‘Leashes not required’ – [#TLAB13]

As mentioned in a previous post, today I am running a workshop on ‘Independent Learning’ at The Teaching, Learning and Assessment Conference in Berkhamsted.

‘Leashes not required’ – In(ter)dependent Learning Inside and Outside the Secondary School Classroom

Spoon-feeding and teach-to-the-test culture seem to pervade the secondary school classroom, as teachers strive to meet increasingly demanding targets. This workshop will demonstrate that such approaches are not necessary; that adopting a strategy that encourages independence, critical and creative thinking; and values the use of new technologies produces equally outstanding results. The workshop will share both the guiding principles on which such an approach is built and also give specific examples of what in(ter)dependent learning is like in practice.

The slides have been written in HTML5 and are available here: ‘Leashes not required’ – Workshop.

* Hover over the thumbnails to view speaker notes and links (cmd/ctrl click to open in a new tab). Click on any of the thumbnails to view the slides in full size.

[Update: 18.03.13] Depending on the device/screen size you are using to look at the presentation, the speaker notes may not be that easy to navigate. As such, I have added them (unedited) below…

‘Leashes not required’ – Workshop – Speaker Notes

01 – Title Slide

  • Educator working with 14-18 year olds at Chalfonts Community College in Buckinghamshire
  • Find me on Twitter: @jamesmichie / Blog: jamesmichie.com/blog
  • Introduce students and explain their role in the workshop
  • ‘Leashes not required’ cc Kevin McLaughlin

02 – What is Independent Learning?

  • I’ve arrived at this definition through innovating in the classroom & research, as part of an M.Ed
  • You might see it as being unrealistic…but I disagree. I think that all learners regardless of age or ability can learn to be more independent
  • Perhaps, the most important factor is acknowledging that independent learning is not about independence at all. It is about developing interdependence.

03 – Discovery

  • When we’re born we learn through discovery and play… we have freedom. However, as we move through the stages of systematised education our independence is stripped away.

04 – Systematised Education

  • Systematised education is like Disneyland. It is exciting, fun even but has become a slick, well-oiled machine where ‘teach to the test’ dominates. Learning is placed into neat little boxes, organised into linear, incremental chunks.

05 – Learning is Messy

  • The problem is, learning is not liner. It’s not orderly.
  • Learning is messy!
  • It’s a tangled web of disconnected strands that over time connect together…
  • To prepare young people to become life long learners we need to stop teaching to the test, embrace the mess and rediscover learning through discovery.

06 – Toward Independence

  • Some learners need to be allowed to be independent.
  • Some learners need to be encouraged.
  • Some learners need to be dragged, kicking and screaming.

07 – Skills

08 – Friction

  • I start this journey towards independence by creating friction…
    • Spelling (Student: “Sir, how do you spell…? “Me: Google it!”)
    • Breaking the rules – mobile phones are allowed in my classroom
    • Make them figure it out for themselves; encourage them to form support networks that are not you!

09 – Toward In(ter)dependence

  • Collaborating, interacting, sharing…
  • AfL – developing skills in peer and self-assessment.

10 – Network

  • Embracing connectivist principles… developing ‘Learning Networks’
    • I use Twitter with my students, the dialogue continues beyond the classroom
    • They know they can email when they need help
    • Lines of communication are ‘open’
    • I’m a learner too… were in this together
  • I seek to give students a voice through: their blogging…
    • Listening to them
    • Surveys and feedback

11 – Tools

12 – Toward Peeragogy

  • Howard Rheingold coined the term ‘peeragogy’. The learning is developed collaboratively by the learners…
  • Put students in control
    • Share, discuss and have the students develop the learning objectives and success criteria
    • Empower them in their learning – What do I need to learn? Why? How?

13 – 3 Tenets

  • When I saw slide 15 from this presentation by Catherine Cronin, I realised it described the approach I have been developing within and beyond my classroom over the last three years.
  • To embrace openness, networks, and choice.

14 – Horses Mouth

  • Break out session. Students working with a group of teachers, discussing their experiences of in(ter)dependent learning.
  • Opportunity for any arrising questions to be answered.

15 – Changing Roles

  • Empowering learners to take ownership of their own learning; to develop the skills and characteristics of a life-long learner.
  • Placing emphasis on creative thinking, sharing, collaboration, creation and reflection.

16 – Critical Skills 101

  • Dissertation for M.Ed. – “To what extent can virtual courses support the development of independent learning beyond ‘real time’ curriculum delivery?”
  • #crit101 – A MOOC aimed at towards 14-18 year-olds.
  • Built on the three tenets – “openness ~ social media ~ student voice/choice”.
  • Hard and soft skills being developed as the building blocks of effective in(ter)dependent learning.

17 – Leashes not required

  • In conclusion, I’m saying: take the leashes off, step down from the pulpit, & redefine your role.
    • I’m a learner too
    • Each year I embark on a journey of discovery with my classes
    • I can’t imagine doing it any other way

18 – Reflection

  • Time for participants to reflect and share a way that they will encourage their students to be more in(ter)dependent.

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James Michie

Husband, Educator, Writer, Runner...

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