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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tony Wagner's Redefining Rigor: Redefining our Future (If we'll only listen)



ASCD's article "Rigor Redefined" is an absolute MUST READ, MUST SHARE for everyone who remotely cares about education.

Tony Wagner has done a remarkably concise job of reflecting on the state of education.  Below, I've extracted my annotations (items on the left are quotes from the article, Items indented with the clear circled bullet are from me), or you may view the annotated version of this article which will include all of those who annotate and share on this article using Diigo.

He talks about risk aversion, I wonder what educators among us are willing to take the risk to go towards this when compensation is increasingly tied to test scores that measure only rote memorization and test taking ability.



ASCD
  • I conducted research beginning with conversations with several hundred business, nonprofit, philanthropic, and education leaders. With a clearer picture of the skills young people need, I then set out to learn whether U.S. schools are teaching and testing the skills that matter most.

    • Background on the research done by Tony Wagner. comment by Vicki Davis
  • “First and foremost, I look for someone who asks good questions,” Parker responded. “We can teach them the technical stuff, but we can't teach them how to ask good questions—how to think.”

    • This is a great aspect of project based learning. Although when we allow students to have individual research topics, some teachers are frustrated because they cannot "can" their approach (especially tough if the class sizes are TOO LARGE,) students in this environment CAN and MUST ask individualized questions. This is TOUGH to do as the students who haven't developed critical thinking skills, whether because their parents have done their tough work for them (like writing their papers) or teachers have always given answers because they couldn't stand to see the student struggle -- sometimes tough love means the teacher DOESN'T give the child the answer -- as long as they are encouraged just enough to keep them going. comment by Vicki Davis
  • “I want people who can engage in good discussion—who can look me in the eye and have a give and take. All of our work is done in teams. You have to know how to work well with other

    • Last Saturday, my son met Bill Curry, a football coach and player that he respects. Just before meeting him, my husband reviewed with my son how to meet people. HE told my son, "Look the man in his eyes and let him know your hand is there!" After shaking his hand, as Mr. Curry was signing my son's book, he said, "That is quite a handshake, son, someone has taught you well." Yes -- shaking hands and looking a person in the eye are important and must be taught. This is an essential thing to come from parents AND teachers -- I teach this with my juniors and seniors when we write resumes. comment by Vicki Davis
  • how to engage customers

    • Engagi ng customers requires that a person stops thinking about their own selfish needs and looks at things through the eyes of the customer!!! The classic issue in marketing is that people think they are marketing to themselves. This happens over and over. Role playing, virtual worlds, and many other experiences can give people a chance to look at things through the eyes of others. I see this happen on the Ning of our projects all the time. comment by Vicki Davis
  • the world of work has changed profoundly.

    • Work has changed, school hasn't. In fact, I would argue that schools are more industrial age than ever with testing and manufacturing of common knowledge (which is often outdated by the time the test is given) at an all time high. Let them create! comment by Vicki Davis
  • Today's students need to master seven survival skills to thrive in the new world of work.
  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
  • companies need their workers to think about how to continuously improve their products, processes, or services.
  • Over and over, executives told me that the heart of critical thinking and problem solving is the ability to ask the right questions. As one senior executive from Dell said, “Yesterday's answers won't solve today's problems.”

    • We give students our critical questions -- how often do we let them ask the questions. comment by Vicki Davis
  • How do you do things that haven't been done before, where you have to rethink or think anew?
  • 2. Collaboration and Leadership
  • Technology has allowed for virtual teams.
  • Every week they're on a variety of conference calls; they're doing Web casts; they're doing net meetings.”
  • 3. Agility and Adaptability
  • has to think, be flexible, change, and use a variety of tools to solve new problems. We change what we do all the time. I can guarantee the job I hire someone to do will change or may not exist in the future, so this is why adaptability and learning skills are more important than technical skills

    • Adaptability and learning skills -- this is why building a PLN is so important!! comment by Vicki Davis
  • 4. Initiative and Entrepreneurialism
  • I say to my employees, if you try five things and get all five of them right, you may be failing. If you try 10 things, and get eight of them right, you're a hero. You'll never be blamed for failing to reach a stretch goal, but you will be blamed for not trying.

    • If our students get eight out of 10 right, they are a low "B" student. Do we have projects where students can experiement and fail without "ruining their lives." Can they venture out and try new, risky things? comment by Vicki Davis
  • risk aversion

    • He says risk aversion is a problem in companies -- YES it is. Although upper management SAYS they want people willing to take risks -- from my experience in the corporate world, what they SAY and what they REWARD are two different things, just ask a wall street broker who took a risky investment and lost money. comment by Vicki Davis
  • entrepreneurial culture
  • Effective Oral and Written Communication
  • focus, energy, and passion around the points they want to make.
  • clear and concise
  • first 60 seconds of your presentation is

    • How many of us emphasize the first 60 seconds of a presentation students give? comment by Vicki Davis
  • Summers and other leaders from various companies were not necessarily complaining about young people's poor grammar, punctuation, or spelling—the things we spend so much time teaching and testing in our schools
  • the complaints I heard most frequently were about fuzzy thinking and young people not knowing how to write with a real voice.

    • Writing with voice = blogging -- give students a voice, this means first person, NOT third person writing. comment by Vicki Davis
  • 6. Accessing and Analyzing Information
  • Employees in the 21st century have to manage an astronomical amount of information daily.
  • There is so much information available that it is almost too much, and if people aren't prepared to process the information effectively it almost freezes them in their steps.”

    • Buidling a PLN using an RSS Reader is ESSENTIAL to managing information. THis is part of what I teach and do and so important! comment by Vicki Davis
  • rapidly the information is changing.
  • half-life of knowledge in the humanities is 10 years, and in math and science, it's only two or three years

    • Personal learning networks and RSS readers ARE a HUGE issue here. We need to be customing portals and helping students manage information. comment by Vicki Davis
  • 7. Curiosity and Imagination
  • “People who've learned to ask great questions and have learned to be inquisitive are the ones who move the fastest in our environment because they solve the biggest problems in ways that have the most impact on innovation.”

    • How do we reward students who question teachers -- not their authority but WHAT They are teaching? Do we reward students who question? Who inquire? Who theorize? Or do we spit them out and punish them? I don't know... I'm questioning. comment by Vicki Davis
  • want unique products and services:
  • developing young people's capacities for imagination, creativity, and empathy will be increasingly important for maintaining the United States' competitive advantage in the future.

    • IN a typical year, how often are your students asked to invent something from scratch? comment by Vicki Davis
  • The three look at one another blankly, and the student who has been doing all the speaking looks at me and shrugs.

    • When teachers tell students WHY withouth making them investigate, then we are denying them a learning opportunity. STOP BEING THE SAGE ON THE STAGE!. comment by Vicki Davis
  • The test contains 80 multiple-choice questions related to the functions and branches of the federal government.
  • Let me tell you how to answer this one

    • Drill and test is what we've made. Mindless robots is what we'll reap. What are we doing? comment by Vicki Davis
  • reading from her notes,
  • Each group will try to develop at least two different ways to solve this problem. After all the groups have finished, I'll randomly choose someone from each group who will write one of your proofs on the board, and I'll ask that person to explain the process your group used.”

    • Every time I do a team project, the "random selection" is part of it. Randomly select -- classtools.net has a random name generator -- great tool - and it adds randomness to it. comment by Vicki Davis
  • a lesson in which students are learning a number of the seven survival skills while also mastering academic content?
  • students are given a complex, multi-step problem that is different from any they've seen in the past

    • This IS flat classroom digiteen and Horizon project and other projects where teachers are pushing kids to have novel answers to novel questions. comment by Vicki Davis
  • how the group solved the problem, each student in every group is held accountable.
  • ncreasingly, there is only one curriculum: test prep. Of the hundreds of classes that I've observed in recent years, fewer than 1 in 20 were engaged in instruction designed to teach students to think instead of merely drilling for the test.

    • Not in my class, but in many classes - yes. I wonder how I'd teach differently if someone made me have a master "test" for my students at the end of the year. I'd be teaching to the test b/c I"m a type "A" driven to succeed kind of person. Beware what you measure lest that determine how you grow. comment by Vicki Davis
  • . It is working with colleagues to ensure that all students master the skills they need to succeed as lifelong learners, workers, and citizens.
  • I have yet to talk to a recent graduate, college teacher, community leader, or business leader who said that not knowing enough academic content was a problem.
  • critical thinking, communication skills, and collaboration.
  • seven survival skills every day, at every grade level, and in every class.
  • College and Work Readiness Assessment (www.cae.org)—that measure students' analytic-reasoning, critical-thinking, problem-solving, and writing skills.

    • Would like to look more at this test, however, also doing massive global collaborative projects requiring higher order thinking is something that is helpful, I think. comment by Vicki Davis


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