Sunday, April 21, 2013

Three Tips for Building Teacher Buy-In

by Bill Ferriter

A close friend who works in a leadership role in a local school asked me an interesting question this week.  "I just want to build something that teachers can buy-in to that will help kids," she said.  "How do you do that?"

Chances are that if you've worked in schools for any length of time, that question resonates with you, right?  

We've ALL had moments where we were completely frustrated by a group of teachers who just weren't interested in moving forward with a new project and/or program.
The good news is that getting teachers to buy-in to change initiatives isn't NEARLY as hard as it seems.  You just need to remember that:

Teachers buy into change efforts that they believe are important.

The change initiative that I've spent the MOST professional energy on in my 20 year teaching career was an effort to convert my traditional middle school into a professional learning community that started a little over  8 years ago. 

Since then, I've literally spent thousands of unpaid hours trying to polish the collaborative work of my learning teams.

Education in the 21st Century

Has Education arrived in the 21st Century yet?

by Mr. Gleeson

This interesting table, comparing 20th and 21st Century learning, was conceived by William Rankin, a well credentialed doctor of Education from ACU, Texas. This graphic, which I found on Educational Technology and Mobile Learning, was originally published on iThinkEd in 2007, where you can read Rankin’s full thoughts that led to his creation of this table.

What’s fascinating for me is the fact this was written 7 years ago. It doesn’t date the message. It challenges us as educators to reflect on how far we have actually progressed. I started hearing the talk about 21st Century Learning back in the 90s and here we are in 2013 and, looking at this chart from Rankin, we have to ask ourselves; for all the talk and planning, have we really moved out of the 20th Century and embraced what this nebulous concept of 21st Century is really about? We marvel at the innovators we love watching on TEDTalk videos. We build our great contemporary learning spaces. We create our visionary policies and curriculum documents. And yet, if we take the comparisons Rankin presents here at face value and accept his point of view, we probably have to admit we are still struggling with the ‘Education Revolution’.

Of course, revolutions aren’t meant to be easy.

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Make Student Thinking Visible

Don’t plan for technology; plan for learning

By Alan November

 You never know how someone will react when you suggest that they junk their title and replace it with a new one that leads to a different focus of work—not to mention the confusion this could cause across the faculty, or the possible political tension it might generate.

I was about to suggest that the title “Director of Educational Technology” was too narrow for the scope of the work that needed to be accomplished to improve learning for students at this highly successful International School in Asia where I was consulting.   The traditional title, which focused on the tools themselves, did not convey the complexity of the problem to be solved.

Even if all teachers learned how to use all of the available tools—a nearly impossible and hugely time-consuming task—this might not lead to improved learning. I have watched students in laptop schools sitting in rows, taking notes on their machines from a teacher who is giving a decade-old lecture on an interactive whiteboard. While this kind of implementation might be deemed a success in terms of the technical adoption, it’s nothing more than the same script with new tools—and we shouldn’t expect any different results. There has to be more to this massive investment than introducing new tools, only to end up with same work.

Don’t get me wrong—tools are certainly essential. Let’s agree that every student needs a digital device, just as every student once needed a pencil and a notebook. But, just as a better pencil will not lead to improved learning, “better technology” might not, either. If we don’t redesign the culture of teaching and learning and ask some fundamental questions about the design of learning environments, our investment in technology will be wasted. Shouldn’t we define the problem as a learning design problem, rather than a technology problem?

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Saturday, April 20, 2013

21st Century Classroom Ideas

 7 Key Ingredients in the successful 21st Century Classroom

Posted by Vicki Davis

Every modern school should have at least 4 things in technology or take off the modern and just call yourself a school:
  1. a STEM Lab. 

    If you want to make it STEAM - Science Technology Engineering, Arts, and Math, then go right ahead! You've still got STEM and you can't have technology without the arts. Some are getting rid of their "computer" labs (which I think is a huge mistake). The argument is that every teacher should integrate technology. The problem is that every teacher doesn't, can't, won't or isn't.

    A STEM lab not only focuses on the technology but the Engineering, Math, and Science and critical thinking technology-app infused decision making required in our Higher Order thinking world. The best example is the interview with my friend Kevin Jarrett who removed his elementary computer lab and put in a STEM Lab. I'm all in, Kevin, you've convinced me.

    It stresses me out to think what I'm doing to myself but I'm in the process of proposing that I no longer be called the computer lab but the STEAM lab. I'm willing to do what it takes to rewrite my curriculum. If I believe it, I've got to do it. I'll never settle for the same thing I taught last year but only to do the right thing for my students. It will still include genius projects and Flat Classroom, that is for sure.

    See Turning Elementary Computer Labs into STEM Labs an interview with Kevin Jarrett, elementary STEM lab teacher
  2. Genius Hour.

    Twenty per cent personal interest projects (some call this genius hour) are VITAL. Students spend 20% of their time on a personal interest project that they propose and teachers coach. I first saw this when I spoke in Evansville, Indiana. They require their seniors to do a personal interest project taking at least 100 hours. (See the video from Dantae Thrash below, the Evansville student who blew me away.)

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Sunday, April 14, 2013

5 Ways to Screw Up an iPad Deployment

Tip of the Week: 5 Ways to Screw Up an iPad Deployment

I spent a lot of time over the last few weeks working with a ton of teachers. Great conversations. Lots of learning. And not just a little frustration on the part of the teachers.
Much of the frustration centered on their iPads.
Getting work from kids is too hard.
There’s too much I have to keep track of in terms of classroom management.
We can’t get the apps we need.
The tech people won’t open up the ports on the server so the iPads can talk with each other, printers and projection devices.
I get it. It’s not easy.
I think many people, especially admin types, expect the iPad to revolutionize the educational world. Kids will love them. Teachers will love them. Test scores will go up. Behavior problems will go down.
You can almost see some assistant superintendent in his office, gleefully rubbing his hands together in anticipation:
This is the silver bullet we’ve all been waiting for.
Here’s a secret. iPads are not the silver bullet. Hardware and software won’t change education. Teachers and quality teaching will.

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