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Join the Curriculum21 team at ASCD Connect 21 Summer Camp:
August 6-8, 2015
The first ASCD Connect 21 Summer Camp
Becoming a 21st Century Teacher, Leader and School
August 6-8, 2015 at the Gaylord Conference Center -greater DC area
TAKE A LOOK: http://connect.curriculum21.com
Let us peruse a list of words featured on the recent sixth grade New York state exam:
Perhaps each of us should commit to using these words today in our communications. Surely one result would likely be alienation from our recepients. ( “Hey, how’s your aerogel?“)
Arguably there is universal admiration for a command of vocabulary, but the thought of eleven and twelve year olds wrestling with these words in a timed pressure cooker suggests an “ominous situation“. What were these test makers thinking? Perhaps they yearn to design those SAT exams for seniors. The sobering fact that the results will have a direct impact on how a teacher is evaluated points to a profound disconnect. However, there is one phrase used in one of the test items that is telling: “transitory moment of presence in a distinct location”. Let us hope this is a transitory aberration.
by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano
cross posted to the Langwitches Blog
My work in formalizing Documenting4Learning is moving forward. In good old fashion, regarding practicing what one preaches, I am documenting my journey:
- Learning to Document FOR Learning and Sharing
- Copyright and Backchanneling in the Music Classroom
- Documenting FOR Learning
My exploration got started with my own change and heightened layer of learning as a direct result of documenting. The continued action research, is fueled by my firm believe that sharing is a crucial component of our work as educators and the “learning revolution“
Sharing means amplification. Amplification means spreading good practices, reaching more people and connecting beyond our own limitations of zip codes and language barriers.
- the glue that will connect your school’s professional development initiatives together
- build capacity among your teachers to make their learning visible
- communicate, collaborate and connect among professional educators
- action steps to use data to inform teaching
- supportive skills to implement and grow e-portfolios
- re-think teacher observations in your school
- creation of institutional memory
Cross posted to the Langwitches Blog
What are the Biggest Mistakes Teachers Make When Integrating Technology into the Classroom?
The word “mistake” is a harsh word. It implies flaws, pointing fingers, errors in judgement, something wrong and possibly even a dead end. I would rather think or connect the word “mistake” to first steps, stepping stones, experimentation and exploration. With that being said, those “first steps” or that exploration cannot become a routine cemented in stone how technology is being used in the classroom. Stepping stones are meant to lead to something else. For the sake of the prompt given, here are my top 5 “Mistakes” (in no particular order) which I see, read and hear about as I travel the world to learn and work with schools, teachers and students:
- Technology being used to substitute an analog activity
- Technology use being seen as an add-on to allow students to use devices, the Internet, a program or an app as a reward, for entertainment, as a time filler for students who finish early
- Technology use as a separate subject area
- Technology as a $1000 pencil initiative
- Technology seen as the solution to motivate and engage students
Technology being used to substitute an analog activity
The philosophy behind Ruben Puentedura‘s SAMR model provides an explanation of teachers integrating technology that is used as a tool substitute without functional improvement of the task at hand. Instead of requiring their students to hand in a handwritten report, they allow students to type up their report and print it out to then be handed in. Teachers seem to stay “stuck” on that level. In their mind they are integrating technology, but in reality the technology is not being used as a tool to facilitate learning or amplify learning.
Technology use being seen as an add-on
Teachers allow students to use devices, the Internet, a program or an app as a reward, for entertainment or as a time filler for students who finish early. Technology is being used as an add-on if there is time and in addition to the “regular” school work. Students might be asked to create a multimedia poster on a topic after they have written a report.
Technology use as a separate subject area
Technology is not being used as a way through which we teach and learn, but is being seen as a separate computer class, “iPad time” or keyboarding practice. Students have to wait until they assigned rotation time in a computer lab until they are able to work on a digital project or wait until their teacher includes use of technology in their weekly schedule.
Technology as a $1000 pencil initiative
Alan November in the book Curriculum21 (p.189) by Heidi Hayes Jacobs says: “The real problem is not adding technology to the current organization of the classroom, but changing the culture of teaching and learning”. November also talks about these “initiatives as “$1,000 pencil” programs“. Technology is meant to aid teachers in redefining and transforming teaching and learning. Good teaching will be amplified, while not so good teaching, even with technology, will be not be so good, expensive teaching. There might be visible technology in the classroom (tablets, interactive whiteboards, smartphones, 1:1 laptop programs), but does not guarantee the use of such as a technique or strategy to facilitate learning for our students.
Technology seen as the solution to motivate and engage students
It is a reality that more and more students seem unmotivated and disengaged in our schools. Assuming that the use of technology is the solution to this phenomenon is a mistake. While students might initially be motivated by the use of shiny devices, this quickly dissipates. Engagement does not equal learning when the use of technology is not supported by strong objectives and goals as the foundation of its use. Many students would be engaged by being allowed to use their smart phones in class. However, without a strategic pedagogical plan how to connect such use to learning goals, students might just go through the motions without ever making connections to these goals.
by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano
cross posted to the Langwitches Blog
I am on a quest to make documenting FOR learning a topic to think about in all educational conversations. How do we document our own learning? How do we make learning visible to others, so we can share, collaborate and improving how we teach and learn? What role does documenting play in the process of learning?
Documenting is more than staying organized or writing down what will be or was taught. Documenting is part of the learning process!
Finding and sharing tools to help create these documentations and make it easier and more time efficient to do so is important too. This is the first post in a series to showcase such tools.
As part of the 5 day bootcamp with a cohort of teachers from the Goethe Schule, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, participants experienced the learning routine, LEARN-REFLECT-SHARE.
One of the first activities of the week together was to draw an illustration to make their view of themselves as teachers visible to others. Directly afterwards, I asked them to use Post it notes to reflect on their thinking as they were drawing their illustration. Throughout the 5 days the teachers had many different opportunities of experiencing the power of metacognition (thinking about their thinking) and to use different kinds of media to make that thinking visible in order to document it and share it.
I chose for the first time to use the app Post-it Plus to document the activity.
- allowed me to annotate each note
- organize all notes on a board
- re-arrange the notes as I pleased
- gave me various options to export the notes.
It was super easy and convenient to export the sticky notes as images and upload to the cohort blog to give participants the opportunity to download their written reflection as a file in order to use it on their blog and reflection of learning.
What a catching blog post title. It might have caught your attention because of the keywords “the most significant” and “innovations” and a promise of a prediction to guide you into the future. Taking into consideration that devices, such as the iPhone, which changed an entire culture of anytime and anywhere connectedness, information flow, participation, creators, producers and learners, did not exist 10 years ago, I am venturing out to say that there is no accurate answer for what will be “significant” 10 years from today. I will disappoint you if you were looking for short, easy to follow instructions. Especially in education, planning for a “moving target” leaves us anxious, eager and willing to give our ear to anyone who promises us guidelines for that future we so desperately are looking for.
Taking a look at the definition of innovation in Wikipedia, I can only give you my best educated guess when we are looking for “a new idea, device or process” that “can be viewed as the application of better solutions” that meets “new requirements, inarticulated needs, or existing market needs.”
My vote for the most significant classroom innovation is the process of being able to “learn how to learn”. That process falls under the category of “existing market needs”, with a steadily increasing rate of importance in the years to come. This would be my best guess when working with so many unknown variables which are undoubtedly awaiting us. Possessing the ability of learning how to learn, will give us as teachers and our students the ability to grow in a world of continuously and exponentially increasing rate of change.
Learning how to learn embeds the notion of self-directeness and self-motivation as a learner. The view of seeing oneself as a life-long learner with a growth mindset, defined by Carol Dweck as “ intelligence that can be developed, which leads to a desire to learn” is inherent to the process of learning how to learn.
We are looking at becoming fluent in a work- and learnflow as a process to be able to flourish in a world with ever changing tools, platforms, networks and external innovations that will have a significant impact in the world of education.
- Learning how to learn will include knowing how to find filter, find, evaluate, categorize, store, remix and create information… no matter how much information is available or in what format, media or language it is available.
- Learning how to learn will mean how to work and learn with (not just about) people at a global scale… no matter how far the geographic distance, time zones, cultural and language differences.
- Learning how to learn will mean to be able to understand the differences and purpose of a variety of platforms and being able to harness the power of these networks… no matter the type of existing platforms, the need to migrate to new platforms or the necessity of fluently being able to switch between platforms for specific purposes.
- Learning how to learn will mean to adapt to new forms of media… no matter if this means letting go of nostalgic attachments or customary workflows of routine ways of reading, writing and communicating.
Although we don’t know exactly how the world will look like in 10 years, what “new requirements, inarticulated needs, or existing market needs” it will have, we do know that it will be different than our world today. The only way to prepare for that world is to possess the ability to adapt to change, have a growth mindset and be prepared to continue learning.
Original posting at Learning Personalized:
We are so excited to share our guest blogger this week:
Mrs. P from Mrs. P’s Magic Library!
Her favorite book is Wanda’s Wart – written and illustrated by Robin Robinson http://www.robinillustration.com/books/
Wanda’s Wart is an all-ages indie picture book about the importance of friendship, honesty—and not being afraid to stand out for what makes you an individual. This story may be a tool for dealing with certain kinds of bullying, and for kids who run the risk of suppressing their interests and talents just to fit in. I love the message that we could all be a little more fearless about being ourselves, warts and all. You can enjoy a reading of this story at my free website too.
Thank you so much, Mrs. P, for sharing your favorite book and helping us to #BookItForward! If you’d like to see and hear much more from Mrs. P, be sure to visit her Magic Library where you can hear stories, play games, and do lots of fun activities!
Now it’s your turn!
What is your recommendation?
#BookItForward encourages people to share a book they love with a person they love. It can be a new book, a used book, or a recommendation for a library book!
- CHOOSE a great book.
- GIVE it or recommend it to someone who would enjoy it.
- POST a photo of the book tagged with #BookItForward on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.
- TAG three people in the post to nominate them to #BookItForward next!
“…but that’s not what I teach.”
That phrase was the conversation stopper of a recent discussion I was having with a teacher about assessing student learning. Somewhere along the way, because of new state rules about teacher evaluation and accountability, this teacher had changed the way she assesses her students so that she could get a clean, quantitative measure of what students were expected to learn in her class. And the conversation was difficult to have.
Her High School Art students, her excited and engaged High School Art students, had to take a reductive assessment that amounted to little more than definition regurgitation to prove that they had grown in knowledge over the course of their time with this teacher. The students’ pretest was an unknown list of vocabulary words and art terms that they did not know. The posttest was set to determine if they learned those words and terms. If they performed well on this written assessment, then the teacher would be found to be effective or highly effective in her teaching performance.
“…but that’s not what I teach.”
There’s a scene in the 5th Harry Potter film, The Order of the Phoenix, where the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Dolores Umbridge (who works for the Ministry of Magic–insert your own State or National Education Reform Commission metaphor here) refuses to teach practical magic. The students remind her that in each of their previous four years at the school there has been an authentic reason to know how to defend themselves with magic.
As long as you have studied the theory hard enough, there is no reason why any of you should not be able to perform the spells under a controlled examination.
Without ever practicing them?
I repeat, as long as you’ve studied the theory!
How does that help us in the real world?
This is school, not the real world.
The conversation with the HS Art teacher was heading in this same direction. She was describing a system that was trying to measure what was, perhaps, not worth learning; at least not worth learning in isolation. Surely the art terms had some worth contextually but were they the primary target of instruction? No.
During our conversation, I looked over at the window sill and saw this:
I walked over to the variety of mugs, in their final stages of drying, before being put into the kiln. The students had been working for weeks (keeping their mugs in plastic to prevent drying) on perfecting techniques to shape the mugs, the handles, the top lip, and the design of the outside. The teacher explained and demonstrated different techniques and students tried them out, creating their own works of art. Over several weeks and with feedback from the teacher, they came to a point where their work was “Kiln-Ready.” Once it goes into the kiln, it cannot be modified.
The conversation shifted.
“Here’s what you teach,” I said. “Here’s your assessment.”
“Oh, I know,” the teacher said, “this is my destination; this is what I’m driving the kids toward. But I also have to make sure I attack that vocabulary for the test. The actual product is too difficult to quantify how effective I may be.”
We talked more about using rubrics. We talked about elements of art critique and collaborative cycles of feedback. We talked about how the students and the teacher could collaboratively navigate degrees of quality so that a rubric could help students determine when their work was “Kiln-Ready.”
Is all of this reform we’re dealing with that great in theory? Is what we quantify in the classroom more important than what we qualify? Is doing what is easy more important than doing what is right? Because the reality is, at least in this classroom (and classrooms like it across our country), it isn’t practical. We don’t need more REform. We need more TRANSform. We need more NEW form.
We need more Kiln-Ready moments and less Umbridge-style interpretations of assessment. Also, we need to celebrate those teachers, like this one, who understand how important Kiln-Readiness is, in spite of a misguided and ill-informed accountability system.
by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano
Cross posted to the Langwitches Blog
I have been a fan of Visible Thinking Routines which were developed by Project Zero from Havard, for a while now. I have used these routines with students, as blogging routines and in professional development workshops.
The Visible Thinking Routines website explains that:
Routines exist in all classrooms; they are the patterns by which we operate and go about the job of learning and working together in a classroom environment. A routine can be thought of as any procedure, process, or pattern of action that is used repeatedly to manage and facilitate the accomplishment of specific goals or tasks.[…] Classrooms also have routines that structure the way students go about the process of learning
As I am trying to make
21st century, modern, contemporary or “now” learning visible, it seemed a natural step to point out “Modern” or “Now” Learning Routines.
Write about what you read, write about connections you are making between the content you have read, write about things you wonder about and write your reflection of your thoughts. What did you think about? What does that make you want to explore further? Why do you agree? Why don’t you agree? What steps will you take, now that you learned about something new?
Comment or annotate on the things you read. Leave a public comment on things you read online, annotate on the margins of physical reading material with sticky notes, highlighters or pencil. Make your mark by leaving your initial reaction or thoughts and connections visibly in the space.
2. Learn > Reflect > Share
Learn the way you learn best, listen to a lecture, watch a demonstration, write and organize your knowledge in a mindmap, discuss an area of interest with a friend, watch a movie, go to a workshop, attend a university class, etc.
Reflect about an experience, be cognizant of what and how you are thinking, be aware of where you are coming from, of different perspectives, influences that are and have guided your thinking and choices. Jon Dewey said: ” We don’t learn from experience, we learn when we reflect on our experience.”
Share your learning and your reflection with others. Make a conscious effort to not only reflect quietly in your own mind , but make your reflecting visible and shareable, preferable in digital form. The digital form can be archived, duplicated and amplified beyond a limited amount of face to face colleagues.
3. Contribute > Feedback > Grow
Contribute to the learning of others, add value by answering questions, share your expertise, bring in another perspective or a different point of view, Contribute by sharing examples of what works and doesn’t work in education. Be a building block for others to remix and build upon your work, so we can transform learning together, across time zones and geographic borders.
Be open to receiving (and giving) Feedback by being transparent with your work. Take feedback into consideration to see your work through different eyes. Let feedback push your train of thought in a different direction or receive affirmation that you have been looking in the same direction. Feedback will allow you to gauge interest of others in your area of interest. Connections that you make via feedback (left by you or for you) will help you build your learning network.
Grow from critical feedback you receive. Grow your learning network by giving more than you take. Learning is a process, where you will be in a different place from where you started out from. Grow by achieving goals that you had set for yourself and grow from the experience in overcoming obstacles.
4. Watch > Do > Teach
Watch someone use a tool, you have never used to learn before. Observe someone take a traditionally taught lesson and transform it by using technology to amplify learning. Watch how students take ownership of their own learning as you watch a video of another teacher documenting a lesson from their classroom. Watch how a mentor skypes into your classroom and co-teaches virtually. Watch a coach model a lesson about digital citizenship for your students. Watch a consultant share workshop material.
Do, try it out, test it, experiment with what you saw to make it your own. It does not have to be perfect the first time you DO (Remember: FAIL means “First Attempt In Learning”). See what works and what does not in your individual situation.
Teach it to others. Aristotle already proclaimed: Teaching is the highest form of understanding. One of Alan November’s Digital Learning Farm jobs is that of a Tutorial Designer. In order to be able to teach a concept or content to someone else, higher level of understanding of content knowledge is required.
5. Document > Present > Disseminate
Documenting FOR Learning is a supporting piece for the study of self-determined learning (Heutagogy) and a strategic approach and technique to facilitate learning (Pedagogy). Document learning as it is happening. Use different media (text, images, audio, video) to archive what you are teaching, what your students are creating. Document the timeline of events. Document student voices and understanding. Make the process visible for others. Documentation allows teachers to share best practices with colleagues and to make teaching available for students outside of classroom hours. Documenting is a tool to inform further instructions and a way for teachers to reflect on their own lesson plans, delivery and teaching pedagogy. Documentation allows teachers and students to build their footprint in a digital world.
Present your documentation in a form that makes it easy to share and is visually appealing to others. Become the lead storyteller of your learning. Create slide decks that “readers” can view in their own time. Show process by creating a visual timeline. Allow others to be a fly on the wall in your classroom by making a video of learning taking place. Create a video that summarizes your learning, easy for others to take a look at. Create infographics to visual represent numbers that tell a story. Create a space online (website, blog, Instagram account, Facebook, etc.) to be able to give others access to what you are presenting. Apply and present at conferences (face to face and virtual ones) to share with other educators and students.
Disseminate your documentation. The movie quote from Field of Dreams: “If you build it, they will come…” is NOT true. Simply documenting and presenting your work on a public platform will not necessarily bring in the masses to give you a global audience. It takes strategic action to disseminate your work. Send out a tweet, leave a comment with a link on a relevant post. Create a visual with a relevant quote to disseminate with a link. Create video trailers or teasers to make others interested in your work. Write a guest post on someone else’s blog. Write an article for a journal or magazine. Write a book. Offer to be interviewed. Create work capable to be disseminate on different media platforms (Images, audio, video, slide decks, infographics, etc.)
I am back on my soapbox…
- …because I continue to see great things happening in classrooms, but get blank stares, when I ask, if these things are being shared beyond the school building.
- …because I watch as administrators feel the need to “protect” their faculty from “one more thing to do”.
- …because I continue to hear fear of transparency, competition, privacy and technology skills and tech phobia.
Setting up my soapbox to raise awareness of the “moral imperative of sharing” for teachers (Dean Shareski) goes back to his keynote in 2010 at the K-12 Online Conference. Since then I have stepped on that soapbox via my blog and at conferences advocating for the IMPORTANCE and NECESSITY of sharing.
George Couros, recently published 4 Reasons People Don’t Blog, which are in essence the same reasons why people don’t share (just substitute “blogging” for “sharing”)
- Blogging is useless
- I have no time
- I’m a private person
- No one cares what I have to say
He closes his blog post by pointing out the importance of sharing as an integral component of learning as well as underline “the willingness of others”
I have learned a ton not only from my own blog, but from benefitting from others that have been willing to share their teaching and learning with me, and because of that, as Dean Shareski stated, I am better off for the willingness of others to share.
I DO want to understand WHY it seems so hard for
some many educators to share…but only in order to build an airtight argument that SHARING best practices, reflections and documentation of learning is the essential fabric of education and the building block of networking, growing and moving forward.
We need to stop looking at all the reasons why educators DON’T SHARE and start looking at and DOING all the things WHY we NEED TO SHARE.
So here is my list: 3 Things Why You (as an Educator) Should Share
1. The shift of a culture of consumers to producers is built on sharing and disseminating.
Our world, and in particular the world of our students, is build on the culture of sharing. Ex. Sharing your status on facebook, adding a book review on Amazon, leaving a comment on a product you purchased online, photos on Instagram and videos on Snapchat and YouTube. Educators need to acknowledge the shift outside of the classroom and take advantage of the shift for learning with our students.
2. Painting the picture of teaching and learning in your school
Too many other people (non-educators, policy makers, politicians, media, etc.) are painting a grim picture of the teaching profession, teaching in general, schools and student learning. It is time to become our own storytellers. Sharing student successes and teachers’ professional and continuous learning MUST overshadow and outnumber the negative press and reputation that has been building up.
3. The future of learning is social and build on and around Professional Learning Networks.
Networking is built on a concept of sharing. Networking is defined by the Merriam_Webster dictionary as “the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions”. In order for an exchange to take place, someone has to step up to SHARE. Without sharing there is no network. Someone has to give and someone has to take, without giving the machinery of how a network works will not function. In our Information Age, where information is being generated at exponential speed, we need to rely on a network to filter quality and relevant information for us. It is our responsibility to be the filter and curator for others as well.
1. Stop resisting change
We need educators, in particular administrators, to stop resisting change, take a deeper look at the world around them and LEAD by modeling! Sharing is and needs to be a method, a strategy and a technique to improve teaching and learning practices, benefiting an entire school learning community.
2. Create a workflow to document teaching and learning
Great things are happening in your classroom and in your schools. Learn to embed documenting best practices, student learning and action research in a digital form to be able to easily disseminate via a blog, twitter, photo or video sharing site.
3. Start small.
Add a comment on a blog you read, share a resource, a link, a book or an article you have learned from on Twitter. Let students take over in documenting learning in their classroom. Use your cell phone to take photos of learning in action, write a descriptive comment under the photo and share on a blog, Instagram, a classroom site, blog, Twitter or Facebook account.