Show Your Learning

Screen shot 2014-03-12 at 10.08.27 AMTeaching is a science—that’s how it feels when I’m collecting and combing through student data looking for how to proceed next. Teaching is an art—that’s how it feels when I’m in front of the class trying to hook them in with an introduction to metaplasmus, zeugma and other rhetorical tropes, schemes. Wait, that sounds like science. That’s because teaching is both an art and science—especially when I’m deep in a stack of essays working to understand the thoughts and  arguments of students while at the same time helping them craft their way to clarity with cadence and rhythm.

Either way, teaching is a creative and rewarding effort. And ever since I stumbled upon 20% projects and the work of writer and doodler Austin Kleon it’s only become more creative and more rewarding as I’ve worked with students to do what Kleon calls for in his new book Show Your Work!

David Theriault, a colleague/cohort, and I have been obsessed with this idea of showing our work: making our classrooms transparent, our work and that of our students laid bare for the world to see.  Not to show off what we do in our class, but to try it out in public, share it, and hope in comes back new and improved. Thus our activity on Twitter and in the edublogosphere (wow, that’s an ugly word). We’ve brainstormed hashtags, schemed up entire books on the subject. We’ve read the books. We’ve encouraged other teachers in our district to do the same. We follow people with similar obsessions.

But nothing really gets to the heart of the matter like Kleon’s book, which just arrived in the mail yesterday! And it’s much more rewarding to take a breather from the pummeling of pedagogical jargon, kick back with this bright, rakish tome and dream up ways to twist and tweak Kleon’s principles for my curriculum, my class, my students.

Screen shot 2014-03-12 at 10.04.40 AM

I’m not the only educator stealing from Kleon.

Show Your Work! is subtitled 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered, but a better way from my students and I to think about it would be: Show Your Learning! 10 Ways to Share Your Learning and Discover: Your Thoughts, Your World, Yourself.

Consider this one example from Zara who realized that she writes the same way she plays volleyball: timidly. But as she writes you can see her writing grow more assertive. I can’t wait to see her on the court next year.

Do you want to see the rest of my students learning? Stay tuned here, here, or here.

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2 thoughts on “Show Your Learning

  1. Thanks for writing and sharing this Sean. I’ve had dreams of using a school’s hashtag shares on Social Media as a data point that you could use during an accreditation visit or “Distinguished School” application. I saw a picture today that said “Fail faster so that you can learn faster.” To me sharing is CRUCIAL to the failure/learning cycle, because often we don’t see our fails until others outside of our “echo” circle show us a better way. We are actively handicapping our students when the only voice they get on their work is our voice.

  2. This is so inspiring in so many ways from the recommending reading lists, to the actual people, to your student work, and not to mention your eloquent poetic writing. Thoroughly enjoyed reading this post and adding tons to my to do, examine, revise list. Taking and making this “mine!” just kidding if I can come up with something that hasn’t already been thought of of course I’ll share! This is basic toddler lessons. Adults should take the advice we give kids!
    Thanks!

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