Spherical Learning

Spherical Learning Goal

This blog aims to be a voice of guidance for teachers in the 21st century classroom.  I plan to post weekly/bi-weekly on various topics including policy in education, tools for educators, instructional design, taking risks, collaboration and environment.  My Spherical Learning approach encompasses each of these elements and attempts to bring consistency and tradition back to education.

In this ever chancing field of education we need stability.  The system is crashing and it is time to reboot.  The theories and pedagogy we learned in college are consistently being re-invented with catchy new names.  Re-inventing the wheel causes further confusion.  I contend that we not adopt the latest and greatest buzz word and throw everything we’ve taught out of the window with the kitchen sink.  Let’s keep the basics of education intact. Why?  Because it works.  And re-inventing the wheel (a wheel that is breaking) is not working.  An ironic observation is that students want to be successful in school and they are craving knowledge.  Students are fed up with the system and unimpressed by the lack of initiative and creativity.  I have been teaching for 15 years and have had a front row seat to many new initiatives driven by folks who do not see the big picture.

An Example:  The Essential Question

I literally see student’s motivation dropping since the adoption of certain methods.  Students are stifled. When I check in and ask students a question during a lesson, they have been as quiet as church mice for the last two years, yet in past years students were eager to engage.  I believe this is in part due to the misuse of the “essential question:” A cleverly disguised objective.  The notion of using the same exact methods for every teacher (and evaluating teachers based on use of buzz words) seems ludacris. Students are exhausted from answering rhetorical questions.  It would feel to me almost demeaning after a few classes in one day.  I have crystal clear objectives for my lessons but I certainly do not state them every day in the form of a question.  If I did, I think my students would go bonkers.  How about a little variety?  What about those lessons that require the teacher to know the objective and for the student to discover the objective through engaging in a learning activity? Traditional standards in education include variety, ways to engage (technology or no technology) and evaluation instruments, not just rubrics.  The new methods are literally making me a bad teacher because I am required to implement the strategies like “the essential question” as stated on our state rubric.  Way to kill creativity.

Evaluation Techniques  (quick blurb)

I see students with more test anxiety than a German Shepherd patrolling the junkyard.  Don’t get me started on evaluation techniques.  The rubric is not the only tool for evaluation.  Whoops I started.  But you get the idea.  There is a time and place for all evaluation tools including, but not limited to: multiple choice (truly objective), true/false (yes I said it), short answer (blowing minds), essay (omg) and the wonderful world of rubrics.  I will stop and revisit evaluation in a future post.

Embrace your Educational Curves and Edges

My point is that there is not a one size fits all way to teach and I get the feeling that this is the direction we are not just headed in, but implementing and it’s creating a bigger monster.   So I decided to start my own model; Spherical Learning.  Encompassing all but guiding educators through the process with concrete examples you can use today.

Spherical Learning is a model I developed to guide educators in the design, development and implementation of their dream classroom.  It encompasses traditional pedagogy and cutting edge ideas, tools and theories.  I will elaborate further on the Spherical Learning model for my next post.

In the meantime, let’s do what works and take risks at the same time.  Get back to basics and implement strategies that provide the framework and modeling for our students to fly and achieve their goals.  Let’s write a goal with an objective, design an anticipatory set, develop learning centers, engage in discovery learning, create an engaging activity and then evaluate our success along with our students.  All of the above.  It’s that simple.  There are so many options, they get lost in the shuffle.  This blog will aim to bring education back to being a stable force, a turning wheel gaining speed!  A wheel of force that results in students hitting the road of independence, graduating and competing nationally and globally.

One last goal of this blog is to post daily from the classroom.  To provide a clear view of what is going on in education.  Nothing to hide, nothing to gain, just want to get to business and have some raw, honest conversations.  Have a FABULOUS day! #sphericallearning

Follow me on Twitter: @PatriciaRagan1

Microsoft Innovative Expert Educator profile

Catch my updates on YouTube at channel praganator

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