Model learning and best practice for students

2I’d like to share a story that, if nothing else, will serve as a great reminder of what it means to model learning and best practices for students.

I’ve tried something new this year with my students and it hasn’t been going very well.

At the beginning of the semester I asked them to reach out to an expert in a subject or field of interest of theirs. I asked them to find a subject they are passionate about and create a project around it.

I wish I could say this was an original idea, but alas, Google thought of it years ago. But it wasn’t until I read Don Wettrick’s book this past summer, Pure Genius: Building a Culture of Innovation and Taking 20% Time to the Next Level, that I was inspired by the idea of “Innovation Time,” and decided to implement it into my classroom.

We discussed ways to contact these people; use a network of people you know, social media, or just good old research and find a phone number.

There have been a few attempts by my students, but nothing that stuck.

So I decided to model for them what I meant, hoping that the process would work for me.

I have a journalism idol that I have followed for years. I use his work to teach my students, and students all over the world, how to tell visual stories.

So I reached out to my network on social media and a friend I knew could help.

He did.

The next step was to draft a letter, letting my journalism expert know I truly appreciate his work, love his style of storytelling, and that his work has made an impact on the world. He’s incredibly busy, so there was no expectation I would receive a reply.

But I did.

His response was gracious and genuine. He even shared his phone number with me to call and talk for a few minutes.

So I did.

We spoke on the phone for about 15 minutes. It was a terrific call, and in fact, we arranged for him to Skype with my class next month.

Thank you Steve Hartman for replying to this teacher who truly admires your work.

When I shared this story with my students in class, they were glued to my words. My hope is that they are as inspired as I was talking with Steve.

Steve asked me if I could remember what the first story of his that I shared with my students.

Of course I did.

Follow Steve “On the Road” to watch more of his amazing stories.

Don Goble

Don Goble is an award-winning Broadcast, Technology, Multimedia and Film Instructor at Ladue Horton Watkins High School in St. Louis. Journalism Education Association's National Broadcast Adviser of the Year in 2015, Don is also an Apple Distinguished Educator, PBS Lead Digital Innovator and author who advocates for media and digital literacy for all learners. Don masterfully engages students to author and craft media messages to build their voice and share their story.

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2 thoughts on “Model learning and best practice for students

  • October 12, 2015 at 6:18 pm

    What a great reminder for teachers everywhere that WE must be the chief learner in the classroom!

    I love how Don reflected upon a problem of practice and then modeled the process for students so they could grasp of vision for what was possible. As educators, we know that mentor text work in reading, writing and math workshop; we need to extend this practice across the curriculum and employ the mentor text model to research and technology skills too!

    Far surpassing any state standard, Don modeled risk-taking, perseverance, reflection and passion. He shared his personal story with his students and leveraged beyond-school resources to pursue a topic of interest. In doing so, he refined numerous academic skills as he read, wrote, viewed, listened, researched and conversed authentically with someone who impacted him as an artist and teacher. Ultimately, he provided his students concrete evidence that the process of thinking and learning never stops.

    This is such a terrific example of gradual release and I can’t wait to share it with my staff tomorrow. Fantastic post.

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