Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Just a Casual Chat with Grant Wiggins

Last week I was truly reminded of the power of technology to enhance our learning and connect us with the world.  For the last several weeks I've been leading a book study of Understanding by Design by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe with our new teachers . This book is truly one of my favorites for its focus on timeless pedagogy.  I've read the book at least 10 times, but I always take away something new and am reminded of ways to fine-tune my practices, whether it be working with staff or students.

Truly a highlight of the entire study was having the opportunity to Q and A with author Grant Wiggins. I rolled the dice and contacted him through Twitter to see if he might be willing to Skype or Google Hangout with our crew.  Wiggins immediately messaged me back and sent me his personal email.  Not only is the man insanely brilliant, but he's incredibly personable and lovely.

This past week, Wiggins did a Google Hangout on Air with our new teachers and allowed us to fire questions at him.  What an experience.  If you'd like to check it out, click Play!

Here are just a few of my take-aways from the conversation:

  • One of our first-year teachers asked for his best advice for those new to the profession. You'll have to tune in to hear the t-shirt worthy response, but it reminded me of staying on the positive side of education.  Wiggins bluntly told us to not fall prey to the the toxicity and cynicism that can be ever-so-present in education. 
  • Teaching through authentic problems that require transfer of understanding is the single best way to make learning stick!  
  • The value of collaborative conversations regarding evidence of mastery is vital.  It's not as essential that we always assess mastery in the exact same way, but that we have a common understanding of what mastery looks like.  I love this as a means of thinking about avenues to differentiation!
  • We teach character by putting students in situations that test their character, and then making it a point to reflect on those situations.  Lecturing about perseverance or responsibility probably isn't that valuable. 

So who might you want to connect with for your own staff or your students?  Twitter offers amazing networking possibilities.  Roll the dice and see what happens!

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