Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Life Long Learning

I had two experiences during spring break last week that have interesting implications for the classroom.

1. I started learning Tai Chi. The way the instructor explained it, I will never be finished learning Tai Chi! This form of exercise or mind/body practice is clearly an example of PROCESS vs. PRODUCT. I am at the stage right now where I have no idea what I'm doing, but when I watch the more experienced members of the class going through the forms, I know what I'm aiming for. I just need to relax and learn at my own speed. I ask my students to do this all the time -- be at peace with their learning -- and now I will be able to give them an example where I am in exactly the same place they are. (This poem from The Writer's Almanac resonates with this idea in interesting ways, although it's more about going with the flow...)

2. I had my swimming stroke videotaped and analyzed. Here's an example of AUTHENTIC ASSESSMENT. I chose to be "tested." I wanted to learn what I am doing well and what I need to work on. Lots of the time, we don't have a choice about our testing (school, driver's license, doctor's orders for a colonoscopy). When we do, we are far more invested in success and learning from the results. I am going to offer my students the chance to sign up to have their reading (fluency, individual conference, literature circle conversations) videotaped and analyzed. I wonder how that offer will change my students' outlook on being tested. I wonder what other types of videotaped assessments they'll come up with. (Interesting link related to this topic at Moving at the Speed of Creativity.)

What's an example of learning or assessment from your life that you can share with your students?


  1. I have been interested in Tai Chi for some time but have never jumped into it. Let us know how it is going.

  2. I often use the examples of my struggles with weight loss when thinking about assessment. I have many tests to measure progress (weight, body fat, etc.) and I also collect additional data (calories in/out). It is important to have students think about learning and assessment in all contexts of their lives. Great post - thanks for sharing!

  3. I love these examples, ML! Truly authentic. I am thinking about trying yoga -- I think I would be on a huge learning curve as well.
    When taking a golf lesson, they videotape and analyze my golf swing. It's never pretty, but I DO learn. :)

  4. I took up Tai Chi about 15 years ago and I love it. I have lost the habbit of it lately I am afraid and am out of sync. You have inspired me to get back to it. I have found that it carries over to so many other parts of my life.


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