Patrick Higgins, Jr.

Posts Tagged ‘contentversusskills’

It’s OK. You Can Let Go.

In 21st Century, ascd on March 14, 2009 at 1:17 pm

Last year, I used a book on assessment from Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey in a study group with teachers.  When I saw their name attached to this morning’s panel discussion on Literacy in the 21st Century, I was intrigued.  My thinking was that they would have some great foundational elements to add to the what I’ve been thinking lately.

What happened was much more than what I thought.  Amy Sandvold, a colleague of Angela Maiers, was also on the panel as well.  Here is what I pulled out.

Fisher, Frey and Sandvold advocated a Gradual Release of Responsibility in the relationship between teachers and students.

grrA few years back, when I really began this journey, I saw Alan November present about the need for teachers to outsource what they do to the students to prevent them from being the only voice in the classroom.  What they advocated and described here is exactly that.  Focused instruction, according to Fisher, is pointed modeling of expert thinking and behavior. It’s in this mode of instruction where we help students build the requisite background knowledge and vocabulary they need for success in higher level tasks.  This argument, which is raging throughout the educational world right now, about content v. skills, then becomes moot.  Is there direct instruction in this model?  Absolutely, but it is followed by gradually removing the emphasis on what you as a teacher do in front of your students.  Once you model and instruct, move into more collaborative and shared modes of teaching and learning, until the end result is full on student responsibility.

And this from Frey:

Students and teachers must know stuff in order to do stuff.
Teachers now stuff.
Students know stuff too
Teachers and students learn from one another by interacting and collaborating.

I truly believe that learning takes place in many forms and through many processes.  One that I will recommend to anyone is that of conversation and communal learning among students and teachers.  Even today, sitting there discussing our greatest learning experience we ever had (my partner had a great one where she remembers finally being able to move from snow-plow skiing to parallel skiing), I didn’t realize my own until we began talking to others in the room and listening to the stories of people learning.  Collaboration is a powerful tool for learning.

There is so much more to come out of this session, but I am finding that it’s hard to process, especially in light of what occurred directly after this session.  That’s coming too.

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