Transcript #20 Going Gradeless in the Traditional Classroom with Starr Sackstein

Ti-Fen (9s): Welcome to Compass Teachers show I’m your host Ti-Fen.  My job is to interview Teachers around on the road and tease out their teaching practice, education research, or tools they use. Hopefully this show can offer us ideas for you to experiment in your classroom. Hey, this episode is all about Hacking Assessment. If you have been thinking about changing your assessment but don’t know how to do it, I hope in this episode, you can get some practical action to take. 

If you have never thought about changing this episode will give you totally different insights. Today. We are really excited to have Starr Sackstein to share with her Amazing hacks for transforming these paradigms. Starr Sackstein has been an educator since 2001 and left her role as the director of humanities in the West Hempstead Union Free School District to become a full-time consultant with the Core Collaborative. Starr was named an ASCD “Emerging Leader” class of 2016 and gave a TEDx Talk called “A Recovering Perfectionist’s Journey to Give Up Grades.” 

She has authored many books for teachers. For example , Teaching Students to Self-Assess,  Hacking Assessment: 10 Ways to Go Gradeless in a Traditional Grades School, Peer Feedback in the Classroom and the list goes on. Starr has traveled the world sharing ideas about assessment reform in Dubai and South Korea and is hoping to continue changing the system for kids everywhere. Now let’s enjoy our conversation with Starr. Starr will come to our show. 

Star: Thanks so much for having me.

Ti-Fen: So Starr from your word. We know that you put tan, so we were to help teach her changing how they Assess. But before we dive deeper into data, I guess, before you do all these endeavors or to change this paradigm, you might have been three or something wrong with you for a while. I’m curious what really triggered or you have to take action.

Star:  So for the first few years of my career, I would save it. It was pretty business as usual I did. Assess the wave that it was done to me when I was a student.  And, you know, I thought that gradeswere basically supposed to, to communicate what students knew, but there were a lot of other factors involved, like how well they were able to follow my rules and other compliance measures like late work and following directions, all of those different things kind of played in. And when I had my son and he got to middle and elementary school, those School used a standards based approach to learning and report card gave 

Star: (3m 0s): A lot of very specific information about what he knew and could do. And I was thinking about the AP students in my 12th grade English class and how ineffective report cards were. And the way that I was assessing really was because there was such little precision in the kind of feedback my students were getting in terms of their grades that I really started to rethink things. 

And at that point I started to read a bunch of books. The one that really got me going on this path would be Ken O’Connor’s book, a tool kit for broken grading, 15 fixes. And when I read that book, I really reflected deeply on the things that I was doing, that he claimed were the best practices. And the more I thought about it, the more I could see what he was talking about. 

For example, for group projects, grading group projects, and then giving that grade to everyone in the group, which is definitely something I did in my early career. And, and really what I learned was that grade was not necessarily representative of the contribution of each child in that group. So what did the grade actually represent? How well the product met the Mark, but it wasn’t necessarily fair or equitable or even close to communicating what each child’s contribution was. 

So I started to realize things needed to shift at that point. And once you could see something as not being as good as it could be, all of a sudden, you start to question all the practices that you’re doing, and that’s sort of where my journey started. Just not grading as much, giving better, more specific feedback, changing the way that I assessed both formatively and summatively. I stopped giving Traditional kinds of tests and started moving towards a student centered approach where students had a part and a voice in the kind of assessments they were engaging in. 

And then they also had a roll in, in how that assessment was then assessed after the fact, whether, you know, just making sure, but it was along with standards, but more importantly, that I wasn’t missing anything in their learning, through the use of reflection. 

Ti-Fen (5m 43s): Wonderful. So I think it’s a good time we dig into the alternative of assessment that optimizes you. This learning, first of all, I bet we need to change our perception of Assessment before doing any. And Starr, I think you have mentioned before in your story, how it triggers you to take action. So, sorry. How did you convey these to your students or parents, or even your school administrators? 

Starr (6m 14s): So that’s a, it’s a tricky question. I think when I first started doing this, I was the only teacher in my six to 12. Schools doing something that was so far outside of the normal New York city, public schools still required a grade at the end of each marking period. And so I had to find loopholes that were going to suit what I was trying to do and also fit what my school expected me to do. 

I don’t know if I really asked permission of my principal and the administration on my team. I think that I wanted to make sure I could get the results I was looking for before I had formal permission to do it, because it would have been harder to try what a, what I wanted to do and then Ask and get a no, and then have to find another way around it. So the, the first thing I sort of started to do was stop grading, everything that didn’t mean I stopped giving feedback. 

If anything, I kind of ramped up the feedback, but I didn’t actually put a grade on the formative aspects of the learning. So if my students were writing drafts, even if I was tracking the draft’s in our online communications system, rather than put a grade on the draft, they got specific feedback that aligned with the success criteria for the assignment. And they also got specific feedback that aligned with the goals they were working on individually. 

And that was the first major change I made. I made sure to reach out to parents via email and also by building a YouTube channel so that they can see what’s actually happening in the classroom and kind of explain some of the differences between what was happening in our classroom than other classrooms. And then I also tried to keep myself open if parents contacted me to answer their questions and concerns, because as the teacher of 12th grade students who were on their way into college, obviously a lot of AP students are concerned about their transcript and parents are worried that changing the approach or model at this point in a student’s career could somehow negatively affect their ability to get into college. 

So just really finding ways to alleviate concern, have parents and students that the learning would still be there, if not better and more communication about the specifics of what Students knew and could do. 

Ti-Fen (8m 58s): Right. So how did you explain to them that this way of giving feedback is a better way? 

Starr: So I’m sure, you know, and, and sort of your listeners that sometimes the proof is in the pudding as they say. So it took a little convincing at first, and there were conversations that I had with my Students very Frank and transparent about how we were going to be making the shift in. This was something new for me, but transparently explaining why we were doing it and then helping them understand how the Feedback they would get and the opportunities they would have to make revisions and spend more time with their work would increase their level of knowing. 

And the school itself was a portfolio School. So they were tracking their progress anyway, in the portfolio’s for all the classes that they were in. So this idea of using your learning as benchmarks and then tracking your progress through individual assignments was an opportunity for us to sort of say, you know, you’re going to keep working on something until your proficiency who are masterful at it. And you’re going to know if you’re proficient, who are masterful at it, because we’re going to have really clear expectations, success criteria is going to be visible. 

And then you’re going to have opportunities for, to advocate for help make revisions based on the feedback that you get, whether it’s pure feedback or feedback from me. And then you’re going to think about you’re learning over the course of that entire experience, the formative aspects of it, and then the summative, once you turn that project or a paper, and at the end, based on the feedback that you gave, you are going to write a really clear standards, aligned reflection that speaks about your process, so that you know, that I see the full picture and then your being assessed on something more completely. 

And I think when they started to see that and that they were getting so much more information than just agreed, most of my students actually really liked the fact that I took so much time to really make sure, but they were successful. And, you know, we were really using what they were learning and it, it was helping us kind of benchmark where we, where we were and where we needed to go. And again, that process just became a lot more transparent because it was their needs that were dictating how projects were developed and how quickly, or how slowly we are. 

Ti-Fen (11m 59s): All right.  Now we have talked about Feedback. So I think that’s a good segway. We can chat more about How teachers can construct the Feedback? In your blog. If you say that you will give oral and written feedback, besides one-to-one conferences with students become very important. So when you’re giving students written  Feedback, or talking with the, you know, one to one conference, what are your strategies for constructing feedback that’s helpful for students?

Starr: So, because my students were 11th and 12th graders, mostly the feedback was teaching them how to ask for the kind of help and Feedback they needed. I think a lot of students walk up to a teacher and say, is this good? Which is a pretty generic and subjective kind of question. So the first part of giving really effective feedback is teaching students to ask really good questions about what they want feedback about. 

So you’re structuring your classes like a workshop, and you have your mini lessons each day, and you see that students are struggling with specific things. The first and easiest way to determine how you’re gonna give feedback is based on the very specific skills your teaching them. So if we are learning about thesis statements or developing contexts and an introductory paragraph, or we are talking about transitions and cohesion, or we’re talking about development, any of those things, that’s where we’re going to start with the Feedback looking at what students do really well, because we want to make sure that we’re kind of building the Feedback out of their strengths and not out of their deficits. 

And we want to communicate to them why, what they’re doing is really good and how they could build on it. And then the areas of challenge we really want to make sure, but they understand, first of all, what it should look like. So there should be models and exemplars ready to point them to, there should be at least one or two strategies you could provide for them, if you want them to grow in a particular way. And then you need to give them time to ask more questions and practice the different things. 

And then come back to again and say, I tried strategies, and this is what I was able to achieve or strategy didn’t work for me. So I went to strategy be, and then I linked up with one of my friends and, you know, try to get some feedback from a peer seemed to be doing better with this area than I did. And you know, that kind of helped me try a different way. And that’s also how you get kids to start building their own goals as well, based on the feedback that we’re giving. 

So we wanna start first with were the whole class, his, and then as we are taking the status of the class before, there was one on one conferences, really trying to get a good idea of where the kids are as a group and where they are individually, so that you can really tailor the feedback that you’re giving to something more specific to this, to the student who is sitting in front of you.

Ti-Fen: That’s really great. Let’s review it first.  We know we need to teach them to act effective Feedback and in the Feedback for us, we need to ask you to why and how an O so some really practical examples that student and then give them some time to experiment and try to reflect with more questions. And I bet that Starr, you might get some questions or doubts from Teachers like saying, Hey, it sounds like it might take lots of time after day changing the letter Grades. And for that kind of question, how do you respond to Teachers or any tips that you would give them so they can keep Feedback in a more effective fashion? 

Starr: Okay. So this is also kind of a tough thing, and I do want to preface it by saying I did teach high school English in New York city schools. So I had a course load of 150 students in my five classes, or more than that, because classes were capped at 34. 

So it is possible to give really good specific feedback to that many students. It does take a lot of time. And as you’re building structures on the front end, you have to find things that are going to work for your kids. So whether you’re developing Google forms that align with the standards and what you are actually, what you’re actually Teaching, and you’re teaching students to reflect and think about learning through those forms. As you scaffold the process by midyear, it does become a lot less clunky. 

Then it is in the beginning of the year, when you are getting to know your students and your also building those structures that your going to be using, but it, but it is time consuming. And, and I would argue though, that Grades are a very efficient means of, of, of assessing students. It’s quick, it’s not terribly helpful, and it’s also not very accurate, but it is fast. So it’s a question of effectiveness versus a efficiency. 

And I think we would all agree that it’s more important that students get effective Feedback than it is for us to be efficient in the way that we’re giving them the feedback. So even another thing my teachers could consider as that, we need to relinquish the control in the space. And if we train students to be really good givers of Feedback as well, and that students need to get, get feedback from their peers before they get feedback from us, then we’re putting structures in place that diminishes the amount of time we have to spend on the front end, giving that first level of Feedback to our students, because we have made them really, really prepared to first of all, be independent in checking for their own Feedback, whether its with checklists or a success criteria or a clear rubrics. 

And then they’re going to peers who have fresh eyes who could look and give them the feedback as well. And when they decide to come to us on, let’s say the third ground, then they’ve gotten feedback from more than one person already. And those systems in itself take some of the burden off of us as teachers to make sure that every child is, is getting the Feedback they need. I will also say that you will not be able to give every child Feedback specifically every single day. 

I would think of it in terms of week long chunks instead of, you know, daily, especially if you walk around with like either an iPad or a M you know, some kind of sadness of the class where your carrying your clipboard and you’re just jotting down what you overhear, student’s talking about it and what you see them doing while you’re observing. And then you’re taking that information that you’re, that you’re gathering while you’re getting the status of the class to make some good decisions about how to adjust, adjust your lesson plans to, to really speak to where kids needs are. 

Ti-Fen: Hmm. I see. So Starr I said, I mentioned earlier in our conversation that I have read your book Hacking Assessment ,  there are two hacks, particularly stood out for me. The first one is Teaching reflection and inks do that for me, because I believe that it is useful for a lifelong. So would you mind giving us an overview about how you implement the lesson plan of teaching reflection? 

Starr: So to me, the most valuable gift I have given my students over the years is the gift of reflection and in purposeful reflection, because I think when students hear reflection, sometimes what they’ve been expected to do is maybe think about if they enjoyed a project, what they thought they got out of it, something really basic and maybe like a paragraph, but nothing that’s actually gonna speak to they’re learning and their process, but the metacognitive process, they went through to complete an assignment. 

So when I’m teaching students how to reflect effectively, there’s a whole process that I go through. The first thing that students have to do is that they have to restate what the assignment was asking them to do in their own words, not cutting and pasting from the document, but really articulating what they thought they had to do. And the reason I ask them to do this is I’m sure your listeners and your Self can empathize with sometimes thinking you created a very clear assignment and when you get the student work back, it doesn’t look anything like what you were expecting. 

And what I have learned over the time working in high school classes is it’s not always the student’s fault for, for having that miscommunication. Sometimes my directions weren’t as clear as they could be. So by asking students to tell me what they thought they had to do, it gives me an opportunity to really assess what they planned on doing. Instead of just assessing what I thought I asked them to do, which are always the same thing. 

So that’s step one paragraph where they’re talking about what the assignment was asking them to do. And then from there, they talk about how they completed the assignment. What steps did they take from start to beginning? Where did they struggle in the learning? How did they overcome those struggles? And then beyond that, they think about the standards were in the world. Do they exhibit the level of proficiency mastery around particular standards that the assignment was addressing and almost like writing an argument paper, they then have to go back to their project and find the evidence from the text that supports where they are on a particular standard. 

And Y from there they then give themselves, they give themselves a grade based on their level of mastery for the assignment. And they then also talk about what they would do differently next time, based on the experience they had with this particular assignment. So there’s a lot going on there. And if a teacher reads the student’s reflections prior to assessing the work, you can really get inside the head of the student and see what feedback you’ve given them along the way, because that will be a part of their process implementing the Feedback and then provide them more specific Feedback with their final product, or were they successful in the things they were working on? 

What should they be working on next? So those reflections really become integral in how you’re providing additional feedback and also assessing their learning because that reflection also fills a lot of gaps before I started inviting students into the process of developing the assessments as well. A lot of times what I was asking students to show me, didn’t always show everything they know. So having these reflections also gave me an opportunity to kinda see in the blind spots

Starr (24m 21s): that the Assessment  Itself didn’t really Assess the first step, What Assessment is asking them to do

Ti-Fen (24m 37s):. So is this a step before or after doing the Assessment there?

Starr: This reflection is after. So they completed the assignment and then before they submit the assignment, their doing this reflection as well, God, they are so own these a lesson plan will be implementing after they doing the Assessment right. It, it would be more goal setting before the Assessment. 

Ti-Fen: I see, I see. So the first step we’re asking them what assessments asking them to do. And the second would be how they accomplish this assessment is there any struggles in what kind of standard they accomplish and any evidence that can support that.  The final state would be a reflection on what  they can do differently next time. So the second hack impressed me a self-Grades. You said that when they’re, so report card crier, you ask your students to grade themselves, given they’re learning progress. Why do you think that we should empower students in valuing it themselves?

Starr: I think kids should know a lot more about themselves as learners. Then we give them credit for, I think a lot of the times they’ve never actually been taught to articulate with a vocabulary, the kind of things we want them to tell us, which is what the struggle is

Starr: But if we teach them about standards and we use the language of standards in our classes, and we align learning targets with the standards that we’re using, and then we co-construct success criteria together. So that the language is very much baked into what we’re doing. Students can then articulate how well they’re doing the, the, the other thing teachers can do that could make that easier as to, to develop progressions based on the standards so that students can really identify where on a progression they are based on the skill set that they have and the things they need to continue working on. 

So if we have student friendly progressions and Students can identify that they are at a specific spot on those progressions, then they know what they are shooting for as they move forward. And they know where they currently are based on that same theory. So we really just need to give kids language so that they could talk about their own learning. I know a lot of folks have asked me in the past, well, you know, won’t kids over grade themselves. 

Like, would they give themselves in a way, just because, and you’d be surprised to know that most kids are harder on themselves than we’d even be on them. There’s a really, really small percentage of students who would over, you know, that we would shoot for the delusions of grand jury. And even though they have no evidence to support where they are in those conversations, they might assess themselves higher. And really the only thing to do from there is just through, you know, turn it around and ask them again, what evidence do you have to support that assessment of yourself and then really make it a point for them to be able to demonstrate that understanding in a way that is tangible with real evidence. 

Ti-Fen: So what did you observe the changes in your students before and after you deploy gradeless Assessment or any story that you can share with us around the moment you realize your hacks are working?

Starr: Oh my God. First of all, the, the level of commitment to learning was increased completely. You know, everybody was like, well, if there were no Grades kids, aren’t going to work as hard. That was definitely not my experience. As a matter of fact, once the Grades were removed, even the students who weren’t your typical, your typical high achieving students, because they didn’t play the game of School had a much better opportunity to be successful because it wasn’t a matter of how many hoops could you jump through. 

It was a matter of how can you demonstrate what you know, and can do. And if I was being more flexible in the kind of Assessment that was going on, and students actually had a voice in the way they were assessed, some of those challenges, especially with the more School averse students, you know, became less because I wasn’t forcing them to do what I wanted them to do. I was listening to what they were saying, and I was giving them an opportunity to make decisions about how they showed they’re learning. 

And as long as their ideas were viable, I allowed them to move forward with them. And I think really over time, it became less about the Grades and more about improvement. That was the biggest shift. The conversations in class were less about, you know, what did I get on that? And more about I’m really struggling with this, or I really improved a lot on that. 

And the fact that they had the language to really articulate those things, made it even easier for me to adjust instruction when I needed too. And it really helps me see them as partners in the developing process in terms of, you know, instructionally, what was happening in the classroom. So there was more of a reciprocal relationship between me and the Students and there was a first and I wasn’t the only arbiter of what was good and great and what we learned. 

And I think that made the space a better learning environment, not just for the students, but for me also,

Ti-Fen:  That’s amazing. I think it’s definitely a win-win situation with deploying these new form or of Assessment. And thank you, Starr for sharing so much amazing ideas in a really clear steps, too, how a teacher,can take in their classroom. So the last few questions I have for you are there any books that have influenced your thinking a lot in the past few years? 

Starr: So like I mentioned before, the book by Ken O’Connor 15 fixes for broken grades, Rick Wormeli is a fair, isn’t always equal is another really good. One more recently, Joe Feldman’s grading for equity is really good. Mark barns is Assessment three point O and role reversal. Also a really good texts. Paul Bloomberg in parks and Barb Pitchfords impact team book, which is all about protocols for more specific PLC conversations around student learning. 

And, you know, I I’ve had a bunch of my, my own books, but there’s certainly a community Alfie cone also has great resources and he has been doing this work, you know, long before I was. And he’s a tremendous resource as well as somebody who knows a lot about helping kids learn without labeling their learning. 

Ti-Fen: That’s a really great list.. I will make sure that they are all in the show notes with also your books as well, to you personally, what is your a core value in education? 

Starr: I believe that every child has something valuable to add to a learning environment. And I believe that we need to honor every child and what those strengths are so that we can all grow as a group. And I think for too long education has segregated kids sort of sorted them into different categories and then ask them to play this game that often favors kids, kids with a lot, you know, whether it’s kids with money or a privileged kids of other kinds that set a lot of other students apart. 

So I think it’s really important that we know our students really well. And we create really inclusive environments that take into consideration the human beings that are sitting in front of us. And Assessment, shouldn’t make kids feel badly about the learning process. It should do the opposite. It should encourage and engage them to want to be a better learners from whatever their starting point is without judgment and without labels

Ti-Fen (33m 52s): So before we close up, do you have any other thoughts, programs or workshops? Do you want to share with our listeners? 

Starr (34m 0s): So there’s a lot of stuff going on right now. I work for the Core Collaborative right now. So would I do is I often coach teams through their assessment process? That’s that’s one thing I do on Fridays on Facebook. I do like a Q and a around Hacking Assessment and that one’s Free they could just show up and participate, ask questions while that’s happening. I have a new book coming out with ASCD in March, which is all about the intersection it’s called assessing with respect and its all about taking into consideration the social emotional needs of students when we make decisions about Assessment and there are also a bunch of online conferences that are going to be happening over the next six months that folks could participate in as well. I have all that stuff on my website 

#20 以實質的學習回饋取代傳統分數 – Starr Sackstein

這集邀請到 Starr Sackstein與我們深聊如何改變傳統分數,給予學生實質回饋,Starr 目前是 the Core Collaborative 的教育顧問,也於 2016 TEDx 上分享她對傳統分數的失望和改革過程,此外,她憑藉多年的翻轉教學經驗,著作多本幫助教育學者提升學習回饋的書,包括:<教導學生自我評量>(Teaching Students to Self-Assess)、<拋棄傳統分數>( Hacking Assessment: 10 Ways to Go Gradeless in a Traditional Grades School) 、<同儕回饋>(Peer Feedback in the Classroom)等等。


追蹤 Starr Sackstein:
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Starr在紐約擔任高中教師時,常在繳交成績時期感到頭痛,因為這意味著有些學生要抱頭痛哭,而他們所知道的只是紙上沒有意義的D。就在Starr兒子上中小學時,發現他們學校採用的精熟學習制度,精熟學習制度成績單的不同是他將學習情形更細膩化的分解,例如: 數學 = 100被取代成 在排列組合上達到專業的程度、在微積分上達到基礎能力、在九九乘法上有待加強等等。如此精細的回饋,激勵Starr改革自己學校傳統分數的框架。

  • 停止在隨堂測驗改分數,給予實質的學習回饋。在一個傳統學校,一開始是無法改變整個系統,所以我們可以從較可掌握的隨堂測驗中著手。
  • 與家長和學生溝通。Starr會將上課狀況分享到YouTube上,讓家長了解沒有分數和有分數下的差別。同時間,持續地利用電子郵件與家長做溝通。


  • 在給予回饋前,詢問學生怎樣的回饋對他們有幫助。
  • 了解自我教學的標準,依據標準給予改善方向。
  • 提供一到兩個實例讓學生更清楚方向。
  • 提空學生時間和空間去做嘗試和改進。




  1. 在做完功課後,詢問學生,他們覺得這個功課的目的是什麼? 在這過程中,亦可幫助您了解是否您的理解與學生一致。
  2. 請學生寫下他們如何完成這項功課。範例問題: 有什麼困境呢? 如何克服這些困難?
  3. 請學生自己打分數。詢問學生在功課中,有哪些證據可以支持他們達到學習目標?
  4. 請學生寫下,如果再做一次,他們會做如何改變。


  • 在當您送出分數時,您對於這個分數,有多大信心其反映出學生的學習狀況。


  • 在功課繳交後,引導學生做自我省思,步驟請參考<教導學生自我反省教案>段落

#18 Philadelphia 方法培養年幼讀者 – Elisa Guerra

這集我們將探索如何教導年幼孩子閱讀和識字。這次我們邀請到Elisa Guerra與我們分享她多年的教導經驗。

Elisa Guerra是Colegio Valle de Filadelfia的創辦人,Colegio Valle de Filadelfia是一所提供學前教育至小學二年級的學校,致力於幫助孩子發揮他們的潛能,此學校的模式已被其餘十一所拉丁學校複製。Elisa也是2015和2016全球優秀教師獎前五十名候選者,這項獎視為教育界的諾盃爾獎。


追蹤 Elisa Guerra:
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Philadelphia方式的技巧源自於The Doman Method,不同點是Philadelphia方式在些微改變下,更適用於學校多人環境。以下是此方法的要點:

  • 呈現整個詞語而非單一注音符號,因為注音符號缺少了意義,所以孩子較難貫通。
  • 高頻率,短時間。
  • 合併相關詞語,例如:這禮拜教動物類,下禮拜教植物類。


  • 首先,選擇他們已知道的詞語,例如在他們的戶外遊樂區,寫下他們會接觸的東西、動物名字或同學名字
  • 用紅色麥克筆將詞語寫在紙板上,一個紙板約十公分高,六十公分寬,一張紙一個單字,且每個卡後也有相同詞語。
  • 快速呈現單字,五個單字五秒鐘。每天三次同類組詞語但不同順序。例如,當你到一個學生面前時,你可以說: 哈囉,我有些給你的小驚喜,你看,這是狗、貓…等等,同時,你邊念邊呈現字卡給他們看。
  • 註記: 你不用考他們,不需要叫他們和一起念或甚至寫下來,漸漸地,當你在呈現這些字卡,他們自己就會在你念之前說出來。
  • 一組單字持續一個禮拜,下個禮拜可以換不同類型的詞語。
  • 如果想增加難度,可以將一些形容詞加入字卡,例如:粉紅色的豬



  • 您如何教導您年幼的孩子了解字詞背後的意義呢?
  • 大多少您的學生喜愛閱讀?


  • 當教導年幼的孩子時,您可以試試Philadelphia方式,把他們已知的單字寫在字卡上,短時間,高頻率的呈現給他們。

#16 透視芬蘭現象為本學習 – Ilona Taimela


我們很幸運有Ilona Taimela加入我們,她專門研究基於現象為本的學習、教育設計思維、參與性過程和永續經營。 Ilona Taimela在芬蘭全國培訓教師已有25年以上的經驗。 她是赫爾辛基教育諮詢集團的首席執行官。在這芬蘭新課室的教改浪潮下,她提供許多芬蘭學校諮商服務,幫助教改扎實地實踐在日常課堂中。

Connect with Ilona:
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  • 必須跨領域:因為真實世界的難題,都是涉及不同領域的知識和技能。
  • 不分年級的學生可以一起合作,雖然可能會有不同理解,但是現象為本學習啟發點來自每位學生自我所知,而提出不同提問。
  • 專注於過程而非最終產品,真正需要學習的是在這過程中的創意和好奇心。
  • 教師的角色不是填塞知識,而是去激發學生的好奇心,問學生的問題是讓他們有更多問題想要去探索。


  • 芬蘭學校通常給予老師一個時間表,讓老師知道這一年他們需要強調的技能的大方向。
  • 與各科老師一起設計,同時保留彈性,以留給學生空間去發揮
    • 思考那些橫向的技能你想要融合其中,技能可以是各種二十一世紀的橫向技能:溝通能力,思辨能力,合作能力等等
    • 選擇一個相關的現象,有些學校會提供題目給予老師參考
    • 設計單元測驗,幫助學生在過程中審視自我學習情形。
  • 向學生介紹現象,使學生能深刻體驗這現象的緣起
    • 你可以利用影片、邀請校外專家、參觀博物館來介紹這現象等等
  • 學生了解現象後,老師協助學生反思,最重要的兩個問題:
    • 我已知道什麼? 
    • 我想要知道什麼?
  • 學生基於自己想要了解的問題,尋找組別去合作研究,同時,老師可以鼓勵學生去聯繫專家。
  • 最後學生可以用各種方式呈現自己的研究結果,例如:Minecraft、廣播、紙本報告等等


  • 永續經營
  • COVID-19
  • 黑人平權運動




  • 您的學生有與同儕討論學習的空間嗎?
  • 在課堂上,您講話的比例與您學生發言的比例各是多少?


  • 當您介紹一個新概念時,試著問學生他們已知道什麼,那他們想要更進一步知道什麼? 然後,給予您的學生時間去做研究,讓他們有空間實踐自我探索。

Transcript #16 Dissect Phenomenon based Learning with Ilona Taimela (透視現象為本學習)

Ti-Fen (9s): Welcome to compass teachers show I’m your host Ti-Fen. My job is to interview teachers around the world and tease out their teaching tactics, education, research, or tools they use. Hopefully this show can offer ideas for you to experiments in your classroom. This episode is all about phenomenon based learning, according to Finnish education sites in phenomena based learning and teaching holistic real world phenomenon provides the starting point for learning the phenomenon started yes, complete entities in their real context and information and skills relate you to them all study by crossing the boundaries between subjects today, we are really lucky to have Ilona Taimela joining us, who is specialized in phenomenon based learning design thinking party’s about torturing processes and sustainability Ilana has seen over 25 years of experience from training teachers in Finland national wide, and now more internationally.

Ti-Fen (1m 17s): She’s the CEO of Helsinki education consulting group. She provides consulting services to these in schools, in implementing the new Finnish national curriculum with her long experience from being a classroom and subject teacher, a university researcher to an executive director and an administrator. She’s no doubt in engaging and energizing and sought after speaker. Now let’s enjoy our conversation with Ilona.

Ti-Fen: Ilona thank you to join me today.

Ilona: Thank you for inviting them. I’m very happy to be with you here. Talking about phenomenon based learning

Ti-Fen: Before we dive into phenomena based learning, could you give us a little bit of background? Why financial to use the ne this new way of learning in Finland?

Ilona: We have national curriculum for the basic education, and it’s always for 10 years, the new curriculum that we have started in 2016 and actually 2014 already. It was given from the education board in this basic curriculum. It was introduced that we need to have more of these holistic interdisciplinary study units. That is also because we need to be teaching our students about the world holistically in the curriculum It says, or there to be these interdisciplinary Units. And the phenomenon based learning itself is really from Helsinki kind of an initiative on the more kind of on the pedagogy and how to help implement this interdisciplinary.

Ti-Fen (3m 14s) Ilona. Why focuses on inter-disciplinary?

Ilona (3m 20s): Well, like, like a little bit, I was already saying that, that we, we have real world phenomenon and, and sometimes, you know, when the student goes, according to the timetable from, especially in those grades where, where there, there is different subject teachers also that you go from from one subject to another subject and so forth, you get to kind of maybe a narrow understanding of the, of the world, because we have at the moment, really big holistic and these kind of world, we get problems that we need to be able to as a, as a human kind that we need to be able to solve.

And they are all intertwined and connected to each other. And that’s why we also need to start teaching our students how the world functions and, and how these real world phenomenons are intertwined and how different subjects sort of support each other. And especially in Finland, we have very much autonomy for the teachers at school that they are able to, to, you know, sort of plan their plan, their own lessons. It means that if, if the curriculum wouldn’t in a way, even force them to collaborate, sometimes then they would just do their own planning and, and teach their own subjects and know nothing about what the other teachers are doing about.

So this sort of, in a way also forces the subject subject teachers to, to, to join the plan and then also implement the lessons together.

Ti-Fen (4m 54s): Got it. It sounds like we want more connection and relation between each subjects so we can provide more Holy stake experience for the students. So how do you define phenomenon based learning personally? What are the key ingredients there?

Ilona (5m 14s): The key ingredients is really this, this interdisciplinary. So sometimes, you know, I’ve been, I’ve been said that phenomenon based learning is like project based learning or problem based learning or inquiry based learning. I have been an IB teacher previously and IB, the international baccalaureate organization, which is world known almost in every country. There’s IB, IB schools, and IB is inquiry based. So, so that is something that, you know, the students have to inquire into the different kind of maybe phenomenons and so forth.

But, but these are done usually also by subject teachers on their own only IB has also started to, to, to say that there has to be these transdisciplinary units, project based learning. Then it can also be done only by, by one subject teacher on, on their own and even problem-based. So, so that, so the nominal based learning is really different from this that it always requires in the disciplinary planning and execution.

So that’s like, I think number one kind of key ingredients that is different from, from other, and then also in a way that the phenomenon based learning how we have now been starting to implement it in some of the schools, is that even the, the grade levels can be mixed up so that the students can be of different ages in the same study group. And, and they also, you know, work together so that it doesn’t have to be only, only like, you know, for one, for one grade.

And that is because also if you think about it, when the students come into to study phenomena, they, they might have different kinds of earlier understandings of, of, of what it is. And basically the phenomenon based learning starts from the student’s own question that what do I already know about it? And that is why, you know, there can be different age groups, students, because some people, some students might have other, other things that they know as some other things so that they can be also experts by themselves.

And then they start making it get going into the inquiry in a way as well. That, what do I want to know about this phenomenon based learning? It’s really more about the process and not really about the product so that the teacher and the students don’t really know what comes out of it after, because there needs to be the flexibility and openness of curiosity and creativity during the process, but that what comes out of it. And then they have learned really these kind of test firs or skills that will be talking about what other features that the student needs to know.

Ti-Fen (8m 18s): Would you mind sharing us one of your favorites and I’m the one face, their new project and you designed the score so that we can understand more how he looks

Ilona (8m 29s): It’s got to do with ethics. I used to be an ethics teacher a long, long time ago, because in Finland, we also have a compulsory religion that is being taught. So there was different religion teachers and me as an ethics teacher doing a project together with biology teacher and also like a health education teacher. The phenomenon was really about the kind of ethical dilemmas that we have in, in, in, in our society with, you know, that has kind of a biological or health angle.

Ilona (9m 4s): And the students were able to then start making their different kinds of, you know, inquiries into what are the kinds of ethical dilemmas that they know that exists. And what do they know about them already? And what do they want to then there was really, really excellent kind of studies made by the made by the students. And the thing is that we never would have been able to design the whole thing by teachers or, you know, by, by ourselves.

Ilona (9m 34s): So there needs to be this openness for, for student activity and creativity. And some of the students were more interested for example, about genetically modified foods, or some of the students were more interested in the designer, babies, the babies kind of DNA and everything is designed. And so these are the kinds of things that I think give much, much more to the students once they, once they start learning about, you know, the process and how then if, if somebody would be just telling them about it or, or if they were just reading about it in a textbook in one of the schools, cause I’ve worked on the school level much more on as an, when I wasn’t in the administration of the city of Helsinki, there was also one school that made, made an inquiry into all of the parents off the 500 plus students that they have, that if there is anybody in the parents that would be sort of willing to share their knowledge with the students when they’re doing the phenomenon based learning unit.

Ilona (10m 45s): And it’s amazing that how many parents also want to engage with the, with the students or invite them maybe to their own workplaces or come to the school and, and tell and show. So, so that is something that is really, really, I think the phenomenon based learning at least in Finland has, has given the school and kind of made a bit of bridge with the, with also with the parents.

Ti-Fen (11m 11s): So in these ethical dilemma projects, the first step is teachers to introduce this issue or phenomenon to students and the students, what would they do after that?

Ilona (11m 26s): Yeah. So how the phenomenon based learning it actually goes is that there needs to be kind of planning phase first with, among the different subject teachers. And if there, if it’s on the, on the grade level where there’s a classroom teacher, of course also the classroom teacher can, can plan it with, with other subject teachers. So the planning phase is really important in a way that that is when you, of course, you’re looking look into the content that is in the curriculum that has to be kind of studies during, during, during that phenomenon.

Ilona (11m 59s): But then it cannot be so much designed by the teachers that the teacher is sort of, because sometimes, you know, the teachers plan it too much, you know, whether they, they plan all these kinds of tasks and assignments that, that, that the students have to do. And that is then, you know, we are then taking, taking control from the students’ own learning path that they have to themselves design it. But then what did the teachers do in the planning phase is also to look at what are the transformational skills that actually the students need to learn during this phenomenon.

Ilona (12m 37s): In, in, in Finland, we have been ranked number one in, in the world to, to teach future skills. And the thing is that the future skills, what we have said that that are in, in our curriculum are for example, critical thinking, taking care of oneself. And then there’s this kind of cultural identity cultural aspects.

Ilona (13m 7s): There’s also the communication skills and not only Lang writing or, or speaking or reading or these kinds of things, but also in the communication, it’s really important to look into the videos or, or the photographs and understanding that how they can be manipulated. And also there’s kind of skills for, of course, the ICT skills as well, but then also entrepreneurial skills in a way that how, how you are able to carry out a project, then there’s also skills on participation, how you participate and how you participate in to, in the society and how you are building sustainable future for, you know, these kind of what we call is the eco social skills.

Ilona (13m 57s): So these are the kinds of skills that the needs to be thought in every subject, but also in, in, in every phenomena. But they cannot be taught in, in every phenomena during that, you know, so that they have to be chosen that this particular phenomenon, this, this unit, maybe we choose two of them and we concentrate on that. And that is something that then the teacher has to facilitate. And, and to make, to tell that, to tell the students that when you are doing your own inquiry and you have, you are going to present, are you going to do some kind of a product afterwards?

Ilona (14m 34s): So these are the kinds of skills that you, you will be maybe also assessed because the assessment then it’s also, that is continuous as for formative assessment, what we talk about it. And so they can be a pre-assessment. What do you know already about the phenomena? What are the kinds of skills that you already have? And then what are the skills and the content that you’re learning during, during the whole, you know, the unit let’s say the unit is maybe about seven or eight weeks.

Ilona (15m 5s): So this is the planning phase then comes kind of a tuning in that you tune in to the phenomena or you, how would I say kind of motivate the teacher, the students into it. And that can be, you know, you visited museums or you read a book or you watch a video, or are you already, already in, that’s why you can already engage with an expert from outside. So it can be very, very many different ways of how to, how to motivate the students into, well, let, let’s look into this phenomena phenomena, what is it all about?

Ilona (15m 43s): And after that, then the students sort of come into this concept validation session that they have to think about it. What do I already know? They might do a mind map for example, and that can be a kind of a pre-assessment of it, or, or, you know, discussions or whatever, or even a quiz, if you want to give you an, a test so that the test, usually we give it as a summative test, but there could be a test already straight away.

Ilona (16m 16s): So what do you already know? And then after that, they can make the questions. What do I want to know? And you can make the students into groups of that kind of groups who have similar interests, and then they go into the inquiry and then they, you know, kind of ask other experts again about it, or make interviews or, or research, or, or visits to different places and so forth. What is required in order to, to, to get more information about the phenomena and worrying all this stuff that needs to be a lot of, a lot of talking discussion, formative assessment, the teachers are like facilitators.

Ilona (17m 3s): And then at the end, you know, sometimes we have no idea, like what comes out there can be a products. There can be presentations that can be even a play or, or, or, or a debate or whatever. I remember when I was a teacher also, you know, sometimes my, my students, they did some of them, they did even a Minecraft kind of a game or some of them, they did an animation. So, so there can be a lot of different things that they can teach, teach each other, even.

Ilona (17m 37s): And, and, and then at the end, you know, sometimes a lot of them schools also in Finland nowadays have, for example, open houses or exhibitions Or events where they then invite the parents or the even wider society to come and see what the students have been learning.

Ti-Fen (18m 2s): Let me review the process a little bit. So the planning phases would be first narrowed down the future skills you want to targeting in phenomena based learning and also the relevant topic. Right? And then after that, you would be planning the formative assessment along the way for different scales that align with the issue we are targeting. We are embedding in the phenomenon based learning. So the, I curious the first step, like narrowing down the scale with different subject teachers, how do you have any tips and tools that you would give for people who collaborate between different subject teachers and trying to narrow down the things they want to targeting? It?

Ilona (18m 58s): The thing is what I have been doing, because I’ve been teaching a lot of like on the school level, the, the teachers and, and so forth is that, of course, every, every school has their own kind of how they organize the whole school, the timetable, the, you know, the who teaches what and so forth. But the thing is that what usually I have been doing with them is really what I call, like mining the curriculum and mining the timetables and so forth.

Ilona (19m 29s): So that, so that it is a big, really big process to look at it first on a, on a big picture, that when we start in Finland, we start, the school will actually, tomorrow is the day in August. And then we start in August and then we go up to up to June, beginning of June. So you need to look at the whole year. Okay. And then during the whole year, how many different kinds of phenomenons do we have in some schools?

Ilona: They have maybe two in some schools, three, I know a school that has four or six during the whole year. So then you need to, you know, per student, if you look at it on a student level, and then, then you need to look at what are the kinds of skills and content that they need to learn during that particular year. And then you divide those, you look into the, you look into the curriculum, what are the kinds of subjects that go together?

Ilona (20m 30s): What are the kind of thematic phenomenons that come from different, different subjects together? And then they are making those plans on a, on a year, on a, on for the year. And then it’s easier to look into the whole, like one unit only you look it, okay, because these are the, these are the subjects teachers that are collaborating in this unit. Maybe in that next unit, it’s different. One can be more kind of cited on, on mathematics and science.

Ilona (21m 1s): The other unit can be more leaning towards former creative and artistic or, or these kinds of, so then of course, the skills that we have, these transformational skills for the future, we also then look at it, look it up so that what are the ones that are needed in that particular unit, or what is product more natural to learn during that particular unit? For example, in, in one phenomena, if they are looking into all kinds of, you know, leading things, and there may be growing, growing plants and making studies about the plants and, and about nature and so forth, then of course, they need to be learning more about these eco social skills and, and how to be, how to be more sustainable and, and so forth, and how, how, what kind of actions that they are doing in their own life actually build us a better future.

Ilona (22m 1s): So, so they really, they really go with the unit in a way that, you know, once you start looking at the whole bigger picture, then it’s easier to see that, okay, actually, these are these skill we need to do during this year. It goes automatically to two, one of the, one of the uterus, maybe coding goes into the one that has more mathematical mathematical skills and so forth. Great.

Ti-Fen (22m 26s): Could you give us a few examples that you have seen schools picked as their phenomenon topic, what phenomenon they picks

Ilona (22m 38s): Nowadays? And also like last year, there was more and more, these kinds of phenomenons that are very topical and which are, you know, kind of, you know, comes from, from our society. And we need to think about, so, so the climate change, sustainability, circular economy, you know, plastic in our oceans, these are the kind of things are, are, are all the time, very current. And, and of course now at the moment, what we’ve been having is, is the, the COVID 19 in the way that what are the pandemics and what are the kind of, you know, how do they start and how do they, so, so often these current phenomenons that are happening around us are something that are also triggers the curiosity of the students very easily.

Ilona (23m 31s): Or for example, the black lives matter movement that even from the USA came all the way up to Finland, we had even demonstration. So, so these are the kinds of things that the students are very motivated into, into researching. And thinking about that, how does it affect their life and what kind of a future we are building, because why the students are in the school in the first place, they are there in order to become active citizens later, later in their life, or you’re already during their school time.

Ilona (24m 5s): So, so we need to, you know, involve their kind of understanding of the world already. And, and, and, and that, that motivates them and also to research and, and to, to learn more about the different topics. Also the sustainable development goals that the United nations have set up for 2030, the SDGs, like we talk about them, the agenda 2030, it’s something that has a lot of different kinds of things that can be implemented in, in different phenomenons.

Ilona (24m 39s): And that is something that some of our schools have taken also like last, last year, I remember that some schools only looked into, into those and were looking at ’em and asking also that their, their students, about the phenomena in, in high schools, we also have schools that only, you know, sort of plan the phenomenons from the students so that their students are able to vote and, and kind of introduce the different phenomenons that they want to, they want to be studying it’s, it’s not, it doesn’t only come from like top down.

Ilona (25m 16s): It also needs to be involving the students and their own interests and curiosity.

Ti-Fen (25m 34s): Also Ilona you mentioned about after the planning and the student, the teacher would tune into phenomenon by providing some media, or even invite experts to give a speech to the student, to introduce the phenomenon. And then the students will have to think about it and having a mind map. I’m curious what this mind map look like

Ilona (26m 11s): The mind map, of course, in the beginning, it’s really for the students to make a mind about off what they already know about the phenomena, because sometimes, you know, if we talk about, for example, the second world war or the, or the, the Holocaust, for example, of what happened to the Jewish people in, in Finnish curriculum, it comes in the eighth grade and that the students need to learn about these things. But then if we actually, you know, talking already about, let’s say, black lives matter for the sixth graders or seventh graders and so forth, they might be interested into, into looking at injustice in history or injustice in our society already previously.

Ilona (26m 57s): So they might start looking into it. And, and the thing is that, like, what do they already know about it before going into any kind of inquiry? So it’s kind of, kind of a test or something that they do the mind map without using any books or without, you know, reading, reading about more or, so forth. And that is, then that can be then taken again as a tool at the very end of the unit.:

Ilona: Let’s look into the mind map that you did six, seven weeks ago. What did you write on it? Or what did you draw on it that, what did you know about the phenomenon when you started the process? And then they realized that, Hey, I know so much more, and then you can maybe even take a different color and draw and write on it more than what have I learned during this phenomenon based learning unit. And it can be also digital, you know, there’s a lot of different digital tools to make, and these mind maps, and that’s kind of a one way of really showing that that, Hey, this is what you knew in the beginning without reading and without inquiry.

Ilona (28m 14s): And then this is the thing, something that you have been able to put on top and to show that how much you have learned after, or during the, during the unit.

Ti-Fen (28m 25s): So after the, mind map and teacher or student would group together with the same interests, and then they will do inquiry based learning in this phase, how teacher can guide them to do the inquiry based learning.

Ilona (28m 47s): It has to, again, come, they don’t go into the groups before they have actually done the questions that, what do I want to know about the phenomena? And then, then only that, that then they can go into the groups of similar interests, but it doesn’t necessarily always have to be even group, but they can also be individual or pairs or whatever it depends, but how does the teacher then go about it? Is that because they have the, the students have set their own questions, what do they want to know?

Ilona (29m 18s): And then the questions can be looked at on a class level or in the student group level, even anonymously in a whether these are the kinds of questions that came out. And, and then, you know, let’s look into the, what, which, which ones are kind of the ones that we go into and start doing the inquiry and research, or it can be, it doesn’t always have to be an inquiry. It can be a, a building of something, or try and trying out kind of a piloting of, of, of, of some kind of a construction.

Ilona (29m 49s): But then, then that is when the teacher, because she knows, and she has shown also, and told the students that while you are doing this inquiry or research, or, or construction or piloting or something experimentation, these are the skills that you have to be, you know, sort of learning. So these are the transformational skills, and that is where the objectives come out. That that is kind of also assisting so that the teacher becomes then a facilitator facilitating that kind of a process and assisting those students to go further and to, to, to be able to target those objectives, that they have to learn these particular skills during this process.

Ilona (30m 41s): And that is, you know, sort of pushing, pushing the students forward and what sometimes it’s called also also like scaffolding. And so the objectives always have to be there in order for the students to go further. Otherwise, you know, some, because I’ve had like, you know, teachers tell me that, well, how do they motivate the students to go for further? Or how do they assist them? But the thing is that when the inquiry questions and those kinds of research questions, or the experimentation ideas, they come out from the students themselves.

Ilona (31m 20s): So that already motivates them to go further, but then you need to be able to facilitate them to vote those skills, not all of the content, because often they, you know, they start only looking into the content, but they also need to be remembering that these are the skills that we at the same time learning during, during. So, like I said, phenomenon based learning. It’s more about the process, not so much about the product ending, kind of like how much content have you found out, or how much have you learned?

Ilona (31m 54s): It’s not that it’s not assessing kind of that so much because that comes automatically, but then it’s re really pushing towards learning new transformational skills, the skills for the future. And that is something that, you know, feeling that is proud about being number one in the world. And that is something that we need to be all the time pushing and showing the students that these are the skills we’re learning at the same time.

Ti-Fen (32m 22s): Wonderful. So I want to dive a little bit deeper around the facilitation, a process a teacher plays in, in this role. So I’m curious when you were a teacher, how do you facilitate the process, for example, would you like having one to one conversation with student regularly to make sure they’re developing the right track aligned with the skills learning objectives, or you would ask specific questions that can help them to think more deeply,

Ilona (33m 2s): Actually all, all of that and even more in a way that yeah, the, the teacher’s role is, is to be the person who is asking that kind of questions that make the students think further. And, and also to have the student ask more questions in a way, you know, too often in a classroom, the teacher asks, asks questions, or the exercise book asks the questions for content knowledge in a way that the students need to answer, what is the goal?

Ilona (33m 37s): What is the kind of the subject content? What is the knowledge or so forth, but, but this is not the case in phenomenon based learning. The thing is that you need to be making them think, making them think critically, and to understand where to find more knowledge sometimes for a teacher. You know, for example, when I was, I was ethics, but also civics and history teacher, of course, I have a lot of knowledge about history or civics and how the society works, but I can’t be telling them about it so much.

Ilona (34m 10s): I need to be showing an and guiding them to those sources that so that they themselves have the kind of aha moment that, you know, that they find the information. So the teacher needs to be knowledgeable about the sources of information that there is there’s libraries. So I would take, they take them to the libraries. I would take them to the museums. I would give them, you know, the experts on Skype or in writing, you know, also even asking the students themselves to, to contact experts or, you know, asking them to, to, to come and visit, or even asking the students themselves, to come up with an idea that way, where would they want to go and visit, and also in a way that the T the students themselves are teaching each other.

Ilona (35m 0s): And that is really important because what has been John had the, I don’t know if, you know, John Hattie from Australia has made this kind of meta analysis of different kinds of educational theories or, and research. And, and what has been found out is that, that when the student themselves, they are the ones telling about the phenomena, for example, that is when they are actually learning not to during the time that they are inquiring, but when they are and showing, presenting to other people.

Ilona (35m 41s): And, and that is why I often at the very end of the phenomenon based learning units, sort of even more step out and step on the side, giving them the space to teach each other and to show. And, and the students are more motivated to listen to their own friend telling something than, you know, just me talking in the front. So my, my expertise has to be in it to give them kind of maybe kind of checklists or showing them how different kind of issues I may be categorized, you know, kind of giving them the kind of tools for research or for, for finding out, you know, but, and also encouraging them in order to, to speak for themselves.

Ilona (36m 34s): And, and that’s something that then you can see that they, you know, they grow because they become more autonomous as well as, as, as learners. So they’re learning what has been found out by, but we have some PhD studies being made and that the students actually learn to learn. And that is something that they, it will carry with them for the, you know, for the rest of their lives that they learned to learn how, how learning happens.

Ti-Fen (37m 1s): Right. I’m a big fan of learn how to learn, right. So for teacher who wants to try out phenomenon based learning, what is one piece of advice you would give?

Ilona (37m 14s): Yeah, because I think this is kind of a, it’s a, it’s a big pedagogical DNA. I think that has to, has to kind of a little bit change in, in some more traditional teachers that they have to step aside. They have to step, but not total, like, because sometimes the teachers have been telling me that, Oh, so I’m not needed anymore. No you’re needed, but you need to be able to create space for curiosity and creativity. And the most important is that if you are able to have the students ask those two questions, what do I know already about it?

Ilona (37m 53s): And then somehow show it what they know. And then the second question, what do I want to know about it? So when they make that question, what do I want to know about it? And then, you know, sometimes the students have been asking, so can I ask any question? Is that they are like, baffled, like, so sometimes we don’t provide this space for the students enough, you know, we need to provide them space for, for, for, for curiosity. And what do I want to know about it?

Ilona (38m 24s): And these are the most, if, if a teacher is able to do this, then it will carry on because then, then, you know, you won’t be able to, in a way, stop it anymore. You won’t be able to say that, no, no, you’re not allowed to go and go and research or anymore. Cause then, then the children will because the children are curious, you know, when they come, if you think about a very young child, three years old, or four years old or five, you know, they’re all about questions. They’re only about questions. Like, how does that work?

Ilona (38m 55s): And what is this like, and why does it, why does that person do this? Or, you know, they’re all about questions. And then suddenly when they come to school, you know, do we kill that curiosity? And that is something that we can’t kill it. We cannot kill the curiosity in the child and the child, and the students need to be curious about the world. How does it function? You know, what makes the world go around? And I remember my, my own son who is nowadays 13, but almost 14, but he was maybe five or six and he was sitting on a table and he asked me a question that the earth can, can it be, can it be counted and measured?

Ilona (39m 38s): How, how, you know, why it is it and, and so forth. And I was like, wow, this is a fantastic question from a little boy thinking about that. First of all, that there’s a kind of a, you know, round ball the earth and can it be measured and so forth. And it’s fascinating that they can think, you know, they think so widely. And so we need to give space. And I think that’s number one thing for the teacher to be able to do that. There are this holistic phenomena in the world, give space for the students to sink.

Ilona (40m 12s): What do they know and what do they want to know, and then give space for them to, to make their own research. And it will be fascinating to see like what they come up with and what I’ve also been, you know, because my husband is a doctor in, you know, men in medicine and, and they’re in surgery. And luckily teachers really don’t, we are not in surgery. We are not in brain surgeons. You know, we’re not surgery, we’re not going deep into the flesh.

Ilona (40m 47s): So in a way that we cannot make that kind of mistakes with the children, if we give them more space for, for curiosity, it can, it cannot harm. Then it will give them more joy and, and it can be more playful and, you know, more creative. So, so if, if there’s nothing bad, you know, if you’re six, seven weeks off the one whole year, if you make this kind of a phenomenon based learning unit and that after that you are thinking about it, what came out of it, even though nothing, no productive came out, but I’m sure that there was more joy and more creative things.

Ilona (41m 29s): And the students were able to learn how to learn and that it will help, you know, the rest of the year as well.

Ti-Fen (41m 36s): Yeah. Wonderful. So to you personally, what is your core value in teaching and learning or education?

Ilona (41m 46s): Well, I think I’ve, I’ve, I’ve said quite a lot already. And, and my, my core value is, is that the students are in the school in order to become, you know, active citizens. And what kind of active said, active citizens. We ha we need in our society are the kind of student, you know, S see the sense that, that have an understanding how the world works and can be critical about things, because what was really concerning for me in the, in the last piece of results of the always CD is that one out of 10 of the eighth graders were able to actually distinguish between fact and fiction and a, you know, kind of fake.

Ilona (42m 36s): And in fact, that is something that if you are more critical and if you do research and you are, you’re able to understand that there is that you are able to also manipulate information, you’re able to even yourself go into Wikipedia, right? It that’s something that I’ve done also with my students. Sometimes they go themselves or write it, not only to take it, but they go on, you know, log in the thing is that we need curious minds, we need critical minds, and we need people who are able to build us sustainable future.

Ilona (43m 11s): So that is something that is really, really, you know, school is, is an education is in a, kind of a critical role of what kind of a society and a world we are, we are building.

Ti-Fen (43m 22s): So if people wants to learn more about your work, how they can find you online,

Ilona (43m 29s): Well, they can find me, for example, is Helsinki So our website, and then my email is, is also Ilana dot time, a lot at, and So that’s very easy to, to then contact me or, you know, some people have also contact me through Twitter or Facebook messenger or different. So I’m in a different on LinkedIn. So, yeah.

Ti-Fen (43m 57s): Okay. I will make sure they are on including in the shirt show now, so people can find you and also go to your Helsinki education consulting group, to know more about the word shop around. Not only phenomenon based learning but other great materials. All right. Thank you so much. You will now thank you for listening. We will put the things mentioned in the interview to the show notes. If you enjoy our show, welcome to share and don’t forget to subscribe.

#14 如何打造學生為中心的教室 -Maarit Rossi

Maarit Rossi曾是芬蘭數學老師兼校長。她是 2016年全球教師獎十大決賽入圍者之一。 Maarit相信數學不是無聊的而是令人興奮的和有意義的。她的學生經常在課堂外學習,採用創新的方法解決現實生活中的問題。


除了為世界各地的老師講課和培訓外,她還是“數學之路”的CEO。 “路徑到數學”是一個電子學習數學的材料,幫助教師建立一個創新的,具有挑戰性的和以學生為中心的學習環境,為年級6到9 


Acast | 蘋果播客| Google播客 | Spotify | 針腳 |YouTube



  • 您有什麼利用生活例子結合教學的活動嗎? 例如請學生計算每天自己的廢物量。
  • 您在課堂上有進行的任何活動使學生能夠移動和交談嗎?


  • 請您的學生畫您所教的科目課,從此了解他們對您的授課感受?
  • 如果您的學生有學習檔案,試著與他們進行1-1對話以更深入地了解他們的學習。例如,可以問學生最喜歡的項目是什麼且為什麼? 

Transcript #12 Rebecca Chambers: Unlearning Journey and Social Change Makers

Ti-Fen: Hi everyone welcome to compass teachers show. I’m your host Ti-Fen. My job is to interview teachers around the world and tease out their teaching tactics and education research work. Hopefully this show can offers ideas for you to experiments in your classroom.

Ti-Fen: Today our amazing guests is Rebecca Chambers. Rebecca is a high school teacher in Ottawa, Ontario Canada. Her goal as a teacher was to make the classroom a place where students could feel good about who they were gained self confidence and you know why she cared about them. She also wanted to make it a place where students were engaging to get out of their seats to learn the material. She is the founder of unlearning academy an online community connecting schools for the next generation of social change makers. Today I’m really excited to talk with Rebecca and learng more her unlearning journey.

Ti-Fen: Rebecca, thank you for coming to our show.

Rebecca: Thank you so much for having me.

Ti-Fen: So I learned that when you started teaching you followed very traditional ways of teaching. In 2011, Sir Ken Robinson’s really popular ted talk “Do schools kill creativity” changed you. Why and how the Sir Ken Robinson’s talk inspired you?

Rebecca: That’s a really good question and it is a question I get a lot. And I’ve kind of gone through and really thought about this this question. I have to say that definitely. In the beginning teaching in a very traditional manner I started in 2003 and I got into teaching I think for for different reasons and some teachers I was not a fantastic student and I did not one of my high school experience there were things about it that I did log but but looking back I’ll win this looking at the school part. I always you know I did okay I did fine. But I always kind of wanted to do things my own way and that just never really fit in the box it was that’s nice that’s a great idea but that’s not what we’re looking for. So I also I think as I went through high school I struggled a little bit and never really felt as though I was smart and I I’m doing air quotes because you know what we define as smart in traditional school is not my definition of smart anymore. Anyway so when I got into teaching I really felt as though right from the get go I wanted to change things for students like myself/. I want like it says in my right up there I really wanted to focus on you know that relationship peace and confidence building because my philosophy at the beginning was if I can make somebody feel good about who they are and what they bring to the world. Then I think I’ve done my job but but I did I did really I deliver my material in a very traditional way because that’s that’s what I knew when I when I went through teachers college that’s what I you know prepared. Anyway so I try to make things a little bit more entertaining and to like it says get get us out of our seats and moving around but then I did see Sir Ken Robinson’s Ted talk and it really was I I would have to say my aha moment where it was the first time that somebody was saying out loud I think everything that I had been feeling but didn’t even realize it. And when I saw it I just said all right you know what enough is enough what I’m doing right now is is really not helping the students not preparing them as as I’m supposed to be for for the world but they’re going to live in and so it was at that point it was a huge pivot. I started to do all kinds of research you know look into obviously Sir Ken Robinson and it just kind of snowballed from there and and I just found so many amazing progressive educators from around the world I joined Twitter which was was transformative gave me the opportunity to connect with people from all over the world and see what they were doing and then I just started to change the way that that I did things in my classroom.

Ti-Fen: Great yeah I really love how do you get your learnings into actions. So since then you started the unlearning with us movement. I’m curious about how a unlearning process look like your own journey ?

Rebecca: Yeah so that’s where I would start talking about. There is it really opened my eyes to the fact that I can no longer stand at the front and be the keeper of all knowledge. So that was in 2011 and obviously you know technology has changed dramatically you know from when I was in high school but even in my own career you know when I started 2003 I remember using web quests and they were really cool. Like the kids could go on and you know all these different things online and and took you through this quest and that was cool but that was kind of the technology that that was there and just how everything progressed so quickly. I too needed to sort of really dive into what what kind of way can I progress in my own classroom and I came across educators like Alan November. He was kind of in the beginning. I also had a an amazing not but he was my superintendent and time but I had had the opportunity to attend the conference within our board called lead the way. And Peter Gamwell was a superintendent in our board. And he spoke and it really resonated with me and his focus he’s written a book in the last little while called the Wonderwall and it’s all about you know finding the brilliance and every child and and helping them just pursue what they want to be learning and and using not brilliance. So yeah so it was just this it was it was bouncing from one educator to the next to the next looking at you know progressive schools around the world there was something I came across in Massachusetts I was called the independent school where the kids had read a school within a school. And so I really jumped into that night tried some things out in my classroom and I Max out worlds I came across another school called Iowa big and really loved what they were doing. I visited a private school here in in Ottawa called blue sky high school and another educator from our board who had kind of branched out and decided to open up her own school and really got a lot of information out through what she was doing. And yeah and every time I kind of came across someone I would you know contact them and have conversations and then I would come back and I mean there’s a group of students who now are in their second year out of high school and it definitely call them my Guinea pigs because they never knew what was coming next. We were always experimenting with something some new way of learning and some new way of connecting with community and and I’m all those things and it was just so the I’m learning process for me was the reading and that the gradual release of what are you under understood school to be armed and real really reimagining what I wanted it to look like by you know taking snippets from all these different people that I had come across.

Ti-Fen: I see that sounds lots of effort. t I think we can get deeper to know how the teacher can start. but before we doing that I’m curious about what did you see the transformation in your students before and after the unlearning process? If there’s a story that you can share that will be great as you can give us a deeper understanding of that.

Rebecca:  Yeah I think so for people to understand what it is that I do is I moved away from we’re all going to do this too what do you want to do and how can I support you individually and so seeing that shift our I mean one of the biggest things was you know when you’re teaching thirty kids I can pick out whatever I think is the most interesting thing from that the curriculum and as I teach those different sort of snippets in in the curriculum you know.   You might have for five kids out of that thirty that are really interested in that particular topic and then you move on to another one and then maybe have a different or five that are interested in that specific topic and so then you have like three quarters of your class there just kind of going through the motions. So making that transformation for more about personalized learning experience not that I would say that everyone was a hundred percent engaged in my classes when I made the switch but it was kind of the first time ever where they were all getting the opportunity to really dive into things that that they really were more interested in in the curriculum while you know maybe I’m learning you know.   I taught grade ten history and maybe I’m really into warfare and I want to dive really deep into that but maybe the person beside me really wants to learn about women’s rights and then the person beside that wants to look at other social justice movements and you know it was just it was really interesting to sit to watch them really get to have the opportunity to to learn the curriculum but in a way that are they were more engaged because they wanted to dive further into a specific topic.   I may still have the opportunity to also learn the other stuff that I would’ve taught because the person beside them was doing something and there were a lot of great conversations about curriculum that I as the teacher wasn’t expert anymore.  There were different people in the room who became the experts and they would share different things.   Yeah I mean I do are you I have lots of different examples of kids.  One specifically how I don’t even know which one to pick.  One students  really didn’t yeah one student really didn’t love school and I had the opportunity to teach him first three years in a row and I when I work with my students in the beginning they’re very confused at you know when I asked the man green can you know okay well what is it that you want to learn it what are you passionate about what do you care about.   And often it’s just like wow I don’t know I’ve never been asked that I had and just tell me what I should be learning.  So I teach the social sciences and so this this boy for his entire three years studying he was with me he really delve deeper into the education system  and so it didn’t matter what course he was he was taking he was a huge advocate for the fact that you know you could be learning in so many different places. But unfortunately we don’t value all types of learning. He was a self taught hobby mechanic and there are between the ages of grade ten to grade twelve. He bought and sold cars, dirt bikes and snowmobiles side by side that he would go on YouTube and learn how to fix some and data and then sell them.   And he was making money doing that and you know often he was holding classes that he wasn’t a great student and you know he wouldn’t be going anywhere and I mean I saw this young man who loves learning  but just in a totally different way in using different scales.  But one of the coolest things for for him was that I was asked to speak at our a PD day  for all the English teachers in our in our board and he came and was so passionate about this topic and had done so much research on that he came and beat he was my co presenter  and he spoke to you know a couple hundred English teachers and and gave his perspective and really opened up the eyes of a lot of people thought was really cool to watch this kid who had kind of been deemed a really bad students are getting up in front of all of these people and and data sharing his knowledge and his experience.   

Ti-Fen: So if a teacher wants to start an unlearning journey, how can they take the first step ? And I believe that you have lots of stumbles before in your experience.  What advice would you give teachers so that they can start out more smoothly?

Rebecca: Yeah I think there’s two big things like the first is that you have to have an open mind.  You have to and this isn’t going to happen overnight.  That’s definitely something that you need to understand because even myself, somebody who got into teaching already knowing that they wanted to change things.  It still took me a while to move away from where we really were. There was this ingrained feeling that if I don’t give a task then I’m not a good teacher.   So I think it’s sort of having that open mind finding those other people who are doing things differently and and lifting and listening  often educators are not necessarily open to listening to new ways of doing things so that would be sort of my first advice.   The second thing is kind of going back to that this isn’t going to happen overnight  my learning journey I think I you know I’ve been teaching for seventeen years I think it’s been ongoing since day one and I think it’s going to continue until I’m mall arcade I see myself as a lifelong learner.   So I think it’s going to continue for a long time  but just try something you know you don’t have to overnight. This teacher where you know you’re doing a hundred percent passion based are individualized projects because that is extremely overwhelming.   But the way I did it with each year it just kind of I got inspiration and I tried one thing out around on all the other stuff that I knew that I was comfortable with.   And it’s also for the kids too because you can’t just throw it at them right away because they’re so used to sort of the traditional way  but if you can take one thing and try it out that to me would be thirty years your starting point  and as you as you go through it I understand and be okay with failure  because it’s not all going to work.  It’s not all going to be perfect  but you won’t know unless you try.

Ti-Fen: So Rebecca.  I believe you have tried lots of different teaching methods but so what are the few of the ways you try that you found really useful

Rebecca:. Like I said the traditional sort of deliver material all the students do you know a project or task I do lessons  and that I mean that is what teachers know how to do  but I revolved into this  I guess you could say a 100%  passion based project  classroom and it has again been trial and error on how to because this is so different.   I don’t collect thirty papers or thirty tests or thirty assignments and then go home and marked down and then hand them back you know because that was kind of the routine that’s what what I know.   And that’s what most teachers now so now I’m more of a project manager and I’ve had to have conversations with friends of mine who are actual project managers and  you know the government and so  it’s it’s been a learning process and it’s not finished  but I’ve found ways effective ways to give feedback are using Google forms.   You know the one on one conversations are so valuable  but you still have to be able to document stuff and  making this transition to at home learning in the online learning the hacks really really helped for me because I could record our sessions and then I would have a feedback.   But yeah it’s I don’t know that like with what I’m doing I don’t have an easy answer.

Ti-Fen:  Yes I hear some key components there’s more frequent feedback from Google doc you know one to one conversation and then there’s an online they’re needed for home learning. So that’s really great.  And then you have a program called social change maker.  Would you mind telling us more about how you came up with this program and what kids do through these programs ?

Rebecca: Sure I’m up to very excited about it  so when we we hear in our while we were told that we would be going back to school in March  I have a daughter who is twelve and a daughter who is eight and die out you know we started the at home learning and her teacher although both of their teachers are phenomenal and we’re sending stuff home  and they had the meetings  but my kids were just really not engaged and so  I had actually thought about offering the social change maker program  right in our local community center sort of been face to face  before this all happens  so obviously the face to face couldn’t happen and just in talking to some friends and my sister you know she’s got young kids and whatever I said you know what happened I did this you know online what if I offered an online but anybody and be interested and so it just kind of started from there and we ran a ten week program are from April to June  where I had kids from Ontario come back and  England and Scotland in the program we had twenty one kids and the whole concept behind the social change maker program is very similar to what I’ve done in the past I’ve created what I call the social change maker model  where are the kids learn about their strength there are what motivate some  what they’re passionate about are you introduce them to the United Nations sustainable development goals where we sort of Delvin and look at different issues that are you know throughout the world but also  it right here in our own communities we invite people who are trying to do things to help with their their Esty jeans  so we have a lot of not for profit to come in and share what they’re doing  and die and tell us all about that and then from there the kids are connect with  not for profit organizations or come up with their passion about and we learn to create solutions that we take action  so  right now so we finished that first what program it with ten weeks and right now we’re just kind of coming to the tail end of the second program  and we have to move really really cool projects happening we’ve got two different video series that go on one of the mental health one about the LGBTQ plus community  and then we have two other projects that are really dealing with anti racism  one where boys are using minecraft where they’re gonna hold a virtual March  and  people are gonna March part by different historical protest  no relating to civil right and then there are another group of girls who are hockey players are trying to get a a movement going where  they look at racism in hockey  so it’s really really exciting were you know connected to lots of different people in the community and  like I said they work with not for profit organizations  yeah and the kids the kids in the program are that I’m working with are between the ages of eleven and fourteen  but then we also offer a program for younger kids my youngest daughter is in it  and that’s ages seven to nine are where they’re not working on quite as big projects they have a theme each week and they do a little action by the end of the week to help that particular team R. as a group  and so yeah so what’s going on and  in the fall  I know that that you had said I was the founder of on learning how to me but we’re just right now going through  a a re brands and yeah yeah and Donald we are now called the rise academy and are we I’m going to be offering high school credits are for Ontario students in September.

Ti-Fen:  That’s great I am curious about you mentioned lots of great projects that the kids can do in social change maker  so how do you help them to define the outcome they want because I feel like it’s a big problem and that they want to solve social issues and it might be hard to get for it so I’m curious how did you guide throughout this process?

Rebecca:  Yes so this is where  how do you know what it is like a backwards sort of model of of of providing instructions for for students right so in a traditional classroom you know teachers create assignments and then it says you know goal tasks are maybe there’s the rubric all that sort of thing and they handed to the kids in the your your stop this is what you have to do so  are what happens in our social Changemaker program is  all right we go through the whole process of you know what do you care about what are you good at  and what motivates you and from there we look at I’m not an issue and we think okay well how can we pair those things together so like I said I have this group of boys who love mine crafting and they’re great at it and died so then from there and then we say okay well what issue do you want to tackle and they they were really you know upset about everything happening are in the media  and and in our world related to racism  and so then we connected with  a gentleman by the name of James Delaney who is on the board of an organization called block by block are they use minecraft to help  it’s different our places in the world that have  poverty and they don’t have green space and anyway long story short they used minecraft to rebuild these areas and so  we we set up meetings with the kids and with these people and we brainstorm and we come up with okay what do you want to do how do you want to do it what is your end goal and so from there as we do that I as the teacher sit down and I take my notes and I listen to what they say and you know give suggestions and then we together co create their to do lists and each week we meet up at least once if not twice the sort of check in when you get done what do we do like what our next steps do we need another meeting  and so it’s just sort of like planning an event but we do it together and and I provide them with instructions that like you said I was a kid they may not think of certain things or they may not  I know exactly what to do or where to go and that’s my job is to meet with them and to make sure that they they know what to do.

Ti-Fen:  Wonderful so last few questions is there any groups that influenced a lot around you’re thinking ? It doesn’t need to be any books that are relevant to teaching but just in general that affect your own thinking process ?

Rebecca: Yeah I where do I begin so  I’ve got a I’ve got a bookshelf of these but I would say  I mentioned Peter down while he’s written the Wonderwall I he’s he’s written not specifically for  you know for educators but also for business  I haven’t meant mentioned this gentleman yet who has really really shaped a lot of what I’ve done but his name is don what track and he is in Indiana  he’s written a book called pure genius and at I mean it’s it’s worth my road map to to sort of where I am today  anything by Seth Godin  I love his books there shortened to the point and  I follow his blog very very  very good  there some other authors here like I said there’s a local author her name is Jennifer kasa Todd  and she’s written a book called social media because that is something else that are a huge part of what what I do is are teaching the kids how to connect and to use social media in a in a positive and a professional way  dot has really influenced and you know what I mean I’ve definitely jumped on the grenade brown bandwagon our anything that she has to say I love  all about you know taking risks and and being vulnerable and  I think that’s really really important as an educator who’s willing to to make changes is that they need to be ready to be vulnerable and open themselves up and letting people know that I’m trying this I’m not perfect  that’s true yeah yeah I guess I could there’s so many different yeah that’s L.

Ti-Fen: Yeah I think that should be a really great list for now so before we close up,  do you have any other thoughts, programs or workshops you want to share with our listeners ?

Rebecca:  I think that when you when you had sent me the questions one of the questions with advice for new teachers  and I would I would love I would love for new teachers zero and I know it’s scary going in but try like right from the beginning try something new try something that scares you  and and for  you know a veteran teacher same thing I I write a blog which I haven’t written in awhile what are I have taken an Eleanor Roosevelt quote unquote and it’s sad do one thing every day that scares you.

Ti-Fen: And I think that’s really really good advice to live by that’s really really great so if people want to learn more about your work how they can find you online? 

Rebecca: Yeah I saw on Twitter online Mrs R. chambers and I just started up our rise academy  social media so you can find us on our Twitter and Instagram and its rise academy twenty twenty  if they want to hear more about  the different programs that we have that’s great as I know there’s a social change maker program any other programs that  you want to bring up are just E. R. in September were it’s it’s going to be our rights academy the high school level  it doesn’t have a special name maybe I should give her a special ring I’m there’s their commercial change makers to but there are there different courses our social science courses from  the Ontario curriculum so they can get credits that go towards their Ontario secondary school diploma  but then that will be I’m just we’re just about  we’re close to launching our website and  we ride the county dot CA they can call as they are.

Ti-Fen: Yeah thank you so much Rebekah for sharing your great were with us today.

Rebecca: Thank you so much for having me really appreciate it.

Ti-Fen: Thank you for listening we will put the things mentioned interfere to the show notes if you enjoy our show will come to share thank you

Transcript #11 Dr. Jennifer Pieratt: Demystify Project Based Learning and Beyond

Ti-Fen: Hi everyone. Welcome to compass teachers show I’m your host Ti-Fen. My job is to interview teachers around the world and tease out their teaching tactics, education research work towards the use. Hopefully this show can offers ideas for you to experiments in your classroom.

Ti-Fen: In this episode,  we are going to deep dive into Project Based Learning or PBL. Project-based learning  is a pedagogy in which students learn by actively engaging in real-world and personally meaningful projects. And today our guest Dr. Jennifer Pieratt is a well known expert of it. Jenny holds a PhD in Educational Philosophy, with an emphasis in Project Based Learning. She is an accomplished author and sought-after speaker on the topic of PBL. Previously Jenny was a classroom teacher at High Tech High, an organization that operates sixteen schools in San Diego County. She is also a former School Development Coach for New Tech Network and National Faculty at Buck Institute for Education.   
Jenny is the Founder of CraftED and is doing tons of coaching and consulting to administrators and teachers across the US and abroad.   Please enjoy our conversation today.

Ti-Fen: Jenny thanks for coming to our show.

Jenny: Thank you so much for having me.

Ti-Fen: So there’s that Jenny your first practical experience with PBL is in high tech high. What is your first experience with PBL look like? Any frustration or struggles from it.

Jenny: I’m so I can I can I think of two different things I guess when we talk about my very first experience so it might my very very first experience like my first day on the job was planning with my partner teacher and he was so incredibly patient with me when I look back on it and it was very foreign to me working with someone on my lesson planning/ I just you know prior to that experience being a high tech high head always just kind of worked in isolation. So I think that was my very first experience of project based learning was actually a collaborative one and I think that really speaks to kind of what my work even looks like today. And then the second kind of first experience was as a teacher so my very first project that I ever ran as a classroom teacher at high tech high which was a complete disaster was awful like it like we’re talking like sometime to design projects in there you can refine it and make them better and sometimes you just shouldn’t jump ship and never run again and it was definitely the latter. It just it was a mess and it’s you know I think everybody’s first experience is a little bit messy but that one definitely was flawed in that it it lacks the really important foundational pieces that I now and dad and my practice and supporting teachers to be sure that they don’t ever have that kind of a disaster again.

Ti-Fen: So can you give us one of the example why it is a disaster for you for that at the first time.

Jenny: Yeah I saw it was hot meat so that there’s a pretty extensive onboarding experience at high tech high they called the Odyssey and it’s like a month long experience of just understanding what PBL is and how to how to plan it into selected it but it’s it’s very much. It is an autonomous process high tech high so like there isn’t one standard way to design a project everybody has a different way to do it. And I think for me I was trying to be so drastically different from how I had talked previously in a private traditional school that I left out some important best practices so for example I didn’t know what benchmarking a project wise I don’t know how to build and benchmarks which means that I also wasn’t formidably assessing. So I did know that it was important to have an authentic audience so I had an opinion all the experts come in to view these students presentations at the very end of the project and while the students were doing a presentation I was sitting in the back of the classroom behind the panel and I just I was so embarrassed because I realized it was the first time I was assessing my students content mastery and they haven’t mastered the content yet. They were presenting in front of this expert panel into that was really my first kind of running with wow I need to do a better job of assessing them along the way. And bench marking up the project so that I can scaffold the learning and be sure that they’re getting where they need to be boss for the end of the project.

Ti-Fen: This leads to my question because you mentioned we have different definition of PBL. So what are the key components in PBL for you and how do you define PBL?

Jenny: Yeah and this is different for everybody everyone has their own working definition and you know if we look at historically the roots of project based learning it’s it’s evolved and changed over time so for me my definition comes from my own experience in the field working alongside teachers. And the reality is that they’re in right now so my definition right now isn’t even the same as what my definition when it banned fifteen years ago when I was in the classroom so you know what I found working with teachers is that there is this need to teach standard. That’s right I think we can’t avoid those standards or something that’s that’s just part of what we have to cover so for me the very first non negotiable of PBL is that it has to be rooted in standards. So it has to be content that you’re you know the expectations that you’re teaching and students are learning at rooted in standards. Secondly that another non negotiable for me would be that there’s best practices of formative assessment embedded throughout the project. So I’m you know what we know is productive for students in terms of giving them feedback and reflecting and growing and learning all those best practices need to show up in the benchmarks and the way we’re designing project. Third is that there needs to be some real world connections so you know this element of authenticity is critical especially right now for kids but we need to really think about how to contextualize the standards into a real world applications and that children understand why they’re learning what they’re learning and what it has to do with the world around them. And then you know that that the fourth piece to that is that there needs to be some twenty first century skills embedded in the project and that those twenty first century skills are explicitly being scaffold in an assassin just like the content and alongside the content so when I say twenty first century skills I mean things like collaboration oral communication agency those things are equally as important as the content. And and in many ways that’s how students access the content so we need to be sure that we’re setting the projects up in a way that you’re going to develop those those skills just as much as we would develop the content that students need to learn through the standards.

Ti-Fen: Got it. So would you mind giving us a PBL example that we can know how the PBL look like in classrooms?

Jenny: Yeah I’m gonna give you two because I think you know classrooms right now look very different than they did wind sprints because the covid-19. Yeah yeah so I think I am one of my favorite projects and actually I can share with you if you want to include in that show notes

Ti-Fen: Yeah that would be great.

Jenny: is one that I shared on a on a podcast I did for cult of pedagogy and it’s it’s this project it’s called silent voices and it’s about all of the voices that we don’t read in history books in particular as it related to the American revolution and it wasn’t that great project and I just I loved it for a lot of reasons but namely just let you know when I was working on the project and we were dreaming it up for kids it was like how I can’t believe fifth graders are going to do this like this is why you know we things we kind of start to learn about in college but we should have learned earlier. And the way that we set it up made it so accessible and relatable for kids and I think it just was a testament to what kids can really do when you set them up and and set them up for him and believe that they that they can so that’s why my favorite example not that examples also featured in my my elementary but keep it real PBL. Another example that I can share with you and you know one for for more of a virtual settings so I’ve been talking a lot recently about PBL lite which is a modified version ad might be offering marks a rather than being ten steps to planning and facilitating it’s only five. I’m concerned example as a virtual project and I recently designed was having students write a who would win story and so I’m not sure if you’re familiar you’re elementary audience might be familiar with this book series but it’s a series of informational kind style text about two animals that would never normally battling nature but the book put and together and it gives you all the statistics about each of them and then it says if they were to go to battle who would win. And so I had students right I can use this as a model to write their own book about it can be any two things I want to compare so to famous athletes you know to data scientists are too well known artists so if they were to kind of battle each other in whatever setting that might look like who would win. And so there is a lot of researching involved interviewing involved and then they ended up going to the entire writing production kind of time line and actually publishing a book and sharing in a virtual author and then at the end with a with a wide audience.

Ti-Fen: Got it that’s really interesting so actually Jenny you mentioned about benchmark and that’s the piece I’m really interesting too because when I was reading your work. Why group grades are discouraged and if there’s any example with project benchmarks that you can provide for the listeners to understand or how do you do benchmarks.

Jenny: Yeah okay. So there’s I think there’s two questions. So the first one being about collaboration young group grades so it’s a big no no for me because when students are working together it is very difficult to know what individual students understand no because issues of status and equity show up when we work in groups. If we are not very careful to include strict protocols that do things like take down those barriers of power and privilege. It show up in group work so you know what I mean by that is if you have a student saying who’s the second second language learner their comfort with speaking in a group is is going to likely be lower than that another student and so we might not hear from that first student and so how would we know what they know. And so if the group turns in a final product altogether, we can’t just assume that everyone knows and contributed the same thing that final product. So I encourage teachers to assess students collaboration skills how are they working together in a group rather than what did they know as a group because that’s very difficult to be able to say without individually assessing each child. So you know so that that’s kind of the first piece of that question. The second piece about benchmarking is is and people not everybody like that me saying word benchmarking so if you don’t like that word I would say you could all it’s synonymous with milestones or phases of a project. I’m really what it is is just taking your your end in mind your final product and working backwards and breaking it down into smaller chunks phases milestones benchmarks whatever you wanna call it. I want to make the project more digestible for everybody so it’s just setting. If you’re an industry it’s just like project management right how do we take the whole and break it down into parts so that we can get to the whole. I’m in and tied to each benchmark are within each benchmark is where you find your daily lesson plans in your scaffolding and then tied to each of those benchmarks is a deliverable that is permanently assessed and this is really getting stance opportunity to you know engaging assessment for learning rather than assessment of learning because we’re giving them feedback and applying them to grow and develop throughout this process rather than just waiting till the end. And greeting when it’s all over there’s no opportunity then for them to give it another try or to apply that feedback to the next phase of their learning.

Ti-Fen: Great. So how often do you thing a teacher should do the bench mark throughout the project?

Jenny: So typically there anywhere from three to five benchmarks on the project it just depends on how many standards are covering and you know how robust a project is obviously gonna dictate how much you need to break it down. So that the smaller project you know that’s a running through four weeks you’re piling and have like three benchmarks if it’s a much bigger project. You know maybe closer to six weeks and you would have something more like five or six.

Ti-Fen: What are the misconceptions of PBL that you always need to demystify for teachers ?

Jenny: Yeah there’s a lot and I can also include a piece that I read on this it’s called myth busting project based learning and it’s the five top misconceptions. So we’ve already had on a few of them one of them is that everything should be collaborative right. So I I try to kind of bust that myth right out the gate and just say that it you know if it makes sense for students to be working in a group and it’s a task that truly necessitates collaboration great. If it’s not then save it for something else. Not everything has to be in a group another misconception that we’ve already kind of hit on is that there is an assessment or standards in projects very much at the forefront of the design. Another question I get a lot is about you know kind of what we call voice in choice. So this idea that everything is student driven and there’s a really big misunderstanding to that. And that teachers think okay well if it’s student driven and I don’t really have a place in that so I just kind of sit back and make they take it wherever they want right. And the answer is no. Actually you know for me voice in choices. Yes, we give students choice you know maybe it’s they have three different options and final products or they have a voice and you know the content that they want to research as related to the driving question of the project. But it by no means means that the teacher isn’t still putting those guard rails on student learning and still guiding them in directions to be sure that they are learning what they need to be learning. So I think those are private the top ones that I find myself addressing most often.

Ti-Fen: I sometimes I heard that teachers found hard to do PBL because of their collaboration with different subject teachers. Do you have any advice for a cross subject collaboration because I can imagine teachers might have different opinions on what are the most important things to learn?

Jenny: Yeah it is hard and I think part of that I’m I’m going through yoga teacher training right now so I’ve been learning a lot about the ego to yeah the ego like doing an ego check is is first and foremost probably what teachers into doing their cleaning together. But then after that I would say what I’d normally recommend for teachers is to use what I call the driving standards when you’re starting out with your project designing and driving standards are social studies and science and I recommend those two because it doesn’t mean that the others are important so I’ll just say that but I recommend those to you because the way that they’re written tends to provide a really nice context or seen that the other content areas can really easily support. So that that’s going to make my big first piece of advice if you’re if you’re you know collaborating with another teacher. Make sure that one of those content areas as part of the conversation and let them throw out there their main ideas of their standards and then the other teachers can start thinking about how they can fit inside of that.

Ti-Fen: Great so what is the feedback you got from teachers that used PBL. giving your coaching and see the transformation for their students learning?

Jenny: It depends every teachers different in every context is different you know sometimes it takes sometimes like you know the early adopters they’ll do it once and then it’s like they want to turn everything in the classroom in the PBL. Because it’s so wonderful and they have this one you know this great positive experience with their kids. Other teachers it takes awhile and they they aren’t what we would call the early adopters they’re they’re a little more skeptical of it you know. What I’ve found with those teachers is that like 99 percent of time they didn’t do the project plan was a deli so we’ll we’ll put the project plan in place and will make the calendar will make all the assessment pieces and what will happen is they’re all saying not use the rubric or they didn’t formative reassess and so they’re they’re frustrated with the outcome. I’m yet to meet somebody who actually did the whole plan that we put together and was unhappy with it but I’d like to just kind of fall into one of those two camps and if they’re a little apprehensive about it takes them doing it a couple times to kind of get there but usually once once they run through a few projects it it’s really rare that a teacher you know I would tell you that it wasn’t worth their time so if a teacher wants to try out PBL.

Ti-Fen: how they can take their first step or use your craft-curricula service?

Jenny: I have a very layered approach to project planning and and that’s really intentional because I feel like you kind of just seen a dip your toe in a little bit and then layer up from there so one of the categories on my blog and your resources is called getting started with PBL. So it’s much more about like making small ships and just kind of the brainstorming process and coming up with ideas or analyzing models of existing projects and modifying those and then from there I kinda layer up to okay now design your own project this is also the way my book is written in this kind of progression/ You know now write your own project and then the next layer would be okay reflecting refined not project and apply what you learn from that project to designing a second project and then once you’re feeling ready now start diving into more of the nuances of PBL. So now you’ve got this project that you friend you can kind of be set up with you know doing an exhibition in the community in front of an authentic audience really engaging and fieldwork in getting students out into the field collecting data bringing experts and wanting your project in a way that is really engaging and exciting for students those to me are all much more like I mentioned before nuances. There are more advanced kind of approaches to designing projects and that’s also kind of bring my blog which is advanced tests for PBL. I might eat courses are set up in this way in the book chapters around this progression because I really feel like I I ran those trainings for companies where it was a 48 training and we taught them everything they need to know in 40 hours and they I would see tears coming down teacher spaces halfway through the week. It just it was too much for them all at once so when I set out to start my own company and I come with my own framework I kept it is the planning for. As one page there’s no staple and I kept all my resources in this layered approach because I really feel that teachers need to get in and roll their sleeves up and try it and then there need to know is are much more driven by authentic need to numbers things. That okay they’ve done it they’ve tried it gosh that you know that group work didn’t really go great like how do I think about getting better at fostering collaboration in my classroom. Those to me then feel like much more of an organic time to talk about okay yeah how do we do that now. So there’s layers I would say to getting started. So just get in and kind of start connecting with people on social media that hash tag PBL chat is really great on Twitter to just see where other PBL teachers are doing. And it just kind of start wrapping your mind around what it is and what it could look like for you in your classroom what is the piece of advice you would give to you who once you try out PBL. So right now I know that it can still really overwhelming to teachers given that so many different places are doing teaching and learning differently this fall. So I would say for right now given our current context in the pandemic that were and I would say to rethink maybe how you understand beyond the past I’ve been doing a lot of resource creation and blogging and writing on this idea of PBL lite so I’m much more condensed and modified version of PBL. So I think if a teacher you know is thinking about it don’t don’t get hung up on what it spent in the past you know trying to think about how it could be a screening for you to create just meaningful learning experiences for for students and whatever you’re setting isn’t all.

Ti-Fen: Wonderful I believe our listeners can get the great sense of PBL to apply into their teaching and last few questions I want to touch on: except for your the books, are there any other books that you recommend the most?

Jenny: I’m you know I’m not really so much about what I read for my own pleasure but in terms of work I like to use links and articles because I feel like they’re much more real time and more practical not theoretical. So I’m I have different channels on social media for different purposes I do most of my learning through Twitter so I mean there are some incredible minds you know one of my favorites to follow it’s cult of the pedagogy. There’s just there’s so many wonderful resources that feel very practical right now so that’s actually where I do them the most of my learning. Yeah I have a few Jo Boaler books so I love her work leaders in their own learning and an ethic of excellence Ron Berger would be I guess my other favorites and then designing group work by Colin. I would probably be my others have been my most formative in my work.

Ti-Fen: Great. Jenny you mentioned about you used Twitter to learn a lot or to get lots of way new information. So is there any educators work you are following the most recently?

Jenny: Yeah yeah the one I mentioned the cult of pedagogy and Jan Gonzales first to everything that she puts out she’s so thoughtful about what she points out that it’s everyone of them is guaranteed to be something that I find useful. And then I’ve actually been creating a growing Google documents that’s just a curation of resources on virtual learning sense covert school closures so those are all I can share that with you as well everyone of the links that are on there I have gone through and read and kind of put my stamp of approval on. So I think that would be the best examples that I could share would just be sharing that Google document with your audience.

Ti-Fen: So what is the worst advice you were given when you were a baby teacher ?

Jenny: yeah I’ve been thinking about that question since you can ensure that one in advance and I don’t I can’t come up with any and I think that’s because even if there was bad advice it’s also something you can learn from. You know I think one of the most important things that any teacher but if PBL teacher in particular needs to be able to do is just to be either a flat and so every day every lesson every student was okay how could I have done that better and so I think you know even if that wasn’t great advice I’ve forgotten about it but you know I learned from it and I still continue to learn every day in this work which is what I think is so great about PBL. You never really arrived.

Ti-Fen: Great before we close up, do you have anything else you want to share with our listeners and if they want to learn more about your work and how they can find you online?

Jenny: Yeah I am I’m very active on social media so my handles @crafted_jenny and every day I try to post material that is useful to teachers parents and school leaders so it’s anything from a project idea to a planning form to you great articles to support teachers. I’m just really practical tips and tools on there so I would say that that’s probably the best place to to keep learning and growing. And then I’m the others my blog so that’s it and you’ll see under the resource tab that there are a lot of different resources you can search projects by elementary secondary level or whatever level you’re at with your own PBL journey whether you’re getting started or more advanced. I I try to update that a few times a week with just new content so I would say those are quite two great places to get started.

Ti-Fen: Great I will make sure their own in our show notes. So thank you so much Jenny for sharing with us today.

Jenny: Thank you so much for having me.

Transcript: #6 Elizabeth Peterson – Social Emotional Artistic Learning, Art in Distance Learning and Teacher Self Care

Ti-Fen: Hello everyone. Welcome to compass teacher show. I’m your host Ti-Fen. Today my guest is Elizabeth Peterson. Elizabeth is an arts integration experts. She founded The Inspired Classroom which provides inspiration to other educators for art integration through informative articles, workshops and professional development opportunities. She’s also the author of two books, Inspired by Listening and Studio Days. Inspired by Listening is a teacher resource book that includes method of music integration she has developed and implemented into her own classroom. And studio days is filled with information and Common Core aligned lesson plans for bringing creativity into the classroom. Elizabeth prides herself in teaching workshops and courses on the integration of the arts into the curriculum and is the host of the annual summer and winter Teacher Art Retreats. She believes there’s a love of acting integrating learning all children and from their enthusiasm, teachers can shape great opportunities to learn.


Ti-Fen: Welcome to our show, Elizabeth. I’m so excited with our conversation today since I am very interested in SEL and it is very important part in education. You have developed SEAL which is an acronym for Social and Emotional Artistic Learning. Before we dive into the topic, I wonder how this music and art come to your life and how does it influence the way you see this world?

Elizabeth: Excellent. Yeah. I’m so excited to have this conversation with you I think it’s so so important and so for me music played a part in my life since I was a little girl. I started piano lessons <noise> and I continued all the way through college and majored in music and it just the entire time whether it was me playing on the piano or learning the or again or you know just listening to the latest pop or rock songs it just always affected me and it really played to my emotions so much throughout my life. I mean. There were times in my life that I would turn to songs and turned to music to you know kind of get my emotions out or to kind of just heighten and emotion of some sort like. You know if I was dating a boy or you know having a good part of my life you know to celebrate so different music has had played a part in different parts of my life. And it was when I was in college that where I decided to not only major in education but also major in music that I started to see how much I could integrate music into what I was doing ultimately doing with my students in the classroom. And so even though I didn’t set out to necessarily be a music teacher, I could see all the great ways that music could play a part in my teaching of all the students. And as I continued my education I kept taking I got my masters in arts in learning and that’s when I started to learn about visual art and poetry and drama and dance and it kind of started to understand how all the arts can really play a part in student learning. And so it just started to you know right from when I started teaching twenty something years ago, I was automatically integrating the arts because they were just so effective for my students.

Ti-Fen: Right. So from my understanding you started to develop social emotional artiste learning SEAL because your district sees a real need for social emotional learning. Your schools. And it’s from my research so correct me if I’m wrong.

Elizabeth: Yes. Yes.

Ti-Fen: Could you tell us why your district started to see the need in our social emotional learning and what do you think it was seen as important now but not like fifty years ago?

Elizabeth: Yeah. I think in the I would say about the last five to seven years. We’ve been seeing a lot more anxiety in students and mental health needs that have been rising that we didn’t see ten fifteen years ago and my district was just one of the hundreds or thousands even across the country that knowing that this was such a something that students who really needed to develop. Started to implement what was coming out and that was the SEL social emotional learning and they started to bring us together for professional development in learning about what that really means. You know. How to teach students to be more self-aware and manage themselves and make good decisions and be a little bit more socially aware and develop relationships with others and for me when they were giving us this professional development every time that they would start a new sentence or start a new topic. It was like obvious to me that everything they’re talking about we can teach and we can learn and develop through the arts and what I love about arts integration and SEAL specifically is that it’s not something that is forced. It’s not contrived. You know. We’re not trying to make things up so that students are developing these skills they actually just naturally develop these skills through the arts. So if a student is creating a piece of artwork they’re developing their self-awareness and they are doing it in a way that is just so natural for them and what our job then becomes with something like SEAL is that as the teacher we can help them to understand that a little bit more with reflection and some guided experiences so that they can start to really understand that the important part that the arts can play and they’re developing a social emotional skills.

Ti-Fen: Yeah. Right. So it seems that SEAL is framed around casel’s SEL wheel which includes five competencies. Like you just mentioned self-awareness, self management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making. Could you give us some examples about how to nurture these competencies through arts? Especially social awareness and responsible decision making. Because it is just hard for me to imagine how to teach these things.

Elizabeth: Yes. Absolutely. So for social awareness which is something that’s just becoming more and more important for us to learn about other people and accept our peers understand that we’re all coming from different backgrounds and we all have different cultures and we all have different thoughts and ideas. So I’ll tell you two different ways one will be music and one will be visual art. I’ll start with the visual art because it’s something that teachers just absolutely love in terms of when they’re learning about SEAL. And it’s called friendly Fridays. And what it is is giving students the opportunity to learn about their classmates and appreciate them and create something for them on a consistent basis. So for example my students every week will have friendly Friday time where we are either creating little notes for one another and handing them to our classmates. Or one of my favorite projects that we’ve done is a friendly Friday a. piece of artwork so where the students created their own hands they traced to their hand they designed it the way that they wanted to and then we put it together in a nice collaborative artwork on the wall. And it just looked so amazing because you could see all the different styles and personalities of the students coming out in that so it was just a great visual way to show that we’re all a community. We are all different but we’re all together we’re all together and in the classroom. And another example like with music would be I love listening to music with my students just taking time to listen to a good piece of whether classical music or jazz music or contemporary and then allowing the students to really actively listen to it together and then give their own ideas about it and their own interpretations of it, And what that does for social awareness is it really helps students to see that we all listened to the same piece of music but our interpretations are all different. So you know if we’re listening to a piece of classical music that’s really exciting some students might think it’s a really exciting and some students might think it’s scary and they might see something you know they might be imagining something in their head that actually gives them fear where is another person maybe listening to it and it just gets them all motivated to do something. So it’s a great it’s a great conversation and reflection that have that we all heard the same exact thing and yet we all thought something that was different. And with the responsible decision making. Excuse me. As far as the creative process in general where students are thinking of something to create you know going through the process of creating and revising it and then ultimately finishing and presenting it. That whole creative process is just filled with making responsible decisions from. You know deciding on materials that they wanna use or what art form they want to use. You know if they’re working with people. You know who’s a good partner who is not a good partner what do you know what where are you going to work at that time management is part of a responsible decision making so there’s just so many pieces of that just embedded inside the creative process.

Ti-Fen: I see so that’s really that’s really awesome. So I am curious about what questions that you will usually ask in the examples you mentioned about the hands drawing to make then. Or listening to music to make them to be aware other people’s opinion and respect others perspectives for things.

Elizabeth: Yeah. That’s a good question. Because the reflection is I think one of the key components of anything that you do that has to do with SEAL. Because that’s when all the real learning is going to happen that reflection part. So with you know with the hands or even the the music you know. First of all drawing attention to things that they are so different and then asking them what differences they see. Like in their hands you know someone used markers. Someone used crayon. Why do you think they did that? Someone you know at these colors and someone just use one color and see how how different they are differently they did their hands you know. And then also seeing some similarities you know and the shapes they may have put in there or the words they may have used to describe the music for example. And to also show that not only do we have differences but we also have a lot of similarities and that helps us to you know just have a really unique and fun class of students that we can we can share together. We can have some differences but we can all be together and still be moving in the same direction. And learning from one another/

Ti-Fen: Yeah. That’s really great. So do you have a story that you see a student’s transformation in your SEAL classroom and really touches your hearts the most ? Or the moments that you know it is working.

Elizabeth: Well you know what when you said touch your heart and my mind went to this one instance that happened about five or so years ago where we were doing a a water color painting. And we I believe we had to listen to some music and we were interpreting the music with some water color and putting some emotions to it. And to this one boy he when he started painting he started painting colors and then ultimately a little scene of him and his father and he had such a .. Well, what’s the right word a tough relationship with his father and the the whole process of you know the music and then the water color and then just giving him the opportunity to sit there and really not just think about his father. But like it’s so hard to explain what he may even going through but it’s not just thinking about his father but just kind of like putting it down on paper. It was just it was beautiful to watch him just get all his emotions out on the paper and then be able to talk about it because usually when he would talk about his dad, it was just trying to be so happy about it and kind of almost like faking that their relationship was really good. But when he started talking about his art work he was really able to talk about how much he hurt inside. And how that was really part of his life that he wished he could fix but he knows he can’t. And so that was so eye opening to me to the real power that we can have, And I’m just a classroom teacher you know I’m teaching math and English and social studies during the day. But to be able to give this kid that opportunity to really open up and start to explore his emotions. And he was only ten years old I thought that was so powerful for him and for me to watch it.

Ti-Fen: Right. Right. Yeah. That’s really amazing so that leads to my another question is. so it looks like in this process the kids can express themselves even better and would be a really therapeutic process. So starting from here what would you usually do for the kids that they can take more actions to. Like you said if they have a tough relationship with their parents, what kind of other things they can do to make their relationships better

Elizabeth: Yes. So you know how so there’s two things I think about and one is you know he could take that painting home for example and just talk to his mother about it and it could be like a a bridge for him to be able to talk about it with his mom and maybe his dad too. You now but the other thing is is that it’s also a bridge to maybe getting the student in touch with the counselor at school because you know most most teachers that I train that that goes through SEAL teacher training you know their classroom teachers and arts teachers and their not counselors and they’re not art therapists but they know that their students need social emotional development. They know it’s important and they want to do something and they want to be able to provide for that and their classroom so but we can’t be the counselor or the therapist. So it’s it’s a nice way to when you find things out or when you discover things about students. It’s a great way to kind of bridge that gap that the student might actually need in order to if they need to get more assistance. And with most students it’s just good development of skills inside the classroom and you know you just kind of leave it at that and you can see them grow. But for others it can be deeper and we need to know what our resources are as teachers and educators to give those kids the help that they need that’s beyond what we can maybe get them.

Ti-Fen: Right. Yeah. So if a teacher who doesn’t know much about art but still wants to try SEAL. Any actionable advice that you give to them for a head start.

Elizabeth: Yes. Absolutely. Yeah a lot of teachers they hesitate with arts integration in general because they think that they’re not an artist. But that’s really not what matters. Because it’s what I call the arts integration like frame of mind to where it’s not really about you where your comfort level. You just need to be comfortable enough to give the students the opportunities. And so part of that can be I you know teachers can go out and learn some arts integrated strategies and there are some really simple plans that you can start with that you look into you know professional development that’s gonna kind of give you a good head start in the right direction and just give you some basic ideas and as you probably know you know that’s that’s what my focus is to the inspired classroom is providing that professional development for teachers of all levels of skills. Giving them those ideas that they can easily implement in their own classrooms and then you know just go from there. And so you know just starting with what something is that you might enjoy. So for me it was starting with music but for another teacher it could be starting with drawing or starting with sculpture or starting with poetry or storytelling you know whatever the art form is that they might enjoy.

Ti-Fen: That’s really great. So I think teachers in most countries are really constrained by the standardized tests. Let’s say even math teacher tries to cram their students for the upcoming tests but still want to use a without allocating too much time. Is there any other ways they can incorporate SEAL into their classroom?

Elizabeth: Yeah. Absolutely. In fact when I developed SEAL. I wanted to make sure that it was not a program that you had to follow step by step because I think that’s what what there is to much of out there right everyone’s trying to you know hang up SEAL program into their school or into their district and teachers OH Gosh another thing I have to do you know I have to spend thirty minutes a week on this you know. And then it’s it’s something that’s not really not really as effective you know it’s not real it’s not real. Where the arts are real. And so when I designed seal I wanted it first and foremost to be something that teachers could just integrate into what they already do. So I focus a lot on the teacher herself. So the teacher is the where it all comes together. So it’s not about the it’s not necessarily all about the ideas and strategies. It’s really about the teacher and what they’re comfortable wins and how they’re going to like create this atmosphere in their classroom to be safe and caring and creative and just allow for this type of SEAL work in their classroom. So the SEAL teachers that go through SEAL teacher training, the first thing they do is they focus on themselves and what it’s gonna look like in their own classroom because there are a lot a lot of teachers who have to do or are forced to focus on just the content. So and making sure that the students are ready for the tests and so we focus on the teacher first and then we also focus on and strategies that you can just embed right into what you do every day. So simple things that are just become part of your regular curriculum every day but also touch upon art in touch upon social emotional learning as well.

Ti-Fen: Right. Can you give an example in your class in the classroom that you use really little time to integrate art with other subjects.

Elizabeth: Sure. Excuse me. I’ll give you one for drama. So this is an embedded SEAL strategy for drama. And what it is I call it dramatic check ins. And it’s so quick it literally takes five seconds. Right what you do is you know once you’ve completed the lesson or once you’ve talked about a situation or diffuse the situation or whatever it might be in the classroom. You have the kids do a dramatic check and so what that is is they show you with their face how their feelings so if they’re okay they will show you with their face that they’re okay. If they’re not okay or they’re confused it’s almost like putting an emoji on their face acting out the emoji. And you can take this to the next level and they can stand up and do their whole body posture. Or you can take it down a notch like if you’re teaching older kids who are just not gonna do that. They don’t feel comfortable doing that. Or you have students that just aren’t ready for drama in the classroom. You can have it they have them do it on a piece of paper and make the emoji on the paper. And so you know just kind of checking in in a in a way that’s tied to theater and drama to be able to just quickly check in with students and then move on. And maybe even make take note if you know who needs what and then you can move on. And this is also something that you don’t just do once. This is a strategy you can use over and over and over again throughout the year and the more you do it the more comfortable students will actually get which is giving you that dramatic check in with their facial expression.

Ti-Fen: I like that. That’s really that’s really great. So now in the U. S, because of the COVID-19, students are mostly learning remotely. I bet you’ve got lots of questions about distance learning so my question is how a teacher can use SEAL in this setting even with some online tools that you would suggest.

Elizabeth: Yeah. Yes. Definitely in fact in in the seal teacher training course I did a whole bonus unit for everybody because it was just on the top of everybody’s mind about you know how we were gonna do this remotely. And then in the fall how we’re going to do it as well. So so for you know here a couple of things that I’ve been doing with my own class is we still have Friendly Friday. But we do it inside Google classroom so we might instead of sending notes to one person in the class at a time you know we’ll have a a stream of comments where you’re just sending positive feedback positive notes and positive messages to the whole class. And that is also good because not everybody is participating a hundred percent of the time. I also found a couple of really great websites they’re skipping my mind right now but you can just Google online collaborative drawing sites and we spent one friendly Friday just driving together online. And just kinda adding and changing and and just working together on that which is kind of fun. And so there are definite ways to you know remind students about any self management skills that you worked on and just doing it that way it’s definitely an added challenge but totally.

Ti-Fen: Yeah that’s wonderful. So few friends of mine who were teachers before but got out of teaching because it just burnt them out so self care is being advocated a lot in these days. Especially for teachers who would affect their students if they don’t like take care of themselves well. What does your routine for taking care of yourselves even through arts. What like what do you do in the morning if you have a bad night ? What do you do after a frustrating day at school?

Elizabeth: mmhm. Another amazing question. Thats a great Ti-Fen. Because that is such an important part of this SEAL teacher training. So we have three ways or three phases of the training and the first wave like I kind of mentioned already is all about the teacher first and we do focus and on teacher self care. Because our job is so demanding and a very emotional way and so many teachers are burning out. And so one of the things that is suggested in that section of the training is to even just start the day every day with an intention. You know just kinda giving yourself your own positive self talk and being able to you know like when I would go to school. Sometimes I would park my car and just stay there for a moment and say okay this is gonna be a great day I’m going to make sure I touch base with this kid and this kid and make sure that they’re coming into the classroom okay. I’m gonna make sure that you know if someone needs help I’m gonna have a lot of patience. You know almost like giving yourself those reminders of what it really means to be a SEAL teacher because it has to do with being caring. Being make making sure that you’re making connections with your students and then providing for those creative opportunities for your students as well. And so just almost like reminding yourself of that is a really important thing. And as far as you know, after school or at home and just making sure that I can leave school at school and now that we’re remote right now that means closing the school tabs closing the school email at a certain time of the day. And saying okay now I’m done until tomorrow and giving myself that spacing and teachers have. It’s really important that they give themselves that space so that they can just take a mental break from t what might be happening at school and enjoying some of their home life. It’s just so important right.

Ti-Fen: Yeah. So for now do you have any any particular activities that you will do to take care of yourself ?

Elizabeth: For me it’s kind of funny, because I always say you know what are you doing for art. So I have a couple of things. One is a couple years back , for my fortieth birthday, my family got me a drum sets.

Ti-Fen: Wow.

Elizabeth: Something I have wanted since I was a kid. And so on every once in a while I’m able to go on there and play and that’s just really fun it’s just so much fun so that’s like a little outlet for me. Playing the piano here and there is also something that I try and make sure I didn’t get it chance to do. And be very honest as far as being creative right now I love creating new things for the inspiring classroom. And I just love connecting with other teachers for me that suggests so uplifting because it helps me to know that I’m not alone you know. And helping to bring other teachers together is really exciting for me to see that whether it’s on Facebook or what what have you professional development that I organize and I think just going through that whole creative process of creating a workshop or creating a retreat is just really for fulfilling to me. So that’s kind of how I do be creative now it’s kind of fun, I love it.

Ti-Fen: Right that’s very very a great tip. I I believe that’s what teachers can learn from it and let just apply to their life. Especially for these really tough times. So I have just like few questions left. The one question is there any books that influenced you a lot in teaching ?

Elizabeth: Yes. Oh Gosh. I’m so bad at remembering names in booking names so trying to see if I can see them in my yeah right yeah there are some I love this is an old book you know Arts with the brain and mind in music with the brand in mind. I think those are great books oh goodness there are some really good books I think it’s merrily Goldberg who does a fantastic job of talking about arts integration. I even like the book it’s called Yardsticks. It’s also an old book or an older book but it talks about students at different stages in their schooling which I think is such an important thing for us to truly understand you know what exactly our students are going through in their mind and physically and emotionally at different stages in their life. That’s a really good one. I just started a book I think it’s the deepest well goodness. I’m so sorry. I’m bad at our it talks about you know how trauma affects people younger people specifically in the book it it it talks about how trauma affects us physically so it’s really interesting in terms of you know if you want to you know look at your students and a new way and be able to provide them with some SEAL opportunities. And there’s one more that I would highly recommend it I’m gonna have to send you the title but it’s something blank.

Ti-Fen: No worries. I will follow up with you around the books you mentioned so I can put you in the show notes for the audience to check up.

Elizabeth: Ah yeah. Absoloutely.

Ti-Fen: When you were a baby teacher what is the worst advice you have ever received?

Elizabeth: Well that’s a great question. Okay this was probably in my first couple years of teaching where I heard from a teacher or I don’t know exactly what she said. But kind of she gave this impression that parents don’t really know what their kids need in school. We as teachers we are the only ones that know what students need at school. And I for many years had that look outlook on on my students until I had my own kids and it kind of dawned on me that no that’s not true at all while we do need to you know look at parents and families individually. You know and and decide you know are these going to be good parents and families to work with or do we need to take the reins on what the kid needs we can’t we can’t just say a the kids with me now the parents don’t know what this student really needs but to try and work together a little bit more now. I do have to say there are instances where we do know what the student needs but we also have to be able to communicate that well with the parents and I think the advice that I had been given really almost put like a divider between what I could give the student and what the parents are doing at home and so instead of breaking that communication really trying to work with the parents at home.

Ti-Fen: Right and yeah right I have heard so many teachers complaining about the tension between them and the parents and so I totally agree that we should have a better way to communicate and even collaborate with parents as teachers.

Elizabeth: Yeah yeah and it’s tough it’s that.

Ti-Fen: Yeah exactly and so I know that Elizabeth you have put out so much amazing where in that inspired call classroom website. Is there anything you would like to mention or talk about before we wrap up and I will certainly let people know where they can find you online and we will put everything in the show notes as well. But is there anything that you like to share or talk about people we closed up?

Elizabeth: Sure so it’s fun since we’ve been talking about SEAL if people are interested in seal you can look at some of the free resources we have all right you can go to teachSEALcom and that will lead you to all kinds of good resources and then. If if people are ready to really take a deep dive into becoming a seal teacher my course seal teacher training is really just a great course that I you know I I believe I you know I believe but also the people that have gone through it really do feel like they have gone on a journey. And really come out the other side transforms. Because it’s like I said it’s not just about the ideas and the lessons. It’s about the teacher and the teacher being a great advocate for social emotional artistic learning in their classrooms and in utilizing that for their students so it really is kind of a nice transformational journey for teachers to go to become a SEAL teacher.

Ti-Fen: Thank you for listening we will put the things mentioned interfere to the show notes if you enjoy our show, welcome to share and don’t forget to subscribe. Thank you.

Transcripts: #4 Ms. Plante – Teach Humanity with Thematic Instructions and Creative Student Book Report

Ti-Fen: Hello everyone, this is Ti-Fen Pan. Welcome to compass teachers show. My job is to interview teachers around the world and tease out their teaching tactics, education research or tools they use. Hopefully this show can offer some ideas for you to experiment in your classroom. Today my guest is Nicole Plantes. Nicole had been a middle school teacher for almost eight years though now she pivoted her career as an amazing designer. Her first stop as a teacher is in New York City department of education. She instructed suspended students for at risk youth from diverse schools and social economic backgrounds. The unique experience laid out the foundation for building humanity and resilience in her teachings. After NYC, Nicole moved to bay area and taught in Corpus Christi school which is hugely different from her previous one. It’s a Catholic school and they teach students not only academic but also a spiritual growth. Now let’s learn from Nicole’s experience in Corpus Christi as a homeroom teacher.

Ti-Fen: Nicole, you were an eighth grade homeroom teacher in Corpus Christi elementary and middle school. Can you tell us what the responsibility is as a homeroom teacher?

Nicole: Yeah. Girl. It’s even different for being in eighth grade homeroom teacher because being the eighth grade homeroom teacher for a Catholic school has even more added responsibilities. I don’t think I was paid more. I was pretty sure I was not paid more for this but like eighth grade, you have graduation so that’s huge as a homeroom teacher where you’re coordinating and practicing gathering like you know either baby pictures or doing there at their portraits. There’s a lot of interruptions to the school day on because of things like that in the. So I’m beginning at the end but like what we would want to kind of go a little bit more chronologically. In the beginning of the year they do a youth day at the Catholic cathedral in Oakland yeah because they’re part of the Oakland diocese and then we would do high school visits or for Catholic high schools in on our kind of it kind of in our area. And so again a lot of these are interrupting the school week the school day. We would also do some fun things like field trips but also they did this thing with parents where it’s almost like going to the parents jobs in a way in order for them to appreciate and understand different industries and professions and so that would have been kind of late in the year especially when you know they’re becoming a little you know thanks D. and wanting to graduate already and things like that. We would as a homeroom you know we would coordinate with other grades in order to do cross planning for like for Christmas for Christmas programs for gingerbread house making things with first grade on their. They were also mostly on student council then we would have our own class council which would coordinate our eighth grade dances which we would have about we were trying to do eight sorry not eight at three a year but usually it was like two if we could but or maybe three. Because as an eighth grade homeroom teacher, I would help coordinate that and I would have to shop around that too. So not only am I doing you know the usual. Let me just say so my day Ti-Fen would begin I would get to school at 7 AM. I would not leave until 6 PM and some days when we had programs or a school dance I would just stay there and then I wouldn’t go home until 9:30 thirty PM.

Ti-Fen: Wow

Nicole: Yeah, it was a very very intense and on it is very rewarding definitely but I do you think I have burned out because of that a lot sooner than it would have all the extra responsibilities.

Ti-Fen: We know that your expertise is in English literature. How did you prepare for the subjects that you are not familiar with you?

Nicole: That’s a great question. So for me why I really like and you might have heard of this too, Ti-Fen. But why like standards why I like learning objectives. Why are like these are benchmarks that usually are either part of curriculum planning or it tied to performance indicators for grades things like that. It’s because it gives a framework for especially new teachers when they don’t know what they’re supposed to teach. Well, these are the the benchmarks these are the things that the students need to learn by the end of the year. So you know you might have heard of the term backwards planning. That’s part of backwards planning is picking out these learning objectives or standards competencies and figuring out how am I going to address those things. So that’s why it like and some people like are all about you know the standards of work. They are for against common core for many other reasons but to have none it’s very disorienting for a new teacher. For me as being a new teacher, I relied on the common core in order to tell me this is what you’re supposed to be teaching so that you make sure that the students are where they need to be.

Ti-Fen: How did you usually structured your course throughout a semester?

Nicole: I did backwards design with an over arching theme so it might have been something like you know our resilience or humanity. And then you would have this central you would have a central questions about that in order to draw out discussion and bigger understanding. And so what that would do is it would widen the the connections. So you may have several texts that you choose in order to address that theme and then to bring greater connections it can connect to that theme and then they can give you a different perspective on it. Or I can give you something that reverberates set you know makes it stronger. But what I also loved about doing it thematic style was the great opportunity in literature is to really get to those big questions about what it is to be human. How do we treat people like I think that it’s very important especially with you know young people in order to get them thinking of these philosophical kind of questions. Because not only is it going to be forming who they are their you know their personality but how they treat other people and I think that even though we put a lot of emphasis on, you know, academic skills or knowledge. That’s another part of learning is how to be a good person. How to be responsible to the earth. Things like that right and for them to really grapple with it before is there turned out to be, you know, an adult in a voting adults, right, to be a citizen. So I really loved things like not because especially in my subject matter and also teaching social studies were from eighth grade we can draw connections and and I think that that’s what really helps retain information is you can you know make those links and thematic connections

Ti-Fen: Can you give us an example of how you use the thematic style in your class?

Nicole: I taught Night by Elie Wiesel myself. I never know how to pronounce his last name but it’s about the Holocaust. Holocaust experience right. And that was part of the theme of humanity, you know, it’s a huge kind of topic but it’s also very appropriate to like, you know, like kind of how do we treat people what’s our responsibility. And I think it was that theme but it could have also been something else I always change things up a little bit every year which is good and bad because like you know doesn’t give me the feedback in order to to really hone in on something and you know and make it amazing quickly. Because I have to wait until the next year in order to try it out again. Because I didn’t, you know, I only have one class that I was teaching rather than like a lot of English or literature teachers would teach the same lesson four times a day but to different you know classes of students. So now I have the same one. It would be I only knew by a different year. So anyway for something like that I then it would I would choose like a piece of poetry to that would speak to this view of humanity as well on a non fiction pieces so a current event article of like let’s look at our humanity today. And this could also tie in with something social justice or religion so like how, you know, what’s our duty to other people especially in other countries or something like that to and so even within that theme I could cover you know the historical significance and events of the Holocaust which is social studies which is history. The narrative style and devices are you know even using metaphor and symbolism in a non fiction book by Elie Wiesel and there was also poetry to it. There are songs I played so you know even touching into music. I would show an interview with Holocaust survivors and what I’m kind of getting into also was when you’re doing this I’m planning you’re also differentiating your finding different media in order to teach the same thing in a different way perhaps I mean differentiation is in a lot of different just like in and that it’s a lot of different things for what you’re doing. So when I would plan I would also planned media rich things to kind of like open it up especially if the students you know learn in a better way with videos than they do with lecturer verses like you know books right all these different things in order for them to grapple with the theme.

Ti-Fen: So far I heard using media reach and the thematic styles in your course. Is there any other teaching methods that you use before that you found really useful your class like game based learning, board games ?

Nicole: One of my favorite things and I hope it was also a favorite thing about the students. We would do different kind of book reports. It wasn’t a written report. It was a project report and I gave them a matrix. So like a grid of all these different types of hands-on projects that they could do in order to do their book report really what like. And I can’t remember I called it. I think was independent reading. Yeah that’s what I call the independent reading project and they had to do multiple things for it and we did it every what was it going to be every quarter but we ended up just doing it for the first three quarters because by the end of the year I was overwhelmed and they were overwhelmed. So it was good enough to do it for three out of four but yeah they would have to present their book to the students so they would have to do a presentation and you know that’s engaging also and them being able to summarize you know in a succinct way work on their soft skills for presentation right. Things like that. But then also the fun thing about and I hope again it was fun for them. One of them could be where they could create a board game based off of their their book and other things like all my god there was a photo essay one where one of my students did it with her Barbies which was hilarious but like amazing. And there was another indicator always get me to approve like if they had an idea that wasn’t listed there they could just presented to me like saying “Hey Miss Plante this is what I’m thinking of doing and I can prove it.” Most likely I would approve it because really the end of it was to get them excited about reading to get them excited about being creative and to do something a little bit fun at school rather than just like essays and you know reports. And I don’t know like tests and things like that. So yeah there was one kid who read a book on Minecraft and then he wanted to create his own world in Minecraft and he was pulling into Minecraft, right.

Ti-Fen: And there was a book about Minecraft?

Nicole: Yeah and so and you know some parents I don’t know they were like oh Miss Plante that’s you know I’m worried that this book’s not rigorous enough work for my child and I always like I’m pretty much my response to them usually was I’m just trying to get them excited about reading like this is independent. This is them doing it on their own time therefore it needs to be their choice. And yeah there are times when we need to challenge them that’s a lot of the books in the literature we do in class like I’m forcing them to read you know this book about the Holocaust they might as well lighten it up with some Minecraft, right? But what I really did love especially from that kid and his parents his mom came to manage said Miss Plante he loves you because you let him read a book on Minecraft like you know what that’s fantastic like I know you will not like me another year I’m sure. But like at least we have a good relationship right now. But yeah there were a lot of different projects they could do their own like alternative ending to the book they create a children’s story based off of it. So it’s just kind of like getting into the central details they could do like a diorama thing right. I changed it up a lot like they couldn’t do the same method like the same project because like you know that name if they’re really talented on one thing they might just do that and they’re not challenging themselves in a different media. I can’t remember though there are so many and quite honestly I got the idea from some teacher resources that I found online and I just added on to it so that’s another thing for resources out there like you know people “Teachers Pay Teachers” I know that’s like big and popular there’s like the most and giving and open community are our teachers they want to help other teachers especially if it’s going to be helping students out love school. Or love learning rather you know

Ti-Fen: Right. All rights. The last question I want to ask is Nicole what advice you would give to a person who wants to be a teacher in the U. S.

Nicole: Sometimes depending on your situation may be hard to get into teaching because there are actually a lot of tests and certifications and the masters and things like that. The requires our money in order to become a teacher with not necessarily much pay off or you know I would say look into if there are some fellowships if there are on some funding things to make that happen for yourself that it’s financially it’s difficult because I think that there are a lot of resources out there to help people who want to do something that’s in service. And I think that’s what’s really important I think a lot of people go into teaching thinking kind of like what I did. We will be a teacher a lot of people like you know like and that’s their concept, right? And so I think it’s really important in order to do some like student teaching in order to really understand what is the day today. Is it for you? I think it’s very important in order to like apprentice like figure it out before you go through the whole program and decide that it’s not for you. So that’s my big advice is to see if you can volunteer your student teaching on work underneath another teacher before you even go through all of it so that you can understand: yes this is for me or no it’s not for me.

Ti-Fen: Sweet. That’s a really great and practical advice. Thank you Nicole.

Nicole: Thank you so much Ti-Fen. I really appreciate it.

Ti-Fen: Thank you for listening. We will put the things mentioned in the interview to the show notes. If you enjoy our show, welcome to share and don’t forget to subscribe. Thank you.