Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Forbidden Word

My last post garnered a comment from Paul Wilkinson in New Zealand. That led to me poking around his blog and learning about the work he's doing in his classroom. Great stuff.

One of Paul's posts led me back to David Warlick and post Paul commented on.

I've been thinking lately about an idea that was touched on in my pre-service teacher training at University - authentic assessment. The idea was coming back into its own when I heard about it and is batted around edublogs quite often, but I want to incorporate it into my classroom as much as possible.

In it's more academic form, what Warlick describes as "Passion-Based Learning" is differentiated instruction. The difference would be that DI focuses on learning gaps and meeting learners' achievement needs while the new PBL would focus on engagement, getting students wanting to learn and share and create and all of those wonderful verbs that don't pop up enough in federal, state and county standards.

Looking at my students now, it's undeniably difficult to put together a lesson that will engage Demond who loves football, Coty who is a tagger (graffiti artist), Elsie who is a writer, Missy who is a gymnast, etc. By engage, I'm not talking, simply getting them to pay attention, but getting them to care, to see school as relevant not to the futures they haven't quite gotten into focus yet, but relevant to those activities they feel they're suffering through the school day to get to.

I need to focus on formulating learning plans that will offer this type of passion-based engagement and still allow for DI. Thoughts?

More later.

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Paul Wilkinson said...

Thanks for the comment. You have tagged your post with the key word. "Differentiated"
We have for years understood this term for the blind, deaf, physically disabled etc but you very rightly point out the challenge it is to engage the writer, artist, musician, sports enthusiast etc in the same classroom. Sir Ken Robinson gives a great speech about this


pointing out the need for us to begin educating children from a much wider view of success. In school we value the reader and the writer and to a lesser extent the mathematician but not a whole lot else. How do we offer differentiated learning for all the children in our class not just the "special needs" children.
I don't have a fully developed answer on this but I've been thinking about how to offer more choice in learning activities and yet also have a balance of experience. Gardner's Theory of Multiple intelligence may be a way in for teachers to think about different activities that still target key objectives. In New Zealand we have the luxury of a very open skill focussed curriculum .

Got to go to class. Will cogitate on this more and post some thoughts in the next few days.

Jack Francis said...


Thanks for sending me to Paul's blog. Very innovative ideas there. I will try "The Darfur Game" and incorporate it in with my Holocaust discussion that is coming soon at a theatre near my students. This is a great way to DI.

Once I get my blogging skills down, my new skills will allow me to help students to design/customize their own projects.