At present I am building a report card system for the secondary school for which I work, and not yet having committed to a particular SIS to run the whole thing, and without a server, and without any database software I am having to reinvent the wheel, the axle, the transmission, etc, etc, etc. My colleague at the desk beside me has been building the elementary reports in similar fashion. Together we have been making a lot of noise.

So there has been a lot of learning going on this week (and I predict into this weekend as well!) and I am able to describe, amongst other things, what that has been SOUNDING like!

With both of us toiling away with Excel spreadsheets, mail merges and Word templates there has been a lot of:
• talking, agreeing, disagreeing, questioning, proposing, groaning, swearing, laughing
• Mmmm-ing as the lets-try-this becomes we’ll-have-to-try-something-else
• “Boom”-ing as the maybe-this-will-work actually works
• “You won’t believe it”-ing as the latest phonecall adds yet another consideration that must be accommodated within the spreadsheet
• Singing along to whatever is playing on iTunes
• One asking the other, “Do you remember how to do X?”
• One asking the other, “Can you come and look at this and tell me what you think.”
• Silence, interrupted only by the clatter and clicking of keys and mice
• Vows to never, ever do this again.

So what have I learned today?

Two heads are better than one. If you are not talking you are missing great learning opportunities. Just because you don’t know what to do or how to do it is no reason not to begin. When you trust your ability to learn you can accomplish great things.

I wonder what I will learn tomorrow?



Do you know what your students are learning?

Once again prompted to the pen by the ponderings of others ( I wonder if we really know what our students are learning! We may be able to answer with some conviction the question, “What are your students studying?” but I am beginning to wonder if we should expect the answer to both questions to be the same? Do we ask our students to communicate their understanding of what they have studied or do we ask our students to communicate what they have learned? Is this one and the same? Should we ask our students both questions and expect different answers?When does learning occur? Most would agree with David Warlick’s suggestions that when there is value in what is occurring, when there is a sense of accomplishment, when there is a sense of discovery and when there is an opportunity to do something with what has been learned that there is a good chance that learning will occur. But how often do we structure our lessons to allow for curiosity, collaboration, a real audience, failure, discovery and questioning? How often do we blame the scarcity of time, resources or energy to return to our textbooks, forgoing the challenge of student-led discovery and question for the comfort of teacher-led revelation and direction?

As we find our days filled more and more with the demands of this programme and that curriculum, preparing for this exam and that standardised test we need to make room for those things that allow students to really learn, to allow room for our students to be learners and to allow ourselves the chance to find out what our students really are learning.

Bruce Knox

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