Choice, Voice, & Assessment

This week there is a lot to share so I am going to jump right in and get started.

Read and Write Choice Board While many of you have your students reading and writing, how often are you letting your students make choices about how they are going to share their understanding of what they have read? This Choice Board offers nine tech tools/apps students that allow you to differentiate for your learners.

This next one is a BAM Radio podcast, “The Most Practical Ways to Get Students to Lead Their Learning” with Larry Ferlazzo, Yvette Jackson, Veronica McDermott, Rebecca Mieliwocki, and Gallit Zvi. This podcast speaks about using options like Genius Hour for bridging the gap between a student’s passion and the expectation for learning, and learning about students’ interests by asking them this question,

“If you didn’t have to be in school, what would you be doing?”

Alan November is an absolute favorite of mine as you probably know if you have been reading my posts. These next two shares are from his most recent articles Assessment for Learning  and Digital Citizenship Lessons from a 9-Year-Old With 18,000 Twitter Followers. In Assessment for Learning November asks,

“What if we could empower our teachers to turn assessment into a process of learning instead of a focus on measurement?”

He shares examples from Harvard down through middle school where the teachers and professors allowed their students to take assessments twice. Depending on the classroom example, teachers either had their students take the assessments on their own first and then take it again in small groups where they could work together and discuss how they arrived at an answer; or they take it in groups first, learn from each other, then take a similar assessment on their own. I think you will want to try this innovative way of assessing in your classrooms too.

In Digital Citizenship Lessons from a 9-Year-Old you will learn about Olivia Van Ledtje’s love of reading and how she shares that love and passion through her vlogs (video blog posts) and more recently, her Twitter account @thelivbits. You and your students should check out what she is doing and think about how they could share their interests too.

George Couros is another favorite educator who recently shared this post, “What Could Go Right?” Often times we are in situations or conversations with colleagues or students and coming up with a laundry list of reasons why this idea or suggestion will not work. We listen to the negatives that are shouting at us in the background- or even the ones who are speaking to them out loud- instead of thinking, what could go right. Couros posits,

“We need to make the positives so loud that the negative becomes almost impossible to hear.”

Many teachers love using Kahoot! for formative assessment and review, but how many are using it to teach or introduce new content? DITCH That Textbook’s Matt Miller explains exactly how to go about this in his post, “Teach With Kahoot!: Go beyond review with the Blind Kahoot! What is a Blind Kahoot! you ask? Check out this video (which you will also find in Matt’s blog post).

Lastly, I recently started using Flipgrid and participated in the first #FlipgridFever chat on Twitter this past week. “What is Flipgrid,” you ask? You can check out a recent post. There were so many great ideas being shared including using Flipgrid to practice a target language and connect with other classrooms around the world using their global grid connections. Teachers, get ready to make those student voices heard!

For more great articles, videos, and posts, check out this week’s Shipley PLN Lower & Middle School Edition.

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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.

It’s Time for (#November)Change

4515043369_311a0e502b_mYesterday I had the good fortune to be an attendee at another ItsLearning webinar featuring Alan November. I pretty much jump at any chance I can get to listen to or read something by this great educator.

This week’s webinar was titled, “Putting Pedagogy in the Driver’s Seat”. The big idea and take away from this is that we need to redefine the role of the learners and as teachers we need to shift control to our students. As teachers, we are often the ones who design and deliver problems for our students to solve; we need to teach our students how to ask the right questions, how to find and design their own problems to solve, and how to self-assess.

You can view the Storify here, then we can talk about how we are going to begin letting go of control.

photo credit: Gear Shift, Seat Ibiza (2005) via photopin (license)

“Who Owns the Learning?”

image from novemberlearning.com

I recently read Alan November’s book, Who Owns the Learning and, of course, was inspired again, by what I read. I have heard Alan November speak live and as I read, heard his easy-mannered voice come through each word on the page. Many highlights later, I thought I would share some with you.

1. The most successful way to teach students innovation and creativity is to embrace those elements in our own methods.

It goes without saying that if you want your students (or teachers) to do something, you should do it as well. You may start out faking your way through it and that’s fine, but shift begins with you. Model what you preach.

2. Beyond earning a grade, many of our students see no higher purpose in their work efforts.

If students work has no purpose, if it is not being shared, then it is being wasted (IMHO). Let the students work have purpose, let it mean something. Let it leave the classroom.

3. Simply adding technology-the thousand-dollar pencil- to the current highly prescribed school culture won’t help very much.

The culture and the mindset has to change as do the methods.

4. Successful implementation of technology into K-12 education is much more complex than providing students with access to computers and moving content to online courses. Instead, we have to teach students to use information and communication technologues to innovate, solve problems, create, and be globally connected.

Students need to learn how to learn, how to connect with others, how to be globally literate and digitally literate. Implementing technology needs to go beyond substitution. It needs to lead to change in how we view the world and our place in it. Students need to see themselves as active contributors to their learning and to the world.

5. Essential questions for educators: Who owns the learning? How much autonomy can we afford to give our students? How much purpose can we design into school work? And how can we design learning environments that lead to mastery?

6. Publish student work to a global audience– We should expect all students to create knowledge.

Who benefits from a student’s work when it goes from the binder to the teacher to the student to the trashcan? Let students work become valuable; share their learning with others beyond the classroom.

7. In adopting a new educational model, superintendents and principals must lead the way.

Many people resist change because it is scary and uncomfortable, especially if you have been doing something one way for a long time.  If principals and administrators are learning along side the teachers, and modeling what they are expecting from the teachers, it becomes a shared experience, a culture of learning and evolving and growth.

8. Superintendents and principals must lead the cultural evolution of education by establishing an expectation that supports self-directed professional growth and more collaboration among teachers, not just within their school community, but globally as well.

Schools are not just places of learning for students, there must be the expectation that teachers (and leaders) will continue to learn and grow and evolve. With Twitter and educational conversations and conferences happening on a daily basis, teachers need to be encouraged and expected to engage in self-selected and self-directed learning opportunities. Professional learning does not need to happen only on in-service days. At the same time, in-service days should be developed with input from the teachers and staff on what they want to learn.

9. While teachers remain responsible for ensuring that the curriculum is covered, student contributions to the learning experiences deepen their understanding of curriculum content.

There is no longer the need for students to wait for the teacher to deposit information; students need to actively engage in their own learning and understanding.

10. What do schools accomplish by blocking students from learning how to use social media as tools for learning?

Students need to be able to learn after they leave your classroom and school. Teaching them how to use social media to network and develop their own PLN allows them to learn from people who share the same interests or who have a different knowledge base as well as a different zip code or time zone. Not to mention the ability to learn and practice good digital citizenship.

These are only the first 10; there will be more to come. If you have read the book, I’m wondering what stood out to you. What did you highlight or find interesting, intriguing or motivating?