Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Safe for Prep...Week 2 Podcast:: The Power of Inquiry and Poetry

Episode 2 of our "Safe for Work Podcast has me discussing Inquiry, and Sean reading a lovely poem! 

I was inspired by the great work of our South View and Valley View Middle School 8th grade staff on incorporating Inquiry in their instruction, as well as Project Lead the Way Engineering teacher, Jodi Ramirez, who had her kids sifting dirt to learn about composition. This focus on inquiry has continued to evolve, after some great professional development from Diana Laufenberg a few years ago!

Earlier that day, I saw a great article noting that fostering curiousity in students can have a huge impact on closing our acheivement gap with low income students. Incorporating inquiry in instruction can be a great way to make that happen! 
Sean and I are having a blast recording these sessions. It really is an extension of the great conversations we have when we get together in the office. We hope it is meaningful for you. If you have suggestions for upcoming topics, please let us know!

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Sometimes I Have to be the Fun Police...

Fun Police PictureYesterday, I had two instances where I had to be the "Fun Police," in my role as Digital Learning Specialist. It is not a role that I rellish, as philosophically, I want our staff and students to have an authentic experience as possible and utilize tools that may be of benefit to their learning. However there are times, when for safety or due to missuse of a tool, I have to put on the hat and shades...
Case #1
The first instance was when I got a request for a group of 5th grade students to use Prezi as a presentation tool. Now Prezi may not be as popular as it was a few years ago, and some folks wish they had kept their "Classic" tools and format, but it still offers a nice way to make non-linear presentations.
However, for elementary educators, there is another component that makes Prezi problematic: their Terms of ServiceGiven this restriction, unless the student has been held back 3 years, odds are the 5th graders will not be able to use Prezi for their presentation.
What to me is interesting, is that when Prezi first came out, they were even more restrictive!
Fortunately, the kids have options, and if they want to make it non-linear, they can create navigation on Google Slides.
Edina Approved Tools

We have created this site as a resource for staff to know the age restrictions and recommendations for most common Web tools. In many instances, the sites require teachers to get parent permission prior to having students sign into the site. Even sites that are popular with elementary teachers, like Flipgrid, require parent permission for students under the age of 18!

In a perfect world, organizations like the International Society for Technology in Education, ISTE would require vendors to include the age restrictions of their products in promotional materials. Currently, few vendors do this, leaving it to educators to read the "fine print." If they are truly committed to digital citizenship, ISTE should mandate that vendors at their conference give full disclosure. 

Case #2
The second case of me putting on the Fun Police persona came last night. One of my colleagues sent me a direct message sharing this thread from Kathryn Byers, an AP World History Teacher from California. A quick look at her blog shows that she is a generous teacher, who is working hard to make connections with her students. She in the thread below, she talks about using Instagram Stories as a way to help her students prepare for the AP exam. 

Byars does a great job here, articulating how and why she utilizes the tool and the modeling she is doing for her students. She is helping them learn about proper use of social media AND connecting with her students around World History. My colleague wanted to know my thoughts, and whether this was something he could pursue based on our policies?

Up until about a month ago, Instagram was open on our network for students. While Byars is using the tool effectively as an educator, unfortunately, it was not being used that way by students in my district. My colleague, Jack Salaski, put together this presentation for our Technology Advisory Team that illustrates the distraction Instagram had become. Ultimately the group, made up of parents, teachers, students and administrators, chose to block Instagram on our network.

Fortunately for my teaching colleague, there are alternative options. Many of my colleagues use Twitter in a similar way that Byars uses Instagram. Erik Anderson is a great example of that...

For a more "walled garden" approach, especially for younger students, our learning management system, Schoology includes a built in Media Album that can be added to courses. It can act in a similar fashion to Instagram, with the added benefit that posts can be moderated. Granted it is not as authentic as Instagram, nor is it as accessible for students, but it is an option. Here is a quick video demonstrating the process.

It's not always easy being the "Fun Police," but it is a necessary one to make sure that terms of use are being followed to protect student privacy and that the tools we use enhance learning and don't distract from it.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Speaking of Podcasting...

Last month, I shared about some work I was doing around Student Podcasting (Giving Students Voice & Choice Through Podcasting). This month, my colleague, Sean Beaverson and I are launching our own podcast!

Safe for Prep is a short but sweet look at the great things we see in our roles in Edina Public Schools. As the name implies, it is something you can listen to, in the background during your prep!

Below is Episode 1! We highlight some great work the 8th grade teachers at South View Middle School shared with staff last week, and Sean's efforts to help some students. Have a listen!

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Giving Students Voice and Choice through Podcasting

This February, I shared with staff the value of giving students pathways in how they demonstrate learning by creating podcasts. I was inspired by an ISTE presentation by Rabbi Michael Cohen and Jeff Bradbury last summer, and a presentation that Glen Irvin Flores gave in November. 

A few staff were interested and so I put together this presentation for students.

I shared how I still remember my 6th grade project where I recorded myself as a 12 year old in Moscow, and my dad interviewed me to demonstrate what life was like in the Soviet Union. (Yes, I'm that old! The collar above gives it away! In addition, I cannot remember any of the multiple choice tests I took to demonstrate learning...) 
I also shared with students that NPR was sponsoring a Student Podcast Challenge, inviting students to ask their teachers to submit their audio file that spoke to one of the following prompts:

  1. Tell us a story about your school or community: about something that happened there — recently or in the past — that your audience should know about.
  2. What is a moment in history that all students should learn about?
  3. Show us both sides of a debate about an issue that's important to you.
  4. What do you want to change about the world? What's a big change that you want to make in the future?
  5. Explain something to us that kids understand and grown-ups don't.
On Friday, March 15, the world awoke to the news of the horrific attacks at the mosques in New Zealand. 

I was feeling pretty down after I heard the news. The rise of hate and extremism left me feeling not very hopefull for our world. Then I received an e-mail from my colleague Laura Mestler. She shared that one of her students, Rahael, had chosen to complete the podcast challenge and that she just submitted it. I decided to take a moment to listen. I invite you to do the same...

I was blown away! This 6th grader so elequently shared her hopes, dreams and ideas for eradicating hate that it immediately made me realize that there IS HOPE! Kudos to Rahael, kudos to NPR and kudos to Laura for taking a chance on giving her students voice and choice in how they share their learning! Podcasts provide authentic opportunities for students to share their learning outside the walls of the classroom. It is another example of how school doesn't just prepare students for real life, it is real life!

Friday, March 1, 2019

My Thoughts on Digital Learning Day 2019

So yesterday was Digital Learning Day. In the past, I have shared how we have celebrated it in Edina (Of course most of the post was aggregated from a tool that no longer exists....sigh!)
Well, yesterday, I saw this tweet from Schoology and so I thought I'd share my thoughts...

Here goes...

Monday, December 10, 2018

#TIES18 Monday Keynote: Jaime Casap-The Problem Solving Generation

Jaime Casap, Education Evangelist with Google was the Monday Keynote at the 2018 TIES Conference
Jaime helped launch Google Apps, Chromebooks and helped found the Phoenix Coding Academy. He also teaches Communication to 10th graders. 
He authored the book, "On Our Street," a children's book about poverty. He grew up in Hell's Kitchen in the 70's, so he knows a little about the topic.
Education disrupts poverty!
 All of the milestones he has achieved were based on Education. He was invited to speak at the White House to help launch Michelle Obama's Reach Higher initiative. What we sometimes forget is that the impact we have on students goes on for generations! Since he went to college, her daughter just assumed that she would go on to college. The life his children have comes from the educators that impacted Jaime.

The State of Education

Casap doesn't think education is broken, because it worked for everyone in this room. AND it has changed in the last 100 years....AND technology has had an impact! However, since 1995, it really hasn't changed much. The world on the otherhand has changed a lot! How many in the room haven't used technology today? No hands....Remember calling the Internet with our home phones? And sometimes it was busy and you needed a different number?!

Expectations today are that everything is instantaneous. We were the generation that were minding our own business before the Internet showed up. What do people who have always had it think about learning?

This generation just starts learning, BUT, they really don't know how to use the tools! Helping them take advantage and learn to use the tools safely and responsibly is our responsibility. We now live in a different economy-The Digitalization Economy. Change happens gradually AND suddenly!

Digitization Economy

What will this technology look like in 10 to 20 years? 4.5 million people currently drive for a living. Workers won't be needed for as many tasks. Self-Driving cars can be purchased today.

In Minnesota, 13,477 open computing jobs in the state right now. 3 times the average demand for every other job. What is the economic impact of this?
895 graduates of Computer Science in 2017. Only 13% female. Only 59 schools offer the AP Computer Science course in Minnesota.
We need to understand the future and where we are headed. Process work is going away. Just look at the checkout lanes at supermarkets! Nobody needed a PD session on how to self checkout, either!

Jobs are changing, not going away. Think about how we used to fill out pieces of paper to go to a bank teller instead of an ATM. Yet, there are more banking jobs now than 20 years ago. 
Now instead of checkout and stockers at stores, now there are nutritional consultants to support people buying ingredients for quality meals. ALL work will be digitized to some degree.

What does being educated mean in today's economy?

We need to re-examine what learning is. What did the world look like in 1864? Look at everything in front of us now. ALL of the things available now were also available in 1864! Why didn't we invent it then? Learning was slower. Today, we can learn anything we want at much higher speeds. Learning how to use a camera is a lot different today than 10 years ago, but there are 10,000 videos explaining how to do it! In 3 months, he has been able to learn what he needed and get thousands of views of his photos.

Skills Needed for Generation Z

A study asked which skills were needed moving forward

  1. Problem Solving
  2. Team-Working
  3. Communications
  4. Critical Thinking
  5. Creativity 

Topped the list. Here is Casap's adaptation.

  1. Problem Solving
  2. Critical Thinking
  3. Collaboration
  4. Ability to Learn
  5. Creativity
"What do you want to be when you grow up?" is the wrong question! What we should be asking is,

  1. "What problem do you want to solve?" 
  2. How do you want to solve it? 
  3. What skills do you need and what knowledge do you need to solve that problem?"

Collaboration is how problems are solved. Unfortunately, education is set up to be a "single player" sport. Why are we teaching kids that collaboration is cheating!
At Google, they asked people about their leadership skills. How do we build that  skill?

We're Just Getting Started

Today, only 30% of the world is online. We need to iterate and innovate. We are currently creating the new learning model for the future, to bring education to the next level. A Google example is this picture of what it used to look like and what it looks like now!
Electricity had a similar start. It took businesses to see the possibilities of what it could look like before it really took off.

Casap closed with this idea:
Think about a 4 or 5 year old and what they think of the world around them, and then think of the technology you have around you. The tech now is their "Commodore 64!" It will be in the $.50 box in the thrift shop 20 years from now, and she will pick it up remembering that's what dad used to have! AND it had to be plugged into a wall for hours!! How did they live like that?! 
"Do we have the right models in place to support these kids coming to our schools, to solve the problems they will be interested in solving?"

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

My Notes on the Personalized Learning Summit Day 2 Keynote: Virgil Hammonds

Virgil Hammonds, chief learning officer with Knowledgeworks, was the day 2 keynote at the 2018 Personalized Learning Summit. 

Changing the culture of education through personalized competency-based learning.

Knowledgeworks has 3 main focusses:

  • Forcasting the future of learning
  • Transforming policy
  • Growing Educator Impact
What is your spark? 
It is important for you to know yours as well as your colleagues.

Hammonds had us do a "Magic Number" sorting activity using the numbers 1-9 and trying to sort them between 2 jars, where no number could be created by adding other numbers in the same jar. We found that given those constraints, it isn't possible. His point is that sometimes we sort our students into jars in much the same way.

He shared how there is a movement nationally to get to proficiency based learning. 
There is a transformation from school districts to learning communities. 
By 2020, over 40% of the US workforce will be independent, short-term contractors. 
The 4th Industrial Revolution today:
  • Robotics and ARtificial Intelligence
  • Autonomous Vehicles
  • Nano & Bio Technologies
  • 3D Printing
What do our students need to be ready for in 2040? 

Three Core Social-Emotional Skills: Knowing what makes us tick and what ticks us off!
Social Awareness: Empathy and Perspective Taking
Self Discovery: Deep Self-Knowledge
Individual Awareness: Emotional Regulation

How do we help folks have a seat at the table when they currently don't have one? Will our learners be ready? Are WE ready to support these conditions?

Hammond's Story
When Hammonds was a High School principal in California, his very first day on the job, he went to work and a former student and his parents came in. He was excited to see him, but the student didn't respond. The student's dad, shows the article announcing Hammonds was the new principal, but the student didn't respond. The student, then complained to the dad, saying, "you know I don't know how to read." Hammonds was shocked, as he had the student for two years. The dad said, "I will take care of my son, but make sure this doesn't happen to anyone else." Unfortunately, because the student was a "good kid," people gave him the benefit of the doubt and moved him on. Hammonds put out a message on Facebook to learn more from recent alumni. Most talked about how supportive the staff were, but that the staff didn't prepare them for life beyond. 
There was a realization from staff that they needed to do something different. They needed to hold students up to a level of mastery. They needed to come up with a way to not move students on.
Students after a week said they would walk out, or come up with a solution. Staff and students spent three days to come up with a plan. 

At state testing time, the school found that they had made 72 pts. growth. They targeted readiness, held students to mastery, and they accelerated and grew over 20% each year. 

Teachers lead with purpose, with specific students in mind. Hammonds used this video to make this point. Know your why!

As you think about making learner centered, if you are crystal clear about your why and your purpose, the "how" will come naturally. You also need to know they why and purpose of your colleagues AND your community!

Hammonds ended with this thought....
“PCBL (Personalized, Competency-Based Learning) empowers us to make equity our pedagogy!”