Transcript #28 Infusing Social Emotional Learning in Classroom – Wendy Turner (如何融合情緒管理學習於課室中)

Ti-Fen  (0s): Hi, everyone. Welcome to Compass. Teachers show I’m your host Ti-Fen. My job is to interview Teachers around the globe and teach out their teaching tactics, education, research, or tools they use. Hopefully this show can offer ideas for you to  experiments in your classrooms.

In this episode, we are going to dig, dive into how to infuse social, emotional learning into your own classroom. Today, we are really honored to have Wendy Turner joining us. Wendy is a second grade teacher in 2017 or 18 Delaware Teacher of the Year. She teaches at Pleasant Elementary.  a large suburban school in Delaware with over 750 students and a diverse population Wendy is interested in trauma informed practices, global education, social, emotional learning, and empathy in education. 

And she loved every moment spans with her seven or eight years old. And without further ado, let’s  enjoy our conversation with Wendy. Welcome to the show. Wendy 

Wendy (1m 27s): Hi, I’m so happy to be here. Thank you so much for inviting me to join your show. I’m I’m thrilled. 

Ti-Fen  (1m 33s): So, first of all, I know that you have a really different trajectory into teaching after 17 years in the business world and you decided you become a teacher, a curse. What is the story or motivation that drove you to make these big transitions? 

Wendy (1m 53s): Oh, it’s such a great question. Thanks for asking that. Yes, I a was a business major in college. I worked for 17 years in finance and accounting, and we had a daughter in 2005. And when my daughter was about six months old, I remember the So clearly I was sitting in my cubicle at the big company I worked for here in Wilmington. I just sat there and I thought to myself, I can’t do this for 20 more years. I had really enjoyed spending time with my daughter. I had some nieces at this point and I felt like I could relate really well to children. 

So I called my husband and I said, hi, do you mind if I go to school at night to become a teacher? And he was like, sure, he didn’t drop the phone or hang up on me, which is good news. And I, I began to go to school at night and it took me about three years of working full time, going to school at night, taking care of our daughter. And I had our son another baby during the same time. So it was exciting, challenging, but wonderful. And it was absolutely the right choice for me. 

I, it, to start working in a profession where I could have more human impact, I could make a difference. And I always tell people that my very worst day in teaching is far better than my best day in my old job. 

Ti-Fen  (3m 15s): Wow. So do you find your previous business experience add on a different color into your teaching in an unexpected ways, or like how does the shape you differently in teaching compared to other educators? 

Wendy (3m 31s): So that’s a great question. And it has been an enormous advantage in my opinion, to have all those years in the business world, in my experience. So during that time I worked for many large companies, I worked for Disney, I worked for Pricewaterhouse. I worked for a fragrance company in New York city. And when I worked for Disney, I traveled around the world and that added to my personal experience helped me broaden my horizons and come in contact with all the different people. And I even worked in environments that were terrible. I worked in environments where people screamed and yelled at, try to make people cry, literally and navigating those types of environments and coming out of them stronger, learning how to be resilient and ultimately saying no to those types of environments gave me confidence. 

And I truly feel like becoming a teacher at eight 40. I was more prepared to work with different kinds of people in my students and my families that I support and just people in the district, because of all those years of experience, I don’t think I would of been anywhere near as effective if I have become a teacher right out of college at age 22. 

Ti-Fen  (4m 33s): So we know like you put lots of work into social, emotional learning, what inspired you to poop so much ever to emphasize these areas? 

Wendy (4m 47s): Mmm, that’s a great question. So this area isn’t even talked about very often and teacher preparation programs, it’s, it’s something you have to kind of figure out. And when I wrote, I have to write my teaching philosophy when I was a teaching students and I wrote a long time ago. It’s probably, you know, 15 years ago now that I wanted to teach my students how to be successful human beings. And that was just something I felt inside me. And so I had a little bit of an instinct to do this, and then really what crystallize this for me was something that happened in my first year of teaching. 

I started my job teaching second grade and on about the seventh day of class, the second week of class, one of the students in my class lost their mom to cancer. So it was very worrisome for me because here I was a new teacher and I have to figure out how to support my students, how to support the other students in second grade I’m at this time, because they were starting to experience fears around losing a parent and then how to like he’ll and come together as a community, a Classroom communities through this very difficult time. 

And, and I really remember her being at home crying, literally because they didn’t know what to do, but I just asked for help. I started talking to our principal and our counselor about what I can do. And I knew very, very clearly that we couldn’t just come back into school and like open up the math book and start teaching would be like open up to page 20. We were going to start a lesson. We had to talk about what happened. We had to share our feelings. We had to share a messy, uncomfortable feelings and work our way through them. We couldn’t pretend it hadn’t happened. 

We had to embrace what, what hap what did happen. And we work our way through it. And ultimately we ended up doing a really big charity project where we were able to make a large donation to a charitable foundation at the end of the year, kind of like as a way to conclude this experience together. So that told me right then and there, if we don’t do social, emotional learning, we’re not even going to get to the academic stuff. 

Ti-Fen  (6m 43s): Yeah. That’s really wonderful. So I think it’s a good way. We can talk more about the way we can Infuse Social Emotional, Learning in Classroom. So from my research, I know  you believe the best way to do that is to be a model for our students by identifying what we need to work on and engaging that work right before our students’ eyes. So I’m curious if there’s any story behind or your observation from the students or progression that it comes to these realizations. 

Wendy (7m 20s): Sure. I’m you know, what can I define social, emotional learning for you first? Cause I think that will be helpful. Yeah. Okay. All right. Great. So social, emotional learning is to me, it’s everything, it’s the foundation of everything that we do in education. And if we don’t do it, we’re, we’re not going to be successful. So a lot of people know that social, emotional learning is very important now with the trauma that everyone is enduring with, COVID-19 in schools being closed and open. And, but I think that a lot of people, if you ask them what it is, they are just not sure they’re like, was it mindfulness or gratitude or it’s something about getting along with people? 

I don’t know. So I like to really use a framework for social, emotional learning. There is a very popular one out there. And I explain that to my students and that helps us all stay grounded in what we’re doing. So CASEL is the collaborative for academic and social, emotional learning. They are the, you know, the leader and thought around social, emotional learning and providing resources and space around social, emotional learning. And they have a model and is known as the Capitol five and it’s five competencies. 

And if you go to their website, you will find this graphic, it’s a wheel and it’s got five parts to it. And the different competencies that are social, emotional learning are five things that are self-awareness self-management social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making. So as you work to bring these things to your students, you have to define the things for your students. And then you have to give them ways to develop strength and skill in them. And I think if we, as adults do that side by side with our, we are, you know, walking the walk and talking the talk that we say we’re going to do, and we’re modeling it for them in real time. 

And there’s a struggle. Some people find, they say like, why can’t I can’t fit social, emotional learning. And I have to cover all this content, or, you know, I have a math teacher, I don’t do this, this isn’t my job. But what we need to do ultimately is yes, define these things. And yes, talk about some vocabulary that kids need to understand like emotions or, you know, what’s a relationship with empathy. And then we have to understand what it is to infuse them into our academic activities and it’s absolutely possible to do so. I think that there’s a great case study out there. 

And it was put up by San Jose state and it talked about how to prepare teachers to do this. And that piece really speaks to my heart about social, emotional learning. But the piece talks about in order to prepare teachers to do this, number one, you have to have them work on their own adult. SEL so work on their social, emotional competence in terms of developing self-awareness self-management social awareness, relationship skills and decision-making skills. And then you have to teach them how to integrate it 

Ti-Fen  (10m 7s): how you engage your personnel work in progress SEL while teaching them social, emotional learning and their needs. 

Wendy (10m 32s): Sure. So a great one right now, one, this is really important is around self management and self awareness. And that is really the process of identifying our emotions. And right now we’re all going through many, many emotions because the world is going through many, many challenges right now. And I feel like the world is in survival mode. And as a result, lots of human beings are to So something that I can do is I can ask the kids to do an emotion. Check-in I can say, how are you feeling today? Are you feeling good, a ready to learn? 

Or do you feel a little uneasy or worried about something or are you mad or scared or angry? And I can also share my emotional state to write. So when I do that, then I can kind of quickly assess who might have trouble Today Learning who might need a little bit more compassion or support. And when we, before school closed, I used this rubber bracelet system. Every day, the kids would come in and put on a bracelet, red, green, or yellow on their wrist quietly, and to show me and their classmates how they were feeling. And we talked about the fact that if a student was wearing a yellow or a red bracelet, we might need to support them better. 

And what would it look like to support them? And I would also wear a bracelet too. So there might be mornings, you know, a lot of times they come in on green. I’m really excited to see my students, but Hey, I am a human being too. And if I’ve gotten into a fight with one of my kids on the way to school or something like that, I might come in and put on a yellow bracelet. So I’m modeling my honesty was sharing my emotions and I’m fostering a safe environment where students can share their emotions. You know, if you come in every day and put it on the red bracelet, you’re never in trouble. Thank you. In fact, for doing that and how can I help you? 

How can I help you get to a place of learning? And so that’s something that can be integrated into the fabric of your classroom. I am a remote or hybrid. I’ve been on a year. So the kids figure out a Google form to share this information. So that’s one way. And then once we realized that we do have emotions that we’ll call it uncomfortable, maybe yellow or red, we have to teach resilience strategies. So when you feel uncomfortable and your having a mad, sad, or angry day, what do you do? So we teach children explicit, calming strategies. 

We talk about the power of our breath. It’s always with us. It’s something we can go back to. We talk about finding joy and the good things. Even in the hardest days, one of Castle’s signature plays. They have a signature playbook with three signature SEL moves. One of them is an optimistic closing. So every day we do an activity, that’s an optimistic closing on Monday, it’s called three good things. And I asked the kids to share three good things. And it might have been the worst day or the most challenging day, but we share things like the sun is out. 

Or I snuggled with my dog Today or I have a hot dog for a lunch, or I say, I’ve got to go out and walk around the block. So you just celebrate the good things, even on the hardest day. And that’s something that I do kind of concurrently with my students, because whenever I ask them to share or something like that, I do the same thing. I share my emotion, I share three good things, et cetera. Another one that I really like is reframing negative thoughts. And that also comes into play with self-awareness and self-management human beings are wired to have a negativity bias, which means that they focus on negative thoughts, more than positive thoughts. 

And if you think about a day, maybe you’ve gone through a day and 10 things have happened to you. None of them were good and one was bad. All you remember is that one bad thing and reframing is where you take a situation and you look for the positive in it. It’s not like pretending that everything’s great ’cause we don’t want to do that, but its looking for something good. And an example was, you know, last spring schools and you’re in the U S closed in March and we had to do a lot of reframing. So school closed, we weren’t really good at remote learning yet. 

We were struggling a lot, but we reframed and said things like, well, the school is closed, but I get more time because I don’t have to commute to work right now. Or your school is closed, but I’m learning a lot of new technology. And that’s a good thing for me in my students or school is closed and I get to spend more time with my family. So by teaching explicitly how to reframe negative thoughts and find the good thing in a situation you gift, you’re introducing another resilience strategy. 

Ti-Fen (14m 47s): Yeah. I really loved the reframing one, but I also found that 

Ti-Fen  (14m 52s): The bracelet is really interesting. How many colors  do, can you then choose for a, the bracelets and also ldo they make the bracelets themselves? Or you just like distribute some bracelet to them. 

Wendy (15m 8s): So yeah, they are right now with my bracelet model, I have three colors, green, yellow, and red, and I just buy plastic rubber bracelets that can be reused now with COVID. I may start using ones with the kids who were in person in my classroom. We’ll have some hybrid learners and I’ll just give them like a little plastic bag that has three bracelets in it that they can choose from that are always there. And we named on the first day of school, actually I put up a chart and we name emotions and we sort them into green emotions, yellow emotions and red emotions. So they have some language around what’s What I think you could add other colors for even young kids, but certainly for older people I’ve, I’ve had blue be represented as sad. 

I’ve seen orange represented for exciting I’m or pink could be an exciting and purple could be kind of calm. So you can really add whatever you want. I do just focus on the three right now, but you could, we can really be great if you can have the kids to design a system. So if you’re going to have bracelets and you want it to have colors represent emotions, what would you want each of them to be in? That can be so powerful because they can have a part in it. And I have to say, I wish that sometimes adults had such a system because how amazing would it be to walk into your workplace and just know who’s struggling a little bit of who might need some help or a check-in. 

Ti-Fen  (16m 22s): Yeah, that’s true. And you don’t need to struggle to read their minds so you can just, See how they are feeling. So there is the one thing that you just mentioned. I also really want to ask is the emotion though checks in Jamboard that would you mind sharing with us how you do this activity in your classroom? 

Wendy (16m 44s): Yeah. And I’m happy to share some templates with you too. So I’ve noticed over time that Monday is really a hard day for my students. So even when we were in school, when school is open kids coming in on Monday and they’re very tired because they usually stay up later than normal and Friday and Saturday night and then sleep in later. And they may spend a lot of times playing video games, especially in the cold weather, you know, and that can just make you feel tired and sluggish, that kind of thing. So I tried something two Mondays ago that I just loved and it was a huge success. 

I’m going to keep doing it. I created a jam board. So we use Google jam board. And on that jam board, the, it just says, please share an emotion that you’re feeling right now. And the students, if your familiar with Jim, where they can actually click on a sticky note and they just type something on it. So whether your students are at home or in the classroom, everyone can engage and collaborate on that at once, which is I think a very powerful too, when we’re all split up and separate from each other. So I did it two Mondays ago and kids were writing things like tired. I have a headache I’m okay. 

I’m excited. I’m pretty good. But it was more unpleasant emotions than Pleasant emotions I noticed. And one had written that they felt calm. Now, after that, I asked the kids to just take a look at the screen I was sharing and I was said, I was going to show them some pictures. And I went on to show them 18, really beautiful pictures of winter scenes in Sweden. And I think I found them in the New York times and I’d put them on the jam board and I just went through them. And I think I quietly count to five for each picture was like a five count. 

So they can look at each picture for a five count and went through and they were just beautiful in Northern lights were a Borealis campfires. There was a dog flood picture, a wild reindeer. They were, you know, from trees. Icicles is just absolutely beautiful. And then on the 20th side of the jam board, I said, okay, please check in again, write in a motion. Well, they checked in again and 10, not one, but 10 students wrote down that they were feeling calm. Several students wrote down that they were feeling better and more students said they were excited. 

So I had seen the incidents of a student, a sharing, a common motion rise tenfold just from showing a series of pictures of winter scenes. And that just really blew me away because data is data, data doesn’t lie, and data can inform what you’re doing. So that told me that if I could show my pictures that created a positive, happy chemicals and the brain every Monday morning, that was going to allow us to go into our lesson in a better place mentally. And I did it again this week, except instead of winter scenes, I use pictures of cute baby animals. 

And basically I have the same result. So right after this, I hadn’t told the students about the activity. I hadn’t told them they are going to do a second check-in I just said, what do you notice? And they were like, wow, a lot of people feel better. I feel good. That’s nice. And then they came. I said, well, what do you think this means? What, what is this telling us? And they said, if I look at pictures, nice pictures, I’m going to feel better. They basically came up with that understanding themselves. And I said, yes. So if you’re stressed during an academic task or you’re feeling upset, could you go to a window and look at nature in that might make you feel better? 

And they said, absolutely it will. So it was incredible to me to just go through that activity. 

Ti-Fen  (19m 56s): That’s really powerful. Like, Oh, I like the ways that you are not only helping them to identify, identify the emotion, but you also give them the tools that they can flip that emotion to a positive one. So our, then in this an example, is there any other tools that you find useful for useful for students to help them do any like self-management 

Wendy (20m 27s): Yeah. So I want to share, let me share another activity that we do. So something that’s really critical in this environment is creating ways that the students can work together even in the world in separate locations. So we do use zoom for our video conferences and if I was in the classroom, I would have a lot of collaborative groups. A few years ago. I used have long rectangle tables in my classroom. And a few years ago I did a donors choose project to get funding for round tables because I realized that the collaboration communication with my students would be so much more if they were sitting at round tables facing each other. 

Because when you’re sitting at a long rectangle table, the, to people at the end will never speak to each other basically, right, because there’s too much space and it’s not easy, but I instead got all round tables from my classroom so they can look up and be sitting and looking at each other. So in the classroom, I would change seats. Often I would have activities for each table. I’d have people work in pairs. And I had to figure out a way to do that in a virtual environment. So we do use them for video conferences and I create discussions that kids do in break out rooms. And every day I have a topic in a five minute discussion and it might be something silly. 

Like if you could have any food all day for one day, what would you have? If you can travel anywhere, where would you go? What’s something you enjoy doing with your family. They’re all just connection questions that are designed to help us get to know each other and bond and find our commonalities. So in the beginning of the year, they were having a little trouble with a breakout rooms. Like some kids were talking too much. Some kids were not talking enough. Kids said, well, I don’t like to talk. I just want to use the chat. And so we have to kind of talk about what was going on. And some kids were coming back from the breakout rooms and they were like giving the thumbs down side. 

Like the breakout room is terrible. So I said, okay, where are we going to do with this? So I have something called an empathy meter and it’s a visual and picture or a rainbow. And on one side of the rainbow, it’s a beautiful orange color. That’s actually my favorite color. I feel like it’s exudes positivity. There’s this orange color. And there’s these hearts. And it says, I’m using empathy. I’m thinking about others. I’m thinking with others, I’m caring for others. And on the other side of the rainbow arc, its kind of gray and it says, I’m not thinking of others. 

I might be hurting others. Or I’m just thinking of myself in the middle of your kind of neutral. So what I do is once a week, I pull that out on a, again on a jam board and I ask the kids to have a sticky note. So where do you think we are in this empathy meter? How are we being empathetic or are we not being empathetic? And one of the times I did it, there were a lot of sticky notes, just kind of in the middle, like people weren’t putting them over towards the empathetic side of the orange side. And I said, what’s going on with us? And they said, well, it’s really the breakout rooms. Like we’re doing badly. And the breakout rooms and people are getting mad and they’re coming back mad and we need to do better. 

So I just said, how can we do breakout rooms better? And they shared ideas. Like let people be in the chat, create an order for people participating like use alphabetical order or something or someone try and be in charge to make sure everyone gets to talk. They ask me to put in a chat warning, like when there’s one or two minutes left. So they knew they had to wrap it up to get everyone to, to, to chat. And so we did those things and breakout rooms started to get better. And so then usually every Friday ask them to do the Mt check-in and we started to see more people were moving their sticky over to the side of the, a jam where the empathy side was. 

So that’s a way to think really concretely about using empathy in your everyday life. We read lots of stories about empathy. We talk about what empathy looks like, but we, I think when teaching SEL skills, you have to talk about what it looks like when that skill is missing. So in these examples, we learned what it was like when empathy was not present. And I think that’s very powerful for talking about what it looks like, what it is there for them 

Ti-Fen  (24m 11s):  And so I feel like, Oh, these are really, really great tools in our midst. Make sure that they are in our show notes so our listeners can check it out, and experiment in their classrooms. So S E L is a very abstract Learning compared to all their traditional subjects, which is relatively easy to assess progress. 

So for you, how do you know your students are making progress in these competencies? 

Wendy (24m 55s): So I’m like the example I just gave you. I realized that the students we’re making progress with the breakout rooms, which meant that they were more self aware of what they were doing in staying in the breakout rooms. And they were developing relationships with other kids by saying we’re able to do better in the breakout rooms. And so it’s your right. You don’t want to give an assessment about that. You’re never going to give your students a worksheet and ask them how to make responsible decisions you’re actually going to do. Also, I’ve had a, So a little girl came up to me last week and she just almost had tears in her eyes. 

And I said, what’s wrong? And she said, I miss my friend. I miss my friends and I don’t know what I’m going to see you are. And I hate COVID. And I said, okay. So I said, lets try to get something to do. And I said, can you walk down the hall? There’s a long hall. Can you work for the hole and just hold this and squeeze it. And it was actually just a roll of paper towels because I can’t have all the things I used to share a little stuffies or a squishy balls and things like that because of COVID and germs. And she said, okay, I can do that. And so she walked down the hall and came back and when she came back, she was able to get back to her work. So right there that tells me that that student was completely in tune with her negative emotion. 

She knew to ask for something. And when I provided her with a tool or an idea, she embraced it and she did it. And then she came back and said, thank you. I feel better. And I can go finish my math now. So you kind of have to be aware of it in moments. So I feel so proud when I can see it happening in moments last year, another quick story we had our tables were working in groups of four and this one student got very upset and he started to cry and stomp his feet. 

And we have these benches in my classroom. We actually called them like the cool-down bench or the breathing bench. And he was getting upset and stomping his feet, but he stomped his feet right over to the cool-down bench. He knew what to do and where to go. And then two or three other students from his group that he’d been working with, went over to him and said, you’re okay. You’re going to be okay, good job. You know, you’re going to feel better soon. You’re on the breathing bench. And that, that was one of those moments, right? So I observed a child losing control of their emotions or having difficult emotions. I observed them in bracing, a strategy we introduced in the classroom. 

And then I observed other students being empathetic and checking in with that child and complimenting them on doing just that. I was like, mic drop moment. I was like, I love it. It’s happening. They’re doing, and I didn’t tell anyone to do any of these things and it’s it’s happening 

Ti-Fen  (27m 17s): Well. So yeah, I got you. So basically it’s really hard to use data, to know their progress but  we can use our observation from their behaviors to know the, they are improving. 

Wendy (27m 33s): Yeah, you can’t. I would say too, you can do surveys and you could use little formative assessments, like say you are a really teaching kids about the definition of something like empathy or a growth mindset. You can certainly give them like little quizzes to see if they have an understanding of those terms and concepts. I do think you have to spend a couple of weeks teaching some terms to the kids, some actual content. So they’re familiar with a language and they can use it. 

Ti-Fen  (27m 57s): Last question  we know that there were lots of things happening in the States from black lives matter to today’s Capitol riots for the Capitol riot. Do you have any conversation with your students? And it’s a such a hard topic. 

Wendy (28m 20s): Yes. Thank you. So I teach seven and eight year olds and this is a tender age, right? So on Wednesday evening, as I was watching the Capitol riots, all I can think about was what am I going to do tomorrow? So I determined that I would create space for whoever needed it, because I knew that at this age, some kids wouldn’t know what happened. They wouldn’t of been watching the news. Their parents may have chosen to not show them the news or tell him about it, to keep them insulated from it. And that is reasonable for a young child. 

So what I did the next day is I started our day as we always do. We have a morning meeting. I said, we’re going to do a morning meeting exactly the same as we do every day. And then I said, I’m going to talk about something that happened yesterday. That was kind of hard. And I told them factually what happened? And then I have the kids do a, check-in a again on a jam board. Do you want to have a class conversation about this? Or do you want to go work independently? Like you don’t need to have a conversation. And so the kids move their sticky notes and it turned out that five students want it to have a conversation. So I placed every one in individual break out rooms who wasn’t going to be part of it because that’s fair. 

And that’s their choice. They worked on some independent tasks. And then with those five students, I said, you know, again, factually here’s what happened? Do you have any questions? What are you thinking? And one student shared that he had watched the news with his family, his father talked to them about it, that kind of thing, or another girl was scared that shared that she was experiencing worry and anxiety watching the news. You know, it’s upsetting to see people fighting to see, seen, hear about violence, those kinds of things. And one girl just said, well, what happened? Can you tell me more about what happened? 

I think I know what happens. She had older brothers and she just wanted to know a little bit more. And we went through that conversation for about 20 minutes and that’s it. I just held space for who needed it, which I think was the right thing to do. Hopefully. 

Ti-Fen  (30m 9s): Yeah, that sounds, that sounds right. And great to me. So the last section is some random and big questions. First, is there any one to two books that influence a lot of your thinking or value systems in these past few years? 

Wendy (30m 25s): Yes. So I, I always love when people ask this question, a book that I love and is near to my heart and will be forever, is called fostering resilient learners and it’s strategies for creating a trauma sensitive classroom. And it’s written by Kristen sours and Pete hall. And I actually am friends with them now and I work for them. I consult I’m with them, teaching and training people and how to create a trauma sensitive environment. And when I was at Delaware Teacher of the Year, I had to have a platform or something to talk about when I visited at different schools and communities. And I always talked about this need to provide a trauma sensitive classroom. 

I believe that it’s a moral imperative and it is what we need to do to support students because students can help what happens to them, but they come in with the effects of what happened to them and it’s our job to support them. So I love that book and it’s a quick read. You can read it on a weekend and then you can go into your classroom or your learning environment on the next Monday and do something differently. So I’m, I really recommend it fostering resilient learners. And then in this book, the second book I’ll mention is not an education book, but it’s spoke to me in such a wonderful way. 

A friend gave it to me, it’s called rest. And the subtitle is why you get more done when you do less. And it’s by Alex, Sue, John Kim Pang. And it just talks about how we rest and how we can be really productive when we rest. And that rest may look different for everyone. So I’m a very active and driven person. I’m a morning person. I do a lot, even on the weekends, you always find me doing some kind of work because I’m pursuing like a side interest or we have another project going. And the book justifies for me that rest doesn’t always have to be like sitting silently, not moving rest can be hiking where your deep in thought or rest can be organizing, are doing a project where you are just coming away from your professional craft, because that’s often where we get ideas and figure out innovation, an innovative things that we can bring back to our professional craft. 

So I love that book called rest. 

Ti-Fen  (32m 24s): So if you have a super power to change education system in America, what would it be ?

Wendy (32m 31s): So? It would be to immediately and all of the systemic racism that exists and our education system, it would be to have everyone immediately be culturally responsive and to have a more representation of educators of color in the system to support our students of color. And that’s what a lot of people are working on. That’s one of my goals that I pursue in addition to advocating for and teaching about social, emotional learning. This is something we need to do a So we do no harm to any student and we help them achieve their greatness. 

It’s our job. 

Ti-Fen  (33m 5s): Right. So before we close up Wendy do you have any other thoughts that you want to share with our listeners? 

Wendy (33m 13s): So I just want to say to all the educators out there, Thank you every day for all you do thank you for being in the field of education. Thank you for supporting students. Thank you for working to grow and be better. We are in a difficult, difficult time, but in a way it’s one of the most exciting times and education because there’s a lot of innovation taking place. There is a lot of people who are tackling these really hard issues around racism and things like that. And the last thing I want to say is listen to your students. 

Your students can tell you what’s hard for them. Your students can tell you what their hopes and dreams are. Your students can tell you when they’re disengaged or they’re struggling. What the problem is. Just listen to them. If you place your classroom’s a student’s at the center of your classrooms and at the center of your own heart in education. And that’s where we can do great things for, for the people that we need to know. 

Ti-Fen  (34m 12s): Great. That’s really well-said. And the last, last thing I really appreciate Wendy you share so much great resource and activities for an hour.. And if our listeners want to know more about your work, how they can find you online. 

Wendy (34m 36s): Oh, great. Yeah. Please contact me if you have questions or you need support. So I’m active on Twitter. My Twitter handle is at Mrs. Wendy Turner. I also have a Teacher Facebook page. It’s a Wendy Turner 2017. Delaware Teacher of the Year. And just like you contacted me through Twitter and through Facebook, please reach out. And my email is Wendy Turner at If you go into my Twitter profile, there’s a link there for our website. And that website is a wake lit collection, a curated collection of all the different articles. 

I’ve written podcasts that I’ve been on presentations that I’ve made. So if you’re wondering about me or you’re looking for ideas, or just to understand how I think, please check out that collection of my work and then, and do reach out. I, I shared at the beginning of this broadcast that I am a global learning fellow, and I truly love to be connected to educators around the world. I’ve done presentations and trainings in Africa. I have replied to teachers in Asia and Europe about questions that they have. I’m friends with a teacher from South Africa because of my trip there with NEA foundation. 

And So please do reach out because the common language is that language. That’s at the heart of all educators, that language of love. And I’d love to help you if I could. So thank you for joining me today. Thank you to fed. I had a wonderful time and I really appreciate being asked, and please do let me know if you and your listeners need anything and keep doing a wonderful job. 

Transcript: #24 From Digital Citizenship to Digital Leadership – Jennifer Casa-Todd

Ti-Fen (1m 21s):

From Digital Citizenship to Digital Leadership Jennifer she’s passionate about showing teachers and students how they can use technology and social media to make the world a better place. Now lets enjoy our conversation with amazing Jennifer hello Jennifer will come to our show.

Jennifer (1m 45s):

Hello and thank you so much for having me.

Ti-Fen (1m 49s):

So Jennifer you have ample knowledge, ink, social media in the K-12 context. What is the story behind that you decided to dedicate your life in this area?

Jennifer (2m 3s):

Well, I had a sudden realization and there were many things that happened at, at that time in my life. The first of which being that I had a job interview, my daughter was asked, what social media are you on? And what will I learn about you if I go there? And it really prompted me to think critically about the way in which I myself was using social media in the context of teaching and learning and connecting with others. But that I had spent very little time mentoring my own daughter around the use of social media so that she could answer that question effectively.

Jennifer (2m 43s):

And then by extension, I thought about the ways in which we constantly tell our students or what not to do on social media, but I really didn’t help equip them to answer that question either. And so I began to think about that a great aye, then met a or gotten to know a George Corose a little bit better. And he was talking about the idea of digital leadership as using the vast reach of technology and social media to improve the lives and wellbeing in circumstances of others. And that really radically changed the way I started to look at things. And as a result, it, it sort of forced me into the trajectory that I now find myself.

Jennifer (3m 29s):

So I was seeking out students who were using social media positively and began to found spine. So many of them and recognize that there was always either a caring adult mentor or even sometimes a student mentor in their lives that allowed them to use social media differently. And so I continue to challenge the idea that social media doesn’t have a place in education because it’s so as you just said, so ubiquitous for students in our world right now

Ti-Fen (4m 1s):

For educators who have a really negative impression on social media for our kids. How do you think that as educators, you rethink social media in your education?

Jennifer (4m 16s):

Well, certainly there are lots of negative aspects to social media. That’s the absolute reality, right? But if we are going to educate our students to graduate with the still skills that they need to function in our world to not use social media is doing our kids have great, a great disservice. So first of all, I think we need to understand that social media does play a role in our lives and we have to teach knowing that it does for me, I think it’s about not just harping on what students can’t do. I advocate for class social media accounts in the power of a class social media account is that you could very much engage in digital citizenship lessons in context, but you could also model for students how to use social media positively all while staying within the confines of our, of the law.

Jennifer (5m 16s):

Because as we know that students under the age of 13, shouldn’t be on those platforms anyway, even though they are in great, great, great numbers, right? So I always talk to teachers about, you know, where is it that your students are primarily and what about creating a social media class account where students can participate in posting. But if you could have those conversations about notifications or blocking somebody or, you know, lets use our social media account to make a positive difference in someone’s life today. Right? So you can do all of that in context through a class social media account.

Ti-Fen (5m 58s):

That’s right. So I’m really so Jennifer you mentioned that by law, like Kids can not use social media under their 13.  It it  only in Canada or that other

Jennifer (6m 11s):

It’s mostly, I think it’s a regulatory law in place. There are lots of like there’s FERPA and COPPA. These are a regulatory laws that talk about privacy of young people. But most social media accounts have 13, not, not as a magical number because suddenly when you’re 13, you’ll know how to navigate it well, but just in terms of being able to regulate the, the age of students who are on the platform, most of the big ones, your Snapchat, your, your Snapchat, your Twitter, your Facebook, your Instagram, those all have 13 as a And even Tik have 13 as the age of 18.

Ti-Fen (7m 2s):

Yeah. I think when you register, when you sign out, they will ask you your date of birth and then they will see if they, they were like, let you choose or not. Right?

Jennifer (7m 14s):

Yeah, absolutely. And in my experience, students or kids lie about their age so they can get into platforms, right. And even in that conversation is really important. So you’re not allowed to be on these platforms cause we’re not, you are not 13, but I asked the teacher we’ll have a class account so that we’re abiding by the law, but that you can learn how some of this use is being used and certainly communication with parents around. Why might you have a social media account? You have these students who are, there’s an incredible chasm between students who use it well and who don’t. There’s an incredible chasm between parents who sort of model and, and stay involved in their students’ social media accounts and those who don’t.

Jennifer (7m 58s):

So we have this, this whole group, this whole generation of kids who really are playing in these spaces by themselves. And, and I think that’s a real concern. And in some teachers might say, well, clearly there’s no place. I mean, we have enough to do in teaching and learning without engaging in social media. But then you hear things like, you know, 96% of high school students can’t tell the difference between a credible news article and one that has sponsored content. And when you recognize that students consume much, if not all of their news from social media outlets, then you wonder, well, where does that media literacy come in?

Jennifer (8m 43s):

And then if parents aren’t engaging in these conversations at home and teachers are not engaging in these conversations at school where, you know, what’s happening here and And, you know, given so many of the circumstances in which we find ourselves today, I think that we really need to re re-emphasize what it is or how it is that we’re teaching using social media and how we’re looking at media literacy in our classes too.

Ti-Fen (9m 12s):

And before we dive deeper into Digital leadership, I do want  to touch on digital citizenship so for you, like what is digital citizenship?.

Jennifer (9m 24s):

So for the most part, we define digital citizenship as using technology in responsible ways, you know, being appropriate and being safe. And thankfully some of that has changed since I began this work, but for the most part, we still confine our digital Citizenship ideas and lessons around what not to do, keep your password safe, you know, don’t cyber bullied, those kinds of things, all very, very important, like I said, but certainly important in the context of using some of the skills. And so mostly, unfortunately our approach has been, don’t do this, don’t do this, don’t do this.

Jennifer (10m 9s):

That hasn’t been about how are we using this? What are the nuances of this? And how can we, how can we change it for the better one?

Ti-Fen (10m 19s):

The way a teacher can teach Digital citizenship in their classroom.

Jennifer (10m 24s):

So there are lots of really effective resources out there for digital citizenship per se. So common sense, media has an incredible program and common sense. Media is great because they’ve sort of moved away from not entirely, but they have, they’ve moved away from the, no, don’t do this to, you know, what are ways in which you can connect with others and positive and meaningful ways. If you’re a younger students, a B internet, awesome by Google is an effective resource as well. Again, it focuses very much on, you know, safe passwords and not cyber bullying, et cetera, but it is both of those resources are incredible ways to start, but like anything Digital Citizenship is not a checklist.

Jennifer (11m 13s):

Okay. At the beginning of the year, I, you know, I taught this, there you go check. Right? The, the true impact and power is when you engage in ongoing conversations about how social media impacts the way in which we communicate with others, the way in which we consume our news, the things that we create, the, the way, the time that we spend, like certainly an aspect of digital citizenship is, you know, that, that balance piece, right? So the time that we spend online, you know, taking a look at that,

Ti-Fen (11m 46s):

For example, if a teacher light, they would use some, ah, digital tools in the classroom. And when the students are engaging, they can just like bring up, Oh, by the way, we have to be my foe for all the words, et cetera. Right. Is not. And, and in this conversation, is a way keep happening in the classroom. And it’s not like just like one time and I’m turning it off. You just like keep reminding our students, what are the goop behaviors, the digital world.

Jennifer (12m 22s):

Yes, exactly. One of the tools that I use ’em and I can share it with you to add to your notes is the media triangle. And so for me, just having, you know, a digital citizenship lessons at the beginning of the year, without on an ongoing conversation, as you say about media literacy. So how are we ha how is media constructed? And in, in what ways can we impact or, or create messages. But these are really, really, really important. Having kids understand that there are there’s the media texts, and then there’s an audience in terms of how people receive it, as well as a production value.

Jennifer (13m 6s):

So, you know, a Snapchat is going to a post is going to be very different from an Instagram post is going to be different from a blog is going to be different than a journal article. So understanding the way media works and engaging in these ongoing conversations about how they work and then creating media techs for an audience, or are also really, really important ways that we can start to move Way from just those digital citizenship lessons that tell us to meet online <inaudible>

Ti-Fen (13m 51s):

Digital leadership is the fast reach of technology and social media to improve the life circumstances and wellbeing of others and Jennifer for you. What is digital leadership specifically about and why do you think we should not only be a digital Citizenship also digital leadership?

Jennifer (14m 13s):

So I began with that working definition. And so much of my work in social media is around George corrosives definition. But more recently, I just finished my master’s in curriculum and technology with a focus on social media and education. And I took a deep dive into a program at the time it was called the Ontario educational Student Chat. Now it’s called the Global Education Student Chat we’ve morphed it. And I looked at the student’s within that program. And the way it works is we have students who decide on topics and then they create a, a monthly topic and a Twitter chat, which alongside of that is a YouTube Chat.

Jennifer (14m 57s):

So the students, the student leaders essentially are talking about topics that are important to other students. They are using YouTube live, they are using a whole bunch of other digital tools to create graphics. We co-construct norms of behavior. So one of the things that we talk about is how you may disagree with someone’s opinion, but you don’t disagree with the person. So we have to be very careful about how we use our words when we’re talking to one another. And so in doing this deep dive for my master’s project, I started to recognize that the students who were sometimes leaders in person really became leaders in online spaces.

Jennifer (15m 42s):

And, and what did I see them doing? I saw that they were using their online voices to network and participate in and create communities and inspire change. So digital leadership is really the ability to use technology, especially social media, to develop a model, a positive digital identity. That’s what I saw in the students when I was doing my research. And it was amazing to me to see the extent to which the us Teachers, but also other students within the leadership team, mentor one another.

Jennifer (16m 23s):

And, and really, really these students by the end of even one year of being together in the Chat with this ongoing mentorship, we’re using social media very, very differently than, than other students. And so to me, that’s the ideal that we help model for our students so that they can use social media to develop a positive digital identity, understand audience, use their voices for change, use their voices to connect with others. And that, that, that study, it was, it was so powerful because it share, it showed me that I was in, I was going to the right direction.

Jennifer (17m 6s):

So all of the literature review, all of the, all of the things that I had researched really did reinvigorate the need for this work and the importance of a shift for us in education.

Ti-Fen (17m 23s):

From your book. You mentioned how to make this transition is by finding a passion and start influencing Arthur’s to make a positive change. So could you give as an example of how you nurture digital leadership in your own class?

Jennifer (17m 42s):

Well, so I am a teacher Librarian, so I don’t have my own classroom per se. I did teach summer school. And so, so many of these ideas when we talked to students about their online identity, right? What are the conversations, having conversations and explicit lessons around their online identity modeling for students, even in the clubs and the councils that I, that I monitor, you know, having, Student having conversations about what your creating and what your putting out there, and what impact do you want it to have? You know, these are all really important things that, again, we, whenever it’s possible in the context of our class or our club or our committee, but also certainly as I continue to be an adult mentor for the Global Education Student Chat.

Jennifer (18m 33s):

And I feel like that’s such an incredible opportunity for students all over the world to be able to have to jump in on this conversation, to see other students in acting as digital leaders, to be able to respond and a very different way than what they might be used to. Because so many of our students used social media for entertainment. I would, I would argue so many of our adults do too. So in continuing to work with the Global Education Student Chat team, I feel like, you know, this is a good segue for any students, you know, K-12, I guess most of our students are from grade four to grade 12, to be able to come in and recognize that there was so much more they could be doing online.

Ti-Fen (19m 23s):

Got it. So Jennifer, if a teacher  comes to you and says that, Hey, I really want to create a lesson plan that to digital leadership, how would you guide them to do this lesson plan?

Jennifer (19m 45s):

So as much as I would love to say this, you know, step number one, is this a step number two? Is this step number three? Is this, I think it’s a little bit more complex than that. I think that what, what we need, what you need to do is you need to talk to students first and foremost, about the way in which they use media and the impact that it has on them. And then secondly, there’s a really good a lesson I use with my high school students in the Google Digital applied skills, and it talks about their online identity. And so I use that as a basis for talking about your digital footprint and your online identity.

Jennifer (20m 26s):

And then from there we talk about what are the weight, how is it that you’re using social media right now? And then asking that question, what social media are you on? And what will I learn about you? If I go there and having a sense with students or having conversations, and then engaging in activities around how could you use your online presence positively for your future? And you’d be amazed when you engage in those conversations and in the high school, that there are some students who will share while I have a blog and I have this website, I have this business ’cause, we, we, we don’t often listened to how students are using media in their own lives.

Jennifer (21m 12s):

So, so I would say it’s not a great when with younger students, it’s begin a class, social media account, seek out opportunities to connect with parents and other classes, and then to use your social media presence together, to engage in questions like, you know, who are the kinds of people that we should follow and how, when people look at our account, what do they, what do we want them to know about us? Right. So, so to have an online presence together as a class for younger students, but then as we get older to really sort of reemphasize, how are you using social media?

Jennifer (21m 56s):

How might you use it for your future? How might you use it to create a positive influence and really, really engaging in conversations with kids and dialogue? So your listening and, and, but also doing positively so that they have a mentor, or they have, they have someone who is doing things that they may be, are not used to seeing. Does that make sense?

Ti-Fen (22m 23s):

Yes. And that’s great. So basically they are three bullet points that I, I heard, like the first one is to talk to see you, then How like, what’s the impact in social media? And the, for the second one would be, what is the digital identity for then? And the third one is how could they use these platform to introduce a positive impact, like using blogs or a website for the business, et cetera. And so Jennifer, and I have seen, there is a keyword, a brow the next, like who, for younger students, who should they connect with, who she is a follow.

Ti-Fen (23m 9s):

So in your book, I think there’s a chapter talking about connection, which is very interesting. We know like most social media is to try to do the connection with people without boundaries and any tips that the teacher can connect with you then with me, no meaningful projects or a PPO to facilitate ditto. Leadership

Jennifer (23m 34s):

For sure. So the first bit of advice I would offer would be to leverage your own networks. I know on Twitter, I’ve created a list of international educators. So I want my students who may be from a very homogeneous group. You know, they know everyone in their own community. I want those students to connect with other classes in the world who might have a different perspective than them. And so one of the, you know, with the global read aloud, I know this is the last year for the global read aloud, but you actually don’t even need a global read aloud. You just need to be able to connect with leverage your own network, to connect with another grade to Teacher.

Jennifer (24m 17s):

Some are in the world and say, Hey, would you be willing to read the story? And could we, our two classes talk about it? You know, and maybe the connection begins on social media, you know, because it’s one of your own connections, but then you can take it to Flipgrid or you can take it to Google docs, you know, and then bring it back to social media. So students also recognize that social media has a place, but that sometimes ongoing conversations need to happen in different platforms, right? That’s an important lesson for kids. And, and another lesson that comes through for that is that you could use social media to connect with people and ideas that are different than your own, because I think that’s really important in our world today.

Jennifer (25m 4s):

The other thing I would suggest, so that was first to leverage your own connections in order to, to meet people from other places and using my Twitter list is a great idea. I’m Adam Hill, the person he’s a Teacher from Singapore with whom I facilitated an empowered Digital leaders course where starting a new cohort in the fall at the end of October. But one of the things he did was he created a list of his Student questions. They were engaging in an inquiry. And so he just created a spreadsheet and the student I want to learn more about, and then the students build out what they wanted to learn more about.

Jennifer (25m 47s):

And then he had a column for anyone online, again, leveraging his own social media network who had expertise in that area to be able to help mentor that student, because we are kidding ourselves. If we think that we’re the only experts, right? So to show students that you could use social media to connect with experts around the world, such a powerful thing. So, so you, you leverage connections in your in-person communities, but also in your online communities and directly respond to what the students are thinking about.

Jennifer (26m 29s):

The digital human library is another really great place to find experts to connect with. That’s something that my friendly castle created many years ago that I do highlight in social media, but it’s just being creative about how we can use social media platforms to reach out to experts. Certainly with COVID. I was amazed at the number of artists, the number of museums and zoos, and you name it that started to create programs, virtual programs for us to learn, right. Connecting with some of those, you know, those communities, those organizations, so that you could bring them into the classroom and then students can see, Oh my goodness, like Facebook live is a tool that’s being used by, you know, the children’s museum.

Jennifer (27m 24s):

And I’m learning so much the aquarium. I can’t remember the name of the aquarium. Oh, but they had a program regularly. I don’t know if they still do that anymore, where they were teaching us about sharks and jellyfish. So, so just being open to the fact that learning doesn’t necessarily need to come from our textbooks, but that there is a whole world of learning out there. Is that we just need to speak out on social media is one way in which we can connect our students to that a lot around the middle

Ti-Fen (28m 16s):

To remind students when, after we can now with some experts And or influential people. So I’m curious is like, how do we, how do they, how do these people mentor the students? Are you folks working with them for the mentorship program or, or even just like when they follow , this kind of the mentor is happening there organically?

Jennifer (28m 46s):

Well, I think have, and so with Global ed Student, Chat, we’re actually, we meet monthly with the students. So we’re, we’re, we’re engaged in, you know, what should we do? What should our questions be like? You know, how would someone interpret this? Right? So that’s our role. That’s my role as an adult mentor in Global ed Student Chat. But as a teacher, I am a mentor. Like if you look at Albert Bandura is a theory of observational Leadership students pay attention to the role models. So again, if they see their Teacher, you know, always picking up their phone and being online, or, you know, interrupting everything in order to take a picture of, to put it on their Twitter accounts that sends, ah, you know, a, a very interesting message to kids where as if they see their teacher saying, we only check our class social media account once in a while, or it’s Friday, let’s reach to someone and make a positive difference, you know, send out a quotation, you know, why we do this weekly?

Jennifer (29m 48s):

One of the things that I found fascinating when I was starting to look at teachers who had class accounts and in particular, one of my former students, Robert <inaudible>, who I mentioned in the book quite a bit, his mentorship. So they have a class account, their students are engaged in communities. So they have a public relations committee. He’s not in the classroom anymore now, unfortunately, but he had a classroom, a community. He had a public relations committee rather who created the class blog and who posted to social media. It was fascinating. And it was a grade six class when those students were 13 and creating their own accounts, those accounts very much resembled what they had seen, Mr.

Jennifer (30m 33s):

Conone do with his own account. Right. So we cannot underestimate the power that we have to impact our students. And, and that’s just frightening. And, you know, in some ways that’s so, you know, ah, you know, the, the impact that we have as teachers can sometimes feel like an incredible responsibility, but it’s true, right? Our students watch what we do and they, they learn so much from us, not just in terms of the content we teach, but the things that we, that, that, that we have, the things that we help them experience and the, the actions that we take in our classrooms.

Jennifer (31m 14s):

So I would argue that were all, we can all be media mentors for our students, depending on how we approach the topic of social media and education.

Ti-Fen (31m 27s):

Great. So gear every teacher’s around the world, you are the role model that was for your students. Jennifer, and let’s go to our random questions part. So what are the one or two books that have influenced your thinking? Well, in the past few years,

Jennifer (31m 53s):

So with regards to this topic in particular, I would say a participatory culture and a network to era by Henry Jenkins and Dana Boyd and <inaudible>, and it’s complicated by Dana Boyd. But more recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about how sometimes social media could be almost an echo chamber, right? So depending on who you follow, or you have the same ideas, you know, the same new stories you think that everyone in the world has the same ideas that you do. And so I’ve been a reading, a book called a blind spot, a good intent, a blind spot, the implicit bias have good people.

Jennifer (32m 36s):

And it has really made me think about how we can use social to interrupt our perspective, to, to make sure that we aren’t always in that sort of filter bubble and how sometimes when we consume media, it is with a bias and, and an understanding that bias and looking at a variety of different perspectives is really important. So that, that is one book that’s more recently been really making me think about the way in which I interact on my social media channels.

Ti-Fen (33m 8s):

That was pretty interesting. So if you have a super woman power to change one thing, the Education, See saying Canada, what would it be?

Jennifer (33m 19s):

I wish I could sort of take a magic wand and, and, and, and help educators to move away from teaching content and more of a move towards teaching students and understanding the way in which our world today is impacting so many things. So I just, I just feel like sometimes we’re so bound by tradition and our quote unquote curriculum that we don’t take a step back to really think flexibly about what we’re teaching in, how we’re teaching it.

Jennifer (34m 1s):

And, and I know there’s so many obstacles, there’s time. There’s, you know, the, the restrictions that we feel like our, that are placed on us. But if I had a magic wand, I would just say, you know, let’s, let’s get rid of all of that traditional stuff. And let’s really rethink the What. It is that were teaching in how we’re teaching It so that when our students graduate, they, they are better equipped to deal with the world into which they’re graduating.

Ti-Fen (34m 30s):

Yeah, that’s great. I think a lot of teachers, sometimes we would be really constrained by the standardized tests and is, is it takes time is really hard to change these paradigms. So Jennifer do, before we close up, do you have any other thoughts? 

Jennifer (34m 56s):

Sure. I I’m. Can I, can I at risk of sounding like an advertisement here, I have two books coming out. One is coauthored with Lee castle, who was the founder of Digital a human library, and it’s illustrated by a former student, a Sahara for a farmer. And it’s a book called Aubrey bright stories that connect us, its a children’s book and it’s published by edgy match. And it’s an intergenerational story of a young girl and her relationship with her grandmother and really taking a look at technology and how it connects us. So very much in line with this conversation.

Jennifer (35m 36s):

And I also have a companion book to Social LEADia raising Digital leaders, which is, is, is going to be for parents that, that parents, a gap that we sometimes see. And how do we promote digital leadership? You know, from that point of view, from that perspective of a parent, I also would invite you to check out Global ed Student Chat. So it’s Global ed S S chats I’m on Twitter, on Instagram or on our website. Global ed Student because I really, really passionately believe that when students start to see something different, they will start to behave differently.

Jennifer (36m 21s):

And it’s a great opportunity for your kids to meet other students in the world who we are talking about, the same things that they are

Ti-Fen (36m 30s):

Amazing. I will make sure they are on our show notes. So if people want to learn more about your work, how can they find you online?

Jennifer (36m 41s):

My I and you can find me on Twitter at, at J Casa Todd and certainly through my blog. If you wanted to contact me for further information to have me come out and speak or just because you have a question and there’s a contact form on J Casa

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。


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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。


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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.