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School staff focus on curriculum alignment, differentiated instruction, professional development, college and career readiness, standards, and academic interventions. Is it possible that schools can lose their focus on customer service? Customers include families, community members, and all guests who visit the school website or schoolhouse.
Customer service involves the front office staff, classroom teachers, teacher assistants, custodians, counselors, and all staff members. How are customers treated when they enter your school? Ask your school staff, “What does it mean to go the extra mile for the customer?” Do families feel like the front office staff answers the phone in a professional manner? Do teachers fire off emails when they are upset with students or parents? How do schools analyze the way they are treating customers?
Six Ways To Pour Some Sugar On The Customer:
The school website is the new front door. Families and community members make a judgment about your school before they arrive in the front office. Is your school website customer friendly? If you have a focus on technology integration, does your school website look like it was created in 1990? Does your website offer a welcome message or invite families to visit the school? If Open House was the biggest event between 1980-2000, then the school website opens your school to more than the all of the guests who attended Open House during that 20 year span. Your school is connected with the world. What kind of message are you sending? Would a family in Florida view your site and want to buy a house in your community, based on the information and message on your website?
Customer service involves phone skills, email etiquette, communication skills, and the way the customer is treated when they spend time at your school. Which restaurants come to mind when you think of outstanding customer service? Have you ever had poor customer service at a hotel? Have you ever visited a church and felt like none of the members knew you were in attendance? Customer service is easy to identify, especially when we are the recipient of poor customer service. When families have a bad experience at your school, they will spread the word throughout the community and through social media. As communities build more charter schools, private schools, and home school organizations, customers will walk rather than talk.
The media may promote your school once or twice a year. Administrators and teachers can promote the school on a weekly basis by posting on a school or teacher blog. Pictures from field trips, class projects, community service, guest speakers, and student awards can assist in communicating with families. Most blogs allow for families to forward the message to their family and friends via Twitter, Facebook, and other social media. Blogs also allow for two-way communication. The traditional method of communicating with families was a flyer in a second grade student’s backpack. With a blog, the school can communicate with families and families can post comments or ask questions about the event before their child arrives home.
Several schools host a Principal’s Coffee Hour once monthly. There is usually a topic that the principal or a guest speaker shares with families. The highlight of any Principal’s Coffee Hour is the time that families are able to share their opinions, ask questions, and brainstorm ways to support all students. Coffee Hour provides a monthly time for two-way communication. Parents will provide you with their opinions and they will feel respected because the school provided a forum for adult conversation about their most prized possession, their child. How is your school promoting two-way communication with families and stakeholders?
Twitter allows home-to-school and school-to-home communication. Families can receive updates from the school. While Twitter may not work for all families, it is a great tool. Most schools see social media as one form of communication. The sign in front of the school reaches some families, the school website reaches others, and a flyer may still work for families without a computer or a Smartphone. The reason I feel like schools should consider Twitter is because it allows families to forward or reply to each tweet. If you have ever been in a relationship with someone you realize the importance of two-way communication. A strong relationship between families and school staff will improve your customer service and customer satisfaction.
As the number of people with Smartphones increases, your school should consider a school app. “Smartphone vendors shipped 216.2 million units in the first quarter of 2013, which accounted for 51.6 percent of the worldwide mobile phone market” (Bean, April 16, 2013). If the school website is the new front door in 2013, then the school app may be the new front door of the future. An app can combine all of the items highlighted in this article. A school app may not be nice to have, but the next step in your communication and customer-service plan.
Most schools have a professional development plan, school improvement plan, and a curriculum map. I have rarely seen a school’s customer service plan. When it comes to service, if you fail to plan you may be planning to fail. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com, said, “We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.” There are only two kinds of schools; those with outstanding customer service and those without outstanding customer service. On a scale of 1-10, how would you rank the customer service at your school?
Questions for School Staff to Consider
1. Does our school provide outstanding customer service?
2. What are our weaknesses? What action steps do we need to take to improve?
3. What are the characteristics of outstanding customer service?
(Share your own experiences in school and non-school settings)
4. What can we measure every 18 weeks (semester) to analyze our efforts to provide customer service?
5. Do we have a school plan outlining what customer service looks like?
(Think Chick-fil-A; It doesn’t matter if the manager or a teenager provides you with service. There is consistency within and across stores).
etire the school newsletter. Start a school blog
Many prefer to read news online
According to research published last year by Pew Research, a substantial percentage of leading newspaper readers get their news digitally. Currently, 55 percent of New York Times readers say they prefer to access news on a computer or mobile device, as do 48 percent of regular USA Today and 44 percent of Wall Street Journal readers. While this isn’t proof that nearly 50 percent of your readers prefer to access school news online, there’s a good chance that they do.
Blogs are current
By the time parents receive their monthly newsletter, much of the information is already outdated. Who wants to read about the “big game” or a service learning project three weeks after it happened? Blogs allow you to update readers as newsworthy events are taking place—not after. Another thing to keep in mind is that event information (dates, times, etc.) changes. Once a newsletter has been printed and shipped, there’s no going back. Blogs give you the flexibility to make changes whenever you want.
Blogs will save you money
Most blogging platforms are free. No more printing and shipping costs; no more envelope licking; no more label printing. If you are concerned about alienating parents who are less tech-savvy or prefer to read print, send home a survey and find out who your readers are and how they prefer to access school news.
Blogs provide a rich, multi-media experience
Unlike print, which is linear and static, blogs allow you to easily integrate video, audio, photos and text. Now you can show, not simply tell, parents what’s going on in school. You’ll be surprised at how capturing students “in the moment” and posting pictures and videos of them throughout the day will impact parent engagement.
There are dozens (probably more) of blogging platforms to choose from and most of them are free. Blogger, for example, is Google’s free blogging service. It only takes minutes to set up and you can customize the theme and color of your site. If you already have a Gmail account, there’s good news: You’ve got a Blogger account too. Simply sign into Gmail and select “Blogger” from the “more” menu. Other blogging platforms you might check out include WordPress.com, Blog.com, or even TypePad Micro.
Over this last year I have been fortunate to have been sent to many education conferences on behalf of SmartBrief in pursuit of content and guest bloggers forSmartBlog on Education. It is a dream job for a retired educator and an education blogger. The intent is to always keep the educator’s voice on SmartBlog authentic and relevant. In that capacity, I have attended and conducted a multitude of workshops on various education topics. Since I am no longer in the classroom, and have no need to apply what I learn about current teaching methods in a classroom setting, I often attend these workshops as an observer, or even a critical observer in some cases.
In conference after conference, and workshop after workshop I have observed successes and failures in the methods employed by presenters to get their material across to their audiences. Of course my biggest criticism is that too many presenters view the people in the room as audiences, and themselves as some sort of entertainer. Of course a successful presenter is part entertainer, as is any teacher, but more importantly, he or she is there at a conference workshop to educate educators and that is a primary goal. For that goal to be met presenters might be better served thinking of the people in the room as learners, and employ their best skills as an educator. In fairness to most presenters, the best do just that.
Much can be learned as an educator by watching what works with a bunch of teacher/learners. Of course there are some who would argue that these are adult learners and shouldn’t be compared to kids. I used to think that as well, but I am not as sure, after all that I have observed.
I found one of the best explanations of adult learning in this article: “Adult Learning Theory and Principles” from The Clinical Educator’s Resource Kit.
According to the article Malcolm Knowles an American practitioner and theorist of adult education, defined andragogy as “the art and science of helping adults learn”.
Knowles identified the six principles of adult learning as:
After considering these principles and observing many of them first hand at these professional conferences, I started to wonder if the reason why these same principles do not apply to kids, at least on the secondary level, is because we prohibit them from happening in our education system. Do we limit our students learning by blocking access to the very things that motivate us as adults to learn?
Can Students be self-motivated and self-directed? As adults some might say we are “pursuing our bliss” therefore, we are self-motivated and self-directed. Are our students bereft of bliss, or are we blocking out their bliss?
At the more successful conferences providing adult learning environments I have observed many things that aided the learning of adults. The best conferences provided Internet access for all. This enabled adults to use varied and sundry laptops and mobile devices. I still revel at the memory of a room full of learners listening to Chris Lehmann at the Educon Conference as he placed notes on a white board. When he was finished with his illustrated point in the conversation, 40 adults stood up and took a picture of the whiteboard with their mobile devices (mostly cellphones) for later reference. Student classrooms might have over 40 students in them but how many are allowed to take pictures of the teachers’ notes?
Of course the resounding positive comments from any of these learning environments is that there is a love of the conversation, as opposed to the lecture. That is common at Educon and it is the mainstay of the most successful Edcamps. Of course that conversation method is not the focus of teaching kids. Most educators focus on direct instruction and lecture as the mainstay for their lessons.
Then there is the cry from a multitude of adult conference learners that they hold teacher-presenters in the highest regard, because they are authentic. They have been in the classroom, and have paid their dues, so to speak. When real classroom teachers talk about education, it is relevant and real. This is a common sentiment among adult conference learners. I guess that relevance is important to the adult learner. When it comes to the kid learners are they even given a smattering of relevance or are we steeped in curriculum some of which may have been around since the mid 1900’s?
Of course the biggest outcry from adult learners at conferences comes when they are subjected to PowerPoint presentations that are text-ladened and read to the learners word for word by the presenter. This is the most egregious of mistakes and often the initiator of an exodus by the adult learners from the room. What alternative do kid learners have given the same set of circumstances?
Maybe as adult learners we need to take a look in the mirror before we resume our role as teachers for kids. In the final analysis, I do not think that there are differences in the way we learn as adults, or kids, but rather the differences lie in the opportunities afforded to learn. If we respected kids more as learners, they might be more self-directed and motivated in their learning. If they are allowed to participate in their learning, they might take more ownership. What learner wants to own something that is not in his, or her interest to own? If we can understand better how we learn best, maybe we can alter how we teach to be the best.
A year and a half ago I decided to implement a job-embedded growth model at the suggestion of some of my teacher leaders. They desperately sought time during the school day to engage in professional growth opportunities, learn how to integrate Web 2.0 tools, and develop their own Personal Learning Networks (PLN’s). After some thinking and looking at various options inherent in the current schedule, I decided to cut all non-instructional duties in half to create a Professional Growth Period (PGP). The inspiration for this idea came from Google’s 80/20 Innovation Model where engineers are encouraged to take 20 percent of their time to work on something company-related that interests them personally. Duties that we cut are now assumed by me and my administrative team.
The PGP was launched in September 2011. It virtually gave every New Milford High School teacher two to three, forty eight minute periods a week, depending on the semester, to engage in growth opportunities of personal interest. The only catch was that each staff member had to create and present a learning portfolio at his/ her end of year evaluation conference. This learning portfolio clearly articulated how they integrated what was learned during this time into professional practice. They also had to keep a log detailing what was done during each PGP day throughout the year.
A great deal was learned after I reflected on year one of the PGP. For starters, I read Drive by Daniel Pink this past summer and made a few slight changes. In order to give each staff member a greater level of autonomy, I removed all top-down mandates such as keeping a log and watching a certain number of PD 360 videos. This year teachers had true freedom to learn anything and follow their passions as long as the time was spent to improve NMHS’s bottom line – student learning and achievement. Sample PGP activities include the following:
I also used last year as an opportunity to work with my teachers and better articulate how to compile their learning portfolios. Last week I began conducting end of year evaluation conferences with my teachers. I was extremely eager to see their respective learning portfolios and discover what they had been working on over the course of the year. Let me tell you this, I was not disappointed. As each staff member presented their learning portfolio they all shared how appreciative they were to have this time. Below is a sample from some of the portfolios:
Similar to FedEx days discussed by Dan Pink in Drive, my teachers have been given the opportunity to follow their passions, unleash their creativity, and deliver a learning portfolio that illustrates professional growth to enhance teaching and learning. Based on the conversations I had with teachers after they presented their learning portfolios, they are already beginning to talk about innovative ideas to pursue next year. I am excited to see what some of my other teachers have been working on in the coming weeks and am proud that time during the school day is being used productively.
I just spent the morning viewing a livestream from an Education Forum from Education Week. For those who may be unaware a livestream is a live transmission of an event over the Internet. This was a forum that recognized Education Leaders. It was titled Leaders To Learn From 2013. I think what Education Week did was great and I hope not to diminish their contribution. I do have some observations that I would like to share.
My friend and colleague Kyle Pace, @kylepace, was the person who drew me to this forum. Kyle is a connected educator known to tens of thousands of educators as a collaborative, connected educator who engages people with knowledge and information in the realm of technology in education. If any educator deserves an award for collaborative leadership, Kyle would top my list of candidates. It is a well-deserved recognition.
What struck me about the other award winners recognized for their leadership accomplishments that other educators are supposed to learn from was that we as an education community have not heard from them before? I realize that not all educators are connected through social media. It also seems to me as an observer of social media in education that it is often more difficult for Administrators to connect than teachers. There are reasons for that, both real and imagined, and I understand that. It would seem to me however, that if collaboration is part of a reason for recognition, the award winners should demonstrate some proficiency in modern collaboration as educators.
I also attended a Discovery Education forum recently where a number of Superintendents were recognized. When asked about their professional Social media involvement and collaboration, each claimed Twitter accounts and some claimed to have blogs. Of course sitting with Josh Stumpenhorst, @stumpteacher, we were able to quickly fact-check each of their claims to discover that most of them rarely tweeted and few had Blogs.
In a time when mobile devices can vet any speaker in a few seconds, people should not speak out of hand. In addition to education leaders, all leaders should get the fact that they can, and will be held more accountable for what they do compared to what they say. The world and information distribution has changed. Their failure to recognize that fact is testament to their relevance in a technology-driven society.
I have made my views on sharing as a professional responsibility known in many previous posts. A question from Dean Shareski really summed it up for me in regard to professional collaboration. What would we say about a doctor who found a cure for cancer or even a partial pathway to that end, but failed to share it with medical colleagues?
If educators are doing things in a better way, why are they not collaborating using the methods of today? Educators may not have the Journal of the American Medical Association, but we do have Twitter and we do have Blogs. I am tired of educators who espouse technology for everyone else, but fail to employ it for themselves and their profession.
Many Administrators use the Internet to vet out teaching candidates. They get to Google information about individuals that they are legally precluded from asking about in an interview. If that has become the standard then let’s have at it. We should look at everyone’s digital footprint including administrators. What is their educational philosophy as it is stated in the digital world? What does their Professional Learning Network include? What is it they have collaborated on in the Social media world? How effective are they in the very collaboration skills that they claim to have? How reflective are they based on their public blog? Do they hold to their principles in their public reflections?
We are moving forward in the way we access and obtain information. If an administrator has not contributed and that information is not obtainable, then that may be an indication of ability, or relevance, or both. At the very least it should be a red flag. I am not suggesting that any administrator who is not on social media is a Luddite. I am suggesting that the best leaders in an age of technology are those who understand it as a result of effectively using it, as well as modeling it for those who follow. We need to consider relevant collaborative skills as a requisite for administrative positions if we have hope for changing the system in positive ways.
We’ve mentioned it before, but when we were kids, we devoured Choose Your Own Adventure books—especially those released by Bantam Books. Bantam ended the series in the late 90s and we’re not embarrassed to admit that we shed a few tears over it.
Thankfully, Choice of Games has picked up where Bantam left off and thrown in a few perks: First, all of their titles (or what they are calling “text-based games”) are free on the web. They’ve also produced mobile versions that can be played on iPhones, Android phones, and other smartphones.
But there’s more.
Choice of Games has developed a simple scripting language for writing text-based games, ChoiceScript, which they make available for others to use. Readers are encouraged to use this technology to write their own text-based game; the company will then host submissions on their website.
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ASCD Leader to Leader (L2L) News is a monthly e-mail newsletter for ASCD constituent group leaders that builds capacity to better serve members, provides opportunities to promote and advocate for ASCD’s Whole Child Initiative, and engages groups through sharing and learning about best practices. To submit a news item for the L2L newsletter, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your To-Do List: Action Items for ASCD Leaders
Attending ASCD Annual Conference?
We hope to see you in Chicago this weekend at ASCD’s 2013 Annual Conference: Our Story, Our Time, Our Future. Here are a few tips as you head out for St. Patrick’s Day weekend:
Can’t make it to Chicago? Attend the ASCD Virtual Conference instead!
Join the ASCD Forum Conversation
For the first time, ASCD is hosting a forum to focus on a topic of importance to educators across the globe. Nations, states, and provinces all around the world are grappling with the issue of educator effectiveness. ASCD invites all educators to make their voices heard in an ongoing discussion of the question, “How do we define and measure teacher and principal effectiveness?” The current discussion theme (March 3-16) is:
Educator Evaluation Systems: What research and evidence support the validity of existing evaluation systems?
Upcoming themes include:
The ASCD Forum concludes April 12. We invite educators to join the conversation by blogging on the ASCD EDge®social network, commenting on other blog posts, taking a survey, and attending a live session at ASCD Annual Conference. Results from the ASCD Forum conversations will inform the ASCD Board of Directors’ position development process. To learn more about the ASCD Forum, join the ASCD Forum group on ASCD EDge or contact email@example.com.
Newest Policy Points Highlights Teacher Evaluation
ASCD’s newest issue of Policy Points (PDF) spotlights the association’s original 50-state analysis of educator evaluation systems as outlined in states’ NCLB waiver applications and other resources; it features a series of maps for easy comparison of key evaluation system components across the states. The resource provides graphic depictions of the frequency of state teacher evaluations, the rating levels used by states to rate teacher performance, and the extent to which states use student learning data in teacher evaluations.
Save the Date! ASCD Whole Child Virtual Conference: Moving from Implementation to Sustainability to Culture
May 2–10, 2013
How can schools implement and sustain a whole child approach to education? ASCD invites you to participate in the free, online Whole Child Virtual Conference from May 2–10, 2013.
· Hear from renowned speakers, including Pasi Sahlberg, Michael Fullan, and Andy Hargreaves.
· Learn from educators, authors, and experts who have successfully implemented a whole child approach in schools around the world.
· Discover the steps taken by ASCD’s Vision in Action award-winning schools and Whole Child Network schools to implement comprehensive, sustainable school improvement and provide for long-term student success.
· Discuss how you can bring a whole child approach into your schools.
Twenty sessions will be broadcast live over five days, May 6–10, between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Eastern time, with additional sessions on May 2 and 3 for Australasian and European audiences.
No matter where your school falls on the whole child continuum, be it the early implementation stage or well beyond, the Whole Child Virtual Conference provides a forum and tools for school sites and districts that are working toward sustainability and changing school cultures to serve the whole child.
Register Now! Go to www.ascd.org/wcvirtualconference
Throughout March at wholechildeducation.org: Reducing Barriers and Expanding Opportunities
Addressing students' needs levels the playing field. Or rather, addressing students' needs is only leveling the playing field. If a child is hungry, then schools can address the need by providing breakfast, lunch, and assistance as needed. The same applies if the child is unwell. Many schools have made great strides in addressing students' needs, but some schools have gone further. They have taken an issue that was initially a need and used it to enhance and improve what the school offers.
Join us throughout March as we look at schools that have taken a deficit and turned it into an asset. Some schools have used connections formed into and across the community to enhance and build on what they first envisaged. Other schools are forming alliances to improve a specific situation and have then used those same alliances to improve the entire school. How has your school or community taken a challenge and turned it into a win?
We are taping this month’s Whole Child Podcast in front of a live audience at ASCD’s 2013 Annual Conference and Exhibit Show, on Saturday, March 16, in Chicago, Ill. Joining hosts Sean Slade and Donna Snyder of ASCD’s Whole Child Programs team will be representatives from the winning school of the 2013 Vision in Action: The ASCD Whole Child Award as they discuss this month's topic and what works in today's schools. The podcast will be available for download on Monday, March 18.
ASCD Leaders in Action: News from the ASCD Leader Community
New Jersey ASCD Featured in ASCD Inservice Blog Series
ASCD asked some of our affiliate leaders to tell us how the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) has been going in their home states. In the fifth post of the series, New Jersey ASCD Executive Director Marie Adair writes about the challenges and successes that New Jersey has had with CCSS implementation.
Join the ASCD Forum Conversation
The ASCD Forum has begun, and you’re invited to be a part of it! Check out these ASCD EDge posts on teacher and principal effectiveness:
Use Emotional Intelligence as an Effectiveness Tool and Both Sides of the Scale by Professional Interest Community Facilitator Mamzelle Adolphine
The Road to Principalship and Beyond by 2012 Emerging Leader Dawn Imada Chan
Making Teacher Observation Matter by Virginia ASCD Executive Director Laurie McCullough
Conversation is also taking place in the ASCD Forum group on ASCD EDge, and the #ASCDForum hashtag on Twitter. You are also invited to join us for a live face-to-face session at Annual Conference that will also stream live via Virtual Conference. For more information, go to www.ascd.org/ascdforum.
ASCD Leaders to Ignite ASCD Annual Conference
With the tagline “Enlighten us, but make it quick,” Ignite presentations are a fast-paced, breathtaking, and inspiring way to share stories. Each presentation is 20 slides long, and each slide automatically advances every 15 seconds; this format keeps the presentations moving quickly. The following ASCD leaders will present their Whole Child stories in Ignite session format at ASCD Conference on Saturday, March 16:
Please join us for an exciting Saturday afternoon session from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m.!
Welcome to the new Common Core Professional Interest Community
We are pleased to announce the newest ASCD Professional Interest Community: Common Core in the Classroom facilitated by Suzy Brooks of Massachusetts ASCD! The group will share ideas and resources for implementing the Common Core State Standards in instruction. Please join the group on ASCD EDge.
Congratulations to Matthew Cotton
2012 ASCD Emerging Leader Matthew Cotton has been selected to serve as a reviewer for the music standards by the National Association for Music Education (NAfME). Matthew was identified from among hundreds of applicants and nominees nationwide as an expert in an area of music education who can contribute to this process. Congratulations to Matthew on this exciting achievement!
Check Out These Great Pieces by ASCD Leaders
Something to Talk About
Models of Support for New Principals and Other Administrators
There is an increased emphasis on the effectiveness of principal leadership with new research showing that principals are second to the teacher in improving student achievement. Support is important for principals to be effective instructional leaders. This survey focuses on what models of support are available to principals and other administrators as they serve in their leadership roles.
Your participation will contribute to the research on supporting principals/administrators. It takes only about 15 minutes.
If you are a principal/other administrator please participate by clicking on the above link.
36 Things Every 21st Century Teacher Should Be Able To Do
1. Select the right platform to communicate.
Whether you choose a text message, email, social media message, Skype session, or a Google+ Hangouts depends on who you need to communicate with and why—purpose and audience. So whether you’re sending an email to a parent when a phone call is necessary, or responding in a closed Google+ circle,choosing the right platform is everything.
2. Send large files.
Email won’t always work. You can use Evernote or dropbox; yousendit or SugarSync; a blog or a YouTube channel. Whatever you’re sending, a teacher in 2013 should be able to get it there quickly, and with minimal hassle from the recipient.
3. Take a screenshot on PC, Mac, and mobile devices.
Hit the Print Screen button near your number pad on a keyboard on Windows. Push down volume rocker and power buttons simultaneously on iOS and Android devices. Command-Shift-3 on Mac OSX.
4. Appreciate memes.
Know what it means to be Rick Roll’d, the difference between a fail and an epic fail, why Steve is a scumbag, and who sad Keannu is. You may not care, but your students do. Even if you choose not to speak their language and instead prefer the king’s tongue, you can at least understand what they’re saying, lol.
5. Explain how and why to use technology to those who don’t use it.
Not everyone loves technology. Not only is it not necessary for learning, it’s not even the most important part of learning (how did Socrates every get along without twitter?) That being said, it can indeed transform learning given the right instructional design and learning model. Communicating this to others that may not use it is increasingly important as a network building strategy and as a tool to be used locally to change culture.
An RT as an olive branch.
6. Use digital media in light of privacy, copyright, and other legal issues.
7. Communicate clearly.
Tone is lost when you type. Know this and pre-emptively address is with clarity, choosing the right platform to communicate, and even smiley faces if you have to.
8. Search for, install, organize, use, and delete apps.
This is dead-simple, but you never know.
9. How to create, open, use, and share a variety of filetypes.
10. Help students share files.
Students need help “turning in” digital work. Digital portfolios help, as can blogs and social media platforms. Learning management systems can too. Whatever you use, help them figure it out.
11. Subscribe to and manage YouTube channels, podcasts, learnist and pinterest boards, and other dynamic sources of digital media.
Self explanatory, yes?
12. Create and maintain digital portfolios.
Of your own work, and for your students. The tools, habits, and strategies to do it well are accessible to anyone in the 21st century. You know, especially if you follow any blogs that cover this kind of thing.
That doesn’t mean you have to blog, but blogging is the among the best ways for students to survey, combine, and share digital media. You may not have the energy—or desire—to blog, but to effectively teach your students, you should know the basics.
14. Share learning data with students.
Sharing is easy. Sharing visual and digestible data not so much. More on this one below on #34.
15. Support students in managing their online “brand.”
And this starts with what you model–your visible social media profiles, Google search results for your name. That means a professional image, and no cliché quote from Ghandi in 24 point yellow font.
16. Manage your own social media and internet use.
It’s a tool, not an end. Self-manage accordingly.
17. Plan around a lack of technology elegantly.
Not all students have access. Do all that you can to give students that lack it a similar experience.
18. Delineate the difference between academics and entrepreneurial learning for students.
And in a way that doesn’t completely undercut academic learning, but rather contextualizes it.
19. Troubleshoot stuff that breaks.
Be MacGyver with a keyboard. If the Wi-Fi signal drops, the app freezes, or the password just won’t take, have a plan.
20. Skim and process large quantities of information.
Otherwise you’ll drown in the very thinking and resource stream you’re trying to benefit from. A powerful combination to use here? An RSS reader like Google Reader connected to GetPocket.
21. Use the cloud to your advantage.
Offline access. Automatic syncing. Push notifications on apps. Writing and composition. Use the cloud.
22. Model digital citizenship.
To model it, we have to agree on what it means. We’ll talk more about this one soon, but for now, these resources should help.
23. Casually name-drop reddit.
Reddit is a downright cultish community of active and intelligent forum users that are addicted to socializing everything. And it’s awesome. If you don’t use it, try to mention it here and there as if you do (#streetcred), and when students ask just smile and nod your head a lot.
24. Support students in finding their own voice.
It’s not as simple as “band, books, or cheerleading” anymore. With visibility comes nuance. Now we have facebook groups of cheerleaders who are left-handed and prefer Fiji water over Dasani 50,000 members strong. Luckily, technology can step in and help–drawing, music, acting, writing, a charismatic YouTube channel; it’s now unnecessary for any student to be anonymous and isolated.
25. Research effectively.
And then model that effective research for students constantly in highly visible ways.
25. Use formal or informal learning management systems.
Whether you use a formal LMS, or just setup a Google+ Circle or community, either can help frame your curriculum for students and parents.
26. Leverage the relationship between physical and digital media.
What is the relationship between the app, the YouTube channel, the podcast, the play, and the poem? This is something you need to figure out–especially the English-Language Arts/Literature teachers among you.
27. Highlight the limits of technology.
If we don’t understand both the micro and macro impact of technology–the good and the bad–we’re doomed as a species to be completely overran by it. Sounds dramatic, but it just might be true.
28. Connect students with communities using project-based learning.
This can be one of the most powerful things you do, as it moves the learning from sterile classrooms to authentic audiences.
29. Model the value of questions over answers.
30. Understand how play leads to learning.
Play is not a whimsical recreation, but a zen-like cognitive resonance that rips learning out of the hands of well-meaning adults and seeks to self-direct children through experiment, fail, and try again.
31. Use Game-Based Learning effectively.
That doesn’t mean to just play video games, or make students play them then ask them awkward questions about their experience, but to understand how video games support both academic and authentic learning.
32. Curate functionally.
What to save and how to save it? Great questions. And what kind of process do you have to keep from hoarding digital resources and actually use all the crap you save? An even better one.
33. Record, process, mash, publish, and distribute digital media.
Digital media is likely the future of learning. So, begin the transition.
34. Visualize learning data for students.
This is different than just sharing an alphanumeric digit–this is about knowledge, progress, and the right data and the right time that is packaged in a highly-digestible way.
35. Connect with other educators both in person and online.
Don’t be a twitter diva; don’t be a Luddite. Find a blend.
36. Personalize learning.
To genuinely and fully personalize learning for all of your students in a typical K-20 public school or university is impossible (unless we have different definitions of personalized learning).
And that’s why this is last.
How much paper and ink do you think you and your students waste every day printing out needless advertisements and sidebar images instead of the web copy you actually intended to print? A couple of wasted pages might not seem like a big deal, but when you factor in the number of print jobs happening at your school on a given day, it’s going to add up.
If you’d like to get rid of ads, navigation tools and sundry web garbage, all you have to do is copy and paste the webpage URL into PrintFriendly.
Instead of looking like this:
...PrintFriendly will make your webpage look like this:
PrintFriendly also allows users to easily edit webcopy, change text size, and remove images. Once you’re done you can either convert your text to a PDF file, email or print it.
We’d like to thank our friends over at Educational Technology and Mobile Learning for turning us on to this awesome app. If you’re looking for more ways to “declutter” your Internet experience, check out one of our recent blogs, “5 YouTube shortcuts Every Teacher Needs to Know.”
"If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there." -- Lewis Carroll
There is a tendency when beginning a new journey to simply want to get on with it. Pack up, head on out. I have certainly been guilty of this myself. In the frenetic pace of activity and competing demands, jumping into action is second nature for me. Yet, without a clear vision of where we are heading, we run the risk of following any road and ending up nowhere.
The many ways that the term "21st Century learning" has been applied -- to various technology deployments, to flipped classrooms, to any number of digital tools -- can blur our view of its meaning. At times, the discussions that swirl around these initiatives seem to place more emphasis on the device or tool, rather than on the larger purpose -- what it is we want our kids to learn and be able to do as active, thinking, engaged citizens.
Now, don't get me wrong. I am not opposed to digital learning tools or their use in classrooms. I am firm believer in the potential of technology to transform learning by providing opportunities for students to explore, create, collaborate and communicate. And, I also understand that there is a need for caution in not mistaking the tools for the outcomes.
Two thoughtful educators have helped me along my journey in bringing my vision into focus. In his recent blog post, "Varied Visions of 21st Century Learning", Daniel L. Frazier (@DanielLFrazier) points out, it is not just about applying new tools to outmoded instruction, but rather making a real difference in how students interact with others, make meaning and share their learning.
Bill Ferriter (@plugusin) takes this idea a bit further. Drawing upon the work of Robert Marzano, Richard and Rebecca DuFour and Richard Ainsworth, he argues that we need to focus our attention on the knowledge and skills that meet the "endurance-leverage-readiness test" -- those that will have lasting impact, will have broad application and will prepare kids for the next level of learning. In short, he astutely concludes: "Wiki's and Skype aren't skills. Instead, they are tools that can make working with individual skills easier" ("Making Good Technology Choices", accessed January 3, 2013). I couldn't agree with him more.
If we want to make sure that we are on the road heading toward true transformation of our schools, then clarifying the outcomes our students will need to be fully prepared for their future is an essential first step.
"Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?"
- President George W. Bush,
Florence, South Carolina, January 11, 2000
Does technology integration improve student achievement? If your child is entering kindergarten in 2013, you may see a SmartBoard instead of a chalkboard. Your child may come home with a blog, rather than an essay. Animoto, Doodle Buddy, Glogster, Story Buddy, Symbaloo, Tagxedo, and VoiceThread may require parents and guardians to purchase a dictionary just to understand the teacher’s assignments. It is an exciting time in education and students are entering classrooms with opportunities that their parents did not have. As teachers continue to use technology as a tool to teach students key skills and concepts, it is important to focus on the learning targets rather than the technology or online tools.
In 1949, Ralph Tyler wrote Basic Principles of Curriculum and Instruction. In the introduction to the book, Tyler outlined four fundamental questions which should be answered in developing any curriculum and plan of instruction.
Tyler’s Four Fundamental Questions:
1. What educational purposes should the school seek to attain?
2. What educational learning experiences can be provided that are likely to attain these purposes?
3. How can these educational experiences be effectively organized?
4. How can we determine whether these purposes are being attained?
These questions are just as important in 2013 as they were in 1949. Tyler never had the opportunity to Skype or create a VoiceThread, but he had a clear understanding of curriculum design. It is easy for teachers to get wrapped up in the activity and teaching students how to use the online tool. “In the absence of a learning plan with clear goals, how likely is it that students will develop shared understandings on which future lessons might build” (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005, p. 21)? If teachers desire for students to have an Alphabet Soup vocabulary of Web 2.0 tools, then they should focus on teaching every tool that looks fun and kid-friendly. However, if teachers want students to understand key skills and concepts outlined by standards, then Tyler’s four questions will support curriculum planning. Prior to mobile labs, 1:1 initiatives, SmartBoards, and Web 2.0 tools, teachers designed lessons which led to student understanding. While the tools available to teachers and students will continue to multiply, the basic goals of teaching for understanding remain consistent. President Bush may have been right. Parents and teachers need to ask, “Is our children learning?"
Recommended Resources Which Support Technology Integration and Teaching for Understanding:
Ferriter, W.M. (2013). Digital immigrants unite. The Tempered Radical.
Ferriter, W.M., & Garry, A. (2010). Teaching the igeneration: 5 easy ways to introduce
essential skills with web 2.0 tools. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree.
Fisher, M., & Hale, J. (Coming in Feb. 2013) Upgrade your curriculum: Practical ways to
transform units and engage students. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Tyler, R. W. (1949). Basic principles of curriculum and instruction. Chicago: University
of Chicago Press.
Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design: Expanded 2nd edition.
Alexandria, VA: ASCD.