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Sunday, March 4, 2012


we train students to memorize, to avoid errors and mistakes. but the goal of learning is to understand. i practice my backhand in tennis over and over and over again so that i may understand how to cleanly strike the ball. i underline key phrases or entire pages in a novel because i want to understand why those words move me. and so perhaps one reason why high-stakes testing doesn't work is that nothing blunts understanding more thoroughly than prescribed memorization. if we want to encourage deep and authentic learning (what i'm calling understanding), we must begin with this question in mind: what does understanding look like for X assignment? bloom's taxonomy is helpful here. so is UbD. so is Gardner. and so are things like rubrics and benchmarks and outcomes. it can all be helpful. the teacherly task, then, is to find the most helpful way to support students—that is, to help them showcase their best level of understanding.

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