Thursday, September 30, 2010

PD for Teachers: Will Richardson's great idea

PD for Teachers (Like Students Do It)

I know that I sometimes rely on a few great bloggers for ideas to share. Will Richardson has just come up with the best idea he has had for a while! I love this. I have copy and pasted his words for you to read. I will do this for PD on our staff for sure.

"Here’s an idea for your next PD day around technology (assuming you’ve already started a conversation around social learning tools and curricular change…no small assumption, I know.)

Step 1: Put up a wiki page with a list of interesting tools that teachers might use in the classroom, fairly complete descriptions of what the tool can do, and a few links to great examples of use in the classrooms. Ask teachers to read through the descriptions and sign up for the sessions that interest them. Schedule sessions in rooms with computers and internet access. Only run those sessions that have at least four people signed up for it.

Step 2: When people arrive in the rooms where the sessions are scheduled, write this on the board, whiteboard, smartboard, etc: “YOU HAVE 90 MINUTES. FIGURE IT OUT.”

You have a more effective PD model?

Kim Cofino blogs about technology and curriculum

Kim Cofino is one of my favorite bloggers. She was at a school in Bangkok and now she is in a new position in Japan. I find this refreshing because she is in a new grade 6 classroom teaching a technology course that has never been offered before at that school. Need I mention that she is a keynote speaker for the 2011 K-12 on-line conference. Even the most accomplished people have to start over again from time to time. I think she is having fun with this!!

Her post is about a self study where their IT group got together and came up with ideas as to how technology should be integrated with curricula. They came up with the following list. She has asked for our/your advice on which are the essential ones. Please go to her blog to help her out. I have highlighted in bold what I think are the most important ones.

1.Curriculum design and delivery are consistent with the school’s technology philosophy, objectives and policies.

2.Written curriculum materials specify expected learning outcomes for meaningful technology integration.

3.The curriculum encourages students to leverage technology resources to meet the needs of their learning styles.

4.The curriculum emphasizes the responsible use of social media to promote digital citizenship.

5.The curriculum includes technology rich experiences articulated horizontally and vertically.

6.There is clear designation of responsibility for effective and well articulated integration of technology into the curriculum.

7.The curriculum provides opportunities for students to utilize technology to document and reflect on their learning over time as a means to promote life long learning.

8.The school provides PD to promote new ideas and approaches to effective technology integration.

9.Teachers manage digital learning environments to engage students in collaboration with others beyond classroom walls.

10.Current technology resources are provided to promote effective teaching and learning.

11.Sufficient academic technology professionals are assigned to facilitate effective technology integration.

12.Sufficient technical and infrastructure specialists are assigned to support effective technology integration.

13.Social and ethical use of technology & information is clearly defined and communicated to students and parents.

14.Staff members consider current technological advances in revising curriculum and instruction.

OK, so you think I'm messing with you? I could not find a single item that didn't deserve bold in my mind. Can you? Let Kim know if you can.

Monday, September 27, 2010

School as a video game?!

Have you ever wondered how you could incorporate video games into your classroom? The debate as to their effectiveness and curricular rigor may forever be ended by the video below.

Are Violent Video Games Adequately Preparing Children For The Apocalypse?

I love that video! It is a wonderful parody, poking fun at both children who play too much and adults who fear them.

How do you use them in your class? I have had limited success and I feel like I have so much to learn. I have had some success with "26 learning games for change" from Mission to Learn. These games are just great games for the classroom. Their goals are global education and social action. Some will not grab the students right away or at all, others require the player to learn the mechanics of the game to be able to get the larger point of the game.

Watch the video below from the New York Times about the program Quest to Learn, where students learn from playing and making video games. I was so intrigued by this school that I looked on the website to become a teacher there and will be contacting them to find out what I can learn from them to incorporate into my classroom.

Will Richardson has written a post on video games in school and is worth reading for his thoughts. The New York Times has written an informative article (with many links) about video games as/in school. They have two links to who they call "the guru of games in education", James Paul Gee. In them, he answers FAQ's (FAQ1, FAQ2) about games in the classroom. The New York Times article mentions the innovative program, the institute of play. The institute of play is out of Minnesota and has the following mission statement:

"We promote GAMING LITERACY: the play, analysis, and creation of games, as a foundation for learning, innovation, and change in the 21st century. Through a variety of programs centered on game design, the Institute engages audiences of all ages, exploring new ways to think, act, and speak through gaming in a social world."

In conclusion to this rather long post, this is all very exciting and interesting! Just what am I supposed to do with all of it? Here's what I figured out. I am going to look at some of the games these folks are playing in school and try to learn them (or get my kids to!). I will also contact some of the people from these programs to see where I should start. Here is my list of games I got from James Paul Gee's FAQ.

  • flower- playstation

  • flow- free

  • alice- 3d animation download

  • storytelling alice- 3d animation download

  • gamestar mechanic- designing games, free

  • scratch- designing games- download

  • kodu- designing games- download

  • little big planet- PS3

  • David Williamson Shaffer’s How Computer Games Help Children Learn (book)

  • world of warcraft- free trial

  • filament games- many free games, ecology, government, landforms, etc.

  • i-civics- U.S. govt.

  • sims- simulation download

  • portal- $20 U.S.

  • braid- pay download

  • second life- free basic download

  • guitar hero

  • resilient planet- download

  • quest atlantis- 1 hour free, $6.99 download

  • dimension m- paid download

  • age of mythology- paid download

  • harvest moon

  • drop 7- itunes app

  • peace maker- $20 download

  • world of goo- $6.99 download

  • chibi-robo- Nintendo download

  • I know just the student I am going to put onto this! I'll let you know how it goes.

    Saturday, September 25, 2010

    Richard Halkett part 6

    Alan November has interviewed Richard Halkett the 6th time. This time the topic was what schools need to do to be 21st century schools. He makes four main points:

    1. creating new educational partners- schools need to look for new partners in the community and in the business world as schools evolve into 21st century schools

    2. formalizing informal projects- some of the products and projects already being taken on in schools will need to be highlighted and formalized in terms of the curricula, assessment, etc.

    3. reform assessment to reflect 21st century skills

    4. drive innovation and dissemination of new practices-classrooms and classroom teachers are extraordinary innovators! What schools are not good at is sharing and dissemination of innovation. Schools need to come up with methods to "kill" bad ideas and to nurture the good ideas.

    He makes the foreboding statement that schools need to make these changes from within. The implication that the changes will inevitably be made from outside. Reminds me of the quote, "Change before you have to!"

    He also calls for the revamping of the preparation of our leaders. He says school leaders are very capable and enthusiastic, but we need a more effective management process so that the capacity and urgency to change is enabled.

    He mentions two sites to visit for ideas:

    Both sites are full of great information which will help you with your quest to be a 21st century school!

    Celebrating Success 1: 21st Century at Confed.

    The other day I felt quite down about our rate of progress towards becoming a 21st century school. Change in schools can be slow, perhaps more than other industries. We had a quick staff meeting where our technology group was given a short period of time to show staff how to set up an RSS feed or google reader. We wanted time to get every staff person to create their own. I really felt that if we just talked to them, no one would carry through and program their own feed. Not enough time and nobody interested. I wanted everybody to use the feed to assist them in their professional learning, just as I use mine.

    The next day, one of our wonderfully gifted resource room teachers came into my room and wanted help setting up a google reader. My intern helped her to do that in a few minutes. I told her that she could now subscribe to this very blog as a start. She explained that she had susbscribed to my class blog instead! At first I was disappointed.

    I then realized the beauty of her idea. Three times a week she comes into our room to help children with the writing process. Much of the writing we do is blogging. (learn, communicate, build a learning network) By setting up an RSS feed to our blog, every time a student writes something it is sent to her reader and she can comment, encourage and collaborate with students almost instantaneously! The beauty of the idea is that I didn't even think of it before.

    An ingenious idea which was not possible until the age of technology. The students win as they increase their readership, the teachers win because the technology makes their job easier.

    I'm looking forward to celebrating more successful steps to becoming a 21st century school!

    Wednesday, September 22, 2010

    ISTE's Critieria for Success

    The ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) gives awards to individuals who are technology innovators. They list the criteria for success on their web page. Classroom technology innovators should:

    1. Apply available technology now
    2. Move forward and don't look back
    3. See students as real people
    4. Teach through relationships, inspiring, encouraging, nurturing
    5. Recognize that further change is necessary, but understand that it is a process
    6. Realize that teacher empowerment is the key element to technology integration
    7. Expect success
    8. Motivate through awareness and access to information

    How are you and your people doing?

    Can We Change Schools?

    Will Richardson has found a great quote and put it on his blog. You can read it below, but I would rather you go to his post and read it for yourself!

    "It is the thesis of this book that change—constant, accelerating, ubiquitous—is the most striking characteristic of the world we live in and that our educational system has not yet recognized this fact. We maintain, further, that the abilities and attitudes required to deal adequately with change are those of the highest priority and that it is not beyond our ingenuity to design school environments which can help young people to master concepts necessary to survival in a rapidly changing world. The institution we call “school” is what it is because we made it that way. If it is irrelevant…if it shields children from reality…if it educates for obsolescence…if it does not develop intelligence…if it is based on fear…if it avoids the promotion of significant learnings…if it induces alienation…if it punishes creativity and independence…if, in short, it is not doing what needs to be done, it can be changed; it must be changed."

    Neil Postman

    Teaching as a Subversive Activity 1968

    As Will asks, "Can it?"

    Sunday, September 19, 2010

    Leading and Learning: ISTE Magazine, Sep./Oct., 2010

    I have "discovered" a wonderful source of learning about technology in teaching. It is the magazine "Leading and Learning", from the ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education). Our school and school division are using the NETS (National Education Technology Standards) to guide teachers and students in effective use of technology.

    I am so excited to have this resource to look through for support of our school's technology initiative and for my attempts to do my part through my blog. The Sep./Oct. issue is filled with great, usable ideas and links. I will not attempt to discuss specific articles in this post, but I am pretty sure I will be referring to it often. Some of the topics are:

    There is an easy link to back issues which I can hardly wait to get to as well. Hit the link and happy reading!

    What are the public saying about schools?

    I love to read Will Richardson's blog posts. He has written one called "Who's Asking", which asks the question,"What are the public saying about schools?" I hear what the public says about schools all the time on the street. The concerns and complaints have been the same for many years. The problem in my mind is that not many have any idea what schools should do to move into the 21st century.

    Will Richardson writes,

    "So here’s the deal with the change that many of us in this conversation are clamoring for in schools: we’re about the only ones talking it. The townsfolk down at the corner store aren’t demanding “21st Century Skills,” technology in every student’s hand, an inquiry based curriculum and globally networked classrooms. By and large the parents and grandparents in our communities aren’t asking for it. The national conversation isn’t about rethinking what happens in classrooms. No one’s creating assessments around any of this. And in fact, outside of the small percentage of people who are participating in these networks and communities online, the vast majority of this country and the world doesn’t even know that a revolution is brewing.
    And, while it’s no shocker to say it, that’s what makes it really tough to be a leader in schools right now. Because if you’re doing your job, you’re thinking about doing things that no one out there is asking you to do. Which is, after all, what leadership is all about, isn’t it? I love Seth Godin’s quote from Tribes: “Leadership is a choice; it’s the choice not to do nothing.”Especially if basically standing pat will get you by. Given the current expectations for “student achievement” and adequate yearly progress, most school leaders can continue to get away with tinkering on the edges and not do anything to really upset the chalk tray. You want to make it into Newsweek’s top high schools list? Just keep pumping those AP courses and prepping those test scores. Constructing “modern knowledge” and sharing it with other global learners online? Not finding the check box for that.

    I’ve said it before, you want to lead right now, as an administrator or as a teacher? You have to do both: you have do all of those things the parents and the town fathers and Newsweek (well, maybe not Newsweek) want you to do, but you also have to start shifting and seeing what the future holds for the kids in your schools, regardless if anyone else can see it. You have to, as the superintendent at my old school Lisa Brady has begun to do, lead your staff and your school community to the place where they understand the need for change as well, a place that’s not just about test scores and AYP, but that’s about student learning and literacy in new forms, forms that look much different from our own but that will be crucial to our kids’ success. You have to be an advocate, wherever and whenever you can, to convince people that while doing both is hard and takes time and effort, that it’s worth it, that it’s the right thing to do for the kids in our schools.

    Because if you’re waiting for the conversation in the coffee shop and the porch swing to act, you’re going to be waiting a long time."

    I apologise the cut and paste Will. I just can not say it any better than that. Thanks for the pep talk, sometimes I need it.

    Wednesday, September 15, 2010

    Mexican Collaboration: Mat and Rochelle's Excellent Adventure

    Very dear friends of mine are in Mexico for a year. Watch this video and tell me this isn't fun. Our classes are collaborating and sharing our learning. You can find their blog at:

    Thanks Mat and Rochelle.

    Flat World and Education

    Will Richardson has written another great post called "Disposable Reform" based on an interiew by Steve Hargadon with Linda Darling-Hammond that covered, for the most part, the ideas in her new book “The Flat World and Education”. Her main point is:

    “Progressive educational philosophies, that is approaches that are child-centered, that are really focused on empowering forms of learning that allow people to inquire for themselves and pursue knowledge in self-initiated ways as well as in other ways, those kinds of reforms demand infinitely skilled teachers, and our system has never been organized to produce infinitely skilled teachers in sufficient qualities to fuel those reforms over the long haul.”

    You can listen to the first part of the interview below.


    Richardson goes on to say that so many of the improvement initiatives handed down to schools are of the "change de jour" type and are done before they have had a chance to take affect. He also says that so much of what we ask children to produce in schools (assignments, projects, tests, activities) is disposable as well. He concludes,

    "I mean really, how much of what we actually have our kids do in school is really worth hanging onto in a “change the world” sense?"

    Is he expecting too much from schools? Can we expect children to change the world? Are teachers incapable of changing the school system so that they are progressive, child centered, empowering students to be inquiring and self-directed? Do teachers have the skills and training to change the direction and focus of schools? Do they have the interest?

    How do you answer these questions?

    21st Century Schools About Changing Attitude and Culture, not about technology

    21st century classrooms are not about technology, they represent a cultural change in the way the classroom operates. They are about how children learn to be critical thinkers, self-directed, creative, collaborative, safe and respectful learners. I thought it would be helpful to share how I address each of the above in my classroom as I think many teachers have little knowledge of how to bring sweeping change into theirs. I will not attempt to give details, I will simply provide a classroom link as an example. I also have never claimed to have perfected my 21st century classroom! Most of these links are found on our class blog page .

    Critical Thinking:




    Safe and respectful:

    How are you teaching 21st century skills?

    Saturday, September 11, 2010

    Where Are You on the Change Management Spectrum?

    The framework for our school's technology inititative (Using Technology Effectively to Transform Learning) is the Change Management model based on ADKAR (Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement). If you are a reader of these blog posts, chances are you are aware of the need for changing the way learning happens in schools (many authors claim it needs to be reinvented). It may be that your awareness is raised by reading this blog.

    It may be that you desire to change the way learning happens in your classroom. It is my observation that many educators are aware of the need and desire to change, yet lack the knowledge to transform learning in their classrooms. At least one author (Linda Darling-Hammond) claims that such a change requires skills that teachers do not have.

    Each teacher who is asked to move their class into the 21st century will be at a different place on the "change management spectrum".

    Where are you on the change management spectrum as far as how you use technology to transform learning in your classroom? Take the survey below.

    Take the Online Survey .

    In taking this survey, you will have identified your barrier to change the way you use technology effectively to transform learning in your class and your school.

    Thursday, September 9, 2010

    The Arithmetic of Change, a question of attitude, not technology", You Must Watch This Video!!

    My good friend Melinda Brown told me about this video by Sugata Mitra which is remarkably compelling to me. Its implication for educators and education are amazing. I will not dilute it's impact with a review or rhetorical rephrasing.

    Allow me please to allude to my favorite quotes from the talk:

    1. "A teacher that can be replaced by a machine, should be."
    2. "If children have interest, then education happens." (Arthur C. Clarke)
    3. "the Arithmetic of Change, a question of attitude, not technology"

    Please share this video with your colleagues and your students, and ask them how your school will change.

    Teaching Critical Thinking

    The other day I came across the most amazing critical thinking resource from microsoft. It is packed full of ideas and sites to teach critical thinking to any level of student. In the introduction the authors cite a quote from Sir Francis Bacon, the father of scientific thinking, where he outlined the habits of minds skilled in research (1605). They are "paraphrased":

    • Nimble and versatile enough to see relationships among things, in addition to
      subtle distinctions between them.

    • Inquisitive.

    • Patient enough to doubt and ask questions.

    • Fond of reflecting.

    • Slow to assert and ready to consider multiple points of view.

    • Careful to support their points of view and to formulate an argument with reasons
      and evidence.

    • A slave neither to passing trends nor to established traditions but capable of judging
      the credibility of sources and making independent judgments about information.

    • Alert to all deception

    Of course the site has more recent information such as this video by "Qualia Soup". The video is an excellent summary of critical thinking useful for middle years and older.

    As you continue through the critical thinking resource from microsoft, I found this video by Greenpeace (which a parody of the original Dove video) which would be an excellent critical thinking resource. It would provide a catalyst for rich discussion on perspective and the rest of Sir Francis' "habits of mind".

    Dove Onslaught(er) from Greenpeace on Vimeo.

    The site includes great links like argument mapping skills , love is a fallacy and many more sites for all grades.

    There are so many resources on the critical thinking resource from microsoft that you will just have to go there to see what you can use in your classroom. Remember, critical thinking is one of the foundations of a 21st century classroom! Not to mention in 1605 as well!

    Lastly, for fun, I thought I'd include this old and memorable video of critical thinking in action.

    Monday, September 6, 2010

    Sites to Engage Boys

    Check out great sites for boys on this great wiki from New Zealand. It contains many great sites for boys and girls. The Marvel Comic Creator is just one of them. I'm guessing that these sites are great for the creative, collaborative and differentiated, less for critical thinking. They would welcome you to become a member!

    DIY learners

    I read Will Richardson's blog post on DIY (do it yourself) learners a while ago. It is actually his commentary on Alan Levine's blog post on the same topic. I believe that one of the main ideas in 21st century learning is DIY learning. As is often the case, I can't (nor can Will Richardson evidently!) say it better than Alan Levine. He says,

    "What is going to motivate the large swath of a society to become educated or to learn something in a self-directed fashion? It’s one thing to be facing a need that I need to to know first hand– how to fix a bike dérailleur, how to stop a leaking toilet, how to bake a lemon meringue pie how to add a widget to a web page– these are all places DIY shines, when I know that I don’t know something and want to fill that gap. It is clear when I don’t know something I want to know. Lots of people do this. But what is going to drive people to learn what they don’t think they need to learn? What they don’t know is worth learning? In a DIY world with people tooling up for a better job, are they going to DIY their way into poetry? French literature? Is the limits of education the things we need to know how to perform/get a job? That a bothersome underlying under toe in DIY U- that the purpose of education is to end up in a job. That feels…. lifeless"

    I have had similar experience wil DIY learning in my class. I suppose that for all of us educators, the goal has always been to find something/some way to students to connect and find meaning in curriculum. The biggest problem 18th century education faced was that everybody was taught the same things at the same time in the same way. Alfie Kohn writes extensively about this and how it needs to change in "Schools Our Children Deserve".

    Even in the age of technology, the challenge remains for educators to help kids connect with curricular concepts. I have not found the magic pill to make that happen. I do know though, that technology gives us a fighting chance to differentiate learning for each student. My model for my classroom is that I teach them all some background concepts, knowledge and skills that they will be held responsible to know and then I expect them to take their learning further in a more specific, yet related area, in the form of a critical thinking project. I also give them time to use their blog to become an expert on a topic of their choice and to develop a learning network (on-line and off-line).

    This is my model in a nutshell. It should work but doesn't with every student on every project. Just because we have technology and are trying really hard doesn't mean every student buys in. Differentiated learning is a much harder model and without the skills to develop their learning community, it can be hard work for one teacher in the room. The point is to develop to the point where the teacher is just a part of the learning community and not the center.

    The cost of not continuing to use the 18th century model is too high as illustrated by Levine:

    "Is it any wonder they can’t “take charge of their own education” when that self-directed love of learning on their own was driven out of them by second grade, when no one has ever allowed them to or taught them how do that?"

    I am still a believer in the possibility of DIY learners in my classroom. Even if they develop this ability slower than I would like it is still a better model than the traditional.

    Let's continue to strive to create thinking, problem solving, creative, collaborative, self directed, DIY learners in our schools.

    Global Education Conference

    I will be looking forward to the on-line global education conference Nov. 15-19, 2010. Details can be found at the web site, it should be a good one. The beauty of this kind of conference is that it can be viewed live or later at your convenience. I plan to see how I can connect with students and teachers around the world.

    Some topics or "tracks" included inthe conference are:

    How to get started - "cookbook" and "recipes"
    Parents and School Communities
    Organized Trips
    Youth Involvement
    Teacher Exchanges
    Project Showcases
    Programs / Organizations
    Student Organizations
    Model Projects
    Service Learning
    Exchange Programs

    I have asked if I can help in some way. You can contact them on their web site. Get out your calendar and plan to be involved!

    Wednesday, September 1, 2010

    Learning to Change, Changing to Learn

    This video may be more of the same for you, if it is, you are passed the awareness stage in the ADKAR model. Join the revolution!