35 Ideas and Resources for Learning Now

What do we know about learning now that demands we change what we do in schools?

Our team started with this question and designed an exploratory one-week professional learning pop-up course, Learning Now. The course generated 5000 pageviews, and had over 100 participants from 8 countries and 39 schools. The weeklong course generated participation in a Learning Now mural, videos, and discussions. We also culled many of the ideas and resources about learning now that participants enthusiastically shared with each other.

20 Recommended Resources for Learning Now

  • Assessment, Choice and the Learning Brain (article). “The growing field of educational neuroscience, converging developmental psychology, cognitive science, and education, can help teachers and school leaders rethink how they approach assessments. While some of its initial findings merely support what educators have intuitively believed, it is also challenging many assumptions and providing new insight into best educational practices, especially regarding assessment.”
  • Creating Cultures of Thinking: The 8 Forces We Must Master to Truly Transform Our Schools (book) by Ron Richhart. He outlines how any school or teacher can create a culture of thinking by leveraging 8 cultural forces: expectations, language, time, modeling, opportunities, routines, interactions, and environment.
  • Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink (book). This bestseller has implications for students around motivation in the classroom and beyond.
  • OK Go TED Talk (video). The band OK Go on how to find a wonderful idea.

15 New Ideas for Learning Now

We posted big questions around learning science, social and emotional learning, and learner-centered design in three different discussion rooms. We learned a ton from reading through participants’ ideas and questions. Here are just some of the ideas and questions that jumped out at us. Many of them will be applicable in your schools and classrooms.

Andrew Bevan, Collegiate School: “Explicitly teaching thinking routines has made my students better able to make the connections or ask the questions I have always hoped for. I particularly enjoy the structures of ‘see, think, wonder’ and ‘connect, extend, challenge’.”

Jim Burns, American School Foundation of Monterrey: “As a department, we have selected the C3 Framework – The framework is not focused on content, but on the process of inquiry with an essential element of ‘taking informed action’.”

Aubry Burr, Colegio Maya: “I am enjoying digging into different resources that help us look at how memory and the brain work with learning. I think it is important to take this into account as we design learning experiences for our students.”

Elizabeth Carmichael, Columbus Academy: “Learning today is not limited by the walls of the classroom. We are energized by different spaces.”

Liz Every, American School Foundation of Monterrey: “I often, as an introductory activity, ask my physics students to ‘play’ with some equipment I’ve put out. The 15-year-olds are pretty bad at it.  They look for the instructions and tend to only do what they see others doing. Possibly because of a fear of failure (10 Key Learning Science Discoveries) or peer pressure issues, but also because I think they have forgotten how to ‘play’, or don’t associate the word with school. I believe that a lot of learning takes place during these preparation/play sessions where failure is an option, and that the final ‘presentation’ is not really the point.”

Laura Gellin, Park Tudor School: “I am not advocating to stop lesson planning, but I do wonder: how we can encourage ourselves and each other to be careful planners while also being flexible and more attune to spotting these opportunities?  How can we re-train ourselves to prioritize the spontaneous moments for learning?”

Becky Green, Singapore American School: “How do we encourage students to do hard things? And how do we create a culture where we celebrate the discomfort and still allow it to happen?”

Jared Lister, Collegiate School: “A few years ago during my second trimester of teaching 7th grade English, I taped an index card to my lesson planner with the all-cap words ‘MAKE IT EXPLICIT.’”

Marsha Little, Lovett School: “What would our classrooms look like if we intentionally designed them to reflect our Vision for Learning (the document that speaks to our commitment to creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, communication)”?

T.J. Locke, Episcopal Academy: “Learning is powerful when students use new tools to discover new possibilities. I love it when teachers design learning experiences that push students cognitively, help them to harness the power of their own curiosity, and bring out the joy of discovery.”

Jen Neubauer, Nueva School: “It’s also my experience that students surprise us and inspire us when they have the freedom and power to direct their own learning experiences.”

Eric Nguyen, Noble and Greenough School: “Ask more open-ended questions, especially those to which there is no one right answer. Or, if there is one right answer, ask questions to which multiple solution methods exist. The assessment lies in how students craft and defend their outcomes/solutions.”

Katrina O’Connor, West Point Grey Academy: “Learning Now, in 2018, should not be about compliance and commodification of education; it needs to be about the intricacies of relationships with our communities, the world that is there to be explored, and the meaning-making we undertake.”

Reanna Ursin, The Westminster Schools: “I enjoy my role as a facilitator/guide/resource much more than the traditional role of gatekeeper of all knowledge. I regularly tell my students, “I can’t wait to see what you come up with!” They used to laugh, but now they know I’m being sincere; I don’t know how it’s going to turn out, but it’s always produced something interesting.”

Jason Yaffe, Greenhill School: “When students are given agency in the learning process and educators get out of the way to some degree, the learning takes off.”

For more, see:

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