Books I read in January 2023

Books I read in January 2023

Books I finished reading (or rereading) in January 2023…

Hope you’re reading something fun too!

NEW PODCAST: LeaderTalk

NEW PODCAST: LeaderTalk

I am pleased to announce the launch of a new podcast, LeaderTalk.

Some of you may remember all the way back to 2007, when my university center, CASTLE, launched LeaderTalk, which was the first-ever global group blog for school leaders by school leaders. The LeaderTalk blog featured daily contributions from school administrators around the world and was hosted for many years at the Tech & Learning website. When George Couros’ Connected Principals initiative launched in 2010 (also CASTLE-sponsored!), we decided to sunset the LeaderTalk blog. 

I held on to the domain name and now am reviving LeaderTalk, this time as a podcast that features boots-on-the-ground leaders in innovative schools. I only am talking to principals at inquiry- and project-based deeper learning schools. The plan is to do a couple of episodes per month. I’m basically just expanding on the work that we did for my recent book, Leadership for Deeper Learning, but in podcast form. There are a number of podcasts that feature international- and high-level thinkers, authors, and consultants around deeper learning. The goal of this new podcast is a bit different. The revived LeaderTalk will elevate the voices of building-level leaders and unpack their concrete, specific leadership behaviors and support structures that enable deeper learning experiences by their students and educators. Hopefully the podcast’s focus on front-line leadership will be unique, practical, helpful, and inspiring!

Episode 001 with Chris Lehmann at Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (USA) is now available. More conversations to follow. I hope that you will subscribe and also give me some feedback about how to make the podcast better. Suggestions for future podcast guests are always welcome!

Happy listening!

Fixing my email subscription issues

Fixing my email subscription issues

I finally got my act together and updated my email subscriptions. Hopefully you get this post… (now from Jetpack, not Feedburner!)

As always, if you get tired of my nonsense, you should be able to unsubscribe at any time from any email that you receive from Dangerously Irrelevant. Thanks for being a loyal reader!

DLEMS 00: Deeper learning in elementary and middle schools

DLEMS 00: Deeper learning in elementary and middle schools

And so it begins…

I am on sabbatical in Spring 2023, unpacking deeper learning in elementary and middle schools. I have been named a New Pathways Fellow by Getting Smart in support of this work. If you would like to know more, I made a one-page summary of what I am hoping to accomplish (the text is below as well). If there is an inquiry- and problem-based learning school that serves grades K-8 that you think I should try and visit, or if you’d like to learn more about what I’m doing and learning, please get in touch!

Driving Question

What do students, teachers, and leaders do in ‘deeper learning’ elementary and middle schools that is different from their traditional peers?

Overview

‘Deeper learning’ environments are cropping up all around the world in reaction to student boredom and disengagement, the globalization and automation of many job sectors, the increasing complexity of our digital and online information landscape, learning equity and workforce concerns, the need for adaptive and transformative societal innovation, and other factors. However, with some exceptions (e.g., EL, Design39, or EPiC), most of the schools that are featured in deeper learning research, advocacy, and publicity conversations often are at the secondary level (e.g., The Met or High Tech High).

The Plan

As deeper learning networks like Big Picture Learning, New Tech Network, High Tech High, and others extend their models into lower grades, they are meeting long-standing, student-centered models such as Montessori, Waldorf, Reggio Emilia, and democratic schools that are moving upward from the other direction. Grades K through 8 are where all of these movements come together! My Spring 2023 sabbatical will focus on both the instructional and leadership sides of deeper learning in grades K through 8, with an emphasis on critical thinking and problem solving, greater student and educator agency, real-world authentic work, and rich technology infusion (inquiry, PBL, challenge- or place-based learning, high-quality STEM, entrepreneurship, etc.). I am building upon the work in my previous book, Leadership for Deeper Learning, in which my colleagues and I interviewed principals of 30 innovative schools around the world and then followed up those interviews with site visits, observations, on-site photographs and videos, and additional conversations with students and teachers.

Finances, Publicity, and Other Supports

I am road tripping around the country to visit innovative elementary and middle schools. My costs are pretty simple: just mileage, meals, and hotels (and occasionally airfare and rental cars) as I aim to visit several dozen schools nationwide. I already have secured funding for about half of my total anticipated budget of $30,000. If you know anyone who might be willing to lend financial, publicity, expertise, or other support, please get in touch at or 707-722-7853 (my cell).

Thanks for your interest in this work! You can follow along at #DLEMS #deeperlearning #NewPathways. I also will be sharing my learning at the Getting Smart website and in other spaces. Stay tuned!

Review: The Coach, Eduro Learning

Review: The Coach, Eduro Learning

[Disclaimer: Kim Cofino is a friend of mine and I highly respect her work!]

Over the past months I have had the incredible privilege of spending a lot of time with Kim Cofino and her instructional coaching team at Eduro Learning. Not in person – Kim is in Bangkok, Thailand, and her team is all over the globe – but online. Lately I have been leaning into the task of enhancing my instructional coaching knowledge and skillsets, so I signed up for Eduro Learning’s yearlong online course, The Coach.

The Coach has more than a dozen modules. Each module typically has multiple units, and each unit has several different tabs within it. All in all, there are many dozens of activities, videos, challenges, and reflections, and hundreds of accompanying resources. A unit usually starts with a Big Idea such as Coaches have the responsibility to ensure equity in their work – for all community stakeholders. That big idea typically is accompanied by one to five videos (sometimes with guests like Ken Shelton or Alysa Perreras!). Other tabs in the unit may include an Introduction with more info (e.g., expected learning outcomes, essential questions, enduring understandings, and essential vocabulary), Key Resources, and the always-important Action tab. Every unit also is aligned to relevant standards from the Coaching Competency Practice Profile (CCPP) and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Standards for Coaches. 

Kim and her team have identified and curated a fantastic set of resources. The Coach is designed to be a 12-month experience, so there’s plenty of time to dig deep into all that they have provided. I know that I will be returning often to the various readings, tools, and protocols as I continue to try and strengthen my own coaching skills. Because Kim and her team have tapped into multiple different coaching frameworks, I was exposed to ideas and resources from Jim Knight, Diane Sweeney, ISTE, and others throughout the course.

One of the core components of The Coach is a personal project. Participants identify a current instructional coaching goal and then work to implement it throughout the course. Along the way, they connect it to what they’re learning and have multiple opportunities to reflect, share, and get feedback. Kim and her team have done a wonderful job of scaffolding this work so that it doesn’t seem overwhelming.

One of the things that I appreciated the most about The Coach was its differentiation when it came to action steps and reflections. Kim and her team have been very thoughtful about creating prompts and action tasks that are different for aspiring, new, or experienced instructional coaches. Each of those groups has different needs, and participants in The Coach can easily choose which reflections and actions best fit their current role.

I signed up for the self-paced option, but there’s also a cohort option that includes regular, ongoing meetings and mentorship. Kim and her team are fantastic instructional coaches and I would encourage folks to choose that option if you can make it work with your schedule.

The Coach is a lot (in a good way). It’s a bit pricey but also extremely comprehensive and well worth the expense. I never once questioned the money I spent because I was getting a lot of value out of the learning experience. I didn’t pursue the certification option because I’m not in a current coaching role and don’t really need it, but the opportunities to reflect along the way and get feedback from Kim and her team are invaluable and worth the time spent in the cohort and on the accompanying participant workbook.

I learned a great deal from The Coach. The course was both wide-ranging and deep, and gave me many things to work on and think about. Thanks, Kim and team!

Pretending at support for technology integration

Pretending at support for technology integration

I saw this post a while back in an educational technology forum:

I have been given roughly an hour for PD on January 4th to work with teachers on anything that I’d like. I rotate between 7 sites pre-k to 12th grade, but I will be working with 4th grade-12th grade teachers on this date. My boss mostly likes for me to introduce new tools to teachers during these opportunities. We have been focusing on Canva the last few months while we try to transition back to students creating work rather than the teacher worksheets, etc., that we used a lot of during the pandemic.

All of that to say, what would you use this time for? Should I show teachers how to be better organized with Google Keep/Tasks, find a free new tool for them to use in the classroom? Do you have any free project based EdTech tools that you love?

This was my reply:

Just wanted to say how sorry I am that you only are given 1 hour (a whole 60 minutes!) to do this important work. You and your educators deserve more systemic and strategic supports and investment than this. 😢 I’m tempted to say that, with this little time, it really doesn’t matter what you do because the likelihood of it being impactful is fairly low?

Good luck.

Let’s be clear: this is a big red flag that this school is just pretending at technology integration and coaching. They’re not devoting substantive time, effort, energy, or support toward robust technology integration. They’re not thoughtfully building upon prior work. It’s simply “Here’s a random hour. Do whatever you want. Maybe you could show teachers some new tools that probably won’t get used?” Does it really matter what this technology integration coach does? Not under these conditions…

This is the pattern in way too many schools. This isn’t the poor coach’s fault. This is a failure of leadership. It’s wishful thinking disguised as professional development, and it’s yet another example of a school that’s going through the motions instead of engaging in meaningful, long-term, thoughtful improvement. These wasted opportunities in schools just make me sad…

Your thoughts?

Image credit: Wish, Ben Chun

Books I read in December 2022

Books I read in December 2022

Books I finished reading (or rereading) in December 2022…

AI 2041 was very interesting. A collection of ten short science fiction stories meant to illustrate how artificial intelligence (AI) might influence society in 20 years, each followed by a more-detailed, technical explanation of the computer science and societal issues illustrated in that story…

TOTAL FOR 2022 = 116 books

Hope you’re reading something fun too!

Playing around with ChatGPT from OpenAI

Playing around with ChatGPT from OpenAI

I’ve been playing around with ChatGPT from OpenAI. Below are a few prompts and the responses generated by the artificial intelligence (AI) of ChatGPT. Be sure to see the last question below! Your thoughts?

Can Holden Caulfield be considered a tragic hero?

Holden Caulfield, the main character in J.D. Salinger’s novel “The Catcher in the Rye,” could be considered a tragic hero. A tragic hero is a literary character who is noble and has good intentions, but who is ultimately flawed and makes mistakes that lead to their downfall. Holden fits this description because he is a complex and sensitive character who is trying to find his place in the world. However, his actions and decisions are often misguided and cause him to suffer and struggle. Despite his flaws, Holden remains a sympathetic and relatable character, which is a key characteristic of a tragic hero.

What are different forms of energy?

There are many different forms of energy. Some examples include kinetic energy, which is the energy of motion; potential energy, which is stored energy that can be converted into kinetic energy; thermal energy, which is the energy of heat; electrical energy, which is the flow of electric charge; and radiant energy, which is the energy of light or other electromagnetic radiation. These forms of energy can be converted from one form to another, and they are all essential for various processes and phenomena in the natural world.

What are the differences between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes?

Response 1

Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are two different types of the disease. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar. This type of diabetes is typically diagnosed in childhood or adolescence and requires regular insulin injections to control blood sugar levels.

Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, is a metabolic disorder in which the body does not produce enough insulin or does not effectively use the insulin it does produce. This type of diabetes is typically diagnosed in adulthood and can often be managed with lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, and medication.

Some key differences between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes include:

  • Cause: Type 1 diabetes is caused by an autoimmune reaction, while Type 2 diabetes is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
  • Age of onset: Type 1 diabetes is typically diagnosed in childhood or adolescence, while Type 2 diabetes is typically diagnosed in adulthood.
  • Treatment: Type 1 diabetes requires regular insulin injections, while Type 2 diabetes can often be managed with lifestyle changes and medication.
  • Progression: Type 1 diabetes tends to progress rapidly, while Type 2 diabetes tends to progress more slowly.

Overall, the main difference between the two types of diabetes is the cause and the way in which they are treated.

Response 2

Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are two different forms of the disease. Type 1 diabetes, also known as insulin-dependent diabetes or juvenile diabetes, is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar. Type 1 diabetes is typically diagnosed in children and young adults, and it is treated with insulin injections or an insulin pump.

Type 2 diabetes, also known as non-insulin dependent diabetes or adult-onset diabetes, is a chronic condition in which the body does not produce enough insulin or does not use insulin effectively. This form of diabetes is more common than Type 1 diabetes and is often associated with obesity and lack of physical activity. It is typically diagnosed in adults, but it is also becoming more common in children and teenagers. Treatment for Type 2 diabetes may include lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, oral medication, and insulin injections.

Some key differences between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes include:

  • Causes: Type 1 diabetes is caused by an autoimmune disorder, while Type 2 diabetes is often caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
  • Age of onset: Type 1 diabetes is typically diagnosed in children and young adults, while Type 2 diabetes is typically diagnosed in adults.
  • Treatment: Type 1 diabetes is treated with insulin injections or an insulin pump, while Type 2 diabetes may be treated with lifestyle changes, oral medication, and insulin injections.
  • Prognosis: The long-term outlook for individuals with Type 1 diabetes is generally good with proper management, while the long-term outlook for individuals with Type 2 diabetes may be more variable and can depend on several factors, including the severity of the disease and the person’s overall health.

What are the best foods to eat in Thailand?

Thailand is known for its delicious and varied cuisine, which is influenced by Chinese, Indian, and Malay culinary traditions. Some of the best foods to eat in Thailand include:

  • Tom yum: a spicy and sour soup made with shrimp, lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir lime leaves
  • Pad Thai: a stir-fried noodle dish made with rice noodles, tofu, shrimp, egg, and peanuts
  • Green curry: a rich and fragrant curry made with coconut milk, green chilies, and a variety of vegetables and meats
  • Som tam: a spicy green papaya salad made with shrimp, peanuts, long beans, and a lime dressing
  • Fried rice: a popular and versatile dish made with rice, eggs, onions, and a variety of meats and vegetables
  • Mango sticky rice: a sweet and satisfying dessert made with glutinous rice, mangoes, and coconut milk.

These are just a few examples of the many delicious foods that can be found in Thailand. It is worth trying a variety of dishes to experience the full range of flavors and textures that Thai cuisine has to offer.

What is (34.16 * 54.87) / 31?

The result of (34.16 * 54.87) / 31 is approximately 32.35. To calculate this, we first need to multiply 34.16 and 54.87 to get 1882.0872. We then need to divide this result by 31 to get approximately 32.35.

What are polynomials and what do we use them for?

Polynomials are mathematical expressions that consist of variables and coefficients. They can be written in the form a0 + a1x + a2x^2 + a3x^3 + … + anx^n, where a0, a1, a2, a3, …, an are the coefficients and x is the variable. Polynomials are used in many different fields to model and solve a variety of problems. Some common uses of polynomials include:

  • Describing the motion of objects: Polynomials can be used to model the position, velocity, and acceleration of objects moving in a straight line or in a plane.
  • Modeling population growth: Polynomials can be used to model the growth of a population over time, taking into account factors such as birth rates, death rates, and migration.
  • Solving equations: Polynomials can be used to find the solutions to equations, including those that cannot be solved using algebraic methods.
  • Interpolating data: Polynomials can be used to estimate the values of a function between known data points, allowing us to make predictions and extrapolations.
  • Optimization: Polynomials can be used to find the maximum or minimum values of a function, which can be useful for solving optimization problems in fields such as engineering and economics.

Overall, polynomials are a powerful and versatile tool that can be used to model and solve a wide range of problems.

Will Social Security run out of money?

The Social Security Trust Funds, which are used to pay for Social Security benefits, are currently projected to be exhausted by 2035. This means that if no changes are made to the program, the Trust Funds will no longer have enough money to pay for all of the promised benefits. However, it is important to note that even if the Trust Funds are exhausted, the Social Security program will still have enough revenue coming in from payroll taxes and other sources to pay for about three-fourths of promised benefits.

The Social Security program has been running a deficit for several years, and the gap between the program’s revenues and expenses is expected to continue to grow in the coming decades. This is due to a number of factors, including the aging of the population, increases in life expectancy, and slower economic growth. In order to ensure the long-term solvency of the Social Security program, it may be necessary to make changes to the program, such as increasing payroll taxes or reducing benefits.

Overall, it is likely that the Social Security program will need to be modified in some way in order to continue to provide benefits to future retirees. However, it is important to remember that the program has been successful in providing income security for millions of Americans for many years, and it will continue to play a critical role in the country’s retirement system.

Can we custom design babies with CRISPR?

CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) is a gene-editing technology that allows scientists to make precise changes to the DNA of living organisms. While CRISPR has been used to edit the genes of plants, animals, and other organisms, it is not currently possible to use it to design custom babies.

The use of CRISPR and other gene-editing technologies to modify the DNA of human embryos is a highly controversial and complex issue. There are many ethical, legal, and technical challenges that must be considered before it can be done safely and responsibly. In addition, there are many potential risks and unknowns associated with using CRISPR to edit the genes of human embryos, and further research and development is needed before it can be considered a viable option.

At present, it is not possible to use CRISPR or any other technology to design custom babies. While gene-editing technologies may hold great promise for the future, they also raise many complex and difficult questions that must be carefully considered.

Should I get a fixed rate or adjustable rate mortgage?

It is difficult for me to advise you on whether to get a fixed rate or adjustable rate mortgage, as this decision will depend on your individual circumstances and financial goals. Fixed rate mortgages have an interest rate that remains the same throughout the life of the loan, while adjustable rate mortgages have an interest rate that can fluctuate over time.

Fixed rate mortgages are a good option for people who want the security of knowing what their monthly mortgage payment will be for the entire loan term. They are also a good option for people who plan to stay in their home for a long time and want to lock in a low interest rate.

Adjustable rate mortgages, on the other hand, may have a lower interest rate initially, but the rate can increase or decrease over time based on market conditions. These loans may be a good option for people who expect their income to increase over time and who are comfortable with the potential for changes in their monthly mortgage payment. They may also be a good option for people who plan to sell their home or refinance their loan before the interest rate adjusts.

It is important to carefully consider your financial situation and goals before deciding whether a fixed rate or adjustable rate mortgage is right for you. You may want to talk to a financial advisor or mortgage lender to get more information and advice.

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Compare and contrast the styles of Vincent Van Gogh and Jean-Michel Basquiat

Vincent Van Gogh and Jean-Michel Basquiat were two highly influential artists who worked in different time periods and had distinct styles. Both artists are known for their unique and distinctive approaches to art, and their works have had a lasting impact on the art world.

Van Gogh was a Dutch post-Impressionist painter who is known for his expressive use of color and brushwork. His paintings often featured bold, swirling lines and vibrant colors, and they were heavily influenced by emotion and personal experience. Some of his most famous works include “The Starry Night” and “Sunflowers.”

Basquiat, on the other hand, was an American neo-expressionist painter who is known for his distinctive style that combined elements of graffiti, pop art, and abstract expressionism. His paintings often featured figures, symbols, and words, and they were often marked by a raw energy and intensity. Some of his most famous works include “Untitled” and “Hollywood Africans.”

One key difference between the styles of Van Gogh and Basquiat is the use of color. Van Gogh’s paintings are known for their bold and vibrant colors, while Basquiat’s paintings often featured a more limited color palette, with a predominance of black, white, and gray. Another difference is the subject matter of their paintings. Van Gogh’s paintings often depicted landscapes and still lifes, while Basquiat’s paintings often featured figures and symbols that were inspired by his experiences as a young, black artist in New York City. Despite these differences, both artists are known for their unique and powerful styles, and their works continue to be celebrated and studied today.

What is the best way to teach reading?

There is no one “best” way to teach reading. Different teaching methods and approaches may be more effective for some students than others. Some common strategies for teaching reading include phonics-based instruction, which focuses on teaching students the relationship between letters and sounds, and whole language instruction, which emphasizes the meaning of words and sentences. Other strategies include using reading comprehension activities, such as discussing and answering questions about a text, and providing students with a variety of reading materials that are interesting and engaging to them. Ultimately, the best way to teach reading will depend on the individual needs and abilities of the students.

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Why are teachers leaving the profession?

There are many reasons why teachers may leave the profession, and the specific reasons can vary depending on the individual teacher and the context in which they work. Some common reasons why teachers may leave the profession include:

  • Burnout: Teaching can be a demanding and stressful profession, and many teachers may experience burnout after working in the field for a long time. Burnout can be caused by factors such as heavy workloads, lack of support, and lack of recognition for their work.
  • Low pay: Many teachers are paid relatively low salaries, especially when compared to other professions that require similar levels of education and experience. This can make it difficult for teachers to make ends meet and may lead them to seek higher-paying jobs in other fields.
  • Lack of support: Teachers often work in challenging environments, and they may not receive the support they need to be effective in their jobs. This can include inadequate resources, lack of administrative support, and inadequate professional development opportunities.
  • Negative attitudes towards teachers: Teachers may be subject to criticism and disrespect from students, parents, and the general public. This can create a negative working environment and may lead teachers to feel unappreciated and unsupported.

Overall, there are many factors that can contribute to teachers leaving the profession, and addressing these issues will require a combination of efforts from teachers, school districts, and policy makers.

What are some AI-proof jobs?

It is difficult to predict which jobs will be “AI-proof” in the future, as the capabilities of artificial intelligence (AI) are constantly evolving and new technologies are being developed. However, some jobs that are generally considered to be less susceptible to automation by AI include:

  • Jobs that require complex problem-solving and critical thinking skills: AI systems are generally good at performing tasks that require a high degree of repetition and precision, but they are less effective at tasks that require creativity and abstract reasoning. Jobs that require these skills, such as research, policy analysis, and strategic planning, may be less vulnerable to automation.
  • Jobs that require empathy and emotional intelligence: AI systems are not currently able to replicate the ability of humans to understand and respond to emotional cues and social dynamics. Jobs that require these skills, such as therapy, counseling, and social work, may be less vulnerable to automation.
  • Jobs that require physical presence: Some jobs require workers to be physically present in a specific location, such as to perform hands-on tasks or interact with people. Jobs that require physical presence, such as construction, healthcare, and education, may be less vulnerable to automation.
  • Jobs that require specialized knowledge and expertise: AI systems are not currently able to replicate the depth and breadth of knowledge and experience that many workers have developed over the course of their careers
Books I read in November 2022

Books I read in November 2022

Books I finished reading (or rereading) in November 2022…

Hope you’re reading something fun too!

Book Review: Annotation

Book Review: Annotation

I finally had a chance to read Annotation by Remi Kalir and Antero Garcia. Although I’ve never met Antero, Remi is my faculty colleague here at the University of Colorado Denver. Remi tells fascinating stories about annotation (no, really!), so I was excited to read his thoughts in print.

The book highlights five key functions of annotation: providing information, sharing commentary, sparking conversation, expressing power, and aiding learning. Chapter 5 on expressing power probably was my favorite, particularly the sections on the #MeToo poetry of Isobel O’Hare and Alexandra Bell’s use of posters to challenge racial stereotypes in The New York Times. The book has numerous interesting examples of annotation in action (hint: it’s not just people writing notes in the margins of printed books) and is at its best when it is discussing these real world exemplars.

Although I am an active reader, I’m not much of an annotator other than highlighting passages or quotes for later. Until I met Remi, I hadn’t really given much thought to the practice of annotation. The book gave me some new lenses through which to think about this practice.

Whether you’re a reading geek or not, Annotation is a quick read that should spark your thinking in some new directions. If you want to get a taste beforehand, here are a couple of podcasts with Remi to get you started:

Be sure to also check out the #SharpieActivism hashtag for another fascinating story of annotation. And, as always, I hope that you’re reading something fun and interesting too!

Image credit: Annotation, Remi Kalir