Have you read the book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie? It’s an awesome book for all ages! If you give a mouse a cookie, the mouse will want milk; then the mouse will want a straw, then a napkin, and so on and so on. The story depicts the power of chain reactions and cause-and-effect relationships.

When I think of chain reactions, I think of power. “In a chain reaction, positive feedback leads to a self-amplifying chain of events” (Wikipedia). I think of energy that escalates. Then I think, that is what learning should be like in schools.

Learning should not be a sequence of transactions from teacher to student; it should be a process that builds on itself and creates an energy of its own. After all, seeking to become lifelong learners, students can’t always derive their energy from the teacher. And for teachers, trying to motivate and engage students at every turn is exhausting! So consider the natural chain reaction inherent in student-driven classroom environments like the Learner-Active, Technology-Infused Classroom. If you give a kid a real-world problem:

  • Then they will want to know what it will take to solve the problem. (This is where the analytic rubric comes into play.)

  • Then they will want to know how to learn the skills they need to solve the problem. (A high-quality activity list will offer differentiated opportunities to learn.)

  • Then they will want to learn specific skills or content. (Empowering students to schedule their own time allows them to take charge of their own learning.)

  • Then they will want advice, support, and challenging questions to spur their thinking. (Now, the teacher has the opportunity to become a masterful facilitator of learning.)

  • Then they will produce and advocate for their solution. (This is where a real-world audience is so important.)

  • And this will give them the confidence and excitement to tackle the next problem.

If you give a kid a real-world problem … you can change the world!

Who is talking about the importance of real world problems?

How can teachers learn to design Learner-Active, Technology-Infused Classrooms?

  • My books will help! Students Taking Charge (K-5 and 6-12 versions) is a “how-to” for designing a student-driven classroom. It’s Not What You Teach But How offers introductory topics to rethinking instruction.