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Good Tuesday morning to our esteemed Professional Interest Community facilitators!
It is a chilly end of November here in Alexandria. Leaves have blown from their branches and it very much feels like traditional Thanksgiving weather for us Americans on the east coast.
We will meet online Monday, November 29, 2010 at http://ascd.na4.acrobat.com/picsnov182010/ at 11:00 AM EST. I have already received input from several facilitators on exemplars for the rubric criteria. Feel free to email me yours ahead of time or share them live on Monday. You can access the most recent draft of the criteria at http://groups.ascd.org/resource/documents/111335-Criteria_Clusters.doc
It is critical that you participate in providing feedback as we continue to craft the rubric. Please be sure to make time to keep up with our work and to provide your input.
In looking over finances for the remainder of the current fiscal year, things are tight and we are working to be thrifty and find savings wherever we can. I hope to be able to update you on our status the first of the new year.
I am planning to provide a final update of our contact directory in early December, so if you have any additional changes for your community, please email them to me by the end of this month.
Here's to a great week - and for those of you observing the American holiday - Happy Thanksgiving!
Mathematics instruction changes as a reflection of what society deems to be valuable in terms of the skills and knowledge needed to be successful in the workplace. The Progressive movement of the 1920's was widely influenced by John Dewey's ideas that schooling should be largely directed toward children's experiences and interests. Although this has good intent and justification, in 1940's tracking in mathematics emerged as means to steer students toward mathematics courses. As a result of tracking there was a sharp decline in the percentage of high school students taking algebra-from 57% in 1905 to about 25% in the late 1940's and early 1950s (Jones & Coxford, 1970).
Delivery of instruction is also contingent upon the reaction of perceived shortcomings of previous movements. The "Back to Basics" (1970's) approach which focuses upon a skill and drill approach to instruction, was in response to the failings of "New Math" (1950's) which focused on advanced mathematics and was often developed by mathematicians who focused on higher level mathematics.
Currently we see the focus of mathematics on higher order thinking and 21st century skills with a focus on conceptual understanding more so than procedural. Content knowledge expectations are clarified by grade level standards and there is a spiriling of curriculum so that students have content knowledge that is in greater depth than breath. As schools and districts move toward the Common Core standards, instruction must change too ensure the emphasis is on what students understand more so than what they can do. And as we enter another pardigm shift in mathematics it is unknown what shortcomings await and what new challenges will emerge.
According to Philipp, (2011) "the challenge is no longer how to get mathematics into students, but instead how to get students into mathematics". How will you address this challenge and meet the expectations of the newest reform in mathematics?
1. How should principal performance be assessed?
[This is YOUR opinion]
2. What makes an effective school?
I know this probably won’t be popular, but if I am going to continue to talk about “New Forms” in education, this needs to be on the table.
Why are teachers still doing daily lesson plans? What is the conceptual (current, 21st century) framework around this traditionally rigid process? What is encapsulated in these daily snapshots that would not be better to see in either a weekly format or perhaps something a little more open-ended? (Meaning that if the learning takes 3 days, it takes 3 days…if it takes 6, so be it. What’s more important, the learning, or the time in which we expect the learning to occur?)
I’m not saying get rid of all daily moments…assessment, anchors, general instructional arc…but the whole six point lesson plan thing seems to be a foot in the door of 1985. Or 1955.
Perhaps the terminology is dated. I often say in workshops that teachers should stop the creation of the lesson “plan” and instead create lesson “events.” That which is memorable will stick. That which is traditional and “the same as always” will almost certainly be forgotten. Yet, in many schools, the traditional is so well entrenched that anyone doing great things is suspicious and certainly shouldn’t be trusted with children. Seriously.
What do you remember about your school experiences?
The worksheets you did? The drill and skill cursive writing? No? No memory of those things?
What about those moments that weren’t the same “day in / day out” minutiae? What about the field trips you took? What about that time your teacher dressed up as Jon Bon Jovi and sang the Periodic Table to you to the tune of “You Give Love A Bad Name?” (Which you can still remember verbatim, including the atomic weight of Carbon.)
I think I’m opening several cans of worms here. For one, what does the hierarchy of lessons look like if we remove the daily lesson plan, and two, is anything singular even worth planning for?
Briefly, let me address both.
A lesson typically fits into an instructional arc or subunit, tied into an overall unit, which is housed in a year of learning. This plan seems to me to perpetuate encapsulated moments that define when learning can take place. It’s kind of like going to the doctor on a Monday morning with a broken arm and the doctor saying that he’s sorry, but broken limbs aren’t dealt with until Friday, or maybe February.
But WHAT IF (I like saying “What If…”) things weren’t so compartmentalized? What if the process for deconstructing curriculum, breaking apart standards, and precisely defining skills and methodologies was a little messier, and deleted the daily lesson plan in favor of “LESSONS” plans? We could still address common threads and connections through UNITS, but the plans themselves look at the whole neighborhood, instead of just one house. (Know what I mean?)
But then, that opens up the second can of worms. The singular content area lesson. One skill, one piece of content, one content area, one assessment…everything one at a time and separated from everything else. It’s all very neat and linear, but it seems very limiting. I have a hunch that sometime in the very near future, the definition of what a 21st Century educator is will include the total abandonment of singular content lessons. The future is in integration.
If you think about the “real world” that we’re preparing kids for, how often is the “real world” day broken up into science moments, math moments, writing moments, etc? We engage all of these things at all times. Also, it’s not like integrated units are anything innovative…there’s been tons of research and lots of books written specifically providing examples of how to do it. So why isn’t it happening? Kids don’t need a six-week unit on mastering quotation marks; they need to learn to master the quotation marks piece in the screenplay they write collaboratively about the people of Iceland solving problems around a catastrophic tectonic event that includes the gathering and analysis of quantitative data. (See what I did right there?)
There’s other cans of worms here…the reformation of assessment practices (Think Denmark! Think Japan!), the realignment of associated skills with differentiated instruction and backwards design models, the deep understanding of curriculum design – specifically prioritization and consensus anchor knowledge, the singular student / singular product mode, etc.
I’m thinking out loud here. If you’ve read this far, I hope it’s because you’ve either been inspired or angered. What are your thoughts? How do we innovate the “lesson plan?” How do we tear it down, build it up, upgrade it, dispose of it, or grow it? Or do we just keep the blinders on and hope for the best with what we’ve got?
The homework debate is one that has permeated education for many decades, and it shows no signs of slowing. Homework proponents perplex me, because the research is so overwhelmingly against homework's effectiveness.
After much consideration and my own exhaustive research, I stopped assigning homework a few years ago. Homework simply doesn't fit into a Results Only Learning Environment.
Although I could speak endlessly on the negatives of homework, I'll get right to the top five reasons I don't assign homework, in reverse order.
5 -- Virtually all homework involves rote memory practice, which is always a waste of time. In the age of the Smartphone, who needs to remember by rote?
4 -- Homework has nothing to do with teaching responsibility (HW advocates love this claim). Not only is there not one reliable study to prove that homework builds responsible children, based purely on what we know about responsibility, the assertion is illogical. Responsibility implies autonomy, and homework offers none of this. Students are told what to do, when to do it, and when it must be returned. Where does responsibility come into play?
3 -- Homework impinges upon a student's time with family and on other, more valuable, activities -- like play. As Alfie Kohn states in The Homework Myth, why should children be asked to work a second shift? It's unconscionable to send children to work for nearly eight hours a day, then have them go home and work for 2-5 more hours; we don't live in 19th century London.
2 -- I can teach the material in the time I'm with my students in the classroom. The endless cry of "I can't teach all of the standards without assigning homework" is a tired excuse used to hide ineffective methods. Creating engaging activities in place of lecture and worksheets, along with less testing allows teachers to cover more material in class and eliminates the need for homework.
1 -- Students hate homework. I want to help my students develop a thirst for learning. I want them to read for enjoyment and exploration. I want them to extend their learning when they choose, because they are interested in what we do in class. If I force them to do activities that they don't choose, they will hate them. If I penalize them for not completing something they see as valueless, they not only don't learn, they get a bad grade and hate learning even more.
My colleagues often attempt to persuade me that homework is an integral part of teaching and learning. I'm simply not buying. So, what's your take on the debate?
Mark's new book, Role Reversal: Achieving Uncommonly Excellent Results in the Student-Centered Classroom is available for preorder from ASCD here.
Follow me on Twitter, where we can continue the conversation.
If we truly want to help ALL students meet or master the standards, we must provide effective differentiation for our students. However, over the years, several practices have crept into the way we differentiate lessons that actually make student success LESS likely. The following are four practices that actually interfere with effective differentiated instruction.
Creating multiple assignments rather than multiple pathways. Differentiation is not about the number of assignments you create; it's about giving students multiple pathways to success and then helping them choose the pathway that is best for them. Simply providing multiple assignments not only creates a lot of work for you, it can pigeonhole some students into lowered expectations and decreased opportunities to stretch and grow. Instead of creating different assignments, create ONE assignment and provide students several different pathways to success on that assignment (for more on planning differentiated lessons that rely on ONE assignment, check out The Differentiation Workbook for a lesson plan and process). By focusing on different supports rather than different assignments, you can better target students' needs and give them the scaffolding they need to reach success.
Differentiating by learning style versus learning needs. Not every lesson you give will accommodate students' preferred learning style - nor does every lesson need to. Our time is better spent examining students' particular learning needs for each assignment and using their learning needs to identify and provide the support and scaffolding they need to be successful. Learning styles are static while learning needs constantly change and shift depending on students' current content and procedural knowledge. Learning needs give you a much more accurate picture of where students are currently and what you must do to help them successfully master a range of standards and skills. From there you can create customized pathways and supports to help all students meet or exceed the standards.
Differentiating by achievement level rather than by students' current learning level. Some will tell you that there are three kinds of students - high, medium, and low. But this distinction is not very useful. There are times when a student you consider to be in your high group will struggle with the content. Other time, students in your low group will sail through an activity, outperforming the students in your high group. Because students bring a variety of skills and experiences to the classroom, classifying them as high, medium, and low doesn't really help you adjust your instruction effectively to meet their complex needs. These static groupings also limit students. Once you start thinking about students in these ways, it is difficult to see them any other way. Differentiating by achievement level often results in lowered expectations for struggling students and extra work for advanced students. Lowering the target for some students while raising the learning target for others is not differentiation - it's tracking. Real differentiation takes into account where students are at a particular point in time. It doesn't label kids "low", "average," and "advanced"; it groups students by their current understanding of the content and processes involved in a particular learning activity and then provides students with the targeted supports they need to successfully master that activity.
Differentiating down rather than up. When we differentiate down, we tend to look for ways to "dumb down" an assignment to students' current learning level and hope that over time, they will begin working at the level demanded by the standards. In most cases, our efforts fall short. Differentiating up means starting with the standard and figuring out what supports students will need to reach the standard. All assignments are written at or above grade-level. We can offer students varying degrees of support and different routes to success but the target itself should never change.
By avoiding these mistakes, you can make your efforts at differentiation much more successful -- and much less stressful. Take a look at your differentiation practice and make sure that you are not unintentionally making things harder for both you and your students.
I am excited to announce an online book study discussion group based on The Motivated Student: Unlocking the Enthusiasm for Learning.I hope you’ll join this professional learning community and encourage your colleagues to do the same.
The purpose is to discuss The Motivated Student and identify how to take positive advantage of the internal motivation students bring to school. If you’re satisfied with the number of students who work hard and regularly display the effort you want, then this group is not for you. On the other hand, if you wish more students worked harder and you’d like to develop strategies to engage and inspire more students, you’ll find this group professionally enriching.
Here’s how it will work: I’ll host a live online chat, following the schedule outlined below. The chat will give me an opportunity to introduce some key concepts from the chapters we are discussing and to initiate conversation. After each live chat, I’ll post some questions/topics for discussion on the “Inspiring Student Motivation” group wall on EDge so participants can share strategies, ask questions, and provide suggestions about how to foster internal motivation and academic success. Just go to http://edge.ascd.org/_Inspiring-Student-Motivation/group/110667/127586.html to get to the “Inspiring Student Motivation” wall.
Here is our schedule:
April 15: live chat from 7:00-8:00 PM Eastern time.
Topic: Chapters 1,2,3 of The Motivated Student
April 22: live chat from 7:00-8:00 PM Eastern time.
Topic: Chapters 4,5,6 of The Motivated Student
May 6: live chat from 7:00-8:00 PM Eastern time.
Topic: Chapters 7,8,9 of The Motivated Student
May 13: live chat from 7:00-8:00 PM Eastern time.
Topic: Chapters 10,11 of The Motivated Student
May 20: live chat from 7:00-8:00 PM Eastern time.
Topic: Chapters 12,13,14,15 of The Motivated Student
To order The Motivated Student visit: http://shop.ascd.org/productdisplay.cfm?productid=109028.
Get your copy today. I look forward to chatting with you on April 15!
A Results Only Learning Environment has no discipline issues. Many educators find this nearly impossible to believe, so I decided to explain how to stop discipline issues forever.
Behavior issues are a matter of opinion
One thing that separates ROLE teachers from traditional teachers is how behavior is categorized. Teachers in favor of control, for example, will say that cell phone use or students talking and moving without permission are major discipline problems. The ROLE teacher embraces these behaviors, because the results-only classroom is a workshop setting that encourages autonomy and constant collaboration.
So, when someone is shocked to hear that I have no behavior issues, my first response is to suggest that my view of discipline is different from that of traditional teachers, who might argue that I have many problems, due to what they may perceive to be chaos in my classroom. I say that I have no discipline problems, because my students are not disrespectful and are never disruptive in the classic sense of the word. I never have to punish a student, nor would I consider doing so. Our workshop setting provides freedom and eliminates control, which is what typically leads to disruption.
Most disciplinary issues begin with bad teaching
In the past, I punished students for talking to peers, because I saw this as disruptive to the constant lecturing I was doing. When students refused to complete a task, I removed them from my room. What I didn't realize then was that the problem wasn't a disrespectful or disruptive student; it was a boring worksheet or textbook assignment, which did not offer autonomy or ignite a thirst for learning. Now students collaborate, work on year-long projects and participate in their own mastery of learning outcomes, through two-way narrative feedback.
What students say
Last year, I polled students at the end of the school year about result-only learning strategies. One question was about behavior. I asked them why they believed there were never any discipline issues in class. Eighty-four percent reported that the ROLE encouraged a desire to learn over a desire to be disruptive.
You see, the absence of discipline issues has nothing to do with me being a great teacher. It's about a 21st century learning environment that fans intrinsic motivation and keeps students so engaged in learning that disruption is not considered.
Imagine how much learning would take place if all of your class disruption and discipline problems vanished forever.
Real education reform consists of change in the classroom, rather than more high stakes testing, vouchers and merit pay. A Results Only Learning Environment emphasizes student-centered, project-based methods that embrace autonomy and self-evaluation. There's no room for number or letter grades in a ROLE. Narrative feedback drives assessment and mastery learning.
This video demonstrate how narrative feedback works. How can you work narrative feedback into your own class?
Whether you're an educational technology wonder, or a little slower on the draw, apps for your iPhone and/or iPad can make your job a lot easier. We’d like to share what we think are 10 of the best apps for educators. These will not only keep you organized, but place helpful resources at your fingertips.
Keeping You Organized
DropBox - A FREE resource for keeping your computer files organized and protected from lost flash drives and/or computer crashes. DropBox ensures your data is available from any computer with Internet access.
Harvest - Time/Expense Tracking - Hooray! Education expenses are tax-deductible. When tax time rolls around this app provides easy expenses totaling for your tax accountant or TurboTax.
QuickVoice Recorder - The late comedian Mitch Hedberg used to say, “I sit at my hotel at night; I think of something that's funny; then I go get a pen and I write it down. Or if the pen's too far away, I have to convince myself that what I thought of ain't funny.” Agreed. The best ideas always seem to come when there isn’t a pen within arm’s reach. Knowing this, QuickVoice allows you to record messages to yourself. Play them back later for transcription or to take action.
Docs Anywhere – Anywhere. Exactly! DocsAnywhere allows you to copy your documents to your “i-device” and take them wherever you go. Since documents are transferred through USB, you’re never a hostage to a vindictive wireless network.
Pages - Not a graphic designer? No problem. Pages lets you use graphs, pictures, artsy fonts and designs to make classroom handouts that are much more engaging.
LanSchool Teacher's Assistant - This app helps you monitor/censor student activity on classroom computers. Finally - you don't have to be at every computer all the time.
Freebooks - This app allows you access to 23,469 free books. Use an e-Reader and your classroom is connected to some of the best literature the world has to offer.
Today in History - Though it's the most helpful for history teachers, this app is organized by year so any teacher can browse and find cross-curricula factoids to help students connect the dots.
Molecules - Science students get 3-D images of the molecules they're studying with this engaging and interactive app. Even the non-science enthusiasts will be interested.
Mathematical Formulas - Sometimes our students can throw us for a loop. This app provides access to formulas from various disciplines to keep lectures moving forward.
Taking advantage of these apps can help you streamline your performance both inside and outside your classroom.
If you have an interest in instructional technology courses, or want to learn how to successfully integrate educational technology into your school or classroom, learn more about Marygrove College’s online Master of Education Technology degree.
And to ensure that a Marygrove education is an achievable, financially-sustainable investment, the college has reduced tuition rates for several of its online graduate programs—including our instructional technology degree program—by 19 percent.
In today’s global and entrepreneurial economy, every student must be able to walk out of the building with a meaningful diploma, prepared for success in the twenty-first century.
Alliance for Excellent Education, Civic Enterprises, and the Data Quality Campaign, 2011, p. 1
In 2007, Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman starred in The Bucket List. In the movie, Nicholson and Freeman make a list of things they wish to do before they die. They sky dive, travel the world, visit landmarks such as the Taj Mahal, and climb the Great Wall of China. The term bucket list is becoming more popular. When someone uses the term sarcastically, they may say, "That is definitely not on my bucket list." Recently, a friend gave me a book titled, The Baseball Fan's Bucket List. The book suggests that every baseball fan should visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, learn to keep score, see a Double AA game, and watch the movie Bull Durham. As a baseball fan, I can promise you that these things will bring happiness. Each of them have been checked on my bucket list.
Typically, people create a bucket list, because they want to have the opportunity to do the things on the list before they 'kick the bucket.' What if schools created a bucket list? I realize how morbid this sounds. It would frighten a nine year old to hear the teacher say, "We are going to learn teamwork and communication skills today, because you need to have these skills before you die." For the remainder of this article, let's eliminate the thought of dying. Rather than dying, assume that all students will need to have their bucket list checked by graduation day.
What would a Bucket List for K-12 Students Look Like?
This is the age old question, "What should every student know and be able to do?" As we celebrate the Class of 2012, we can reflect and ask if each student is graduating prepared for college and career. What skills are students lacking? Do they have a good balance of academic skills and soft skills? Do they know how to complete a job application? Did the school teach interview skills? Do they know how to manage their money? The following list is a short list that I have started for K-12 students.
If you have attended a Senior Awards ceremony or a graduation, you may have overheard adults whispering:
"He is the total package." "She is what every employer is looking for." "He is the most well-rounded student." "She may win 3/4 of the scholarships tonight." "He has the skills that every student needs upon graduation."
According to the Alliance for Excellent Education (2009), “The mission of the public education system must shift from educating some students and preparing them for the twentieth-century American economy to educating all students and preparing them for the twenty-first century global economy” (p. 4). The recent adoption of the Common Core State Standards may support college and career readiness across the United States. If educators would commit to a bucket list for students, then there would be an intentional effort to see that more students are 'the total package.' Some students will still possess better reading skills and some students will have a deeper understanding of digital literacy. Some of the seniors will still go to Harvard and Stanford, while a majority will not qualify. If you have ever viewed The Bucket List, you see the satisfaction that it brings the actors to check off their goals and dreams. Student success should not be left to the decision students make when they come to a fork in the road. Students will make choices for the remainder of their lives and those choices should be based on a solid foundation.
As a parent, I would be thrilled if my own son and daughter graduated with the skills that I outlined in this article. Which skills or understandings would you add to the list? Share your thoughts below on ASCD EDge. If all of your students entered your class with a bucket, could you fill it by the end of the year? Which skills are elementary, middle, or high school-specific? Which skills are taught and retaught throughout the K-12 years? How can a bucket list provide more students with the skills highlighted by the Smithsonian Institute's recent video about education? If we truly want to change the world, we may need to develop a bucket list for K-12 students.
I've recently had deep discussions with an artist and an educator who are each aggressively advocating for high-quality experiences they believe they can provide via the computer. The artist is adamant his iPad paintings are a valid form of art. The educator is touting his implementation of iPads to Kindergarteners in a Maine public school district. In both cases I asked the same question: are you advocating for this because it adds value, or just because you can?
In the case of the artist, the crux of the discussion focused on the medium: is painting on an iPad a valid form of art? The artist insisted, “Yes, an iPad as an art medium.” I tried to understand his reasoning, but was stuck on the fact that it did not provide the touch, texture and multi-sensory experience of traditional paint on canvas. Is “painting” on an iPad human expression? By definition, yes, a human is expressing him or herself visually to anyone who might see the resulting display. But that is more craft. Any craftsperson can create and reproduce images as visual products. That does not make it art. Art is a process: the use of artistic media to create and arrange visual elements in a way that evokes human response. Let me share a dated example. At my wedding an eccentric high school friend and aspiring artist gave me the gift of “Xerography”: a framed picture of objects he arranged on the glass of a photocopy machine while placing his face over the top as he hit the copy button, resulting in a bizarre set of images with a ghostly-gray profile of his face in the background. While original and well-intended, rest assured I did not consider it art. We laughed and I put it away in a box. That was the extent of my human response...
Spring forward to the discussion of iPads for Kindergarteners. The educator in question was touting this because it was “the first district in the country to do this,” which left me responding “maybe there’s a reason no one else has tried.” My objection lies squarely in my background as an early childhood educator. Five year olds need to learn using all their senses…they need to interact with others and their environment…they are in Piaget’s Preoperational stage: highly egocentric and demonstrate magical thinking in trying to understand how the world works because they cannot yet think logically…actively interacting with the environment, and developing their fine and gross motor skills in the process. Five year olds need concrete, real-world experiences that help them test their understandings of how things work around them as they interact with peers and adults. For all these reasons, equipping every Kindergartener with an iPad...while it may be done with the best of intentions...is developmentally inappropriate.
The key for me in both these discussions is an understanding of human experience: authentic, virtual and vicarious. In my mind:
If you accept that these three working definitions (in layman’s terms, I know) are fair and reasonable, then the entirety of both discussions comes down to one essential question: can virtual, vicarious experience supplant authentic human experience? The ed tech educator within me wants to say “maybe…depending on how it’s used” but my early childhood educator background pushes back “no” it cannot be….by definition! Don’t get me wrong. I taught Kindergarten and first grade back in the late eighties and we had computer software I would use for concept of letter, one-to-one correspondence, ordinals and the like, but always with adult support and never as the learning experience itself. Technology in general can nicely augment authentic human learning experiences, when used appropriately given the learner, the objective, and the task…but it can never supplant it.
Not convinced? OK. let’s play it forward. If we can learn and grow and create and communicate and live completely virtually, then why continue to invest our time and effort in the physical world? The premise of the Matrix is suddenly attainable. So…is that our future? And if your answer is no, then where do you draw the line between authentic human experiences and virtual, vicarious ones…?
Here’s where I draw the line in my mind…
Any technology application that goes against these principles is not in our best interests...it's being done “just because we can.”
If I’m wrong, then the world will move towards a more fully realized virtual existence, and we will be better off for it.
If I’m right, then this will be just the most recent example of how ed tech ran after the latest fad, implemented it less-than-responsibly, and had nothing to show for it once the dust settled. This is what baffles me: ed tech enthusiasts continue to complain they are not taken seriously, yet they continue to act as though they’ve learned nothing from the past 30-plus years of wasted resources and empty techno-promises. If the examples discussed here are added to a legacy of folly, it will only further undermine ed tech’s credibility with mainstream education and the public...at a time when public monies dwindle and public education is under fire.
I really want to be wrong...
Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8: A position statement of the National Association for the Education of Young Children http://www.naeyc.org/files/naeyc/file/positions/PSDAP.pdf
Developmentally Appropriate Practice in the Age of Testing: New reports outline key principles for preK–3rd grade: The Harvard Graduate School of Education http://www.hepg.org/hel/article/158
Developmentally Appropriate Practice: The Franklin Public Schools, Franklin, Massachusetts http://goo.gl/1Fzcg
Developmentally Appropriate Practice: The Teacher Research Institute at Western Oregon University http://www.tr.wou.edu/train/cdcdap.htm
Early Childhood Education Standards for Quality Programs for Young Children: The National Association of Elementary School Principals http://dpi.state.wi.us/ec/ecstndpg.html
Early Connections: Technology in Early Childhood Education: The Northwest Educational Technology Consortium http://www.netc.org/earlyconnections/index1.html
Three lucky winners will recieve a copy of Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe's new book, The Understanding by Design Guide to Creating High-Quality Units.
To enter, answer this question:
"What is the best part of your job?"
I will select 3 random responses and announce the winners Wednesday at 5 pm.
Disclaimer: This contest is not affiliated with Facebook
Happy New Year! As we enter the decade of educational transformation (d.e.t.) http://goo.gl/yemgX here is my proposed action plan for working to transform education. It is a practical plan, but not an easy plan. There are many institutional and financial forces in play that will oppose this plan. That in and of itself is a good indicator that the plan is on the right track!
Get all the stakeholders to the table
Get everyone involved and invested in education to the table. Not for a panel discussion or a brain dump or a free-for-all….but for decision-driven examination of the following issues listed below: public officials, private interests, parents, students, educators….everyone at the table and not in their traditional roles, because all their roles are changing. Who should call this gathering of stakeholders? Whoever has the vision and gumption to speak up first. Who should set the agenda? The group will set the agenda at the table. Whether it starts at the national level, state level or locally, it has to start somewhere, if it hasn’t already.
Put children first
The single focus of stakeholders at the table must be meeting the needs of our children. Children need to be rested, nourished, healthy, safe, secure, loved, supported, challenged and engaged to be successful. In addition, children must be empowered to learn using all the information and resources they have at their disposal. They should not be held back by the limited vision, expertise and resources of a teacher, school or district. When children have their needs met, they flourish.
Don’t even bother to come to the table unless you are willing to rethink everything you’ve ever learned about being a teaching professional, because when this action plan is implemented your job will be markedly different. If you got into education to help children learn and grow, you will be able to shift your thinking. If you do not want to have this discussion, perhaps you need to revisit why you are in education. Teachers must become flexible facilitators, possessing the skills and experiences to support students in learning and growing as each child is ready to do so.
Adopt a campus model
Take your technology budget and turn it on its head. Plan to move to an open campus model where students bring their own technology to schools and hop onto your network for access to resources and information. Phase out break/fix services and hardware budgets and reallocate those funds into a robust wireless environment that welcomes portable technologies while maintaining user safety and data security. I know there are lots of logistical questions. I understand this is not the model K-12 has used heretofore, but that model can no longer be justified fiscally or instructionally.
It is all about student learning. Not achievement scores. Not closing statistical gaps. Not putting technology in their hands in the name of some digital utopia. Learning here and now, accepting for the first time in western education that every student deserves a personal learning plan with the resources provided to ensure success. It’s time to put aside the standardized classroom model and put in place individualized learning for every student. We know enough about individual cognition and learning styles to tailor learning for each child, and the tools are available to make it happen.
Learning doesn’t just take place between 8:00 AM and 3:30 PM, and educational access issues do not only exist outside of school. Instead of viewing a “school day” and time out of school as mutually exclusive portions of a student’s life, we must redefine learning time so that it recognizes learning taking place seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day. We are at a point where we can no longer ignore all the learning going on outside of school hours, both locally and globally. We either open the schoolhouse doors and welcome in the 21st century, or public education is doomed to irrelevance.
K-20 Competency-based Learning Continuum with no age/grade benchmarks
The ultimate goal is to provide learning experiences for students that span their formative years and provide a strong bridge into adult learning and productivity. No grade levels. No age levels; students moving along as they master specific skills and information and are ready to learn. K-12 nicely aligned with higher education and the workplace, making each connection a natural transition for students to realize their full potential. Project-based learning and problem-solving experiences embedded in every student’s learning plan. Finally a system of education that allows all children to be successful; no one settling for meeting minimum standards or being held back from reaching their full potential.
These are the action steps that need to be taken. The details of union involvement, teacher contracts, restructuring finances and redesigning facilities to meet this new model will all need to be meted out, but they should not be used as excuses for not being able to move forward. I have every faith that current decision-makers are capable of working out these details once they are no longer acting as guardians of the status quo. They have learned how to work the current system to sustain their staffs and facilities. It will be an entirely different proposition to rethink funding formulae, staffing positions, school law, and the like. But I have every faith that those who choose to be part of the transformation can get the job done. To the rest? Our children will have 15 or more different jobs in their lifetimes. Perhaps it’s time you consider a career change too.
by Heidi Hayes Jacobs
So, it came down to one day, one test, at the Acropolis as the young men of Athens took out their #2 chisels to answer 30 questions on stone tablets. It is the annual timed test to prove the students’ knowledge and competence as they seek to become philosopher-kings. This valued test is the ultimate prize demonstrating not only the achievement of students, but also serves as the one key evaluation of the teacher.
Credit should be given to the test making company for developing multiple choice items with one correct answer given the challenging subject matter: philosophy and governance. Short answer constructed responses are a bit easier in those fields.
The results were posted in the Agora for all to see the quality and performance of their teacher. Socrates failed. He simply spent too much time asking them to think. A walk- through evaluation by his supervisor (undisclosed), determined that “ sometimes Socrates’s students meander through endless dialogues examining challenging questions that do not have one right answer.” Hopefully, he will be replaced or perhaps go through an intensive summer professional development program in Sparta.
In America, success is defined by short-term business decisions…how quickly you can implement a plan that delivers a big monetary return. We are all familiar with those people who are revered for their ability to be able to do this: athletes, entertainers, entrepreneurs. Unfortunately for the rest of us, in each case it comes down to inherent talent that makes this possible. So how do we find worth in a society that reflects value in dollars? Some try to get-rich-quick playing the lottery and the market, while the majority of us work hard to achieve honest accomplishments that pay the bills.
Public education is the antithesis of what is valued in American culture. No no no don’t gasp or protest…I’m not saying it’s right…I’m just stating what we all know to be true. If American culture valued education, teachers would be paid well and students would be provided everything they need to be successful, as an investment in our future.
But look at the headlines over the past year:
It’s a three-cornered-conflict…three powerful forces pitted against one another:
Resources are shrinking, our culture continues to look for short-term wins, but our long-term prosperity depends on investments we make now.
My question to you is this: is American public education, by definition, doomed to be under-valued and under-resourced because of the culture in which it subsists? Or are there ways to re-think education that could produce short-term wins that add value that attracts new resources and then greater investment? I know this is hard to even conceive given our career-long experience as educators, but this is what the cycle would look like:
I’m not here to tout possible solutions. I’m simply asking the question. What if the equation is this quantifiable, rather than speculating on grand visions of sights yet unseen? If you could plug in one short-term investment to start kicking this cycle into motion, what would you come up with? It may be as simple as this.
Walter’s blog archive: http://surfaquarium.com/blog.htm
Reading for January 15 – February 15, 2011:
Leading Every Day, Book Three: Leading Learning Communities by Kaser, Mundry, Stiles, and Loucks-Horsley, Corwin Press
For some reason, I have caught the ‘spring cleaning bug’. Perhaps it is the promise that spring is just around the corner. Whatever the cause, in my filing and sorting, I came across an article in which historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of “Team of Rivals” shared qualities of leadership that President Lincoln possessed. Ponder these leadership qualities:
Which qualities above do you possess? Which could you improve upon?
Lori Stollar is the Program Specialist for Curriculum and Professional Development at the Lincoln Intermediate Unit, an educational service agency, in New Oxford, PA. This year she will be blogging on the topic of leadership, culminating in a presentation at the 2011 ASCD Annual Conference in San Francisco. Lori facilitates the Women's Leaderhip PIC and is serving as a 2011 Conference Scholar.
In a recent coaching conversation, a teacher told me that her 12th grade students should be able to just be assigned work with the expectation of completing it. She was tired, she said, of lazy students who didn’t do what they were told and were so disengaged from the learning process that they barely did any assigned work, choosing instead to accept D’s and F’s.
If there has been one supreme divisive factor among our otherwise united classroom forces, Facebook is it. Block it! Ban it! Take their computers! Oh, the drama you have brought to us, dear Facebook, and yet I do believe we have given you too much credit for our frustrations and perhaps not enough for your potential.
As a teacher, I always had a busy, engaged classroom. My kids loved me, therefore their parents did too. My administrators never worried about me and my class. When standardized testing came into play in the 90s my students continued doing hands-on project based learning tapping into all the intelligences, and my kids’ achievement scores rocked. Many of my colleagues were equally as successful. Their teaching styles varied but they all knew how to support their kids to learn and grow, no matter what the grade level or subject area. Good teachers know how to do this regardless of the local, state and federal expectations that are in place at any given point in time during their careers.
So….all these programs to test and assess and gather data and close gaps….who is it for if good teachers know how to reach their students regardless of where they are “at” instructionally, personally, developmentally….?
Classes exist today, right now as you are reading this, where students are not engaged and supported to successfully make connections across the curriculum. So why don’t we just say that? Is that OK to state the obvious? If we acknowledge that all of the programs and requirements and money put in place are meant to improve those classrooms where children do not succeed, can we sit still with that thought, as uncomfortable as it may be? We all know these classrooms. Colleagues within the profession know it. Parents know it. Students know it. So why look away from the unspoken truth?
Maybe it’s because once we start down that road, we Americans will ultimately have to look at ourselves in the mirror. While other nations were building systems that recruited their best and their brightest to teach their children, the U.S. teaching profession has been left to market forces. The best and the brightest in the U.S. are lured into higher-paying professions that have more opportunities for advancement and less scrutiny in the public eye. The biggest lie about American education – that those who can’t cut it in other professions become teachers – is also our uneasiest truth: American society does not value its educators as much as other societies value theirs.
So….I’m asking….what if educators really aren’t at odds with technocrats and taxpayers? What if the single key determining factor in the success of American education in the twenty-first century isn’t our ability to reform on old, outdated model? What if the biggest change that has to take place is a cultural shift: how we look at and think about public education:
You can’t legislate that. And left to our own devices that kind of culture only thrives in very select pockets in public schools around the country. Private school alternatives offer opportunities to buy into that kind of culture, creating elite communities that demonstrate success because of their value and commitment to their children’s’ education. But that's not a free public education is all about.
So….how do we redefine public education in the U.S. so that it can thrive and drive our economy for the future?