Stop Teaching, Model Learning

At our PA day on Friday, we were fortunate to have a few Grade 8 students give up some of their day off to come and teach us about Minecraft and Scratch. In their Patterning and Algebra unit they were looking at a series of figures out of the text book and quickly recognized that they could easily be duplicated in Minecraft.

They were keen to show their teacher (a self-admitted Minecraft rookie) who in turn gave them free reign to create. What they ended up sharing was an elaborate setting filled with multiple series of figures that needed to be solved in order to manoeuvre through the game. They gave options like “if you think A is the answer continue left, if you think B is the answer continue right”. One direction would be a dead end guiding the player to the correct answer. It was quite elaborate and inventive. The students shared that they collaborated on the game with each of them taking on a particular aspect of the design (bridges, etc.).

What I loved about this whole thing was that it was totally student led and that they were quite comfortable sharing their expertise with us. The knew their material well and were engaged in the learning process. You couldn’t help but be enthused and engaged with them.  These kids are learning in a classroom where they recognize themselves as teachers too.  The best way to demonstrate learning is when you can teach someone else.  Isn’t that what we as teachers have known for a long time?  Let’s empower our students to teach us things they feel passionate about and can use to make their learning real.

I was in a brief conversation on Twitter over the weekend – a conversation about taking risks and as a follow up to a similar discussion on our PA Day, I shared that I value when I hear teachers say to students “I don’t know – let’s find out together”.  A Twitter colleague rephrased it better to “Stop Teaching, Model Learning”.  Thanks to Isaac, Andrew, Matt, Amanda, @mraspinall, @audrey_stephen and @RayVanGeel for inspiring this post.

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