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


Why would students feel valued at school?

Quaglia Institute for Student Aspirations

Without having seen the exact survey questions, here are some quick reactions I have to these data…

  • Why on earth would students say they feel valued at school? In most schools, students are told what to do nearly every minute of every school day, are generally treated as passive recipients of whatever adults foist on them, have their thoughts and opinions routinely and blatantly ignored or dismissed when it comes to day-to-day operations, and are punished whenever they deviate from organizational compliance structures. The number of schools in which students have significant input into things that actually matter is miniscule. But, hey, it’s all about the kids and we care.
  • Kids are bored. Gallup boredom data reinforce the Quaglia boredom data, as do the tidal waves of anecdotes from anyone you want to ask about their school experience. But we don’t seem to care enough to do anything about it.
  • Everyone’s a learner, everyone’s a teacher. Online we exist within interconnected, interdependent webs of learning and teaching. But not in school.

Your thoughts and reactions?

Data source: How to help kids find their aspirations

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Workshop responses: Incorporating students’ learning interests and passions

Here are some data from a workshop I did with 80 educators…

Student interests

What would this look like in your school? What could / should it look like?

Here are some more positive comments from the participants:

  • We enjoy celebrating out of class interests and talents
  • It’s great to let students choose their own topics based on their own interests for assignments whenever possible
  • Personal Finance class – students put together their own personal finance plans
  • Give choices in reading, math, and writing
  • Allow kids to come up with alternative assessments, as long as they apply to topic at hand
  • Anytime we can personalize assignments it gives them a chance to insert their passion

And some less positive comments:

  • Just because someone likes peas doesn’t mean you should feed them peas everyday. Sometimes you need to introduce something new.
  • One of my high school students said all he wants to do is “party” when he is an adult. It is hard to discuss that one in class!
  • Are their interests now the same interests they’ll have as an adult w/a family?
  • Their interests are nothing we have to assess
  • Is it the teacher’s job to motivate every student?
  • The Iowa Core doesn’t really allow for students’ passions to be incorporated into the classroom
  • Most of their interests are not part of the Common Core
  • Curriculum demands make it difficult–too much assessing
  • A number of students do not have Internet access or a computer at home.
  • Many do the quickest and easiest way

What are your thoughts?


Some students need our help

Bradleytech

An inner city high school. 95% of the student population receives free or reduced lunch. A dozen amazing students and an inspiring teacher. And a donor that promises to help them achieve a trip of a lifetime. But with just weeks to go (and after months of fundraising), the donor backs out…

Read their story, see their travel itinerary and learning objectives, and contribute anything you can. And please spread the word through all of your social media channels. Can we help this English teacher in Milwaukee and her incredible students achieve their dream? 


10-day update: Digital Leadership Daily

Digital Leadership Daily Photo

Yesterday was the tenth day since I launched Digital Leadership Daily. So far over 440 people have signed up. Woo hoo!

Please share this fairly pain-free learning opportunity with your local school leaders!


The achievement gap v. the relevance gap

Future Wise, David Perkins

David Perkins said:

What did you learn during your first twelve years of education that matters in your life today?

The achievement gap asks, “Are students achieving X?” whereas the relevance gap asks, “Is X going to matter to the lives learners are likely to live?”

If X is good mastery of reading and writing, both questions earn a big yes! Skilled, fluent, and engaged reading and writing marks both a challenging gap and a high-payoff attainment. That knowledge goes somewhere! However, if X is quadratic equations, the answers don’t match. Mastering quadratic equations is challenging, but these equations are not so lifeworthy. Now fill in X with any of the thousands of topics that make up the typical content curriculum. Very often, these topics present significant challenges of achievement but with little return on investment in learners’ lives.

Here’s the problem: the achievement gap is much more concerned with mastering content than with providing lifeworthy content.

The achievement gap is all about doing the same thing better. . .  the relevance gap asks us to reconsider deeply what schools teach in the first place.

via Future Wise, Chapters 1 and 2

Hat tip: Mike Crowley


We don’t question the dentist’s new ways of doing things

Dental x-ray machine

Mike Crowley said:

many of us cling to the certainties of the way we were educated ourselves as “the right way” to do so. Any deviation from the tried and trusted can elicit nervousness and uncertainty, especially – and unsurprisingly – from parents. Our faith in the tried and the trusted is a little bit like holding onto the handrails in the deep end of a swimming pool. When schools suggest that the depth of experience is more vital than just skimming the surface, we are looked at sceptically. The same does not happen with other professions, of which we seem to be far more trusting. I went to my dentist recently in a lot of pain. He suspected my problem was sinusitis and pointed out that he had just invested in a hi-tech system that used a high resonance 3D imaging model to offer a visual understanding of the nature of pain itself. Did I resist this innovation? Question the use of this new technology? Ask if he knew what he was doing? Suggest that this is not what my dentist would have done in 1976? No, of course not. This only happens in schools.

via http://crowleym.com/2015/02/07/lifeworthy-learning-close-encounters-of-the-third-kind

Image credit: Dental xray machine, Diana Beideman


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