Be awesome, 7th graders [VIDEO]

The 7th graders at the International School of Brussels had an entire day of technology- and Internet-suffused awesomeness yesterday. I was asked to send them a short kickoff video for their day since they had previously watched my TEDxDesMoines talk. Here’s what I sent them…

ISB 01

ISB 02

ISB 03


Students already know much of what we’re supposedly ‘teaching’

Graham Nuthall said:

Our research shows that students can be busiest and most involved with material they already know. In most of the classrooms we have studied, each student already knows about 40-50% of what the teacher is teaching.

via The Hidden Lives of Learners, p. 24

We could solve this by pre-testing, yet not enough of us do…

Hat tip: Carl Hendrick


It’s been a tough year to feel positive about Iowa education politics

Storm cell

It’s been a tough year to feel positive about Iowa education politics. For example…

Our governor wants Iowa schools to return to the top of the NAEP rankings and reclaim their ‘world class’ status but is endorsing a 1.25% budgetary increase that doesn’t even keep up with inflation (while requesting a 9% increase for his own office). As a result, most schools will have to cut people just to keep the lights on and the buses running. We can expect teacher layoffs, crowded classrooms, and other disinvestments in the needs of students, despite a solid state economy and a healthy reserve. We may fall as low as 40th in per-pupil spending. So much for being a state that allegedly cares about education.

Our outdated school start date legislation clearly fails to meet the needs of schools (336 out of 338 school districts asked for a waiver last year) but suddenly is being tightly enforced. Our state department of education says that it believes in principles of ‘local control’ but then this year notified districts that it no longer would automatically grant school start date waivers and that essentially every reason they might give for an earlier start date will not be considered legitimate. The school start date consternation is apparently being driven by the tourism industry. Educational needs are being given short shrift.

Of course we’re seeing lots of posturing from both sides of the political aisle (e.g., polarizing comments, Twitter wars, and ‘public’ hearings in rooms that are too small for the public to attend). And we’re seeing some really goofy stuff occurring during what should be important discussions and debates.

We’ve got a superintendent who’s decided he must break the law just to meet the needs of his district’s students. He’s being condemned by some legislators, despite the fact that they themselves break the law year after year when it comes to meeting deadlines for setting school spending authority.

Last week we were notified that our state department of education has now chewed up and spit out its second talented director in less than two years. We’ve got a misbegotten student retention law that’s about to go into effect. Our state assessments don’t align with our state standards. Budgets for our regional educational agencies – which provide essential services to our districts – keep getting reduced. And we’re starting to see proposed legislative attacks on teacher unions that are inconsistent with our rhetoric that we honor and develop teachers. I don’t know if we’re one of ‘those states’ yet when it comes to education but it sure seems like we’re getting closer.

After last year’s legislative session I said to several folks that I was glad it was quiet and positive compared to years past. Apparently last year was just the calm before the storm… [sigh]

Image credit: Storm cell, Tom Gill


A culture of teaching and learning often produces great achievement but a culture of achievement rarely results in great teaching and learning

Drew Perkins said:

Perhaps the most saddening part of a Culture of Achievement is its low ceiling. While it may be politically and strategically smart to pursue the quick hits of raising test scores, it’s a fool’s bargain that limits the potential of our students in a myriad of ways.

What if we pursued a Culture of Teaching and Learning? One that placed an emphasis on things like deep, rich inquiry and craftsmanship? What if the learning had no ceiling and students were authentically assessed and did real-world work where they uncovered and discovered content? What if instead of disaggregating data our teachers engaged in quality professional discourse about their work in ways that excited them and their students? A Culture of Teaching and Learning often produces great (test scores) achievement but a Culture of Achievement rarely results in great teaching and learning. A Culture of Teaching and Learning rewards and professionalizes teaching and helps create students who are empowered by their possibilities and less than concerned with test performance.

If your school is looking to create great thinkers and learners and not just students stuffed full of content take a look at your culture. If your school is wishing your students were excited to be there instead of feeling the tension of just trying to attend and endure take a look at your culture. Is your focus on test scores and “achievement” or do your teachers and students engage in ways that allow them to grow and make meaning out of their learning in ways that tests don’t measure and quantify? Is the purpose of your school to produce great test scores or students capable of thinking creatively and critically about things that matter? 

via http://perkinsed.blogspot.com/2015/01/how-culture-of-achievement-is-hurting.html


Forcing students to read certain books

Pernille Ripp said:

Why do we continue to force students to read certain books when that is the number one thing ALL of my students report kill their love of reading?

via http://pernillesripp.com/2015/03/21/can-we-discuss-the-whole-class-novel-for-a-moment


ISTE 2015: (Re)designing tech-infused lessons for deeper thinking

Hope you will join me and Julie Graber in June for our ISTE workshop… Register here!

Title

(Re)designing tech-infused lessons for deeper thinking

Short description

Avoid the pitfalls of tech integration – technology for technology’s sake, focus on tools rather than the learning – by being thoughtful and purposeful about lesson (re)design. Bring your own lessons and units, and we’ll help you make them better.

Date / time

Sunday, June 28, 12:30pm to 3:30pm EDT (Eastern Daylight Time)

Standards addressed

ISTE Administrator Standards A-2, ISTE Teacher Standards T-2, ISTE Coach Standards C-2. Although we selected only one of the NETS-T standards, this session actually will focus on the first three. These three standards – as well as the selected NETS-A and NETS-C standards related to digitally-enabled learning – are at the heart of this workshop. The purpose of this workshop is to help administrators and teachers assess when higher-order thinking skills and student agency factors are (or are not) present in classroom uses of technology by students and teachers. Right now most educators are poor judges of deeper, richer technology usage, which is why we see lots of lower-level technology use instead of schools taking advantage of the rich affordances that digital learning technologies could bring to our classrooms.

Participant device prerequisites

Laptops and Chromebooks tend to play best with Google Docs and Sheets, which is what we will be using to facilitate some of our work together. Ability to access Google Docs and Sheets is needed. In addition to bringing a computing device, participants also should bring a unit or a few lessons that they would like to redesign.

Purpose and objectives

This session focuses on the intersections of digital learning technologies, higher-order thinking skills, student agency, and authentic, real-world work. In this workshop we will redesign lessons and units with the intent of getting beyond lower-level academic work and technology usage. By the end of the workshop, participating administrators and teachers will have practiced using the trudacot protocol to 1) diagnose and redesign others’ lessons, and 2) create new lessons, or revise existing ones, of their own.

Outline

In addition to bringing a computing device, participants also should bring a unit or a few lessons that they would like to redesign. | 10 minutes – We will start the workshop by looking at some different technology integration and/or deeper thinking frameworks (TPACK, SAMR, RAT, Bloom’s, Webb’s, IPI, AIW, etc.) and quickly discussing the strengths and weaknesses of each. | 10 minutes – We then will introduce participants to a technology-rich unit design and classroom observation template (trudacot), which pulls from the strengths of multiple frameworks while simultaneously covering existing gaps in those frameworks. | 60 minutes – We will spend most of the first half of our workshop applying trudacot in depth to one or two video examples of technology-infused lessons (with accompanying lesson plans) so that administrators and teachers can practice utilizing the template with actual lessons to make judgments about the presence/absence of higher-order and active learning; critical thinking and problem-solving; collaboration; authentic, real-world work; and other high-leverage characteristics. In short, we will redesign one or two lessons from elsewhere to make them richer and more robust. | 10 minutes – We will take a break! | 90 minutes – Moving beyond others’ lessons, we then will rebuild (or build new) lessons of our own using trudacot to facilitate our dialogues. Participants will work in triads throughout the workshop to ensure that multiple lenses and perspectives are informing our design work. | This will NOT be a sit-and-get session with a few questions at the end. We will be talking continuously with each other throughout the workshop, so questions will be actively solicited throughout rather than waiting until the end and letting just a few folks ask questions.

Supporting research

There is a wealth of research on the TPACK and SAMR frameworks, Bloom’s taxonomy, Webb’s Depth of Knowledge, the Authentic Intellectual Work framework, the Instructional Practices Inventory, the Florida/Arizona Technology Integration Matrices, and other mental models of technology integration and/or higher-order thinking work. Unfortunately, each of these is limited in terms of utilization as a lesson (re)design framework. We will be pulling these together into a comprehensive template that draws from existing frameworks but also remedies their individual gaps.

It is absolutely critical that educators have the ability and tools to examine, dissect, and rebuild student and teacher classroom technology uses for the purpose of achieving higher-level thinking, greater student agency, and authentic, real-world work. Right now we are doing a poor job of helping educators with these tasks. The purpose of this workshop is to help with this concern.

Presenters

Scott McLeod, J.D., Ph.D., is widely recognized as one of the nation’s leading experts on K-12 school technology leadership issues. After 14 years as an Educational Leadership professor, Dr. McLeod currently serves as the Director of Innovation for Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency in Iowa. He also is the Founding Director of the UCEA Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education (CASTLE), the nation’s only academic center dedicated to the technology needs of school administrators, and was a co-creator of the wildly popular video series, Did You Know? (Shift Happens). He has received numerous national awards for his technology leadership work, including recognitions from the cable industry, Phi Delta Kappa, the National School Boards Association, and the Center for Digital Education. In 2011 he was a Visiting Faculty Fellow at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. In 2013 he received the Technology Leadership Award for the state of Iowa. Dr. McLeod blogs regularly about technology leadership issues at Dangerously Irrelevant and is a frequent keynote speaker and workshop facilitator at regional, state, national, and international conferences. He also is the co-editor of the book, What School Leaders Need to Know About Digital Technologies and Social Media.

Julie Graber is a passionate educator who is most interested in seeing teachers and administrators improve learning opportunities for students. Deeper thinking with technology, authentic learning, curriculum design, and performance assessments are some of Julie’s many areas of expertise. After 13 years as a technology coordinator and business/computer teacher, Julie currently serves as an Instructional Technology Consultant for Prairie Lakes AEA by supporting educators with effective teaching, leading, and technology practices. Julie was one of four coaches in the state of Iowa to first be trained in Authentic Intellectual Work (AIW). She has served on several state leadership teams, including the North Central STEM Hub Advisory Board and the Design Team for the Iowa Competency-Based Education Collaborative. Julie is certified in the Instructional Practices Inventory and provides training for Defined Learning. In 2014, Jay McTighe asked Julie to join his group, McTighe and Associates, to conduct workshops for educators using the Understanding by Design curriculum framework. Julie is a regular local, state, and national presenter focusing on student-centered learning, authentic work, and project-based learning.

Register here!


Is it wrong for me to wish the ISTE keynotes focused more on ed tech?

ISTE announced its 2015 conference keynote speakers yesterday:

  • Soledad O’Brien, journalist and news anchor
  • Jack Gallagher, comedian and parent of a child with autism
  • Josh Stumpenhorst, Illinois teacher of the year and ISTE Emerging Leader

I love ISTE and the ISTE conference. But every year I wish more of the keynotes were actually helpful to our technology integration and implementation efforts. It is an educational technology conference, after all, and we have lots of needs in the actual topic area of the conference.

Go get ‘em, Josh…

[UPDATE: See also Michelle Baldwin’s recent post on this issue]


Digital Leadership Daily: 1-month update

Digital Leadership Daily Photo

A month ago I blogged about a new initiative, Digital Leadership Daily. So far over 550 people have signed up. Woo hoo!

Want to get one (and only one!) awesome digital school leadership reading or resource each day? Just text @dldaily to 81010. Also available on Twitter and Facebook.


School Visibility Initiative: 1-month update

I posted about our new School Visibility Initiative a month ago. To date we have 66 subscribers from 52 different school organizations. Thirty of those organizations are from outside Iowa. We have twenty unique states and countries represented. Awesome!

Are you signed up?


Nostalgic for factual recall

The memorize cassette

Two quotes from today’s article in The Des Moines Register, Iowa Poll: Common Core not so radioactive for Iowans:

Ah, the good old days

When Iowa Poll respondents opposed to Common Core standards were asked about their objections, some lamented the shift from traditional teaching methods such as rote memorization of facts and formulas to a focus on more critical thinking.

Because we’ve learned nothing about teaching math in 50 years

Civil engineer Jack Burnham Jr., a 40-year-old independent voter, also has a “very negative” view. “I’ve got a math primer from the 1960s,” he said. “That math worked just fine.”

Shifting the public’s conceptions about learning and teaching is an ongoing, uphill battle…

Image credit: the memorize cassette, Robert Oxford


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