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Classroom Experiments #2

What Students Do Well Venn

I handed out a 12-day schedule, with three items for each class. One topic, one question, and resources for further investigation.


My classes use Portfolios, and target students to produce one artefact per class, about twelve classes per unit. Whether they are in class or not, whether they are engaged or not, each student will at some point focus their attention if they are going to meet requirements. An element of the requirement is to have someone else give feedback on the work they’re submitting. There’s a common framework tool, but my basic aim is to encourage someone else to grade so I can serve to audit. This practice encourages student voice, and incentives students to choose how they learn.


Students are learning that what they choose to bring to class will shape the seven-five minutes that follow. Last Friday, one Grade 12 started class to cite a statement he’d developed since last class:


One cannot stay continuous motivated until they learn to embrace failure.


I put the statement up on the board for the class to consider. Someone else had another one she wanted to share.


One cannot live creatively until they lose the fear of being wrong.


I remembered how last class we’d heard Daniel Pink’s RSA video, and put up his basic summary: Because of automation and outsourcing, future jobs will be shaped by working through complex problems. Motivation to deal with complex problems requires Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose.

I don’t recall how we got there, but students started complaining about school. Why school is the way it is, and how much it sucks that they’re teachers are unreasonable.


Another of my classes had showed me Sugata Mitra’s School in the Cloud, and his opening four minutes does an outstanding presentation of the history of our school system. Mitra concludes that schools aren’t broken, but obsolete.

Schools are obsolete

Several students voiced they wanted to keep watching, and after Mutra’s twenty-minute lecture was finished, students led themselves through a seemingly engaged conversation.

I also had lots I wanted to say, but I believe student voices are often more valuable. Towards the end, I claimed the stage to share my own experience on what I’d heard, and then left class with a few minutes Production Time to make artefacts for their Portfolios.

These days I often feel like I don’t know what we’re doing, so it was encouraging to hear one student say to another, as they left class for the day, “that was a really good class.”

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