Thursday, July 21, 2011

MAKING LEARNING WHOLE by David Perkins

It's just incredible to me, the way my professional learning has changed in the past 25 years. I've always gone to conferences and read professional books, but this blog and Twitter have changed the playing field dramatically.

I was in a booktalk this week that was born on Twitter -- a tweet went out from the All Write conference (during Jeff Anderson's keynote, as best I remember) about this book:

Making Learning Whole: How Seven Principles of Teaching Can Transform Education

Making Learning Whole by David Perkins
Jossey-Bass, 2001

Maria (@mariacaplin and Teaching in the 21st Century) was "attending" All Write long-distance by following the tweets, and she suggested that we get together and discuss this book. I dropped it into my Amazon cart using the Amazon app I downloaded (I think this was also during Jeff's keynote -- Jeff, I PROMISE I was listening!!), we read the book, invited others, and wound up spending a delightful morning with Cathy (@CathyMere and Reflect & Refine) chatting about the book, teaching, workshop model, and technology tools.

Here are a few of my take-aways:

1.  Perkins frames his thinking around the game of baseball and these seven principles:
• Play the whole game.
• Make the game worth playing.
• Work on the hard parts.
• Play out of town.
• Uncover the hidden game,
• Learn from the team...and the other team.
• Learn the game of learning.

2.  Our booktalk fit his principles exactly:
• We played the whole game, from the conference, to the tweets, to the reading, to the meeting, to the discussing, and now, to the blogging.
• We made the game worth playing by playing together. It's worth playing because we will use our new thinking and learning in our classrooms in the coming year.
We played out of town. We met at Maria's house (and if you know where Maria lives, you are laughing out loud right now -- she takes out of town to a new level), hoping to sit on the dock of her pond to chat. It was too hot and humid, so we enjoyed the comfort of her kitchen table.
• As I write this post, I'm uncovering bits and pieces of the hidden game of our booktalk. Part of the hidden game was that we were doing what the book suggests without having to think hard about it. Our own learning is whole. We just need to make sure we figure out lots of ways to do this for our 1st, 4th, and 5th graders. I'll share more of what I saw as the hidden game in a minute. On to the next principle.
Learn from the team. We did that by meeting -- three people from two districts and three different buildings and levels. We'll learn from other teams as we take our learning back to our grade levels, and from the comments here and on Twitter.
• The last point -- learn the game of learning -- wraps back around, for me, to the one about the hidden game. Read on...

3.  Here's what I learned about the game of learning:

• We didn't get started right away talking about the book. We needed time to socialize (and enjoy the fabulous cranberry coffee cake). THE SOCIAL PIECE IS HUGE.
• Our conversation was not sequential and organized.  AN EXACT AGENDA IS NOT NECESSARY.
• Almost as important as our conversation about the book was our talk and play with Evernote, and our sharing about how we keep track of anecdotal information about our students (conference notes, reading status, artifacts, etc). UNEXPECTED LEARNING IS AS VALUABLE AS WHAT'S IN THE LESSON PLAN.


It's a great book and I highly recommend it, but as you can see, the journey of the booktalk is a large part of what made the book so valuable for me...and it will likely stay anchored in my thinking more than other books that I've read on my own and that have no bigger story attached. (Yet another example of the hidden game/the learning about learning!)

4 comments:

  1. I just started to write my blog and I can't top this so I am going to high jack this one and send it on over to my blog. Once again the value of the team played the whole game. THANKS I enjoyed it!

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  2. Mary Lee,
    You are so right. The playing field has changed dramatically in professional development. I'm amazed how much learning I do now comes from Twitter/blogs. My summer reading has been taken to a new level this year through collaborative interactions online and in group discussions. I think it will make it easy to apply this new learning as I head back into the classroom in August.

    Like Marie, I still have a "pending post" with my reflections, but I'm certain I cannot say it as well as you just did. Maybe I'll just place a link on my blog! ;o) Honestly, I enjoyed your synthesis of playing the whole game and our experience discussing this book together. It makes me think even more about authentic conversations (and the whole game) in Reader's Workshop.

    For me, the social impact was key in getting me to read the book --- and getting me to finish my reading (in a timely manner). The conversation deepened my understand and really helped me to think about the application of these new ideas in my classroom. It is amazing the parallels in instruction from 1-5 (and beyond). Perhaps Maria said it best when she said, "Good instruction is good instruction at any level (or something like that)."

    I enjoyed reading the book on my reader, but have to say the conversation was a bit trickier. I'll have to work on that a bit.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to talk about the book. I learned so much ---- and had a fabulous time. (I especially loved our "off track" moments.)

    Incredible!

    Cathy

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  3. How cool is this?! I just posted about a Cyber PD "event" I's eavesdropped in on - and learned so much from. I think I need to get this Twitter thing going - coupled with blogging, it takes our teaching community to a whole new level...a better one at that!

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  4. I agree with Cathy, great post and great synopsis. I too find myself revisiting and questioning my own pedagogy as I read the book. Sometimes I think of new ideas and other times I read about ideas I already have in practice that are phrased differently. Cathy would you post your reflection post or share where you posted it elsewhere?

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