Three of our contributors offer lively classroom reflections about instructional design. David Corner describes a his planning for a math unit that aims to foster mathematical habits of mind and self-directed learning. Alec Patton reflects on the stresses and rewards of exhibitions of learning—the role of authentic audiences, and the importance of balancing show and substance, or “sizzle and steak.” Kelly Williams discusses the value of prototyping in developing writing projects—for the teacher, who can then anticipate and understand some of the struggles students may experience, and for students, for whom seeing the teacher write helps to demystify the process.
Other articles take us outside the school walls. Brian Delgado and his students move from a classroom Socratic seminar to space exploration in the desert. Erina Chavez, a student at High Tech High in North San Diego County, describes a project that took students on a 72-mile Odyssey through five different biomes along the San Dieguito River.
For Melissa Agudelo, the dialogue about teaching and learning starts at home—the student’s home—with home visits building a two-way bridge of dialogue, understanding, and advocacy.
What about teachers as learners? Christine Hoyos and Michael Martin argue for the importance of regarding failure as an episode of learning, for adults as well as students. If adults are to grow as teachers, there needs to be room to try—and perhaps fail at—something new. Joan Soble describes the triumphs and tensions involved as teachers engaged in regular exhibitions of their own learning over a several-year span in an urban high school. Finally, Kathleen Gallagher shares a process and instrument for identifying effective teaching—what is it, how do we know, and how can we help new teachers develop their craft? It turns out that developing teacher effectiveness, too, is a matter of dialogue—of bringing teachers’ voices into the conversation.
Four of these articles made their first appearance as posts to EducationWeek’s Learning Deeply blog, http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/learning_deeply, hosted by Jal Mehta of Harvard University and Bob Rothman of The Alliance for Excellent Education. We encourage our readers to visit that blog, which features posts about purpose, policy and practice by educators and students from a variety of settings.
The UnBoxed cards in this issue offer glimpses of projects and practices that we find inspiring. These cards are freely available on our UnBoxed website in a printer-ready format. Simply print, fold, share and discuss. Each card refers the reader to a web address for further information.
We wish to thank the K-12 and university educators who have reviewed our submissions for this issue and offered invaluable counsel. We invite all of our readers to join us in conversations about purpose, policy and practice in education by submitting your thoughts for publication or serving as a peer reviewer.