"[I]f I had to live my life again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week…The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature." --Charles Darwin

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Project Able

Spent the day today in a workshop along with a number of my colleagues helping develop a program and its attendant website, both called Project ABLE. Able stands for Authentic-Based Learning Environment. Authentic Learning tasks are real-world tasks which call for a synthesis of materials and skills, where solutions are not spelled out for students, but have to be developed and discovered by them. It is not designed to teach a particular bunch of content, but requires the application of data and skills from a number of disciplines to solve a problem. It is "learning by doing"--almost a return to pre-modern apprenticeship, but without such a narrow skill focus. There's a decent description of the idea here.

The initiative is very timely here in New Jersey, where a new set of Core Curriculum Content Standards is emerging--some have been rewritten, some are in draft. All of them are reformatted away from hard and fast "stuff to learn" towards pushing instruction to the higher orders of thinking on Bloom's Taxonomy and employing Howard Gardner's ideas of multiple intelligences and multiple learning styles.

Project ABLE would like to get a lot of teachers, schools and districts working together and sharing ideas for strategies and plans. I just hope they are fast enough--development, especially of the website, has been rather protracted and there are still a number of bumpy spots, and many more opportunities for using technology for collaboration than they are addressing just now. But it is sort of fun to be the lab rats for this particular maze, even I do miss instructional time in the classroom.

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