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Today I did a 40 minute interview with Larry Jacobs of Education Talk Radio via Blogtalk Radio on the topic of my new ASCD book Neurodiversity in the Classroom: Strength-Based Strategies to Help Students with Special Needs Succeed in School and Life. We covered many topics, but in particular addressed the concerns of teachers in regular classrooms who are confronted with the need to include students with special needs ”on top of” everything else they are required to do as educators. In the interview, I suggested that my book helps teachers with this in two ways: 1) it provides them with lots of practical tips, strategies, approaches, and tools they can use to meet the needs of these kids, and 2) it offers a radically new way of looking at students with special needs, so that they’re not seen as ”burdens” or ”extra work” but rather as assets that can bring something positive into the classroom.
To listen to the interview in its entirety, click here.
I’ll be doing an online book chat with host Larry Jacobs on Education Talk Radio: PreK-12, January 25, 2013 at noon Eastern time (9:00 am Pacific time). We’ll be talking about my new book Neurodiversity in the Classroom: Strength-Based Strategies to Help Students with Special Needs Succeed in School and Life. I hope that people will listen in and learn more about this revolutionary new concept in special education: neurodiversity. You can listen in at Blog Talk Radio.
How will we remember 2012? Once again, it has been a challenging year for many in education. The school shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., shocked and saddened educators worldwide, and reawakened the discussions as to what role schools can play to best keep their children safe. At the same time, the shooting reminded everyone of the commitment and love that teachers and principials have for their students, as they put their energies, their focus and their lives on the line for kids on a regular basis.
Seeing that kind of commitment, bravery and dedication from educators is what makes us most hopeful for the future. In the United States, teachers and adminstrators are pushing boldly in many areas to reform schools and improve student learning. Already, many districts have begun adopting new curriculum and assessment frameworks tied to Common Core State Standards. Worldwide, educators have moved to try new instructional approaches such as flipped classrooms and blended learning. And they are beginning to increasingly implement new technology strategies, establishing bring-your-own device programs and one-to-one iPad programs -- all the while improving upon core instructional best practices and techniques.
We salute all those who are dedicated to improving student learning and achievement -- and are truly making a difference in the lives others. In particular, as we do at this time every year, we would also like to tip our hat to our own community leaders -- those who have detailed their vision and ideas in the blogs below, and who have put thoughts out in the public domain for scrutiny and praise. As we look back at the past year, we hope that, in some small way, it can provide the impetus for helping you look forward, as you implement your own new ideas in 2013.
Thanks to all of you who participate in our great ASCD EDge community. Have a safe and happy holidays. And without further delay, we present...The Top 10 Blogs of 2012.
The ASCD EDge Team
The Top 10 Blogs of 2012
10. A Bucket List for K-12 Students by Steven Weber
In 2007, Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman starred in The Bucket List. In the movie, Nicholson and Freeman make a list of things they wish to do before they die...
9. 12 Alternatives To Letter Grades In Education by Terrell Heick
Few artifacts of formal learning are as iconic as the letter grade...
I have observed many, many teachers in elementary and early childhood classrooms and the ones that have the smoothest-running classrooms all do the same thing: they teach procedures...
7. 5 Top Resources for Aligning Your Social Studies Curricula to the Common Core by Robert Zywicki
Social studies supervisors and teachers across the country are revising their unit plans to meet their state’s content standards, as well as, the Common Core State Standards for Literacy in History and Social Studies...
In today’s world, with its rich and overwhelming amount of accessible information, bewildering career options, uncertainty, and change, five skill areas stand out as important for lifelong learning...
5. 10 of the Best Apps for Educators by Ryan Thomas
Whether you're an educational technology wonder, or a little slower on the draw, apps for your iPhone and/or iPad can make your job a lot easier...
4. What I Wish I Had Known about Student Motivation by Bryan Goodwin
“You’re a smart kid; I just wish you’d apply yourself in my class.” Most teachers have uttered a similar phrase. I know I did. I remember one student particularly well; we’ll call him Jerry....
3. Five Reasons I don't Assign Homework by Mark Barnes
The homework debate is one that has permeated education for many decades, and it shows no signs of slowing. Homework proponents perplex me, because the research is so overwhelmingly against homework's effectiveness...
2. The Seven C's of Effective Teaching by Muriel Rand
I recently attended an educational assessment conference in which Ronald Ferguson from the Harvard Kennedy School was the keynote speaker. He is an educational researcher who presented his work on teacher effectiveness...
And the number one blog of 2012 is:
1. SOCRATES FAILS TEACHER EVALUATION by Heidi Hayes Jacobs
So, it came down to one day, one test, at the Acropolis as the young men of Athens took out their #2 chisels to answer 30 questions on stone tablets...
In the past, when I’ve written about curriculum mapping, it has always been in terms of curriculum and the intended audience was teachers or curriculum and instruction administrators. Recently, I’ve been doing quite a bit of work with administrators around the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium, or ISLLC Standards, in light of principal and administrative evaluations related to Race to the Top grants in multiple states.
(Within each domain, an administrator should address responsibilities within each of the functions.)
(What actions should be in place around the responsibilities already identified?)
(What is acceptable evidence that the responsibilities and actions have been met?)
|1: Vision||*See Attached Potential Evidence|
|2: Culture||*See Attached Potential Evidence|
|3: Safety||*See Attached Potential Evidence|
|4: Community||*See Attached Potential Evidence|
|5: Ethics||*See Attached Potential Evidence|
|6: Context||*See Attached Potential Evidence|
In Mapping, Heidi Hayes Jacobs describes four phases that districts must go through in order to attain and sustain a systemic curriculum mapping initiative: Laying the foundation, Launching the process, Maintaining and Sustaining, and Advancing the work. (2010) In fact, I would say too that the four phases work for just about any curriculum endeavor you may have. It can be a full map or it can be a series of related units, lessons, anything. The point is to begin where you are and just start growing!
In a conversation recently with my colleague and friend, Janet Hale, we discussed the thoughts behind the importance of vertical conversations in schools. These conversations are among multiple grade levels and entail conversing and learning about what students should know and be able to do from grade level to grade level. While vertical conversations may happen within a grade level or two above and/or below a particular teacher’s assigned grade level, they don’t often happen as easily with representatives from a full K-12 cadre of teachers. With summer coming to an end and a new school year beginning, we thought it would be a good time to get the curriculum conversations started anew.
We thought a good way to spark these conversations would be to plant a seed of modern instructional practice. (see Figure 1)
Once maps or units are in place, the impetus is upon us to keep them growing and evolving. We do that through continued collegial curricular conversations and through intentional actions to grow and modernize learning from instructional moment to instructional moment and from year to year. This could include conversations and actions around modern methodologies, modern tools, or the engagement of multiple modalities.
As an example, let’s think about the informative essay that students are always being required to do. Students pick a topic, find information on that topic, and right a five-paragraph essay with a complete beginning, middle, and end.
What if we planted a seed about what the modern informative essay might look like? We could brainstorm possible alternatives/modalities, whether or not it would even be on paper, and what web tools we might invite students to choose as they both researched and wrote. In Figure 1, I set the “seed” at the 5th or 6th grade level. (The seed could be set at any grade level, depending on the seed that is to be planted!) That is where the conversation would begin.
Then, we would need to consider some or all of the following:
Next, we take the conversation vertical, to roots and blooms! In order to meet a particular level of proficiency by the time a student is in 5th or 6th grade, what must happen in earlier grades that grow the roots and foundations to prepare students for this new form of learning?
When we get to the “bloom” (Bloom’s!!!) level, we are extending and sophisticating. As our students go beyond the seed, what do the levels of sophistication look like?
If you’re looking for a way to breathe new life into your curriculum or into your mapping initiative, this is a good place to start. Continue the conversations. Continue considering the college and career student. Continue discussing scaffolding and sophistications around the seeds you’ll plant.
In the coming weeks, Janet and I will be sharing some examples of K-12 seeds we’ve planted, as well as the roots and blooms around them. Stay tuned!
Jacobs, H. H. (2010). Curriculum 21, essential education for a changing world. Alexandria, VA: Assn for Supervision & Curriculum.
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Cure for the Common Core on Amazon Kindle
“A good plan is like a road map: it shows the final destination and usually the best way to get there.” – H. Stanley Judd
As teachers and administrators depart from the era of No Child Left Behind and begin to implement the Common Core State Standards, some may ask “Do we need curriculum mapping?” In 1997, Heidi Hayes Jacobs introduced the world to curriculum mapping in Mapping the Big Picture: Integrating Curriculum and Assessment K-12. Jacobs (1997) wrote, “We need two lenses: a zoom lens into this year’s curriculum for a particular grade and a wide-angle lens to see the K-12 perspective” (p. 3). Do the new standards provide educators with a curriculum?
Curriculum versus Standards
As I visit with educators across the United States, I often hear people say that the Common Core State Standards are the curriculum. Erickson (2007) reminds us that "Academic standards are not a curriculum; they are a framework for designing curriculum. A curriculum is a coherent, teacher-friendly document that reflects the intent of the academic standards" (p. 48). If educators believe Erickson’s definition of curriculum, then they will meet in teacher teams within and across schools to clarify the curriculum. K-12 curriculum development allows educators to identify key concepts and skills, identify important content, reflect on student understandings and misunderstandings, and create plans for ensuring student success at the next grade level or level of learning. Wiggins and McTighe (2005), wrote, “In the absence of a learning plan with clear goals, how likely is it that students will develop shared understandings on which future lessons might build” (p. 21)? If educators accept the new standards as the ‘official curriculum’ they will miss out on valuable professional conversations, the opportunity to differentiate instruction, and the chance to consider new ways to assess student understanding.
How will we know when each student has mastered the essential learning outcomes? In the absence of curriculum maps it is difficult to know what is essential. If a professional learning team develops common formative assessments, but they lack curriculum maps then how will the educators know ‘what’ to assess? Some researchers have indicated that teachers should identify the curriculum using the following descriptions: Introductory, Review, and Mastery or Understanding. Until teachers develop a curriculum map, some teachers may teach the Common Core State Standards for Introductory and other teachers may teach the same standards until students develop Mastery.
If we can clarify what we want every student to know and be able to do, then we will be able to support students when they struggle with the essential learning(s). ‘How’ a teacher chooses to lead students to understand essential skills and concepts is not dictated by a curriculum map. The best educators understand that student learning styles and readiness levels vary from one class to the next. One teacher may teach a concept differently in first period than she does in second period. A curriculum map will help educators organize the district’s common curriculum. Marzano (2003) calls this the ‘guaranteed and viable curriculum’ and his research led him to believe that this is the number one factor which impacts student achievement.
Curriculum maps provide teachers with a starting point. Vertical alignment helps teachers see what learning looks like at the next level. If a concept is taught for Introduction in the third grade, but two students are ready to move to the next level then teachers can create learning experiences which challenge those students and teach the introductory level of knowledge to the rest of the class.
Several school districts across the United States have paid a small group of classroom teachers to write their math curriculum. Other school districts have purchased curriculum from vendors. It is important to note that a clear focus on aligning the curriculum and communicating decisions across buildings will create a more intentional delivery in each classroom. When educators work together to unpack state and national standards, they develop a commitment to each other and to continuous improvement.
Curriculum mapping is a process which asks teachers to develop curriculum goals, identify essential content, skills and concepts, and reflect on the taught curriculum. Curriculum development is "an ongoing process that asks teachers and administrators to think, act, and meet differently to improve their students' learning" (Hale, 2008, p. 8). In the absence of curriculum mapping, students will receive a disjointed curriculum.
Curriculum mapping may not be a new practice in education, but it provides educators with a starting point. The adoption of new standards does not mean each school has a guaranteed curriculum. Implementing the Common Core State Standards will require teacher teams to have professional conversations about what is required at each grade level. Curriculum mapping is not a silver bullet, but it provides an opportunity for educators to develop essential learning outcomes, essential questions, key concepts, key skills, and enduring understandings. Curriculum mapping supports the work of teachers and administrators. Veteran teachers have multiple experiences to offer, but all educators still need to look at the curriculum through a zoom lens and a wide-angle lens (Jacobs, 1997). It will be a struggle to implement new standards in the absence of a curriculum map. When teachers collaborate to develop the curriculum, they will work hard to implement it and make revisions which support teaching and learning throughout the school year.
Kids need access to choices in instruction so that when the moment arises they can make discerning decisions about what they will do.
I just watched that happen. At a conference with adults where kids were invited.
I just watched magic happen.
Heidi Hayes Jacobs keynoted at edJEWcon in Jacksonville, Florida this week to a national group of participants from Jewish Day Schools. The keynote was attended by over 200 people and included several dozen middle school students.
Heidi engaged the backchannel, the background conversation, during her keynote so that the information wasn’t just being delivered, it was being nuanced and discussed and explored to greater depths. This is the 21st Century dialogue symphony. Everyone is an instrumental piece of the orchestra and collectively creates an interactive performance.
Heidi used a web tool, Today’s Meet, to collect the backchannel as an “in the room” conversation. Additionally, the #edJEWcon hashtag was used on Twitter to capture the “out to the world” conversation.
Heidi hit a snag though, when she went to create the Today’s Meet room in the moment, during the keynote. The “EdJEWcon” room had already been taken.
By the students in the room.
On their own, they created their own backchannel so that they could capture the conversation and interact around the message they were receiving. This tool was already in their toolbox, and they made a decision in the moment to do their thing. Isn’t that cool?
This is precisely what it means for students to use the Internet and digital media strategically and capably. They had choices and they made a decision. They used it the right way and it was the exact right tool for the task. (Because the task is key, remember the Drill Slide!)
Here is a link to a transcript of the student room and their interactions.
Note the progression of cognition in the conversation. It started with the collection of soundbites and descriptions of the presentation. Then it segued to questions and then interaction and metacognition around Heidi’s message. So, so awesome.
Heidi had to create a separate room so that the entire audience could participate. What a great problem to have!
You can read the transcript of the whole group here.
Note that the adults jumped right into the interaction, sharing salutations and then responding to Heidi, each other, and the students who were dually participating in the whole group room.
I was so impressed by the way this worked. It invited everyone to be strategic and capable with the use of technology, specifically engaging strategies that help these students be college and career ready, and give educators examples of what this looks like in practice.
Big, big kudos to the middle school students at Martin J. Gottlieb Day School. You didn’t know it, but this was an assessment, one that happened in the moment but allowed you to prove your skills. You gave a performance, a recital of your capabilities...and you SHINED!
@fisher1000 on Twitter
On April 1, 2012, @tomwhitby came up with an idea that was no April Fool's joke. He challenged educators to share their "must read" recommendations via Twitter using the hashtag #edbook. The challenge received quite a response. In less than 24 hours, more than 100 titles were recommended. Here is a list of the books recommended to date with links to Amazon for your convenience; Twitter handles for many of the authors are also included. Books are listed in the order they were posted.
· Outliers, Malcom Gladwell
· The Connected Educator, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Lani Ritter Hall
· Mosaic of Thought, Ellin Oliver Keene and Susan Zimmermann
· Talks on Pedagogics, Francis W. Parker
· The Global Achievement Gap, Tony Wagner
· I Read It, But I Don't Get It, Cris Tovani
· Horace's School, Ted Sizer
· The Book Whisperer, Donalyn Miller
· There Are No Shortcuts, Rafe Esquith
· The Knowing Doing Gap, Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton
· Study Driven, Katie Wood Ray
· Write Beside Them, Penny Kittle
· First Days of School, Harry Wong
· Results Now, Mike Schmoker
· I'd Rather Teach Peace, Colman McCarthy
· A Different Kind of Teacher, John Taylor Gatto
· What's Worth Fighting for in the Principalship, Michael Fullan
· Five Minds for the Future, Howard Gardner
· Getting Started, Robert Eaker and Laura Lipton
· Differentiation in Action, Judith Dodge
· The Art of Problem Posing, Stephen Brown
· The American Scholar, Ralph Waldo Emerson
· Let's Put Kids First, Finally, Charles Achilles
· Disrupting Class, Clayton Christenson
· In the Middle, Nancie Atwell
· The Basic School, Ernest Boyer
· Fertilizers, Pills, and Magnetic Strips, Gene Glass
· The Hurried Child, David Elkind
· Art as Experience, John Dewey
· If You Don't Feed the Teachers, They Eat the Students, Neila Connors
· Choice Words, Peter Johnston
· Homo Zappiens: Growing Up in a Digital Age, Wim Veen
· The Leadership Challenge, James Kouzes and Barry Posner
· Among Schoolchildren, Tracy Kidder
· The Writing Workshop, Katie Wood Ray
· Reframing Organizations, Lee Bolman and Terrence Deal
· Where Good Ideas Come From, Steven Johnson
· Good Questions: Great Ways to Differentiate Mathematics, Marian Small
· They Call Me Coach, John Wooden
· When Kids Can't Read - What Teachers Can Do, Kylene Beers
· How People Learn, John Bransford and Rodney Cocking
While this ASCD session wasn’t exactly what I was expecting--didn't read the description carefully, I did leave with a number of great website links, and some clever paradigm-shifting analogies and anecdotes. Heidi Jacobs always has so much to share--I signed up more for her than the topic. I loved when Jacobs compared teaching to medicine. Principals often brag that they’re using 21st century technology at their schools and then take you to see the 3 or 4 teachers who are implementing tech into their classrooms. Imagine if a hospital administrator bragged about her hospital using 21st century technology and then took you to see the 3 or 4 doctors who were using it. If we wouldn’t allow medical staff to choose not to use current technology, why are we okay with teachers continuing to use strategies and technology that is antiquated and does not prepare our students?
Another great analogy: We treat curriculum like real estate—I own Dickens. If we don’t look at the big picture collectively, then curriculum conversations often default to territory negotiations.
On a deeper level, Jacobs is completely on target when she argues that we need to restructure how we teach sciences. As she says, we’re “mammal happy”—think about how often students write reports on animals. She argues that much of life science could be cut out to allow more room for contextualizing science and focusing on problem-based learning, not memorization.
Perhaps my favorite Jacobs comment addresses when teachers claim they don’t have time to infuse 21st century skills and tools because they have to “cover” so much material. Jacobs reminds us that “to cover” means “to obscure from view,” which is essentially what happens when we don’t teach authentically.
When we, as the adults, focus too much on what we want to teach, what we’re comfortable teaching, what we know and want to share, we miss the big picture: the students and what they need. I’ll end where Jacobs began, who owns the learning in our schools? Who should?
by Heidi Hayes Jacobs
So, it came down to one day, one test, at the Acropolis as the young men of Athens took out their #2 chisels to answer 30 questions on stone tablets. It is the annual timed test to prove the students’ knowledge and competence as they seek to become philosopher-kings. This valued test is the ultimate prize demonstrating not only the achievement of students, but also serves as the one key evaluation of the teacher.
Credit should be given to the test making company for developing multiple choice items with one correct answer given the challenging subject matter: philosophy and governance. Short answer constructed responses are a bit easier in those fields.
The results were posted in the Agora for all to see the quality and performance of their teacher. Socrates failed. He simply spent too much time asking them to think. A walk- through evaluation by his supervisor (undisclosed), determined that “ sometimes Socrates’s students meander through endless dialogues examining challenging questions that do not have one right answer.” Hopefully, he will be replaced or perhaps go through an intensive summer professional development program in Sparta.