Consuming Doesn’t Equal Learning

If you’re like me, you could spend weeks choosing which Blog Prompt to reflect on and/or even more time making that site just right, but Bill Ferriter’s post encourages me to forget about the verb “blog” and focus on the verb “reflect”. The adjective “reflective” happens to be the eighth characteristic of the “The Innovator’s Mindset”.

Since envisioning a school that encouraged “educators to ‘Drop everything and Reflect‘ belongs on my list of necessary if I were to start a school from scratch (Week 1 prompt), I chose another favorite from page 55: “6. Creators — Anyone can consume information, but that doesn’t equate to learning.”

I’m pretty sure that I learned in Matt Miller’s #DitchSummit that ninety some percent of people consume information, a very small percent curate, while only one percent create. Yikes! During #DitchSummit, Alice Keeler and Kasey Bell inspired me to get my students back into Google Classroom by simply posing a question.

What happened next was kind of cool:
 Some of my 49 kiddos…

  • got into Classroom at night on their own to post their answers
  • uploaded links to math and science content we were studying
  • commented on others’ comments
  • uploaded Google Forms they had created to survey classmates
  • uploaded Google Slide Decks they had created and invited collaboration and/or feedback

Parts that weren’t so cool included:
 Some of my 49 kiddos…

  • typed long strings of letters that spelled “cool”, “epic”, etc.
  • typed innocuous, irrelevant comments
  • made cyberspace “noise”

And most of my 49 kiddos…

  • didn’t accept their classmates’ invitations to collaborate
  • didn’t respond to my or their classmates’ invitations to create

I shouldn’t have been surprised that my classes’s statistics mirrored the #DitchSummit percentages cited, but I was…at first. I figured an opportunity to create would have captured the fancy of at least 15% of my students. The truth is it amounted to 4%…yes, this is higher than 1%, but I teach 9- and 10-year-olds! Surely I/we haven’t squelched every ounce of creativity in them yet.

My immediate necessary:

  • Continue to teach my students how to communicate and collaborate face-to-face while also explicitly teaching them how to do so “digitally”…think “Math Talk” style but via computer
  • Explicitly teach what “create” means and looks like because…
  • Which is why the reasoning, communication, and critical-thinking skills developed while learning conceptual math are so crucial for today’s learners. But that would be another reflection 🙂

So, have you experienced similar numbers in your classroom? If you are bound to a District Curriculum and Pacing Guide, how are you innovating ‘within the box’ to still give your students those important opportunities to create? Please share your thoughts with us below.

Originally published at on May 1, 2017.