World Class Learners- Blog Post #1

1. Before reading any farther, how would you predict that an “entrepreneurial mindset” (Zhao, 2012, p. 5) would change education today? What would be some specific changes at your school if we truly embraced this mindset toward education at your school?

I think that an entrepreneurial mindset would immediately mean a change in the way we teach and assess students. Education would mean basing lessons and curriculum on student strengths and interests rather than basing it on a Common Core curriculum that is used for all students. Education would become completely differentiated for all students.

Currently in schools we use a Common Core curriculum, expecting all students to learn the same standards, be assessed on the same standards, and preform to the same proficiency level. Yet, we expect all students to be themselves and to go in different career paths. We cannot expect individualized results when we are not providing individualized education for the students. Common Core comes after NCLB failed to “reform” education, but the problem is bigger than that. Stan Karp, from Rethinkingschool.org states “A decade of NCLB tests showed that millions of students were not meeting existing standards, but the sponsors of the Common Core decided that the solution was tougher ones” (2013). We have not helped students find their way or help teach them better. All that we have done is create harder standards for them to reach.

Many things would need to change in my school if the true mindset of entrepreneurship was embraced.

-Changing class sizes: at GC Burkhead, our class sizes are often very large, with anywhere from 25-30 students. With this many students in one class, teachers would not be able to effectively provide individualized content, lessons, and assessments for all students. In order for students to learn to be entrepreneurs in their own interests and fields, they need specialized education.

– Changing Schedules: Currently at my school, 5th graders take part in a rigorous schedule  of reading, writing, math, social studies, science, special areas, and an RTI block. With all of those areas being run by the CCS, there is not much time for individualized learning. Students would need a more flexible schedule where they could learn what they want to learn at their own pace. Students would also need us to work on their strengths rather than their weaknesses. Our RTI program focuses our attention on the students’ weaknesses. However, Yong Zhao stated at the 2012 ISTE conference that “Education is not about fixing deficits, but rather enhancing strengths.” But that is exactly what we are not doing. We need a student block that focuses on strengthening and growing the students’ strengths.

-Changing Assessments: If standards for students are changed, then the assessments have to change. Students would need project/product based learning, graded on rubrics that match the projects and products. Their assessments would be differentiated and based on the students area of interest. This would be a change from the common assessments that are used throughout the school to assess all students’ learning. Standardized tests such as MAP or KPREP would be replaced with assessments that would assess the student to their previous performance and not to other students who may have different strengths or interests.

Our current school system would need a complete make over and a complete change of focus and goal in order to fully embrace the entrepreneurial mindset. Right now we want students to believe that they can do anything they want, but we do not give them the correct tools to do so.

3. Compare and contrast the Common Core Standards CCS) and the concepts at the Tinkering School. If the Tinkering School were a full academic year program, predict end-of-grade assessment results at a CCS school and the Tinkering School and justify your answer.

Similarities in Common Core Standards and Tinkering School Concepts

While the basic concepts differ a great deal, there are some similarities between the Common Core and the Tinkering School. Common Core Standards and the Tinkering School both want students to think deeply and to focus in on skills. Both of these also want students to think critically and problem solve. One more similarity is that both want students to create their own ideas.

Differences in Common Core Standards and Tinkering School Concepts

The surface of the Common Core and the Tinkering School is similar, but when you dig deeper, they are completely different. Common Core standards only focus on math and reading (Common Core 2014). Tinkering School focuses on what students are interested in making. Most of the Tinkering School projects center around math, science, and physics, but also can branch out to arts and humanities (Tinkering School 2014). A big difference comes with the requirement of problem solving. In the Tinkering School, students are expected to use “real tools to tackle real problems” (Tinkering School 2014). In the Common Core standards, students are asked to solve problems by using models and procedures that they can apply to real world problems (Achieve the Core 2012). The Common Core does not require hands on, but rather mostly just a thinking, paper and pencil process. In the Tinkering School, students build real life things like roller coaster or fences; students also create their own art in unique ways.

End of Grade Assessment Results

The Common Core standards have assessments for each grade level. Students answer a variety of questions (multiple choice, short answers, and extended response questions). The focuses are in reading and math. The results of these assessments usually have students at varying proficiency. Students result anywhere from Novice to Apprentice, to Proficient, and Distinguished. There are small percentages of students in the novice and distinguished categories with most students in the apprentice and proficient categories. All students are assessed the same and thus, the assessment is not always suitable for all students.

The Tinkering School end of year assessment would probably yield much different results. At the Tinkering School, students are able to participate in activities and lessons that are in their area of interest. The end of the year assessment would most likely be a project/product based assessment that required students to use the skills they had been working on. Each assessment would be specific to the student. With this level of individualized attention, Students would score mostly proficient and distinguished. It makes sense that when you are working towards something you are good at, and you are graded on things that you are good at and interested in, that you would be more successful. The students would be working towards personal goals and truly trying to reach their potential, rather than being tested on skills that they may not use in their future careers.

References:

Achieve the Core. (2012). Key instructional shifts of the common core in mathematics.
Retrieved September 16, 2014 from: http://achievethecore.org/content/upload
/Focus%20in%20Math_091013_FINAL.pdf

Core Standards (2014). About the standards. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from:
http://www.corestandards.org/about-the-standards/

Karp, Stan. (2013). The problems with the common core. Retrieved September 16, 2014        from: http://www.rethinkingschools.org/archive/28_02/28_02_karp.shtml

Tinkering School. (2014). About us: Our philosophy. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from:        http://www.tinkeringschool.com/our-philosophy/

About heakor

I am from Kentucky, currently a 5th grade teacher and a grad student. I love to sing, read, and hang out at a beach or pool. I am a huge Louisville Cardinals fan and I love the NFL. Seahawks and Steelers. Fantasy Football takes up most of my August-January :) I blog right now about teaching and technology. Check me out!
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