Saturday, April 25, 2015

5 Things We Have to Stop Pretending

"Heiwa Elementary School" by ajari / CC BY 2.0
What should we stop pretending is good in education?

I was first asked this question by +Nancy Minicozzi when she wrote her "5 Things We Have to Stop Pretending." In her blog post, she challenged me and four other educators to come up with our own five things to change in education. Then, after publishing our post, we must pass the challenge to five other educators.

So how can we #MakeSchoolDifferent? Here are five beliefs I think we should change:
  1. Our digital natives are digitally proficient.
  2. Multiple choice tests and quizzes are effective assessment tools.
  3. A quiet audience is a captivated audience.
  4. We should teach our content areas in isolation and not recognize the importance of cross-curricular connections.
  5. To create an academically rigorous class, teachers need to assign more work, more tests, and more homework.
Below is the elaboration on my five points.
  1. Our digital natives are very adept at using technology for social networking and gaming, but we need to give them opportunities to expand on their skills by letting them practice what I perceive to be the "9 C's of Digital Literacy."
  2. In the real world, we don't take multiple choice tests to demonstrate our skills. We are asked to create products and provide services, neither of which has any resemblance to the summative assessments most students are asked to complete in schools.
  3. Just because students look like they are listening during a lecture, it doesn't mean they are actually learning. Instead, give students the opportunity to practice, explore, and showcase their understanding of a lesson with collaborative work, hands-on learning, and eportfolios. Talk less and have students do more. 
  4. The world is interconnected in so many ways. It's time we showed students the connections.
  5. Learning doesn't have to be hard for it to be valid. Great teachers scaffold their students so that students can successfully meet their learning goals. Excellent educators make difficult-to-learn concepts easy to understand.
Now I pass the challenge to five of my good friends: +Liz Castillo+JR Ginex-Orinion+Jeanne Reed+Lisa Nowakowski, and +Jo-Ann Fox. I look forward to hearing from them and others who come across our blogs. Please use the hashtag #MakeSchoolDifferent to continue the conversation.


  1. #3 is a byproduct of a larger systemic emphasis on control and compliance and will need to be attacked at its roots. Great list, Alice. Thanks for participating!

    1. Thanks for starting the conversation, Scott! Great way to get us all sharing!

  2. Hey, Alice. I wanted to re-read your list and respond after my first read. Of course, Point #1 is something I've been advocating in our rural area for a number of years. I love the graphic you came up with, as it brings the different pieces of Digital/Information Literacy together so nicely!

    Point #3 is something I see some of our teachers struggling to understand. They really believe that lecture, notetaking & summative assessments are the best preparation for college/career readiness, in the face of all the research that says it isn't. Our district is headed to being a 1:1 Chromebook district next year, but we're still needing to make the pedagogical shift as a district to a 21st century model. Even with an LMS and GAFE, there is so much room for growth to providing students with real world tools and learning experiences.

    Point #5 is something I think about a lot. As a lifelong learner, I understand the value of intentional, scaffolded instruction/learning. Let's give everyone a chance to be successful and make their educational experience relevant to their present/future. Thanks again for sharing and the words of encouragement!

    1. Glenn, thanks for stopping by my blog and continuing the dialogue. I enjoyed reading what you are doing in your district. Your community is lucky to have you as their educational leader.