In my last post I talked about some of the things I took away from The Reform Symposium I attended last weekend. I just wanted to share one other thought about it.
As a educator, my weekends are sacred and I suppose that the holiness of weekends is not limited to the education field. Weekends are a time to read, to hang out with friends, to exercise, and to relax. Usually, the mere thought of giving up a Saturday to work on PD would send me into convulsions, but The Reform Symposium was different. It was presenters I wanted to listen to, discussing topics I passionately cared about. The Reform Symposium is a perfect example of intrinsic motivation. I was extremely motivated to attend and the learning was authentic. As a result of the symposium, I read dozens of blog articles, experimented with multiple instruction tools, wrote pages of notes, and connected with experts. I even pumped out a couple blog posts of my own. That is REAL learning.
It really got me thinking about my students. Instead of the obligatory "do such and such page or worksheet" homework, why can't I find out my students passions and help them conduct REAL learning outside the class. How transformative would their educational experience be if they were intrinsically motivated to explore? As teachers, we should try and model this creativity to our students and give them the opportunities to foster intrinsic motivation. Sometimes it amazes me at the work I get when I give "optional homework"(that which is not mandatory). Examples of this are: blog posts/comments, research/edit wikis, animotos, etc. When the students do the "optional homework it is of much higher quality than when required homework is assigned. I will be honest that much of the class may not do the "optional homework", but it is amazing that students will work harder on this than the mandatory assignments. It was like me and The Reform Symposium. It was "optional" and I spend hours on it. Other PDs that don't engage me I spend hours playing on my phone going through the motions.