“Giving Voice to Learning” by Noreen O’DonnellWhat was it Reid Lyon said about education schools?
Monday, June 11, 2012
Video by Jackson Loo and Devon Puglia
PRINCIPAL: The mentality in education right now in America is that teachers are responsible for everything. If someone is successful, it’s because of the teacher. If someone fails, it’s because of the teacher.
NARRATOR [enthusiastic]: So what if students became their own teachers? That’s what’s happening at 10 schools across New York City under a radical new pilot curriculum called Learning Cultures.
NYU EDUCATION SCHOOL ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR CYNTHIA MCCALLISTER: The core of Learning Cultures is the idea that social practices are critical to learning in human beings. Social practices and social interactions are really what make us learn.
NARRATOR: The Daily visited the High School of Language and Innovation in the Bronx, where the students are learning English as a second language.
PRINCIPAL: On the surface, it might look the same. So you might walk into a class and say “Oh look. The kids are working in groups.” Or, “Oh look. In this part, the kids are paying attention to a lesson.” This is completely different.
NARRATOR: After a 15 minute mini-lesson from the teacher, students spend most of their time doing group or independent work on the subject, with educators in a supporting role.
YAN WENG (H.S. MATH TEACHER): They definitely can learn more from their classmates than learning from me, so it’s not from top down.
PRINCIPAL: It’s a huge paradigm shift for educators, to turn over responsibility to students. Good teaching is really about what the students are doing. It’s learning through interaction.
NARRATOR: It’s learning through interaction.
[Shot of students at a table reading a book out loud together]
NARRATOR: This exercise is called unison reading. The children read aloud in synch. [students read a few words, and then a boy at the table calls halt] When they come across an unknown word or concept, they stop, discuss it, and try to determine the answer.
MCCALLISTER: They’re taught to resolve their confusions independently of the teacher.
NARRATOR: Some use iPads as translators, but most turn to each other. The method is applied across all grade levels and subjects.
YAN WENG (H.S. MATH TEACHER): Amazingly students tend to actually take feedback from their peers a lot more than taking feedback from teachers.
NARRATOR: But it doesn’t always work. This student chose a book beyond her skill level because she liked the cover. [book: The Throwaway Piece]
ENGLISH TEACHER: The summary is too difficult to understand, it means that the book is probably going to be too difficult to understand. [student nods]
NARRATOR: Traditionalists might wonder if this is just some wacky ultra-progressive teaching trend.
MCCALLISTER: It’s a pretty different way of approaching academic work, school work.
PRINCIPAL: I never really thought of it as progressive. I just thought this makes a lot of sense, and this actually helps me to accomplish all the standards and all the goals that we’re supposed to be accomplishing in this day and age.
MCCALLISTER: Schools are dysfunctional. You know they’re made for not only a different time, but I think that they were created without acknowledging the things that in our society we fundamentally value, and that is, you know, our freedoms. Until you change the nature of the curriculum so that kids have the space to own their learning—take initiative—they’re not going to learn.
unison reading: the video
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