I watched Sebastian Thrun's talk on the difference between teaching to "weed out" students, and teaching so that all students are successful in learning the information. It is an important distinction, and a hard approach to fit into the way schools work now. Why? Some students take longer than others to be successful, and when students are at many different places on the way to the same goal (individualized learning), it takes more individual teacher attention than marching everyone along at the same pace.
Quote: "MIT starts out with the traditional assumption that only a limited number of students should be successful. Thrun is instead starting out with the assumption that all students should be successful, provided enough support and opportunity to learn."
A followup to the Assessment post linked below. This quote could be written about the Writing Mentors approach to working with students:
As teachers, we must help our students answer three questions:
Where am I going? How am I doing? What actions do I need to take next?
In other words, effective feedback focuses on goals, progress, and next steps. It’s important to keep in mind that our role here is to guide, not to answer these questions for our students. Feedback that helps them answer these three questions will provide exactly the kind of guidance that’s needed.
This blog post discusses the difference between assessment OF learning and assessment FOR learning, the idea being that comments on student work should give the student clues on exactly what was done well and exactly what needs work and how to do it.
These ideas are similar to the approach we want to be at the center of the peer Writing Mentors program. Rather than judge, evaluate and suggest changes to student writing, the writing mentors should have a conversation with the writer about intent, clarity and communication, and let student writers find their own answers.
Jeff wrote a thoughtful and thorough reply to the question I left on the 1:1 laptop post. It's been helpful in establishing more ground rules in our household, and can help all parents who struggle with their kids' attachments to their devices.