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Summer brings about many things for me, one in particular being a summer reading list. I have been an avid reader since I was a kid, which is probably when the expansive book lists began. One thing I have learned in my lifetime is that when you love books, reading lists are forever growing and never shrinking! I am a balanced reader between fiction and non-fiction, and plan to blog about books that inspire me as I reflect on the past year of teaching, learning, and growing and establish goals for the upcoming school year.
Brain-Based Teaching in the Digital Age, by Marilee Sprenger, was a great first PD book for me this summer. It confirmed so many professional beliefs I have developed over the past 3 years teaching within multiage classrooms. These years have truly pushed me to let go and expand my understanding of a student-centered classroom. This book brought forth 5 important points for educators to consider:
- The Net-Generation, more than any other, will be coteachers in the classroom. (pg.31) Ann and I have dynamically shifted our practice to involve our students in every aspect of the teaching and learning process. Students increase their memory by being a part of the discovery process and are courageous when researching information that meets their individual goals. Providing opportunities for them to teach others enhances their learning and makes information relevant. I really appreciated the term "coteachers" being used in this statement!
- Students can both learn and teach in this world. Education is available everywhere. (pg.43) ...well isn't that the truth! Adapting this mindset is the first step in providing opportunities for our students to learn and teach globally. Education no longer has to be confined to the walls of the classroom, or the building. Rather there are a plethora of tools, resources, sites, etc. that spark communication among students around the world. Imagine the possibilites!
- Brains learn best when working with other brains. (pg.50) Ann and I both had professional goals in the area of speaking & listening this year. Pushing ourselves in this realm of literacy enabled our students to authentically communicate with each other. Their dialogue, silent signals, debating skills, and sharing of creative ideas added another dimension to learning within our classroom.
- Your job as knowledge keeper is obsolete. (pg. 69) In the beginning years of my teaching career this was a hard concept for me to grasp. My college experience prepared me as the keeper of knowledge and how to share this knowledge with my students. Technology has advanced at such an immense rate, it was difficult to shift my thinking and become comfortable with how accessible information is these days. However, it has relieved the pressures of having to feel as though I had to play that role. Instead I bask in the glory of teaching my students how to be learners in the world we live in and navigate the infinite information at our finger tips. How cool is that?!?
- Memories make us smarter and give us the tools to be creative, to synthesize, and to build relationships. These are 21st century skills that our students need to succeed. (pg.125) Everyday as a learner should be full of enriching experiences. These experiences allow us to view the world from different angles, sparking creativity. These experiences help us to be able to make genuine connections and deeply synthesize concepts. These experiences provide opportunities to engage in conversations with other and problem solve together, building natural relationships. Enriching experiences should be a part of our learning environment to build these skills that our students so desperately need.
At heart, I am a brain-based educator. It is important to me to teach students about their brain and how we gather information through experiences and novelty, sparking creative juices along the way. It is important to me to provide ample opportunity for my students to reflect during their learning journey and solidify the information they have encountered and establish goals to continue mapping their learning path. I want my students to be a part of the learning process, every step of the way; a navigator, rather than a tourist. Sprenger's book helped me confirm my teaching philosophy and provided me with more strategies to strengthen my teaching skills, as a facilitator of the learning process.