kitchen table math, the sequel: Steve H on node chairs

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Steve H on node chairs

"The Nodal Classroom"

An amazing new educational paradigm! It's the Node™, brought to you by Steelcase. Ta Da! Music please.

I'll bet they can add PC docking stations with connections to the Smartboard. Oops! It's time to scoot into your new formations. Beep, beep! Ha, Ha! Now that's what I call active learning. PE across the classrooms.

Down with the Harkness Table. Up with nodal chairs. They can be so easily rearranged on the deck of the Titanic.


Jen said...

I had a hard time watching that whole video, but I did it!

The main woman says we know that research students learn best from each other, from explaining things to each other.

Are those the same things? I think not. You can neither teach nor explain something you don't yet know.

The second half of it seems clearly true -- it follows research that talking or writing back what you've learned is an effective way of learning it. So yes, the act of a student explaining something they've learned (whether to another student, a teacher, or in the form of a paper or an answer to a classroom question) would be educational -- FOR the student doing the explaining. It's less likely to have that effect on the student(s) s/he is speaking to, right?!

But how nicely those things get smushed into one.

Catherine Johnson said...

Excellent point!

I hate smush.

SteveH said...

As I've always said about discovery learning, only one student gets the light bulb effect, and then tries to teach it to the others in the group. This is supposed to be better than having a trained teacher do the job? So, can other students get the benefit of discovery if they are directly taught by a student rather than a teacher? The student is not considered a sage on the stage? How about an annoying know-it-all. Of course it could be that the student's discovery was wrong. How do students discover that?

GoogleMaster said...

How on earth is WRITING an activity that requires collaboration? I'm a math geek, not a writing geek, but in my experience, writing requires a quiet, solitary place where I can be alone with my thoughts without interruptions from a seat partner.

Anonymous said...

Although most writing requires work alone, there are some useful activities for pairs of students. Exchanging drafts and reading and commenting on each other's writing can be a valuable use of time in a writing class. A good writer needs an audience, and the easiest audience to write for is one similar to the writer, so having students write for each other and read each other's writing is valuable.

That is, the activity in a writing class is usually not writing (which is done between classes), but thinking about and discussing writing, which is most easily done in small groups.

Catherine Johnson said...

Exchanging drafts and reading and commenting on each other's writing can be a valuable use of time in a writing class

I suspect that doesn't become a useful activity until you're in advanced composition classes.

Ed knows the whole history of the 'writing workshop': it was invented in the Bay Area FOR TEACHERS OF WRITING.

In other words, the writing workshop approach of having students in the class serve as readers was invented specifically for adults who were proficient enough at writing that they were teachers of writing.

Ed told me a great story about NYC. Joel Klein mandated Lucy Calkins and the writer workshop for all NYC schools. One of Ed's grad students, whose partner was a middle school teacher in the city, told Ed that the middle schools were now filled with barely-literate young adolescent students sitting around in groups "analyzing" each other's work.

Catherine Johnson said...

Where collaboration works -- and is quite helpful, I think -- is in the brainstorming part of writing.

I'm amazed at how consistently my students come up with good ideas when we brainstorm a set of "X-1-2-3" sentences as a whole-class activity.

So far I've never tried having them do this in pairs, but I think I should.

The 'thinking' part of writing probably always benefits from some form of collaboration (unless you're not built that way temperamentally...)

ktm is a form of 'writerly collaboration' for me, and always has been --- !