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  • Looking Forward to L2L 2014 Looking Forward to L2L 2014

    • From: Walter_McKenzie
    • Description:

      Once again ASCD leaders from around the world are traveling to the Leader to Leader conference to be held this weekend. Leader to Leader (L2L) is our annual professional development event for those dedicated education professionals who serve in important leadership roles for ASCD Affiliates, Connected Communities, Professional Interest Communities, Student Chapters, and our Emerging Leaders program. Over the five years I have been associated with L2L, it has evolved to be a much more collaborative event with lots of opportunity for networking and learning from one another. The diversity of thought, perspective, experience and expertise is, in my own humble opinion, what makes this conference such a success every year. It’s never the same event twice.

       

      This year we are looking to up the ante again, focusing on the theme of Take Charge Leadership, as we continue to encourage these ASCD leaders to work with one another across their constituent groups and generate new ideas, initiatives and energy that they can take back home and implement in support of the educators they serve. And so the question we ask at the outset of this year’s L2L is, “What do you get when you allow talented, capable minds to self-select groupings and projects that will build their professional capital while providing new value and greater capacity to lead?” We are about to find out.

       

      We look at leadership around eight very specific actions that are nurtured and sustained over time. Beginning our conference work around these actions and then moving into an unconferencing format that allows participants to take charge of their learning sets the tone for the weekend. We are also instituting for the first time Web-based polling that will allow everyone in attendance to vote and comment instantaneously using their mobile devices throughout the three days.  Modeling this as participants provide quantitative and qualitative feedback to one another will provide practice and experience with a tool our leaders can take back with them to their respective, states, provinces and countries.

       

      By the time we wrap up Saturday, everyone will be saturated in new ideas and possibilities. L2L is always an exhausting experience for everyone involved. Exhausting and gratifying. What is most gratifying for us as staff is the number of return participants we have every year, and the highly positive feedback we receive from the conference participant surveys. The truth is, it’s the ASCD Leaders who come and participate who make L2L the success it is. As a membership organization, ASCD could not make the difference it does for educators everywhere without its constituent group leaders. L2L is ASCD’s way of giving back to our leaders in the field, offering them the skills and support to be effective on the ground where it matters most.

       

       

    • Blog post
    • 2 days ago
    • Views: 105
  • Five Skill Sets For a 21st Cen Five Skill Sets For a 21st Century World and Their Instructional Implications

    • From: Elliott_Seif
    • Description:

      In the face of major societal and technological changes, all students need to be prepared with critical knowledge, skills, and attitudes and behaviors that allow for continued learning and growth beyond high school. In particular, they need to develop critical and creative thinking skills and the skills necessary for finding and processing huge amounts of information. Even with the Common Core standards, our current educational emphases aren’t adequately preparing most students for learning beyond high school – for college, career, military or other future endeavors.

       

      While a critical knowledge base and positive attitudes and behaviors are important for future living, this commentary, along with others I have written in the past (see figure one, below) focuses on five skill sets students must develop if they are to adapt to

       

      Figure One

      Previous ASCD Edge Commentaries about Five Skill Sets

       

      Teaching the Right Skills For a New Age- Inquiry Based Instruction http://bit.ly/vVhpSQ

      Seven Principles for Teaching the Right Skills for a New Age http://bit.ly/yLVZ0M

      Using Inquiry-Research Projects to Teach the Right Skills for a New Age http://bit.ly/tU0RPR

      Six ways to Build Greater Curiosity in Students http://bit.ly/TTKPqO

       

      this new world and examines ten specific strategies to help students learn these skills. The five key skill sets that should be given a laser-like focus in order to prepare students for continuous learning in this new age are the following:

       

      Building Curiosity (Asking Questions, Formulating Problems and Challenges)

      In today’s rapidly changing world, curiosity – interest in and willingness to learn new things – is critically important. Most educators realize that the curiosity of young children seems to lessen as they go through school. Curiosity manifests itself through students demonstrating an interest in and a willingness to try new things and learn new ideas, ask questions, and pose and define problems and challenges.

       

      Information and Data Literacy (Processing Information and Data).

      New technologies that give us instantaneous access to huge amounts of information and data make information and data literacy skills imperative.  Our students need to be able to use many approaches to search for (research) information and data effectively and efficiently, sort through large amounts to find the most useful and relevant, and determine the most reliable and valid information and data. Search engine results, gleaned in less than a second, require the ability to sort through, evaluate, read, and digest multiple information and data genres and formats.

       

      Thoughtfulness (Thinking Deeply and Flexibly).

      All students need to have the ability to think deeply and flexibly in today’s rapidly changing world, and be prepared to take their place as 21st century citizens. They need opportunities to compare and contrast, analyze and interpret, and develop unique relationships among information, data, and ideas. They need to be able to translate information into visual and quantitative data. They need to “think outside the box” and solve problems creatively.

       

      Application (Drawing Conclusions, Applying Learning).

      With so much information, the ability to “pull together” and synthesize information and ideas, form educated opinions backed by argument and evidence, solve complex problems, and determine ways to apply information and ideas to the “outside” world become critical. Summarizing, synthesizing, drawing conclusions, and applying learning to new, novel, and “authentic” situations are all critical for living in a 21st century world.

       

      Communication (Communicating Effectively).

      Effective communication in many forms is extremely important in a world of e-mail, twitter, Facebook, cellphones, Skype, and collaborative projects. Students need opportunities to practice communicating effectively through all types of writing, explaining ideas to others, diverse representations, effectively participating in discussions, and oral presentations.

       

      ------------------------------

       

      Given the importance of these five skills sets, one would think that they would be front and center in our educational discussions. Unfortunately, in today’s educational climate, many of these take a back seat to a relatively small group of skills useful for doing well on standardized tests – namely, the ability to distinguish correct answers in multiple choice questions, to write short pieces coherently, or to state opinions and ideas with evidence from text (Common Core). So, in this commentary, I am suggesting ten simple and easy to use strategies – two for each skill set – that can make a big difference in the ability of students to learn and apply these skills.

       

      Curiosity

      Question Census. Ask students to brainstorm questions that they would like to explore for at least one unit of study. Together develop categories for the questions and then select questions or categories of questions that are the most challenging, interesting, or focused around big ideas. Use these questions to focus student learning and study the unit at hand.

      Student developed challenges-problems. Find someplace in the curriculum where students can develop their own challenges or problems to give to others. Give students a chance to develop puzzles, games, historic or current challenges, math problems, or other challenges and problems, and then have them share these with the rest of the class and see if other students can solve the problems or challenges.

       

      Information-Data Literacy

      Readings-Data search. Either as a homework or in-class assignment in a computer lab, ask students to find one or more readings or data sources that supplement current learning. Help students learn how to use search engines and find and use helpful search terms. Work with students to help them determine which sources of information and data are reliable, then how to read and interpret these meaningfully. If several readings or data sources are found, help students figure out ways to compare and contrast them and find the essential information, ideas, or data in each.

      Close reading.  The Common Core Reading Standards advocate that students do more of the work of reading and teachers do less.  “Close reading” means that students read more deeply as part of their daily activities. Instead of teachers providing answers and “feeding” students, students are asked “text-dependent” questions. Text dependent questions force students to go to the text to give opinions and justify them through the text. Students are asked to “read like a detective”; to read text more than once; to analyze paragraphs sentence by sentence, to consider the nuances of a text, to analyze data sources. “Text” reading becomes much more significant as part of the learning process[i].

       

      This type of reading should be encouraged, but takes time. If we are to foster information and data literacy, students, as often as possible, should be asked to do close reading.

       

      Thoughtfulness:

      Graphic organizers. Graphic organizers are a good way to promote deeper and more flexible thinking. Through a visual analysis, they help students take learning apart (analysis), organize information and data for decision-making, or weave a web of information and ideas. Use graphic organizers to help students extend and deepen student thinking[ii].

      Brainstorming A brainstorming strategy is a good way to help students learn to “think outside the box”. Students are provided with an open-ended problem or challenge that has the potential to have many different types of solutions. They are asked to discover as many alternative ways to solve the problem as they can, and are given four rules around the acronym DOVE to help them with coming up with alternative possibilities: Defer Judgment, Offbeat Ideas encouraged, Vast number of ideas sought, Expand on other people’s ideas. Ask students to work in small groups to come up with as many ideas as they can, with one person acting as the recorder of all the ideas.

       

      After the brainstorm, students share the ideas and make the list as long as possible. They may also be asked to indicate which five ideas are the most logical, the most unusual, the most interesting, and/or the best. Several ideas might be used to try to solve the problem and consider what would happen if the idea were put into practice.

       

      Application

      3-2-1 Reflection. A 3-2-1 Reflection activity is often given at the end of a lesson or specific time period, such as a week, two weeks, or at the end of a unit. You can use this activity to ask students many different questions to discover what they learned and to uncover their thoughts about other aspects of the class: for example, to determine what main ideas students have learned, what questions they still have (good for stimulating curiosity), and what they most enjoyed.

       

      A 3-2-1 activity that supports the development of the five skill sets might look like this: Ask students to write down 3 major ideas and-or principles that they learned, 2 conclusions that they can draw from the learning, and one way they can apply their learning to the outside world[iii].  

      No multiple-choice question test. For at least one time period, abandon the traditional multiple-choice short answer test for a test that requires students to draw conclusions about what they have learned and asks them to apply their learning to a new and novel situation. Performance tasks are good alternatives, as are long essay exams. Consider open book essay exam questions and essay exams where students take home three questions to prepare, and one or two of them are written as an in-class exam[iv].

       

      Communication:

      Five minute explanations. For this activity, students are asked to explain a concept, big idea, understanding, or principle in their own words. They may do it in pairs, giving explanations to each other, or as a writing assignment, or as a presentation to the larger class. This activity may be completed after all or part of a lecture when a teacher has shared a new understanding and wants to determine if students understand what has been presented, or as a study activity at the end of a unit.

       

      A corollary to this activity is that students use an active listening approach – as they work in pairs, one student provides an explanation and the other has to repeat the essence of the explanation in his or her own words. They then switch, and the other student provides an explanation while the first repeats the essence of it in his or her own words.

      Persuasive arguments. In this activity, students are asked to create a persuasive argument in support of a point of view – an opinion about something they are studying. They need to state or write their point of view and provide arguments and evidence that support it. Once they state or write their argument, they can share it with others, either in small groups or in the total class. Persuasive essays are also good ways to introduce debate skills.

       

      ------------------------

       

      There are many additional activities that can be used or adapted to promote the learning of these five skill sets – developing questions for conducting interviews or for going on field trips, wait time to encourage deeper thinking, research projects based on student interests or related to a topic under study, oral presentations, creative problem solving strategies, individual book reflections, on-going, multiple types of writing activities, thinking skill activities, and choice of activities and courses.

       

      In sum, the point of this commentary is that teachers who have limited time for developing some or all of these five sets of skills can do short, relatively easy to implement activities, even occasionally, that can make a big difference in 21st century skill development. These types of activities, represented by the ten examples above, can be especially significant if everyone in the school supports the development of these sets of skills and institutes instructional activities designed to help students learn and refine these skills.

       

      If you are convinced that these skills are important for students to develop, chances are you will think of other activities that you can implement or adapt to promote the learning of these skills. Once you accept the importance of these skills and start thinking about how you can help students develop them, the sky’s the limit. Ironically, teaching these skills can also help students to perform better on the more traditional tests that have currently become so important for measuring classroom and school success.

       

       

                                                                                                              ENDNOTES



      [i] For further insight into text-dependent, close reading based on the Common Core Standards, see Christina Hank, Defining “Deep Reading” and “text-Dependent Questions”, at Turn On Your Brain, http://turnonyourbrain.wordpress.com/2012/03/29/defining-deep-reading-and-text-dependent-questions/

      [ii] There are many sources of information on graphic organizers. One resource is by Vicki Urquhart and Dana Frazee, Teaching Reading in the Content Areas: If Not Me, Then Who? 3rd Edition (2012), Chapter 12. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

      [iii] Many resources are available to help you develop 3-2-1 reflections. One can be found at http://www.facing.org/resources/strategies/3-2-1.

      [iv] As a student, the use of take home questions was my favorite way of being assessed, because I could really take the time to prepare and learn. It changed the nature of assessment from “mystery” to “mastery”.

       

       

       

      Elliott Seif is a long time educator, Understanding by Design trainer, author, consultant, social studies teacher, former Professor of Education at Temple University, and Curriculum Director in Bucks County, PA. If you are interested in further examining these five skill sets and ways to implement them, as well as other dimensions of a 21st century education, examine his other commentaries on ASCD Edge or go to his website at  www.era3learning.org

       

    • Blog post
    • 3 days ago
    • Views: 305
  • Push to Talk PD Push to Talk PD

    • From: Brad_Currie
    • Description:

      This past week #Satchat extended it's Twitter conversation to a mobile app called Voxer. It has been an amazing experience for participants who are now able to share their insight through voice messages. Once downloaded on your mobile device, Voxer enables users to hold individual or group chats in real time or at their own pace. In terms of professional growth, over 75 educators from around the world have shared their perspectives and insight on a plethora of topics. More specifically this week our group is discussing the trials and tribulations of being a new school leader. Educators from all walks of life including teachers, vice principals, principals, supervisors, superintendents, and other stakeholders have provided tremendous guidance.

      The great thing about this experience is that participants, including myself, can hear the emotion that others bring to the discussion. It's one thing to read a tweet and a whole other thing to listen to someone speak to a particular topic.. That's why Voxer is so unique. Users can listen and learn on the own time, whether it's in their car or during a lunch break. Need to have a more specific conversation based on something that was brought up in a particular group chat? No problem. Send a direct voice or text message to that person within the application. Pictures, links, and other resources can be shared during a conversation as well.

      Are you intrigued by this whole Voxer rage in the educational community? Send me a direct message on Twitter or via email with your Voxer handle and I will add you to the #Satchat group. Or better yet, try starting your own group. The options are many as it relates to the impact Voxer can have in the school setting. For example, it could be used as an assessment tool or during a time of crisis to communicate with staff. Currently I am apart of a Voxer book chat on digital leadership and participate in a administrator group that shares best practices. Over the past few weeks I have recommended Voxer to some of my PLN members from around the country. Although at first hesitant to see the true value of this web tool, their minds quickly changed after conversing with other like-minded educators.

      So what do say? Take that leap into the Voxer world and see your professional growth be stimulated in a way once thought unimaginable.

       

    • Blog post
    • 3 days ago
    • Views: 70
  • Aaron_Toch1

    • ASCD EDge Member
    • Points:250
    • Views: 52
    • Since: 3 days ago
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  • 7 Tips for Re-doing the Studen 7 Tips for Re-doing the Student Re-do Process

    • From: Jennifer_Davis_Bowman
    • Description:

      In grading a recent test, I noticed that the scores were lower than usual.  I questioned if we had spent enough time on the material.  I wondered if I had failed to address the challenging content appropriately.  Was I to blame for the below average scores? Was it time for the dreaded “It’s not you, it’s me” speech.  After wallowing in this short self-blaming, “I stink as a teacher” mode, I decided to do something about it.  I decided to offer my students a re-do.  I love a good old re-do because they are wrapped in hope, second chances, and all things warm and fuzzy.   I think we all could benefit from a do-over every now and then (or every day).  Like the infamous episode where Oprah gave away cars, teachers should give away do-overs in their classrooms.  Every once in a while teachers should say, “here’s a free do-over for you, one for you, one for you…”  The only problem is that there are some drawbacks to the revision process.  Students may take advantage, the revision opportunity may limit the effort put forth on the initial work, and of course the practicality issue (in the real world we do not always get to correct our mistakes).  Lastly, sometimes students don’t follow through and do not participate in the revision process at all.  In the spirit of revision, I have developed a list of 7 strategies to facilitate the process and in turn encourage student participation:



      1.  Assess student interest in revision.

       

      When thinking about assessing interest, an online ad (it has over 20 million views) about gender stereotypes came to mind.  You can watch the entire ad here.  In the ad, there are adolescents that role play physical activities "like a girl" and then they act out the same activities "like a boy".  Unsurprisingly, within the role plays, the girls are portrayed less flatterinly than boys (for example they run less powerfully, swim less aggressively, etc.).  The best part, however is after a discussion of gender stereotypes, the adolescents are asked if they wish for a second chance to do their role plays "differently".  Instead of forcing a do-over, the children are invited to revisit their stereotypically laden gender beliefs.  And you know what-each child participates in the do-over. The big take-away here is that a simple participation request allows for instant participant buy-in and thus increases participation in the revision process.  

       

      2.  Include students as peer reviewers in the process.

       

      Even though teachers are more knowledgeable than students (we are the experts in the classroom), we can learn a great deal from our students.  The “curse of the expert” theory outlines how experts may sabotage learning (they often underestimate the level of task difficulty and overestimate potential performance of novices).  In order to get around this, try to incorporate the help of your students in the revision process.  Students share the same language or jargon, and provide a variety of feedback to help one another improve their work (Cho & MacArthur, 2010).

       

      3.  Consider how to manage time in the revision process.


      If you are not careful, all of your teaching time will turn into revision time.  To avoid this, one educator in an article titled “The utility of a student organized revision day" describes the benefits of designating one class day for student revision (Gill, Ong, & Cleland, 2012).  Another idea that I tend to use-would be to include detailed rubrics so that the students have what they need to get the assignment right the very first time.  A final suggestion would be the use of video to record assignment instructions or tips (Whatley & Ahmad, 2007). The video method is effective because conversational style is often more user-friendly than written/formal style (personalization learning principle).

       

       
      4.  Consider how your feedback influences student revision.

       

      An article titled "What does it take to make a change?" shows the that the type of teacher feedback impacts the likelihood that a student will participate in the revision process (Silver & Lee, 2007).  Specifically, when teachers offer advice about how to improve work quality, this facilitates more revision than other feedback methods (such as praise or criticism).  So, if you tell your student, “I wonder if you can provide more details”,  instead of saying “I like how you use detail in this one part”, the student may be more inclined to revise the work. 

       

      5.  Examine how students view the revision process.

       

      Do you remember Maslow and the Hierarchy of Needs?  In general, Maslow described our needs in terms of layers- basic needs had to be met before we could pursue higher order needs.  A Maslow-like theory may explain how students perceive the revision process (Thompson, 1994).  In a paper from the College Composition and Communication conference,  an educator described that in revision,  students attend to basic needs (what is required to pass or not fail the assignment) and then they move on to higher order revising skills (creativity, synthesis, etc.).

       

      6.  Adjust classroom perception of revision.

       

      Students view revision as a reflection of themselves.  One study from the English Teaching Practice and Critique Journal showed that students believed that teacher revision comments indicated they were "careless" (Silver & Lee, 2007). Also, students reported that the teacher feedback lowered their confidence and made them feel angry. My take away from this study is that teachers must work to improve the way students perceive the re-do process. Perhaps reminding students that change is not bad.  Additionally, identifying real-life examples of revision (such as remaking movies or remixing songs) to help students see that revising is a normal part of life.  

       

      7.  Measure the revision process.


      If you decide to offer students a re-do, measuring how well the process works (or not) is useful.  Think about asking the students to provide feedback about their experience with revision.  Typically, students report that revision allows for an increase in knowledge and confidence (Gill, Ong, & Cleland, 2013).  Also, reviewing the grade changes (before and after the revisionn) will offer insight into the usefulness of allowing students to re-do future assignments.  
       





      

    • Blog post
    • 4 days ago
    • Views: 1931
  • Problems Editing Profile in AS Problems Editing Profile in ASCD EDge

    • From: Tim_Ito
    • Description:

      Hi Robert,

      Yes, you have to edit your profile in the My Account part of ASCD, which happens to be part of the ASCD Store. So when you click on the link, go to "Login" and then type your username and password. Then you'll have access to My Account. You can make the changes and then it may take up to 24 hours for them to be visible in your profile. The reason you may have to log in again is that the ASCD site's cookie only lasts a couple hours, but the ASCD EDge one lasts longer for log in.

    • 4 days ago
    • Views: 508
    • Forum: ASCD EDge...
  • So You Want to Be an Administr So You Want to Be an Administrator? 5 Tips for Aspiring Principals

    • From: Ryan_Thomas1
    • Description:

      aspiring principalYou’ve already spent years, maybe even decades, in the classroom as a teacher, you know how to lead and organize, and you certainly have the “in-the-trenches” perspective that every administrator worth his or her salt must have. Now what? What should you do to make the prospect of becoming a principal a reality? To help answer these questions, we’d like to share a few tips from Peter Hall’s book, The First-Year Principal.

      So You Want to Be an Administrator? 5 Tips for Aspiring Principals

      Skip the resume—for now
      Your first inclination may be to dust off your resume and start looking for open positions, but as Hall wryly notes, the “application” process begins long before resumes, long before you had the crazy idea that “13-hour days with no lunch sounded appealing,” and long before you even had the slightest inkling that you wanted to become a principal.

      Hall suggests that you start with “those people with whom you have worked, the contacts you have made, the folks from whom you have earned support and respect.” Do you need to “schmooze” these people? Not at all, but keep in mind that “relationships with credible professionals” are a form of currency—and that currency is priceless.

      Stay in the moment
      Regardless of their career aspirations, aspiring principals should always “stay in the moment.” For Hall, this means that you must continue to “focus on students in your care and your current school organization as a whole.” In addition to this, it means aligning your “work practice and decision-making with the established school goals.”

      For Hall, there is “no reason to focus on anything but excelling in your current position.” This means going where no teacher has gone before: Set and exceed new standards of excellence and watch as your name becomes associated with positive results.

      Involve yourself in projects beyond your current position
      So you’re continuing to perfect your craft and excel at what you do? Good. Now it’s time for you to do a little more. Start by participating in district activities, committees, panels, focus groups, and other school or district groups and organizations. Just don’t take on so much that you begin to shirk your current job responsibilities or your students; doing so will only undermine the benefits you are hoping to gain from joining these organizations.

      Be respectful to everyone you meet
      You’re an educator, so you already know that the job doesn’t end when the bell rings. This is especially applicable to teachers who live in small, rural towns, but even those of us who live in the city will run into students, parents, and colleagues at the mall, the grocery store, or in restaurants. We may not even see these people, but you better believe they see us and they take note of what we say, do, and how we behave when we’re out in the community. Eyes are always on us. Keep this in mind not only when you are in the classroom, but outside of it as well.

      Find an experienced mentor
      There are plenty of books offering advice for aspiring and first-year principals, but few are as wise as someone who has been doing what you hope to do for the last five, ten, fifteen, or twenty years. Seek out a mentor and learn from him or her. Hopefully, this relationship will not only reaffirm your passion for the position, but also help you become better prepared for the road ahead.

       

       

                                      Download our FREE Principal Coaching Gui

    • Blog post
    • 4 days ago
    • Views: 3636
  • Student/Parent Engagement Student/Parent Engagement

    • From: John_Rimes
    • Description:

      Ok, its been a while and I know there should be more consistency in my writing.  I have made a commitment to share and reflect a minimum of two times per month.  It's the right thing to do!


      My focus this year for my faculty, students, and parents is engagement.  We can't win the game of educating our kids without engaging them and those around them.  I have made it a goal to get 100% student participation in clubs, organizations, activities, or sports.  We have also challenged the parents at our school to commit to spending 5 contact hours at our school.  Through these efforts I hope to have a better relationship with the community and frankly, if it turns out like I expect it to there will be a huge paradigm shift.  


      I believe educators must work to help students meet their needs to be significant, to grow, and make connections. By having a positive attitude, planning, and being NICE, we can make learning fun and challenging.  We can make learning a process kids want to be a part of.  Let me ask you: If you were in a meeting that was not engaging and held no purpose for you, would you get up and leave?  Absolutely!!!  We would check our email or probably go get a snack.  Our students are no different.  We need to realize they may not be engaged and ready to learn 100% of the time.  

      What should we do? 

       

      You gotta like kids and understand how they work.  We need to give them their monies worth each and every time they come through the doors.  I always like to ask the question: If they were not required to come to your class would they still want to be there?   This is also true of our schools.  Well, we will work on it and together we can make a change.  


      We made great strides at my school in my first year as principal, but we have only just begun.  There is much work to do, so stay tuned and I will keep you posted on the progress of year two.

       

      Keep working, reading, and improving your craft.  Remember to keep your students FIRST!!

       

      Follow me on Twitter @coachrimesphd 

    • Blog post
    • 6 days ago
    • Views: 110
  • Learning From the Ground Up Learning From the Ground Up

    • From: John_Hines
    • Description:

      While we do not often think about it, we can start redesigning schools with the physical space. As I think about how to structure a high school, I see ways to change the school simply with the furnishing. Open spaces, natural light and comfortable seats can all take a school from “cells and bells” to a place of innovation and invention. I have often said that I go onto college campuses and I see how I wish to teach. It is amazing to have open manicured lawns, wooded paths, and some time to be outside. Being at a traditional high school, cooped up inside, it makes me wish I could escape, not stay and learn. If I feel that way, and I had a positive experience at school, I know my students feel the same way.


      Along with how the school is designed, I am interested to see how much schools could become like the best idea companies. Places like Google, Microsoft, and Twitter have to give their employees space to think. Google has become famous for its Genius Hour in which the employees are given time to simply pursue whatever interests them and some of their newest innovations (Google Glass, the Google self driving car) have come from this time. These companies thrive based on how well their employees think. This is how we should be approaching schools. We should treat our students and teachers like thinking, and developing new ideas, was their job. We should give them time to pursue their passions and interests. We have to trust teachers to develop systems and solutions for the issues they face. We then further need to trust students to learn and find passion in learning.


      When we think about public education, it is frustrating that while we want to have schools as a place of learning, growing , innovation and invention we run them like factories. With fixed amounts of credits, minutes and grades, we are trying to mass produce graduates (the all important graduation rate as the critical marker of success) with teachers working on the assembly line. We have this system, not because we think it is the best, but because accountability demands clear criteria to measure (test scores, graduation rates). Free time to generate ideas and follow passions is not as measurable as 3 years of high school science or 55 minutes of Geometry.


      While places like Google see Genius Hour as a way to allow its engineers to follow intellectual endeavors as vital to it continued success and relevance, it is hard to see this becoming part of our public schools in our current high stakes, high accountability climate. There are some educators calling for the changes, to make schools more like our most innovative and productive companies, it has failed to penetrate the average school and is not part of the much of the current popular reform conversation. Less is more is not as prevalent as more is more.

       

      If we are serious about schools being places of idea production, we have to build them to support the creation of ideas. We have also recognize that learning is an organic process, not a mechanical one. We cannot simply speed things up and have students simply learn more in less time, just like we cannot double the fertilizer we put on crops and expect them to grow twice as much in half the time. What we can do is create a set of circumstances, a climate, that can support higher growth. This can be done many ways, but one way that might need to be considered includes natural light and some free time.


      Cross-posted from: http://wsascdel.blogspot.com/2014/07/learning-from-ground-up.html


      Please follow John @jhhines57 or check out his blog at notfillingthepail.blogspot.com


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  • #WordCrimes #WordCrimes

    • From: Michael_Fisher
    • Description:

      If you haven’t seen the hilarious new video from Weird Al Yankovic, check it out below:


       

      It’s a play on Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” and paints a picture that all grammarians can relate to.


      I’m sharing it because of its hilarious take on learning proper grammar and conventions and also because of its cleverness and appeal as a parody. I would love to see students experimenting with pop culture in such a way and with all of the web tools at our disposal, we certainly have the means to do so.


      What would a library of student created music videos look like? How could they demonstrate understanding of content through the rewriting of the lyrics to popular songs and their own performances of those songs? How would sharing those student creations with others around the world impact their revisions and additional learning? What additional skills would students learn as they investigated web tools, learned about editing, and applied their new skills for a quality product?


      Viewing this video is far from just entertainment. It opens up cans of worms for me about what students could do to demonstrate learning. I would also like to point out that Weird Al is releasing 8 videos in 8 days around his new album, all of which are clever, full of pop culture references, and demonstrative of a thinking man’s perspective on the world we live in.


      His website is: http://www.weirdal.com/


      I hope you’ll take the time to view some of his other creations for this album. I think that they are spectacularly descriptive of our modern times and clever re-imaginations of popular songs.


      I’d like to thank Jay McTighe for being the first to notice and share the video. Jay’s like the TMZ of the educational horizon and shares stuff long before the rest of us have a chance to notice! Thanks, Jay!




      Mike on Twitter: @fisher1000

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  • Problems editing profile in AS Problems editing profile in ASCD-Edge

    • From: Robert_Siegel
    • Description:

      When I try to edit by clicking on "editing main information" it takes me to the ASCD Store site(?). How can I edit my profile?

      Rob Siegel

    • 1 week ago
    • Views: 547
    • Forum: ASCD EDge...
  • Literature Circles: A Student- Literature Circles: A Student-Centered Approach to Literacy

    • From: Ryan_Thomas1
    • Description:

      Why do our students come to school? Yes, yes, of course because they have to, but why else? Is it because of you? Is it because of the mind-bending lectures we give? If you asked Michael Kahn (see his article, “The Seminar”) these questions, he’d tell you that there’s nothing intrinsically special about us or the textbooks.

      No, what makes coming to school “worth it” for Kahn is the collaborative learning experience—or in his words, the “opportunity [for students] to engage in a fantastic dialogue, trialogue, multilogue with a fantastically varied assortment of consciousnesses.”

      There are countless ways we can get students working together, talking and learning from one another, but literature circles are certainly one of the most effective. Not only do they encourage open dialogue, creativity and critical thinking, they also push students to take ownership of their own learning experience.

      What are literature circles?
      When we use literature circles, small groups of student gather for an in-depth discussion of a literary work. To ensure that students have a clear sense of direction and remain focused, each group member is given a specific task. For example, one student may be the designated artist; s/he is responsible for using some form of art to explore a main idea, a theme, or significant scene from the text. Another group member, the wordsmith, might be responsible for documenting important, unusual, or difficult words from the reading. Regardless of each student’s role, each group must collaborate as they read, discuss and critically engage with texts.

      The circles meet regularly, and the discussion roles change at each meeting. When the circle finishes a book, the members decide on a way to showcase their literary work for the rest of the class.


      To give you a better sense of what literature circles are—and aren’t—take a look at the following chart from Bonnie Campbell Hill’s guide, Literature Circles and Response:

      literature_circles_2

      What is the teacher’s role in literature circles?
      As Harvey Daniels explains in his book Literature Circles: Voice and Choice in Book Clubs and Reading Groups, “the teacher’s main job in literature circles is to not teach.” Instead, teachers use mini-lessons, debriefing sessions and Socratic questioning techniques as they circulate the room, moving from group to group to evaluate student progress. As a facilitator, the teacher is never center-stage. In literature circles, the teacher’s role is supportive, organizational and managerial.

      What is the role of each student?
      There are a number of approaches you can take, but Daniels believes in introducing literature circles by using predefined roles that students take turns fulfilling. Although the terminology used to name the roles may vary, the descriptions remain similar.


      Pam Chandler, a sixth-grade English, reading, and social studies teacher at Sequoia Middle School in Redding, California, defines the roles her students take on in literature circles in this way:

      • Artful artist uses some form of artwork to represent a significant scene or idea from the reading.
      • Literary luminary points out interesting or important passages within the reading.
      • Discussion director writes questions that will lead to discussion by the group.
      • Capable connector finds connections between the reading material and something outside the text, such as a personal experience, a topic studied in another class, or a different work of literature.
      • Word wizard discusses words in the text that are unusual, interesting, or difficult to understand.

      Teachers will want to begin by modeling the various roles within a small group in front of the whole class before sending students out on their own. However, you may be surprised to find out that once students are comfortable with the group-discussion format, you may be able to discontinue these roles altogether.

      How do I evaluate students?
      Literature circles are not intended to “cover material”— they are designed to empower students to take control of their learning experiences, to get them excited about literature, and to help them find creative ways to delve into books. Keeping that in mind, teachers who use literature circles do not use traditional methods of evaluation.

      Because teachers are not at the center of attention, they are better able to engage in “authentic,” real-time assessment. This can include keeping narrative observational logs, performance assessment, checklists, student conferences, group interviews, one-on-one conferences, and the like.

      Keep in mind that evaluation in literature circles is not just the job of the teacher. Just as we require students to take responsibility for their own book selections, topic choices, and reading assignments, we also want them involved in the record-keeping and evaluation activities of literature circles.

      For a more comprehensive discussion of literature circles, check out both Bonnie Campbell Hill’s guide Literature Circles and Response, and Harvey Daniels’s book, Literature Circles: Voice and Choice in Book Clubs and Reading Groups.


      download click and clunk 

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  • Cultivating a Trusting Environ Cultivating a Trusting Environment

    • From: Mindy_Keller-Kyriakides
    • Description:

      I’m sure we’d all agree that a trusting classroom environment is crucial for students. We know that they naturally thrive in an environment where they can reach out to be heard and possibly take creative risks. The sense of community in a trust-based classroom is stronger, and students feel more like they belong to something, which, in turn, positively impacts their learning.  All that's a given. But while teachers tend to start the school year relatively well in this area, somewhere along the line, things start to unravel. So, how do we go about actively creating this environment and, perhaps more importantly, maintaining it in the classroom? 

       

      One way to tangibly cultivate a sense of trust in the classroom is to ensure that the physical environment reflects trust.  For example, the seating arrangement of a class sends an immediate message of trust or distrust. Sitting in rows (all facing the teacher at the front) or a U-shaped arrangement (everyone facing inward) each says something different about how much the teacher trusts the students. One approach says, “I have to have you all looking at me at all times,” and the other says, “Let’s learn together.” Compare these two:

      layoutgood.jpg

       

      Granted, the types of desks in the left image are designed to be more flexible. Nonetheless, any desk type can be reorganized in a shape that is more inviting than rows. Further, we’re talking about first impressions, here, as the needs for the class will shift throughout the year. (Rows might be necessary at some point, but they aren't immediately necessary.)

       

      standard rows.jpg

      Of the two classrooms, though, which one would evoke more trust from the student perspective? Taking the time to mindfully choose a classroom layout that sends a message of trust is a step we can take before students even arrive in the classroom.

       

       

       

       

      Once school has begun, a teacher’s choice of words, whether spoken or written, can also serve to cultivate trust or distrust. Are we actively creating a sense of trust in how we refer to the class and students? Take a look at these two classroom posters: 

       

      Notice2.jpg

       STUDENT NOTICE.jpg

       

       

      (For a clearer look at these images, click here.)

      The use of “we” and “our” makes a huge difference in establishing the foundation for trust, here, particularly the vast difference in tone between “This is MY classroom” and “This is OUR classroom.” Further, the negative expectation of failure (snarkily cushioned with "if" statements”) versus the positive expectation of “will” sends out completely different messages of trust. It’s as though one teacher  expects to have all sorts of problems, which automatically sends out an “I don’t trust you” message. The teacher on the right expresses a sense of confidence in the students (and himself/herself) that is designed to cultivate trust.   

      Imagine coming into a classroom on the first day and seeing one of these posters. Which classroom would you really want to be a part of? In which classroom would you feel more likely to express your thoughts and take creative risks? (On a side note, the poster on the left is offered as a “Motivational Poster” on eBay for $8.95.  The other image is my revision of it.) Actively seeking to establish a sense of collaboration and community, once students are in the class, is another crucial step we can take.  

      Maintaining the trust throughout the year is probably the most difficult part, and having a strategy in mind to maintain patience will aid in keeping that trust alive. Well-intentioned teachers may start out the school year just fine. They’ve set up the classroom and diligently used language designed to inspire collaboration, but somewhere in October, things can fizzle. Kids start to fray our nerves; we lose patience and react without thinking. Unfortunately, losing that patience also means that any trust we’ve established will begin to dissolve.

      Acclaimed educator Rafe Esquith (2007) notes, “It is deeds that will help the children see that I not only talk the talk but walk the walk.” Walking the walk entails not only our initial actions, but also our reactions. For example, if you’ve told students that you will use a particular procedure for getting their attention (such as raising your hand or counting to five), and instead, you lose it and start yelling at them (“Alright! Everybody QUIET!”), they will no longer trust you. You are not walking the path you said you’d walk. Once you’ve lost your cool, you’ve evaporated the trust, and you’ll have to work to build it up again.

      Having a strategy for maintaining patience, even in the midst of chaotic mutiny, really helped me out with high school freshmen. My strategy was a little silly, I guess. I would visualize the calmest person I could think of: Mahatma Gandhi.

       

       

      gandhi.jpg

       

       

      Then, I would repeat a mantra: Be what I want to see (a quick version of his famous quote “As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him” (Gandhi, 1958).

      This sort of “channeling of Gandhi” strategy compelled me to pause before reacting—not unlike counting to ten, but a tad more inspirational. Who pops into your head as the epitome of patience and calm strength?

       

      Another means of maintaining trust is to cultivate a mindset that is passionate for understanding. In this mindset, no matter what, you do whatever it takes to ensure your students “get” what you want them to get. Esquith (2007) offers this straightforward strategy in developing the mindset—answer all student questions:

       

      I answer all questions. It does not matter if I have been asked them before. It does not matter if I am tired. The kids must see that I passionately want them to understand, and it never bothersme when they don’t. During an interview, a student named Alan once told a reporter, “Last year, I tried to ask my teacher a question. She became angry and said, ‘We’ve been over this. You weren’t listening!’ But I was listening! I just didn’t get it! Rafe will go over something fivehundred times until I understand.”

       

      What the student described is pure trust. This approach sounds easier than it is because having one student ask you something and then having the very next question be the same question can be exhausting and annoying. However, a kid who knows that you’ll answer his questions, no matter what, trusts you. In that “knowing” is the trust. 

      This kind of trusting classroom environment is attainable if we take some time to reflect on how we present the physical environment, what messages we convey, and actively seek to maintain it. What do you want your kids to “know” about you?


      • Create a physical environment cultivates trust
      • Use language that cultivates trust
      • Find strategies that will help you maintain patience and trust
      • Cultivate a mindset that is passionate for understanding

       

      Mirror site: Joyful Collapse

       

      References

      Esquith, R. (2007).  Teach like your hair’s on fire (Reprint). Retrieved from http://www.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=11644

      Gandhi, M.K. (1958). The collected works of Mahatma Gandhi (Vol.19, p. 233). Delhi, India: Government of India, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Publications Division.

      

      

      

       

      

      

       

       

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  • 2014 Tweet For Success Scholar 2014 Tweet For Success Scholarship Contest

    • From: Timothy_Smith1
    • Description:
      DialMyCalls.com launched the annual "Tweet For Success Scholarship Contest" last year and received over 11,000 submissions from college students. In the first annual contest, college students were asked to, in 140 characters or less, explain how advances in technology have helped the education system - four winners won $500 a piece to put towards their education.

       

      After the success last year, DialMyCalls is excited to announce that the scholarship contest has returned and is now live. This year the contest will task college students to, in 140 characters or less, explain the pros and cons of e-books versus traditional textbooks. Do you think you have what it takes to come up with a Twitter-inspired submission?
      College students will have until September 18, 2014 to come up with a clever submission for a chance at one of the four $500 scholarships - winners will be announced within 7 days after the contest ends.

       

      In order to qualify for the DialMyCalls.com Tweet For Success Scholarship 2014, students must meet the following requirements:
      • Must Be A High School Graduate Or GED Equivalent
      • Must Be Enrolled In An Accredited 2 Or 4 Year College For Fall 2014
      • Must Be A Legal Resident Of The United States Of America
      • Must Not Be Currently Incarcerated
      • Most Recent GPA Must Be 2.0 Or Higher
      For more information regarding DialMyCalls' scholarship contest and to submit an entry, please visit www.DialMyCalls.com and follow @DialMyCalls on Twitter to view all of the submissions.
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  • Word to the Wise: 10 Tips for Word to the Wise: 10 Tips for First-Year Principals

    • From: Ryan_Thomas1
    • Description:

      first year principal

      By the time they step into the position, most principals have already spent years—even decades—in the classroom as teachers. This experience certainly comes in handy, but rarely is it enough to keep first-year principals from being broadsided by new challenges. While experience is often the best teacher, we’d like to help new principals avoid common first-year blunders by sharing 10 tips from real principals. These tips have been adapted from Tena Green’s book, Your First Year as Principal: Everything You Need to Know That They Don't Teach You in School.

      Word to the Wise: 10 Tips for First-Year Principals

      • Principals are forced to make decisions on a daily basis. Some of these decisions are run-of-the-mill, but others are high-stakes and have far-reaching consequences. When it comes to decisions, Veteran principal James Gasparino suggests that first year principals do two things: First, resist the urge to react impulsively. Second, learn to “differentiate what needs to be settled right away and what…require[s] reflection and input from others. First-year principals may want to do everything right away, and by themselves. It is difficult, if not impossible, to get buy-in from others if they did not have a voice in the decision-making process.”


      • First-year principals often fall into the trap of trying to do everything for everyone. According to veteran principal John Fielding, it is imperative that new administrators realize (and realize quickly) that they cannot—either physically, mentally, or emotionally—“be everything to everybody.” Keep in mind that “If you are too tired to move, you are no good to anybody else. You do not really have to know and do everything yourself. That said, you do need to know these things that require your attention and those you can let others handle.”


      • Echoing Fielding’s advice is principal Jory Westberry, who urges first-year principals to “Avoid thinking you should have all the answers” or that you “have to make all decisions quickly.”


      • Despite the fact that most principals have spent years in the classroom as teachers, many of them forget—or at least appear to forget—what it’s like to teach. Principal Barry Pichard reminds us that we must never forget what life is like in the classroom and remember that teaching is “one of the toughest jobs around.”


      • A first-year principal may have only the best intentions when s/he replaces that tattered and creaky sofa in the lounge or when s/he boxes up a wall of dusty trophies to make room for a student exhibit…but faculty and staff may see these seemingly innocent changes as a direct assault on the school culture. Principal Roy Miller suggests that first-year principals proceed with caution and “learn both the culture and the ‘hidden culture’ of the building” before making any changes.


      • What’s one of the biggest mistakes a first-year principal can make? According to principal Michael Miller, it is “coming on too strong and feel[ing] you have to show [faculty and staff] who is boss. If you have to ever remind them who the boss is, you have a problem.”


      • Since we’re talking about faculty and staff, we thought Oliver Phipps’s tip would go nicely here: “Make staffing a priority. More specifically, though, make sure your staff is complete with people who share your vision.”


      • When discussing the burdensome responsibilities of principals, Tammy Brown suggests handling them “one at a time. I try to do the paperwork and office tasks early in the morning or after dismissal so that I can be in classrooms, halls, and in the cafeteria interacting with teachers and students as much as possible. Something often comes up that must be dealt with immediately, but most often, things can be prioritized.”


      • John Redd reminds first-year principals that it “is better to take your time before reacting to a situation. It will give you a different perspective if you take the time to get all the facts before making a hasty decision.”


      • Here’s another solid piece of advice from principal John Fielding: “Pick your battles. I always use the measuring stick of ‘is this decision good for the kids?’ If it isn’t, it may not be worth fighting for. There will always be one more silly thing that somebody thinks is important, but does it really help kids in a significant way?”

      Photo credit: Farid Fleifel / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

       

       

      Download our FREE Principal Coaching Gui

      

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  • Exercise and the Brain Exercise and the Brain

    • From: Jonathan_Jefferson
    • Description:

      Exercise and the Brain

      By Jonathan Jefferson


      “SPARK: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain” by John J. Ratey, MD is the one book that all educators must read to fully understand the inseparable connection between exercise and the brain’s ability to acquire knowledge.  Long before this well structured, research-based book was released in 2008, I had admonished my colleagues that it was a misnomer to equate academic learning and exercise as two separate spheres if for no other reason than that the brain can only receive nourishment through movement.  Movement increases blood flow and oxygen to the brain priming it for the development of new neuron-passage ways.  Recent studies have also shown that coordinated movement (e.g. dance, martial arts, & yoga) are the most effective “steroids” for the brain.


      Why is this topic important?  Far too often we find well-intentioned educators unwittingly act on assumptions which are too detached from prevailing research to be anything but ineffectual.  Having students engage in physical activity before classes and exams is much more beneficial than having them sit quietly and read.  However, the “control freaks” contingency of educators are disinclined to relinquish their illusion of control, which ultimately contributes to the detriment of student performance.  Let us truly put kids first and embrace the maxim of doing what is best for them; not what is most convenient for the adults.


      Dr. Ratey thoroughly shared the success of Naperville Illinois’ school district in his book.  This district is lead by their physical education and wellness program.  On the 1999 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), Naperville’s eighth graders placed sixth in the world in math and first in science.  He also reported that in Naperville students are deliberately scheduled for their most difficult classes following physical education class.  This is done to take advantage of their brain’s readiness to learn at that time.  Imagine that; a striving school district actually applying proven research to a successful end.


      I am not surprised that “SPARK” is a best seller.  The research shared explains the benefits of exercise on stress, anxiety, depression, attention deficit, addiction, hormonal changes, aging, and learning.  There is something for everyone, and acting on the research shared can improve the quality of life for many.

       

      In addition to this fine work, another great read specific to movement and the brain is Math and Movement by Suzy Koontz.

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  • Coming To A Finish Coming To A Finish

    • From: Chris_Arthurs
    • Description:

      For this blog I wanted to reflect upon my experience in past course, current courses, and completing this course for NLU. Since January of 2013 I have been part of NLU and have been enrolled in online courses all terms at that time. My first courses included Health Education focused curriculum, followed by curriculum development course material. The conclusion of this program has focused my mainly towards research development and creation. My final three 4 courses in the program have been research development focused and has been interesting. The main focus for research has focused on Physical Education curriculum including middle school muscular strength and development and formative assessment in the Physical Education setting. These two projects have helped improve my skill and knowledge as an instructor in the courses that I teach in my everyday classes. As we move forward in this course I hope to intertwine these programs in a nice research project of some sort. With that being said, I am also enrolled in a group research based class currently along with this one, and our study is the relation of academic improvement as movement. We have been exploring how students that participated in some sort of movement feel that it improves that ability in school. We have completed a wealth of research toward this topic, which I also believe is relevant towards prior research I have done. It was be interesting, and exciting to complete my course work for the C&I program, and I am excited to see the conclusion of my research projects for both this course, and group course.

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  • Putting STUDENTS in the center Putting STUDENTS in the center of learning.

    • From: Beth_Brodie
    • Description:
      This is the word cloud from chapter one of my new book, The Trinity of Personalization: A Guide to High School Advisory, Personalized Learning Plans and Student-led Conferences
    • 1 week ago
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  • Minecraft: Research Product Minecraft: Research Product

    • From: Michael_Fisher
    • Description:

      Earlier this week, a member of my digital network, Brent Coley ( @brentcoley ), shared the following tweet where a student created a Minecraft video that represented a virtual tour of Mission San Diego de Alcala (Wikipedia link):


       

      Link to video outside of tweet.


      I was absolutely blown away by what this 4th grader created and I thought it was a good representation of what a research project product that wasn’t a paper looked like.  I’ve previously blogged about Infographics as a research product and I advocate vociferously for digital product replacement thinking when I work with teachers. If the outcome is building knowledge and demonstrating that students can both investigate a topic and learn from it, whoever said that research had to result in a paper?


      The research standards in the Common Core are usually just the three writing standards associated with Research to Build and Present Knowledge. However, I always lump writing standard six in there as well, as it deals with how writing can be presented in a digital format/presentation. I want to share the fourth-grade-specific Common Core writing standards here, standard seven from the Research Standards, and standard six from the Production and Distribution of Writing section:


      W.4.7. Conduct short research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.


      W.4.6. With some guidance and support from adults, use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of one page in a single sitting.


      As you read through the rest of this blog post (and hopefully after you’ve viewed the video), read with these standards as lenses. Ask yourself, “did this student meet the standard?” “Did this student provide evidence of what they know and are able to do within the confines of this standard?”


      In my book, Digital Learning Strategies: How Do I Assign and Assess 21st Century Work?, I describe several questions to ask when assigning digital student work:

      1. What is the learning objective?

      2. Is the instructional task worthy of a digital upgrade? Will using digital tools enhance the learning? If so, in what ways?

      3. Will the digital tools increase or decrease the cognitive rigor of the task? What additional skills might have to be considered in order to engage this upgrade?

      4. Does the digital upgrade involve collaboration, communication, creative problem solving, and/or creative thinking?

      5. Are sufficient digital tools available and do all students have access to them?

      6. Are the students involved in some of the decision-making? How much are the students contributing to the design, process, or product?


      I wanted to blog about this student’s Minecraft project through the lens of these six considerations, annotating what this fourth grader was able to accomplish.


      • What is the learning objective?

        • The learning objective here was to learn about the Mission San Diego de Alcala. This student had to learn the layout, information about the different areas, and be able to speculate about the people that lived there.

        • This student also had to learn specific information about the founder of the Mission, Father Junipero Serra, as he both introduces the video and then explains several of the artifacts contained within the video.

      • Is the instructional task worthy of a digital upgrade? Will using digital tools enhance the learning? If so, in what ways?

        • In this case, I believe the learning was enhanced exponentially. Besides the research to build knowledge about the mission, this student had to do a brick by brick recreation to create the video.

        • In the comments section of the video, the student’s father includes information about the student having to develop his own system for creating the texture of the tiles on the roof.

        • This obviously had to be tightly scripted for both production and the narration, so the writing definitely occurred at some point. Everything in the video though is beyond the writing...beyond the end point of the traditional research product.

        • In terms of worth? You tell me. Was this digital upgrade a worthy replacement?

      • Will the digital tools increase or decrease the cognitive rigor of the task?

        • The traditional version of this research would have resulted in a paper, most likely, perhaps a diorama or detailed schematic drawing. In this case, using Minecraft, the detail involved demanded a time-intensive process that resulted in a very professional product. The decisions this student made to develop the detailed depiction all involved discernment and critical thinking in some way. Big time rigor here.

        • Additionally, the student used multiple digital tools to get to the final product: Minecraft to create the representation, an audio tool to record the narration, and a screen-capturing tool to record the video. All of these individually would raise the thinking level of the task because they all represent learning that is above and beyond the expectation of the standard and the traditional version of the research. Together, they represent problem solving nirvana.

      • Does the digital upgrade involve collaboration, communication, creative problem solving, and/or creative thinking?

        • I get the sense from the comments on the Youtube page that the student engaged in some conversation with his dad to create the video, though I don’t see specific evidence of collaboration or communication.

        • As for creative problem solving, the student’s father references an issue with the roof tiles that the student had to discover a solution too, but the entire video also represents a finished product that is the end product of trial and error thinking. If you’ve ever been in Minecraft, you know that you have to try stuff out and see if it works. Once you discover what works, you build, literally, on it.

        • In terms of creative thinking, there’s so much here. From decisions about the design and interactive elements, to details about Father Serra’s artifacts, to the layout and navigation of the Mission for the viewer of the video, this student had a lot on his plate to think about. The finished product demonstrates extremely high levels of thinking and decision making.

      • Are sufficient digital tools available and do all students have access to them?

        • This I don’t know. I’m not privy to the project’s parameters or to the population of students that were assigned this project and their access to / equity within digital tools or connected access points.

        • I do know that this student seems to be fairly comfortable creating within the digital realm, which suggests an early affinity / comfort with digital tools at a young age that allows him to demonstrate learning at this level even in the fourth grade.

        • Based on the comments from dad, I’m speculating that this student has no issues with computer / internet access and that it is just a part of his world.

      • Are the students involved in some of the decision-making? How much are the students contributing to the design, process, or product?

        • Again, since I don’t know anything about what was assigned, I don’t know how much the students contributed to the design of the project.

        • Even if the design of the Mission and its subsequent creation within the Minecraft system was with the help of his father, note that the standard (#6) advocates for “guidance and support from adults.”


      In the book, I also recommend some questions to ask when assessing student work, two of which revolve around how students are reflecting on what they are creating and how they are attributing their source material, both of which are important components of research.


      In this case, there is little evidence of either. I was hoping to learn from where the student found his information. (And I was secretly hoping to discover that he used multiple verified sources.) I was also hoping to learn why he chose to use Minecraft to create his product versus other available web tools. Perhaps eventually this could be added to the Youtube comments. If I were the teacher, I might ask for this as a separate component of the task.


      All in all, though, I must say, that this effort is serendipitous. I’m struck by both the level of quality and the apparent level of learning of this student. I hope that those reading this are understanding that this is what a 21st Century demonstration of learning looks like. This is what is possible when we relinquish the limits of traditional practice. This is what is possible when we begin orbiting the boxes that we’ve asked students to think outside of for decades. This is 21st Century Learning.


      Kudos to this kid and his dad. What they created was future-forward and just plain awesome. I subscribed to their Youtube channel. I can’t wait to see what they will do next!


       


      Follow Mike On Twitter: @fisher1000

      Mike’s Website: Digigogy.com

      Digital Learning Strategies: How Do I Assign and Assess 21st Century Work?


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