SBL #1 (Spring Break of Learning 2020) my biggest worry: one size fits all learning…
Well, Spring Break 2020 has not gone according to plan. In BC, we started our Spring Break on March 13th – a true “friday the 13th” as it turns out… we sent our students home with a fabulous Talent Show afternoon, but also with the news of many other school jurisdictions closing “indefinitely” because of the spread of COVID-19. In the week since, we have also “closed indefinitely” with all schools in BC on a simultaneous two week spring break (some districts only have 1 week, some schools are year round so have their breaks at different times etc etc) so that we can all come back on March 30 to a “new normal” for what is being referred to as a “continuation of learning”. And as much as I am a fan of using tech with education (technologization) I have some worries with some of the things I am hearing…
….and it links back to a wonder/share from a staff member about “one size learning” when he brought up “alignment in practice” and having all grade 3s working on the same thing – and as I pointed out, many districts have tried the mindset that “on Tuesday the Xth, all grade Y students will be doing: this and that. End of Line” to great disaster. Because while it makes sense in a industrial, assembly line mindset (from which schooling emerged….) it does not work in practice. Students are absent; students are unique – they learn at different rates and times; misunderstandings have to be ignored; teachable moments have to be ignored, etc etc etc. and worst of all – if a student doesn’t “get it” on that day….what happens next? When do we stop doing interventions? If someone does not have a good sense of numbers, they are going to struggle with… everything in math…. do we not go back and reinforce some of the basic skills to enhance understanding, or hope that it just “comes to them” while they are working on more abstract work in later years?
I worry when I see shares online for those jurisdictions who are creating on the fly that are “work packages” for a class – is a homogeneous work package going to work for heterogeneous learners? How will they get feedback or support if they are misunderstanding something (or not understanding something at all) – what if the parents don’t “get it” either, or enough to help their kids learning at home. I can see a lot of frustration going on. Likewise, I can see great ideas such as geniushour struggling outside of a supportive learning community (classroom) because they don’t have peers to bounce ideas off of – or to ask question of, except asynchronously -> which I think is fine for older learners, but when it comes to wonders…I really wonder what asynchronous kindergarten can look like….
I have been doing some thinking about District Assessments as separate from in-class Assessments – where the classroom teacher needs to holistically know who their learner is – what is their independent reading level, what are they focusing on to become better writers, how is their math fluency; in opposition to district “needs” being more: are learners at or below “accepted grade reading levels” – at or below expectations of writers of similar age, and have a sense of number and operations that are “expected” based on their year of birth. Very different mindsets. But… can these also be part of the continuity of learning sent home: send home these types of assessments so that parents can see how their child is doing compared to “typical expectations”?
Or do we continue with what we do best: meeting the needs of our learners and supporting them with work that they can do independently and then push those zones of proximal learning when the brain is ready for a “leap forward”. But then, how frequently can/should that be when we can’t be at school?
Daily drop-ins – one student/day to limit social contact and work with a teacher on things to focus on for the next….month+?
Daily Video chats – except for those who do not have the right technical supports and can thereby expect to be further “left behind”
I daresay that those using efolios are likely more ready to have students and teacher interactions via folios – sharing an activity and then have a result shared back – a light framework of a Math 11 (History of Math) course I helped develop for our local secondary school: https://technolandy.wordpress.com/pbl/
But I am really worried that education will stray away from the direction it had been heading towards: personalized learning journeys and instead face a detour of “one size fits all” packages that, as Todd Rose pointed out in his fabulous books End of Average and Dark Horse end up missing everyone. My biggest takeaway remains: when we aim for the average, we end up making things worse for pretty much everyone. There are many ways for learners to be successful, but no one way that will work for all. We need many entrance and exit points for learning, because the journey is almost always more important than the final product (okay – influenced by Isaacsons DaVinci on this thought too…)
So in the “new reality” of asynchronous schooling that is due to COVID19, please do no think that “one package” will meet all learner needs. But perhaps one good question can have all learners respond in unique ways… And perhaps we need “connection opportunities” – saw one school do a virtual dance party and another doing a “read aloud” – both things that I am thinking would be good to come “from the principals office” to continue community networking opportunities…
There are some neat opportunities to do different during our “new normal” – looking forward to continuing to see, create and share them!