Dealing with the fear of being a boring teacher.

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My TEDx talk is persistently linked over in the sidebar, if you’ve got a few minutes, check it out. If not, well, umm, I try to be funny…?

It’s really easy to put a suit jacket on and put up some fancy slides. It’s a lot harder to actually plan out a day-t0-day mission to match that vision. I’m really trying to model for my students how to enact change that you know must happen.

In short, here’s my vision:

  • Teaching one, behemoth curriculum is not going to work as the amount of knowledge increase without bound. We’re going to have to delve students into the world of how-to-figure-stuff-out in a much richer way than we are now. We’re going to have to force students to go beyond Google’s first page of hits, and really teach them to follow the narrative arc of an inquiry to the point where it results in something new that’s worth sharing beyond the walls of their school building. To me, this looks like open schedules with hyper-psychotic project-based learning.
  • Second, I am absolutely, 100%, totally, and summarily finished with the use of grades as punishments and motivation in the world of education. Students need to learn to self-assess, and this is only done by talking thoughtfully with someone who has more experience. This is formative assessment gone wild, and I’m here to tame the West.

I’m tackling my issues with grading and assessment first. The solution is called BlueHarvest, and it’s designed to streamline, organize, and enable feedback between students, parents, and teachers.

Here’s a list of the blog posts as I keep track of the mayhem:

5 thoughts on “TEDxVision
  • [...] 2011, Cornally gave a TED x talk that expounded on topics outlined in his blog, such as the inherent problems in traditional [...]

  • Lynsey says:

    Hi Shawn,

    I listened to your TED talk – loved it – and couldn’t help but be reminded of Montessori. As a pre-K through 7th grade Montessori student and a lifelong Montessori learner (my mom is a Montessori teacher) I attribute much of my academic success to this early education. Have you explored the Montessori method? I know several teachers who would love to chat and compare notes.

    You’re an inspiration to students and teachers alike!

  • Farah says:

    Hi Shawn,

    I’ve been reading your blog since last year – I’m a high school Math teacher, and last year was my first year teaching Calculus.

    Really enjoyed your talk – I strongly agree with your views about assessment, and have also been going through a disillusionment process with the traditional grading system and how it just does not provide the right kind of incentives. It’s a system designed to inform outside agencies such as universities about students, rather than serve as a motivation for students to want to learn.

    I’m sold on SBG and want to make the shift this year. I have two questions for you:
    1. In older posts on SBG, you mentioned that you grade from 0-10 on any given standard. On what basis do you choose where a student lies within that range? Isn’t 0-10 quite a wide range for either understanding, or not understanding a given standard? Have you modified this recently?

    2. I would love it if I could perhaps see an example list of standards for, say, Calculus, or any Math subject that you currently teach. Basic standards are fine – but, it’s the overarching ones that concern me.

    3. Basic question – how do you manage re-takes? Even with one re-take per student per day, Don’t you get completely overloaded with grading? Is there a point at which you say I won’t accept re-takes from the previous semester, etc?

    Thanks a lot for your guidance. I am inspired by your vision of education.

    • Shawn says:

      1. I only utilize 5-10 because of the ridiculous way that American schools classify failing (0-60%), so it’s a lot less than it looks. I also use it because it transitions easily back to A-F, which my students and parents deal with nicely.

      2. I’m working on a master post of all my calculus standards now, should be out as soon as I get time.

      3. I don’t allow retakes anymore that are initiated by the kids. I give them one assessment per week, and it covers new, old, and really old standads.

  • [...] all about formative assessment, standards-based grading, learning through inquiry, etc. Definitely watch his TEDx talk (with Star Wars references, as promised; I love the part about “Tayh D Be”) and check [...]

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