Shovel or Spoon?

I read an article by one of my favorite writers in education, Bill Ferriter (@plugusin) .  In it, Bill asks tweeps “what one bit of advice” he should give district leaders around technology.  Tim Wilhelmus (@twilhelmus) responded:


Behind Tim’s statement is the belief that people will use tools without understanding why.  Better put, they will design lessons with the tool at the forefront, instead of designing  for efficient and effective learning.  This may happen, often, I am sure.

However, when we spend time debating whether or not a tool should be used, we are again putting the tool at the forefront.  We end up with two camps:  those for the tool and those against the tool.  This argument is not the best vehicle for discussing effective lesson design.

I’ve written about the problem with false dilemmas in my post:  The Genius of And :

If we all focused on the big idea (say, student learning) and truly know where our students are and what they need,  we will free ourselves up from this false dichotomy.  

My point?

  • Start conversations about learning with the GOALS/concepts/outcomes at the forefront
  • Avoid talking about the tools until the goal is transparent
  • Add supportive tools when they make sense and are supportive of the goal
  • Assess the learning to determine if the tool worked and the learning happened

Shovel or spoon?

It depends on your goal.


The Whole Lives Inside the Learner

I am in “redesign”, trying to tailor learning for an elementary school next month.  While thinking about what parts they might need or want, I realized my focus should be (not only that BUT) :  

How can I structure the day and design learning experiences that help them go from theory to practice?  

David Wees , a  Formative Assessment Specialist for Mathematics at New Visions for Public Schools in NYC wrote a succinct article:  What are effective learning experiences for educators?  He created a list of learning experiences for educators and put them on a continuum (below).


Recently, I wrote about  the importance of teaching “the whole” and not just the elements or  “parts”.  Learners need to put legs on new ideas by integrating them with what they already understand.  Afterwards, doing something with this new understanding is important.

As a facilitator for adult learning:  

I used to think teaching was about communicating the elements .  

Now I think telling isn’t teaching.  

I used to think all of the elements=the whole

Now I think the whole lives inside the learner;

If we don’t allow educators time for inquiry into their own practices,  learning may not happen in ways that create change.

Less content, more inquiry.