Saturday, September 19, 2009

Read a good book lately?

I have been reading several books lately and enjoying the conversations I am having with colleagues, as well as with my inner self. As I began to read Wagner's book, The Global Achievement Gap, I picked up Marzano's book The Art & Science of Teaching. I found the two connect quite well from the visionary leadership level down to the practitioner's application. In review of the seven survival skills by Wagner, I believe one could align each skill with a research based teaching practice in Marzano's book. Wagner mentions critical thinking & problem solving, and accessing & analyzing information as skills one and six. I believe these two compliment one another rather well. With many of us experiencing information overload due to today's technology it's vital to our livelihood that we ask the right questions, analyze the data, and create solutions to such a problem. That is just the tip of the iceberg on learning and teaching in the 21st century.
To address the two skills mentioned above I searched Marzano's (2007) book for practical teaching methods. I was not surprised to find two well defined action steps to assist me in teaching these 21st century survival skills. Marzano explained "elaborative interrogations" (p.49) and "experimental inquiry tasks" (p.91) down to the science of implementation, along with the rationale for such teaching methodologies. Classrooms must pursue the "why?" element of questioning so that students can clarify their generalizations and elicit their reasoning for such beliefs. Here's a question for all you practicing teachers. Do you probe your students and say the why word? Inquiry or experiential learning has been a buzz word for years thanks to Dewey's work. Keep in mind that it's not a skill just for the science classroom. I believe students predict, collaborate, research, redefine and create solutions all day long from many places with folks across the world. Just think about the gaming industry, cellular devices, or social media our students have been holding in their hands for years.
I recognize there is so much to do in so little time. Let's not put off for tomorrow what we can do today. I challenge you, along with myself, to begin that paradigm shift so greatly needed to engage the learners of today in preparing them for the 21st century workforce. Will you join me?