Gotcha, You’re Late!

I recently read When Grading Harms Student Learning from Edutopia and re-watched Rick Wormeli’s videos Retakes, Redos & Do-Overs Part 1 and Part 2. Both spoke to the idea of the messages we are sending students when we give them only one chance to do something– whether it be a test, paper, or project– and when we give them a zero or points off for turning something in late:

“This project has no value”

“It’s ok if you don’t learn this”

“You’re off the hook”

Doing these things misdirects our purpose. Miller says in his article, “Is grading the focus, or is learning the focus?”

As educators whose mission it is to inspire and encourage a love of learning, foster grit and resilience, and encourage students to have a growth mindset, is this really what we want to be saying?

 

 

 

Think on These

This week I have been spending a lot of time reading and watching videos. What can I say, I am addicted to learning! While I often share tools, tips, and/or tricks, this week I am sharing ideas in the hopes that you too will spend time thinking and imagining, and reimagining.

The first set of articles I am sharing is part of a thoughtful series of exchanges between two different educational leaders who conversed via a series of letters back and forth about School, Education, and of course, Students. The set begins with the Dominic A. Randolph, Head of Riverdale Country School in NYC, asking and writing on, “What is School?”. It is followed by Max Ventilla, CEO and founder of Alt School in San Francisco’s response, “Why is School?”. “How We Learn Best”, “How School’s Should Change”, and “Reimagining School” complete this thought-provoking series. The two speak to technology, engagement, purpose, mindsets, modeling, leadership, cultivating curiosity, passion, perseverance, and curating contexts that foster and allow for independence. The two are quite reflective in their thinking, and begin important conversations that need to be continued.

One click leads to another and so I went to Riverdale’s website to see some of the links that Randolph mentioned, one of which is the Character Lab. Since my school places a high value on our  Character Education SEED program (Social Emotional and Ethical Development), not to mention our forthcoming partnership with the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Education program (you can read the Storify here), I was interested to see what the Character Education program at Riverdale is about.

What I found is a series of videos on character, resilience, growth mindset, and more, beginning with this one from Dr. Martin Seligman from the Grit and Imagination Summit that was held at the University of Pennsylvania this past summer. In his lecture, Seligman speaks to the beneficial effects of Positive Education- teaching well-being to children.

Of course I wanted to see what the summit was about so I Googled it. You can learn more about some of the programs offered here. And, if you want to expand your teaching and continue your learning, take a look at some free courses offered from Penn, you can view them here and here (2 different sets).

If you like that set of posts, then you might consider more from from Bright which features articles on innovation in education.

“Developing the Innovator’s Mindset” is a video from George Couros, an inspiring and innovative educational leader. He was asked to give a keynote for an online conference and spoke about his book, The Innovator’s Mindset. Couros speaks to several things one of which is “innovating inside the box”. We are often encouraged to think outside the box, but for those in schools where there are pressures, initiatives, standards, and other obstacles, Couros suggests being innovative within the box of constraints. We cannot ignore the box but we can think differently within it. Couros gives us numerous other points and ideas to consider in this keynote video that I highly recommend taking the time to watch.

Last is a recent post from Alan November in which he describes his children and the two different types of learning experiences they had while in college.

We are in the midst of a historic transition in education, in which we are providing more options and flexibility in creating learning cultures that significantly raise the expectations of what our students can accomplish.

We now can rethink the allocation of physical space and how courses are scheduled to support various students’ learning styles. What is really exciting is the sense of student empowerment that can emerge from a highly flexible learning design, enabled by a robust digital campus.

Student empowerment, access to content, social tools and online communities are just some of the ways his children’s learning differed though both went to (his son will graduate this spring) top universities. Which one do you think his children say will be “better prepared for the world of work”?

For more great learning, check out this week’s Shipley PLN Lower & Middle School Edition.

Lots of Bang for Your Buck

8700093610Being an educator on Twitter is a daily learning adventure. Each day I find something new to read, try, think about, and share. It is what makes me feel connected to both my virtual and my local pln. It is also part of what motivates me to continue learning.

This week I have four great things to share. While four sounds like a small number, each of the four has hours worth of learning included. It’s a lot of bang for your buck!

The first is an article from one of my favorite thought leaders, Alan November. I have shared many thoughts from previous articles and with each one, I find myself questioning, reflecting, thinking, and rethinking. This article is no different. “Crafting a Vision for the $1,ooo Pencil” challenges us to hold a mirror up to our use of technology and ask ourselves several questions, one of which is, “are we applying new tools to do old work.”  This article is about transformation- using technology to transform teaching and learning, “What have we never done before that technology uniquely enables to enhance teaching and learning?” November offers a framework of six questions that will help educators decide if technology has brought a transformative value to instruction. As always, Alan November gives us a lot to think about.

The next article is from another favorite, the oft-mentioned Alice Keeler. This time it is a guest post on Keeler’s site from another fantastic educator, Shaelynn Farnsworth. In this post Farnsworth suggests six alternatives to traditional reading logs that you can begin using with your students right now that offer your students different ways to engage, celebrate, connect, and share what they are reading.

Speaking of reading, last week the amazing 5th grade teacher Paul Solarz tweeted this link to a video library from the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. If you have ever been to the reading and writing project in person, you know how exciting this is. If you have never been to the TCRWP, then you also know how exciting this is. When I was a self-contained classroom teacher, Lucy Calkins was one of my teaching idols. I read her books, attended her summer workshops, and implemented the reading and writing workshops. I can still remember hearing her speak and asking if as adults, when we finish reading a book, look over to our partner, friend, or spouse and say, “I loved that book so much I am going to make a diorama.” This library of videos is a treasure trove of learning for anyone who implements or wants to implement the reading and writing workshops in their classroom. What you will see are 59 videos and 17 collections of Kindergarten through 8th grade reading and writing videos. These are actual teachers in actual classrooms teaching mini-lessons, doing pre-conferences, and more. There is some serious professional development in this collection! By the way, the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project site is also an incredible resource for educators, students, and families. Just check out the resource and clearinghouse pages to see what I mean.

Last, in terms of collections, this next series of videos put out by Rich Kiker of Kiker Learning, gives you everything you need to get started, use effectively, and feel confident and competent about using Google Classroom. There are 21 step-by-step videos that can take you from “novice to master in no time” so you can begin, or enhance your use of this incredible- and -keeps -getting -better workflow tool from GSuites.

This Week’s Time-Sensitive Exciting Shares

3271558744_148687882f_mI have been collecting some tabs of great things to share this week but you have to act fast as some are time or space limited.

Making Connections

First off is the World Read Aloud Day Skype-a-Thon coming in February. For one day only you and your students can connect with another class (or classes if you can fit them in your schedule) and share a book. This year WRAD has made it even easier to connect– even if for some reason the scheduling will not work for you, you can create a video of your class reading or re-enacting the story and then share it on World Read Aloud Day. If you want to have a virtual face-to-face with another class, you can fill out the registration and the organizers will pair you up with a partner class. Either way, your students can experience the flattening of their classroom walls and let their voices be heard by other children. Time is limited, you have until February 1 to register and sign up to be paired with another class so click here to get started!

There are other ways you and your class can make connections with others. The Flat Connections Global Online Projects for K-12 classes is beginning in February with numerous ways to connect. There is limited space for each project so take a look and sign up.

Voice Your Opinion About Homework

Next are two surveys from Alice Keeler and Matt Miller that invite you to think about homework in two different ways. The first asks you to think about  your views on homework and how homework has impacted your life and that of your students. The second asks what your classroom would look like if you did not give homework. These surveys are an opportunity for you to give pause and think critically about an oft- debated topic and give your opinion.

PBS Learning Media

These next few items are from a favorite resource I love to share and that is PBS Learning Media. PBS Learning Media has standards-based resources for all areas of your curriculum from Pre-k through 12th grade and of course the great series of shows we adults like to watch.

This first resource is for Prek-2 Spanish teachers and it is a series of animated videos that help teach Spanish. The next is Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood which is an animated series for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten children that explores many different topics including social and emotional skills, social interactions, holidays and celebrations, back to school, and more.

Do your have high school students who absolutely love science, can see having a career in science, and would be interested in a mentorship with a university-level research scientist? Well PBS Learning Media and Stand Up to Cancer have opened this year’s Emperor Science Awards, a unique virtual mentoring program that pairs university-level research scientists with high school students, presenting an exciting opportunity for them to explore the world of science, grow their skills, build confidence and conduct rewarding cancer and cancer care research.”  The deadline is March 17 for a June through August 2017 mentorship. Register here.

@rmbyrne shares . . .

The last two shares come from Richard Byrne of Practical Edtech and FreeTech4Teachers. The first is Twisted Wave and is a free, browser-based audio recording and save-to-drive- or Soundcloud editing tool. Not only can you record your voice with Twisted Wave, but you can clip, edit, loop, fade, and save to Drive. The next is a fun take off of the game “Would You Rather” and asks math-based “Would You Rather” questions. This is a great way to bring some discussion and real-world math questions to your math classes. I can see using these as class openers and as ways to bring the real world relevance to your lessons.

 

What I’m Learning Right Now

The new year has been a busy one of learning, growth, and reframing. It started with the Positive Education pilot retreat that I, along with 20 other colleagues, participated in over two days the 2nd week of January. It rekindled my interest in psychology, my first love, that I studied in college and for a time thought that would be my direction. Positive Education falls under the umbrella of Positive Psychology and is grounded in research and evidence on the effects and benefits of positive emotions on health, well-being, and relationships with others. In a nutshell, you can think of it as, “Others Matter”. Intrigued? You can see my notes from the retreat in this Storify.

When I like something, I usually dive in and learn as much about it as I can either through books, workshops, or coursework. Coincidentally, and perhaps a bit of the stars aligning, there was a course from from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in Positive Psychology that was beginning the following week on Coursera. I enrolled and am moving right through it. What I am learning is that we are hard-wired with a negativity bias which was helpful to our early ancestors who needed to be attuned to dangers. Negative emotions “scream” at us whereas positive emotions are more subtle “like a whisper”. The negativity bias makes it harder for us to recognize the positive experiences around us. “Positive experiences are actually more frequent than negative in people’s lives but we need to train ourselves to see them and let those positive events become positive emotions” (Fredrickson).

In addition to the Positive Psychology course I have been reading Dave Burgess’ Teach Like a PIRATE. What I love about this book is that he is blending his knowledge of marketing and his passion for magic and showmanship with his love of teaching. I recognize many of Burgess’ hooks and ideas from two previous courses I took from Wharton through Coursera. TLAP encourages and reminds us as educators that we need to make our content relevant to the students and we need to find ways to make our classes unforgettable so that students want to come to class to learn. It is not enough to just show up and deliver our lessons, we need to find ways to incorporate our passions and our students’ interests into each class so students are engaging with the content in meaningful, memorable ways.

You can read my current notes for both Positive Psychology and Teach Like a PIRATE here in this Storify.

Coming Soon: Classroom-Changing Learning Opportunities

10066382993Beginning Monday, January 9 the HyperDocs girls, Lisa, Sarah, and Kelly, are hosting a one month HyperDocs bootcamp. Learn about planning, designing, building engaging blended lessons for your students so you can free up your time for more classroom interactions. Click here for more information and to sign up.

For those who missed the #DitchSummit during the winter break, for a limited time only, the videos and supporting materials will be available for 1 week beginning January 12th. Click here to subscribe. Watch 1 or 2, or watch them all, but hurry before time runs out!

Rich Kiker of Kiker Learning and the MCIU are hosting four Google Edu classroom and content-specific workshops starting the end of January through the end of February. Great for elementary through secondary education teachers.

Make time for awesome!

Happy New Year of Learning!

75052863082016 came to a close with an inspiring list of educators brought together in what was called #DitchSummit by Matt Miller, author of Ditch That Textbook. As mentioned in my pre-break post, each day between December 18-24 a new video was released along with notes and relevant links.

Speakers I viewed included

  1. Mike Soskil who spoke of the importance of giving students opportunities to solve real problems and making global connections by Skyping or doing the 5-Clue Challenge;
  2. Alice Keeler who discussed homework and asked,”Does homework inspire kids to love learning?”;
  3. Kasey Bell who discussed the creative ways you and your students can be using the GSuite for Education tools (formerly known as Google Apps for Ed) and how GSuite makes it easy for parents to stay connected and informed;
  4. the HyperDocs Girls- Lisa Highfill, Sarah Landis, and Kelly Amick Hilton (while I did not watch this particular presentation, I did watch their recent presentation during Google Edu On Air and they are always worth mentioning);
  5. Paul Solarz who challenged teachers to give over some control to students for a student-led classroom, and allow our students the opportunity to learn from mistakes. Additionally, Solarz talked about beginning with the end in mind, part of The Leader in Me program.
  6. John Spencer who wrote the book, LAUNCH and discussed making and creativity using the LAUNCH cycle, a design-thinking process in your classroom; and
  7. Dave Burgess , the original Teaching-Pirate, who talked about teaching with passion, making our content sizzle, and creating a classroom our students want to enter each day.

Each speaker shared their passion for educating children and will motivate you to be the best you can be so that your students can be the best they can be.

These days I use Twitter for the dual purpose of taking notes and sharing information and then pull it all together using Storify. You can view my Storify here.

Happy New Year!