Creating a Significant Learning Environment

The most recent course I have just completed has really pushed my thinking in my areas especially considering how I plan lessons. We started the course by reading the book A New Culture of Learning.  I found the book very interesting and had me questioning myself and some of my beliefs quite a bit.  The author says to really change our classroom environments we should embrace three components: Passion, Imagination, and Constraint.  I have seen with my own son that when passion in learning is ignited, they will do anything to learn more.

After reading this book, we were made to look more closely at what kind of learner and teacher we are with our learning philosophy.  I had never thought about what kind of learner I might be.  I realized that I relate most to the constructivist theory.  Not to mention that I love all things John Dewey.  I can’t believe that his beliefs from over a hundred years ago are still current.  I love the idea of discovery and students learning on their own.  I hope to be more of a mentor/guide along their learning journey.

Next, we took a close look at Fink’s 3 column table planning tool.  This assignment pushed me and made me think deeper about how I plan a unit.  I chose to have my students to work on coins for this unit.  After completing it, I really liked the idea of focusing more on the learning and the whole child.  I noticed that when I sit down to plan, I mostly focus on what I will use to teach the unit and not exactly what the students will get out of each activity.  I know that I would need more practice and more collaboration to get this hammered out to be amazing, but I did like thinking differently about how to plan a unit.

Then we visited the Understanding by Design template.  Once again I realized that I was the teacher focused mostly on activities.  I liked this one quite a bit.  I liked the end piece where you focus on the activities.  During the planning piece, you reevaluate each piece by using the WHERETO acronym.  It kept me more focused on what I exactly was wanting them to learn and do.  The acronym really helped me evaluate each piece and decide if I needed to add more.

The last assignment for this course was to revisit our growth mindset plan from our first course.  I realized my first plan was mostly focused on me.  When I read the book the first time, I focused on myself the entire time.  Did I have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset? I was so confused because I felt like I had both.  I still see myself having both at times.  After being in my class for a bit, I have realized that I have to teach my kids this as well.  It is super important for them to learn and could be really helpful for them to learn as first graders.


Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Lexington, KY: CreateSpace?

Wiggins, G. P., & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design, expanded 2nd edition. London, England: Pearson.

Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York, NY: Random House.

Fink, L. D. (2013). Creating significant learning experiences: An integrated approach to designing college courses. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

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