Saturday, June 30, 2007

Educational Independence Day...

Scott McCleod recently posted on his Dangerously Irrelevant blog that:

Many of our school leaders (principals, superintendents, central office administrators) need help when it comes to digital technologies. A lot of help, to be honest. As I’ve noted again and again on this blog, most school administrators don’t know

  • what it means to prepare students for the 21st century;
  • how to recognize, evaluate, and facilitate effective technology usage by students and teachers;
  • what appropriate technology support structures (budget, staffing, infrastructure) look like or how to implement them;
  • how to utilize modern technologies to facilitate communication with internal and external stakeholders;
  • the ways in which learning technologies can improve student learning outcomes;
  • how to utilize technology systems to make their organizations more efficient and effective;
  • and so on…
I made the same point at Edubloggercon --in order to change a system, you MUST have support from the leaders. I am fortunate in my district to have leaders who understand what it means to prepare students, and are starting to work towards creating a vision. I think (as does Scott) that this message would be much louder, and much clearer if many voices were shouting...
He urges edubloggers to blog about effective leadership Wednesday, July 4th.
Use the tag schooltechleadership--Scott has a whole list of prompts to spark your thinking.... It takes more than just a FEW DROPS to fill a bucket, just like it will take more than a few educators to change the face of education. Yes Dave, we are still in the minority as edubloggers, but as shown by your statistics (and the amount of twittering since NECC) I do believe that our voices are being heard. If you don't blog, comment on someone else's blog, track the conversations, pass them on to your district administrators. I urge you if you have a blog to take this opportunity on July 4th to reflect on the importance of leadership.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

What ARE the ESSENTIAL questions....

Still reflecting on everything I learned at NECC.

One thing that was brought up on Tuesday at a meeting for PA educators at NECC, someone (and I am sorry I can't remember who) mentioned that the one thing that really stood out for them from one of the sessions he attended said that Of the 5 questions who, what, when, where, why... 4 of them you can google—the only one you can’t is WHY--Well this has been rattling around in my head ever since.

I think I am so passionate about changes in education because I was a different learner in school. The only class in HS that I ever struggled with was the one where I was only asked to recall information. Read, write, memorize...YUCK because I was looking for the explanations, the exceptions to the rules. I think about my own small children, almost every time they ask a question it is almost always followed up with "why mommy?" Yet as they move on in school somewhere along the road the "why" gets replaced with a need to cover content. What gets lost is the idea that perhaps the content would be learned BETTER if kids were given the REQUIRED to get to the why.

And when reviewing all of my notes I thought about how Alan November said we spend too much time on how and not enough on the when and what and WHY. He spoke about how we shouldn’t be teaching HOW to podcast but spending more time talking about when and what to podcast. In my notes, I thought about how kids then could be using those podcasts to answer the WHY question. November's session will be webcast ( but wasn't up at the time of this post. I will definitely go back and review this webcast as he offered a lot of good things to think about when changing systems, getting kids to the why...
Need to keep that in mind when creating a plan for tech integration..

Constructivist Teaching With Technology: Learning With Laptops

I have made a promise to myself that was going to try to do less live blog note-taking and more reflective blogging. Chris Lehman said to me today that he has gathered enough "stuff" here for MONTHS of thoughtful blogs and like he, I need time to reflect on it. Kurt Paccio took some good notes on his blog so I will let you look at those...

My thought of the day comes from a presentation I went to by the Arapahoe HS teachers led by Karl Fisch--of Did you Know fame...The newest version of his PowerPoint is on YouTube and even if you saw version 1, it is worth seeing this version. AND David Warlick of the LandMark Project. I watched as a team of teachers shared the process, the successes, the failures of creating a constructivist model. They shared examples, spoke passionately, and really made the walls of their school transparent. Transparency in the classroom...what a risk they are taking opening the doors of their school to the world. Think about what a paradigm shift this must be. And all with just 2 classroom carts of laptops...2 carts...known by the WORLD!!!!! How can they be SO successful....
Professional Development---THEY don't focus on the technology, while they'd LOVE to have it, the focus is on shifting from a teacher centered model to a learner center model. I listened to David Warlick saying the same thing...He actually suggested that we STOP INTEGRATING TECHNOLOGY????? If we are to come to a conclusion, it is not that we need to integrate technology.
Instead of integrating technology, we must INTEGRATE LITERACY—we need to think about what are the basic skills the kids need to be ready for their information landscape…the technology will come along—but not because we are putting their hands on machine. These machines are the pencil paper of their time, these are the tools of their time.

Two Things we know
1. We are preparing kids for an unpredictable future therefore the BEST thing we can do is teach them to teach themselves

2. Nature of Information has changed therefore we MUST change how we define literacy

These 2 ideas can be merged by beginning to think in terms of LEARNING LITERACY—they will be learning for the rest of their lives and THESE are the things that we NEED to start to teach...
Learning literacy...preparing kids for their what a concept

Monday, June 25, 2007

Looking for Global Partners

One of the CFF teachers with whom I worked this past year and I spoke at the end of the year about his desire to create a "global issues" course in our HS next year. The vision is to choose some GLOBAL THEMES and have kids from around the world to have peer-peer "conversations" about them...So one of my themes for this year's NECC was to investigate global opportunities. I signed up for a session today and when I walked in and saw a room full of iMacs, I KNEW I would not be disappointed :) This session was done by some apple distinguished educators. Click HERE for the wikispace they have created.
Global Collaborative Resources
MA314 Classroom Innovations Series: Teaching and Learning in a Global Context [Workshop : Hands-on]

Julene Reed, St. Georges Independent School with Lucy Gray
Monday, 6/25/2007, 8:30am–11:30am; OMNI International A
Learn how to use technology and online resources to provide structured experiences so students deepen their understanding of the world as they explore environments outside the classroom.

They also had a handout with some great resources for finding global partners and projects.
Rock Our World
The GLOBE Project
My Wonderful World
Global SchoolNet Foundation
One World Youth Project
Jane Goodall Institute
Roots & Shoots
Global Voices
Global Learning
Kids World
Kids Around the World

I know as we sit down to plan in September we will use some of these resources. If you are interested in becoming a partner in our global issues course, please let me know...
OH and if you have any ideas about what ISSUES we should think about...should it be up to the kids...are the issues we are concerned about in the US even ISSUES in other areas of the world...the opportunities...

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Raising test scores with 21st Century Skills

Wow...the title of this session is every administrator's DREAM. How can we do BOTH.
Ian Jukes will tell you exactly how and if you EVER get a chance to hear him speak, I would highly recommend it. If you are in charge of curriculum in your district you absolutely must take a look at the handouts page he has put together.
He started his session by telling us that his job is not to educate, irritate...give swift kick in your assumptions and looking at things from a different point of view. He talked about how educators have an unconscious mindset for what education should be...and quoted Lou Salza who said it is "easier to change the course of history than to change a history course…" TTWADI—that’s the way we’ve always done it. Pervasive unconscious way we do things and his societal examples were astounding. Having small children, I really connected with the analogy he made of parents teaching child how to walk independently...they continue to try and fail until they finally get it right. Yet even when they are failing, we encourage them until they do succeed. Why is it that we know intuitively that we need to prepare kids for independence and yet we continue to create a culture of dependence in our schools?

But he didn't just talk about the problems. He also gave some solutions. He said we need to start to plan with the end in mind. According to Dale's Cone of Learning we remember only 10% of what we read 20% of what we hear 30 % of what we see but 90 % of what we do. His idea was to use a 4 D approach: Design, Define, Develop, Debrief.

Here are some of my notes on the approach:
1. Define: have you ever given a kid an assignment and gotten back something TOTALLY different from what you expect: ready fire aim they need to know exactly what they need to know before they go out to do it. At the define stage, the kids need to identify what skills they need to complete task
• Need to define in performance terms
• Must know before they begin how that performance is going to be assessed. Determined in advance. Tell me what you think I just asked you to do…define it in performance terms
2. Design: Have you ever done a garden without thinking through it? Providing a step by step plan in advance—prevents wasted effort and a logical strategy. In the design stage things look good. Ask kids to come up with a plan in advance: Might be working in community, parents, internet…doesn’t matter WHO they learn from as long as they learn it—they have been raised in a culture of dependency—unconsciously they feel that their assessment should be from decontextualized source—if you are not going ot lecture me, how am I going to get help—instead of TELLING them what to do, I am creating a dialogue—
• Determine what needs to be done
• Determine the skills you need to do it

3. Develop: DO IT—put plan into action. Put paper into action. Kids asked to create a real life product. This is NOT a linear process—when we design a project there are always hiccups, always problems. It is EXACTLY like the writing process—we ask them to apply what they learn to perform THE END PRODUCT is important, but in order to improve the product you have to reflect on the process

4. Debrief: Debug CANEI constant and never ending improvement. Right now focus is on the product of learning, not the process of learning. In real life the responsibility of work happens long after the product…to prepare them for their future (not our comfort zone) need to foster independence and self reflection: What was learned, how was it learned, what were the obstacles, what would I do differently. If focus is only on the end product,
Job is not look smart—shift responsibility of learning from me to them
When kids grad from HS, they shouldn’t need us anymore

We HAVE to have the opportunity to FAIL in school there is no success without failure. There is no BIG success without BIG failure….Edison failed 1,000 times when making light bulbs rather than focusing on each attempt, he now knew 1000 ways how NOT to make a light bulb.

I thought the interaction....the how can we do this in OUR schools was the best part of the session. So let's hear it, how CAN we do this in our schools.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

We teach KIDS not CONTENT

This is the philosophy of Science Leadership Academy (SLA) in Philadelphia. I had the opportunity to hear Chris Lehman speak about what fundamental changes need to happen in schools based on the trends of web 2.0. In an open forum, the following points were made:

We finally have the tools to realize Dewey’s dream=they are available…do we all have them…? If so, what are the top 2-3 structures that need to change?
These are the words / ideas of the many fantastic minds in the room…These are my notes…thoughts from around the room

• Time: Change how we use our time: Streamline paperwork, give teachers time to adopt new things. Cant do it on top of already packed curriculum
• Use data differently
o What we collect
o The way we collect
o The way we use

• Planning has to change: can’t just start a blog—expectations won’t be met
• Need more models of that kind of planning. 5 point lesson plan doesn’t fit school2.0
• Teacher attitudes not only about the structure of the day, but the structure of the year: Jump into school year rowing as fast as you can without the pre-preparation—paid teacher time during summer, end of year, mid year. ONLINE CAN BE HUGE WITH THIS…C Lehman met with teachers 1 ½ hours in back yard then online in moodle—weekly chats, live talk then threads etc…When we break down the walls of the schools, need to think who we can invite in: F Institute Wed pm… every week have time to meet and plan—be creative with common planning time

• Vision of Principal: Help learning
• CURRICULUM: Spiral Curriculum needs to be ocneected UBD curriculum planning tool
• GRADING: Stop using grades and grade books as weapons against children: learning and starting and stopping
• Location: physical location? Does it need to happen in building—What about the layout—want starbucks layout
• Role of teacher / student: Break down the wall between students and teachers—parent expectations & student expectation

Start in kindergarten
Squarely on our shoulders teachers being willing to learn from students
Tell the kids that we don’t have all the answers
Starts with vision
Can we create a school that is different for each student—end user experience—if you get out of
1:1 laptop initiative so kids have equity home / school

Part of school 2.0 is we teach KIDS before we teach subjects
How do you evaluate teacher performance? Admin in every class every day…no evaluation of lesson plans Goals based assessment
Not using evaluation as weapons
Teacher learning must = student learning
George Lucas site…Sherman oaks elementary school…time is built in every day to review what you learn
Connect with the parents: Schools have been black boxes for years if you enter a students id # in moodle, you get a list of HW, can see website, announcements,
If you make your school transparent, parents will get involved 63 % of kids on free and reduced lunch—95 % have computer access…when told parents progress reports are ONLY available online they came flooding for tech help…
In SLA don’t make available through tech as they want the teachers to come in the more we can do when use the tools: we track attendance on line, hw,
The more we can teach….
More we can get the UPPER ADMIN to blog & put themselves out there…

What is the WORST consequence of your BEST idea…what will happen if you let kids blog? what if we don’t disable ichat? You tell me…

What makes an effective international project?

What makes an effective international project?
This was the topic of the first session I attended this afternoon at the EdubloggerCon. I was really excited for this one as I had contact with both Vicki Davis (who skyped into my PETE& C session this February) and Julie Lindsay (who commented on our Latin American Wiki

Vicki Davis is a 10th grade introduction to computer science teacher in rural Westwood GA
At Vicki’s school…Curriculum is research / knowledge based --genuine assessment—she has given up 250 question exams in favor of project based learning.

Vicki Davis and Julie Lindsay connected through k-12 Online Conference last year. Vicki ran online teacher wiki workshop. She talked about having her students read The World is Flat
CQ + EQ > IQ
That’s “Curiosity Quotient” plus “Passion Quotient” is greater than “Intelligent Quotient.”

After the conference, Julie emailed Vicki to say “I am on the other side of this flat world...let's connect our classrooms and talk about it…” and that was how it all began. They wanted to make the project wikicentric. Looked at tools--how they would link classes together, what would be the best tools. Structured the project so that there was ongoing and regular communication throughout. Individual and shared work--assessment would be based on the shared work, but still
They were experiencing the trends and writing about the trends at the same time.

The next step was the Horizon Project
Studied what college education is going to look like in the next 3-5 years. 5 classrooms, 55 students, whole new level of complexity in communications. ie kids need to respond to emails when they are sent. They established a project manager to manage the teams.
If we continue to allow our students to be ethnocentric--thinking that US is the center of the universe, we need to teach them to collaborate and build bridges with these students in other areas of the world

These students : in their classrooms: know how to tackle problems—won state literary competitions, the students were achieving new goals—I was really impressed with how much these students had achieved.
The discussion then moved
What defines an effective international project?
Consistency with both sides
Widen world for rural students
Make administrators aware of trends
Rethink stereotypes & communication: gaming
Must be part of curriculum: cultural awareness… NEED to be aware of it, see world through one another’s eyes

I thought it was interesting that Vicki commented that —while classroom is homogeneous IN the classroom= diverse because of the partners she has created
The attendees were a very diverse group and came up with amazing ideas
  • GenYes
  • Have to have hooks…
  • Clearly defined objectives and assessements
Discipline: if you don’t have discipline in your classroom, you have no business being involved in a global collaborative project
And this was just session 1….

We talked about PROJECT BASED LEARNING and how defined curriculum is putting a damper on initiatives—how can we work these initiatives into the existing curriculum.
On a final note…the comment was made…
For a democracy our school system looks very communistic…
Your thoughts?


So I made it to luggage unfortunately :)
I just HAD to get to Edublogger proconference and I am SO GLAD I did. Will Richardson, Steve Dembo, Jeff Utecht, Chris Craft, almost my entire blogroll in the same room.

I got to attend 2 sessions this afternoon: Roundtable discussions...tough topics

Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis talking about what makes a successful international project...
Chris Lehman examining what we need to change about the "structures" of school 2.0...

Am furiously typing notes and PROMISE to get them up in less time than I last blogged.
Until then... check out the schedule on the wiki to see what you are missing

Boy I have missed this :)