Ginger’s Gems

 Ginger Lewman
Here are just a few of my favorite thoughts about learning and innovation.
And most of them are mine. 
 

On teaching

As a teacher, I’m a resource, not the source.

What if writing teachers stopped saying “rough draft” and instead said “prototype”? Could it shift the purpose and perception of iteration for some students?

If a student isn’t turning work in, ask yourself which is more important to you: that they turn the assignment in or that they’re interested and engaged in the learning? Which will produce more personal change? And what is your role in that growth?

Students will learn the information that teachers ask them to learn. If you’re worried about the standards, be sure you’re asking questions about that information. 

Keep an open mind about your students’ talents. When presented with a different type of learning environment, you might be surprised at who comes alive.

Success has less to do with what college or career you’ve attained and everything to do with the struggles you’ve managed to conquer.

On collaboration

None of us knew everything, but we all shared everything we knew.

Never, ever forget that learning is fun. 

Teams should create their own contracts for work and behavior guided by both positive and negative past group work experiences. 

When getting kids motivated to keep going through the rough patches, try to ask questions that you don’t know the answers to either. And then help them find the answers. You’re role modeling learning and persistence. 

We’ve got only 2 choices: we can spend our energy pushing each other down or we can spend our energy pulling each other up. What will you choose?

On LifePractice PBL

Project Based Learning is not learning then doing, but rather, learning BY doing.

If you want a quick snowfall measurement, use a quiz or test. If you want to see what a student truly knows, assign a PBL project.

There is rarely anything more important in setting the stage for a successful project than having an environment of trust. How a teacher best establishes trust is to run a project which allows students the opportunity to develop trust. It’s not “the chicken OR the egg.” It’s the chicken AND the egg.

Message to passing admin or teacher-colleague looking in on a PBL classroom:
Just because it looks fun or easy doesn’t mean it happened by magic! It takes time, planning, practice, revision, and persistence to make it work.  And it cannot be done without specific training and learning.

Start planning your projects with keeping the standards and soft skills/experiences in focus. This will help to ensure rigor amongst the engaging fun.  

Students need help learning how to prioritize tasks. When it’s time for them to wrap up for the day, always end with the expectation that they’ll create a prioritized list of tasks to work on before the next meeting. Not all will be able to work, but some will and it sets a tone of 24/7 learning.

Learners need the opportunity to share what they’ve learned on a daily basis. This emphasizes the purpose of the project, solidifies that each person is working as part of the team to move the learning forward, and finally, allows students to hear the important content in various ways.

On innovation

The first year you sleep;
the second year you creep;
the third year you leap.
~ a gardeners truism ~

All students enjoy learning when they can be successful. Provide whatever environment it takes to foster enjoyable learning opportunities for every single student.

Teach your students to value others’ intellectual property by having them creating their own intellectual property. Then notice the change in the conversations you have about copyright. 

Learning doesn’t just happen to us by chance. We have to fight for it with a committed appetite, bellying up to the table for second and third helpings every single day.

Your innovation is only as fresh as the last time you questioned the established authority.

On connected learning

 Creating a castle in the clouds while neglecting to build the ladders to get others there with you sure can turn out to be a lonely citadel from which to shoot your arrows back down at the masses. 

Keeping tools of communication out of the hands of educators and students isn’t called safety. It’s called isolation.

“Not knowing” isn’t what’s embarrassing. No, not at all. The *refusal to learn* is what you should be ashamed of.

On persistence

Be the seedling that takes root in barren soil and through hard work, creates an ecosystem in a lonely land.

Life is the ultimate choose your own adventure story. And just like the books, some pages are better than others, but all stories are guaranteed to have unexpected twists.
Aren’t you curious and anxious to turn to the next page? I am!

On leadership

While we’re busy making rules to mandate teacher innovation, I wonder if instead, we ought to be making non-negotiables that protect those who are already doing the right thing.

When we strive only to be right, we often lose the meaning of our quest. Not knowing is where we begin to learn our full capabilities.

 

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