Saturday, April 23, 2011

About Pedagogy Weekly

Each week this blog will publish and auto-tweet one concrete pedagogical idea or practice that teachers can play with in their classroom. After a week of playing with each new (or old) idea try to tweet, blog, leave a comment here, create a slide on flickr, podcast a reflection or leave some kind of digital trace of your experience. Each week's challenge will include a tag like: #pw... where "..." is a number. Include the tag somewhere on your reply. Mind you, you don't have to do any of that. The main thing is to just play with the ideas and see what effect, if any, it has on you and your students.

If you miss a week, so what? This is a voluntary thing. Don't set artificial obstacles for yourself that get in the way of your participation. Come back again and continue the next week or just pick up where you left off. There's not really a time limit on any of this, the weekly thing is really just a way to keep this bank of pedagogical models growing.

One more thing, you get 1000 points for every day you try one of the ideas here in your teaching. So even if you don't last a full week you win anyway!

I was inspired to start this project by two things.

1) My personal experience and growth fostered by participating in the daily shoot on twitter and flickr.

2) George Couros' blog post The Difference Between "Neat" and "Deep". George articulated something that has been bothering me for a while. I decided I'd rather do something concrete about it than talk about it. This idea exploded in my head fully formed after I read George's post and it seemed like a good idea.

Some other reasons I think this might be a good idea, which all turn around John Seely Brown's idea of "learning to be" rather than "learning to do":

  • Teacher action research doesn't have to be hard to do or document.
  • We need more concrete opportunities to turn educational research into practice.
  • As model learners we need to leave traces of ourselves learning our craft.
  • We need time to develop good ideas, together.
  • Reflecting on our own learning facilitates us teaching metacognitive learning strategies to our students.
  • As I said in my 2010 K12 Online Keynote: The Total PACKage needs a Community Of Practice.
  • We don't need any more "banks of teaching resources", we've got enough of that. We need a bank of pedagogical principles and models of what those principles look like in practice.
  • Selfishly, curating this is part of my own reflexive practice forcing me to think deeply about the fundamentals of good pedagogy.

The subtitle for this blog is "drops of water." This ancient Jewish folktale explains why:

Wisdom / Riccardo Cuppini / by-nc-nd
“What mighty power there is in a drop of water,” thought the shepherd. “Could my stony heart ever be softened up that way?”

He saw drops of water falling on a huge stone – drip, drop – and directly where the drops were falling there was a deep hole in the stone. The shepherd was fascinated. He gazed at the drops and at the stone.

“Hello, Akiba! What are you gazing at?” It was Rachel, his master’s daughter. She was wise and kind and fair.

“Look what the little drops of water did to the rock,” Akiba exclaimed. “Do you think there is hope for me? Suppose I began to study the Torah, little by little, drop by drop. Do you think my stony heart would soften up? I am forty years old! Is it not too late to start?”

“O no, Akiba. It is never too late.”

The shepherd gazed at the drops of water for a long time, and then his mind was made up.

And this is how Akiba the shepherd became the great Rabbi Akiba, the greatest and wisest scholar and teacher of his day, who had 24 thousand pupils! He often told them that it was a drop of water that changed his life.

I'm not Akiba, but I figure a few drops of water wont hurt much. Change begins small, one drop at a time, doesn't it?

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