Lehmann’s Progressive Pedagogy Dead-On

Posted on July 1, 2008


Chris Lehmann’s session, Progressive Pedagogy and 21st Century Tools, was incredible and dead-on. I’ll not attempt to summarize; you can watch the actual presentation here.

I want to reflect on what his ideas mean to me and to my school. I’ve initiated a 21st Century Learning Community (21clc) at my school. I write about our first meeting here.  From the beginning, I’ve known I need to stress that 21st Century Learning is not about the tools and gadgets-which come, go, change constantly-but about how we use them to create, to design, to communicate, to collaborate. To learn. It’s about effective pedagogy. Thanks, Bud Hunt, for reminding me of this point in an e-mail months ago when I asked  what an ideal computer lab would look like. Bud was quick to note the professional development was crucial-that teachers knowing what to do/how to use the tools was as important as the actual tools. Lehman said it eloquently in his session today:

“Tools don’t teach. They do change the way we teach.”

The question I’ve been wrestling: how do I communicate this idea to the 21clc group? How do we as a school all work together toward using effective pedagogy-progressive pedagogy–that makes a difference in what our students learn-really learn? How do the digital tools become, as Lehmann says, “ubiquitous, necessary & invisible.”?

Lehmann may have given me my answer. He outlined five core values his school has identified (after about 15 hours locked together in a room, he says), the values that are the framework for everything-professional development, unit design, student assessment-at his school:

  1. Inquiry
  2. Research
  3. Collaboration
  4. Reflection
  5. Presentation (Analysis, though not included is implicit.)

Using Understanding By Design (Ubd), the school IS project-based learning, with teachers using Wiggins and McTighue’s backward design model to create inquiry-based units centered around big ideas and essentials questions and using the five core values to drive student activities/projects. What a concept! Here’s the big picture I’ve been struggling to grasp-not grasp but figure out how to translate this idea to others in my school. Lehmann provides a wonderful  hand-out outlining how to use backward design to create lessons/units.

Several schools in Arkansas are moving toward Total Instructional Alignment. The zigzag method (I don’t remember the proper name) of unpacking the standards, which we learned in a recent workshop, sounds a lot like Wiggins and McTighue’s design model. We must first understand the big ideas-what content do we want kids to know and what skills do we want kids to be able to do? Would Ubd be a common ground-sound pedagogy to tie together the work my school’s doing toward curriculum alignment, to forge a 21st Century vision, to give us all a common language to begin to talk about what effective teaching and lessons/units look like in the classroom? Would Lehmann’s five core values work for BHS?

Hmmm. Where to go from here? My brain hurts again. I need more dendrites: too many gaps and unbridged connections still remain.

Posted in: 21clc, EdTech, Reflection