Sunday, July 19, 2015

C4Ta#4 The Fischbowl

  My C4Ta#4 was on Karl Fisch's blog, The Fischbowl.

  SUMMARY. The first post of his that I will go over is: Idea #2: Eliminate Curriculum (As We Know It). In this post, Fisch says educators have spent a great deal of their lives engrossed in schools that have been set by the curriculum. Over the years in systematic, common educational framework, the school system and educators have made basic inferences about how school is supposed to be. A standardized curriculum is not mandatory for a school to work well. Fisch says, "When we create and "deliver" a pre-defined curriculum to our students, we are robbing them of the essence of what it means to learn." Here is the list Fisch has made of assumptions about curriculum in the school system:

 -The first assumption is that we know what is essential to be "educated." We don't.

 -The second assumption is that we know what is essential to be "successful" (which we really need to define) in the future. We don't.

 -The third assumption is that the future is going to be very similar to the past and present. It won't be.

 -The fourth assumption is that the only way to prepare students for their future is to have them learn a pre-determined, fixed set of knowledge and skills, in a certain order, at the same time, and within a certain time frame. I remember Will Richardson referring to in a presentation a long time ago as "just in case" education. But today's world - and so much of what we know about learning - requires a more "just in time" approach.

  -The fifth assumption is that all students need to know the same things, at the same level, and at the same age. They don't.

 - The sixth assumption is that, even if you agree with the previous five assumptions, our system as it is currently constructed is well-designed to accomplish those things. It isn't, and it doesn't.

  To get out of the curriculum rut, Fisch says classes should drastically change for juniors and seniors in high school, and that the one size fits all process needs to be disposed of. Classes need to become more personalized so students can become master learners and so they have the ability to go after their passions. This takes a series of unique teaching approaches, making the one size fits all curriculum useless and outdated. Fisch also says the process of learning shouldn't e to make a students "college and career ready", but to make them ready to learn for life. He also goes on to talk about what it means to be a "teacher" in 2015. Teachers aren't there to teach subjects, they are there to teach students.

  COMMENT. I absolutely loved when you said teachers aren't there to teach subjects, they are there to teach students. Teachers tend to put so much emphasis on teaching students a subject, then sending them off to the next class to learn another! The curriculum needs to go. When students follow day by day, step by step instructions over and over, they have no drive or interest to learn anything!

Qualities not measured by most tests

  SUMMARY. The second post of his that I will go over is: Idea #1: Eliminate Letter Grades, GPA and Class Rank. Fisch says that he does not like the phrase, "taking it to the next level". This suggests that there is a stage that works equitably for all students, a one-size-fits-all path that is the correct method to meet the needs of every student. Fisch believes the assessment/reporting system needs an update, saying, "When we have an assessment and reporting system for learning that undermines the learning, the reporting system is fatally flawed and needs to change." Letter Grades, GPA and Class Rank don't define the student. Grades is the biggest problem with the system currently in place, especially letter grades. When grades become that important, students become more obsessed with getting a good grade at the end of the year, rather than continuing learning. Teachers hate when students ask for more points for a better grade, but need to realize they are responsible for the grading system. Fisch says," If we value learning, if we value growth, if we value effort, then letter grades must go." Class ranking only helps the top 10 to 20 students. For all the other students, class rank is pointless and could hurt their college admissions process. Class ran is an injustice to students. So if letter grades don't work how should teachers determine how well students are learning? One way is to provide continuous, relevant feedback for students first, and then focus on reports to document that feedback second. Feedback for students is only works if it's actionable. The best way "report" out student learning is with narrative reports. The report needs to be useful and specific for each student. Instead of letter grades, Fisch recommends these three designations: Progressing, Partially Progressing, Not Adequately Progressing (yet). To paraphrase President Kennedy, "We choose to do this not because it is easy, but because it is hard. Because it is what's necessary to truly meet the needs of our students, to provide them the education they deserve and that we have promised them. It is a challenge we are no longer willing to postpone, but one that we willingly accept."

  COMMENT. I've always thought that letter grades hurt students and affect the college admissions process more than any good they do! Students can't be defined by a letter grade or a class rank, students need to be focused more own their own progression in learning. When students become so focused on a letter grade to get an exact GPA, teachers have failed to properly do their job.

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