Monday, April 22, 2013

What If...

Today, I am administering the spring MAP math tests for my 7th and 8th grade students.  I've used my time to check some quizzes and have read a little in Will Richardson's book Why School?  Richardson, if you haven't read anything he's written, will quickly get you thinking "What If..."

Richardson mentioned that employers now aren't as worried about test scores as educators and politicians are.  Employers are more interested in employees that are creative and are able to manage the growing complexity of the world.  In addition, Richardson mentioned NCTE's new 21st century literacy standards where literate people in our society should be able to: develop proficiency with the tools of technology; collaborate with others to solve problems; design and share information globally; manage, analyze, and synthesize multiple streams of information; create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multimedia texts; and do this all in an ethical manner.

As I said, I was thinking, "What if..."

What if my students took their MAP scores and set goals?

What if they analyzed their scores for areas of weakness, researched for resources that could help them learn that material, and then designed a unit of study in which they learn that material?  I could (and would) contribute materials and ideas to their list of resources.  I could even be a resource myself, but I wouldn't be their only resource.  And, they could find a variety of problems that would challenge them to use what they learn.  They could potentially solve rich, meaningful-to-them problems that would help them learn measurement, or algebra, or geometry concepts.

What if I worked with my students to determine each person's math education program?  I could bring to the table the community expectations of what students should learn mathematically each year.  Students would bring their interests and passions.  Together, we could figure out how they could show their proficiency in the expected math for the year.

What if I organized my class this way?  What new skills would I need as a teacher?  What new skills would my students need?  How many of them know how to set goals and monitor their progress toward completing them?  How many know good digital citizenship skills?  How many know how to collaborate effectively with others, whether digitally or face to face?  How many have a variety of problem-solving strategies?  How many know how to think critically?  How many know how to reflect?

The bell has rung.  My session is done.  Ah, so many questions, so little time.

What if...