This post is taken from my K12 Online Conference presentation, “What If the Story Changed?” Access the presentation here.
What If? | The Lesson
What if the lesson wasn’t the lesson?
When I taught biology, part of the curriculum was to teach kids about cell division, a process known as mitosis.
Do you remember the process of mitosis? That’s an important question. If you don’t why not? If you do, why?
To teach kids mitosis, I would lecture for two class periods, they’d memorize the steps, and take a multiple choice test. They’d do well, and then they would forget about mitosis
What if there was a different way for students to learn mitosis?
Looking back, I’d do this, as I had eight internet capable computers in my classroom.
I’d give them the authentic scenario of cancer. Normally, when cells divide, they stop. When things go wrong, they keep dividing. Sometime this contributes to cancer. Understanding cell division is part of understanding cancer.
Then I’d give them a simple but powerful question. How does a cell go from one to two? What’s the plan?
Then I would give them access to visual media.
Images from Google.
And then I ask them to turn off all the sound. Visual interpretation only. Raw materials for understanding, choose what you want. Play the understanding as much as you want. Rewind. Play again. Develop your answer. Collaboratively. And develop media to explain your solution. Share that, and have a more expansive group of learners evaluate and offer course corrections if necessary.
I’d do a similar thing if I was a history teacher helping students understand the importance of the assassination of President John F Kennedy
I’d show them how to locate Creative Commons imagery in Flickr.
I’d show them how to use Google Streetview to take a trip to Dealey Plaza.
I’d show them how they could see Dealey Plaza in real time.
I’d ask them to investigate actual footage of the event on YouTube, first with Walter Chronkite, and then with Abraham Zapruder.
Then I would show them how to merge their ideas, and the content online to assemble their understanding in a wiki platform.
Then I’d show them how to build content in Google Earth, so when they needed to demonstrate understanding that had a geographical context, they could do it there.
What if education could a new story of learning by asking great questions, providing access to multiple types of learning resources, and expecting students to be an active participant in their learning?
The other option is to do what we’ve always done.
How well is that working for us?