BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) is important to shape a unit and course. Being able to set specific goals to accomplish specific outcomes is critical to keep the course on track with initial goals to completion of assessments. Often in education setting goals can be just one more thing to do but we aren't valuing the importance of aligning appropriate activities and assessments with these goals. We must be careful to not just write objectives as something to put on our boards or check off our list, but really placing value and being purposeful with what we are wanting students to learn.
Connecting vs. Collecting
I completely agree with Seth Godwin that grades are an illusion. I believe grades can discourage real learning. We have taught students that grades are more important than learning. I agree with Seth Godwin when he defines good work is when you really care about your work enough to be willing to criticized. I think there is nothing more exciting about teaching than motivating a student to be interested in learning. It doesn't matter what they want to learn, but having a passion for learning. When students are so excited to learn that you can’t get them to stop, it’s what teaching is all about.
The current structure of school schedules and course work I believe lends itself to collecting the dots more than connecting dots. I believe that students have difficulty connecting the dots between subjects, when they are asked to combine concepts it is something students struggle with. When we teach students at an early age to focus on one subject, put that subject away and focus on another, we are allowing them to compartmentalize instead of looking at learning as a whole entity. I cross curriculum's all the time, and at first, students have a tough time combining subjects. This is one more habit that is challenging to break in the upper levels.
Aside from the content specific schedule, I think another challenge is the lack of time, which prevents students from learning at a deeper level or critical thinking. When teachers are trying to cram all the required curriculum in a brief period, this leads to focusing on one task instead of the big picture. And it may take students days to critically understand a concept but there is only a day allotted. When I taught math often I would get frustrated because students didn't have enough time to grasp a concept but were forced to move on to the next day or I would not be able to cover all state-mandated material before the standardized tests.
This course has helped me reflect on my own learning and the way that I want students to learn. I do believe there is a need for students to have basic skills especially when it comes to reading, writing, and math. Aside from those basic concepts, I do believe learning should be revolved around students learning through problem-based learning and experimental learning. I am fortunate that through the Career and Technology courses I teach, this way of learning is feasible to implement. However, I do see the challenges that core teachers face to keep up with curriculum, covering all topics needed before standardized testing. Every year when testing is over, I watch teachers work on critical thinking projects. And both the students and teachers seem to enjoy learning through problem-solving instead of topics being forced to students.