Thursday was a fun and exhausting day in our classroom. The Ontario Ministry of Education came with Media Face to film for the Learn Teach Lead project. They were there to capture student thinking on how we learn as well as students in action. The footage will (hopefully) help teachers better understand how to carry out the principles of Knowledge Building. This is part of an ongoing project taking place across the province. Many classrooms are being filmed.
And I have to say, as a very proud teacher … my students were amazing!
Each class began with a Knowledge Building Circle (or as class 62 calls it: The Egg of Knowledge) during which students shared their thoughts, insights and experiences about how learning unfolds in our room. Eloquent, thoughtful, considered, articulate, depth, precise, complex, authentic are words I would use to describe the discourse during the circle. These students understand thinking and pedagogy. They understand what it means to think and they can articulate it. As one member of the film crew said, “They sound like university students”. They do.
The conversation for each class went in very different directions. Class 61 focused on how the way we learn differs from other school experiences they’ve had, the Ontario Achievement Chart, design thinking and the personal knowledge they’ve constructed about how to think and problem solve. They described how open they’ve become to new ideas and the toolkit they’ve developed to work their way through difficult thinking. As one student said, “I’ve come to realize that I am a very good thinker”. They discussed how open they’ve become to receiving negative feedback. One student said, “I realize now that if no one is giving you negative feedback, that means you can stop working on that area. There’s nothing to improve. You want to shift your focus to the negative feedback and start working on that. You want that feedback because then you can improve.”
The second class also spent a great deal of time talking about feedback. They related feedback to our inquiry into grit, tenacity, perseverance and resilience and the impact it has had on their personal lives. For some that inquiry was life-changing. Students also spoke strongly about the value of being made to step out of their comfort zones and learn how to work with others. “At first it was really uncomfortable and I didn’t know what to say to people because I didn’t know them well. Now our class has become like a big family.” This class too was able to articulately describe their ability to think deeply and work their way through complex problem solving.
In a follow-up email, Denis Maika, who along with Elaine Hines, heads this project wrote:
It was a brilliant film shoot. What we captured is remarkable, but as I said to Denis in a follow-up email.
I agree, my students were exceptional yesterday, but this shouldn’t be exceptional. Every child should be able to function in this way. I was thinking about what we captured in comparison to what we filmed previously. What we saw in the children reflects growth in my understanding of pedagogy and my ability to make concrete the theory. However, this growth could not have happened without a vast number of incredible people doing the research, creating the tools, having conversations, sharing practice and testing ideas – within but also outside the field of education. I’m drawing upon a network of thinking. That is what allowed yesterday to happen!
Rapidly mobilizing this knowledge is key to everyone moving forward.
Footage will be released on the Learn Teach Lead site over the next year.