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284 Search Results for ""what works""

  • R.A.D. Neurological Lesson Pla R.A.D. Neurological Lesson Plan Elementary Level or Beginning Foreign Language

    • From: Judy_Willis
    • Description:

      R.A.D. Neurological Lesson Plan

      Elementary Level or Beginning Foreign Language



      By Paula Berlinck and Luciana Castro

      2nd grade Portuguese Teachers

      Graded School

      Sao Paulo, Brazil

      March 2014



      Unit Title:  Where does the bread come from?

      Subject(s):  Portuguese  Grade Level(s): 2nd grade

      Lesson Concept/Topic:   Reading and Writing Non-fiction

      Lesson Goals/Objectives:  Reading and Writing Non-fiction


      Lesson Elements:

      (and how they will be Neuro-logical)







      Getting Attention:

      How will you begin this lesson to engage learners’ attention?


      The attention filter (RAS) gives priority to sensory input that is different than the expected pattern. Novelty, such as changes in voice, unusual objects, songs playing when they enter the classroom, will peak students curiosity and increase likelihood of the related lesson material being selected by the RAS attention filter.



      1-As soon as each student arrives in the classroom they will find one wheat stalk on top of your own desk.

      2-The students are going to watch and listen to the music “O cio da terra” de Milton Nascimento e Fernando Brandt






      Sustaining Attention:

      What will you do to sustain students’ attentive focus throughout the lesson?


      The brain seeks the pleasure response to making correct predictions. When students have the opportunity to make and change predictions throughout a lesson, attention is sustained as the brain seeks clues to make accurate predictions. Individual response tools, such as white boards, can be used to make predictions and reduce mistake anxiety.


      1-Make the link with the Field trip to the Bread Factory and list the Previous Knowledge about “Where does the bread come from?”

      2- The teacher will start to read the book “Kika: De onde vem o pão?”

      3- Treshing the wheat and grind to find out the flour

      Motivation and Perseverance:

      Which dopamine boosters will be included in your lesson?


      The brain seeks the pleasure response to increased dopamine. Incorporating dopamine boosters (e.g., humor, movement, listening to music, working with peers) increases attention, motivation, and perseverance


      4- Finishing the reading aloud of the book

      5- Watching the video “Kika: De onde vem o pão?”

      6- Using a Graphic Organize to compare and contrast the information in the book and the video  








      How will you help students see value and relevance in what they are learning – so they want to know what you have to teach?


      Positive climate and prevention of high stressors promote information passage through the amygdala to the PFC. Motivation and effort increase when the brain expects pleasure. Buy-in examples include personal relevance, prediction, and performance tasks connecting to students’ interests and strengths.


      7- Bake the Bread in the classroom

      Every student will take part on the process, in group of 4 students at a time.

      Achievable challenge:

       How will you tailor the lesson to address students’ differences in readiness, learning profile, and interests?


      Differentiation allows students to work at their achievable challenge level.  The students who understand the new topic, if required to keep reviewing with the group, may become bored and therefore stressed.  If it is too challenging they will become frustrated. By providing learning opportunities within their range of achievable challenge, students engage through expectation of positive experiences.


      8- Students will be able to choose one of the videos from the series “Kika: De onde vem?”, (Kika: Where it comes from?) where they can find different subjects that explain things like: the waves, where the eggs comes from,  how TV works, etc)

      Students will work in pairs, considering their complementary abilities

      They are going to watch, to learn about the topic, take notes and then write it down to explain to another person. They could use different formats of graphic organizers, with more or less parts to drawn and break it down the information. They will be assisted by the teacher depending by their level.

      Frequent Formative Assessment and Feedback:

      How will you monitor students’ progress towards acquisition, meaning making, and transfer, during lesson events?

      How will students get the feedback they need and opportunities to make use of it?


      Effort is withheld when previous experiences have failed to achieve success. Breaking down learning tasks into achievable challenge segments, in which students experience and are aware of success on route to learning goals (e.g. analytic rubrics, effort-to-progress graphs) and reflect on what they learned and how they learned, builds their confidence that their effort can bring them closer to their goals.


      Students will be active in some paces of the process. The summative assessment is the nonfiction text that they will write using movie information, translating it in a graphic organizer and/or nonfiction text like “how to” or “all about”.






      Short-term Memory Encoding:

      How will you activate prior knowledge to promote the brain’s acquiring new input?


      Helping students to realize what they already know about a topic activates an existing memory pattern to which new input can link in the hippocampus.  Graphic organizers, cross-curricular units, and bulletin boards that preview upcoming units are examples of prior knowledge activation tools.



      Create a chart with the students remembering the prior knowledge that they have about the unit ALL ABOUT and HOW TO, that they had studied in their English class.








      Mental manipulation for Long-term Memory:

      How will students make meaning of learning so neuroplasticity constructs the neural connections of long-term memory?


      When students acquire the information in a variety of ways e.g. visualization, movement, reading, hearing and “translate” learning into other representations (create a narrative, symbolize through a video, synthesize into the concise summary of a tweet) the activation of the short-term memory increases its connections (dendrites, synapses, myelin) to construct long-term memory.



      As the students were exposed to a lot of different inputs, considering visualization, movement, reading, writing etc, we expect it will be built as a long-term memory.







      Executive Functions:

      Which executive function skills will be embedded in the lesson, homework, and projects? (e.g., analyze, organize, prioritize, plan goals, adapt, judge validity, think flexibly, assess risk, communicate clearly.)


      It is important to provide ongoing meaningful ways for students to interact with information so that they apply, activate, and strengthen their developing networks of executive function. Assignments and assessments planned to promote the use of executive functions (e.g. making judgments, supporting opinions, analyzing source validity) activate these highest cognitive networks developing in students’ brains most profoundly during the school years. 


      All executive functions are in place


      What strategies help students to…

      Set and reach goals:


      Individual feedback from the teacher



      Evaluate sources:





      Make decisions (analyze and deduce):


      Graphic organizers



      Support opinions:


      Share peers







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  • Resiliency Strategies that Wor Resiliency Strategies that Work in the Classroom

    • From: Marcia_Collins
    • Description:


      Hello colleagues:

      My name is Marcia Collins, I am a graduate pursuing a Doctorate in Education (Reading, Literacy and Literacy leadership ) 

      My current research interest and passion include combining  "resiliency strategies and literacy, by providing proven researched methods to enhance school climates, and the lives of educators across the country. What are your thoughts concerning research around these practices. 

      Do you believe as educators we a

    • 2 weeks ago
    • Views: 92
    • Forum: What Works ...
  • An Introvert In A 21st Century An Introvert In A 21st Century Skills-Driven Classroom

    • From: Krista_Rundell
    • Description:

      Introverted students constitute one-quarter to one-half of your classroom.  Just as we differentiate our instruction for student learning styles, interests, and needs, so should we consider differentiating for this trait that impacts how we process and respond to information and our environments.  As teachers, it requires an awareness of how others learn and respond to stimuli along with slight modifications in the teaching and learning strategies employed in our classrooms.  A little shift can go a long way.


      The headphones and book I always carry within arms reach?  Not just to entertain me, but to keep me from having to engage in random small talk conversation.

      The U-shaped format for my classroom desks?  Not just to facilitate conversation among my students, but to give me enough personal space to breathe easily in a room filled with people.

      The 45-minute afternoon nap I take after working with a school district all day?  Not just because I am exhausted after throwing all my energy and positivity into a presentation, but to find my balance again so I am not cranky for the rest of the evening.

      The beautiful, light piano music that plays every time my cell phone rings?  Oh, wait.  I never hear it because my phone is always on silent.  Leave a message and I’ll call you back when I have the answer to your question or know what you want to talk about.

      You are a teacher!  You have presented at conferences! You talk to and with people all day long!  You cannot possibly be an introvert!

      But, I am - and the rising popularity of books and articles (Marti Laney’s book “The Introverted Advantage”Susan Cain’s book “Quiet”, Carolyn Gregoire’s Huffington Post article) on what it means to be an introvert continues to remind me.  Through understanding, introversion is no longer seen as a “personality disorder”, but as an end-post of a personality continuum (Introvert – Ambivert – Extrovert) that is dependent upon a number of factors: Are you energized by solitude or by large groups? Do you need time to process information and gather your thoughts?  How do you feel about making small talk with others?  Do you enjoy phone conversations?  Do you look forward to engaging in deep, abstract conversations?

      I love to collaborate.  I love to communicate.  I love people; I really do.  But, if as an adult, I have developed coping strategies for living in a country where extroversion is more the norm… how are our students faring, especially if they have not recognized that they lean more toward the introverted side of the Introverted-Extroverted Continuum?

      As an introvert and a strong advocate for 21st century teaching and learning, I can’t help but think about how classroom teachers are now encouraged to foster collaboration and communication.  How do we cultivate a natural fit between the two that creates a safe learning environment for all?

      I’d like to offer a few suggestions on how to support the introverted student in your class (beyond helping them develop their own coping strategies for daily life).

      1.  Seating – I understand that it is easier to put students in alphabetical order when creating seating charts.  But I like to sit in the back or near the edge so I feel I have room to “breathe”.  I was once seated in the front middle seat because of my name and the teacher taught the class standing three inches from my desk; all I could focus on that year was devising methods of escape.  Please allow me to select my own seat with the understanding that if there is a disruption to the learning process, you will rearrange.  Besides, you can learn a lot about a student by watching where, and near whom, he or she sits.

      2.  Icebreakers – I understand the value icebreakers to foster a sense of community, and I admit that it DOES get better once you get started.   But, as soon as I hear that word, I want to slink to the floor and crawl to the door.  To keep me in my seat, to encourage participation, and to prevent me from leaving for an unnecessary bathroom/coffee/water/food/phone call break, don’t tell me to “find a partner you don’t know”.  Please pair me up with someone randomly by counting us off, using playing cards with numbers, pulling popsicle sticks with names… anything.

      3.  “Turn and Talk” – I understand the need to formatively assess how students are processing the information and to check for clarity by sharing it out, but I need time to internalize and sort through information on my own.  If you gave me two minutes to collect my thoughts or even allow me to write them down, I will be better prepared to share with a partner what I have learned.  The concept of “Think, Pair, Share” works much better for me.  Please give me the time to “think” and organize the array of thoughts racing through my head.

      4.  Group Projects – I understand the importance of learning how to collaborate in a group, divide up roles, share ownership, and negotiate ideas.  But sometimes I like to do projects independently instead of being forced into a group.  I’d love the occasional opportunity to “work with a group/partner or work independently” – even if this means I will have “more” work to do on my own.  Please give me a choice occasionally.

      5.  Participation Points – I understand, and appreciate, that you want everyone to be involved and to have an opportunity to share his or her thoughts.  I realize that participation points are one way to encourage this.  Check out my body language, notice my eye contact on you, see that I am taking notes and listening to what is being said, use a polling system in class (polleverywhere.com, mini whiteboards, thumbs up/down), or ask me to turn in an exit slip before leaving class.  Please recognize that I can be participating and actively processing discussions and activities without having to speak out loud.


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    • 3 weeks ago
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  • 5 Keys to Teaching Writing 5 Keys to Teaching Writing

    • From: Suzanne_Klein1
    • Description:

      Helping elementary students sharpen their writing skills without hindering their creativity is hard work. It's not like teaching math or phonics; but it's not rocket science either. There is a well-established body of best practices in writing instruction that works beautifully for children. What you need is:


      1. A common set of practices and vocabulary about writing. Good writing really comes from developing a whole tool kit of abilities, including organizational and analytic skills. First graders who learn to analyze anonymous student writing by finding “glows” and “grows” (strengths and weaknesses) need second grade teachers who will use the same techniques and language to build their capacities. Consistency across the grades rewards both students and teachers.

      2. Common assessment methods students can count on across the grades. Assessing writing isn't simple; a common assessment tool empowers both students and teachers to think clearly about the elements that make "good writing" convincing and easy to read. WriteSteps uses the 6 Traits rubrics from 1st through 5th grade.


      3. Principals who hold teachers accountable. This doesn't have to take a lot of time. It's as simple as asking each teacher to share 3 student writing samples per month: one each from a low, medium, and high-performing student. Principals might also pop in a classroom to browse students' writing notebooks on a monthly basis, just to see how often they're writing. These simple acts convey a clear message to teachers and students: writing matters.


      4. Time.  K-5 teachers need permission to spend 50 minutes a day, 3-5 times a week, modeling, inspiring, coaching, cheerleading, and celebrating students' written work.


      5. Professional development that is practical and solution-oriented. Overstretched teachers need PD that translates into immediate student learning, not lofty ideals and resources that require hours of additional study to create usable lessons. PD funds can be used to purchase a comprehensive program like WriteSteps, because we offer PD in the form of grade-level coaching that really works!

      Do you have any advice to share that has helped you with writing instruction? We’d love to know what has worked for you! Please tell us in the comments below.


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    • 4 weeks ago
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  • Much Ado About Something Much Ado About Something

    • From: Janet_Hale
    • Description:

      Much Ado About Nothing is a comedic play by William Shakespeare that chronicles two pairs of lovers: Benedick and Beatrice (the main couple), and Claudio and Hero (the secondary couple). By means of "nothing" (which sounds the same as "noting," and which is gossip, rumor, and overhearing), Benedick and Beatrice are tricked into confessing their love for each other, and Claudio is tricked into rejecting Hero at the altar on the erroneous belief that she has been unfaithful. At the end, Benedick and Beatrice join forces to set things right, and the others join in a dance celebrating the marriages of the two couples. (Much Ado About Nothing. Captured from Wikipedia. February 28, 2014.)

      What is currently taking place across the United States regarding the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), Much Ado About Something, does not bring to mind a comedy; rather, it brings to mind a tragedy. Before I continue, I must state that my post is not an “I’m on this side or I’m on that side” commentary. It is simply a personal and professional reflection based on working intimately with the CCSS and scores of teachers K-12 across this country and overseas coupled with what I have observed regarding those who are making “much ado”. My hope is that I mirror Benedick and Beatrice’s desire to set things right.

      Whether it be politicians, parents, or people in educational circles commenting, I most-often hear them not making comments about the standards themselves – the basic, no-frills standard statements that convey what students need to know and be able to do. For example, let’s take a Reading Literature standard for Grade 7:

      CCSS.RL.7.7 Compare and contrast a written story, drama, or poem to its audio, filmed, staged, or multimedia version, analyzing the effects of techniques unique to each medium (e.g., lighting, sound, color, or camera focus and angles in a film).

      This standard, here as it appears in the CCSS ELA Progressive Continuums App I created to aid teachers in collaboratively designing systemic curriculum that uses italic font to represent learning from a previous grade or grades and boldfaced text to indicate new learning in a grade, speaks directly to 21st-century (modern) learners needing to not only become literary literate, but media literate as well, as my colleague, Heidi Hayes Jacobs, promotes in her new book, Mastering Media Literacy (Solution Tree, 2013).

      Before one can compare and contrast, one must know these two literacy forms as stand alones, which generates interesting conversations with teachers I work with as we develop content and skills because they were not taught media literacy when they were growing up (even younger teachers). Our conversations usually result in the seventh-grade teachers realizing they need to become deep learners themselves to best design content and skills associated with media literacy. And, as you can visually see represented in the standard above, comparing and contrasting written works to media is in italics, which means this process and learning about media-based versions has been learned in at least one previous grade (actually, starts in Grade 4 and is expanded on in Grades 5 and 6). Therefore, not only do seventh-grade teachers say they need media-literacy professional development, but fourth, fifth, and sixth grade teachers share they want to be included as well.

      Common Core State Standard RL.7.7 is not saying specifically what must be read, what must be watched, or what the focus must be when read and watched, which is what I find many unhappy-with-the-CCSS commentators are up in arms over (excuse the film pun). While myriad companies and non-profits have developed recommended reading/media lists, units of study, and lesson plans that “are align to” the CCSS, these resources are not the standards. These aligned documents, programs, textbooks, etc., are how tos (instruction and assessments) based on someone or some group’s interpretation of the standards. For example, based on this standard, groups can have a wildly different take on what is an appropriate text versus movie/staged production for seventh graders – one group choosing a very liberal text and film and another group select a very conservative text and staged production.

      Regardless of the selections, it is not the standard that is making a selection, human beings are. If studied closely, standard RL.7.7 is asking students to be critical thinkers and reason deeply regarding the nuances in a selected text and audio-visual representation, which is exactly what 21st-century students need to be doing critically thinking and problem solving as well as reasoning and providing text and media evidence for their claims (e.g., requirements also found in standards RL._.1, RI._.1, W._.1). And, if we are truly trying to engage learners and wanting them to own their own learning, how about allowing students to select the text and film or staged production they will analyze?

      What I often find interesting is that if you ask someone who is knocking the CCSS (let’s say in reference to a unit of study that is for some reason “inappropriate”) to tell you specifically what standard or standards he or she does not like (e.g., W.7.1a. Introduce claim(s), acknowledge alternate or opposing claims, and organize the reasons and evidence logically.), the person will hem and haw and can’t state the standard. And, when shown the aligned standard he or she most often comments that the standard is fine, it is the reading or film selection, the activity, or assessment item or task that is not liked. Evidence once again that it is not the standards themselves that is truly the concern.

      With this said, I need to make one comment at this juncture: the CCSS are not perfect. There are definitely some flawed standard statements, but the flaws are minimal when compared to the total number of CCSS K-12.

      The bashing or knocking of the CCSS, which is getting louder in some states with each passing month, is frustrating to me as a curriculum-design consultant who has worked extensively with the CCSS since they were in draft form and officially adopted in 2010. I know the standards inside and out from Kindergarten to Grade 12. I have spent hundreds of hours of meaningful conversations with teachers concerning the vertically articulated standards. These teachers care passionately about their students’ learning as they develop collaborative, systemic curriculum.

      My passion and work has been, and will continue to be, dedicated to aiding teachers in designing curriculum maps with the students’ best interests in mind. The CCSS are our curriculum-design building “codes”, much as an architect uses codes to design blueprints, which Heidi Hayes Jacobs, Jay McTighe, and others have used as an analogy for many years. For the first time ever the largest number of independent United States have chosen to have the same building codes. This does not mean that each state, district, or school has to build the exact same home – one can choose to design a modern two-story, another a log cabin, another a green home, and another a ranch-style hacienda. The point here is that the infrastructure of the home design remains the same regardless of where the home is built. I grew up in the military and lived around the world before I was 15 years old. Today, given our ever-growing mobile society, chances of having a similar (and thankfully not exact) blueprint-based curriculum for a K-12 education is better than it ever was when I was in my formative years.

      Academic standards are not the curriculum (Concept-based curriculum and instruction for the thinking classroom. Erickson. Sage, 2007. p.48). I whole-heartedly believe this is true. And while it absolutely takes time and commitment to develop a worthwhile systemic curriculum (oftentimes two to three years to fully develop and implement), I remind myself and others that curriculum mapping is a verb and the deep conversations and collaborations across grade levels immediately impact student in positive ways through teachers who are reconsidering the learning, teaching, and assessments while embracing what is new in the CCSS content and process standards. This immediate and on-going process validates why I have been involved in this specific field of work for over 15 years. Designing CCSS-based curriculum involves a two-phase process: studying and breaking apart the standards systemically to first develop learning based solely on what the standards (and critical ancillary documents, such as the CCSS Math Progressions) explicitly and implicitly require; and secondly, develop meaningful units of study that combine the learning, teaching, and assessment tasks based on a current program or encouraging teachers to create their own program.

      Well, I may have not set things right, but hopefully a little bit right, in that it is not the CCSS themselves that are the problem; instead, it is CCSS-based interpretations made in the form of instructional choices and assessment practices, as well as one area I chose not to get into here: teacher evaluations.

      As I previously mentioned, I will continue to work diligently with districts and schools who have a like passion – looking collaboratively and critically at the CCSS and systemically designing curriculum that aids their students in experiencing meaningful learning journeys K-12+.

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  • Bringing Parents into the Lear Bringing Parents into the Learning Partnership

    • From: Adrian_Bertolini
    • Description:

      A student’s performance is mostly impacted by three communitiesSchool Students Parents.jpg

      1.       The School Learning Environment

      2.       The Student’s Peer Community and their own beliefs about learning

      3.       The Parental / Family Community

      Schools tend to spend most of their time, money and energy working on the School-Student leg. Most of the professional development done in schools is based on pedagogy, curriculum or elements of student well-being and engagement. This is understandable as the people who are employed within the school need to be within a professional learning community that has a major focus on developing their capacity to do their job.

      However there is a high leverage aspect leg of a student learning community that I believe that schools don’t do enough to empower and develop – the parental / family community. As a parent of two school aged children – one at primary school and one at high school - and an educational consultant who works with schools to improve their planning and learning environments, I find myself quite challenged by the way that parents are related to by schools. I find that there is, quite often, very little guidance from the school to be able to support my children in their learning.

      The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development - the organisers of the PISA tests used to compare education across countries – performed in-depth research on the factors underlying student performance within each country. What they found was the power of parental involvement in a child’s achievement.

      “even when comparing students of similar socioeconomic backgrounds, those students whose parents regularly read books to them when they were in the first year of primary school score 14 points higher, on average, than students whose parents did not.”

      As Franklin Schargel, a noted educator and expert in the area of school engagement, pointed out … it is the little things that parents do that makes a difference to student achievement. For example:

      ·         Parents reading to and with their children

      ·         Parents asking their child how their school day was and showing genuine interest in the learning that they are doing can have the same impact as hours of private tutoring

      ·         Parents telling stories to their children (not from books but from the life of the parent)

      ·         Parents sharing about their day

      ·         Monitoring homework

      ·         Making sure children get to school

      ·         Rewarding their efforts and talking up the idea of going to university

      As Franklin reports, the OECD study found that “getting parents involved with their children’s learning at home is a more powerful driver of achievement than parents attending school board meetings, volunteering in classrooms, participating in fund-raising, and showing up at back-to-school nights. “

      As teachers have shared with me, their experience shows that the mindset that a child has to learning is driven by the parents. If a parent had a poor experience of school as they grew up then it is likely they will pass on that mindset to their children. If the parents’ value education as a tool for learning and development then it is likely the norm that the child will come to develop will value education. It isn’t surprising that the higher the educational level the parents have attained the greater they value education.


      So how can you support and encourage parental involvement in their child’s learning at home? Perhaps asking yourself that question as a teacher community within your school is the first stage. If you are aware of each child’s stage of development then there might be suggestions you can make to the parents on how they can support their child best. Perhaps:

      ·         When / if you send homework home with the child you put a short couple of paragraphs to the parent on how they can support their child best to achieve the goals of the homework.

      ·         Recommend that the parents not do the homework themselves (helicopter parents tend to do this) but what could be the factors and suggestions that might make the biggest difference to the child moving forward and grappling with the learning themselves.

      ·         Provide clear learning intentions, success criteria and formative rubrics in work sent home for the child to do

      ·         In the school newsletters continually provide short informative articles or guides for parents about learning. The default understanding about schools and learning for most parents is what they experienced. The more you can provide something for parents to read and grow as learners themselves the more it will make a difference.

      ·         Invite parents to their child’s culminating events for rich learning tasks within the school

      ·         Organise experts to come and talk to parents about aspects of child development or even recommend to parents to subscribe to the newsletters of people like Michael Grose (positive parenting), Barry McDonald (mentoring boys), Kathy Walker (play based and personalised learning), or even Intuyu Consulting amongst the many other educational providers.

      ·         I have seen one school in a low socioeconomic area even organise sponsorship from a large book provider (e.g. Scholastic) so that they can send books home with children that they can keep and build up a library at home.

      For more reading and research on this topic:

      ·         Five Ideas to Bring Parents into the Learning Process

      ·         Untapped Resource? Engaging Parents in the Learning Process (this article has some great ideas and links  in the comment section)

      ·         The Difference between Parent Involvement and Parent Engagement

      ·         One Page Overview of The Difference between Parent Involvement and Parent Engagement

      ·         How to Guide Parents in Homework Help

      ·         Parenting – communicating with teenagers

      ·         What parents can do to help their children succeed at school

      I know that it is unlikely that the majority of parents have a similar attitude to learning as we do but I believe it is worth schools paying attention to how they can support parents better to be their own children’s learning partners. The more that schools build strong, learning partner relationships with parents the more they become involved. If we are to create a society that values life-long learning and encourages human beings who connect, and grow, and adapt to an every changing world, then we do need to spend the effort and time to empower everyone involved.

    • Blog post
    • 2 months ago
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  • Lists and Social Media Lists and Social Media

    • From: Tom_Whitby
    • Description:

      As a tweeter of education tweets (many, many education tweets), I often find myself on lists that people put out as recommendations. Whenever that happens there will be a number of people who will pass their judgment over the quality of the list or the quality of the qualifications of individuals on that list. Of course, there are no rules in social media, so that will go on no matter what. I do think that we need a perspective on these lists in order to gauge the intensity of criticism.

      First, we should state that anyone putting out a list, recommending people to follow, has found worth in the information that those people have put out. We can’t judge the value of that information to that individual, since we all come from varied backgrounds with varied experiences. What an inexperienced educator finds of value from others may not be as valuable to an educator of many years experience. That does not mean that the information is worthless. It is still valuable to a new educator. It indicates only that that particular list would not meet all the needs of a more experienced educator.

      The biggest problem with any list is that someone is always left out. Even in listing your best ten recommendations there is sure to be someone you want on that list equal to all the others, but that would be eleven. Not gonna happen.

      We should keep in mind that these are all personal recommendations. As we personalize our learning, we follow those people who best speak to our needs for learning. Again, who works for me might not work for you. I know that I have seen people on list who I follow, or have stopped following because they do not offer enough to supplement or challenge my learning. Those recommendations would not meet my needs, so although I would not take them, that gives me no license to publicly criticize the list, or individuals on it.

      Another criticism that I have become most sensitive to recently is faulting an educator for “not even being a teacher”. Not every educator is a classroom teacher. That does not mean they aren’t educators. That doesn’t mean they can’t offer valid information, or considered opinions. (I do draw the line at non-educators making education policy. That is another discussion for another bottle of wine.) Administrators technically are not classroom teachers.

      Quite honestly, many classroom teachers have little time to spend on social media when compared to those who educate educators as a vocation. Many consultants, bloggers, vendors, and retired educators spend greater amounts of time sharing information. We need to remind ourselves that sharing in social media allows us to judge the worth of the idea rather than who proposed it. I have become somewhat of a social media professional educator, hence my sensitivity to the criticism. That position however, is based on a 40-year classroom career (for the haters).

      The main benefit of any lists recommending people to follow is that there are lists of people to follow. Social media, although no longer in its infancy, is still new to many educators. New educators are joining the community daily. All of us can take recommendations of people to follow. Lists offer a starting point for some, and additional value to established Personal Learning Networks for others. We must however, determine on our own, if any person warrants a continued “follow”, or a quick, unheralded “unfollow”. We design our own learning. We have a say, a voice in who we choose to learn from. Lists are introductions to people we might not yet have been exposed to.

      I would hope that lists could be viewed with more tolerance, if not appreciation. Remember that the people on the lists did not choose to be there. Their appearance on the list came from another. They do not deserve to be publicly criticized for that. They are not to be targeted because someone else doesn’t get it. Respect is key to social media succeeding as a vehicle for our learning.

    • Blog post
    • 3 months ago
    • Views: 171
  • Starting the Year with Great H Starting the Year with Great Habits

    • From: Adrian_Bertolini
    • Description:

      A little over two years ago I sat down with two primary (elementary) school teachers to have a conversation with them to discover what had them be so successful with developing their students to learn. It was one of those conversations that connected certain ‘dots’ for me about what I had been reading about the findings of neuroscience and setting up powerful learning environments.


      Cue Routine Reward.jpg

      Habits are the key

      One of the critical keys to their success that made such a difference to setting up a powerful learning environment for their students was that the two teachers, both of them relatively recent graduates, were the habitual practices they had unconsciously embedded at the start of the year. Over the previous 2-3 years that these two teachers had worked together, occasionally team teaching but mostly teaching independently, they had tried and tested a range of structures, routines and procedures that they found made a difference for their students to become independent learners. A learning coach had suggested some additional new structures and these built upon the foundation that these two had laid earlier in the year. What the two teachers discovered was that by the middle of the year (Term 3) the students started to take learning into their own hands and be much more self-sufficient and self-guided. This allowed the teachers to then focus on being learning partners to the students rather than always driving the learning.

      A Mathematics and Science teacher in a secondary school in Queensland discovered the exact same shift in learning culture when he implemented a range of structures and habits that allowed his students to develop their capacity to be independent learners. He found that rather than spending all of his time teaching and managing behaviour in his classes, the students knew what there was to do, how to support one another, and he had the opportunity to work with students who were struggling with particular concepts.


      What do they build?

      None of this should come as a surprise because teachers always begin their school year with routines and procedures. But are they well thought out and intentional?

      This is a conversation I often have with teachers in my workshops. What are your habitual practices and what do they build? Unless you are conscious about the habits you have then you can’t give them away nor can you test whether or not they are working or can be refined. As an occasional field coach for little athletics I am continually thinking about habits and how to give them away. What are the habitual actions a high performing discus thrower does to throw further? What practices can I teach the athletes to have them develop those actions?

      In the same way you as a teacher or school leader can ask yourself two questions:

      1.       What are the habitual practices I want my students / teachers to develop?
      Then list all the habits that you want the students to develop throughout the year.

      2.       If I want my students to develop these particular habits what structures, routines, procedures can I put into place that will develop these habits over time?

      It is even worth getting together as with your colleagues to collect that habits they have found works for them and then trying them out.

      One primary school we are working with has created over-arching themes for each year level. For example, Foundation year is “Having a go and looking after each other”. The teaching team are now designing structures, routines, conversations and ways of interacting with the students that reinforces the idea of “having a go and looking after each other”. The intention is for the students to develop a growth mindset about learning and that it is about learning is about safety and community.


      Possible Habits

      I have attached links to a range of articles for you to access to give you some ideas about possible habits you can use. Doug Lemov’s book, Teach like a Champion, is a gem. One thing worth noting is that there may be some unconscious habits you want to stop doing in the process. One big one for some teachers is they talk too much! It is worth reading Charles Duhigg’s book called The Power of Habit where he gives a range of examples and coaching on how to change the routines we are stuck in.

      5 Scientific Ways to Build Habits That Stick

      25 Reading Strategies That Work In Every Content Area

      Developing Student Centred Learning and Teaching

      Hacking Habits: How To Make New Behaviors Last For Good

      How Visual Thinking Improves Writing

      Feedback Unlocks Reluctance

      Why Teaching Helps Students Learn More Deeply

      My Biggest Regret as a Teacher: Extrinsic Rewards


      Rituals make us Value things more

    • Blog post
    • 3 months ago
    • Views: 400
  • Decision Making 101 Decision Making 101

    • From: Kimberly_Horst
    • Description:


      Decision Making 101

      We are all faced in our jobs, in our families...in life in general to make decisions. How do you go about making decisions and how do you know when you have made a good one?

      This weekend, many decisions were weighing on my head and I felt the burden of each one to the point of almost collapse from always having to "be on" and think through things from top to bottom.   When so much is coming at me it is important for me to reflect. As a woman of faith, the way that I do that is by listening to music that reflects my faith and by being still. I spend time reflecting on scriptures that point me to God's promises. I take time to worship and thank God for things that I see and for the things that I do not see. I pray for wisdom.

      Ironically as I stepped in at church to serve in Sunday School, our lesson was on King Solomon  when God said he would give him all the riches of the world...but Solomon asked for wisdom.

      I am thankful for the pressing on my heart that I get to just stop, drop and pray.

      Because MONDAY CAME!

      Welcome to my Monday.   Due to circumstances that I did not foresee, I discovered that I would have to let go for awhile, a part of my routine this year in first grade and do something else I also love, which is working in the area of interventions. I was given the opportunity to work this out with the other stake holders in involved in this process and then just let my principal know how it will all work out.

      Here is how I went about making this specific decision.

      As a stakeholder in this situation, I could easily have been a bit upset, I really love what I am doing. Why change? Why upset the fruit basket? I hope that people will see as I live my life, that I don't make life or issues all about me.

      In this situation there was one handful. Everyone would have to give up something. That is what happens when decisions get made that affect so many. Be realistic.

      After laying the cards down, looking at each one and not just at face value, where can we make choices that though we all have an opportunity cost, we can all walk away with some kind of "win" whether it is big or small.

      As I discussed this with three of the major stakeholders, outside of the KEY stakeholder, the students, my goal was to hear their heart on the matter and put our KEY stakeholders, the children front and center and make the best decision for them.  It was clearly evident which direction to go.

      I also know that there is no such thing as equality. If we are looking for equality, we won't find it. Fair is NOT equal. It never is in life. So, what would be the best choice keeping that thought in mind?  I think all my interest and study of  standards based grading is really coming into play with this thought, but it works in life!

      My church has a motto that I love and believe in: Love God, Love People. Serve the World. It IS about how my talents and gifts can be used in this world to create the best good.

      I am thankful for my co-teacher who I was able to hash things through passionately and my co-worker who let me cry as I let go of something I really love, to do something else I really love as well.

      So winning. We all won!  It doesn't all look the same but the people that mean the most who this is really about won the most. They get the best possible scenario given to them to continue to build them in their journey of learning.

      My heart is steady. It is going to be alright! That is how I know the decision reached was a good one. Peace of mind. Every student. Every day! 
      You matter. They matter. 
    • Blog post
    • 4 months ago
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  • Dan Pink Q&A Dan Pink Q&A

    • From: Tom_Whitby
    • Description:

      From my introduction to Dan Pink through his book Drive I was amazed at how he could write a book about business that pertained so much to what educators do. It was not in the sense of how to create widgets, which is often a business approach to education, but rather what incents people to do what they do in the best way possible. It was more than just the best way to drive students, but the best way to drive educators to their highest potential as well. For that reason Dan has been recognized and engaged by national and international education organizations to address their memberships. I have listened to several of his keynotes with never a disappointment. In personal conversations I have found him to be a really nice guy. I sought him out at a recent trip to D.C. to ask him about his new book, To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others . I was hoping to find his latest book to be as educator-friendly as Drive.

      1. You say that today, like it or not, we're all salespeople.  Is that true even of teachers?  

      On the first question, the answer is "yes."  When you look at what white-collar actually do each day, it turns out they spend a huge portion of their time persuading, influencing, and convincing others.  It's what I call "non-sales selling" or "moving" others. Money isn't changing hands. The cash register isn't ringing. And the transaction isn't denominated in dollars, but in time, effort, attention, energy commitment and so on.

      This is what teachers do much of their day. Think about, for instance, what a good algebra teacher does.  At the beginning of a term, students don't know much about the subject.  But the teacher works to convince his or class to part with resources -- time, attention, effort -- and if they do, they will be better off when the term ends than they were when it began.   

      2. You also say that sales has changed more in the last 10 years than in the previous 100. How have the forces causing that change affected education?

      The biggest change in the buyer-seller relationship.  One reason that selling has a bad rap because most of what we know about it arose in a world of information asymmetry -- where the seller always had more information than they buyer and therefore could rip the buyer off. But today, information asymmetry is giving way to something at least close to information parity. That's changed the game in ways we've scarcely recognized.  In conditions of information asymmetry, the operative principle is "buyer beware." In a world of information parity, the operative principle is "seller beware."

      This has affected teaching in some interesting ways. One hundred and fifty years ago, we began to have schools in part because that's where the information was and teachers were the mechanism by which students accessed that information.  Those conditions prevailed for a very long time. But now -- thanks to the Internet, mobile phones, social media and so on -- students have the same access to information that teachers do.    That means that a teacher's job isn't to transmit the information, but to equip students with ways to analyze the information, make sense of the information, evaluate the information.  What's more, it has begun to change what happens inside the classroom itself as more teachers move to flipping the classroom -- providing the lectures electronically and use class time for hands on work that computers can't replicate. 

       3. What are the underlying principles of this new approach to selling -- whether you're selling your product, your idea, or yourself?

      The result of the change I just described is that sellers -- of anything -- need a new set of skills. There is a rich body of research -- in psychology, economics, linguistics, and cognitive science - that reveals some systematic ways to become more effective in moving others on a remade terrain of information parity.  The old ABC's of sales were Always Be Closing. The new ABC's of Attunement, Buoyancy, and Clarity. These three qualities are the platform for effectiveness. Attunement is perspective-taking. Can you get out of your own head and see another's -- a student's, a colleague's, a parent's -- perspective. Buoyancy is staying afloat in an ocean of rejection.  And clarity is helping students move from accessing information to curating it and from solving existing problems to identifying hidden problems.

      4. On your concept of attunement, what is something a teacher can do to become more attuned with his or her students?

      It's important to understand at the outset why attunement matters so much.  All of us today have less coercive power. It's tougher for bosses, teachers, parents, and so on simply to command something and expect compliance. The better approach is to understand another's perspective in the hopes of finding common ground. 

      But that can be a challenge. One sturdy finding of the social science is feelings of power and acuity of perspective taking are inversely correlated. That is, feeling powerful tends to degrade our ability to take another's perspective. This is important because teachers are often in a position of relative power with regard to their students. So being effective often requires beginning from a different position: Assume that you're not the one with the power. This of it as persuasion jujitsu, where you enlist an apparent weakness as a strength. Start your encounters with the assumption that you're in a position of lower power. That will help you see the student's perspective more accurately, which, in turn, will help you move them. 

       5. What is one other tip teachers might glean from your book?

      One of my favorites comes from a technique know as motivational interviewing. With this technique, you can deal with resistance by asking two seemingly irrational questions.  So imagine you've got a student that simply doesn't do his homework. Instead of threatening him or punishing him or pleading with him, use the two-question strategy (which I learned from Yale psychologist Michael Pantalon).

      The first question is this: "On scale of 1, with one meaning 'not the least bit ready," and 10 being 'totally ready," how ready are you to begin doing homework.

      Chances are, he'll pick an extremely low number -- perhaps 1 or 2.  Suppose he answers, "I'm a 2."

      Then you deploy the second question: Why didn't you choose a lower number?

      The second question catches people off guard.  And the student now has to answer why he's not a 1. "Well, he might say, if I did my homework, I might do a little better on tests." "If I did my homework, I might learn a little more." "I'm getting older and I know I'm going to have to become a little more responsible."

      In other words, he moves from defending his current behavior to articulating why, at some level, he wants to behave differently. Equally important, he begins to state his own autonomous, intrinsically motivated reasons for doing something. When people have their own reasons for doing something, they believe those reasons more deeply and adhere to them more strongly.

      So on a scale of 1 to 10, how ready are you to use Pantalon's technique? And why didn't you choose a lower number?




    • Blog post
    • 4 months ago
    • Views: 383
  • In Memory of: Emilie Parker & In Memory of: Emilie Parker & the Sandy Hook Angels

    • From: J._Cruse-Craig
    • Description:

      WOW! It has been a year. I clearly recall walking into our building on Monday, December 17, 2012 and feeling overwhelmed with emotions as the building was swimming in green and white as students and teachers wore green in remembrance and honor of the victims in the Sandy Hook tragedy. So many hearts and souls grieved on this day in history, December 14, 2012.

      One year later and their spirits live on… As I reflect about such a tragic day in history when so many beautiful spirits transitioned from this physical realm, Albert Einstein’s thought resonates in my spirit…“Energy cannot be created or destroyed; it can only be changed from one form to another.” This statement is very appropriate and true as we remember and give tribute to the victims in the Sandy Hook tragedy.

      Though my heart aches for each and every soul affected by this tragedy, I would like to specifically address the beautiful, vibrant, loving, caring and talented Emilie Parker. My, my, my…her physical body was young in age, but her soul was rich with love.

      Emilie’s family, friends and supporters have done an extraordinary job capturing and sharing many reflective and informative moments over this past year. These published works have provided me with a very clear vision as to who Emilie was and the spirit that continues on making a difference in this world. You know, when you watch or read something, it often produces some type of feeling. As I focused on the information about Emilie, I felt the strength of her spirit picking up momentum through the many vessels created to carry her energy forward on this journey. She was created for a purpose and it is manifesting through the lives of many connected to her in spirit.

      The strength that radiates from Alissa (Emilie’s Mother), Robbie (Emilie’s Father), Madaline (Emilie’s Sister) and Samantha (Emilie’s Sister) is simply amazing and contagious. To know of the tragedy and circumstances, yet read and watch the communications from this family is a testament of who Emilie was in her physical vessel and is in spirit. Her family is moving forward in life and carrying on in the spirit of little Miss Emilie.

      In the video “Evil did not win”, Alissa (Emilie’s Mother) shared the things that Emilie loved. Emilie loved mornings, making art, being fancy, giving and seeing her baby sisters happy. Well, at the age of 6 and her passion and love for life, without knowing you could speculate that he was much older. That fact in itself is evidence that she was created for greatness. Alissa stated some very profound things learned from this tragedy. Please take a moment and reflect on the words she shared: grief, peace, patience, forgiveness, joy and love. I did, and all I could think about were the fruits of the spirit. Exactly…Emilie’s fruits are being manifested in the spirit for many although she is gone physically. What a blessing!

      Yes, she transitioned from this life by a horrendous crime, but I truly believe that God makes no mistakes. Her spirit and energy lives on and will make significant differences in the lives of many.

      We have a duty and responsibility to seek our purpose and be obedient to your calling as we remember and give tribute to these Angels. There are many options as several Sandy Hook Angels have organizations in their honor to go towards philanthropic needs that embody their spirits. Emlie’s family also leads 2 additional projects: Emilie Parker Art Connection and Safe and Sound Schools.

      The Sandy Hook Angels and Emilie’s life was not in vain. Their energy lives on!!! Can you feel it?

    • Blog post
    • 4 months ago
    • Views: 118
  • Breaking Some Habits Breaking Some Habits

    • From: Mamzelle_Adolphine
    • Description:


      An intriguing viewpoint posited in the article, “Rethinking Learning,” found on  www.3gSelling.com, is that we often base our decisions more on what we are accustomed to than on what really works best. This is a useful perspective from which to examine expections and decisions that are made with regard to curriculum use and teacher evaluation.

      It is not unusual for the directions on how to use a curriculum to include an admonition that in order to be used effectively, the curriculum must be followed as is. Doing this is often problematic because though learning takes place within a process, learning itself is not linear.

      Hence, a teacher might opt to complete a particular aspect of a lesson based on what she knows about her students and not on a stipulated timeframe or, manner stiuplated by the curriculum. This type of professional judgment is integral for meeting specific needs through such vehicles like diversity, personalized learning and differentiation; all of which focus on meeting individual’s needs.

      Given this recognition of varying individual needs, it is equally important to understand and accept that even when different instructional methods are used, not all students will grasp concepts at the same time.  Similarly, a teacher will not always be able to address learning deficiencies during one lesson. Being able to do this is highly dependent on the nature of the lesson and student effort.

      This is an especially important issue for evaluators during classroom observations.  Conclusions about a teacher's practice should not be based on how many students did not grasp a particular concept at one point and time but rather they should be centered on what the teacher does subsequently and how effective it is in moving students towards mastery.  This is in keeping with the true nature of learning, which occurs overtime and at a different pace for each person.

      Unrealistic expectations and unsound decisions easily become the norm because they sound great and because changing them entails some discomfort. However, for learning to thrive, these habits need to be laid to rest.

    • Blog post
    • 4 months ago
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  • Path to Thought Leadership Tod Path to Thought Leadership Today

    • From: Tom_Whitby
    • Description:

      A question that I often get from educators is: How do I get to do what you do?  Always intrigued by that question, I continually have to consider what it is that I do, that would appeal to anyone other than me? In reflection, I love what I do in this second career that I stumbled into about five years ago. I get to tweet, chat, blog, broadcast, podcast, interview, comment, write, speak, consult, and travel around the world. I guess I could be considered a professional social media educator. Of course it is not something I could devote enough time to, if I was not retired from teaching after 40 years in the classroom. I find myself on, or near a computer all day, every day. I know of several dozen educators actively involved in doing many of the same things. Most of these educators started as early adopters of social media when it began to gain momentum in our society.

      What were the conditions in education that empowered certain educators with the ability to influence, to some degree, the profession of education? Who is responsible for recognizing and validating certain individuals as education thought leaders? What changed in education that diverted us from the usual more traditional spheres of influence in education to a social media-driven influence?

      Traditionally, education authors had influenced education with published works. These experts, many from Higher Education, would write books and Journal articles that affected the profession. Recognition came through published works from highly credentialed educators. These are the same experts who would also speak at education conferences. Recognition was also given to educators who successfully presented at the National Education Conferences. For decades these were the influencers of change in education.

      As Education became more political the influencers changed. Politicians, and business people began to enter the discussions in education. Big companies making big profits in education began gain more influence in the discussion. Before long the educators’ voice in education was barely a whisper. Discussions resulted in mandates and laws, which was the culmination of influence of many non-educators with little transparency in the system that produced these directives.  

      With the rise of social media, educators began their own discussions online. The education community started to grow on LinkeIn, Facebook, and Twitter. The educator discussion began as a collaborative sharing of ideas for teaching. Soon educators began to compare notes on pedagogy, methodology, policies and mandates. Questions about inconsistencies and flaws began to be explored. The discussions were interactive, and reflective. It was educators questioning educators about education without influences of re-election, tax implications, profit margins, or public opinion.

      Collaboration revealed ideas that were practice to some but innovation to others. Social media is global and that influenced ideas as well. Ideas from other cultures entered the conversations. The community soon noticed those educators, who embraced the ideas, and exposed the hypocrisies, and inconsistencies. Recognition came to those who were consistent with good and original ideas.

      Those same educators who tweeted their thoughts needed to expand their ideas and moved onto blogs. Some still felt limited and found a need to author books. The pathway to thought leadership had become more democratized. People were recognized for their ideas rather than their titles. Educators had access to other educators for vetting ideas. Access through collaboration using technology as a tool to make collaboration an anytime, anywhere endeavor was a game-changing advancement.

      Potentially, any educator today, who has the ability to collaborate with other educators, can share their way to thought leadership. It takes: a collaborative mindset, a love of learning, ability to creatively think, ability to effectively write, ability to comfortably speak, and a driving desire to affect change in education. These are the skills of the several dozen people that I know who have become thought leaders in education through social media engagement.

      Collaboration has long been a factor in the education profession. It is through technology that this element, this form of learning, has been turbo-boosted to become a driving force in learning. It empowers people to gain control over what it is they need, or want to learn. It also enables that person to intelligently and responsibly shares their learning with others in order to fill a void created by the isolationism of education in the past. It was that isolationism that made educators vulnerable to influences of outside forces that may not have had education improvement as their main goal. That is the stuff that makes a good education thought leader. It is within the reach of most educators to get to that position, and the profession, as well as the system, will benefit with every attempt by educators to get there.

    • Blog post
    • 5 months ago
    • Views: 752
  • An Ethos of Learning An Ethos of Learning

    • From: Sandra_Trach
    • Description:

      Roland S. Barth shared in his seminal book Learning by Heart (2001), that schools should possess an “ethos hospitable to the promotion of human learning.”  As I have endeavored through massive leadership and learning changes, Barth’s words have become a truism for me.  Whether navigating a curriculum change, supporting different forms of professional learning, or problem-solving a complex issue (or usually all of the aforementioned at the same time), I ask myself, “How is what we are doing promoting an ethos hospitable to learning?”  Inevitably the responses to this question have led the way to culturally transformative levels of learning in our school.  Given that instructional cultures grow best organically and synergistically, (and this has been the case for mine), I would simply add that when change is nurtured with innovation, support and feedback, the rate of growth is exponential, and the direction of growth flows in intended and unintended directions.

      In our schoolhouse, we believe:

      Every learning opportunity and support;
      For every student, faculty, staff member and parent;

      Barth eloquently describes what it takes to achieve this vision.  “When we come to believe that our schools should be providing a culture that creates and sustains a community of student and adult learning—that this is the trellis of our profession—then we will organize our schools, classrooms, and learning experiences differently.”  (Barth, R., The Culture Builder, Educational Leadership, May 2002.)

      Organizing learning differently has been both an exciting and daunting challenge.  In the era of sweeping reform, striving to make this vision come to life uniquely within a school requires the science and artistry of students, faculty, staff and parents alike, who must continually partner as an interdependent team.  This type of work demands mutual support, collective expertise and shared accountability. (For example: How does being affixed to one curriculum benefit students? Am I ready to share my student’s formative data with my teaching peers?) It also demands adaptive thinking, rather than technical solutions. (For example:  How does this master schedule promote flexible forms of learning?) In our school’s journey, confronting shared questions have proven weighty, but worthy. While many might say strong academic achievement has been the most visible and predictable success in our trellis climb, we believe our substantive growth has mainly emanated from our collective drive for seamless collaboration and embedded forms of professional learning.  In fact, I would characterize our school as relentless about setting the conditions for academic and social-emotional success.  Our sustained urgency on learning, along with our instructional and cultural momentum has fundamentally redesigned the way we teach and learn.  What were once individually celebrated features of our school’s educational excellence, are now deliberately interconnected and vital components of our cultural instructional identity.  In essence, we teach and learn within a coherent system of meaningful moving parts.

      Professional Learning Communities

      Our teams practice the data cycle (Reeves, D.) within the professional learning community model (DuFour, R.).  In addition to three dedicated common planning times for each team each week, our teachers also collaborate in numerous informal, horizontal and vertical ways throughout each school day.  We reflect, design, instruct, assess and monitor as teams.  No one teaches or works in isolation.  We strive to meet and exceed commonly established goals, and our data is transparent and accessible at all times.

      Response to Intervention Methods

      Our faculty has studied Response to Intervention (RtI) through the work of Mike Mattos.  Our Superintendent’s leadership has also helped us fully commit to giving students what they need, when they need it. We employ universal screening, core district curriculum, and progress monitoring procedures. Customized interventions and supports are architected into personal learning plans, which are designed and delivered by our expert teachers.  These academic and social-emotional learning plans are monitored and refined by data teams in instructional cycles throughout the year.

      Professional Learning

      Our district is deeply committed to embedded forms of professional learning.   At the elementary level, we employ the workshop model of instruction, chiefly studying the work of Teachers’ College Reading and Writing Project.  We benefit from three literacy specialists and one mathematics specialist on our staff, who actively coach each of our teachers and teams.  Our school employs a literacy and mathematics laboratory model (conducting peer observations with a coach, engaging in lesson voice overs, leading parts of a lesson, and dissecting model lessons), shared classroom walkthroughs, opportunities to look at student work, and the unconference model. Each of these forms of adult learning expands our craft knowledge and grows our shared expertise.

      Leadership For All

      Our school rests upon our extraordinary teachers and staff, each of whom is a leader in his/her own right.  Teachers are trusted to make important decisions about learning.  While we have formal teams such as a school leadership team, a child study team and a positive behavior support team, our teachers actively lead the wealth of the instructional design, intervention plans, and assessment work. Teachers also design and lead professional learning opportunities that seed the school with innovation; modeling their own risk-taking and inspiring adaptive thinking among staff.


       As Barth has eloquently pointed out in Learning By Heart (2001):

      “It has been said that running a school is about putting first things first; leadership is determining what are the first things; and management is about putting them first.  I would like to suggest that the ‘first thing’, the most important feature of the job description for each of us as educators, is to discover and provide the considerations under which people’s learning curves go off the chart.  Sometimes it’s other people’s learning curves; those of students, teachers, parents, administrators.  But at all times it is our own learning curve.” (Barth, R. Learning By Heart, 2001, p. 11).

      I would be remiss if I did not comment on my own learning curve amidst this type of learning environment, where change is the norm, and as Barth points out, “learning curves go off the chart.”  My experience is that one cannot be immersed in this type of work - day in and day out - without realizing the profound personal and professional effect it has on your own practice.  The way I think, the way I listen, the way I reflect, the way I contribute and the way I solve has everything to do with what I have learned from my colleagues.  Their work teaches me everyday.  Courageously, they have helped me reach upward and outward for a truly ambitious vision, and equally have the support to lean into what can be possible for every learner.  Barth reminds me time and time again, that the ethos of learning is within and among us every single day.  Even in the face of tremendous change, it is our calling to climb the professional trellis uniquely and continually, in order to benefit every student and adult in the schoolhouse, including ourselves.

      Sandra A. Trach, Principal

      Estabrook School, Lexington, MA

      Cross-posted to http://connectedprincipals.com/ and http://sandratrach.blogspot.com/ 

    • Blog post
    • 5 months ago
    • Views: 947
  • WILL 13/14 #9 WILL 13/14 #9

    • From: Joshua_Garcia
    • Description:

      What I Learned Lately (WILL 13/14 #9)


      “The First Quarter”

      We are nine weeks into the school year.  This means we have approximately 135 days left to reach every student and ensure they have grown academically and socially and emotionally.  This is a fascinating time of year.  In many cases we are coming off the high opening schools.  The new students and new colleagues have settled in and we have begun to identify what works and what doesn’t based on a variety of variables.  This is also the time of year when we have the pressure and celebration of the holiday season.  For many this can be a time of thanks and for others it is a time of struggle.  I am reminded of the complexity of emotions for not only our students but also staff.  Add to this complexity, there is the “real world” of politics, economics, health issues and general everyday life.  Just writing this, I can feel my chest tighten…

      Like many of our students, this is the time where I want to either take flight or fight.  For me, the tension gets so thick that I feel I want to crawl out of my skin.  The challenge of fighting for change, the desire to want to run from difficult conversations, the reality that many of our students are struggling academically, cold, hungry and constantly reminded of what they don’t have.  Although I am aware of this tension, I am left to think about how much I can push without breaking myself or those who also serve our students.  I know there is sweet spot during this time for all of us.  A spot where we can truly keep moving forward, while celebrating our past, present and future.  Willy Wonka once said, "Little surprises around every corner, but nothing dangerous. So don't be alarmed."  As I think about the next 135 days, I excited to fight for the little surprises that we can create for our students. I leave you with a deep breath and an exhale…

      Finally from Emily Dickinson,

      “If I Can Stop”

      If I can stop one heart from breaking,
      I shall not live in vain;
      If I can ease one life the aching,
      Or cool one pain,
      Or help one fainting robin
      Unto his nest again,
      I shall not live in vain.



    • Blog post
    • 5 months ago
    • Views: 323
  • 6 Tips to Successfully Score S 6 Tips to Successfully Score Student Writing Samples

    • From: Suzanne_Klein1
    • Description:

      Scoring a student sample or grade-level appropriate writing with the WriteSteps’ rubrics is effective because it gives your students the opportunity to see how each of the six traits works separately and together to make a strong piece.

      Devin Dusseau-Bates, a 3rd grade teacher using WriteSteps, shares her tips on making the most of the six traits rubrics. Using the six traits rubrics helps students identify their own areas of strengths and weaknesses, which really boosts student confidence. (Click to Tweet!)  For example, if a student recognizes that they have a strength, called a glow, in the area of organization, but a weakness, or grow, in word choice, then they have something very specific to focus on as a writer rather than just on writing as a whole.

      The key to having success with the rubrics in my classroom was making sure my students were very familiar with the six traits. Once my students understood the traits, the rubrics were a great tool to improve my students’ writing. 

      6 Traits Rubric

      The most helpful thing I did with my students this year was very simple. I divided the rubric in half by splitting 6-5-4 and 3-2-1. I discussed with the student how this helps them to accurately nail down a score for the traits. Dividing the upper and lower half of the rubric helped to simplify things. Then, all we had to do was specify the exact score.

      Six is perfect!
      Think of six as the absolute best you’ve ever seen. It’s perfect. This helps students understand that obtaining a six, while doable, takes a lot of hard work and effort, especially during the revision and editing stages of the writing process.

      One is not an option!
      Think of one as the absolute worst you’ve ever seen. I’ve always explained to my students that receiving a one on the rubric means that very little effort, really none at all, was put into that particular piece. I assure them that as long as they incorporate what they’re learning into their writing, revising and editing honestly, then they’ll never get a one. Don’t talk too much
      As a teacher we want to explain, and explain. Let your students do the talking. When they suggest a score, ask THEM to back it up with examples and evidence from the piece.

      Don’t score every trait in one session!
      I never score an entire piece on one day. The great thing about WriteSteps’ rubric lessons is that they only focus on three traits in one session (Click to Tweet!), then the remaining on the following day. This really allows for a deeper focus and understanding of the traits being scored that day. Each trait discussed and scored lends itself into a brief five minute mini lesson per trait.

      Make scoring fun!
      Get your students involved by allowing them to make signals for their score choices. For example, think like a baseball coach and ask students to touch their nose then the top of their head for a six! WriteSteps has Uno-Dos-Traits Cards which provide some great interaction too. The purpose of having your students score visually is so you can do a quick scan of who really knows what they’re looking for and who still needs more time understanding the traits.

      If you found this blog helpful, click here to share it!

    • Blog post
    • 6 months ago
    • Views: 607
  • PD Roadblocks: Control, Compli PD Roadblocks: Control, Compliance, and Permission

    • From: Tom_Whitby
    • Description:

      When I think of Professional Development for teachers in the traditional sense, I am more and more convinced that being connected as an educator is more effective in accomplishing the goal of professionally developing. The biggest roadblock to teachers connecting may very well be the way teachers have been programmed throughout their entire education and career.

      Any course, or workshop that a teacher has ever wanted to take for academics, or for professional development was either controlled, or in some way approved by someone in authority. Some districts put this on the responsibility list of an Assistant Superintendent, or that of a Personnel Director. The determining factor for acceptance of any teacher’s PD would be: does the course, or workshop comply with the specific subject that the teacher teaches? Some districts require that teachers stipulate how the specifics of the course will impact the subject that he or she teaches. Once the course is completed, usually some proof of seat time in the form of a certificate must be provided before permission for acceptance can be granted.

      This traditional method of Professional Development has gone on in this fashion, or something close to it for decades. The question is: Does it work? Of course nothing works 100 percent of the time. I would venture to say however, that if we base our answer on an observation of the dissatisfaction with our education system, and the grass roots movement of tens of thousands of educators in search of something more in the way of PD, our current method may be failing us miserably, or at the very best, falling a bit short of the mark. Either way, PD in its current form is not making the grade.

      Someone other than the learner directs the learning in this model, because it was designed around control, compliance, and permission. It would be a big plus if the needs of the learner aligned with the needs of the director, and I imagine that sometimes it does. However, that would probably be more coincidental than a planned outcome. The methodology of a majority of this PD is pretty much “sit and get” or direct instruction. Of course some teachers of the PD might use other methodology, but “sit and get” is pretty much the staple of most PD.

      With the era of the Internet, came the idea of very easy-to-do self-exploration of topics. Educators could look stuff up on their own from home, or school. The idea of self-directing leaning suddenly became much easier, and I might add, a whole lot cheaper. The problem for districts however was that there was no way to control it, or to regulate it, or even give, or withhold permission to do it.

      The entire self-directed learning thing was further complicated with the advent of Social Media. SM was at first thought to be the bane of all educators. As soon as educators stopped yelling at kids who used it, and tried it for themselves, things changed. Educators began connecting with other self-directed learning educators, and shared what they had learned. The learning has become more collaborative and through observation, and reflection, and based on the interactions of other educators, it has become more popular and more clearly defined.

      There are two factors that seem to be holding many educators from this self-directed collaboration. First, it requires a minimal amount of digital literacy in order to connect and explore, and collaborate. This seems to be lacking for many educators, as well as a resistance to learn the literacy. Ironically, educators are supposed to include digital literacy in their curriculum for their students to be better prepared.

      Second, educators have been programmed to the model of Control, Compliance, and Permission for Professional Development. That is also the accepted model still employed by most districts, and a huge roadblock. As tough as it is for educators to buck the system, it seems worse for administrators. They too have been programmed, but additionally, they are in the position that has the Control, that demands the Compliance, and that grants the Permission. To give that up by some who are in a position of power is a much more difficult leap of faith. Maybe administrators need to be reprogrammed as lead learners rather than just administrators. It becomes an obligation to continually learn. If they become self-directed learners collaborating with other educators globally, what effect would that have on their leadership capabilities?

      In regard to professional Development maybe it would prove more effective to have teachers demonstrate the effects of their learning, instead of a certificate for proof of seat time. That would become the portfolio of a teacher’s learning placing more emphasis on the brain and less on the ass.

      The term “connected educator” may be a term that scares people. This was mentioned at a recent education conference. If that is the case, why not use the term “collaborative learner”. Learning through collaboration has been done from the beginning of education. The tools to do it however have dramatically changed and improved, enabling collaboration to take place anytime, anywhere, and with any number of people. It is done transparently, recorded, and archived. Never before in history has collaboration occurred this way. As educators, we would be more than foolish to ignore this potential. As learners we would also be remiss to ignore the personal opportunity to expand and advance.

      As educators we recognize the importance of reflection and critical thinking. We need to employ those skills to examine where we are, and what we are doing with the things that we rely on as educators. We need our professional development to be useful and relevant in order to ensure that we, as educators, remain useful and relevant. We can’t have a relevant system of education without relevant, literate educators.

    • Blog post
    • 6 months ago
    • Views: 110
  • Silence of the Lambs: Breakin Silence of the Lambs: Breaking the Silence in Cooperative Learning Pairs

    • From: Jennifer_Davis_Bowman
    • Description:

      Picture this.  You have created a great lesson.  Better yet, a great lesson with a great discussion opportunity.  You finally pair the students together for individual discussions and then...all you get is SILENCE! 

      We are all aware of the benefits of encouraging students to work with one another for the sake of cooperative learning (improves student understanding, increases student engagement, etc.), but what do you do when the student pairs are uncooperative during the activity?  When I say uncooperative, I mean unwilling to make eye contact or even talk to one another.  I have listed a few of my favortie strategies to boost communication between students during cooperative partner practices:


      1.  Limit Environmental Supports

      When I assign partner practice, I always give the students too few hand-outs.  It works best when the hand-outs include the instructions, or the specific reading material that the students will discuss.  When both students in the pair have to physically share the material, this automatically enhances the likelihood that the students will communicate.  Yes, at first, the communication is superficial such as "Let me see the stupid paper", but eventually these comments blossom into more.  For example as time passes, the students eill begin to say "read that again, because I think I remember where in the book that vocabulary word was used."


      2.  Become the Silent Partner

      I know it is hard to not respond when your students genuinely inquire about something, but do not get involved just yet in responding.  Redirect the student and say "what did your partner say when you asked them that question?"  Refusing to answer student questions is important because it forces them to rely on one another for help.  Of course at the end of the activity allow time to give your feedback. 


      3. Do  Not Agree to Disagree

      We are all familiar with the old saying "agree to disagree".  It is a nice principle for resolving conflicts or arguments, but it should not apply during student discussions.  During practices with partners, encourage the students to disagree with one another.  Acknowledge the beauty in discussing different viewpoints.  Identify real life examples of how a unique viewpoint facilitates breakthroughs.  Have the students consider all the times that popular beliefs were not the best beliefs (remember how at first everyone believed the world was flat).


      4. Utilize a Question Quota

      Encourage student sharing through the use of question quotas.  Remind the students that a quota is the minimum amount of something that is acceptable.  Insist that the students aks their partner at least 2 things during their partner practice.  Some students will try to weasle around this rule, thus make sure you emphasixe that the questions that they ask their partner must be recorded on their papers (more on the need to document their work during their practices is found in number 5 below).


      5.  Remember the Writing is on the Wall

      There are some that argue that writing may interrupt a discussion, but I have found that taking notes during a discussion is key.  I require that both students respond in writing during their work with their partner.  First, I believe the notes are evidence that a conversation occurred.  Second, the notes help to indicate the quality of the academic  interaction between the students.  For instance I look for the following from the students' notes when doing my walk-throughs during partner work:

      • Does the type of note make sense for the discussion topic (for example if we are discussing vocabulary concepts, typically math problems should not be included in the notes)?
      •  Are the notes aligned (If one student in the pair is on item number 2, typically their partner should not be on item number 5)?


      As you continue to foster cooperative learning, what strategies have you found effective?

    • Blog post
    • 6 months ago
    • Views: 212
  • Fifteen Suggestions for Raisin Fifteen Suggestions for Raising the Quality of the High School Experience in a 21st Century World

    • From: Elliott_Seif
    • Description:

      Elliott Seif is a long time educator, teacher, college professor, curriculum director, author and Understanding by Design trainer. If you are interested in examining his other blogs, go to http://bit.ly/13sMlUZ. Additional and related teaching and learning resources and ideas designed to help prepare students to live in a 21st century world can be found on his website:  www.era3learning.org


       Today’s comprehensive high schools are generally organized the way they have been for decades. While some high schools have radically transformed teaching and learning in the face of major societal changes, most maintain a traditional look, feel, organization, and curriculum. High schools schedules are often the same as they were in the Industrial age, with days broken down into seven or eight time periods.  The schools are often large and generally impersonal. Teachers often have between 100-140 students on their rosters. The required curriculum remains pretty much the same as in the past, and tends to be divided into diverse subjects, levels, and courses, without any central focus. High schools generally divide the year into two semesters and few if any student summer programs or professional development requirements exist. Graduation is still based on course credits and, in some states, high stakes standardized tests. Students are expected to stay in school all day and are expected to graduate within four years. Advanced Placement courses are often used as a major barometer of the academic rigor of a school’s program.


      How can high schools improve on their programs and bring them into the 21st century? How can they develop more relevant assessments and a more relevant accountability system? While some advocate radical transformations, there are many adaptations and smaller changes that can bring traditional high schools into the 21st century by preparing students for rapid changes through the development of lifelong learning skills; citizenship; and individual talents, strengths and interests. I suggest fifteen possibilities below:


      1. Clarify and share a 21st century mission, set of goals and outcomes that drive the school program, courses, and instruction.


      Most of today’s high schools seem to lumber along without a clear mission or set of coherent student outcomes. Many high schools often have a confusing, diverse mixture of programs, activities, courses, and compartmentalized teaching approaches. They often suffer from passive learning environments, low expectations, superficial, uninteresting teaching and learning, uneven instruction, and fragmented courses. Many students leave high school unprepared for future learning or work, with a lack of planning or direction for their future.

      One important way for high schools to better adapt to the 21st century is to develop and clarify a mission and outcomes with a meaningful and coherent school-wide set of goals. The mission and outcomes are then shared with both the school and school community and used as the basis for making changes in the school’s program and organization. In other commentary, I suggest three goals for K-12 education that are especially appropriate for high schools: prepare students for lifelong self-directed learning; prepare students for citizenship; and help students develop their own talents, strengths, interests and goals. If these three goals are accepted as the core mission of a high school education, what would they imply for the curriculum? For teaching and learning? For assessments and accountability? For a more integrated program? For the school organization? For scheduling? For core courses? For electives? What would change? Clarifying and becoming committed to implementing a clear mission and set of outcomes and goals for all students helps to create a core program focus and more coherent organizational structure for the high school experience.


      2.    Rethink the organizational and administrative structure

      The traditional seven or eight period day, the Industrial model of scheduling, needs rethinking. In an age of computers, it ought to be possible to have more complex scheduling approaches that allow for longer blocks of time, mini-course structures, schedules that promote interdisciplinary teaching and learning, and common preparation time. Year round schooling is another option that needs to be seriously considered. New technologies suggest organizational structures that are only beginning to be appreciated and understood!


      In today’s world, more students also need the opportunity for flexible, individualized schedules. Some students work part-time. Some need to help with their families. Others need time to do community projects and service learning. Some students need to leave school for periods of time, and be able to return at a later date in order to complete their work. Some may graduate early, others may take up to six years or more to graduate. All these options need to be built into the school’s programs.


      Currently the most comprehensive high schools have principals, assistant principals, and “Department” heads as key administrators. High schools need to examine the question: how can this traditional administrative structure be reconfigured to better serve the needs of students in a 21st century world? What if one administrator were put in charge of “innovation”, looking across the curriculum to determine how the high school could develop innovative programs to better serve the needs of all students. What if one person was in charge of curriculum and instructional resources and curriculum and instructional development across all subjects? What if one was in charge of community “outreach”? Technology? A reconfigured set of administrative responsibilities, designed to promote innovation, interdisciplinary learning, outreach experiences, curriculum and staff development, technology applications might be a better way to organize for the future.


      Finally, schools with organizations that tend to support impersonal and detached relationships between students and teachers should consider alternatives. One advantage of block scheduling is that teachers have many fewer students on their roster, and more time each semester with their students. They have a greater ability to get to know their students, to help and support them. The use of advisories and student-teacher advising systems over the four years of high school also enables teachers to develop stronger relationships with students. Teams of teachers working together with groups of students help build better relationships. Organizational changes that enable teachers to get to know students better (and visa versa) and work more closely together will probably help to increase student achievement and build better support systems for students.


      3.    Build a coherent curriculum

      The current curriculum at most high schools is a fragmented mix of individual courses and programs, most of which have little connection to each other. Here are some recommendations for how to revise the curriculum to support student learning:


              a. Identify and streamline core courses around the school’s mission, outcomes and goals.

      The core curriculum are those “musts” that are required for every student. Should special core writing and reading courses be instituted? What types of thinking should every student be exposed to? How should reading and writing experiences be integrated into every course and subject? What math should be part of the core? Algebra and Trigonometry for everyone? Understanding statistics? Staff members should identify and collaborate to develop the core subject matter and core skills that should be taught and learned across the curriculum[i]. Each course might be organized around a series of “essential” questions, understandings and explicit skills that are core for every student to explore, learn and master.


                 b. Reduce the number of or eliminate Advanced Placement courses[ii] and instead develop a large number of high                quality electives.

      Advanced Placement (AP) courses tend to be implemented with an abiding faith that they are good for students. However, while they have some virtues, AP courses often repeat content that students have already studied, superficially cover a lot of content quickly, and crowd out worthy and interesting high school electives. Many of the students who take AP courses to increase their grade point average and feather their transcript don’t even take the AP exam and yet still get AP credit!


      Instead of AP courses, develop a set of high quality electives that provide many options for all students to develop their talents, interests, and skills, such as deep learning-discussion seminars, research and project based courses, Internet course options, mini-courses, internships and practicums, and independent study courses. In themed schools, electives should provide a variety of options around the theme. New Internet-based college courses, known as MOOCS (Massive open online courses) provide many new opportunities for students to try out different topics and learn from some of the best college instructors in the country.


                c. Increase the number of interdisciplinary, integrated learning experiences.

      Should some core subjects be taught in an interdisciplinary fashion, like mathematics and science? Should integrated STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) courses be an essential part of the high school curriculum? Should more efforts be made to integrate and teach in parallel fashion English and social studies courses? Should mathematics courses be integrated and taught the way most of the world teaches mathematics?


      Interdisciplinary learning opportunities might occur as part of the on-going curriculum and within a ninth grade team. High schools also need to create a greater number of synthesizing courses, offered in the junior or senior years, such as “problems of democracy”, applied mathematics, or science and society. Synthesizing courses enable students to integrate learning from previous years and learn how to apply knowledge and skills to new and novel situations and events.


                     d.    Pay attention to innovative ideas that might motivate students, make learning more relevant, increase          deep  learning, and provide students with new types of programs and new ways of teaching and learning.

      Innovative ideas are constantly being introduced into the education world. Entrepreneurship programs provide students with opportunities for learning how to start and maintain a business and they learn math and planning skills. Project based learning strategies suggest new ways of teaching and learning. Technological updates suggest new resources for learning. MOOC’s (Massive open online courses) offer free entrees for students into the college world. Integrated mathematics programs reorganize learning mathematics. The Understanding by Design curriculum model promotes a very different way of planning units, courses and programs. International Baccalaureate (IB) programs offer alternative ways or organizing high school programs, courses and assessments. Innovative organizational structures, such as Big Picture schools, offer alternative high school models that may be appropriate for many students. Competitions in chess, robotics, science, future problem solving, debate teams, and others provide students with exciting learning opportunities.


      These and many more interesting and innovative ideas need to be searched out and considered, and some type of decision-making process needs to be introduced into the high school experience to help determine which innovative ideas are worth pursuing and implemented, and which should be rejected.


      4. Create freshman teams.

      Many students who drop out of school do so because they have not been able to make the transition from middle to high school. Students need to have a gradual and supportive transition from middle school to the first year of high school, with opportunities for personal attention and a focus on core skills and critical knowledge. Teams of teachers and students, working together for the year, help students to adapt to high school requirements. Teachers have the opportunity to get to know students, advise them, coordinate their schedules, differentiate their learning experiences, and create integrated learning across the team that supports key skill development.


       5.    Create a digital portfolio assessment system

      While high school students do research papers, projects, and other forms of writing, the most commonly used summative assessment tool in high schools is still the “traditional test”, consisting primarily of multiple choice, short answer and short essay questions. Unfortunately, an emphasis on traditional tests guarantees that our primary educational focus will be on remembering and recognizing key facts and information, on developing low-level inference skills, and on producing relatively simple written products. A major problem with the use of these tests is that many of the key, critical “learning to learn” skills and personal development characteristics necessary for living in a 21st century world often get short shrift.


      In order to demonstrate progress and success in achieving critical lifelong learning and personal development skills, high schools should create digital student portfolios that include multiple types of assessments –many types of written work, performance task processes and results, project results, oral presentations, observations of student participation in discussions, and, yes, the results of traditional tests. Many opportunities for student self-reflection also help to determine what each student is learning and whether each student is developing his or her passions, interests, talents, and goals. Part of the self-reflection process should be a goal setting and planning process throughout the high school years, but especially in junior and senior years.


      Students also need opportunities to share senior projects and portfolios with adults from outside the high school, who listen to their explanations and analyses, ask clarifying questions, and help them to better understand their progress, goals and future directions.


      6. Encourage student engagement through greater use of inquiry, research and project based instruction

      Too much of the high school learning experience is in the form of traditional teaching and learning – recitations, lectures, coverage of textbooks – that makes for passive student learning and disinterested students. Students need more opportunities to be engaged in “inquiry”  – to focus on essential questions as the starting point for learning, actively seek out reliable information to share with other students, think deeply and share their thoughts about content, draw conclusions and apply learning, and communicate through writing, presentations, and discussions. Projects based on student interest, chosen all or in part by the student, should be an integral, on-going part of a student’s learning experiences. Senior projects should be used to assess whether students have developed the attitudes and skills they need to be successful beyond graduation – self-direction, curiosity, persistence, patience, research, inquiry, study, thinking, creativity, writing and the like. High school course descriptions might be focused around key questions that will be explored during the course.


      Consider alternatives to traditional assessment and accountability models. Multiple types of assessments, such as those described above, collected by students in digital portfolios, brought to class, shared over the Internet, is an alternative model that works well for many high schools in the digital age.


      7.   Develop community service-personal enrichment requirements.

      Both personal learning that develops talents and interests, and service learning, are important elements of a 21st century education. In a Philadelphia public high school that I work closely with, students are required to do 120 hours of a combination of service learning and personal enrichment activities over four years. This requirement has meant that students learn more about their own interests and talents as well as learn ways to help others. Intentionally building these two dynamic components of a strong education into the high school experience has made a strong difference in the education of these students.


       8.    Make advisories a central part of the high school experience.

      Advisories over the entire high school experience can help to personalize and customize education in a more impersonal world. Brian Cohen, a math teacher in the Philadelphia School District, beautifully describes the concept of high school advisories in a recent blog:


      A brief look at schedules across the [Philadelphia School] District leads one to believe that the advisory class plays little to no role in the life of a student. From my experience (and small survey sample), advisory in high schools is between 10-25 minutes long on average and takes place either at the very beginning of the day (before the first academic class) or between 2nd and 3rd periods. There are a variety of reasons for this - announcements, time to allow late students not to miss class, or to allow teachers to mark students as "present" in case they are very late to school. But, these reasons falter when compared to the potential of what advisory could be: a lifeline to the student body to influence school culture and educate the whole person.


      Unfortunately, "advisory" is a misnomer. There is little time (or energy) to truly "advise" students as the time is used more for babysitting than anything else. Imagine if there were a rich curriculum devoted to increase student's organization and study skills, with growing themes over the course of four years of high school. Students would know who to go to for advice and truly see a connection with the outside world because they would have time to discuss their place in it. 


      In my ideal world, advisory would function as a place for discussion and curiosity, with articles read about educational research on how to be the best student; with discussion on what's happening in the lives of students now; with time devoted to what students really need. There are a small number of high schools that provide time for this (Science Leadership Academy being one) but we need more flexibility. 


      Maybe with that time students would be able to get themselves together and teachers would not have to spend as much time calling home over forgotten homework and missed assignments. And, instead, students would start applying these tools to other aspects of their lives.”[iii]


      9.    Make Media Centers the hub of the high school learning experience

      If advisories are the central place for personal attention and advice, library-media centers are the hub for academic learning. They are the place in which students learn research skills. They are centers for conducting research. They often are the central computer centers for students, especially for those who might not have access to computers at home.  


       10. Create multiple outreach and “inreach” experiences

      Outreach experiences enable high schools to better provide a more “authentic” education experience. For example, powerful outreach experiences occur when students are provided with internships in local businesses, health clinics and hospitals, schools and colleges, social work agencies, and the like. Other outreach experiences occur when students are able to interview a wide range of experts through technological arrangements, visit local colleges, or go on field trips. “Inreach” experiences - outside visitors brought to the school to talk with students about careers and experiences – is also a powerful way to connect students to the outside world. Significant outreach and inreach provides powerful connections to the “real” world outside of high school.


       11.Create continuous, high quality, meaningful, relevant professional and curriculum development experiences

      Today’s changing educational world demands continual learning and updates about teaching and learning. What would we think of a doctor’s world without continual updates on the best forms of treatment, new drugs, research, and other changes. Yet it’s strange how little emphasis is placed on professional and curriculum development over time. The establishment of professional learning communities (PLC’s), with a school culture that supports continuous learning around collaborative and individual learning goals, should be a key goal. Summers are ideal times for professional development, yet there are generally no requirements that teachers devote some portion of their summers (e.g. two or three weeks) to collaboratively exploring new ways of teaching, new forms of curriculum design, the teaching of writing and thinking, how to implement the Common Core, project and problem based learning approaches, and so on.


       12. Switch to Standards-Based Report Cards

      Traditional report cards Provide little helpful information to both students and parents. A more effective report card is one that provides information as to how well a student is doing, but also how a student might improve. Standards based report cards incorporate key learning goals and skills either in an interdisciplinary configuration or within each subject area. The ability to solve problems, conduct research, make presentations, write effectively – all these can be incorporated into standards based report cards[iv]


      An even stronger standards based report card format includes individual comments by each teacher. Some high schools have built an individual comments model into their assessment process[v]. This entails a lot of work, but it customizes comments, builds on specific student talents, strengths and skills, provides greater specificity as to how students might improve, and in general makes report cards much more meaningful and helpful to students and parents.


      13. Use technology as a tool for reaching key goals and priorities

      Technology is often used in a haphazard fashion within high schools. The judicious use of technology, designed to help students reach key goals, is a much more rewarding and promising way to use technology. For example, the use of digital portfolios provides ways to collect and analyze student work. Common uses of technology to write papers, spellcheck, organize thoughts and ideas, and so on might be encouraged. Search engines used to find resources, to contact people around the world when appropriate, can be helpful. Teacher use of technology to share articles and readings, course outlines, information about a course, handouts and assignments with students on a regular basis is a good use of technology. The appropriate use of on-line simulations can enhance learning.


      However, beware of newer forms of technology without being clear on how they promote the goals of the school. Tablets and smartphones may be useful, but they should be introduced with great care, and with knowledge and understanding of how they will contribute to advancing learning goals.


      14.Create small learning communities

      Although small learning communities are a radical departure from traditional high school organization, they are worth considering. They consist of groups and teachers and students working together around themes (e.g. communication, technology, health sciences and the like). Where possible, small learning communities within a building are physically separated from each other.


      The creation of small learning communities requires significant professional development so that each team is well organized around a theme and is given a chance to work together in advance of implementation. Failure to provide time for teachers to receive professional development and for learning how to work together is often why they fail.


      15.Design innovative ways to rate and judge the success of high schools.

      High schools are being judged today by arbitrary processes often determined by government bureaucrats. The outside accountability systems often get in the way of making modest and relevant changes that would significantly improve programs. It is time for high school leaders to develop their own models that demonstrate their success!


      Instead of a reliance on test scores, high school accountability models, shared with the public and with Boards of Education, might include the number of students who have developed their talents and interests in different directions; sample digital portfolios that demonstrate student learning; data on students that go on to some form of post high school educational experience; results from special programs, such as International Baccalaureate and small learning communities; data on what happens to students as they move through a post high school experience; collective data from report cards; survey data from high school graduates who rate their high school experience; results from student surveys of current courses, and so on. A comprehensive accountability process developed by high schools themselves would be much more meaningful and significant than the current systems being implemented.


      Final Thoughts


      Comprehensive high schools need to adapt to a 21st century world. Clearer mission statements that guide teaching and learning, revised and flexible scheduling, strong core and elective programs, administrative restructuring, advisories, greater student engagement through inquiry, research and project based teaching and learning, library-media center hubs, standards based report cards, small learning communities, more meaningful and personalized accountability systems, a careful look at innovative ideas – these and the other suggestions described above would go a long way towards better preparation of students for living in a 21st century world. Not all of these ideas may currently make sense to high school teachers and leaders, but some might be helpful when high schools reconsider their programs, assessment models, organizational structures, and accountability systems in order to adapt to this new age.


      [i] In other work, I have identified five core skill sets that should be taught throughout the curriculum – curiosity, information and data literacy, thoughtfulness, application, and communication. For greater insights into what these five skill sets mean in practice, go to www.era3learning.org. I have also developed a process – the Integrated Skill Development Program (ISDP) – that can be used to identify core skills to be taught and learned across the curriculum. A description of this process can be found at: http://bit.ly/RnSwRT

      [ii]Advanced Placement courses have many problems. They are often survey courses that focus on learning content without depth or thought. Many students take Advanced Placement courses, get credit for them, but don’t take the Advanced Placement exams. Other students take the AP course, don’t pass the AP exam, but still get AP credit. Scarsdale High School has eliminated Advanced Placement courses in favor of “advanced topics” courses. Some advanced topics courses are designed so that, at the end of the course, if students wish to do so, they can take the Advanced Placement exam.

      [iii] Brian Cohen blog, 1-14-2013  http://makethegrade.weebly.com/index.html

      [iv] For an excellent article on Standards Based Report Cards, see How We Got Grading Wrong, and What to Do About it, in Educational Update, October 2013, Volune 55, No. 10, ASCD.

      [v] For example, Science Leadership Academy, a public high school in Philadelphia PA, incorporates teacher comments into its report card system.



    • Blog post
    • 6 months ago
    • Views: 4927
  • “My Connected Educator Intervi “My Connected Educator Interview”

    • From: Tom_Whitby
    • Description:

      From time to time I am asked to answer interview questions for some organization, or upcoming conference, so that the interview can be shared with other educators. Many educators are asked to provide these videos as a common practice. It is not as timely, or spontaneous as SKYPE or a Google Hangout, but it is portable and controllable, so that makes it preferable too many people. They can edit and tie it into others and then send it out to their audience, or present it in a gala presentation for all to see.

      Unfortunately, not every video interview makes it to the final production for a myriad of reasons. Sometimes only a snippet of a larger version makes it into the final production. For those of us who figured out how to make a video, and took the time to do so, it is always a little disappointing not to make it in the final production. My best takeaway is that I figured out how to use iMovie on my own to put it all together. Of course I should point out that this is but another connected learning benefit.

      The organizers of The BAMMY AWARDS recently asked me to do such an interview tape. It was to be a rough-cut video that they would edit to professional status. It would include a quick introduction of myself, followed by my answers to three questions.

      1 How has being a Connected Educator helped you in dealing with all the demands of an educator today?

      2 Can you give a specific example of how being a Connected Educator has changed your practice?

      3 What would you say to a non-Connected Educator to convince him/her of the value in being connected?

      I pondered the questions, considered the creativity, checked out the App, found a relaxed setting, gathered costumes, screwed up my courage, and took the plunge. After a few starts and stops, I began to get the hang of it, and I was off on yet another thing that I was doing for the first time as a result of connected learning, and the support and encouragement from my social media colleagues. I even opened a YouTube account to house my production upon its conclusion. My 6 minute and 13 second production was uploaded to a predetermined file-sharing app, so that it could be edited by the BAMMY Staff before the big event.

      I attended the Washington D.C. event awaiting the unveiling of the Connected Educator Production before the hundreds of educators in the audience. After all it was a red carpet, black tie affair, so I began to feel as if it was my personal premiere. The video came up on the big screen with the images of education thought leaders giving their answers to the very same questions that I had deftly dealt with. Of course they had no costume changes. That a little something extra that would most likely assure me the creativity award, if anyone were to give one. About three-quarters through the production, I was still on the edge of my seat knowing my digitized face should pop up at any second with pearls of wisdom cascading from my lips to the throngs of applause from the gathered crowd of educators. Then it happened. I did appear on the big screen. My heart stopped for about 10 seconds. Not that my heart stopped working for 10 seconds, but that was how long my appearance was in that very professional, and very impressive production – 10 seconds. My creative informative sage wisdom of 6 minutes and 13 seconds was edited down to about 10 seconds. The worst of it was that no one even knew I had three costume changes.

      Of course I asked what happened of the folks in charge, and they had reasonable explanations for the cuts that they made and the pieces that they included. I had no recourse, but to accept my fate and go unrecognized for my video creation. That is when I realized I am a Connected Educator. I do not need an organization, producer, or publisher to share my ideas, works and accomplishments with other educators. I can count on myself to do that. I could also get it to a much greater audience with the added power of my Personal Learning Network and Social Media.

      Without further ado, I would like to share with you, the very rough-cut version of “My Connected Educator Interview”. Please feel free to pass it along to friends and colleagues connected, or not. Please take special care to note the costume changes.





    • Blog post
    • 7 months ago
    • Views: 98
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