Studio Learning for Students and Teachers - Steve Barkley

Studio Learning for Students and Teachers

I have finished reading David Perkins’ Making Learning Whole: How 7 Principles of Teaching Can Transform Education. I’ve mentioned my earlier reading in a previous post. The seven principles align well with the work I have done through Performance Learning Systems in Live Event Learning. Live Events (real life learning experiences with real consequences) create situations for learning to be whole.

Perkins identifies strategies to support each of his seven principles.
One of the strategies that Perkins mentions under the principle he calls “learn from the team” is Studio Learning. Citing the work of his colleagues in Studio Thinking: The Real Benefits of Arts Education, Perkins identifies how this “arts approach” has value for all learners. (Perkins, pages 177-181)

Three structures of studio learning are:

Demonstration-lecture– where the instructor usually takes a short time to introduce an idea or technique, often with some modeling and then a studio assignment, The shortness of this component allows time for immediate learner work and practice.

Students–at-Work– The instructor now circulates providing individualized guidance. In addition to responding to the “just presented concept,” the instructor can nudge, prod, and cajole each learner. During this time students can also see each other work and learn from others’ approaches.

Critique– The students are now showing and explaining their work; watching listening learning from each other. These student/instructor conversations lead to what has been called “studio habits of mind” which include persistence, envisioning, expression, observation, reflection, and exploration.

Perkins suggests that this arts approach could be expanded into many other content areas with modification of classroom practices creating more students to experience whole learning. I agree.

Studio learning makes a great approach for instructional coaches to look at their work in teacher development. Coaches initial presentations to teachers can be short (brown bag lunch) lectures or demonstrations. Teachers can leave the presentations and begin experimentation as the coaches and other teachers are available for support, scaffolding, feedback, and encouragement. Eventually bringing teacher videos and/or student products for critique would provide input on the next learning goals. Studio learning fits well with professional learning communities.

Note the connections with the findings from National Staff Development Council, and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards:

“Teachers can also use videotapes of teaching to make aspects of their practice public and open to peer critique, learn new practices and pedagogical strategies, and analyze aspects of teaching practices that may be difficult to capture otherwise. Recent research on teachers undertaking certification by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards—which involves them in producing and analyzing their own classroom videotapes in relation to professional standards, and often discussing them with colleagues- has found that the experience can lead teachers to change how they teach, increase their knowledge of various approaches, and enable them to engage in more effective teaching practices in the classroom.”
(footnote: Professional Learning in the Learning Profession)

Teaching and Learning need to be public activities! Coaches, teachers, and principals….lets work to increase our studio learning!

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