Memorable Versus Memorizable

At the WestCAST Conference last month, I had the opportunity to attend the presentation by Michele Jacobson. This presentation was fantastic for a two reasons: (1) she had lots of great stuff to talk to us about, and (2) she opened up her presentation by telling us that we should be tweeting and on our phones while she was presenting.

First: the awesome stuff she told us about. Michele talked a lot about student showcasing. How do I see this working in my classroom, based on what I learned from Michele? Well, it starts off with something Michele called a “Great Task,” which is a well designed task for students that is memorable, not memorizable. Those last three words stuck with me. This means that the task is active and participatory, requires communication, and provides assessment as, of, and for learning. With this task, students would also need to engage in active peer review based off of a well-laid out, clear, concise rubric. This ensures student accountability, but also provides exposure to other thinking.

The peer review (notice that I didn’t call it peer-evaluation) is the best part for me. I’m a big believer in learning through teaching others. In my personal life, I’ve  been competing as a baton twirler for over 17 years. I started taking coaching courses and assisting with coaching about five years ago. I didn’t really understand the technique fully until I started helping and teaching young twirlers the basics. Since the basics build up to harder tricks and skills, having a solid understanding of the basics is imperative. I have to say, my understanding of the mechanics of twirling and learning how to coach has greatly improved my ability to practice and self-coach during that practice. This would be the same in a classroom — learning how to identify strengths and weaknesses within someone else’s work will ultimately help students to understand the material better, and enable them to better critique their own work. That will most certainly lead to better learning and deeper understanding. How marvelous!

Now for the second part of why Michele was awesome: she encouraged us to tweet. Gone were the days of trying to hide a phone under the table and sneakily tweet or text without looking down. She asked us to tweet. It was awesome. We were able to be in the presentation, listening to her make fantastic points, and still hold a group discussion, courtesy of the #WestCAST2012 hash tag. We also tweeted @dmichelej (Michele Jacobson), which helped keep things organized too. What was an awesome outcome of this? Michele tweeted us back after she finished speaking! The conversation continued far beyond the presentation. How marvelous!

I’m thinking that this could be really beneficial in a classroom. We were having a group discussion, but it was totally quiet. I know there are a lot of hurdles (like how do I tell if they are engaged versus playing Angry Birds), but it is certainly something to ponder.

With tweeting during her presentation, Michele instilled exactly what she was presenting about — we were actively engaged and her presentation was memorable, not memorizable.


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