Friday, February 18, 2011

Learning and the Brain Conference 2011 - Tony Wagner

Overcoming the Global Achievement Gap: Learning, Leading and Teaching in the 21st Century
Tony Wagner, ED.D.
Innovation Education Fellow
Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard
Author of: The Global Achievement Gap

Learning and the Brain Conference 2011, San Francisco, CA
Morning Keynote #1 - February 18, 2011

What is the "crisis" in American education really all about - what's the "problem"?

The rock: New Skills for work, continuous Learning and Citizenship in a "knowledge society" for All Students

They are skills we don't teach and don't assess

This Net generation is differently motivated to learn

Reform vs. Reinvention
- we need new structures, different ways of teaching and testing and new ways of evaluating (reinvention)

-The seven survival skills for careers, college and citizenship
1. Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving - demands of employers today for its employees to be able to do. The ability to ask really good questions and the right questions.
2. Collaboration Across Networks and Leading by Influence - lead by peers.
3. Agility and Adaptability
4. Initiative and Entrepreneurship
5. Effective Oral and Written Communication - kids can write because they don't know how to think and they don't know how to write with voice. This makes them not very persuasive.
6. Accessing and Analyzing Information - question curriculum that requires memorization. Move beyond textbooks.
7. Curiosity and Imagination - 70% of US Economy is consumer driven and the savings rate was -2% - People are spending money they do not have on items that they do not need. We need young people who are going to be innovative and solve the worlds problems.

Learning walks - see how people are teaching and propose change (evaluation of practice - spend as much time debriefing as you spend observing)

The only curriculum in American schools is test prep.

What is the Global Achievement Gap - it is the gap between what even our best schools are teaching and testing versus the skills all students will need for careers, college and citizenship in the 21st century.

What motivates the Net Generation- accustomed to instant gratification and always-on connection
use the web for:
  1. extending friendships, 
  2. interest-driven, self-directed learning and as a tool for self-expression, 
  3. constantly connected,
  4. creating and multitasking in a multimedia world-everywhere except in school
The Net Generation has less fear and respect for authority accustomed to learning from peers wants coaching but only from adults who: don't talk but do, want to make a difference and do interesting things.

Rigor - guess who?
- not content driven but give them the 21st century skills - need to know how to write, research and form an effective study group (peer group learning)

Focus on Timeless learning that has stood the test of time:
  • Rigor is content mastery (getting more right answers)
  • studying existing content by disciplines
  • learners working alone and in competition
  • motivated mainly by extrinsic rewards (grades)
  • taught by isolated content experts through memorization/recall
  • assessed mainly by multiple choice, computer scored tests

Focus on using content to master the competencies of "Just-in-Time Learning"

Rigor is figuring out the right question/problem to be solved, exploring questions and new problems within and across disciplines

Habits of Mind - learning to ask the right questions - copied and re-posted from - Habits of Mind section of their website:

Five Habits of Mind
The Mission Hill Habits of Mind are an approach to both the traditional academic disciplines (math, science, literature and history) and the interdisciplinary stuff of ordinary life. They are what lead us to ask good questions and seek solid answers. They are our definition of a well-educated person.

1. Evidence: How do we know what’s true and false? What evidence counts? How sure can we be? What makes it credible to us? This includes using the scientific method, and more.

2. Viewpoint: How else might this look like if we stepped into other shoes? If we were looking at it from a different direction? If we had a different history or expectation? This requires the exercise of informed “empathy” and imagination. It requires flexibility of mind.

3. Connections/Cause and Effect: Is there a pattern? Have we seen something like this before? What are the possible consequences?

4. Conjecture: Could it have been otherwise? Supposing that? What if...? This habit requires use of the imagination as well as knowledge of alternative possibilities. It includes the habits described above.

5. Relevance: Does it matter? Who cares?

None of these five habits stand separately. And the way we use such habits differ if we are studying a mathematical proof, a scientific hypothesis, an historical dispute, a debate over economics, the appreciation of a piece of art, a critique of a novel, the telling of a myth or narrative, or the settling of a playground dispute.

The Mission Hill Habits of Mind are supplemented by Habits of Work: the habit of meeting deadlines, being on time, sticking to a task, not getting frustrated quickly, hearing out what others say, and more.

Both sets of “habits” are developed in the process of gathering appropriate knowledge and skill in school and out. The best test is whether students use such habits in the course of their work. And again, not just in school. Knowing “how-to” is no substitute for having good habits. Who cares if you could drive well, if you’re not in the habit of doing so? Who cares if you could be on time, if you never are?

Redefining District Organizational Excellence: Accountability
Hold ourselves accountable for What matters Most (AYP vs Attainment)
Track cohort graduation rate and how well students do once they are in College (

1. Use the College and Work Readiness Assessment to assess analytic reasoning, critical thinking, problem-solving and writing

2. Academics - Doing the New Work: teaching and assessing the skills that matter most - the 3 Cs (Critical and Creative Thinking, Communication and Collaboration) in every class and at all grade levels. Pilot interdisciplinary courses around essential questions that require all students to have digital portfolios, work internships and a service internship project

3. Collaboration: Doing the New Work in New Ways
-every student has an adult advocate
-every teacher on teams for collaborative inquiry looking at student and teacher work
-Transparency: videotape teaching, supervision and meetings (lesson study vs. evaluation)
-Digital portfolios for teachers and leaders

4. Policy implications for REAL Innovation
Accountability 2.0 Systems: Tracing read grad rate
School based Research and Development - creating lab schools - pictures of what 21st century schooling can be like New Tech High and High Tech High; videotape exemplary lessons and teacher team meetings.

5. Performance standards to license and re-license educators.

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