Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Achievement -v- development

Following on from yesterday's blog post about the purpose of education, a quick poll among my colleagues reveals that most teachers chose to become educators above all the other choices because of the human side of teaching - they wanted to make a difference in people's lives, develop the whole person and help students reach their full potential.  In other words, they wanted to focus on people and not on academics.  In Chapter 2 of The Best Schools, Thomas Armstrong writes about the difference between a focus on achievement, which implies that something is "finished" measured using a quantitative summative assessment, and development, which is ongoing and is measured using a qualitative formative assessment as part of the actual learning process.

One of the two goals of ASB this year is personalized learning (the other is 21st century skills).  Personalized learning, according to Thomas Armstrong, involves a flexible and individualized curriculum and giving students meaningful choices.  The PYP with its emphasis on constructivism and inquiry seems to fit this perfectly - there is no body of knowledge that has to be mastered but instead a focus on the curiosities and questions of the students.  This year with both the Curiosity Project in Grade 2 and Independent Studies in Grades 2 - 5, we have gone further in giving students the skills to make choices about what they will learn and how they will communicate this learning to others.  Here are some of our hopes:

  • Students will be better prepared for investigating "real world" issues
  • Students will develop 21st century skills such as collaboration, communication and creativity
  • Students will develop their strengths and interests
  • Students will be empowered to make autonomous choices about their learning
The work the students are doing in Independent Studies will not be graded, though students will self assess based on rubrics we have devised.  All their work will be published - in Grade 5 we will publish using an eBook with QR codes linked to the online projects students have created; in Grade 4 we are creating a web site with one page per student/group where they can publish their work; in Grade 3 we are having students add their creations to a Google Slideshow.  Our focus, throughout, has been on the development of their passions and interests.

Photo Credit  Kite love by Brett Davies, 2012  AttributionNoncommercialShare Alike

1 comment:

  1. Your Independent Studies project sounds amazing and it is just the thing that students need to learn to take charge of their own learning. I always try to encourage classes to work on independent projects that are their interest and their idea... their own! But often I get teachers who are too afraid to lose valuable class time. I guess the downside of 8-1 teaching and also the fear of giving up some control.