.
    there would be no ‘correct answer’, just the best possible within the time and resources available.
    ..this might even be described as a ‘growth mindset’..though I suspect it is just design engineering..as it has always been.
    da vinci designed a helicopter before the materials were available to build the working model..

    • Sarah

      Gary,
      I couldn’t agree with you more about the definition of “technology”. I work in the “technology” field and I try to remind folks that it doesn’t always have to be an electronic device or computer to be counted as technology.

      Thank you for bringing up that fantastic point.

    • Christine

      Check out the curriculum in Quebec! Science and Technology is what is students are being taught in elementary and secondary school. High school S&T is divided into four worlds- Earth & Space, Material, Living and Technological. The technological part is exactly as Gary said- design, construction, prototyping, etc.. While there is still some resistance to the ‘loss of the sciences’, I think it is a great path for our students and our future.

    • @ Gary Bass:
      Put the textbooks on the shelf and start using Transdisciplinary Problem Based Learning. The design cycle makes a great vehicle to get your students to a solution for the problem you propose (or better yet: THEY propose solving a culturally [our community] relevant problem!).
      This methodology incorporates the “design, construction, prototyping…” that you mentioned, as well as requiring the students to think deeply, use a growth mindset, collaborate, build work skills and tenacity, responsibility, meeting deadlines, research, finding/contacting experts, …
      I put my books on the back shelf 6 years ago. My relationships with the students changed. The depth of thought from the students changed. Test scores went up. The amount of work the kids willingly put into learning skyrocketed!

      • gary bass

        @Jeff Schneider
        Agree completely with the PBL approaches. Constructivist thinking has been the mainstay supporting the entire adoption of a building culture.

        i would still use ‘books’ as the literacy component is crucial, though reference books rather than textbooks, as these are writtent for different purposes. Onscreen ebooks are still too variable to be reliable.
        an alternative is to get students to write/curate their own reference libraries through pinterest, or scoopit. previously i had students construct an iBook as a record of their efforts. this included reference and report.

  2. Spiri Howard

    Great post George! There are so many buzz words out there. The words that I find educators interchange or misuse:

    Differentiation: adjusting to learning needs of groups of learners.
    What I hope – Teachers create or adapt
    instruction and choose roles for learners based on different needs of learners.

    Personalization: learners connect with their interests, passions, and aspirations.
    What I hope – Learners have a voice and choice on what they learn.

    Individualization: accommodating the learning needs of the learner.
    What I hope – Teachers customize lessons and tasks for learners based on individual needs.

    Always good to brush up on that vocabulary and know the difference between terms.

  3. Teresa Murray

    Unfortunately these words seem to be dependent on the meaning ascribed by user. A massive issue in education.

  4. Tom Donovan

    I would add to your definition of collaboration to include that the “something” must be larger than an individual could accomplish alone.

  5. Marilyn

    After mothering four and now grandparenting 12 I simply adapt my methods toward each person because I believe any method from skipping down the street reciting information to reading it in book nooks, tablets, or phones is a good method as long as I keep there attention.

  6. Great post. Language is so powerful. We have begun to replace the word “change” with the word “evolve” in our teaching and learning vocabularies because the response to the word “evolve” is grounded in an expectation of growth rather than fear. Thank you for encouraging this conversation!

  7. Jane

    “Data Driven” grates on my every nerve. “Data Informed” is better. I bet I read that somewhere in Cathy Davidson’s book Now You See It. “To live is to be in a constant state of adjustment”.

  8. Educational terms can take a turn for the worse if overused or used without a connection to the true meaning and spirit of the term. That is what you did by clarifying these terms. I have a particular aversion to the work rigorous. In my work (it’s my 39th year teaching), I use the word vigorous, not rigorous for something like curriculum or vigor, not rigor, when I need the noun. I know that rigorous can mean conscientious and thorough, but it can also mean severe, draconian, harsh. It comes from the Latin for rig or stiffness! Vigorous on the other hand has endless positive synonyms (powerful, robust, passionate, energetic, you get the idea) and feels much more related to what we want students to feel and be part of. So all of us should think vigorous, not rigorous.

  9. Jon Orech

    Hey George,

    Yes, “Words Matter.”

    “Engage.” IMO has really lost it’s puch. Too often, “Engaged” has devolved into “busy.” I could ask students to do a google search for images, and they would stay “engaged” for hours if I let them. Is this “Deep Work”?

    Let’s set the bar higher. Instead of “Engaged,” what are we doing in school to “Empower”students? How do we give them “true” choice as opposed to “the illusion of choice.” How do we trust them to create things that matter? Not for a grade…but for something meaningful to them?

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