Twitter has often been compared to a firehouse of information. Today I put my Dixie Cup out and caught this which I loved and made me think beyond Sylvia's 'sketchnote'. Do Educational leaders follow this same list for their teaches? Are some of these 'do what I say not as I do' too often by principals/admin? What do you think? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below!
Heather Gauck, Allison Taylor and myself presented recently at the MACUL Mobile Learning Conference in Kalamazoo, Michigan sharing our experiences with digital leadership. Our session was not only fun to put together but was a blast sharing with these amazing educators as well.
Our audience was attentive and kind and were very talkative at the conclusion all seemed genuinely ready to tackle one of the opportunities/tools we presented on.
Below is our presentation. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or comments!
I had the pleasure of leading a professional development session this week for my staff and that of a local Middle College program focusing on Standards Based Learning/Grading. Our emphasis was to write standards with proficiency scales that focused on skills as opposed to the usual content that curriculum maps are based on.
We kicked off the work day with a review of how society and business are changing from a physical item ownership and demand to more of a creative/collaborative nature. We discussed how the following businesses have changed how their sector 'does business' and how we as educators have to begin changing our mindset to keep up with the times. (Tweet/Image courtesy of Dr. Justin Tarte)
With this, we related how educators have done business for the last 100 years+ which mostly included the transfer of facts/content to how we must now impart the skill of how to learn and how to interact with others as well as the information that is so much more accessible through modern technology. Instead of restricting the use of technology to seek out knowledge/facts we must encourage students to make sense of what they find while curating and collaborating on its best use.
We also spoke about how ESSA will allow more freedom in standards and assessments at the district/state level and we can take advantage of this by marking our work with the unique DNA of our district and educators.
We moved through the why of the day and into the how or creation of high-level skills and in what way we would assess them via a modified Marzano proficiency scale. Traditional Marzano proficiency scales do away with grades for numbers or labels identifying the level of proficiency a student has attained but for our purposes the shift to Standards Based Grading would most make sense leaving traditional grades as part of our process. Please click through the presentation below to make sense of our modifications and some resources that can help:
I was very proud of the discussion and work done by the teams from both schools who were gathered by core content areas as well as elective groups. Discussion of cross-cutting skills that students must know to be successful in both their areas as well as life were articulated with high level Bloom's/Marzano taxonomies and then broken down by building blocks ("C" level proficiency) versus the true Higher Order Thinking Skills that wold drive students to success ("A" level proficiency).
Future posts will feature some of their brave and thoughtful work and I can't wait to see how far they can take the learning of our students!
Consider a few facts:
As an educator, I personally have accepted that mobile devices are not going anywhere and that we need to accept their presence and usefulness in our schools and classrooms. While some educators debate if students should have phones/devices in our buildings, few can argue that schools and families must begin to teach students a few key skills to better support our students' education.
1. Students must be able to use their school's website or app to look up their own grades, attendance, discipline and other available educational records. One cannot goal-set and improve if they do not have the data to know how they are doing and where to focus. Our students are no different than professionals like athletes, engineers and businessmen who constantly take snapshots of their work in time and then focus their improvement in areas they have difficulty and/or deficiencies. Students must download/locate the app or site that allows for access to this data and then must bookmark and save log-ins and passwords for frequent checking and goal setting. Once these goals are created we must coach students to set up reminders to monitor their growth within their program/app or an online calendar. There are many websites that allow students to send their 'future' selves reminders of these goals to keep on track like futureme.org and textitlater.com, which can also be done from their mobile device.
2. Students must be proficient with an online- or app- based calendar. The days of students carrying a paper calendar with their school logo emblazoned upon it are waning. Both the responsibility of carrying a planner around and the daily task of remembering to check it regularly can now be replaced with their mobile device which they always have and frequently look at (some argue too much). Setting up a calendar with reminders for projects, upcoming events, goals, and other school appropriate dates is as easy as using Google Calendar, ICloud Calendar, Cal, or any of the pre-installed calendar apps on your device. Many current study apps and learning management systems that schools and teachers use sync with these calendars with minimal student effort, thus only enhancing student organization and time management.
3. Student must know how to capture and share learning with their mobile device while enhancing their digital footprint. Students can easily use Snapchat, Twitter, InstaGram and use just about every social media app but do they know how to improve their digital footprint through the capture and sharing of educational highlights? Adults in their lives must model and moderate social media use while teaching students how to capture their best moments. Instead of camera's for selfies, they can be used to capture images of their best work, videos of learning highlights or reviews, and then shared across multiple websites and social media apps. When Googled, a student's goal should be a steady stream of impressive school products and collaborations within the search results.
4. Students must be able to collaborate across the web/cloud with multiple parties to study or create a product/project. Face-to-face communication will never lose importance in the educational process. With that in mind, we cannot ignore that students need to learn the nuanced skills of collaborating with peers and professionals through online means. Whether the correspondence is, via a common app or software like Google Apps or through virtual conversations by chat programs like Google Hangouts or Skype, students' confidence is built when they are able to create new items virtually. Students can also enhance their curriculum understanding via their mobile device by reaching out to authors or professionals in the field and not only get their questions answered, but also can present their learning by respected individuals beyond their teachers. Also, by collaborating via social media apps, students can create study groups that can meet and quiz each other in an asynchronous way, fitting review time between their very busy schedule.
While this list is not all-encompassing it would be a great start to help students to use their cell phones, iPods, tablet computers and laptops for productive work. Technology used in a positive format will allow our children to grow up feeling that they can goal set, track and improve their learning, collaborate beyond their immediate world and make a meaningful difference in their (and our) world.
Google has paired up the expertise of Dan Ariely, professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University (and author of a great book Predictably Irrational) with their very popular app, Google Calendar, to help folks connect their long-term goals to the crazy, busy lives we lead.
The first step, if you haven't already begun to do so, is to begin using Google Calendar App to plan your days. While you can see and reschedule using the desktop/online Google Calendar, currently goals can only be set from the app (Click here for further directions).
Next step, is to set goals. Categorical suggestions by google are exercise, skill buildings, family, and friends, me time and organize my life which when selected then drill down to further suggestions. You pick one of their goals or create your own, and then Google consults your calendar and time of day you want to complete the skill and POOF! the app squeezes in your goal to accomplish during your day, week or month.
I can see huge implications for students and educators if both faithfully schedule their life events in Calendar. Time is always a concern in our busy lives whether it be school, homework, lesson planning, sports, extracurricular activities and the like. If this addition to the Google Calendar App can help us squeeze in "10 minutes 1 time a day to meditate" or "say something nice to a fellow Wildcat twice a week" or in my case below "get out of my office and visit classrooms 3 times a week for an hour during the morning."
A great feature of the Google Goals addition to the G Calendar App is the ability to 'defer' the goal when it pops up on your device. We all know we get busy during the day when unforeseen appointments and commitments come up. If you have to rush off to do something during your goal-set time you can just click 'defer' and Google Calendar will search for another time to complete the goal/task later that day, week, or month.
For students I can see them adding stress relief, study time, working on personal projects, explore careers, visit colleges, etc. into their already busy schedules and instead of feeling overwhelmed, the App will place it during times that are already not taken. Have a game that warm ups start at 5pm? Explore careers on the bus on the way! Always wanted to learn another language? Maybe 20 minutes before you leave for work each day you can squeeze in some Duolingo time!
The possibilities are endless! How do you see the Google Goals portion of the Calendar App working for you
"Who has a smartphone phone?"
"What's a bit.ly?!?!"
"Who knows hieroglyphics?"
"Where is our math experts?"
"Do the extra capital letters in this paragraph MEAN something?!?"
"You and I go watch this YoutTube video...its 10 minutes long!"
"Someone start counting knots!"
"Time is running out!!!"
All of these phrases and more could be heard as sweat was beading on our foreheads We had to brainstorm before time ran out. How were we going to break out and save us all!
No, we were not kidnapped while at the 2016 MACUL education conference. Instead, we signed up to experience BreakoutEDU first hand. BreakoutEDU is a new game based learning activity patterned after the Escape Room fad that has taken hold across our state (click for Michigan Escape Rooms) and nation.
The basic premise of both Escape Rooms and BreakoutEDU classroom games is a story is posed to the players/students and they have to move through clues discovered and given to 'break out' and complete the game. Puzzles are both physical and digital in nature and everyone on the 'team' must contribute their strengths to succeed before time runs out.
Everyone lending their strengths to success is where the BreakoutEDU puzzle I played hooked me. Educators are always striving to find that panacea to draw in and have success with all of their students. As I play this game with a variety adults, most of which I had never met, I could see the teamwork, problem-solving, critical thinking, and troubleshooting coming together with very little intervention from our facilitators. All of us quickly took up the position on the team closest to our strengths and worked together seamlessly to solve the puzzle.
As we worked my brain drifted to how this would be amazing back at my high school. I could see the strong readers aiding those who struggle. I could see the mathematicians taking tips from the more observant students. I could see the students who struggle academically running the locks and searching the classroom for clues. I could see that student who may not lead in traditional assignments, taking the organizational position as team leader. I could see digital skills being taught through the backdoor as well as mathematics, social studies, science and close reading. (Needless to say, I probably could've been a stronger teammate as my mind wandered)
We successfully completed our puzzle and unlike many conference sessions, quickly started talking about the rush we had, how we could use this in our respective schools and staff professional development days, and how we could hide the WiFi password from our own kids on snow days!
Engagement, motivation, excitement and everyone involved you say? I cannot wait until our BreakoutEDU boxes show up at my high school sometime after spring break.
Yes, I may be speaking out of turn here as I'm not a Michigan legislator nor an employee of the Michigan Department of Education, but I can tell you my last visit to our state capitol was ripe with opportunities to contribute to our educational environment here in Michigan.
My day started off with a trip to meet Michelle Ribant who is the director of 21st Century Learning and Innovation at the Michigan Department of Education. (Where can I sign up for the job next?) I was part of a team of educators who happened to attend a session on the Michigan Technology plan for the next 5 years which is in the process of being created. After a quick email from one of us the whole team was invited to her office. We had an amazingly productive meeting and by the end were all invited to give formal input and be part of the committee process to build the State Technology plan. Michelle couldn't have been more welcoming, knowledgeable or inspiring!
Next, after a stroll through the Capitol Building and some lunch, my day continued with a visit to my local Senator Dale Zorn. Also a gracious host, I had the pleasure of meeting with him and two of his office staff as we discussed the finer points of school funding, limitations on schools and innovation due to policy, and of course his beloved grandchildren. Sen. Zorn even named me a member of his 'kitchen cabinet' on education, meaning he'd welcome help on topics affecting students and teachers! Again, meeting with someone of his stature and influence in Lansing was as easy as a couple of emails and a shuttle to his office.
My day of giving the movers and shakers of our State capital a little input came to a close as I was honored to be asked to moderate a Michigan Educator Voice Fellowship panel discussion with:
Michelle Fecteau, Secretary of the Michigan State Board of Education
Leah Breen, Professional Preparation and Certification Services, Michigan Department of Education
Annie Brown, School Board Trustee and Candidate for State Rep HD-66
Jeff Bean, Placement Coordinator & Instructor at Ferris State University
I helped to create questions focused on how current educators could be partner with all of their varied positions/departments to better education in Michigan. These professionals not only gave real time feedback and suggestions for how everyone could get involved, they asked for direct contact anytime policy was being considered. Also, Ms. Breen from the MDE let educators know they could become a part of a database of experts that are reached out to on topics specific to their skills.
Now at this point you are saying, "Well this is you Matt and I can't do this. Not even sure if I'd be welcomed in these places. Do I have time to set this up?"
Honestly, having a day like mine is a simple 3 step process:
1. Research 'who' for 10 minutes - We all have 10 minutes. Look up the answers to: who are the representatives in my area? Who is in charge of my passion at the MDE? Who controls what I do/don't like at the state or national level? (Some of these questions are hyperlinked to get you started).
2. Ask to meet - All of my opportunities simply came by way of a face to face or email request to meet and speak. Nothing fancy. Nothing special. Just a simple, "May we meet to...." followed with a sincere thank you.
3. Be Prepared - This may exceed the 10 minutes from earlier, but not by much. Find your nice dress clothes (2 minutes), take a shower (10 minutes), look up the person you are talking to and skim their latest endeavors (10 minutes +), jot down a few of your ideas on their current topics (5 minutes).
See? It can be done. I'd love to hear how your productive visit goes in the comments below!
I was very impressed with my staff this week. During our parent teacher conferences, teachers put on a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math or "STEAM" Fair which had projects from Art, English, Consumer Science, History, Psychology, Science and Math classrooms. Need ideas for your own STEAM Fair click here! Please take a moment and enjoy the projects below!
As I walked the STEAM Fair and interacted with student presenters, I was reminded of the engagement that Project Based Learning (aka PBL) can bring to our schools.
Passion was evident in the portfolios of learning shared by students and the students who presented their learning, especially in the engineering section. Students were driving renewable cars and presenting their learning path via QR codes and animated software. One young man even tried to pick up his little sister with a self-built RC truck!
WWII scrapbooks of learning were on display as well. I especially appreciated those in which students did family research to tell the story of a great uncle or grandparent. Their passion was evident by the care and craftsmanship of these displays and the research that went into them.
Another impressive aspect of the fair was the AP English/Lit students who were working on persuasion via their art projects. Not only were these projects in varied stages of completion for the STEAM Fair but they were also in varied stages of securing local venues for their display. Students will be displaying their pieces for 2-4 weeks and gathering feedback on the level of persuasion/engagement as well as blogging on their experience.
The environment PBL environment was infectious with students dragging their families into the Fair to proudly show off their learning the whole day. Engagement, pride and motivation were certainly on display well beyond anything traditional assessments could reach.
The 3 P's were on display and wowed all; Projects, Portfolios and Performances! Great job students and teachers!
(Click here for more on the 3Ps and assessment!)
Tech, tech, everywhere with Ozbots rolling on the ground and drones flying through the air!
The MACUL Conference is a smorgasbord of EdTech learning as far as the eyes can see and the legs can walk. And like most "All You Can Eat" places I might have overindulged. I'm home right, sweat pants on, trying to comb through the links, presentations and piles of swag I picked up.
A curated pile of links here for my social studies teachers there. A stack of catalogs and pamphlets here for our 'collaborative learning spaces' bond committee on this desk. Some blinking LED name badges for my kids over here. A Google Folder full of pictures of business cards in my G-Drive for later.
As these analog and digital piles stack and sort the biggest take away hits me from these days of learning. While thousands of fellow educators came together for the betterment of themselves and their profession not any two of us were the same.
There were the teachers who finally just said, "I guess this Internet thing isn't just a fad..." to those who said, "...I could've taught all these sessions..." And while we differed greatly we came together and ALL learned something about ourselves (no we don't know everything and yes the Internet is here to say) and how we can support each other to move education forward through the use of technology. I think I see a few of our friends coming together in the video below, do you?
Just a chance to reflect over educational articles and ideas that float through my head.