Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Dime Toss: Where's the Relevance?

This past weekend, I went to one of my favorite carnivals. It's one of those good, old-fashioned places where you can eat french fries, play bingo, and ride a ferris wheel.

My favorite activity at the carnival is the DIME TOSS. This game involves throwing dimes at gently used dishware. If the dime lands on the plate or cup, you get to keep it. Each year, I diligently throw dimes at mugs that say "World's Best Dad" or old sundae dishes. I usually win a few items that are later sold at my annual garage sale.

As I was tossing away dimes this year, a thought crossed my mind. This is what education feels like to lots of students. It's fun at first. However, the excitement quickly dwindles when the realization sets in that the reward is not particularly meaningful or useful.

So, how can we stop our learning objectives from resembling fine china from 1975?

Well, we can involve students in curriculum revision projects. We can ask parents, students, and community members what matters BEFORE we establish standards, lessons, and materials. We can simply say, "What do you want to WIN as you work towards educational goals?"

Please understand that I realize there must be balance when learning targets are established. There are some essential skills and ideas that students must master in particular content areas. However, putting students into the driver's seat can make a big difference in student performance.

What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. Great reflection. Of course the state sets the standards but you are right in asking the students what will a "win" in the dime toss really look like to them? What will they know and be able to do? Now, how do we lay out that very lesson? Since students don't know what it is they actually need to learn, we need to frame it in a general sense that allows the teacher to plug in the details, the values. I learn better when I can create a visual plan for where I am going, an outline of sorts. Thanks for offering this reflection.

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