Highlights from The Innovator’s Mindset Introduction and Part 1 #IMMOOC

I am participating in the IMMOOC and enjoy being part of this group of learners. I thought I would share some of my highlights so those of you who have not read the book yet can get a sense of what you are missing.

From the Introduction . . .

  • We forget that our responsibility isn’t solely to teach memorization or the mechanics of a task but to spark curiosity that empowers students to learn on their own.
  • We need to change what school looks like for our students so that we can create new, relevant opportunities for them— for their future and for today.
  • We need to develop a shared vision, align expectations, and provide pathways to ensure that all teachers have the resources to learn, create, and innovate to meet the needs of today’s learners.
  • Schools, more than any other organization, need to embrace a commitment to continuous learning.

Part 1: What Innovation Is and Isn’t

Chapter 1

  • The word “innovation” must be more than a buzzword in education- we will have to know what it is, what defines it, and what it looks like in practice.
  • Innovation as a way of thinking that creates something new and better.
  • Innovation is less about tools like computers, tablets, social media, and the Internet, and more about how we use those things.
  • A teacher, as a designer and facilitator, should continually evolve with resources, experiences, and the support of a community.
  • Establishing an innovative culture doesn’t require transformation. However, it does require leaders who will develop and sustain systems that support “optimal learning experiences” and who value the process of creating and refining ideas.
  • “Innovative teaching is constant evolution to make things better for student learning.”
  • The question that must be asked every day is. “What is best for this learner?”
  • Starting with empathy for those we serve is where innovative teaching and learning begin
  • Questioning what we do and why we do it is essential for innovation.
  • When we think differently about the things that we are used to seeing daily, we can create innovative learning opportunities- for our teaches and students.
  • Designing solutions with both the Individuals’ Interests and the end goal in mind is crucial for any innovation to be successful.

Chapter 2

  • Innovator’s mindset can be defined as the belief that the abilities, intelligence, and talents are developed so that they lead to the creation of new and better ideas.
  • We must focus on creating something with the knowledge that’s been acquired.
  • The world only cares about- and pays off on- what you can do with what you know (and it doesn’t care how you learned it).
  • The Innovator’s Mindset- Belief that abilities, intelligence, and talents are developed so that they lead to the creation of new and better ideas.
  • Our challenge as leaders is to think of new ways to do things so we can more forward.
  • We need to look at the realities of our situations and create something new. And it’s crucial that educators see this “inside of the box of innovation” modeled by administrators.
  • Having the freedom to to fail is important to innovation. But even more important to the process are the traits of resiliency.
  • As leaders, we need to develop a culture that focuses on doing whatever it takes to ensure that we are successful in serving all of our students.
  • The innovator’s mindset exemplified: Try, fail, and try something else until  you find or create a solution that works.
  • Would I want to be a learner in my own classroom?
  • Consider your student’s learning experience from their point of view.
  • Do your students have opportunities to learn in ways that connect to their lives and make an impact on how they engage with others?
  • What is best for this student?
  • What is this student’s passion?
  • As educators, we can create better experiences for our students by tapping into their passions. To do so, we need to be intentional about learning more about our students and what they love.
  • What are some ways we can create a true learning community?
  • The experiences we create often make students dependent upon the teacher for learning.
  • By embracing the idea that everyone in the classroom is a teacher and a learner, we can create a community that learns from and teachers one another.
  • Regular feedback helps us reflect on how we are serving our current students.
  • If we are going to help our students thrive, we have to move past “the way we have always done it,” and create better learning experiences for our students than we had ourselves.
  • “Is there a better way to teach this lesson to meet the needs of these learners?”

Chapter 3

  • Great educators can work within the constraints of the system and still create innovative learning opportunities for their students.
  • Effective leadership in education is not about moving everyone from one standardized point to the next but moving individuals from their point “A” to their point “B.”
  • Making connections between the powerful ideas and information that’s being freely shared online allows educators to expand learning opportunities for their students.
  • Learning is literally a matter of creating new meanings, new neural networks, and new patterns of electro-chemical interactions within one’s total brain/body system.
  • Imagine how much deeper learning could be if “creation” was a non-negotiable in the learning for both us and our students.
  • When thinking about moving forward, focusing on the question, “What is best for these learners?” helps ensure you’re making the right decisions.
  • Questioning our efforts, progress, and processes is crucial to innovation.
  • Innovation is not about changing everything, sometimes you only need to change one thing.
  • I will learn from others to create better learning opportunities for others and myself.
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It’s All About Who You Know #IMMOOC

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Image from Pixabay

“I believe isolation is the enemy of innovation. I will learn from others to create better opportunities for others and myself.” ~George Couros

Week 2: Take one of the “Characteristics of the Innovator’s Mindset” and write an example of how you exemplify it in your own work.

I fell into my job 10 years ago and was only supposed to stay until they found someone to replace the teacher who had left. I was not “techy”, I was not digitally literate, I did not even know how to make a Power Point (which at the time was the benchmark as it was a term I knew). I was basically learning things right before I was teaching my classes.

Because my classes were scheduled intermittently throughout each day, I had blocks of time where I could “play and learn” and basically figure things out. I browsed, I searched, and found Richard Byrne of FreeTech4Teachers and Kelly Tenkely of i learn technology (and later, founder of Anastasis Academy). I basically hit the learning jackpot! By then I went from being temporary to having a full time contract. At the same time I learned about Powerful Learning Practice because there was a cohort in my school. I did not become part of the PLPeeps until year two of my job, but that was ok, because I had plenty to learn and try until then. Plus, I had become friendly with one of the fifth grade teachers with whom I enjoyed brainstorming so I had plenty on my plate.

It was during my second year of teaching that I joined PLP and Sheryl Nussbaum Beach encouraged all of us Peeps to create a Twitter account. At the time (September of 2009), I did not know what I would tweet about. Who would want to listen to me or anything I had to say. Who wold really care? I let that Twitter account sit there for a while, idling, laying dormant until later that spring. I went to a PLP conference at the Philadelphia Convention Center where there were speakers like Will Richardson and many others to connect with. It was the first time I saw a hashtag used and so I decided I would tweet interesting things from the conference and use that hashtag. One tweet led to another and I was hooked.

I started following people from the conference, especially those whom Sheryl followed and suggested.  I found Eric Sheninger, Jackie Gerstein, Jerry the cybraryman, Tom Whitby, Steve Hargadon, Alec Couros, and George Couros. I learned about virtual spaces like Nings, blogs, and wikis; massive open online learning sites like Coursera; educational chats like #edchat, #ntchat, and #sschat; conferences like #edcamps, Teachmeets, and TEDx, and began going to those to meet and connect with more people. It was fortunate that I had a built-in conference partner in my friend and colleague Wendy who was always up for a good conference.

I made connections and learned from people who in the Twitterverse and educational sphere are rock stars.

Being connected is just one of the characteristics of The Innovator’s Mindset. It is these connections that excite, motivate, and inspire me to try new things with my students, share what I learn with my colleagues, and continue to evolve and grow as an educator and learner.

Just Keep Reading

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So many books, so little time. ~Frank Zappa

The last couple weeks have been busy! I like reading on my Kindle and often get my books using Overdrive which I have mentioned before. When I borrow from Overdrive, I get 21 days to read and complete my book before it “expires” and is no longer available as part of my Kindle content. I can put books on hold using Overdrive and then when they become available, they are automatically loaned out to me. Yay! So I have found, as long as I do not go to my home screen on my Kindle, I can keep reading a book even after it expires. Herein lies my problem: if I am in the middle or nearly finished with a book and it has expired, I have to finish it before I can read my new content. So this past week I was hurriedly finishing Building School 2.0: How to Create the Schools We Need by Chris Lehmann (highly recommend- I did a lot of tweeting about this as I was reading) so that I could start The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros for the #IMMOOC (you can read my first post about that here) AND When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (this book came and went from my Kindle library via Overdrive during the summer when I was trying to finish The Signature of All Things (yep- it had expired, or at least I thought it had- and so I could not visit my home page for fear of losing the book and I had come so far) so I had to get that started before I lost it again.

Anyway, to make a long story short (which it seems like I did not do at all), I have not shared anything recently and that is because I was busy reading.

So here I am and there are a few things to share. Don’t be fooled by the brevity as there is a lot packed into the few.

First is another really thoughtful, practical article on changing  students’ math mindsets from KQED MindShift titled, “How Showing and Telling Kids ‘I Believe in You’ Can Empower Them at School”. The article is an excerpt from Jo Boaler’s book ,Mathematical Mindsets: Unleashing Students’ Potential Through Creative Math, Inspiring Messages and Innovative Teaching. I wish everyone would read these articles (or get the book) because they include ways of thinking about and speaking to your students that can make an impactful difference in their attitude and achievement. Two quotes stood out for me:

“If students are placed into ability groups, even if they have innocuous names such as the red and blue groups, students will know, and their mindsets will become more fixed. ”

and

“’I am giving you this feedback because I believe in you.’”

Next and last, but certainly not least, is this gem of a find from Control Alt Achieve that will keep you busy learning and doing for quite a while. 23 GSuite Ideas to Excite Your Students About Learning with Eric Curts. This is a podcast by Vicki Davis where Curts of Control Alt Achieve shares different ways you can use the Google Suite of apps with your students including: “Choose your own adventure stories”, blackout poetry, tangram shape drawings, and more. You can listen to the podcast here.  Davis links to all resources but I have included  the Slides resources here, the Drawings resources here, the Docs resources here, and the Sheets resources here. Open when you have time to appreciate- there is A LOT to see!

Why Not Now?! #IMMOOC

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If you look at history, innovation doesn’t come just from giving people incentives; it comes from creating environments where their ideas can connect. ~Steven Johnson

I am excited to further my learning by participating in the Innovator’s Mindset Massive Open Online Course with George Couros and have chosen to respond to the following prompt:

Why is innovation in education so crucial today?

When I was a child- back in the ’70s and ’80s, I can remember the excitement of getting the yearly supplement to the World Book Encyclopedia. It was green and off-white leather and it had the year on the spine. I sat them proudly on my bookshelf next to the red and navy encyclopedias that went from A-Z. I literally had the world in my hands- or at least on the bookshelf in my bedroom- and I could learn anything I wanted, when I wanted by just opening the right volume.

Flash forward to the college years when I was first introduced to ERIC microfiche (and by the way, pulling that word out of my head is so mind-boggling since if you asked me tomorrow what I did over the weekend I would probably not remember) and I thought my head would explode from all the available material at my disposal anytime I stepped foot in Olin library.

Today, we don’t have to wait for the yearly installments to arrive, nor do we have to step foot in a library (don’t get me wrong, I love libraries because I love books) if we have an internet connection and a smart phone, tablet, or other mobile device; the information is literally at our fingertips (or thumbs depending on how you type!) whenever we want to learn.

And yet, in many schools, students are waiting- waiting for the bell to tell them when to go to and leave from class; waiting for the teacher to tell them it’s ok to take out their devices; waiting to get the assignment; and waiting to be called on to answer a question.

In some schools, even those where students are given laptops and often have other devices in their hands, those devices are not necessarily being used to their potential- to connect students with others, to share learning, discuss topics, to create for authentic audiences and real feedback, to learn more.

And this is why innovation in education is so crucial today. It is because students and teachers have these capabilities in their laps that what happens in schools needs to be more innovative. Educational systems may have enough physical space for each student to learn, but may be lacking in space for innovation. Teachers and students in schools today need space and time to think differently, think creatively, think innovative-ly. They need time and space to collaborate and the freedom to do so. They need to be applauded for taking risks, lifted up when they fail, and encouraged to reflect on what went wrong, what went right, and how both additional efforts and reflection time can help them improve.

Innovation is not necessarily a lab or makerspace in the building. While those physical spaces can lead to innovations, finding passions, and creative expression, it is not the actual space but what happens in it and around it. What are the mindsets of those spaces. Do they allow for and encourage freedom of expression, student choice, risk-taking, collaborating, reflecting? Do they encourage students and teachers to look at things and think about how they can use or do things differently? Do they inspire a love of learning and give them space to be curious and then follow that curiosity wherever it may lead?

As Couros says in his Introduction,

We need to change what schools look like for our students so we can create new, relevant opportunities for them– for their future and for today.

We are at a time of constant change, upgrading, making things happen in the world outside of school, we need to make things happen inside the world of schools, and the time for this to happen is now.

photo credit: hehaden Times square via photopin (license)

Math Mindset

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Success in math does not depend on how many answers you know, but by what you do when you don’t know the answer.

~ author unknown

This week’s focus is on math. It just so happened that the tabs and things that I clicked on all happened to have that common denominator (pun intended!). Get ready- lots of great resources within . . .

It all started with this guest post by John Stevens on Matt Miller’s blog titled, “How to Assign Challenges Instead of Math Homework”. Intrigued? Of course I was and so I opened it right up and found several links to sites like this that go beyond computation towards more conversations about math. Curious? Then click.

I’m sure at one time or another whether in your classroom or even your own home, you have heard a child say,”I’m bad at math.” In this article, Sheila Tobias, Carol Dweck and others discuss how to respond when one of your children says this.

Of course what would be a post of mine without some mention of Alice Keeler. In this article from MindShift KQED News (if you don’t follow them, you should), you’ll see how Jo Boaler has influenced Keeler and how Keeler uses the GSuite tools to enhance math exploration and understanding.

much of traditional math teaching focuses on numerical representations, teachers demonstrating procedures, and memorization, when it would be more effective to try to strengthen connections between the various parts of the brain needed when working on math. ~Jo Boaler

You can see Jo Boaler’s Cue17 keynote, and learn about her site, Youcubed (from my Happy end of school year post). 

While looking for a great quote to share, I stumbled upon this post of Carol Dweck quotes that I think would be great to either print out and hang in your class or read at the start of each day. One of my colleagues (Carole K) has printed different motivational quotes and applied them at each of her students’ tabletops as a subtle reminder to her fifth grade students.

For more fantastic articles and resources, please visit this week’s Shipley PLN Lower & Middle School Edition where you will see posts like this one: “Neverending Problems: Math Tasks That Keep on Giving” ; this one, “How a Strengths-Based Approach to Math Redefines Who is ‘Smart'”; and this one, “Kahoot! Debuts Studio of Curriculum-Aligned Games for K-12″ including a math collection!

photo credit: dullhunk Who needs Pythagoras’ theorem? via photopin (license)

Back to School with a Growth Mindset

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“There is a difference between not knowing and not knowing YET” ~Sheila Tobias

Welcome back to what I hope will be a positive school year for everyone. I have collected some posts that I think will help you make this year of learning in your classroom memorable for you and your students.

First off is a post from esteemed educator, George Couros titled, 5 Questions to Ask Your Students to Start the School Year, one of them being, “What are your strengths and how can we utilize them?” In his post he emphasizes how the impact our experiences with our students helps shape their thoughts and reflections and memories of school. Coming off our school’s recent Positive Psychology/Positive Education retreat, we know that positive psychology is about recognizing that “Other People Matter” and if we keep this at the forefront of our mind, we can hope to positively shape and influence our students’ experiences for the better. This involves how we listen to, respond, speak to, and engage with our students. To see the rest of the questions Couros suggests, click here.

The next is from Khan Academy and it ties in with positive psychology’s emphasis on Growth Mindset. Khan Academy has partnered with PERTS, a Stanford-based research group that includes Carol Dweck, Joe Boaler and others. They have created a series of lessons on growth mindset for students ranging from third through twelfth grade as part of their LearnStorm activities (What is Learnstorm- watch here). Within each of the six growth mindset activities, you will find readings, videos, reflection prompts, and more. You can do the activities one per week over six weeks, or whatever works for your classroom. For more information on how a third grade teacher used the lessons with his classroom, you can watch this recording.

I have posted about this next tool before here and here, but with so many new features as well as the opportunities it affords to learn your students’ stories, thoughts, reflections, and connect with others around the world, it bears mentioning again. Flipgrid is the easiest way to have your students create video responses to your prompts which with the wide array of amazing new features (yes, I have said it again because they are really that great) includes text, video, image, or uploaded document prompts.

The final share is a two-part post on bell-ringer activities from Matt Miller of DITCH Textbook fame. I have previously written about him here and here and several other mentions. In his two-part post he offers 20 digital ways to kick off your class and hook your students into each learning experience to make their learning memorable. Some of my favorite ideas are the QR code on the board, a What If Flipgrid , tweeting for someone, blackout poetry, and s- (to see the rest and figure out what I was about to say, visit 10 digital bell-ringer activities to kickstart class and 10 MORE digital bell ringer activities to kickstart class.

Photo credit: Foter.com

Travel Lightly

114602640First, happy end of school year to those of you who are at or near the end of your term!

Next, I was reading some things online yesterday as I tend to do, and came across a post, “5 New Google Apps You Need to Check Out”. Of course I checked them out and found some fun apps like the Reaction GIFs for Gmail option, the new artificial intelligence sharing options in Google Photos, Google Earth Explorer, and Fact Check by Google News. Because I love the GIFs I added the extension to my Chrome so that while in Gmail I could send along the funny. Not stopping there, I checked out Google Earth Explorer which is a very cool way to visit places around the world while sitting in your classroom or on your sofa. I got sidetracked from making dinner because I was visiting the Western Wall in Israel and Giza and Khufu in Egypt. One click led to another and I ended up on two additional ways of sharing the world with your classroom: Call of Road and Travelistly.

 

I am sharing all of my clicks with you here in this One Tab of Virtual Travel Options for School (and beyond).

Looking for something to read while on these virtual vacations? Check out my Summer Reading List.

Have a great summer!