Friday, April 15, 2011

What's your focus...?

Dave Martin (@d_martin05) is an Educator who has really been pushing my thoughts and beliefs on education lately...and I love it! If you have not checked out his blog "Real teaching means real learning," you definitely need to.

Dave recently wrote a post titled, "Learning on a test day? You bet!" This post focuses on how you can assess your students while simultaneously giving them the opportunity to learn, collaborate, and share.

What an awesome concept!

I never put too much thought into it, but I have been using a very similar model with my German students for most of the year. The shift in my classroom has taken the focus off of grades and points, and now my students are focusing on learning, collaborating, and real world application.

The days of typical vocabulary quizzes and assessments are over. My students are now doing projects and collaborative type assessments. My 2nd semester final is going to a web based project where my students create their own set of standards and guidelines, and they do a presentation on something of their choosing that they are interested in sharing with others (all in German of course!). Check out some of the presentations my German students have created so far this year by clicking the German 2 and German 3 tabs on my Herr Tarte blog!

The most important takeaway I got from Dave's blog post is to simply step back and think about...

                                      what are we really focusing on...?

If we are not focusing on learning, developing social and collaborative skills, real world application, and giving students autonomy and say in their education, then we as Educators need to make some adjustments. We need to help create an environment that supports student driven learning. We need to tell our students it's okay to focus on the learning, and to take a risk even if it means not getting the correct answer the first time. We need our students to be excited and enthusiastic about learning...not stressed or frustrated because they are worried about getting a bad grade.

What's your focus as an Educator? What are you doing to align your foci with your instructional and professional practices...? What are you doing that goes against the traditional norms of education to have more of an impact on your students...? I can't wait to hear how you are making a difference!