Often in discussions with educators, you hear references to "low students, high students, etc." and I believe this should be remedied. I argue that this shapes a disposition that some students are "higher" than others. There are students who are initially more capable, but the language of describing them as higher or lower lends to a pecking order of importance, ability, or various other categorizations that could be imposed on these blossoming young people.
People should be given the freedom to succeed or fail in everything they do. The expectation that students will or won't be able to perform based on prior experience sets up the expectation for the teacher and the students of how they should perform.
Educators need to believe that everyone is capable of performing at a higher level, then actively let that expectation be known to students. Every student can perform given the opportunity to understand what is required of them.
Here is an alternative I would like to suggest and what I try to do when describing students, even when they are not listening. Saying more experienced or less experienced still gets a similar point across without pigeon holing the student into a capability category. It is obvious that some people are more experienced than others and through that experience students are able to give the impression of being "higher" or "lower," but in reality we are the sum of our experiences.
So, please give students the benefit of the doubt and shift your perception.
Hopefully we all recognize the importance of deliberate language use in teaching. As a high school math teacher, I know that understanding strict definitions and being deliberate in our use of them is paramount to shaping student understanding.
It is well established that using inclusive language helps students feel safe and welcome in the classroom. Providing a safe environment allows students to take risks and feel secure when making mistakes. Since mistakes are the best opportunity for learning, it seems self evident that a safe place to make mistakes facilitates the most opportunity for learning.
With these ideas in mind, I would like to present a simple idea:
Stop calling our students "kids!"
In making a case for this plea, first let's look at the Merriam Webster dictionary definition to clarify the meaning of the word.
1 a : a young goat b : a young individual of various animals related to the goat 2 a : the flesh, fur, or skin of a kid b : something made of kid 3: a young person ; especially : CHILD —often used as a generalized reference to one especially younger or less experienced <the kid on the pro golf tour> <poor kid>
Let us assume that we don't view our young people as baby goats, or any type of related livestock. With this assumption in mind, it must be true that we intend the last definition. To paraphrase: kid- a young person or child who is less experienced.
Think of the implications this has about attitudes towards our students. Some things come to mind for this author. It may suggest that we don't value our students previous experiences, or it may suggest that the teacher is the only holder of knowledge, or possibly that we view our students as livestock.
It is doubtful that anyone would consciously make any of these claims, but our use of language needs to be deliberate.
In the classroom I choose to use terms such as: student, pre-adult, people, young people, or mathematics apprentice. These or many similar terms can suggest an attitude of respect and recognize students potential as learners.
There is a huge paradigm in the education industry that we "teach our kids."
My claim is that the paradigm needs to shift. We teach people, and those people will be the policy makers and stewards of tomorrow's world. Give them the respect they deserve, delete "kid" from your vocabulary unless you are talking about baby goats or toddlers. I doubt either of those groups will ever feel the sting of your words the same way our teenagers, pre-adults, and students might.
Please comment below if you would like to add your perspective to the conversation.
Teaching with PrBL at a New Tech school we use the rubrics developed by New Tech Network. Last year our staff was been having many discussions and struggles using these rubrics effectively.
I believe that I have figured out how to scaffold and assess using rubrics effectively and have related the method I devised with one of my coworkers to Backwards Design. A term coined by Wiggins and Mctighe.
If you have a rubric to work with, start with the end in mind. What do you want to see students doing to be able to demonstrate this skill/trait? To answer this question I usually look at the highest achieving column, for the New Tech rubrics this is the advanced column. Looking at the descriptors in this column I try to reword the goal in the simplest and most straightforward statement possible.
The next step is to scaffold the end goal by looking at creating activities and opportunities for students to display the specific thing(s) you are looking for. By doing this you are creating opportunity for students to be successful.
Finally you need to create a lesson that incorporates the goals and scaffolds that you are trying to achieve for the class. This is usually straight forward because your scaffolds build most of the lesson on their own.
Obviously this is only to achieve learning outcomes specific to the rubric. Ideally you will work with rubric descriptors and the standards that you are teaching using the standard backwards design methodology that is well known by most.
A well crafted lesson should have a form of assessment with clear goals for students to achieve. The rubric along with necessary scaffolds should address this in most cases.
If you have any comments, ideas, or questions feel free to leave a comment and I will do my best to find answers to them.
Questions are the key to deeper learning. Through asking probing questions that can only be answered by explanations requiring depth and thought, we are able to extend understanding.
The two question rule: ask a probing question, then follow it up with another question that requires deep thought to answer.
Using the two question rule we can extend knowledge to a deeper level and students will begin to anticipate that second question. This will give people the need to think deeper on a regular basis because they will want to be prepared for the next question. You don't even need to always ask the second question once it is anticipated.
Read the full article here: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/importance-asking-questions-promote-higher-order-competencies-maurice-elias
This article was brought to my attention by @thinklangley
By: Mr. Woodford
I will reflect on ideas and practices I learn through my formative years as a classroom math teacher.