Saturday, May 25, 2013

Take the Challenge 20/20

The Challenge 20/20 is a great opportunity to communicate and collaborate with other teachers and students from around the world to find local solutions to global problems. By connecting with other classes, educators will find positive ways to flatten the classrooms and engage minds in an online connected world.

I think the three challenges that apply best to my 5th grade students would be Global Warming, Water Pollution and Deforestation. One of the Units we have in early May is "Natural Resources" and the different possible solutions we have to solve world issues problems. So, we could become part of a collaborative project to reinforce what we have studied in the classroom.

I'm very excited to sign up for the Challenge 20/20. I'm looking forward to working with other educators around the world. What about you? Would you dare to try out something new? This is the chance to show off what you are doing with your students. You won't regreat. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Creativity in the 21st century

There is a mismatch between what science knows and what education does. How can you, as a teacher leader, remodel the actual educational system based on rewards, to promote creative abilities of your 21st Century students? 

After watching the video "The Puzzle of Motivation" by Dan Pink, I agree with David that there is a mismatch between what science knows and what education does. Just think about films since the first movie in 1927 in Hollywood. How much has this industry improved in the last decades? I guess a lot. Today, we can watch animated 3D movies in HD.

What about education? It hasn't changed a lot. In Mexico, we still have the same classrooms we used to have in the era of Lazaro Cárdenas del Río (1934-1940) where the teacher served as holder of knowledge. Back then, school teachers often rephrased  "If you want your students to perform better, motivate them with rewards". And it worked fine for that time. Teachers and parents had to help the children with extrinsic motivation. But today we are in the 21st century and we need to change the educational paradigm. If teachers use incentives, they narrow their vision. 

There is no simple solution. If we want our students to perform better, we do not have to threaten them with punishments, extra homework or without breaks. Students urgently need autonomy. By using Project-Based Learning approach where students are active participants of their own learning practice, they can direct their own life. Nowadays engagement and self-direction work better. If students work with their intrinsic motivation their productivity, satisfaction and work engagement go up. Remember, rewards work but only at a lower level, in mechanical skills, not with creativity or concentration. 

As a teacherpreneur, it is our duty to teach our students to create original works as a means of personal or group expression. Maybe let students use 20% of their time to do tasks that they really matter for them. If we make a connection between what science knows and what education does, we can solve a lot of "candle" problems and we can contribute to change the world of education.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

PBL vs. Doing Projects

The main differences between Project Based Learning and just "doing projects". 

After watching the video "What is PBL?", I found main differences between PBL and just "doing projects". In a traditional classroom, the teacher asks his students to create a project at the end of the unit. It's a teacher generated plan. The teacher makes emphasis on content and grades. It's a teacher-center activity supported by a textbook.

In a PBL classroom, the teacher acts as a facilitator, guide, designer or coach. The teacher introduces a topic and encourages his students to think creatively to solve problems. Students are engaged because they have a great variety of activities throughout the whole unit. It's important to mention that the project is the unit. Students work in teams to collaborate and research by using different resources. They know what they are doing. The activities are meaningful and real-world issues. At the end, students present their project to an authentic audience, experts from the topic. Finally students reflect on what they have learned.