Friday, July 17, 2015

Chapter 7 Response- L&K

As I was reading chapter 7 this week I kept thinking how glad I was I became a teacher when I did. Chapter 7 seemed like a play by play of many classes I took through CU Denver's Urban Teacher Program.  It also tied in nicely from last week's conversation I had with a few peers on collaboration and why it is the new norm in the classroom.  

I think this definition from Brown and Adler on social learning sums it up perfectly, "learning based on the assumption that our understanding of concepts and processes is constructed socially in conversations about the matters in question and 'through grounded interactions, especially with others, around their problem or action'” (p. 218).  This is why schools are all about collaboration, especially with English language learners.  Students can learn just as much from their peers as they can their teacher.  Lanskshear and Knobel go on to say, “the emphasis shifts from ‘the content of a subject to the learning activities and human interactions around which that content is situated’” (p. 218).  So I am still teaching content but instead of me standing up in front of the class lecturing to 8 year olds about why 2 x 2 = 4, they are exploring together with manipulatives and coming up with the answer on their own, then we come back together and reflect on the learning.  We call it ‘the explore model’ at my school.  The same concept can work with any subject and this model allows the students to become the teachers and take charge of their own learning. 

This concept applies to all levels of education.  To me, this course is what Brown and Adler describe as a ‘pull approach’ class where we are taking charge of our learning.  Brown and Adler say, “A ‘pull’ approach assumes ‘passion-based learning’ that is ‘motivated by the student either wanting to learn about, make, or perform something’” (p. 228).  We have a platform to start on and it is up to us to go in the direction we choose.  If we want to create a certain DS106 assignment but we don’t know how, it is up to us to figure it out, we don’t have someone walking us through step by step.  I don’t know about anyone else, but I was extremely nervous about this in the beginning, I wanted someone just to tell me what to do.  Now, imagine how this must feel to 8 year olds when I am nervous about the freedom myself??  

Chapter 7 also confirmed in my mind that a classroom blog is so important for my students.  They need to know that someone out there besides me is reading/viewing their work.  Students need to know that what they are doing matters and it’s worth the effort.  The interactions they have in the classroom or online, even with just each other, are a great learning experience for them and it’s important for students to know that they can be the teachers too!


Lankshear, C. & Knobel, M. (2011). New Literacies: Everyday Practices and Social Learning. New York: Open University Press.


  1. Hi Emily- A few things stuck out to me in your post. I love your example of explore learning. Is that something your district has implemented or you specifically? I wish I had that kind of learning in math class back in the day... I feel like maybe I wouldn't have had to take algebra 3 times (HA!)

    You also mention your nervousness about this course and related these feelings to how an 8 year old may interpret learning. Valid point here...I think it's always important to put that into perspective and continually practice empathy to those we are teaching or working/learning with.

    More importantly, you're right, it's absolutely essential to validate and show appreciation. As we become less connected with face to face interactions and more connected to these online environments, there the feelings of unsureness can become discouraging and overwhelming. This is where I can see the 'push' model coming in to play.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi Emily
      Thanks for your response. My district hasn't implemented this directly but my principal is big on the 'explore' model so that's what we're trying in our school. I also agree about your push model comments. Not everything can be learned through exploring, I believe there are some things that need to be taught directly by a teacher face to face!

  2. Hi Emily,

    Great response, as I was reading your reflection I was thinking about a video I watched from edutopia about fostering creativity. In this video they discuss the importance of critiquing and judgments of others work. I think it is awesome that you are teaching your students that you will not be the only one to judge their work and that many others will as well. This not only provides an important future insight but also prepares them to understand that we can only grow by understanding our faults.

    Here is the video if you are interested!

  3. Hi Lee,
    I agree with your comments completely. I love the idea of teaching kids to grow by understanding their faults! I haven't seen the video and would love to but it will have to be when I get home from Spain as the Internet connection here is terrible!!