Can I Learn Here?

I was silent (here) yesterday because I spent the better part of the day with students in the two-summer Master’s program at the Klingenstein Center, Teachers College. I plan to write up some notes — based on the students’ takeaways — but here’s the learning experiment / activity I asked them to complete. The idea was to use the heuristic from Make Yourself Clear to explore a local environment. The overarching question was, “Can I learn here?”

  1. Walk around the school, library, or surrounding city (not more than a few streets in any direction).  Your walk can be physical or digital, but stay with your group. 
  2. Engage with people, systems, space, etc. in an effort to gather information, goods, or services.  (So as to reduce the cognitive load of the exercise, and allow you to focus on Authenticity, Immediacy, or Delight, here are some options.  Option 1: Check out from the library 3 books about progressive teaching.  Option 2: Find suggestions for Columbia schwag as gifts for a 9 year old and 11 year old.  Option 3: Find five recommendations for dinner in the area.  Option 4: Uncover the history of a statue or other “named” artifact within or outside of the building.  Option 5: Choose your own adventure.) 
  3. As you complete the above transaction(s), take note of the way the experience relates to your assigned term.  Is it authentic or inauthentic?  Immediate or not?  Delightful or not? 
  4. Work with your group to identify and document a story that you think will be most instructive for the full group, when you return to our room.  Your documentation should be boiled down to a single digital image that you can share.
  5. Share your documentation with Steve by either emailing him or Tweeting an image with the hashtag: #MYCxKLI
  6. Return to the room by an agreed upon time and nominate one person from your group to serve as a storyteller who can explain the experience you selected and how it relates to the term you were assigned.
  7. All the while, be thinking, in some deep recess of your mind, about how the overall experience relates to school leadership, learning, and teaching. 

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