Yesterday Craig Dwyer @dwyerteacher reflected on Inquire Within about setting up a marvelous unit for his class, including a myriad of opportunities for collaboration, use of technology, reflection time, reaching out to students around the world and more. Yet at the end, here is his takeaway:
“But, it was my inquiry. I planned it all out. I chose the direction. I chose the topics. I selected from a very large field of possibilities, and ended up with a path that I made. They ended up exactly where I wanted them to.”
What a marvelously honest and pure self-assessment! This teacher did everything right, but one, and takes the time to share, not the power of the success, but the lessons of the one “failure”.
Two ideas arose to me immediately. First, of course, is the marvelous recognition that students will ALWAYS be more engaged if they have co-ownership in developing the learning path. Even young students can participate at a high level, given the opportunity. I wrote about a pilot with 4th graders I organized and the results were extremely positive.
Second, what an outstanding, easy, quick, and highly productive topic for any faculty PLC, PLN, or general faculty meeting this fall. So many ways to gamestorm or brainstorm ideas about how to convert units in any class or subject from teacher-directed problem definition to co-owned problem-finding with students. In 30 minutes, any group could imagine, record, and share ideas, and the pilots would be running the next day or week, with feedback soon to follow. Talk to your principal, department chair, PLC team leader, or head. Share what happens with the rest of us!
We all know that authentic student engagement is key, and we all know that NONE of us are engaged if we are working on something that someone tells us is important. We need to feel that importance ourselves, feel the dissonance, and choose to go through the gate.