March 18 – Reflections on hearing Tony Wagner

Tony Wagner
At 10am on Saturday during the NBPTS Teaching and Learning Conference at the Washington Convention Center, over 1,000 educators gathered to listen to this strong voice in education. Writer of many books, Tony has spent many hours interviewing top business leaders, asking them what skills they want their newly hired employees to have. From these interviews, he created a list of seven major skills that companies value most:
1. critical thinking
2. collaboration – in person and virtually
3. agility/adaptability
4. initiative/entrepenurial spirit
5. can communicate strongly both orally and in writing
6. ability to access information
7. curiosity and imagination

He then stressed to this audience of teachers that we can ensure that these skills are taught if teachers incorporate the 3Ps – play, passion, and purpose – into the school day. This got me thinking.

Do I allow my 4th graders time for the 3Ps?
PLAY – One plus of the many snow days we have had in VA this winter is that we’ve had lots of indoor recess which has given me the opportunity to watch my 10 years olds play. Mancala, paper airplanes, beanie babies and white board markers have been used the most. However, it is also play when I ask groups of four to work together in science to create an image and research interesting facts related to a planet. It is play when students read and jot down thoughts as they prepare for a book club discussion. It is also play when a fruit basket and a scale is set out and students in math class must weigh each piece in grams and pounds. My natural approach to teaching by having my students do, by having hands-on learning, is play!

PASSION – I know my students’ interests, their passions,  because they read and write about them. Reading and Writing Workshop are the perfect structures that allow a teacher to know the interests of a student. In Reading Workshop, I foster students’ interests by matching kids to books related to their passion. In Writing Workshop, I teach students how to write in a variety of genres while encouraging them to write about what they know and love. For this reason, I will only work in a school that allows me to teach using the Reading and Writing Workshop structure. I guess this is my passion!

PURPOSE – My students fluently read and learned many new vocabulary words by learning all the military songs which we performed for our families and friends at our Veterans Day celebration. They researched all there is to know about a plant or herb so they can create a marketable product to sell at the 4th grade Farmer’s Market in June. Through purposeful events, learning occurs. I have made it a habit to ask WHY as I plan. This helps me to ensure that purposeful work is being done by my students. I never want them, when asked why they are doing something, to say “I don’t know. The teacher said so.” I want them to know the purpose of why they are asked to do what they do at school.

By reflecting on the 3Ps, I still have room for improvement but I am incorporating play, passion, and purpose into my school day! The by-product is that my students are learning the skills they need to be college and career ready. My students are 10 years old. I can’t even image what jobs they will be applying for in 12 years. Yet, I am confident that they will have the skills they need!
How about you?

Tony ended his talk by sharing a 7 minute preview of a documentary he is making that shows strong 21st century teaching. Look for it soon at a neighborhood theater. To see video, click here.

More info can be found at his webpage.

6 thoughts on “March 18 – Reflections on hearing Tony Wagner

  1. Michelle says:

    Ah, yes, the 4C's and the 3R's and now the 3P's. All so valuable and important as we “reinvent” education — from Dr. Wagner, of course! How lucky that you were able to hear him speak. Thanks for sharing your insights and the link to the preview! I'm going there now …


  2. Julieanne says:

    Why is in fact such a powerful word when we make our choices as teachers. It can guide how we use our time. We control what kids have access to and in your classroom the 3Ps seem pretty accessible.


  3. Marilyn Miner says:

    Were you really posting this at 4:24 a.m.? You are amazing! I love the PLAY is coming back into favor. If we neglect Play we are doing all children a huge disservice, especially our youngest students. I remember once I gave homework to go outside and play. Some students returned the next day and said they were not allowed. Sad.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s