In search of school-wide Essential Learnings/Questions

The purpose of this post is two-fold:

  1. see title–that pretty much explains it
  2. I hope to expand my learning network, so feel free to comment if you subscribe to this blog, but by all means SHARE THIS with your own network!  I’d love to meet the people that make my people so darn interesting.

Here’s the task:

Imagine that for some reason a school decided to eliminate content-specific departmental structures.  Rather than learning Art, Science, and Spanish, students learn a set of core skills and content that will prepare them for the next levels of learning, a life of citizenship, a successful career, and a life worthy of the investment of time living it.

What do you consider the essential learnings or essential questions that students would explore throughout their academic studies?

Whether you’re an educator, a parent, whether you work in public sector, private sector, or don’t work at all, I’d love to have your input.

Comment below, reply to others’ comments, challenge me and others, combine ideas.  Have fun.  I hope it’s not just me and the crickets…

If a tree falls in the classroom…

My school’s vision statement calls for “schedules and spaces that fit learning.” This weekend I came across this sculpture hewn out of a former pine tree. The barred owls were kind enough to hoot an idea to me.

When a tree falls on campus, or when it is determined that one must be felled, we cut it down to the stump, grind the stump, and landscape over the scar left behind. What if we leave the stump and ask students to make some decisions?

Is the space right for a piece of “natural” furniture? Or a sculpture? And if so, what must be done to the stump to ward off rot? What physical and chemical processes does a dead tree undergo? At the very least we have two courses of study integrating here, and that’s just what the barred owls and I have come up with…

Any other ideas? Comments and ideas are welcome, because I’m going to begin harassing people at school shortly.

By the way, I’m posting from the WordPress iPhone app for the first time, so if something doesn’t look right, that’s why.

Hoo should decide what to do when a tree falls on campus? Students, that’s hoo!!

Formatively assessing Shakespeare

As a student of writing, this young man was given a chance to revise and republish his work…but where are the results??

This morning I’m finishing up Imagine: How Creativity Works by Johah Lehrer.  After talking about the creative process, the neuroscience of creativity, the importance of divergence and convergence in the creative process, and the relationship between cities and creative behavior, he finishes by talking about Shakespeare.  He argues that, yes, Shakespeare’s work exists “for all time” (quoting Ben Jonson).  However, Shakespeare could have only produced what he produced by living in his own time, that the conditions were ripe for a Shakespeare.  Then he mentions one of the conditions of creativity (freedom of speech) that made me wink directly at my book.  After quoting a passage fromKing Lear, Lehrer writes:

These are the lines of a fearless writer.  Shakespeare knew that even if his plays did manage to offend the queen’s censors, he probably wouldn’t be thrown into a dungeon…Instead, his punishment would be literary; he might be asked to revise the play in the next version, or cut the offending lines from the printed edition.  This forgiving attitude encouraged playwrights to take creative risks…

Shakespeare was a beneficiary of formative assessment.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons