Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wonder Wall Wednesday September 18, 2013 Curious Passionate Learning

Children are curious and naturally passionate learners: “The desire to learn, to discover, to figure something out, and to be able to do something well enough to proclaim it as one’s own must surely be as strong as any impulse in the human soul” 
Fried: The Passionate Learners and the Challenge of Schooling 

Wonder Wall Wednesday is our way using #geniushour techniques to bridge the gap that is happening in education.

Wonderful things don't have to just be imagined. There is the possibility of wonderful moments and wondering moments in our classroom. This is a phenomenal example of education going in the right direction for students.

Common features and characteristics evident in these schools include:
• Guiding principles that focus all stakeholders
• High standards, including a commitment to post secondary advancement of students
• Belief in each student being known, understood, and encouraged
• Emphasis on student inquiry, experiential learning, learning in
depth, and interdisciplinary learning
• Some degree of choice inherent in the program
• Commitment to higher-order thinking and to students practicing
creativity and innovation, analysis and evaluation, and real-world
problem solving
• Belief in the importance of personal values, democratic process,
integrity, and morality
Wilson, Louise, Great American Schools:The Power of Culture and Passion

A Passion for Learning

"Great teaching traffics in enduring puzzlements, persistent
dilemmas, complex conundrums, enigmatic paradoxes. Certainty
is closed, and closed streets don’t interest the mind. Great ideas
have legs. They take you somewhere. "
Eisner 2006, p. 44

What then is Meaningful learning

• Learning builds on preconceptions and needs to be integrated and
• Building deep conceptual knowledge and expertise is critical to
future learning.
• Students must learn problem-solving and learning strategies.
• Students learn best when learning is contextualized and authentic
and when they respond to strategic, student-driven inquiry.
• Students benefit from metacognitive awareness of how they learn
and in shared discourse with others.
• The brain loves challenges, problem solving, and relevant mysteries.
Bransford, Brown, and Cocking 1999; Diamond and Hopson 1998;
Brown and Campione 1998

It also involves the construction of knowledge, including higher-order thinking;
• Disciplined inquiry, which includes an opportunity to develop deep
knowledge and engage in substantive conversation;
• Value beyond school, learning about things that connect to the
world beyond the classroom. 
Newmann, Secada, and Wehlage 1995

I like what Mr. Robert Fried explains below. I am including an excerpt from his abstract.

Fried, Robert L. Passionate Learners and the Challenge of Schooling.

"The opposite of command and control is a genuine learning partnership, one that requires of students and teachers a level of shared responsiveness that goes against the traditional hierarchy of school, Fried reminds us. Such mutuality will be critical to the emergence of learner-centered schools in the future.

EVERY CHILD is a passionate learner. Children come into the world with a desire to learn that is as natural as is the desire to eat and move and be loved. Their hunger for knowledge, for skills, for the feeling of mastery is as strong as any other appetite. They learn an amazing variety of things in the years before they enter school, including, miraculously, how to talk fluently in their native language. And they continue learning at a terrifically high rate throughout their childhoods.

We are less likely to see this same passion when we look at children in school. Something happens to a child when "learning" is replaced by "schooling." It doesn't happen all at once. The excitement of the kindergarten or first-grade classroom begins to dissipate by third or fourth grade. Of course, some children do hold on to a dynamic interest in learning as they mature as students, while others get enough support at home for their individual passions for learning - in music, hobbies, books, or sports - so that they more easily contend with their disappointments with school-based learning."

And this is in the end, why Wonder Wall Wednesdays are important and why the use of #geniushour or #passiontime is vital. We are not just wasting time! What may look like child's play to you, is learning to us.

Today we wondered about how far away the Mississippi River is from our small town of Isanti, MN. The fastest way to get there is to go to Anoka. That is about 30 minutes away. This spawned discussions about what states the river flows through, where it starts, where it ends as well as life on the river.  We talked about that this river is not as far as you may think..and learning distance perception is a very high order skill.   My heart begged to read anything by Mark Twain, (Samuel Clemens).   We also wondered about how many kinds of birds there were. The answer is 10,000. We wrote down our favorite bird and our best estimate. We talked about that this might be more than frogs...(5,000)  We also looked at this site: to see how creative and different each bird was made.

It was a precious, precious time and a high honor for me to be a witness to this learning.