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Teaching Middle School in an Age of Autodidacts

Browse recordings: livestream.com/educon2

Session Six: Sunday 2:30pm–4:00pm
Room 207
Andrew Carle
Affiliation: Flint Hill School
Conversational Focus/Audience:
High School, Middle School
Conversation Description:

My strong belief is that sharing the things you are passionate about, that which inspires your learning as an adult, is essential for opening space for middle school students to be excited and inspired themselves. But despite my passion and relative expertise as a technologist, teacher, and mathematician, I often feel like I best serve my students when I dive into the unknown along side them. How can we prepare teachers to support a class of students with interests that range from bread making to breadboards? What are the best ways my content expertise can help students chase their own passions, supported by the ubiquitous resources of the web

Let's explore about the changing balance between subject expertise and experimentation, homebrew enthusiasm versus refined aesthetics, and about the ever-diminishing utility of "things the teacher already knows." That last bums me out, because I still really like math.

I don't know the best way to push middle and high school students to highest levels of inquiry and exploration, but I have some stories and examples to share. Bring your own anecdotes and data to a discussion of the organizational, logistical, curricular and, yes, aesthetic challenges that surface in the open-inquiry classroom. We'll spend some time addressing the institutional, cultural and financial obstacles to this approach, but that's not the central aim. Rather, let's consider whether this approach is worth pursuing in the first place.

Conversational Practice:
We'll use Elluminate and an open Skype video channel for remote participation, including streaming local video content. The goal is to develop a public document of guiding principles for managing open-inquiry based classrooms, based on the experiences and anecdotal evidence shared by participants.


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