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Coronavirus Chronicles 005 – Mabel Rush Elementary School

I am talking with schools to see how they’re responding in the wake of this global pandemic. I invite you to join me for the Coronavirus Chronicles, a series of 10-minute check-ins with educators all over.

Episode 005 is below. Thank you, Tim Lauer, for sharing how Mabel Rush Elementary School in Newberg, Oregon is adapting to our new challenges and opportunities.

If you and your school(s) would like to be featured in the Coronavirus Chronicles series, get in touch!

See also the complete list of episodes.

Coronavirus Chronicles 004 – CCSD 59

I am talking with schools to see how they’re responding in the wake of this global pandemic. I invite you to join me for the Coronavirus Chronicles, a series of 10-minute check-ins with educators all over.

Episode 004 is below. Thank you, Art Fessler, for sharing how Community Consolidated School District 59 in Illinois is adapting to our new challenges and opportunities.

If you and your school(s) would like to be featured in the Coronavirus Chronicles series, get in touch!

See also the complete list of episodes.

Coronavirus Chronicles 003 – Bismarck Public Schools

I am talking with schools to see how they’re responding in the wake of this global pandemic. I invite you to join me for the Coronavirus Chronicles, a series of 10-minute check-ins with educators all over.

Episode 003 is below. Thank you, Ben Johnson and Tanna Kincaid, for sharing how the Bismarck Public Schools in North Dakota have been adapting to our new reality.

If you and your school(s) would like to be featured in the Coronavirus Chronicles series, get in touch!

See also the complete list of episodes.

Coronavirus Chronicles 002 – American International School of Guangzhou

I am talking with schools to see how they’re responding in the wake of this global pandemic. I invite you to join me for the Coronavirus Chronicles, a series of 10-minute check-ins with educators all over.

Episode 002 is below. Thank you, Ruth Herrin, for sharing how the American International School of Guangzhou in China has been adapting for the past 8 weeks!

If you and your school(s) would like to be featured in the Coronavirus Chronicles series, get in touch!

See also the complete list of episodes.

Coronavirus Chronicles 001 – Greene County Public Schools

I thought it would be good to check in with schools and see how they’re responding in the wake of this global pandemic. I invite you to join me for the Coronavirus Chronicles, a series of 10-minute check-ins with educators all over. Episode 001 is below. Thank you, Dr. Andrea Whitmarsh, for sharing how the Greene County Public Schools in Virginia are mobilizing during these early days!

If you and your school(s) would like to be featured in the Coronavirus Chronicles series, get in touch!

See also the complete list of episodes.

A new adventure: Silver Lining for Learning

SLL Logo 03 copy

Today we start a new adventure!

Dr. Yong Zhao gathered a few of us professor types together last week to brainstorm some ideas around his recent blog post, What if schools are closed for more than a year due to the new coronavirus (COVID-19)? We discussed that this present challenge also is an opportunity to rethink some big ideas around learning, teaching, and schooling. As Dr. Chris Dede noted, there is a potential silver lining in all of this… As a result of that conversation, we decided to launch a new website, Silver Lining for Learning. Over the following weeks and months, look for video conversations, blog posts, and other ideas at this new site.

Video conversations will occur live every Saturday at 5:30pm Eastern (U.S.). Please visit Silver Lining for Learning for further announcements about each weekly discussion.

Our chief instigators are…

  • Yong Zhao, @yongzhaoed | Foundation Distinguished Professor, School of Education, University of Kansas; Professor in Educational Leadership, Melbourne Graduate School of Education
  • Curt Bonk, @travelinedman | Professor of Instructional Systems Technology, Indiana University
  • Chris Dede, @chrs_dede | Timothy E. Wirth Professor in Learning Technologies, Harvard Graduate School of Education
  • Scott McLeod, @mcleod | Associate Professor of Educational Leadership, University of Colorado Denver; Founding Director, CASTLE
  • Punya Mishra, @punyamishra | Professor and Associate Dean of Scholarship and Innovation, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, Arizona State University

We are using the #silverliningforlearning hashtag as well. Hope you will join us for some good conversations!

Design for humans

Craters aheadA Washington Post article on the recent Iowa Democratic caucus fiasco states:

Every aspect of election administration should be designed around all the ways that we, as humans, fail, and all the ways technology fails us. The system needs to be set up to address the all-too-human challenges of inattention, fatigue, poor training, and even willful neglect. The technology, tools, machines, and systems must match human abilities and limitations. [emphasis added]

This is true for schools too. In what ways do we need to do better with that last sentence??

Image credit: Craters-large, Taylor Herring

Which is bigger?

Question markI started a new principal licensure cohort this spring. On the second night of class, I had an awesome discussion with a couple of high school teachers about the perpetual issue of forcing students to learn math that they likely will never use again in their life. We make most (all) students take Algebra 2, for instance, even though most of them rarely (if ever) will use that learning later. Our ‘just in case’ educational model is based on the idea that we don’t know what students will need later in life, which is in stark contrast to many of the ‘just in time’ learning opportunities now available to us if we need to gain new knowledge or acquire a new skill. Our conversation led me to this question:

  • Which is bigger? The number of students who are forced to take math that they never will need or the number of students who, given the choice in high school, might not take the math courses they will need later?

We can come up with a number of these questions, each of which has major implications for leadership behaviors and school support structures:

  • Which is bigger? The number of students who begrudgingly make their way through required world language courses (like my son) or the number of students who learn to love other languages and cultures through those classes (like my sister)?
  • Which is bigger? The number of students who are usually engaged in the learning experiences and tasks that we provide them or the number of students who are bored out of their mind?
  • Which is bigger? The number of teachers who need to turn in lesson plans because they’re struggling with instructional coherence or the number of teachers who don’t?
  • Which is bigger? The number of students who are ‘socially promoted’ despite inadequate academic skills or the number of students who are held back by poor instruction and institutional bias or inequities?
  • Which is bigger? The number of students who are truly helped by our mandated adaptive learning software system for reading or the number of students for whom it has little benefit?
  • Which is bigger? The number of parents who complain loudly about a school decision or initiative or the number of parents who are silently approving or grateful?
  • Which is bigger? The number of students who receive gifted and talented services or the number of students who are equally ready but are denied such services?
  • Which is bigger? The number of teachers who are providing robust ’Tier 1’ instruction or the number of teachers who are not?
  • Which is bigger? The number of students who use technology appropriately in school or the number of students who don’t?
  • Which is bigger? The number of students who really need us to teach this thing to them today versus the number of students who already know it?
  • Which is bigger? The number of teachers who will abuse the opportunity to create their own personalized, self-driven, professional learning opportunities or the number of teachers who will use that chance to really stretch and grow themselves as skilled educators?

And so on…

Seems like we should be making instructional, policy, and resourcing decisions based on our answers to these types of questions, right?

Please add your own ‘Which is bigger?’ scenarios in the comments!

2020 Vision (revisited)

2020 VisionSince it’s now 2020, I thought it would be fun to revisit Karl Fisch’s video from 2006, titled 2020 Vision. In that video, Karl imagines he is the commencement speaker for the Arapahoe High School (AHS) Class of 2020, reflecting back on the past 13 years of schooling for that cohort.

In the video, Karl envisioned a number of possibilities:

  • AHS launches a 21st century learning initiative that is focused on preparing learners, workers, and successful contributors to the global community.
  • Google buys Logitech and a whole host of media companies and university lectures. AHS eventually buys a ceiling-mounted ‘GCam’ for every classroom, which captures video, sound (through an area microphone), and screen capture into unified ‘GCasts’ that can be uploaded to the AHS Learning Management System, which also contains RSS feeds, blogs, and Google Docs-like environments for every course.
  • AHS launches its ‘Warrior Portal,’ which eliminates grades and transcripts, allows for more-personalized learning pathways, and creates academic/work portfolios for every student.
  • AHS students each have their own laptop and routinely engage in tele-learning with 10 sister schools all around the world.
  • Google buys Ford, Apple, and AMD, allowing it to make breakthroughs in solar energy, battery technology, and quantum computing. ‘Google Panels’ replace 2/3 of worldwide energy production. ‘GCars’ travel 1,200 miles on a single charge and are essentially free transportation for homes with Google shingles or roof panels. The GCars also are WiFi access points, creating massive nationwide mesh networks. Google makes the first quantum laptops available for an inexpensive subscription to ‘Google Premium,’ which allows free learning (and shopping) for every laptop owner. 
  • AHS and Arapahoe Community College merge to become Arapahoe Community School (ACS), a partnership that results in every student graduating with a minimum of 2 years of college credit.
  • ‘Google U’ launches, incorporating elements of Google Premium, GCasts, university/library materials, Internet resources, and classroom tools, allowing ACS to dump its own courses and create true individualized pathways for students that allow them to both master essential learnings (competency-based education) and engage in passion-based learning projects.
  • By 2020, Google has created an eyeMAGINE computer that projects a 56-inch screen onto users’ retinas, global energy consumption has actually decreased, and ACS has grown to over 20,000 students, all of whom are empowered to “Change the World” (which has been the AHS / ACS motto throughout).

It was fascinating to see some of Karl’s projections from 2006. Today we see a number of dual enrollment programs, for example, and secondary students in P-Tech programs, the Bard Early Colleges, and other initiatives are graduating with college credits. We also have seen some progress related to retinal projection systems, electric cars, solar energy, battery technologies, quantum computing, and other fronts. Many states and school systems are implementing competency-based education (CBE) frameworks and project- / inquiry-based learning initiatives, and 1:1 computing is increasingly prevalent in our elementary and secondary schools.

Today we also see greater skepticism toward Google than many of us had back in 2006. We are not as far along as we could be on the solar energy and electric vehicle fronts, which speaks to both societal inertia and entrenched resistance from companies, politicians, and other major economic actors. AHS is still AHS and, like most other schools, is still trying to figure out its place in a global innovation society. And, as Audrey Watters just reminded us, we have hundreds and maybe thousands of educational initiatives that occupy the graveyard of bad ideas and poor implementation.

What visions for learning from earlier in this century still resonate with you? What progress have we seen (or not)?