Monday, July 13, 2015

5 More Lessons from ISTE

Beyond the many specific lessons educators took back with them from #ISTE2015, I observed the following big-picture trends that indicated some major shifts in thinking in K-12 edtech:

• Sessions on tools are lame and should be avoided. The days of telling people where to click in sessions are no longer valuable. There are YouTube videos for that now. Show me what you are doing with it and how it impacts instruction. Even better, show me what your students are doing with it. Have your students come tell me about it--in person, virtually, or on video.

We are entering the age of the instructional coach. Schools are finally figuring out that tools are only good if your teachers are using them effectively. Coaching will be an area where we invest a lot of time and energy over the next 5 years. Tools to help with coaching are starting to heat up too.

Stories are gathering importance. Yes, testing is here to stay, but leaders and communities want to hear how you and your school are making a difference in student's lives. Start documenting and sharing these stories. Also, gather the stories of your teachers that are making this happen.

Devices matter, labels don't. Nobody really cares what brand of device you are using any more. As long as it connects to the web, you can support it, it can be sustained and every student has one - you have a tool. Now what?

Now what? As more schools are getting to a point where they have reliable tools and pathways to the Internet, they are trying to figure out how to go beyond basic student use and spark innovative change in the classroom while measuring success. See #2 and #3 above.

Cross Posted from the Technology and Learning Newsletter

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Set a Date to Show You Still Care

Welcome to the end of the school year--the last final weeks until your students go out to whatever comes next: the next grade, college, or work-life. I believe there are two things you should invest your time in during these final weeks: reflecting and challenging. Although this time of the year is insanely busy, take some time to reflect on what you accomplished this year and take some satisfaction in your success. Sketch out some notes on how to keep improving into the next year. Challenge yourself to head into the next few months laying groundwork for taking your craft to the next level. Then challenge those around you to do the same. Provide opportunities for your students, or those you supervise, to reflect, provide feedback, and set goals. Then open up your digital calendar or task list and pick a day in the fall when you are going to follow up. Then next fall, reach out to those you influenced this year to double your impact. Those 4th graders are going to be amazed when their 3rd grade teacher checks in on the status of their personal challenge. As the school year ends find ways to reflect, challenge, and continue to grow through the rest of this year and into the next to keep showing that you care.

Cross Posted from Tech and Learning Newsletter

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Ingredients for Leading for Transformative Change

On May 8th Tech Learning Live Chicago comes to the Lincolnshire Marriott. Among the many other topics being presented at this one-day conference, I will be co-moderating a session that will look at “Leading for Transformative Change.” I will join a group of district leaders who will discuss the ideas, people, and resources needed to spark movements that result in new directions for schools. It is interesting to see how similar and different these mixtures can be. Over the past five years, under the leadership of Dr. Ken Wallace, our schools have helped lead the way in becoming a successful 1:1 Chromebook school district. As we have progressed, we have been active in sharing our successes and challenges through hosting site visits, sharing our resources, and presenting at conferences. In all of these interactions, I’ve learned that no school has the same formula to create a successful 1:1 program. Each has its own set of transformative ingredients to find success. However, there is one constant ingredient for transformation: the power of the learning demonstrated by students. I am amazed by how well kids can react, respond, and adapt to nearly any new situation. For all of the time we spend preparing for worst-case scenarios in 1:1 settings, few of us can imagine the learning opportunities students can encounter under the direction of an excellent teacher. I am often left wondering if we actually get in the way of the most transformative factor in our schools--our kids.

Cross Posted in the Tech & Learning Newsletter

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Spring is the Time of Presenters in Maine Township 207

February and March have been busy months for Technology and Education Conferences and several staff members in Maine Township 207 have been actively presenting. Listed below are the conferences and our presenters. Those staff members marked with an asterisk are Google Certified Educators. If you are looking for a presenter on one of the topics search for anyone below.

Illinois Computing Educators Conference - February 24-27
Aida Awad*: Workshop - Google Apps in the Collaborative Classroom
Michael Biondo*: ICE Teacher of the Year, Workshop - Five Fantastic Features of Formative Assessment and Supporting Tech Tools, Breakout - Engage! Using Google Apps to Enhance Learning
Neil Charlet*: Workshop - Chrome-ology: Getting the most out of your Chromebook
David Fermanich: Workshop - Google Forms and Autocrat, Breakout - Peardeck, a tech tool for formative assessments
Allison Gest*: Breakout - Engage! Using Google Apps to Enhance Learning
Jim Gubbins: Breakout: Make Your Classroom STEAM with Creative YouTube Video Ideas, Breakout - Where Have All the Web Tools Gone?
Richard Jones*: Workshop - Using Google Apps to Support Your Research-Based Writing Course
Alexis Liakakos: Workshop - Five Fantastic Features of Formative Assessment and Supporting Tech Tools
Pam Morgan*: Workshop - Web Wars: How to Become a Web Master!, Workshop - Chrome Apps for Digital Storytelling
Adad Ocampo*: Breakout: Chromebook Ninja Training
Greg Regalado*: Workshop - Chrome-ology: Getting the most out of your Chromebook
Wendy Reitz:  Beyond First to Five: Formative Assessment in a 1:1 Classroom
Dexter Roknich*: Workshop - Google Apps in the Collaborative Classroom
Tina Sabatello: Breakout - Creating Interactive Instructional Videos the Free & Easy Way
Hank Thiele*: Workshop -  Become a Google Data Wizard, Workshop - Google Apps for Administrators, Breakout - Awesome Tables: Become a Data Hero

Future Ready Conference - March 7-8
Hank Thiele*: Breakout - Changing to a Culture Built on Collaboration, Breakout - Going 1-1 with chromebooks

Midwest Google Summit - March 15-17
Aida Awad*: Spotlight Speaker Sessions - 20% Time Projects in the Classroom, What’s that paper crumpled up in your backpack?, Google Maps - moving from Google Earth to the Cloud, Flipping your classroom with Google Apps for Education
Allison Gest*: Workshop - Google Apps for Education for Science Teachers
Derrick Swistak*: Workshop - Google Add-ons
Hank Thiele*: Workshop - Become a Google Data Wizard, Breakouts - Awesome Tables: Become a Data Hero, Google Drawings: The Most Powerful App You Have Never Used
Collin Voigt*: Workshop - Google Add-ons

ASCD (Association for Supervision, Curriculum and Development) Conference March 21-22
Hank Thiele*: Breakout - Improved Student Achievement through Targeted Communication

WEMTA (Wisconsin Educational Media & Technology Association) Conference March 23-24
Jim Gubbins: Breakouts - Where Have All the Web Tools Gone?, Make Your Classroom STEAM with Creative YouTube Video Ideas, Functional Formulas for Success with Google Apps

Thursday, March 05, 2015

In Response to: Grant Wiggins "5 unfortunate misunderstandings that almost all educators have about Bloom’s Taxonomy"



This post is in response to: Grant Wiggins' post "5 unfortunate misunderstandings that almost all educators have about Bloom’s Taxonomy" (also left as a comment on the blog).

This post strongly mirrors a presentation (http://goo.gl/jr72Fz - start at slide 29 for information related to this post) I recently gave that focused on the Affective Domain - the Second Domain that the group that Bloom chaired published (see image above). I love this quote from Bloom about Book 1: 
"One of the most widely cited yet least read books in American education"
 I believe that by focusing solely on the Cognitive Domain with limited understanding of its purpose, and not taking the time to understand the true scope of what the three domains were trying to uncover about measuring learning, that we have done a great disservice to students and teachers in regards to the arts of learning and teaching. At the same time we have over simplified what it takes to measure mastery. By only focusing on cognitive aspects of mastering a topic we ignore other inherit and important skills, inside of the Affective and Psycomotor Domains that help students invest in the learning process and ultimately achieve mastery the cognitive goals, while building skills to connections beyond the limits of those standards. A little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing, and unfortunately in the case of throwing around the taxonomy, that is often the case. 

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Other Thoughts not in the blog comment:

Some other points I want to leave, but I didn't want to fill a comment box up with.

The goal of the Taxonomies was to:
Measure the ways in which students will change their thinking, their feelings, and their actions.

We just fall so short of doing this in schools - and standardized tests are terrible at doing this (trust me - I have helped write them).

Written Collaboratively at Conferences from 1949 to 1953 - with 34 co-authors and Bloom as the Editor. They sent out 1000 pre-editions for review before publishing the original work. Several of the contributors died before it went to publication (that is how long collaboration took in the 50's).

The book was intended to analyze "relevant and accepted principles" around evaluating learning - which means they are built around best practices of the 40's and 50's - which, if the Taxonomies are still relevant, means a few things:
  • What made good teaching has always made good teaching
  • There is more to learning than cognitive skills
  • We should all be embarrassed for not moving much further past this in 70 years
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My final point: We sometimes over think all of this - teaching is about people - start there and help take them go further. Show students that you care about them, get them interested in the topic and how to use the information, get to the point where it has value to them and in the process you will help them leap over the "Investment Gap".






Thursday, January 15, 2015

Differentiating in a 1:1 Setting

Over the past few months, I have been sitting in on some focus groups comprised of teachers who have worked in a 1:1 setting for more than a year. A constant theme has been rising out of these conversations: differentiation works in a 1:1 environment. This goes against the reasoning of a recent EdWeek article that claims that a “mixture of students with varying abilities in one classroom causes even the most experienced and conscientious teachers to flinch, as they know the task of reaching each child is an impossible one.” I hate to think that we would give up on kids so easily. I believe today’s tools make understanding and providing support for each student possible. Our teachers use tools like Google Forms, PearDeckSocrative, and EduCanon for quick formative assessments that show where their students' skills are so they can adjust lessons as needed. The combination of the device and assessment tools provides the pathway to differentiation that allows our teachers to reach every one of their students, no matter how big the challenge.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Response: Technology Doesn't Belong in the Classroom?

An insightful post by Dominic Manola on a disturbing meeting of individuals that were discussing "the impact of social media during a school crisis". It isn't just disturbing that we have to have meetings about school crisis, it is the fact that it turned into another one of those "the problem with kids today is technology so ban it and the problems will go away" meetings.

Here is what history has taught us:

1. Once a modern invention/idea/convenience has taken hold in common culture (indoor plumbing, books, electricity, radio, TV, credit cards, Internet) and as displaces, enhances, or fills a void that was there before schools must eventually respond to its arrival.
2. Schools, which were built to resist change, will resist the change - driven by paranoid adults and experts (and those invested in the old) - usually by discrediting, banning, and citing that the innovation is doomed to fail (see inkwells vs. ballpoint pens 1815-1950).
3. Society will quickly demand the new skill in the workplace, to respond to consumer demand or efficiency, or both. Parent and Business will wonder why schools are not preparing kids for society.
4. Schools will change, slowly, as a result of external pressure. Kids will wonder why their school is so far behind their real life and why the adults can't do things they take for granted. In the meantime, kids will do amazing things outside of school - which they will turn into multi-national influential companies that come back to tell schools how to do their business with pressure from the politicians they fund (see the Gates Foundation).

These steps repeat themselves for each new modern invention/idea/convenience that takes hold.

Should we be cautious, responsible, and caring of how new things will impact our kids? - YES

Should we fear-monger and blame innovation for all of the woes of today? - NO

We should responsibly teach kids how to use whatever will come along in their life, how to evaluate the pros and cons of any new innovation, to look for ways to integrate any resource to do good work, and with an expectation that they will use anything at their disposal to improve the world around them - for themselves - for those around them - and for those that follow them.

None of that can happen in our schools when we ignore, ban, blame, or hide from innovation.

So - How do we break the cycle?

Start sharing the stories of success. Share in your school, share outside your school, and share with the world. We need people to see evidence that kids can do great things - they need to know that today kids are more intelligent, powerful, and inventive with access to more information than any other time before in human history. They are capable of understanding how to use that power for good as the leaders of today and the leaders of tomorrow. Let's be part of preparing them to harness that power for good.