Personalized learning is on the rise for learners in our schools. Redesigned schools include personal learning plans, playlists of content tailored to fit each learner, adaptive curriculum, and access to learning anytime and anywhere. That’s great for students but what about teachers? Where’s the pe
From the article:
A new era of personalized professional development is sweeping into schools. We’ve created this guide to capture the extraordinary changes in PD tools and in the cycle of learning. We look here at tools that support how teachers engage with colleagues; that help teachers learn or find support for implementing fresh strategies and approaches; and that measure how that learning impacts practice in the classroom.
Even better: some teachers and schools are beginning to combine tools to brew their own personalized professional development. Some might choose a combination of Twitter, video libraries of best practice, and a social network for badging. For others, a path to personalized PD might involve in-person coaching and online courses, combined with video feedback tools.
Looking for recipes? Check out our field reports, tool box and analysis. And please share what you’re doing by weighing in at the bottom of the guide. We want to hear from you. Whatever the concoction, teachers should accept no less than personalized and empowered PD.
Click here to DL the report
While in a session on the Paperless Classroom presented by two teachers Cynthia Coones and Jody Velde from White Oaks ISD at the LearnED at TCEA 2014, I was struck by the idea that even now, technology integration, at least right now in the schools, is strongly dependent on the personality of the educators and not dependent on the type of technology.
These two teachers demonstrated quite well how they were able to go to an almost paperless workflow in their classrooms. The arguments they made FOR using the technology made sense and everyone in the room could understand the advantages. Yet, they stated over and over during their presentation, that even when they showed their colleagues the advantages of using tools like Google Docs to cut down on making copies, and taking papers home, and student loss of work, that many of their peers were still left unconvinced and did nothing to move towards integration technology in lessons.
You could lead a horse to water it seemed, but you could;t make them turn on the computer. They stated that the excuses that they heard were the exact same excuses we all hear when trying to convince colleagues that they really need to use technology with their students. Time, effort, time, effort, not needed…blah blah blah.
That got me wondering if there were specific teacher personality types that were more willing to adapt to change compared to those that didn’t like change. Could we as change agents use that knowledge to better focus training based on who we knew would adopt the technology and those that would not?
I once took an education management class and the professor showed us a bell curve. I remember him saying that if we ever became principals that those teachers that lay beyond the first standard deviation on either side are either lost causes or 100% behind you: They will either do everything you want , or do nothing you want, depending on where on the chart they fell. “Worry about the ones between the mean and the 1st standard deviation” he said. “They are ones that are waiting to be convinced one way or another.”
That is kind of how I feel about technology users in schools. Those at the far end of the bell curve are probably lost causes or true followers. We need to focus on the center dwellers.
How can we use personality type to maximize our training and thus our technology adoption?
A study in 1995 by Smith found that teachers that were creative, analytical, logical and imaginative to institutive/thinking were more likely to quickly adopt to new teaching techniques and using technology. On the other hand, practical, introverts, people that say they are “realistic” are more likely not to adopt technology with their students.
The study went on to state "For effective training, educators need to design programs for pre- and in-service teachers that include descriptions of how different personalities can best use technology with diverse students. Those individuals more inclined to use technology may be identified to work in interdisciplinary teams with others who are less inclined to use the newer technologies. Identification with individualized instruction may successfully reduce anxieties often experienced by some novice teachers.
A 2003 study found that, using the Meyers Briggs personality test, that “intuitive/thinking types of personalities were more likely to use technology in teaching while the sensory/feeling types were the least likely.”
I think that we as trainers rarely if ever take into account the personality type of the teachers we are training. So often we have to be like McDonald’s; getting as many customers through the drive thru in as little amount of time as possible.
As recently as this March, Rhonda Christensen from the University of North Texas presented on “Relationships Between Teacher Personality Type and Technology Integration Indicators” at the SITE2014 conference. Her conclusion:
"It appears that judging personality preferences might be the least accepting of technology innovations while teachers with perceiving preferences more likely to embrace technology sooner. It makes sense when you read the general characteristics of people who select either the judging or perceiving preference trait. The judging trait tends to prefer more structure while the people who tend toward the perceiving characteristics tend to have a more flexible and adaptable lifestyle.
Regardless of personality type, the teachers seem to prefer an electronic textbook for their students but prefer a traditional paper textbook for themselves. Smith, Munday and Windham (1995) found that NT (intuition/thinking) type personalities were more likely to teach with technology while SF (sensing/feeling) types were least likely to embrace technology.
The current research study found similar results for the three technology integration measures. This study partially supported the Katz (1992) findings in which extroverted and sensing types were more willing to use technology. This study clearly supported that extrovert types were much more likely to accept and use technology. However, this study found the opposite for the sensing/intuition in which teachers who reported the intuition trait were more likely to report higher levels of technology integration. Those who are planning and implementing professional development may find that measuring personality attributes as well as learning styles of teachers may enhance the usefulness of their training.”
I think that we as professional developers, might start thinking a bit more about the trainees, and less about the training if we want to make lasting impacts.
Warren Berger, author of A More Beautiful Question, collected the provocative questions top designers, tech innovators, and entrepreneurs ask…
From the article:
In the end, simplicity is best. What is your sentence? is a question designed to help you distill purpose and passion to its essence by formulating a single sentence that sums up who you are and what, above all, you aim to achieve. It’s a favorite question of To Sell is Human author Daniel Pink, who acknowledges in his book Drive that it can be traced back to the journalist and pioneering Congresswoman Clare Booth Luce. While visiting John F. Kennedy early in his presidency, Luce expressed concern that Kennedy might be in danger of trying to do too much, thereby losing focus. She told him “a great man is a sentence”—meaning that a leader with a clear and strong purpose could be summed up in a single line (e.g., “Abraham Lincoln preserved the union and freed the slaves.”).
HISD has embraced a “New Vision” for the district.
This vision will focus on 5 key goals:
(1) digital learning,
(2) 21st century learning standards (academic and career),
(3) multiple forms of assessment,
(4) accountability that is not focused on one state test, and
(5) transforming our school into a 21st century learning organization.
We will no longer purchase banners or plaques that imply we are a state recognized or exemplary campus based on one state mandated test! Parents will not see STAAR worksheets or test preparation materials. Teachers will not be referencing the tests in their classrooms. Rigor, purpose, interest, talent, creativity, problem solving, innovation, real-world application, digital access, collaboration will transform classrooms into centers that promote students owning their learning rather than learning for a test!
What about “the test”? It has not disappeared, it is now on steroids! During the 82nd Legislative Session, the state assessment system, TAKS, was retired and STAAR was born for grades 3-8. STAAR is elevated to 15 End-of-Course (EOC) exams for high school students, with 15% of the test score impacting the student’s course grade. These new tests are not basic knowledge skills tests. They are designed to measure college readiness for all students. Ironically, colleges and universities never consider these tests as part of the admissions requirements. Colleges, as well as the business community, continue to report our students are not prepared to enter either pathway. Students are lacking work ethics, technical skills, problem solving, collaboration, inquiry skills, research, etc. Why is the state increasing the focus on this state test when the past reflects the tests were not preparing our students for the future?
Sadly, these tests have become punitive instruments to evaluate teachers, campuses, districts without consideration of available resources, children’s interests or talents, the impact of poverty on closing academic gaps and the real world demands critical to the nation’s economy. Campuses and districts have been designated as low performing based on the performance of one sub-group on one test (math, reading, science, writing, OR social studies) in one grade level. That same sub-group could have performed extremely well in another subject area in that same grade, having no impact on the campus/district rating. All other sub-groups in other grades could have achieved exemplary performance, yet the campus would retain the rating of that “weakest link”! Voucher legislation that will be proposed during the next legislative session will be greatly influenced by the misrepresentation of these tests and ratings on our schools.
Hudson ISD will continue to expect students to meet the state standards; however, the state assessment will no longer drive our curriculum or instruction. We have not lowered our student expectations; we have changed the focus, a quality education for the 21st century. We are asking the community to support this new direction. The quality of our schools should be based on the many varied accomplishments of our students and the exemplary programs provided by our exemplary staff, not a state accountability rating based on state assessments administered prior to the end of the school year. Our accountability should be determined by our local communities, not the state or federal government. Our vision has become the HISD mission - to “foster a community of life-long learners by providing an environment that builds self-worth, integrity, and respect for diversity while striving for academic and social excellence!”
I have a free offer for five of my readers:
If you agree to write a review of 180 Questions, I will shoot you a code for a free download of the book.
It is Ibook Only, so it only works in iBook for IOS and Mac. Sorry, no ePub version.
Once you write your review, you need to let me know so I can reblog it. Don’t feel that you have to give a glowing review. Feel free to write whatever you think about it. (I am confident that you will like it.)
Click on the title to get the description.
Once the five codes are gone, they are gone. First come first serve.
You can leave me a message here, or hit me up on twitter @timholt2007
It is time to bring iChat back.
For those of you unfamiliar with iChat, when Apple released OSX.2 twelve years ago (can you believe it?), it also released a new video/audio messaging system that was to challenge Skype. It came free with every computer.
I suppose not a lot of people used it to its full potential. Apple has a history of deleting unused or underused features (see the latest versions of iWork, and of course RIP iWeb, and iDVD both of which were ahead of their time).
The reason that Apple needs to bring back iChat, or at least the feature set of iChat into its current FaceTime / iMessage video system is this:
iChat had some awesome features that even NOW are not available in the free versions of Skype or Google Hangouts. These included:
Text chat: You could carry out a multi-point text conversation. I know, everyone can do that now, but 12 years ago, that was unheard of.
You could have an audio chat. No big deal, we call that phone calls. But you could call up anyone from your computer and start an audio chat if the text chat was not enough, all without switching programs. Voice over IP for the masses.
If the text and audio were not enough, you could then create a video chat. Again, we are all in the same program, iChat. All of these things are without changing programs.
If talking to a single person were not enough, you could then have a multi-point video connections ( I know, Hangouts has this ability.) Up to 4 connections could be on a conference at a time, and using some nifty video and audio compression techniques, there was little or no lag time even on the crappiest connection.
But to me, the pièce de résistance from iChat was this:
iChat had an amazingly easy way to share files with the other users; You simply dragged and dropped files into the video chat screen and whatever you dropped could be seen by all the users in the chat. Movies, audio files, PDF files, Keynotes, documents, whatever. Wanted to share a video? Drop it into the chat. Want to share a PDF file? Drop it into the video window (which was called the theater). I do believe you could even record the video connection as well. Yes, Skype and others can do that now, but iChat had them all beat to the punch. Even now, the Skype method is more clunky than the drag and drop method of iChat.
When Apple dropped iChat, it replaced it with FaceTime. And while FaceTime is nice for a point A to point B conversation, it is only a single connection. There is no text chat. For that, you have to use Messenger. There is no multipoint connection. There is no screen sharing. There is no file sharing. In order to do those things, you need multiple programs, AND the person on the other side needs multiple programs as well.
Google hangouts or webinar programs such as Blackboard Collaborate are the closest thing now there is to the old iChat. Google allows 6 simultaneous connections and also allows screen sharing.
iChat, was way ahead of its time, and probably most people did not use it to it’s full ability.
But now that Apple is touting “Desktop class” processing on it’s phones and iPads, it is time to bring desktop video conferencing capabilities back.
Time for FaceTime to learn a few tricks from it’s grandfather iChat.
Looking for some really good ideas from teachers that are currently running very successful science fairs? We’ve captured a few of the conversations that are happening on the MSP2 social network. You can contact any of our “guest speakers” by posting a comment on their MSP2 wall.
In addition, we’ve highlighted some resources that will provide other great ideas for you and your students. Please add to the list if you have other resources that have been helpful to you. Click on NSDL Login in the upper right hand corner of this page and register so you can share your knowledge with other teachers!
If you want substantiated justification for making your students participate in science fairs, have a look at the NSDL Strand Map Service. These maps illustrate connections between concepts and across grade levels. Several contexts are associated with science fair including Nature of Science, Nature of Technologyand Habits of Mind. An image of the middle grades (6-8) only part of the Scientific Investigations map appears below. This map is one of sevne under the heading Nature of Science. Clicking on a concept within the maps will show NSDL resources relevant to the concept, as well as information about related AAAS Project 2061 Benchmarks and National Science Education Standards. Move the pink box in the lower right hand corner of the page to see the grades 6-8 learning goals.
Science Fair 2.0 from NPR Science Fridays
“The science fair is a nearly century-old right of passage for students. What role does the traditional science fair play in the digital age? How can these competitions be reworked to include broader participation and encourage students, and teachers, to explore hands-on learning?”
We are expecting about 500 educators this year from all over west Texas and southern New Mexico.
One of the strands we are having this year is a “Virtual Strand” when presenters do not have to actually have to be in El Paso to present, but still can present. (We understand that not very one can run to El Paso on a moment’s notice, although we do have electricity and running water, contrary to popular opinion!)
I know that you all have something to share, and it would be a great treat for the educators in the El Paso area to be able to meet you, even if it is through Skype or a webinar setting.
Wont you please consider presenting at miniCAST 2014, in El Paso? It should only take an hour or so (unless you want to present multiple times) and I know that teachers out here will be very grateful.
The topics are wide open, even if it does have a “science theme.” Any kind of technology will work.
(Also, if you could let your PLN know about this opportunity, that would be most appreciated. )
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com
I really hope that you can participate in miniCAST even if you cannot be here physically. I cannot offer anything more than thanks for helping out, but rest assured that your help will be multiplied many times.
Essentially, I said that if you do not think evolution is a real thing, and if you teach Biology, then you are committing educational malpractice.
As follow up to that article, a survey that came out this week of science teachers in Oklahoma that showed a significant number of them simply did not understand evolution.
The survey showed:
25 percent strongly or somewhat agree with the statement, “Scientific evidence indicates that dinosaurs and humans lived at the same time in the past.”
36.8 percent strongly or somewhat disagree with the statement, “Complex structures such as the eye could have been formed by evolution.”
40.8 percent strongly or somewhat agree with the statement, “‘Survival of the fittest’ means basically that ‘only the strong survive’.”
17.1 percent strongly or somewhat disagree with the statement, “The earth is old enough for evolution to have occurred.” (And, 3.9 percent were “undecided.”)
32.9 percent strongly or somewhat agree with the statement, “Evolution is a total random process.”
We cannot say we are professionals if we don’t even understand what we are teaching. Evolution is one of the fundamentals of science. A lack of understanding of a fundamental of science is like having a mechanic that does not understand how an engine works, or a football coach that does not know what an offense is.
As the authors of the study say:
"As teachers are critical determiners of the quality of classroom instruction, it is vital that they be capable of making professionally responsible instructional and curricular decisions. For biology teachers to make such decisions about evolution, they must possess a thorough knowledge of evolutionary theory and its powerful role in the discipline of biology.
Second, when teachers hold science misconceptions, they may critically impede student conceptual development of scientific explanations. Teachers with misconception-laced subject knowledge will convey inaccurate or incomplete ideas to their students, resulting in a less than accurate biological evolution education, likely fraught with errors…. Therefore, teachers may be a primary factor in the acquisition, propagation and perpetuation of students’ biological evolution-related misconceptions.”
We have got to call these teachers out and we have got to either educate them or get them out of the classroom. Come on Oklahoma. Lead the way!
Currently, readers all over the world have downloaded this book, having been purchased on every continent except Antarctica. And the price of 99 cents USD is pretty easy to swallow.
Each question is designed to get educators thinking about education issues that affect them and their students. Each question is followed by a “deeper dig” into the question that allows the reader to see the question from a broader perspective.
Among other things, educators can use this book to:
Plan Professional development
Break the ice at meetings
Use a self reflection tool
Use as a conversation starter for groups who have stopped talking
Jump off point for deeper conversations
Use as summer DIY PD
Administrators can use it to get teachers to begin to question practices on their campus
Begin conversations about larger education topics
Use as staff meeting ice breakers
Education Bloggers can use the book as a series of topics starters if they have writer’s block
Get teachers thinking about big picture ideas in education beyond the walls of their classroom
Here is a little video about the books:
Of course, your milage will vary. The book is not designed to be read from page 1 to the end.
Use the questions that mean the most. Save the others for when they will be appropriate.
The book has received positive reviews:
Kevin Honeycutt said: “Tim Holt is the kind of technology thinker who cuts through the fog like a laser beam. He gets right to what good can come from the invention, innovation or practice. Tim’s sense of humor and willingness to ask the bigger, harder questions give him a unique and useful voice in the field of educational technology. In this book Tim assembles nuggets of useable, inspirational insights and lets them unfold daily for busy practitioners. As you unveil these moments of wisdom daily and allow them to feed your imagination you’ll connect with other minds in other places who are working alongside you in the “eduverse.”
Dean Mantz wrote: “In this iBook Tim focuses on Professional Learning Networks as a source for professional development beyond that offered within one’s own school district. While defining the how, who, what, and where Tim asks questions that challenges his readers to think and reflect on how they would answer each one. I truly appreciate reading material that challenges you to think and reflect upon your own classroom instruction pedagogy, personal learning approaches all while encompassing material that addresses different learning styles. Tim Holt use if imagery with little text allows for one to mentally picture themselves in that setting or easily understand the point being made by the question at hand. To go along with the visual engagement was the integration of video clips ranging from educators talking about the benefits they found from reaching out and connecting with other educators on a global scale to statements by some of the best education thinkers of our generation.”
Andrea Keller wrote: “The creativeness of this book includes interactive links, short quotes, meaningful questions that provoke a conversation, videos, and QR codes. This allows not only opportunities to extend learning but offer other ideas to use in the classroom or school. I have noticed that in my online Professional Learning Community many people are more apt to answer tough questions put out by other educators. When it comes to face to face PLC’s we are not as forth coming. This book presents enough questions to have a daily reflection of school through six different categories. These questions don’t just focus on the big questions about school, but also how parents, students, and community perceive school. We are looking for ways to engage in conversation. We are looking for ways to share our ideas and opinions over various topics.”
If you have 99 cents, I would appreciate you giving this book a look. I know that it only works on iOS and Mac devices, and my next book will have a different model of distribution.
Action Science: Interview with Author Bill Robertson
Bill Robertson is a good friend of mine and is affectionally known to thousands of students across the US and around the world as “Dr. Skateboard.” He recently released a new book “Action Science:Relevant Teaching and Active Learning" on Corwin Press. He graciously has agreed to answer a few questions about his book.
But before we get started, let’s look at a video about what Action Science and Dr. Skateboard are all about:
Can you tell us a little about yourself? How did you ever get the idea to mix science instruction with BMX and skateboarding?
I’ve been a skateboarder for over 35 years, and have done demonstrations nationally and internationally. I have done hundreds of demonstrations in festivals, events and in academic settings. In my onsite school demonstrations, I have performed for thousands of students in elementary, middle, and high school levels throughout the United States, in Canada, Mexico and into South America.
Additionally, I have been an educator for over twenty years. My academic areas of expertise are science education, curriculum development and technology integration. I also teach and do research in the areas of problem-based learning and action science.
As an educator and a skateboarder, I knew I would have unique opportunities to instruct and to work with students and teachers, and the development of action science is a practical example. Through skateboarding and education, I have learned creativity, practice, patience, discipline, and goal setting. Many of my audiences of students and parents typically don’t see the connection between skateboarding and science. They often wonder, if you have a Ph.D., why do you ride a skateboard? The answer is because it’s fun and it’s part of who I am.
Give us the 10,000 ft view of Action Science: Relevant Teaching and Active Learning.
How can you get young people interested in science and mathematics? What efforts are there to integrate the experiences of young people into the things they need to do and learn in school? How can action sports, like skateboarding and BMX, be used to teach physics, algebra, data collection, and help students to grow in their engagement and motivation in science and mathematics?
An answer to these questions and more are addressed in Action Science: Relevant Teaching and Active Learning, a new publication from Corwin for Middle School teachers and the students in their classes. This book combines physical science concepts in areas such as forces, motion, Newton’s Laws of Motion and simple machines set in the context of activities that young people enjoy doing, such as riding bikes and skateboards.
Many authors of texts are looking to solve a problem. What problem are you trying to solve by writing this work?
Action Science: Relevant Teaching and Active Learning was written as a resource for teachers to integrate a relevant and practical setting for learning centered on youth culture that would allow for the study of fundamental physics principles to be brought forward in skateboarding and bicycle motocross (BMX). This book looks to solve the dilemma that many teachers face in teaching the concepts of physical science in a context for the modern learner. Placing the content in a relatable format with action sports as a focus, combined with the use constructivism, this book presents a strategy for teaching that is student-centered and built on active learning strategies.
Do you think that by using skating and BMX as your starting point, you might alienate girls that traditionally are not attracted to these sports?
Why write a book about physics set in youth culture? Primarily, it is a resource for middle school science teachers that integrates physical science content in the context of action sports, which should help to increase engagement and motivation in the classroom. The methodology integrated within the book is a student-centered, teacher-facilitated approach that allows for active learning within the classroom. I think this is an inclusive work that is designed to appeal to boys and girls, and the goal is to integrated engaging content to motivate learners. I also think that it can be easily expanded in the future to showcase other examples of Action Science that might be more applicable to girls, such as surfing, snowboarding and inline skating.
You have integrated a lot of QR codes and web links into the work. Do you think that text books need to become more interactive to capture the reader’s attention?
The content, images and associated video with Action Science: Relevant Teaching and Active Learning are meant to help the teacher to provide relevance for important science applications through the use of hands-on activities and engaging video and graphical content. I do believe the teacher needs to integrate technology in teaching and learning, and this book is designed as a crossover text that integrate video and high quality images that enhance the engagement aspect as well as unlock the interactive nature for content immersion by students. The book describes a process that a teacher can effectively utilize that integrates both relevant science content and purposeful teaching methods. It is not a workbook or a series of activities in and of itself, it is a professional development resource that utilizes an approach that can be integrated into the classroom in order to help the modern student learn more effectively.
Action Science is targeted to middle school students. Why that grade level?
The purpose of this book is to provide middle school teachers and students with a resource that will help them to be better equipped to instruct students and to provide students with rich and compelling content that is motivating and engaging. Action Science: Relevant Teaching and Active Learning is about today’s modern student in today’s modern classroom, and is designed to help teachers with relevant and practical approaches in science instruction. As with all middle school students, but even more so with marginalized students, science education needs to be transformed, and Action Science: Relevant Teaching and Active Learning is a great example of student-focused transformative resource designed to reach the modern learner. This is the way you wish you were taught and certainly the way in which you would want your children to learn.
How do you mix a constructivist approach to learning with skateboarding? Why do you believe in this methodology for instruction?
For education to be constructivist, the traditional teacher-student relationship, which historically has been defined by a method of the teacher delivering content while students listen passively, is discarded. Instead, teachers must serve as facilitators, mentors, role models, co-inquirers and friends, while helping students to seek understanding to the content of the classroom curriculum. Teachers need to view themselves as respectful guides and compassionate helpers who provide students the opportunities to become actively involved in their own learning and in classroom operations.
The constructivist approach used in Action Science: Relevant Teaching and Active Learning has been used over many years in schools across the United States and internationally, and the method is focused on the student and puts the teacher in the role of a facilitator in the classroom. This book combines detailed methods for instruction in the classroom, relevant activities for students to do, and captivating photos and video of top professional and amateur extreme sports athletes doing difficult and captivating tricks that underlie the science being presented.
Some say we need to go back to the “old ways” of teaching and learning: Kids sitting in desks listening to teachers teach. What do you say to that?
I say “no” to that idea and think that education needs to be relevant, practical and learning needs to be active and student-centered. This book describes the need to make the science curriculum relevant, so that a transformative educational approach can be used to motivate middle school students to learn science. If students who are reluctant to become engaged in schoolwork, can come to enjoy learning concepts in physics, such as, forces and motion, it may up to them open other educational experiences in their everyday lives.
Do you subscribe to the research that says physically active kids are more academically successful? If so, how do we get kids up away from TVs and video games and into the environment?
The importance of an active environment for learning that integrates oral, visual and kinesthetic strategies by the teacher allows for learning to center on the students. In this manner, teachers become change agents, linking the relevant life experiences of the students to the content of the curriculum, and in no area is this more needed than in Middle School science. The teacher must work to establish links within their learning communities, and to try and engage their students in active learning projects that require them to interact with individuals inside and outside the school. For the constructivist education teacher in science, learning needs to be extended into the fabric of student’s lives, not solely as a subject to be explored uniquely in a classroom.
I always like to end these interviews with this question: Who is listening? Who do you HOPE is listening?
I know that people wanting to reach young people, to make science content relevant and learning a fun process are listening. I am also sure that the action sports industry, specifically in the areas of skateboarding and BMX, are listening and actively looking for ways to combine education and action sports. Who do I hope is listening? I hope that teachers needing a path to relevance and a way to re-energize the classroom are listening. I also hope that Teacher Preparation programs and university professors are listening, and that Action Science can proliferate as an educational approach and methodology for teaching and learning.
You Can find “Action Science:Relevant Teaching and Active Learning” at these locations :
There seems to be a growing movement among parents, led by folks such as Diane Ravitch to encourage or to actually remove their students from taking state standardized tests.
Parents such as LA Times journalist Karin Klien pulled her daughter out of testing after realizing that they do not actually help the learning process:
"As a journalist, reviewing an early state test that had been leaked to the paper by a teacher, I saw how thin and fault-riddled it could be. One question asked students to mark what they thought would be the best title for a certain reading passage. The answer the test sought was obvious; the title was direct and on topic, though flat and uninteresting. There was another choice, a better one, it seemed to me. It wasn’t as obvious an answer; it struck me as the one that a director would pick for a movie rather than the one a test creator would pick. The difference, if you will, between “Star Wars” and “Luke Travels in Space and Shoots Down a Big Weapon.”
I really have no argument here. I do not think the tests as they are currently structured actually help anything more than the testing industry and real estate people who want to sell higher priced homes around “the good schools.”
National organizations such as Fair Test have sprung up challenging the notion that student have to take “the test.”
I get it. I really do. But I wonder if the method will end up hurting the message.
Some people are choosing to opt out their children because they don’t see an academic benefit, like Klien.
Some are opting out their children because they see the stress on their children.
Some are opting out their children because they have a political agenda and “want to send a message” although what exactly they are protesting (NCLB, Common Core, Race to the Top, Pearson, ETS, taxes, Obama, Arne Duncan) is pretty nebulous. “I am just pissed at something so I am pulling my kid dammit!”
But I can’t help but wonder if these parent opting out their kids actually help their cause any?
Schools are still accountable.
School safe still beholden to the scores.
The law does not change just because someone choses to pull their precious snowflake out of a test.
The results are still going to be published.
The schools are still going to be ranked based on the test scores.
And who exactly is being pulled out? I would bet, although I have no data to back me up, that it is upper middle class connected parents like Klien pulling their upper middle class children who would pass the test anyway.
Why do I feel that way? Because the message is posted on social media: Facebook, Blogs, Twitter. You know, where the middle and upper middle class folks hang out. (I am sorry, but I simply don’t think that there are a lot of lower middle class or poor folks reading Diane Ravitch’s blog or reading the opinion section of the LA Times. I may very well be wrong, and I will change my mind in a minute of you show me data. ) Not connected to the net? You aren’t getting the message. Who is not connected to the net? You go ahead and guess. (It is no secret that test passing rates are directly correlated to family income. )
So what does that leave schools with? If the kids that were pretty much gonna pass the test opt out, the ones left are the ones that were either NOT going to pass or were on the bubble of passing.
You can guess what will happen to scores on these tests. It is similar to having your best players injured right before the big game. (Ask the Notre Dame women’s basketball team how well that turned out.)
Just as a rising tide raises all ships, a falling tide lowers all ships.
Schools are still accountable.
Scores still count. A principal or teacher cannot use the excuse that all the “good kids” didn’t take the test.
Politicians and state education departments look at the data and only the data. Scores drop, then there is something wrong with the school or district. Period. They don’t care if the star didn’t show up that day.
Jobs will be reassigned or lost based on these scores all because you didn’t like Arne Duncan. So all the STUFF that happens when a school does poorly, all the extended pressure, all the extended professional development, all of the tutoring, all of the EXTRA TIME AND EFFORT used to pass the test is multiplied.
By opting out, I suggest that the exact opposite effect will happen: It will do nothing to help improve the schools. It will have the opposite effect because schools will go into permanent “pass the test or else” mode when scores go down. The Sisyphusian task of getting a school into an “acceptable” score is made harder all because someone decided to pull the kids out that would have made the task less difficult.
You Don't Have to be Here to Present Here. Five Ways to Present Virtually
I just put out a Call for Presentation for a conference that will take place in El Paso in September 2014. This year for the first time, I am going to actively encourage that my out of town professional learning network members try to attend and present virtually.
I like the idea of having virtual presentations taking place at the same time that face to face presentations are happening. But where do you start? How do you present if your audience might be1000 miles away? Here is a short list of five possible ways to present in a virtual environment:
Probably the first thing that most people think of when they get the idea that they could present virtually is to use Skype. Skype is great for allowing one to one presentations. You need to have a Skype premium account to do any type of document sharing.
There are simple ways to overcome the Skype for free limitations:
Use Today’s Meet for the backchannel chat that both sides can access and if your conference does not have a place where files are stored online, set up a public Dropbox where they can access all of your materials.
If you have access to Apple equipment, you might consider FaceTime which I think has superior video and audio than Skype. Sadly, neither one of these can easily show your presentation if you have a Powerpoint or Keynote.
Webinars allow you to not only present virtually and live, but they also, in most cases, allow for slides, chats, video and more. We use Adobe Connect for a lot of our webinars and it is perfectly serviceable. (There are a lot of webinar packages available. You can host your own, or you can ask the conference organizers if they have access. Either way, webinar is a nice way to present virtually.
Most webinar software allows for recording, another feature that is great for conferences, especially if someone could not make it to your session. AND most allow you to embed handouts right in the webinar.
It was not so much the content that he spoke, but how he did it that got my attention. He took his webcam with him all over the place and recorded his keynote. That showed me the power of being able to present from anywhere and at anytime. (I think back then he had to have a wired mic and his laptop in order to make the movie.)
Since then, there have been tons of tools created such as iMovie and lots of devices such as iPads and iPhones that really allow you to create a “keynote on the go.” You can record when the spirit moves you. Put it all together into a movie and send it off!
There are also lots of examples of how to make a prerecorded presentation as well. TED TALKS are probably the gold standard, but all you have to do is pretty much look at any pre-recorded keynote from the K12 Online days to get a good idea of how to do this.
Both Keynote and Powerpoint allow you to pre-record your presentation straight from the slideshows which is another option, especially of you have a slide-heavy presentation.
If you are lucky enough to have access to high end video conference equipment, by all means use that! You have to make sure that the other end has the equipment as well, but a good VC set up can handle HD cameras, screen casts of your presentations, and usually have excellent audio as well. A good VC set up can make the audience think you are actually in the room, and the advantage is that you can actually interact almost face to face with your audience.
Perhaps the newest of the bunch is Google Hangouts. Google hangouts allows you to connect up to 10 connections at one time (if you are presenting this would make an awesome panel discussion!). I have done a couple of hangouts and they work pretty much as advertised.
Grab some friends and do a panel at a conference using hangouts.
A word of advice however: If you have handouts, you still have the same problem that you had with Skype and FaceTime. You will need to make them available via Dropbox of some other web site.
There you have it! If you want to present, you don’t actually HAVE to be there to do so! Consider presenting virtually. Ask the conference organizers if they would allow you to do so. If they are an ed tech conference, chances are they will. (And actually, pretty much any conference with a decent wifi set up should be able to handle a virtual presentation.
Why not start by trying it out at miniCAST 2014? You can present in El Paso Texas from your dining room in your pajamas and no one will be the wiser!
Even though the series looks at a single project, the idea of school design process applies to all educational facilities.
This is a fascinating look at how schools should be designed.
Those of my readers that have been interested in The Third Teacher or the works of Prakash Nair will feel right at home reading these entries.
Guiding the Design Process: The Holy Cross College Early Learning Center in Perth (Part III)
I am honored to present to my readers Peter C. Lippman, author of EVIDENCE-BASED DESIGN OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOLS: A RESPONSIVE APPROACH TO CREATING LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS in multipart series.
This is part three. Enjoy, and please come back for the entire series. —TBH
The Early Learning Centre at Holy Cross College in Ellenbrook, Perth
During the schematic design phase, EIW presented the concepts for creating breakout rooms, hollows, niches and nodes to Holy Cross College (HCC). Given that HCC welcomed these ideas, we were able to develop a parti that provided these activity settings. The parti for the plan was a pinwheel. This form connected the wings where the classrooms are located to the central multipurpose space (Fig. 12). Furthermore, the goal of the parti was to create spaces that would inspire, motivate, and transform the learners.
For this reason, this Early Learning Center learning was planned with settings:
of varying sizes to support the diverse ways that teaching and learning would occur;
which had more than a singular function; and
planned to encourage learners to negotiate themselves in space and manipulate the space(s) as they worked independently or cooperatively on a project; and
that would evolve in relationship to Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten and Grade 1 learners.
Building on these ideas, the learning studios were designed to support between 25-32 learners. Since these spaces had to support a variety of social groupings, fixed elements as well as moveable features (furniture, furnishings and equipment) were introduced into these spaces. Hence, the studio spaces were planned for six differentiated activity settings, which can expand and contract as needed to support the learners as they work on the task-at-hand.
Conceptually, the six activity settings were created for each room. These were: a block corner; a painting corner; an area for creative play, reading corner; science area, and reflective area. Whereas, built-in cabinetry was used to define the reading and block corners, a trough was placed near the toilet room (in the Pre-K and Kindergarten classrooms) to create an art corner. Tack boards were placed over the cabinetry, and idea paint was used as a finish on different wall locations in the rooms. This feature is planned to encourage teachers and students to display and share their reflections and notions about the activities in which they were involved. Lastly, moveable tables, chairs, and soft seating were used to differentiate the areas between the corner settings (Fig. 13).
Salient Features of the Early Learning Centre—Sliding Doors, Corners, Breakout Spaces, Glazing, and Technology:
Sliding doors between classrooms and breakout spaces, which are lockable, were used rather than folding walls. The decision to use sliding doors was based on research; for, folding walls are neither user friendly nor do they offer the spontaneity of use that is often believed to be best practice (Lippman, 2013b; PEHKA, 2012). Furthermore, symbolically, doors reinforce notions about integration and differentiation; when open, they can connect spaces; when closed, they separate spaces. Sliding doors allow the teachers to take ownership of the spaces. Because they can easily open and close the doors, the teachers can choose, at any given time, how they want to use their spaces. Whereas folding walls when open eliminate corner activity settings, the sliding doors, whether open or closed, maintain these areas as work spaces (Fig. 14a & 14b).
( Fig 14 a)
(fig 14 b)
Corners result from creating demising walls between spaces. They are defined areas, which have been utilised throughout the plan to afford as many potential breakout/activity settings as possible. Because these spaces provide refuge and prospect (Lippman, 2013b; 2010), learners are able to focus on the activity at hand, and are still able to view and hear what is going on around them. Hence, these specific features of the classrooms defined block building, reading, and painting, to name a few, while connecting the actions of the learners to everyone in the classroom (Fig. 15a & 15b).
(Fig 15 a)
(fig 15 b)
Glazing was thoughtfully integrated throughout the school spaces. Along the exterior perimeter walls of the classrooms and breakout spaces, aluminium framed windows were used as a feature to provide natural light into the spaces. Furthermore, the sills were installed approximately two feet above the finished floor. This was done intentionally to provide a height that was suitable for this age group. Lastly, the height of the sills allows the children unimpeded visual access to the world beyond the walls of the centre (Fig. 16a & 16b).
(fig 16 a)
(fig 16 b)
Not only was glazing used along the perimeter walls, but this element was introduced into the demising walls and sliding doors between the classrooms and the breakout spaces. By doing this, natural light streams in from the outside into the more interior breakout spaces and multi-purpose area. Glazing has been employed at varying heights to encourage learners to explore the world of the center from a variety of vantage points. This approach builds on the Reggio Emelia concepts that provide visual connections between the spaces (Lippman, 2010). This feature also personalizes the learning environment; for, no matter where you are in the centre the learner is in all ways connected to others (Lippman, 2010).
Lastly, becomes an informal teaching tool. Glazing provides a sense of safety; for, staff is able to view the transactions that are occurring between the spaces (Lippman, 2010). Furthermore, this feature becomes a modelling tool for the learners, since they can see into other spaces and view the accepted and preferred behaviour of their peers and teachers (Arndt, 2012). Hence, the glazing reinforces the culture of the learning environment. This not only encourages young children reinforces the culture of the place.
Technology is overlaid in these settings to support the activities. Classrooms and breakout areas feature LCD Screens (Lippman, 2013b; 2013b). In some breakout settings, there are moveable tables with chairs as well as soft seating and rugs located in front of them, while in other spaces fixed cabinetry has been built to encourage learners to use them (Fig. 17).
The Early Learning Center was planned with a variety of Breakout/Push Out Areas. We featured a breakout room, hollows, niches and a node (PEHKA, 2012). These spaces were realized as differentiated while at the same time integrated with one another. Furthermore, these spaces were understood as places that reinforce the learning that is occurring in the instructional spaces. Given this, these spaces were attached to the instructional spaces.
Located between the kindergarten classrooms is a breakout room. Currently, this breakout room features a round table with chairs, a LCD monitor and interior windows. These windows allow viewing into the Kindergartens. Furthermore, this room provides a place where staff can have scheduled meetings, where staff can meet with parents, and when needed a place where staff can meet with a learner or small group of learners (Fig. 18a & 18b).
(fig 18 a)
(fig 18 b)
Breakout Hollows were integrated into the built-in cabinetry. These features (holes) occur along the breakout niches (Fig. 19).
Rather than designing corridors linking the different learning studios, these spaces were also designed as Breakout Niches. Each breakout niches is connected to a classroom and are intended to promote opportunities for independent and small group activities. Separating the classrooms and the breakout niches are the sliding doors. When the doors are open, the breakout niches become part of the classroom; however, when the doors are closed these spaces are defined areas that can be used for specific student and teacher, student and student, as well as teacher and teacher activities. The defining features for each of these spaces are aluminium framed windows and doors along the perimeter walls, TV monitor, cabinetry (for sitting standing, leaning against, and climbing into) along the classroom wall, and the ceiling approximately 8’-0” (2400 mm) above the finished floor (Fig. 20a, 20b & 20c).
(fig 20 a)
(fig 20 b)
(fig 20 c)
The Breakout Node is a multipurpose space. While it may be understood as a large gathering space, conceptually, it was planned with a variety of activity settings to support the different ways that people work. The concept was to design for the activities that will occur in the space eighty percent (80%) of the time rather than design the space for the twenty percent (20%) use. The defining feature of this space is the skylight (turret), TV monitor, cabinetry for performance and the storage for books, and a ceiling approximately 10’-0” (3000 mm) above the finished floor. Having a ceiling at this height provides a sense of place to this activity setting. If the ceiling had followed the rakings of the pitched roof this sense of place would have been lost (Fig. 21a & 21b).
In addition to the features described, much attention was given for determining the most appropriate finishes. Rather than using bright primary colors, the team chose a more refined (subdues and restrained) approach for the interiors. Muted colors (blues and greens) were used to define areas in the classrooms. These were integrated in the vinyl floor and into the tackboards. Lighter color wood finishes were used for the cabinetry, the sliding doors and the vinyl flooring in the breakout nodes and niches. Lastly, the walls were painted white. The effect has been a building that is warm and bright. Teachers and students alike have taken ownership of the spaces by:
Arranging furniture to support the different activities that will occur daily;
Placing resources, tools, and books in the various shelving throughout the spaces; and
Finally, displaying learning tools and children’s work on the walls.
By taking this approach for the finishes, one of the goals of this project was to provide spaces where the building could be rediscovered in a variety of ways from different vantage points anytime throughout the day. Depending on the time of day, size, and age of the learners, they will be able pick-up different features of the spaces, resources and displays of their environment that might have always been available but had never been perceived (Gibson, 19XX). By exploring the spaces, learners develop a better understanding of their spaces. From a neuroscience perspective, the hope for these settings is that the stimuli will prompt them to explore their surroundings. From their transactions in the environment, elements will unfold and provide them with a new schema affording them knowledge and awareness of their settings. Hence, the building was designed to encourage brain development.
For us, creating this alternative learning environment which would motivate, inspire, and engage learners as well as stimulate brain development was a moral imperative. To do this, we recognized that the role of the design professional must evolve. We had to recognize the value for having a foundation in child development and learning theory. We made a point of understanding the actions that would occur routinely in the settings, and, finally, we needed to understand the culture and context of this place.
The Holy Cross College Early Learning Center in Ellenbroook, Perth offered us a unique opportunity to design this building as a vehicle for learning. This responsive approach is an architectural cultural shift in thinking, from making buildings to questioning the reasons for creating them. For this reason, our process begins with:
“Why are we creating this place?”
“What is the purpose of this place?
“Who will be using this place?”
Once these questions are answered, we can embark on the task-at-hand of creating a place that inspires learning.
Arndt, P.A. (2012). Design of Learning Spaces: Emotional and Cognitive Effects of Learning Environments in Relation to Child Development. In Journal Compilation, International Mind, Brain, and Education Society and Blackwell Publishing, Inc. Volume 6, Number 1 (pp. 41-48).
Giangreco, M. F., Clonigner, C. J., Dennis, R. E. & Edelman, S. W. (1994). Problem solving methods to facilitate inclusive education. In J. S. Thousand, P. Villa & A. Nevin (Eds.), Creativity and collaborative learning: A practical guide to empowering students and teachers (pp. 321-348). Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing, Co.
Greeno, J.G. (1998) The situativity of knowing, learning and research. In American Psychological Association, Inc. Volume 53 (1) No.1, 5-26.
Griffin, P., Belayva, A., Saldatova, G. & the Velikov-Hamburg Collective (1993). Creating and reconstituting contexts for educational interactions including a computer program. In E. Forman, N. Minick & C. A. Stone (Eds.). Contexts for learning: Sociocultural dynamics development (pp. 120-152). New York: Oxford.
Gibson, J.J. (1979)
Harper, G. F., Maheady, L. & Malette, B. (1994). The power of peer mediated instruction: How & why it promotes academic success for all students. In J. S. Thousand, P. Villa & A. Nevin (Eds.), Creativity and collaborative learning: A practical guide to empowering students and teachers (pp. 321-348). Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing, Co.
Johnson, D. W., Johnson, R. T. & Maruyama, G. (1984). Interdependence and interpersonal attraction among homogenous and heterogeneous classrooms. In N. Miller & M. B. Brewer (eds.). Groups in contact (pp. 187-213). New York: Academic Press.
Knowlton, D. S. (2000). A theoretical framework for the online classroom: a defense and delineation of a student-centered pedagogy. In, New Directions for Teaching and Learning. Principles of Effective Teaching in The Online Classroom, (Eds) R. E. Weiss, D.S.Knowlton, B.W. Speck. Vol. 84 (Winter): 5-22.
Lippman, P. C. (2010). Evidence Based Design for Elementary and Secondary Schools: A responsive approach to creating learning environments. Hoboken, NJ, John Wiley & Sons.
Lippman, P. C. (1995) The Meanings of the Constructed Objects. Unpublished Manuscript. The Graduate Center, The City University of New York: New York.
Lippman, P. (1993, April) The buttressing of ideas. In Connect Magazine,Vol. 6, No. 7. 1-3.
Moll, L. C., Tapia, J, & Whitmore, K., (1993). Living knowledge: The social distribution of cultural resources for living. In G. Salomon (Ed.), Distributed Cognitions. New York: Cambridge University Press, (pp. 139-163).
PEHKA (2012). Unpublished Responsive Research Report. Projects for Environmental Health Knowledge and Action, inc. http://pehka.org/.
Proshansky, H.M. & Fabian, A.K. (1987). The development of place identity in the child. C. S. Weinstein & T. G. David (Eds.) Spaces for children. NY: Plenum, 21-39.
Proshansky, H.M. & Kaminoff, R.D. (1979). Environmental quality and developmental outcomes. M.J. Begab, H. Garber, & H.C. Haywood (Eds.). Prevention of retarded development in psychosocially disadvantage children. University Park Press.
Rivlin, L. (1975) Buildings for children. Paper prepared for the Conference Ecological Factors in Human Development, University of Surrey, England.
Slavin, R. (1983). Cooperative Learning. New York: Longman.
Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning and Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
“Tell me a fact and I’ll learn. Tell me the truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.” - Indian Proverb
Have you been watching Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s excellent reboot of Carl Sagan’s classic television series Cosmos? If not, you should be. This is non-fiction television at its finest.
Every episode has a theme that is generously interspersed with the historical background of the topic. For instance, in one episode, A Sky Full of Ghosts, the host used animation and historical storytelling featuring Isaac Newton, William Herschel, Michael Faraday, and James Clerk Maxwell to explain how science came to understand the nature of black holes and how far light travels in a year, thus understanding how big the universe is and where we are in it.
William Herschel, the great English physicist, when asked if he believed in ghosts, explained to his son John, that the light we see from stars today are actually light of the stars from millions or billions of years ago. We are, he said, in fact, seeing ghosts of something that is no longer there.
The story is powerful. It is coded into our genes. We are a people of the story and our species is a species of storytellers; from the cave paintings El Castillo in Spain to The Grand Budapest Hotel to our family dinner table, we tell stories. And we learn from stories.
The producers and writers of Cosmos understand that story trumps facts and figures any day. Cosmos could have been a terribly boring retelling of science theory and formula. Instead, by weaving the story into the science, the concepts come alive. I bet you still remember what you just read about the ghosts of stars.
And the writers of Cosmos are not the only ones that know the power of the story in teaching science.
“A 2010 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed an intimate connection between the brain activity of speakers and listeners in conversation, demonstrating how the brain of an engaged listener “syncs up” with a speaker. By engaging students with compelling stories that impart important material, teachers reach students both emotionally and biochemically, increasing the potential for rich learning experiences.” (source)
A 2004 article from the Association for the Psychological Science broke down three reasons why storytelling in teaching is important:
Stories Provide a Structure for Remembering Course Material
Stories Are a Familiar and Accessible Form of Sharing Information
Telling a Story From Experience Can Create a More Personal Student-Teacher Connection
Yet the narrative is sadly missing from most teaching that we do. In our efforts to cover as much academic territory in as little a time as possible, we have thrown out or maybe even lost that trait that all of the great teachers of old had: storytelling.
So how do we get the story back into the teaching and learning? How can we make the connection to the future if we do not understand the past?
Roy C. Owens (1899-1973) in a speech to the Vancouver Club in 1958 said "We cannot know where we’re going if we don’t know where we’ve come from." That has been quoted many many times, most famously by JFK. We can only know where we come from if we know our story. We can only understand where we are today if we understand how we go here. The story is important. You cannot understand how you got to where you are without story.
I am not suggesting that we add the historical narrative to everything we teach. However, there is enough evidence to point out that the narrative is a superior way to get students understand concepts.
The narrative is a good way to make things “stick,” as the Heath Brothers would say. One of the six ways that they have for making an idea stay with someone was the Story.
In their companion piece "Teaching that Sticks," the Heath Brothers say “The stories don’t have to be dramatic, they don’t have to be captivating, and they don’t have to be entertaining. The story form does most of the heavy lifting—even a boring story will be stickier than a set of facts. And that’s comforting to a lot of us who don’t consider ourselves great storytellers or dramatists. Woody Allen said, “Ninety percent of life is just showing up,” and that seems to be true of storytelling. Ninety percent of the value is just trying.”
Authors as diverse as John Medina in Brain Rules and Daniel Pink in A Whole New Mind understand that the story, or storytelling does something to the brain that tumors on multiple areas that all connect. Pink says “Story represents a pathway to understanding that doesn’t run through the left side of the brain.” The story stimulates all portions of the brain. The more neurons firing, the more learning taking place.
Doug Stevenson wrote in his blog about the relationship between brain science and storytelling: "Now is the time for leaders to become wisdom sharers – synthesizers – storytellers. Simply “getting through the content” is not only ineffective; it wastes everyone’s time. However, simply telling a story will not make you a better leader. It has to be the right story, crafted strategically to make the right point, delivered at the right time, and in a compelling way."
Change the word leader to teacher and you now understand how story becomes important in class.
What is your story and how are you telling it in your classroom?
Charles talks with Karen Wright-Balbier, Instructional Technology Specialists with the El Paso Independent School District, and coordinator of the EPISD Digital Film Festival. All students in Region 19 in grades K-12, regardless of district, are invited to submit 3-minute films for inclusion in the festival. Films can range from animation to documentary to instructional to a newscast. Learn more at http://episddigitalfilmfestival.weebly.com/. Selected films will be screened May 16 at Bowie High School, and the deadline to submit applications is April 18.
Guiding the Design Process: The Holy Cross College Early Learning Center in Perth (Part II)
I am honored to present to my readers Peter C. Lippman, author of EVIDENCE-BASED DESIGN OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOLS: A RESPONSIVE APPROACH TO CREATING LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS in multipart series.
This is part one. Enjoy, and please come back for the entire series. —TBH
Peter C. Lippman
Research on School Design
This research from the early 1990s informed and influenced my thinking about the design of place. Therefore, Practice Theory became the framework for guiding my design process; for, Practice Theory recognizes that both the learning environment and the learner are active. The actions of the learner influence the learning environment and the learning environment, the social and physical, in turn, transform the learner. Building on this perspective, the designer must consider the situations that take place in the learning environment. Once the actions are considered, activity settings can be thoughtfully incorporated into the design (Lippman, 2010).
Examples of elementary school buildings that best connected these ideas, for me, are:
The Montessori School in Delft designed by Herman Hertzberger;
The Apollo Montessori School designed by Herman Hertzberger; The Prototype Schools in Lincoln Nebraska (Maxi, Cavett, Campbell and Roper) designed by The Architectural Partnership;
The Community Charter School In Paterson New Jersey by Design Ideas Group (Fig. 5); and
The Gateway Schools in New York City designed by AB Studio (Fig. 6).
Each of these precedents was designed with activity settings adjacent to the classroom spaces. These activity settings are generally organized around a larger disruptive element. This disruptive element, sometimes a grand stair, supports these activity settings. While the grand stair provides a place where learners can gather in smaller and/or large social groupings, this element also affords activity setting around it where learners can work independently or meet in smaller social groupings. In addition, these spaces have been designed with fixed cabinetry that informs learners how these smaller spaces might be used. Hence, these projects suggest that the designers investigated how the spaces might be used by the learning community and then planned them to support the intended activities.
Research on Learning Environments
Since my work in the 1990s with the elementary school, I have primarily worked as an educational facility planner. As a planner I have also participated in other research projects that reinforce the ideas about spatial design. These ideas have led to the development of a theoretical perspective on spatial design. This perspective recognizes that the spatial design of learning environments is composed of connected and differentiated learning zones/activity settings. Generally, teachers/facilitators control how the furniture and equipment in the room is arranged. Activity settings can be created to support independent, one-to-one, small group and large groupings. This, however, is not generally the case with the areas outside the instructional spaces.
These spaces take the forms of corridors and/or are organized around common open central spaces. In either case, the spatial design of these areas is disconnected from the activities that occur in the instructional spaces. The reason for this is that:
Corridors and are designed with a singular purpose which allows learners to move between instructional spaces (Lippman 2010); and
Large central, open, and common spaces, on the other hand, are programmed to support multiple activities. Generally, this approach has greater limitations. The limitations are governed by the need to support too many activities with no areas clearly articulated or defined. Furthermore, the design relies on the placement of furniture in the space to assist the learners, rather than differentiated activity settings associated with specific classrooms. Furthermore, this approach for creating common shared spaces does not consider the applicability or practicality of unfixed or loose furniture in the setting; for, it either is removed or requires oversight to support the diverse actions that can occur simultaneously. The open spaces become compromised, because it cannot be designed to support independent, one-to-one, small group and large group gatherings. Unfortunately, it is unsuccessful as multi-purpose area; for, it, essentially, becomes a space that supports a singular activity. Generally, this function is for having large group meetings. This singularity of function becomes ineffective for extending learning beyond the instructional spaces.
Building on the research, these singular function and, essentially, disconnected spaces must be rethought (Lippman &Betz, 2013). To become effective and offer opportunities for optimal learning experiences outside the classroom, these spaces must be purposefully designed to encourage independent, one-to-one and small social groupings (Lippman, 2014; 2013a; 2013b; 2013c; PEHKA, 2012). First and foremost, connect instructional spaces to differentiated push out/breakout areas.
While these may be viewed as disruptive to the larger common space, these zones, in fact, assist the learning process. By creating these activity settings attached to instructional spaces, teachers and students alike will develop a sense of ownership for them and as such will be comfortable knowing they can extend learning opportunities outside the confines of the classroom. Hence, these settings assist the educators, who can at any time allow small group work to occur outside the room during scheduled class time (PEHKA, 2012). Furthermore, to encourage the use of these places, they can be arranged with fixed elements (cabinetry—seating and/or countertops) and movable tables and seating to support independent, one-to-one, or small social groupings of 3-6 students (Fig. 7).
Based on the findings from my research, the following concepts for collaborative spaces outside the classroom were developed:
These activity settings may be described as small meeting rooms. They are private and are generally planned to support 1-6 learners. These spaces can support independent, one-one-one and cooperative social groupings. Additionally, these meeting rooms may have glass walls and maybe furnished with moveable chairs, a table, TV monitors, and vertical writing/display surfaces (Fig. 8).
These are semi-private settings that support activities for 1-3 people. Basically, they are push-out zones that are connected to classroom spaces. These learning zones may be openings in walls, along corridors, outside classrooms, within the instructional spaces and waiting areas. These spaces may be built-in cabinetry planned to support self-directed and cooperative learning activities. Additionally these spaces may include TV monitors, and vertical writing/display surfaces. Lastly, these settings allow learners to revisit and extend their activities during scheduled and unscheduled periods (Fig. 9a and 9b).
(Fig 9A and 9B)
These are semi-public settings that are designed to provide opportunities for formal and informal spontaneous interchanges. Learners can work independently as well as in small groups. Furthermore, these spaces provide opportunities for a few small social groupings to work simultaneously adjacent to one another. Furthermore, these activity settings may be recesses/alcoves/corners at intersections in hallways and are furnished with both fixed cabinetry seating and countertops, moveable seating, TV monitors, and vertical writing/display surfaces. Since the furniture can be moved, this means it can be re-arranged immediately. Hence, a social group can expand or contract their activity setting depending on their activities (Fig. 10).
These are public areas that encourage a range of organized and spontaneous interchanges. This type of space promotes opportunities for independent, one-to-one, small group and large group transactions to occur simultaneously. These spaces might include a sunken floor under a grand stair. Essentially, this type of space is a salient feature of the setting around which are breakout rooms, niches, and hollows. Given that these spaces can be used formally, consideration should be made to outfit them with the suitable technologies such as sound systems, TV monitors, and vertical writing/display surfaces (Fig. 11).
Out of Print: Reimaging the K-12 Textbook in a Digital Age
From the SETDA website:
The benefits of digital content for student learning are many. Digital content can easily be kept up to date and relevant to students’ lives without the cost of reprinting or redistributing print materials. It can be made available anytime and anywhere, both online and offline, accessible when the student, teacher or parent needs it, whether from home, school, or another location. And digital content can be far richer and engaging, including not only text, but also high-definition graphics, video clips, animations, simulations, interactive lessons, virtual labs and online assessments.
Out of Print makes the case for the digital difference and how digital content can positively affect student learning and engagement, make accommodations for special learning needs, provide unbundled search and discovery, and provide support for personalized learning. It also provides profiles of four states – Indiana, Texas, Utah, and Virginia – and summarizes actions of policymakers from nearly half the states to encourage digital content. Research behind to the paper revealed seven success factors for making the shift to digital content: sustainable funding for devices, robust internet connectivity, up-to-date policies, prepared educators, intellectual property and reuse rights, quality control and alignment to standards, and state and local leadership buy-in. This research led to three recommendations:
Complete the shift from print-centric textbook adoption practices to digital resources no later than the 2017-18 school year.
Develop a vision and roadmap for completing this shift that includes eliminating unnecessary regulations and enacting supportive policies, investing in infrastructure and devices to support the shift, and ensuring effective implementation of digital policies.
Ensure a vibrant marketplace for digital and open content.
This digital booklet provides an introduction and easy access to many of the wonderful free applications and resources available on the Internet for teachers to use in and out of the classroom as part of the instructional and administrative process. This is the 2013 update of this eBook (the 2011 edition was the first one) and there have been a lot of updates made this year! I’ve added several new sections, including “(More) Flipped Classroom Resources”, “MOOCs”, “Teaching with Cell Phones & Smartphones”, and “(More) Cloud Apps”. I’ve also added a good deal of new iPad related content, and lots of other material throughout the book. The Facebook and Twitter chapters have been grouped under a more general “Social Networking and Social Learning Tools” chapter that includes articles about other popular social apps like Pinterest and Tumblr. As always, existing links have been checked for validity and some older material has been removed.
The majority of content in this eBook consists of edited articles originally published as blog posts on EmergingEdTech.com. After some chapters, a section of links to additional related articles is provided. I hope you find some great, fun, and productive tools here. Please feel free to share these resources with your colleagues, and to come and participate in the dialogue on EmergingEdTech.com! – K. Walsh
Guiding the Design Process: The Holy Cross College Early Learning Center in Perth (Part I)
I am honored to present to my readers Peter C. Lippman, author of EVIDENCE-BASED DESIGN OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOLS: A RESPONSIVE APPROACH TO CREATING LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS in multipart series.
This is part one. Enjoy, and please come back for the entire series. —TBH
Peter C. Lippman
In the recent interview with HoltThink, I indicated that designing within the allotted square footages is necessary for keeping the costs of the school project into line with the anticipated budget. While we work to align projects costs, we must also understand the mission and vision of the client. By embracing a responsive approach, we can thoughtfully transfer the goals of the mission and vision into a practical and inspiring design. Hence, we must aspire to adopt a responsive design approach.
A responsive design approach begins by examining the context of the place and developing an understanding of the spaces needed in the design. Rather than merely arranging spaces to align with the proposed exterior design aesthetic, the responsive designer considers interior relationships first and reflects on how the spaces (s) will influence learning process. Furthermore this approach brings together the research on the learning process and learning environments. Hence, this approach regards the learning environment as a vehicle of transformation whose life truly begins once it becomes inhabited by learners.
While the description above hints at this unique process, how does the responsive approach work to create such environments? The goal of this article is to tell the story of how this approach was employed in creating the Early Learning Center at Holy Cross College in Perth. This article will examine a process which has extended my experiences as a designer, researcher and educator (Fig. 1).
Understanding the Program (Educational Brief)
The Early Learning Center (ELC)is part of the third stage for a six stage master planning effort by EIW for Holy Cross College (HCC). By the time (2022) the all the stages are completed this campus will support the development of Kindergarten through Grade 12 students. Nevertheless, the work for the schematic design ELC began in November 2011. The spatial program included:
2 Pre-Kindergarten Classrooms with a shared toilet room (100 square meters, each);
2 Kindergarten Classrooms with a shared toilet room (90 square meters, each);
2 First Grade Classrooms (70 square meters, each)
Multi-purpose Room (65 square meters);
6 storage rooms (10 Square meters for each classrooms);
Staff Office (12 square meters); and
Toilets (staff, universal access toilets, as well as boys and girls toilets).
The primary concepts that influenced the design were grounded in my experience as an educator in New York City, research on the use of space at various schools in New York City, and an examination and assessment of specific architectural precedents from around the world.
Experiences and Research from the Classroom
My primary training in the classroom occurred at an alternative public elementary school. This training occurred in the first half of the 1990s. This elementary school housed kindergarten through 6th grade and was located in East Harlem New York City. Except for kindergarten, this was a two stream school. There were two first and second grade classes, two third and fourth grades, and two fifth and sixth grades. Each teacher planned their activity-based curriculum. The curriculum was designed to encourage independent and collaborative work. Within this environment, the children learned from their negotiations with their social environment, teachers and peers, as well as their physical environment.
The experience I gained from working at this school in a third and fourth grade classroom revealed that:
Teaching is a direct result of preparation. There are routines (rotations) that are planned to occur every day. These structures provide consistency ad continuity. Furthermore, this structure instills routine along with building and reinforcing the culture of the classroom environment;
Learning occurs in a variety of ways, since each learner has particular way of acquiring knowledge and working with others (Fig. 2);
Cooperative learning is not a group always working together as a unit, but rather involves occasions to share ideas collectively. Furthermore, cooperative learning promotes opportunities for independent work which allows learners to develop knowledge that is shared with the group;
The physical environment provides occasions for connecting the learner and the things to be learned. This is achieved by having defined activity areas/settings/zones that can expand or contract depending on the actions and activities of the group (Fig. 3); and
Over the course of the year, while learners develop biologically, emotionally, and physically, this development is influenced and shaped by the learning environment. Hence, learners are transformed develop emotionally, socially transformed by their transactions with their social and physical environments (Lippman, 1995).
Role of the Teacher in an Activity Based Learning Environment:
As indicated, teachers structure the cooperative activities to encourage the learner(s) to develop their communication, creative, and critical thinking skills. Cooperative learning strategies were employed to encourage students to develop these formal skills in seemingly less formal ways (Giangreco, Clonigner, Dennis, & Edelman, 1994; Harper, Maheady, & Malette, 1994; Johnson, Johnson, & Maruyama, 1984; Slavin, 1983). Since this age-group looks to their teachers as referents of behaviour, the classroom teachers modelled cooperative learning activities (Griffin, Belayva, Saldatova & the Velikov-Hamburg Collective, 1993; Moll & Whitmore, 1993, Arndt, 2012. This was achieved from presentations to students about the activities and projects performed with other teachers. These presentations allowed teachers to share what they had learned and showcased how people can be transformed by their work with others. Lastly, these presentations highlighted that everyone possesses valuable knowledge that contributes to solving problems.
The Activity-Based Learning Environment:
The learning environments may be described as Acivity-Based as well as Learner-Centered. Within this environment, the teacher’s is not a content provider but rather a facilitator of knowledge. The facilitator oversees the work that is being developed and is in all ways ready to guide the students’ participation (Knowlton 2000; Greeno 1998). In these settings, the activities are structured to promote opportunities for peripheral, guided, and full engagements (Fig. 4). Learning is understood as a practice where students are engaged in experiential, authentic and relevant activities. Furthermore, children are encouraged to build on their schema as they consider possible options for solving current and future problems.
Organization of the Activity Based Learning Environment:
Whereas the day was a series of scheduled routines, the physical environment of the classroom space was planned with the intention of guiding the learning process. As the teachers’ planned the curricula to support the children’s’ learning experience, every aspect of the physical setting was arranged with a variety of clearly defined activity settings (Lippman, 1993, 1995). Conceptually, there were six learning zones: a reading area, building area, block corner, display corner, science corner, and art niche. These settings served a dual purpose. While they were planned to support the different formal activities, these learning zones also promoted opportunities for the development of social and emotional aptitudes, such as learning how to resolve conflicts and share resources with one another (Lippman, 1995).
Additionally, the child’s identity formation relates to the day-to-day history within the setting (Proshansky & Fabian 1987; Proshansky & Kaminoff 1979). Therefore, the classroom becomes a place where learners develop their identity, a sense of self, as they work through the specific tasks at hand (Rivlin, 1975; Wenger, 1998). Furthermore, identities are created as meanings emerge. The meanings are reinforced from the individuals’ transactions. Hence, the situations within the settings encourage them to view and review their own achievements as well as acknowledge the accomplishments of their classmates. These accomplishments contribute to the shaping of a learner’s identity (Lippman, 2010).
Peter C. Lippman is an Associate Director at EIW Architects in Perth, Australia. He has dedicated his professional career to researching, programming, planning, and designing learning environments. Peter has worked throughout the United States as an Educational and Resource Planner extending ideas about what learning environments are, today, and what the next generation learning spaces will be.
He works in the traditional role of the architect and as an educational resource and facility planner. In the role of an educational resource and facility planner, Peter applies design research to his everyday practice and provides social science research tools and methodologies that are unique to the practice of architecture. Peter has been published extensively and presented seminars and run workshops all over the world that examine how learning influences and shapes the learning environment. In 2010, his book Evidence Based Design of Elementary and Secondary Schools: A Responsive Approach to Creating Learning Environments was published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
I would also like to acknowledge and thank the Principal of Holy Cross College, Mandy Connor. Mandy has been a true leader guiding this endeavour. Most importantly, Mandy allowed us the opportunity to create a building with soul.
Every Data Point Tells a Story: Making Mental Post It Notes
Think about the last time you listened to a presentation that had a lot of statistics in it. For instance, student test data. Now think about how much of that data you actually remember.
Chances are, you don’t remember too much. You may have remembered the gist of the presentation, you may have remembered the setting, but chances are the actual data is lost to your memory.
Now think about the last time you heard someone tell you a story as part of a presentation. A keynote perhaps, telling about how they struggled through poverty as a child, or overcame adversity, or a funny story that made you laugh.
Chances are here that you actually remember the presentation with the story better than you remembered the presentation with the statistics.
Take a moment to watch “Persuasion and the Power of Story” by Jennifer Aaker.
I thought about that when I thought about how schools present information to their parents and teachers. Often, they present just the raw statistics: Our school had this many pass the test. This many were exemplary, this many failed.
Indeed, in Texas, the yearly school reports that the state makes about each campus is called a “report card.” Statistics fill the report card. It is not very memorable and I suspect you would be hard pressed to find a parent that even can remember getting one, even though they go out to every parent in the state.
Harldy ever is there a story attached to that data. Yet, Aaker would tell us that without story, the data gets lost in the background noise.
Stories need to be woven into the data in order for the audience to become connected to it. “When data and stories are used together, they resonate with audiences on both an intellectual and emotional level.”
The power of the story is that the audience can personalize the story to themselves. (This has to do more with how the brain is wired than how the heart is wired, but suffice to say that without story, the audience remains detached from the data.)
So how can we present data in such a way that it might be meaningful using story?
Can stories be added to data?
I once heard about a school that had a “War Room” where all of the student data was posted on the wall. Teachers and administrators would use the “war Room” as a planning place to address student needs based on al of the posted data. Where the students were, where they need to go. The data was just that: points of information on charts and tables hung up on walls. Teachers would come in, look at the charts, and then leave.
The administration was wondering how to make the data more meaningful. How could we connect the numbers to the teachers in such a way that they would have an emotional attachment to the data? That is where story came in.
The principal decided that the teachers needed to understand that the data was more than just points on a graph. She exchanged the points of data with the actual student pictures.
Teachers began to see the STORY of the students instead of just the points when the picture of the student was placed with the data.
All of a sudden, the story and the data came together. Teachers began talking about the STORY of the student once the picture was , not just talking about the excuses of why the student failed or passed. The power of the story took over once the story, the students that they knew, replaced the nameless faceless points on a graph.
The power of storytelling is evident even in business. Daniel Pink, author of A Whole New Mind wrote ” Story represents a pathway to understanding that doesn’t run through the left side of the brain.” In other words, the creative emotional portion of the brain makes a connection with a story.
In their book “Made To Stick" the Heath brothers spend a considerable amount of time speaking about using stories in order to make information "Sticky." They use the story of Subway’s Jared, a man who lost over 200 pounds on a diet of Subway sandwiches. His story was much more real, had much more emotion, much more "sticky" than the original marketing that Subway used where they just said they had 6 sandwiches with 7 grams or less of fat (6 under 7).
“Brain Rules,” author John Medina says “When the brain detects an emotionally charged event, the Amygdala releases dopamine into the system. Because dopamine greatly aids memory and information processing, you could say it creates a Post-It note that reads, ‘Remember this.’
Storytelling is the post-it note for the brain. If you want something to stick, you need to add a story to it.
A good administrator will not only just present the date to their faculty, but also create the story that goes with them. Why is it important the Joe pass the test? What happens if he doesn’t? How does that affect him, his family, his future? What story does Joe have that we can help him with?
Stories are of course not the only way to present information, but they are a powerful tool, especially if you are trying to provide information that you want retained over a long time.
A few years back, my wife Lora created a totally awesome science fair planning guide for students that at last count was being used in over 50 school districts across the US.
This is a great guide for teachers as well, as it walks everyone through the often painful science fair process by making the entire thing easy to follow and do.
Being a proud hubby, I would like to share this again to anyone and everyone that can use it. The work is copyrighted Lora Holt, but you are free to use it and share. You might want to check the links on the last page to make sure they are still viable.
All that Lora asks is that you give her credit and if you ever want a staff development on Science Fair projects, keep her in mind.
I have had a long running discussion with one of my colleagues about out of town conferences. He thinks that they are basically a waste of money; anything you can get a conference you can find on the internet. The presentations, the exhibits, it is all there. You just have to know where to look.
I argue back that the connections at conferences are the most important things that happen there, and that you cannot quantify that type of learning.
So that brings me to the question: If someone asked you to place a value on what you do and learn at a conference, how would you respond?
How do you quantify the networking that you do at a conference?
How do you quantify networking with people in person versus online?
Is face to face still important in this age of being a connected educator?
How do you put a Return on Investment value on an idea you got while listening to a keynoter speak?
How can you create a data chart of the ideas generated in the hotel lobby or in the elevator while casually speaking to someone that you did not know 5 minutes before?
In this education world of Data Driven decision making, where much of our work is based on the results of what we do, how can we justify out of town education conferences?
If someone asked you “Was it worn the money we spent?” how could you answer?
Five Guidelines for Choosing Online Professional Development
School districts are in a pickle: They know that the only way to create great teachers and thus great classroom experiences for students, is to provide exceptional professional development. The trouble is, with cutbacks in funding, the traditional model of professional development is slowly starting to fade away. Many districts have moved towards a Professional Learning Community model, where teachers are supposed to work collaboratively with each other to dissect student data and then sort of design instruction based on the needs of the students.
The trouble with that model is that for many teachers, the PLC experience has devolved into a data mining exercise where hours and hours are spent looking at reams of student data and in many cases, trying to figure out how to beat the test, not teach the students. Another thing I have seen happen with PLC’s is since they focus so much on students (not a bad thing I agree) they tend to ignore the needs of teachers. Because most PLCs are a small to medium sized group of individuals, their experiences are mostly limited to themselves and their own techniques. There is not much growth once that well of ideas has run dry, where do teachers turn to improve themselves as educators?
Of course, the immediate answer is “Why not just use the internet?” While the internet is a great source of information, you know there’s a lot of bad information out there, too much information out there and it’s really not vetted too well. Unfortunately, educators can be much like their students, searching Google and using the first pages as the guideline for results. So here’s some guidelines that you might consider when allowing your faculty to use online resources for their own professional development purposes.
So how do you know that a free professional development opportunity is a good professional development opportunity?
I think that if you have some type of lens to look through before you choose, then you have a better chance of choosing wisely.
Guideline 1: Close the Firehose: Don’t allow everything
There are tons of information out there that teachers can use for professional development. The question is what’s good and what’s bad? What’s been vetted and what hasn’t been bad? If it’s paid for isn’t good, if it’s free is it bad, where can we find it?
First you need to not allow all resources to be used everywhere. The analogy of course is it’s like drinking from a firehose. You can’t possibly know what your faculty is doing if you just let them choose from anywhere. There simply is too much information set up. So what you need to do is you need to start creating a menu of items from which they can choose from: It can be a large menu, it can be a small menu but the idea is that the be able to choose on their own from vet it sources that you yourself have chosen from.
There are lots of resources that are available out there from iTunes U to ConneXions from Rice University, to free material from professional organizations. A word of caution: Sometimes free is not free. Some organizations will provide what is known as a “freemium model” where there is just enough material to get you hooked, and then charge for the real meat and potatoes of the course. Beware, and make sure that free really does mean free.
Here is a way to start looking:
Choose from entities that have a track record for success. For instance, iTunes U has online courses from institutions of higher learning from all over the world. If a district is looking for improving reading strategies for instance, a simple search of iTunes U returns results from such diverse groups as the Virginia and Florida Departments of Education, to Cambridge University. One owed find it hard to imagine a school saying that a course on Reading Strategies from say, an Ivy League school is “not good enough” for their teachers.
Guideline 2: Choose a Theme
If the school needs help with reading strategies, then the theme for that year should be reading strategies. Start where you need help the most. If you limit the topics, you can control the types of sessions that your teachers are looking for online.
The themes can be very broad, like “21st Century Skills” or they can be very narrow as well, like “iPads in the Reading Classroom.”
The value of a theme is that all teachers have something in common when they begin to reflect on learning, or can share sessions that they might find online but do not wish to take themselves. Even if a particular session does not appeal to one teacher, it might to another.
In the past, I have seen themes that included PD that was based on university courses, with teachers that need the most basic PD starting at the “freshman” level, and the more advanced teachers taking “upper level” courses.
You can usually tell the level of the training simply by giving a cursory glance. In iTunes U for instance, many of the courses come with syllabi. Take a look at the syllabi and see if it meets the needs of your PD, or your campus’.
Guideline 3: Let the PLN decide on the free resources
Study after study shows that professional development works best when the people share collective responsibility to the learning. When teachers choose the direction and the school administration goes along, the development becomes more meaningful. Connecting the PD to the classroom is meaningful. Disconnected one-shot trainings are not.
Many heads are better than one, and that goes for FINDING PD resources as well.
Self directed works in group settings as well. By letting the group decide, then you allowing them to have ownership of the training. The we is better than the me, and the group can decide on the “big picture” of what needs to be trained and the individual can decide on the specific training.
This image is designed to show haw a connected student works, but it holds up if you apply it to professional development:
There are still MANY teachers that simply are not connected. Perhaps becoming a connected educator should be mandatory BEFORE any kind of district professional development initiative begins.
Guideline #4: Reflection is Mandatory for any PD
Everyone taking online professional development should be required to compete some type of reflection activity, be it by writing a blog, some type of group reflection, or completing some kind of work related activity related to the PD.
How many times have you been in a PD session, and left thinking that the information was valuable and usable, then forgot all about it within a week? By reflecting on the PD. one not only thinks more deeply about the work, but also can create an archive that thy can revisit. ,
I prefer blogging myself, or some other type of web based reflection because that allows for others to see and also to comment on the work.
Honestly, how many of you can readily remember the Professional development you had two years ago? A year ago? At the beginning of this year? Chances are, none of those required you to reflect o the learning.
Guideline #5: Be open to new tools
What is that old saying? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
If you do the same KIND of professional development and are getting the same results, then it is time to change.
And change does not have to be expensive or difficult. There are a wide variety of free tools, courses, webinars, books readily available. Districts must allow their professionals to choose for themselves this “just in time” training.
Perhaps to make the idea more palatable to districts, they can provide a menu of options that they will allow each year, created in consultation with teachers and campus administrators.
Here is a video I created on 10 different professional development tools:
Feature articles, app reviews, curriculum app guides and unique interviews with educators and app developers.
Last October we developed our first ebook, Redefining The Task, as a part of a presentation at The British Council. Made with our all time favourite app, Book Creator, the ebook spotlighted 17 other creative apps that we recommended for use in the classroom. The response to the book was great and it is still available for download from here.
So when we were booked to presented at The Global Education Forum this March, we decided to launch a sequel, entitled Redefining The Task Again. Like all good sequels, we wanted this volume to be bigger and better but maintain the ethos and approach that made the first book successful.This time we spotlight nearly 30 apps and Sabba Quidwai and Simon Moore, featured writers here on the site, contributed to it alongside myself and site co-founder Luke Rees. Practical examples of how to harness each app are included.
As with the previous ebook, we offer this to you completely free.We hope you enjoy it and find it useful.
iPad Educators Founder
DOWNLOADING THE BOOK
The book can be downloaded by clicking on either the Dropbox or Google Drive icons below. Please note that the book is just under 100MB in size and so may take a few minutes to download depending on your internet connection.
If you are downloading directly on an iPad, when you click to download, it may seem like nothing is happening but the download has begun.
If you want, you can even download the book directly to a PC or MAC and view it in full multimedia format using the free Readium app available through the Google Chrome App Store.If you have any problems downloading the book, please do get in touch.
Feature articles, app reviews, curriculum app guides and unique interviews with educators and app developers.
From the Site:
Many of you will have heard of the SAMR model for embedding technology in education, developed by Dr Ruben Puentedura. This two phase, four step model posits that the true aim for anyone seeking to harness tech in the classroom should be to redefine the actual tasks we are setting as educators. The iPad offers a wealth of opportunities to reach this goal due to its innate versatility and mobility.
A teacher recently told me that she didn’t see the point of iPads in education as there was nothing she could do with them that she couldn’t do without them. This is a classic case of someone who is only able to see/utilise technology within the “”Substitution” band. It’s the 21st centrury and we’re preparing children for a future that is inescapably threaded with the use of technology. We need to do all we can to prepare them for this.
They are ready. We know they are and more importantly they know that they are. Their lives are imbued with daily technology use and they access the world in a much more tech-friendly way than ever before. It also allows them to create work that is modern, polished and in line with their own goals and expectations. A parent recently spoke to me about an iPad project that I ran last year where the children used Book Creator to collate a whole term’s worth of multimedia work rather than use an exercise book. The parent in question told me that she had never seen her child so eager to share this work and that over the summer she had taken it on holiday to see their extended family and shown every single one of them!
The only problem for educators is that inescapabilywith over a million apps in the App Store and 60,000 within the education section, the location and choice of apps can be daunting. When it came to choosing the apps for our presentation, we selected those that are best suited to modifying and redefining the tasks set for students. What these apps have in common is that they are creation tools. Taking a constructivist approach towards selecting apps allows educators to get more out of each application as these apps work across a range of curriculum areas and age ranges.
The apps we focused on were:
- BOOK CREATOR
- EXPLAIN EVERYTHING
- PUPPET PALS
- MASTER FX
- COMIC LIFE
- PLAYSCHOOL ARTMAKER
Details on these and examples of their use can be found within the ebook itself (link below) as well as in various other features and reviews across the site. Naturally there are others we could have included and we hope to produce a second volume of the book next year.
If you have any issues downloading the ebook, feel free to contact us.
Download from Google Docs:
DOWNLOAD THE EBOOK
Please note that the ebook is in .epub format to enable all the multimedia elements to work in full. This means you have two choices:
1. open the link on your iPad and download the file (Open in iBooks)
2. open the link and save the file to your Mac or PC and open the file using the Google Chrome browser’s Readium app (free to download)
Texas to allow Graphic Calculator Apps on State Test
Commissioner of Education Michael Williams has advised superintendents he will allow districts to satisfy a requirement to use graphing calculators for the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) grade 8 mathematics assessment with either a traditional handheld graphing calculator or a graphing calculator application available on an electronic tablet. The Commissioner’s decision marks the first time an electronic calculator application has been authorized for use by students in a Texas state assessment.
Use of calculator apps on electronic tablets will be allowed on a pilot basis for the 2014-2015 administration of the 8th grade mathematics assessment only. For the pilot year, the Texas Education Agency will still prohibit the use of smart phones.
“After extensive feedback from superintendents across our state coupled with conversations with agency staff, I am allowing a broader array of technology to meet the 8th grade calculator requirement,” said Commissioner Williams. “While I recognize this revised policy will not address all concerns and may still require some districts to purchase additional technology, I am hopeful this policy will enable us to provide some flexibility.”
Commissioner Williams originally wrote to Texas superintendents in February regarding the required use of graphing calculators for the STAAR grade 8 mathematics assessment. Beginning in the 2014–2015 school year, districts must ensure that each student has a graphing calculator to use when taking the STAAR grade 8 mathematics assessment. Calculators are now necessary for grade 8 mathematics because the State Board of Education significantly increased the algebra content in the grade 8 TEKS requiring the use of graphing calculators – not only in classroom instruction, but also on the state assessment.
In his letter to superintendents, the Commissioner continued to express concerns about ensuring test security and preventing cheating. For districts that choose to use technology other than a handheld graphing calculator, there will likely be additional test monitoring and security measures put in place to ensure that the integrity of the test is not compromised.
“Depending on the success of this pilot, especially as it relates to test security and any confirmed testing irregularities, I will make decisions about either continuing and possibly expanding the use of additional technologies or prohibiting their use moving forward,” said Commissioner Williams in his letter. “The future viability of technology like this during state assessments will largely depend on the success, vigilance, and integrity within your districts.”
Districts choosing to meet the calculator requirement for the grade 8 mathematics test using technology (other than a handheld graphing calculator) should note that all other major standardized tests – including the PSAT, SAT, ACT, Advanced Placement (AP) exams and Texas Success Initiative (TSI) Assessment – do not permit the use of calculator applications on tablets, smart phones, or other electronic devices. As a result, Commissioner Williams advised districts that they may want to keep in mind the policies their students will need to follow for these tests when deciding which technology to use for classroom instruction.
Some school districts may elect to have students use a graphing calculator application on a tablet or other mobile device during routine classroom instruction and homework, with an actual graphing calculator available for use during the assessment. In these instances, the calculator application should have the same functionality as the calculator to be used on the state assessment to ensure that students are familiar with the calculator. However, students are not required to use the exact same tool during routine class work or homework and the state assessment.