Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Balanced Intentions

The calendar has now flipped to August and teachers are getting ready to return to school. As I reflect back on my early teaching career, I remember spending many hours planning amazing lessons, but not as much time thinking about the people I would meet. As I became a more veteran teacher, I realized that the time at the start of the school year was better spent getting to know my students and investing in building relationships. This school year, I challenge all of us to intentionally focus time on the learner. Push off some of the early time dedicated for content to connect with students. Research tells us that you will make that time back in effectiveness with the relationships you build. This strategy holds true for administrators as well, as the relationships we build at the start of the year will offer us insights into the student experience as the year progresses. Once the school year gets started, all educators should consider following the example of Karen Ritter, assistant principal at East Leyden High School, who followed a student through his day to see school from a student's perspective. My grandfather was famous for saying, "we show people what we value by where we spend our time." I think we can all demonstrate our values by spending more intentional time this year with students on our way to improving learning.

Cross Posted from Technology and Learning E-News

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Start Getting Ready for Next Year with #GoOpen

We are finally reaching a point in schools where the divides between students, devices, and connectivity are closing. One of the last divides to close is easy access to instructional resources as many schools still use outdated, static, and heavy textbooks. With the onset of easy-to-use tools like Google Classroom for distribution of content, teachers need to be on the lookout for easily distributable open resources. Summer is the ideal time to start pulling some of this material together. Phil Lacey has pulled together acatalog of many online repositories where teachers can get started. One of my favorites is CK12 which is now easy to share with students using Google Classroom (here are instructions). For schools looking to move in this direction check out the #GoOpen resources provided by the U.S. Department of Education. Here, John King explains: "Openly licensed educational resources can increase equity by providing all students, regardless of zip code, access to high-quality learning materials that have the most up-to-date and relevant content." As educators, our job is to remove barriers and #GoOpen is working to break down one of the most ingrained curricular divides in schools.

Cross Posted from Tech&Learning eNews

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Community Crossovers

I never even considered. We have seen the devices become the primary computers in homes that never had computers, which has introduced younger students to computers and allowed parents to use computers for tasks like applying online for jobs. Our 1-1 program has also offered our students the chance to become amazing technology leaders through their work with our student-run helpdesks. One of the challenges this brings to us as a staff is providing "staff development" for our students. As a result, we host a Student Technology Leadership Summit to allow students to build their skills and share with their peers. I have also seen the benefits of 1-1 in a Cub Scout troop I help lead, where all students are from a 1-1 school. One of the badges involves building a computer game. Because every kid has his own device running Scratch, my kitchen table will become a computer lab. Sometimes, the unexpected extracurricular outcomes are as great as those we see in our classrooms.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Becoming a Change Agent


As we move into a new era of ESSA, we must take lessons learned from the disassembling of NCLB. The past few decades have focused on standards, accountability, and higher level thinking in education. The common visualization used to legitimize these goals has been the pyramid of Bloom's Taxonomy. Bloom's TaxonomyBut, under NCLB, schools have focused on only one of the three domains of learning in Bloom's Taxonomy: Cognitive. What about the other two domains of learning, Psychomotor and Affective? How have educators reached the mind, body, and heart of each student? We have failed at reaching all children and really changing education because as a profession we have focused on only one of the three parts of the whole child. This has resulted in what I call, “The Investment Gap.” It’s time to close that gap and invest more of our efforts into the other two domains. To become a change agent, and really impact each individual student you serve, there needs to be a connection beyond content, beyond learning, that reaches the whole person you are helping to learn. Until that happens, the most you can ever expect to get out of a student is compliance and cooperation. It isn't until you reach students on a human level that they will begin to value and identify with the skills and content you are offering. Once that happens, you can become an agent of change.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

It's Time to Open Your Doors

If you have not noticed lately, education is under attack and those of us in the education profession have nobody to blame but ourselves.Today, we educate more students at a higher level and face greater challenges than ever before in the history of schooling--yet we spend little time showing the public what we do. Instead, we invite our students into our schools each day and work magic behind closed doors and leave the public to believe that classrooms operate just as they did 20, 30, or 40 years ago. We need to open our doors and show that schools are different. We need to put our students out in front where they can show just how amazing they are. Each time I am in a situation where adults interact with kids in an educational setting, the adults walk away stunned by the level of work, creativity, and ability that is demonstrated in our classrooms. If we want the attacks on education to end, it's time to stop letting people believe in an outdated image of our schools.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

What do students think of your tech?

Are you asking your students for their perspectives of the programs and technology you provide to enhance learning? This recentpost by Audrey Mullen, a sophomore in California, provides a too-common look into the high school experience in the 21st Century Classroom. I recently had a conversation with a student who was frustrated with a program that adapted the level of questioning based on her success. She had always been the first to complete her work and master concepts, but now the target kept moving higher based on her mastery of concepts. From her perspective, this was creating a more difficult school experience. How frequently do we listen to these student voices and, when we do, are we reflecting on, or even changing, our practices? Are we having conversations with students about the choices we make and why we believe they are appropriate? As we continue to adopt more technology, instructional changes happen at a quicker pace. Involving students in discussions about those changes can help us achieve better results and help us reach our goals.

Cross Posted in the T&L Newsletter

K12 Blueprint Chromebook Resources

If a school is moving to 1:1 and expecting students to use a single device all day, I believe it’s essential that district leaders live with the same device first. In 2012, I began modeling this by using a Chromebook exclusively for my job. After working effectively in this environment, I was confident that students could, as well. In the past year, Chromebooks have become the top device purchased by schools for reasons explained in the new eBook Less Waiting, More Learning with Intel-Based Chromebooks. In addition to this eBook, K-12 Blueprint offers several great resources for “going Chrome,” including a Chromebooks page and a blog where educators such as Alice Keeler and Kyle Pace share their expertise. Learn what it takes to advance to the next level of technology-powered education on K-12 Blueprint from a team of incredible educators. 

Cross-Posted to the K12Blueprint Blog