Back to School Learning Opportunities

Photo by Rajeev Mog Chowdhary on

I hope you have all had and are continuing to have a great summer!

With the start of school around the corner, there are many learning opportunities to be had for all areas of the curriculum. Here are just a few to get you started on a great year ahead.

Project-Based Learning

This opportunity popped in to my inbox this morning so I wanted to pass it along to you. It is a FREE, ONLINE workshop for teachers  (and school leaders, curriculum coordinators) about turning units and experiences into Project-Based Learning. You can check out the email below and click this link to register. A. J. Juliani will be leading this tonight.

Differentiation from Day ONE

“How can district leaders and educators make decisions that promote equity, inclusion, and learning for every student?”

Newsela and Ed Current offer monthly webinars throughout the year. You can read about the one I attended on Universal Design for Learning in this post. In this webinar, you will hear from Dr. Rhonda Bondie Director of Professional Learning at Harvard Graduate School of Education and how you can begin differentiating from the first day of school. Click here to register. Can’t attend? Not to worry, register then you will get the link to the recording and the materials!

Fall History Courses with Gilder Lehrman

You know the amazing resources you find at Gilder Lehrman, and these fall online history courses are yet another reason why you should check it out.

All NEW Flipgrid

You loved Flipgrid before, you will love it even more now! Check out the new features like whiteboard mode, photo overlay, and more.

Education V. Learning

I just read this post by Andrew Barras, aka “crudbasher”, and was inspired to write this comment, which, turned into a post:

In his post, “Crudbasher” said, “Too often we confuse education with learning. Education is a process, learning is what we hope happens during that process. It is that simple. We keep adding more and more things to the process but the learning isn’t improving. I believe that is because the purpose of the public education system is not to have children learn things, it is to sustain itself,”

I was nodding my head in agreement up to the last 3 words. I think he is completely correct that there is a difference between education and learning; just because the students are in the class does not mean that they are learning. The same way if two people are having a conversation and one of them is doing the talking, it doesn’t mean the other person is actually hearing what is being said, even if they are listening.

I think the problem with some (I won’t say all, that would be over-generalizing) public education is that there are too many constraints put on the teachers that prevent them from teaching so the students will remember it and use it once the test is over. Too often assignments are given that have little purpose other than to satisfy a need for a grade and once it is handed in, the teacher sees it, returns it to the student at some later date (making it completely irrelevant by the time it comes back) and then it is tossed in to the garbage (again, not every public school and not every public school teacher because there are many excellent ones out there who are doing exciting, problem/project-based learning with their students, but this is not the majority).

Additionally, often what is being tested and assessed does not involve critical thinking on the part of the students, rather the working memory of that student. Often times teachers and schools are using programs and books that have pacing schedules included leaving them no time to “play around” or spend time on a unit until it is mastered. I have heard teachers say that if they spend more time, they will get behind. How does that help the student learn the material? Of course there are some students who will get things the first time they are explained, but what about the others, the ones who need it explained differently, the ones who need more time? They are being “educated” because the information is being presented to them, but are they learning it? Could they explain it? WIll they even remember it next week or even next year?

I suppose the ones being sustained are the companies who create the books that the schools use. They are the ones who say that a math lesson should take x amount of time if it is done according to the plans.

It’s unfortunate that what is being assessed as “learning” and “education” often have nothing to do with each other.
photo credit: ailatan via photo pin cc


This past Saturday my friend and colleague @Wendye40 hopped in my car and drove up the turnpike to the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, NY for the TEDxNYED conference with the theme Connected. Instructed. Created. After some technical glitches and a short rewind we were ready to go with the first presenter. I was a little upset (actually more than a little upset, a lot distressed) because the wifi that was supposed to connect us to the world and allow us to be able to tweet and share was not strong at all in the  theater and was not even showing up as an option. I sat in my seat growing increasingly agitated as I watched my 3g spin and spin because I like to tweet during these events and I like to see what everyone else is saying. Unfortunately I was going to have to take my notes using pen and the lovely composition style program they provided and share my thoughts later. So, here I am two days later getting my thoughts together, ready to share what I learned this past weekend.

Presenter 1: Jenny Buccos (@globalcitiz)

  • Global citizenship is a critical 21st Century skill
  • Global education has mainly been foods, fashion, entertainment
  • What does it mean to be a good global citizen?
  • Everyone is a global citizen but some people feel they are only a citizen of the country they reside
  • You can’t opt out of humanity
  • Technology is erasing geographical borders

Presenter 2: Jose Luis Vilson (@TheJLV)

  • How can we as teachers and educators use our own voice to elevate our profession
  • Teacher voice should be nuanced, distinguished, powerful
  • We need to speak up and speak out
  • What do I need to do to advance my voice
  • We need to be advocates for our own profession (see related article)

Presenter 3: Juliette LaMontagne (@Jlamontagne)

  • Students need to be part of designing solutions to problems rather than just learn about a problem
  • The desire to learn by doing
  • Designing solutions to big global challenges
  • Project Breaker- unique projects organized around a challenge

Presenter 4: Jim Groom (@jimgroom)

  • We need to get away from crisis mode of education and invest in what it means to create and produce and be a citizen of the world

Presenter 5: Sree Sreenivasan (@sree)

  • “Almost everyone will miss almost everything you do on social media”
  • With regard to social media, we should always be listening, not just broadcasting
  • We need to marry the digital and the physical to have anything done; if you want it to be successful, bring together the physical and the virtual
  • Hashtags amplify what you are doing
  • Social Media success formula

Presenter 6: Jamie Cloud (@cloudinstitute)

  • “Educating for the future we want with the brain in mind”
  • “Most people make sense to themselves” – Dr. Steven Jones
  • We get stuck in our own thinking
  • Why is it so easy to get stuck in our own thinking: fear, change is difficult, how much our status, identity and finances are attached to the old model
  • Results of being stuck in our thinking: “believing is seeing”, we ignore or can’t read the feedback

Presenter 7: Chris Emdin (@cchrisemdin)

  • Hip-hop based education
  • Using your Heart Inspiration and Power to Heal Oppressive Pedagogy

Presenter 8: Adam Bellow (@adambellow)

  • Passion and dedication can be infectious
  • You are the one you can control
  • Question the rules of the system and change it
  • “Fixing” education implies it is broken implying it once worked
  • The problem is the way we see school
  • “McDonaldization” of Education”- now we stuff kids full of information rather than having them make stuff (at least during the industrial revolution, people made stuff)
  • We give kids boundaries of DONT’S rather than tell them what they CAN and SHOULD do
  • Problems have not changed, the medium has (instead of passing notes, kids are texting)
  • Come up with questions then figure out how to learn it
  • Every learner should have an IEP (individualized education plan)

The day was running late and since we had a 2 hour drive back, we needed to hit the road prior to the last few presenters but overall I came away with an understanding that education is no longer “one size fits all” and as teachers we need to harness the power of social media tools and other web 2.0 platforms that will allow our students to connect, share and collaborate with other  people around the world so that students can be the architects of their own learning.