The purposeful noise of the workshop continued on, even though my teacher voice didn’t echo in the corners of the classroom. It was a blessing to have students so engaged, without my direct instruction marring their learning experience. Yet, I felt an uneasiness, a desire to jump in and ensure that students were learning from me, that they acknowledged that their learning came from me…but as I began to open my mouth, I stopped and let it be…what they would learn through their work now was even more valuable than what they might learn trying to interpret what I thought I was saying about what they needed to know.

That paragraph above describes one of my experiences in understanding the value of student learning. Approaches like project-based learning, problem-based learning, and writing workshop have the potential to focus students and teachers on the process of learning, recognizing the value of “discovery” and self-directed learning.

Thanks to Mark Wagner and Google Certified Teachers for sharing their resources for Project-based Learning with free web-based tools….

Obviously, there’s a lot to explore. It was ages ago I facilitated Problem-based Learning Academies at the TCEA State Conference with colleagues Jennifer Faulkner (Alamo Heights ISD), Dr. Alice Owen (Irving ISD), and Lisa Hamm (Keller ISD), and I still find the PBL approach to be incredibly worthy of use in K-16 learning environments. The challenge is our attitudes towards using these approaches due to how work-intensive they are.
In a Skype conversation about instructional approaches that take more time (e.g. writing workshop), yield terrific results in testing situations, the problem is that we fail to see these as valid approaches for “test-prep.” In fact, those who use these approaches DO prepare students well for standardized tests, as well as the more important long-term learning goals. Yet, we discount these approaches because they are “not direct enough.” Somehow, they are perceived as being less “hands-on” for the teacher and less effective.
Sometimes, it is better to let learning “be.”

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure