What is your Contribution?

cc licensed flickr photo shared by shareski

Every learner needs a purpose. Purpose provides the passion to move from mediocrity to great. Purpose fuels us to move forward. It provides the drive and motivation to succeed.

How do we create a sense of purpose within our students? Is the purpose of education to create students who can pass a test or course? Or is it to develop students that contribute to the world as a whole? How can we guide students to create their own sense of purpose and contribution?

Much of my time recently has been devoted to getting a handle on the Common Core/Iowa Core in order to assist teachers in the transformation. While I believe we should be preparing students to be college or career ready, my hope is that we are setting our sights on even a higher pedestal. Not only do we need students ready to enter higher learning institutions or the work force, but we need students ready to join us in our quest to make the world a better place. We need students to contribute to society not just “be in society.”

Listen to Sam Parker (author of 212 Degrees and Cross the Line) describe his thoughts on reinforcing contribution with students.

What would your own students stay is the reason for going to school? Would their answers be as Sam explains in the beginning of the video clip? Or would their answers move to the contribution side of the spectrum? Are they creating their learning or going through a set requirements.

So, how can we move to helping students to making a contribution? There are several learning approaches that can be implemented in conjunction with the Common Core. Summer is a great time to begin to investigate and make plans for the coming year.

Project Based Learning (PBL) – In Project Based Learning (PBL), students go through an extended process of inquiry in response to a complex question, problem, or challenge. Rigorous projects help students learn key academic content and practice 21st Century Skills (such as collaboration, communication & critical thinking). To learn more see http://www.bie.org/. The website provides many resources for teachers to get started in PBL. The goal is to become familiar with your grade level Common Core Standards and then begin to integrate them in a problem based learning investigation. With any new approach, start small and teach/model the procedures to students.

Service Learning – Service Learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities. GenerationON provides a wide variety of resources to assist teachers with Service Learning. Search for ready to use PK-12 lessons by grade, issue and subject area here. Watch recorded webinars to equip yourself for service learning here.

Inquiry Based Learning – Throughout the Common Core, inquiry is imbedded. The premised is that instruction should move to student centered learning. In Iowa we are fortunate to have 5 Characteristics of Effective Instruction embedded in our work with the Core. One of the characteristics happens to be Student-Centered Learning.

As we move to enact the Common Core in our classrooms, let’s not lose sight on the purpose of learning. Let’s guide students to create learning for themselves. Let’s remember, as Angela Maiers has so eloquently stated:

cc licensed flickr photo shared by mrsdkrebs


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