Tuesday, December 15, 2009

TIES 2009: Dr. Bernie Dodge on Engagement: What Is It, and How Can I Get Some?

"It's all about engagement!"
Dodge started with a video on "pure engagement", a time lapse of a 9 month old in a room full of toys! Everything in the world was engaging at that point in your life. Now, fast forward a few years, and that student is in school. What happens to stifle that? (Perhaps it's because we can't manage it!)
Engagement is like a valve. No matter how many interactive white boards you have, if the valve is shut, it won't improve instruction. He asked usthe question, What Does Engagement Mean To You? Responses from the crowd included: People have choice, and are actively present, absorbed, "sponge-like", and intensity of focus.
He did an informal study with his gaming students to describe a learning experience that was fun, and another that was boring. One student described looking at artifacts from the Civil War and being asked to look at them, and share what they thought they were.
Another talked about choosing a painting and telling the story. Another talked about learning about toe-nail discoloration, and taking off shoes to explore each other's. Constructing Hurricane proof houses. Learning by doing! What would you do next if you were on Apollo 13?
Here are characteristics of what he found:
He asked students to create a video that described their favorite learning experiences. Here is an example:

When he asked students to share videos like this, out of 160 students only 2 were about a lecture!

By designing interactions between student-teacher, learner-subject matter, learner w/ other learners, and learner with themselves teachers can provide engaging environments.

How do we do this with technology? (For someone with a hammer, everything looks like a nail!)Learning Power equals Attention x Depth x Efficiency
Causes of Attention: Variability, Human Interest, Uncertainty, Challenge, Social Interaction, and Competition. We know these as experienced teachers, but sometimes forget with technology in the room.
Attention is a ratio of Time Spent Attending to the Class/Total Time in Class. He admits that students minds are going to be elsewhere some of the time.
Depth-Blooms Taxonomy-The intensity of the cognitive process.
Efficiency-Curricular Efficiency- The proportion of time students spend thinking about the curriculum vs. something else. If the tech is unfamiliar, creative or richly detailed, they may spend more time on the tech and less on the content.
So What is Engagement? It's not the technology, it's all of the interactions you create. The interaction needs to be about what you are trying to teach, using as much of the brain as possible.
Dodge said he initially thought that Second Life would be a great tool for post secondary instruction. He found that there was too much extra baggage for curricular efficiency. They've abandoned it, for now until it's easier to use. When he developed WebQuests, the focus was on learning and making the technology disappear.
If only we had a visual language to talk about this. (Showed the San Diego State Football Playbook, A dance diagram, a figure skating routine. Since teaching is at least as complicated as football...
Focus on Interactions thin lines weak, thick lines strong.

Newsdots from Slate Magazine has taken the news and turned it into a diagram like this. This is an interesting way for kids to interact with the news, but it requires an experienced teacher to show students how to use it. "What in the news interests you the least?" Give URL and time for students to reflect. More engaging: Within groups, become and expert on one aspect of the news, then work together to determine what will be the top 5 topics tomorrow.
Using the image below: get in groups of 3 and discuss how you could maximize engaged, powerful learning with the 360 cities site? How do you maximize self reflection? How do you maximize learner to learner interaction? How do you maximize learner interaction with the material? How do you maximize learner-instructor interaction?

Sana'a: View from a rooftop at sunset in Yemen

Dodge's presentation gave great modeling of learner centered professional development.

You can access all of the resources here.

TIES 2009: Robert Marzano Keynote:

Dr. Robert Marzano, led off the second day of the TIES 2009 Conference with a keynote desscribing his research on Interactive White Boards. (IWB) His research was funded by Promethean, and they were a major sponsor of the event. That said, here were some highlights of his talk. Overall, he was less dry than what you see on the ASCD videos.
He started with a general impression of research and looking for the “Silver Bullet.” It doesnt' exist, but we may find “silver beebies!” IWB's may be one of those.
"What will revolutionize education is when we start using what we know works. "
IWB, Student Acheivement, and Engagement Marzano started by talking about Seymour Pappert and "Mindstorms." We’ve come a long way since.
Papert often asked the question, "If Rip Van Winkel had gone to sleep in 1880 and woken up in 1980 if he walked into an operating room, it would look different, but "What about a classroom?" Not so much. Marzano asked, "What would happen if Rip woke up today? Would it look different? Maybe some."
Can tech offer teachers strategies they never had, or students experiences they never had?
Read the Report at marzanoresearch.com. He then went on to discuss the numbers from the study.
Phase I
85 teachers used the board with one class and without in another. On average, use of IWB showed a 17% gain. Corrective measures would need 3655 studies showing the opposite for it to be invalid. Fairly good data.
A meta analysis of educational reform studies from Borman showed that a gain of 6%, compared with Marzano’s.
35% of effect sizes were below 0.

The effect size went up to 29% when IWB's were used 75 to 80% of the time, but down if more.
Variables taken together:
Teacher experienced
Teacher has used tech for a long time,
75% in class
“You can’t give technology to teachers and automatically expect it to improve instruction.”
Phase II.
A review of video tapes of teachers in Phase I..
Variables analyzed
Teacher IWB skills
Student IWB skills-Not enough data
Multiple student use of IWB
Student independence of IWB
Use of IWB inforcers
Voting/response systems
IWB Reinforcers-Immediate Feedback
-Those in bold had the largest effect.

Engagement-At any time, there is always a battle between working memory and outside influence. “Great teachers don’t have students engaged all the time, but they recognize that and work to get them engaged.” What can we do to get them engaged:
Games, Inconsequential competion, pacing, humor, physical movement, manage questions and response rates, friendly controversy, opportunities for students to talk about themselves
IWB Reinforcers must focus on the content. Make sure the content is important to the learning goal.
Response Rate options
Wait time
Think pair share
Vote w/ hands
Vote w/ feet
Individual white boards
Voting technology
Type in responses-Student responses become part of the curriculum.

"In 5 to 10 years, Classroom Instruction
that works will need to be re-written.
" (
Why not now?)
Ned Flanders talk in the classroom quote.
Using imagery rather than text or verbal can go along way. (Then he went on to break those rules later in some of his slides)
Demonstrated an interactive site for the digestive system. (Good)
BrainPop for a 5 minute clip to demonstrate.
Called Richard Mayer the best researcher around right now. Multi-Media Learning.
People learn better from words and pictures better than words alone.
Reduce the cognitive overload. Get rid of sounds, graphics, and words that distract from the essential. Gave examples of Too Much Information!
Place keywords next to the relevant graphic. Presentation Zen would agree with this.
What does engagement look like:
The flow between Working memory….Sensory Memory…Permanent memory.
Critical Instruction Sequence
  • Previewing
  • Chunking-
  • Scaffolding
  • Pacing
  • Students Interacting with Content
  • Monitor-Feedback
  • Reflecting and Summarizing (KWL good for this)

Marzano finished by asking the question about whether if you had the resources for Interactive White Boards or 1:1 laptops which would you fund?
His response: "Why not both?!"
Marzano certainly played to the crowd to an extent, and people were excited to hear him validate the potential of educational technology. Some in the audience commented on Twitter that Marzano's research was not "peer reviewed," and that "the research didn't show that IWB's were any better than just a projector in the classroom." In reflecting after the talk, I think that what Marzano was saying is that any instructional strategy, if done well, will result in student improvement. And any instructional strategy, if done poorly, will have little or negative affect (Though his data may say otherwise.)

TIES 2009: Edina's 2009 TIES Exceptional Teachers

Congratulations to Concord Elementary teacher, Tracy Purdy and South View Middle School teacher Jennifer Buckley, the Edina 2009 TIES Exceptional Teachers! (Pictured here with Director of Media and Technology Services, Dr. Michael Burke)
They have both done a great job of not only integrating technology into their delivery of instruction, but more importantly allowing students to use technology to construct their learning! Congratulations!!

Monday, December 14, 2009

TIES 2009: Project Based Learning-What Does it Look Like, and How Can I Do it With My Students?

In the afternoon session, I attended a session on Project Based Learning (PBL) by John Mergendoller, Executive Director of The Buck Institute for Education . I have used some of the Institute's materials when conducting PBL workshops, so I was interested in what they had to say.
Dr. Mergendoller presented the example of "The Monkey Project", a simulation where a school board has to decide whether to teach Evolution, Intelligent Design, or both in their curriculum. Students research both sides of the issue, and overcome their personal opinions to develop their project. Teachers in the example facilitated and managed the process, where students were placed into teams and created a script of a "Mock School Board Hearing."

After watching a video similar to the one above, Mergendoller had participants "Think/Pair/Share and discuss whether we thought this was a good project.
The project was approximately 6 weeks, and was a rather large undertaking. For some in the audience, they felt that it was a larger project than they were comfortable with. Mergendoller said that the technology on this project was only for research, and wasn't essential to the project. TIME however, was essential to a project like this. Both to create, and for students to complete.
Planning, planning, planning is very necessary for something like this!
He also noted that the students portrayed had very high skills, though there were "average" students in the groups.
What are the Project Essentials?
  1. A Need to Know-A reason to complete, Interest, and Value
  2. 21st Century Skills-Collaboration, Presentation, Feedback, Critical/Creative Thinking (Wide agreement about this as a needed goal in our schools today. If we want them to have these skills, we need to allow them the opportunity to do it!)
  3. Inquiry and Innovation-Aim for projects that allow students to conduct research and develop a new solution to the problem. (It needs to be new to them.)
  4. Driving Question or Challenge-Key. (Showed an exerpt from Why Don't Students Like School? -Illustrates why making the question clear is so important.) Mergendoller said that questions can be provocative: Is our water safe to drink?, Should Truman have dropped the bomb? Open ended: Which city is more prepared for a pandemic, Minneapolis or Coon Rapids?
  5. Student Voice and Choice-Used the example of the Edvisions schools, where students are fully in control of their learning. Let students do as much as they can. Where is the sweet-spot on student input?
  6. Public Presentation-Communication is not stressed enough in today's schools. This provides community support for what you are doing in your classroom as well.
The projects should contain significant, authentic content and have built in critique revision.

Working Inside the Black Box: Assessment for Learning in the Classroom, shows that teachers who use formative assessment show increases of 16-25%. He said this is a structural problem in our schools today.
He closed with a quote from Ron Berger, author of "An Ethic of Excellence" on critique and revision. We need to allow time for students to experiment, time to critique unfinished work. When managed well, this fosters a sense of classroom expectation and pride. Group ownership of standards is seen in sporting, theater and dance. "If you do well, I do well." Why not in the classroom?

TIES 2009: Google Apps in Education: Osseo's Model

I decided to sit in on my new boss, Steve Beutner's presentation on the implementation of Google Apps that Osseo Area Schools Implemented this fall. He began sharing the Common Craft video on Google Apps.

Initially, they thought that Gmail would be the most important tool, but in actuality, the productivity applications of Word Processing, Spreadsheets, Presentations, and Forms have been more popular.
You can turn on certain apps, but they are turned on for all users. You can't limit groups to certain applications. It's all or nothing.
Just last week, Google Groups was added to the application suite along with Google Mobile and Postini monitoring and managing services. This is used to quarantine e-mail and manage it effectively.
They implemented this for students grades 6 and up, as it would have cost $490,000/year for them to provide just cloud e-mail. Google does it for free! Not only that, but they provide 7 GB of storage for staff and students.
"Ultimately, it's for the kids!" Students have the ability to continue to work anywhere they can access the Internet. Teachers and students are collaborating on group projects all along the way. There is no cost for software for students. "Automatically backed up, so 'the dog' can't eat their homework."
Beutner provided tips on what to do before you begin including questions to be answered:
  • Decide your audience? Initially, they were just going to provide student e-mail. They narrowed down too closely, and decided to include all staff as well. Now front office staff are using it for collaboration and productivity as well.
  • What services will you offer? They turned on the contact list for student e-mail, so that teachers could create groups for collaboration. They do have the IM feature turned off, but have provided a tool for IM. They are currently encouraging other options rather than sites, so that is turned off.
  • How is it going to be supported? No cost now for Postini, but when will it be charged for? Google says that their current plan is to keep it free for educational institutions.
  • How do you get people in?
  • How do you train end users? They have help desk staff available for triage.
  • How do you market it? They call it OsseoApps, to differentiate it with gmail. They want staff and students using OsseoApps, as opposed to regular gmail.
  • How does this effect the organization policies?
  • What will your username convention be? What privacy settings will be in place? They did the same type of model we did, to keep the last name private.
  • They started by saying students couldn't send outside the district, but now have changed it because there are policies in place to deal with AUP violations.
Buettner later discussed methods of managing users. For organizations under 500, a CSV file is an option. For organizations larger, using the Google Directory Sync is the better option. Unfortunately, it's complicated, can erase accounts, it's open source-it can change often, you may need to modify the directory! (We have found this too!) Ultimately, they moved to a Single Sign-On approach through Moodle.
They used Moodle-Google Apps Integration
Moodle Users are automatically created in Google Apps.
The Gmail block in Moodle is how students access e-mail.

To implement, they created for trainings in Moodle along with Face to Face training.
They used project management templates to complete the process.

TIES 2009: Michael Horn Q and A

For the second session at TIES 2009, I decided to listen in on the Question and Answers with today's Keynote Speaker, Michael Horn.

Q:The first question for Dr. Horn revolved around the current model of classifying students by grade levels. Do we have a "classification scism" in K-12 education.
A:Horn agreed with this, but said that the current model, in place for the last 100 years, has a social component with promotion. At the same time, as we "socially promote".
As we move to a more student centered environment, we can still organize students socially, but instead of calling it, "3rd grade", we gear it toward what they are learning. If we decouple online learning and time, making it less about seat time and "Carnegie Units", this will be huge.

Q: EHS Assistant principal, Eric Nelson asked how are districts moving to more online learning dealing with bargaining units?
A:Horn said that where it's been most successful is in carving out new ways of looking at online learning, separate from face to face contracts.

Q: Is the 1 teacher to many students model disappearing?
A:Teachers will still have a critical role, but less "egg crate" structure, more open spaces, teachers working with small groups, and less one size fits all lesson plans. Less "sage on the stage", more "guide on the side. " Content experts will live virtually anywhere, but motivators will be in the classroom. There will be many different roles. He quoted a study from Western Governors University, which uses a competency model of learning. Teachers there hated the day to day mentoring, and wanted to focus on content. The masters level teachers worked to keep people on pace and handle the day to day duties.

Q:What does research show on students using online learning for credit recovery?
A: One aspect is that the online learning has been better than face to face, as long as mentorship and support is there for the students. Also, the credits have to Count! A little less self-paced as before, but scaffolding support in a self-paced environment.

Q: Is there a conflict between an online learning/student centered learning and the standards based movement?
A: Horn said there is a difference between standardization and standards. Standards don't tell us how to get there, they tell us what a student should be able to know and do. He thinks the Gates Foundation's focus on fewer, better, higher is a model that is moving in the right direction, giving more flexibility to the system. It might allow for someone to say, "You seem to be getting X, what would you like to learn more about?", more personalized learning. An audience member argued that the methods of measuring learning need to remain open, and not locked in to standardized tests. Horn agreed, and said if you measure the same way, you'll get the same looking delivery. He said the new "Race to the Top" initiative is showing promise of giving different models for assessment. The online learning community is showing different methods for students to demonstrate their learning. Charter schools have run into difficulty because they were forced to work with the same clientel, not trying to reach different learners.

Q: "Standards are written for K-12 students," what needs to happen for pre-K to disrupt enough for kids at that level to be ready for the K-12 experience.
A: Horn said educational research is very clear that students who are not Kindergarten ready, require exponential resources to catch them up. How do we get them there? " He likes the work of the Harlem Children's Zone, and thinks that model may be part of the solution. He also wonders whether a legion of "Baby Boomer" volunteers at the pre-school level would be a way to disrupt the current system, and get kids ready. "Sesame Street was one of the biggest disruptions to education that we have ever had." He's looking for more suggestions!

Horn says that IBM and Dayton's/Target are examples of businesses who were able to ride the disruptive innovation wave. He thinks some zones will need to be set up with autonomy (Christiansen says total, Horn says a mix) to change education. He admits that their book is not very good at the "How" in education.

Q: With the advent of online learning, and reluctance by some to try it, how do you move administrators in that direction?
A: Horn said that as he travels around, administrators think teachers don't get it, and teachers think administrators don't get it! What is needed is professional development and dialog. He mentions the "Keeping Pace" report, that cronicles the current state of online learning.

He shared the story of Intel's CEO Andy Grove calling Christiansen in and saying "you have 10 minutes to tell me what needs to happen!" The Celeron chip came out of that discussion, bringing in a lower level chip.

Q: As you look at the best schools out there right now, getting their kids into the best schools, how do they stay on top?
A: Look for the small little zones, ask questions like, "Who aren't we serving?" They don't settle. They continue to innovate.

Q: When you assess people online, how can you be sure that they are the ones doing the work?
A: Moving to a hybrid approach will allow for some interaction to evaluate student abilities. More communication and teacher intuition, and technology is improving to the point of being able to tell if someone is processing at a different rate, which can flag for the instructor.
One of the things students want is to see their progress and feel success. If we weave in these opportunities for feedback, it will take some of the social stigma out of the face to face experience and empower students to do their own work.

Q: Despite AP's claim that they are moving to higher level thinking, they are still primarily knowledged based. With 21st century skills seeming in conflict with covering the content, how can we merge the two?
A: Horn thinks the us vs. them aspect of content and 21st century skills is one of the silliest things going right now. As students evaluate, create, share and assess content, they will be tying their learning to both, and we'll look back on this as a silly argument. If we stick to a mastery based system, then you'll be able to tie a data system around formative assessment that drives instructional models and informs learning.

Q: What are the implications for districts who are finding their lowest students being immigrants and people of color? What are the opportunities, what are the pitfalls?
A: With greater individualization, we can meet the students where they are. The challenge is that currently, most of the online curriculum is text based. By implementing Universal design principals, with text to speech in their language, this will improve. He mentioned Apex Learning, and that people complain it's too rigorous. They have introduced literacy based courses at the 8th and 9th grade level to address this.

"One of the greatest ways I learn, is by hearing from people in the field about what we don't know." mhorn@innosightinstitute.org

TIES 2009: Michael Horn Keynote

The TIES Technology Conference 0pened today with a keynote by Michael Horn, co-author of "Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns". He discussed themes from the book and how online and student-centered learning supported with technology will lead this innovation. The authors came from the perspective of studying education from the outside, looking in. "If we can understand some of the root causes of why schools struggle, we can help them transform and improve." "Why do successful organizations fail?" was the question that Clayton M. Christiansen, the lead author has been studying since he started at the Harvard Business School.
He shared models from the business world that explains performance over time. Since "basic needs" don't change very much, the performance that customers can absorb is rather flat. In contradiction, the pace of technological innovation grows at a much faster pace. "Technology improves faster than our lives change." Incumbents nearly always win the innovation race.
Horn shared that often disruptive innovations are competing against non-consumption in areas that the innovation wasn't necessarily designed for, asymetric areas. Here, entrants nearly always win the battle. He used the example of DEC, who had the best engineers and best managers in the world in the 80's. But in 1989, their business collapsed, due to the PC becoming ubiquitous. Christiansen: "Why do smart managers decide to become stupid?"
"Conveniently, Apple didn't have any customers!" they were ready to fill this void.
He showed several examples of companies that benefited from innovation:
Dept. Stores...Wal-Mart...Internet Retail
Sony Diskman...Apple iPod...Cell Phones
State Universities...Community Colleges...Online Universities
He shared that now, Toyota is being disrupted by Kia and Hyundai. "Isn't it time that someone does to Lexus, what Lexus did to Mercedes?"
He shared a slide where "Expensive failure results when disruption is framed in technological rather than business model terms." Using the Vacuum tube vs. Transistor example. RCA tried to cram the technology into their core model, but hearing aids were a much better application. The Pocket transistor radio made Sony what it is today, marketed to "the low end of humanity...teenagers!" Even though RCA saw the transistor way before Sony, and spent more money, they saw the problem as a technological one, and were not able to innovate.

The right product architecture depends upon the basis of competition. IBM mainframes leads to MS Windows. Not customizable. It's prohibitively expensive. Modular, open architecture allows for customization. Dell doesn't make any of the parts inside. Totally customizable.
What does this mean for education? (The MEAT!)
We all learn differently.
Multiple Intelligences...............Talents (Giftedness is fluid)
Motivations/Interests/Passions...... Aptitudes
Learning Styles............Different Paces-(Most everyone agrees with this.)
Depends on subject/domain............Ongoing cognitive science research
Research in Practice.
Scientific Learning
K12, Inc
All Kinds of Minds

Horn said there is a conflict between the way we must teach and the way students must learn. Our schools were built on an interdependent, factory model. It compels us to standardization. An IEP for a special education student cost 2-3 times the regular cost.
To build a student centered learning environment, we need to migrate to a more customizable modular learning environment. Adding technology can allow for this personalization.
Yet, computers have had little impact up to now on transforming education. The reason, is that we have been trying to do this in the old model. If we target non-consumers first, we can be transformative.
Who are the non-consumers? Credit Recovery, Dropouts, AP, Home Schooled, small rural districts, tutoring, after-school, Unit recovery, summer school, Pre-K, and Professional development. The looming budget cuts and teacher shortages can be seen as an opportunity to innovate.
School boards are currently focusing more on Math, Science, and English at the expense of other subjects. With innovation, we can still offer subjects like German. Online learning enrollment is growing exponentially. From 45,000 in 2000 to 2,000,000 now. They project that by 2019, 50% of all HS courses will be online.
Predictably improving, Elluminate, MUVE courses (Conspiracy Code: Florida Virtual School).
Keys to Disruptive Innovation:
  • Autonomy-n
  • Self-Sustaining Funding
  • Not beholden by the old metrics-
  • Seat time vs. Mastery/Performance Based
  • Student: Teacher ratio
  • Techer Certification-(Hmmmmm...)
  • Human Resource pipeline
  • Broadband/Wireless Infrastructure
  • Portal/Based on Usage and what works-Here he says we need to have multiple paths
  • Treatment and use of data
Fairly good kick-off. Perhaps the model he shared of having someone outside of education tell us what to do, and be disruptive will help. I just wish he spent more time on education and less on business. I hope that he shares more of an educational focus in his Q and A session.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Alice Project

Yesterday, I had the pleasure to sit in on a Webinar put on by John Pederson, Educational Technology Liaison with WiscNet in Madison, Wisconsin (And Tri-State PLP Community Leader!), featuring Christian Long. Christian shared an activity he has created for his students, "The Alice Project". As John eloquently stated in describing the seminar:
This project turns 16 groups of high school students loose on the book The
Annotated Alice: The Definitive Edition
. Teams of students use various “Web 2.0″ technologies to build a public presence for their learning, develop an ongoing (and carefully edited/maintained) digital portfolio of their discoveries, and demonstrate the use of these tools as story-telling/presentation catalysts. Behind the scenes, Christian is consciously shifting his “teaching” efforts to that of co-learner, collaborator, and advisor. He’s connecting his students with the rest of the world using the technology and helping them experience a real world audience.
During the seminar, Christian shared that this authentic learning project came to him about 6 weeks ago, and the students have taken it and run with it. For evaluation, he has invited educators to sign up to be jury members. In his message to students, Long shares a passage from the original text that gets to the heart of the project:
For those of you new to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, this exchange between
young Alice and the Cheshire Cat (who she meets along her journey through
Wonderland) might offer a hint of what you’ll experience during this
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
[asked Alice]“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.“I don’t much care where –” said Alice.“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.“–so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.

When in doubt, trust your instincts. If an ‘idea’ rabbit piques your interest, follow it. See where it leads you.
Just remember to let the rest of us know where it led you.
Take a look at the Alice Project. Go down the rabbit hole. Would it work in your classroom? How could you modifiy it for your curricular area? How rich of a learning experience could you make it?
Trust your instincts! I look forward to your comments.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Rick Wormeli: Formative Assessment and Feedback Part 2

In the second half of Wormeli's talk, we began looking at a definition of mastery. He argued that mastery requires nuance, and that their are multiple levels (Introductory and Sophisticated)
"Anyone can repeat information, it's the masterful student who can
break content into it's component pieces, explain it, and alternative
perspectives regarding it cogently to others, and use it purposefully in new situations."

He suggests that defining mastery would be a very productive team/department meeting. You must be able to define these before developing assessments.
Wormeli, who works with college professors on assessment, used examples from "Teaching the Large College Class", by Heppner to demonstrate "What we are really trying to assess?" At the post secondary level, assessments are being created and graded not by the professors, but of others, to filter out subjectivity. This will be moving to K-12.
We then moved into discussion of Differentiated Lesson Planning with steps to take:

Prior to designing the learning experience:
  1. Identify essential learnings (This may take weeks.)
  2. Identify your students with unique needs
  3. Design formative and summative assessments
  4. Design and deliver your pre-assessments based on summative assessments and objectives
  5. Adjust assessments and objectives based on further thinking.

While designing learning experiences:

  1. Design the learning experiences with all of your expertise as an educator brought to bear.
  2. Mentally run through the lesson sequence with the diverse students in your class in mind.
  3. Review your plans with a colleague.
  4. Obtain the materials needed for the lesson.
  5. Conduct the lesson.
  6. Adjust formative and summative assessments based on your experience teaching the lesson.

Steps to take after providing the learning experiences:

  1. Evaluate the lesson's success with students.
  2. Record advice on lesson changes for use in future years.

Colleges are screaming at K-12 because over a third of kids are retaking classes over due to lack of understanding.

Many of his ideas align very will with Understanding by Design.

Final Thoughts:

  • Don't take time to assess unless you will take action on what you discover.
  • Is homework formative or summative in nature? Wormeli thinks it should be worth 0.
  • If a student does no homework, but aces every summative assessment, should they get an A?
  • If a student does all the homework, but doesn't do well on all summative assessment, isn't that a red flag as well?
  • Grades should be against standards not the route students or teachers take to get there.
  • Assessment OF Learning-Not a lot of feedback
  • Assessment AS/FOR Learning (Manitoba is using this.) Tons of feedback, lots of opportunities for student reflection.
  • Manitoba's Communicating Student Learning-Includes bennefits of student self-assessment.
  • Look for gradebooks that graphically represent student learning
  • Stop editing student work, put a code that represents it needs attention.
  • Write your objectives at the top of assessments with the assessment of each of those objectives.
  • He then shared several methods of formative assessment. This site has many he mentioned.
  • Great differentiated instruction is NEVER kept in the dark.
  • Successful assessment is authentic in 2 ways: Authentic to the real-world and Authentic to how the students are Learning (This is Mandatory).
  • Giving students the test ahead of time (At the beginning)
  • Portfolios with reflection are the most accurate pieces of assessment in the world.
  • There is no such thing as a perfect rubric.
  • Only give the fully written description for the standard of excellence (5.0).
  • 4.0 rubrics carry too much emotional baggage to be worth using.
  • Students will rally around the excellence.
  • Designing test questions: long on left, short on right.

Wormeli closed with a "Steve Martin" type explanation of video from "The Sound of Music" to demonstrate the goal, pre-assessment, ownership, "say-do", big picture, connected to personal lives, visual imagery, modalities and formative assessment, kinesthetics, natural learning environment, passion, contextural, complexity, tiering, meaning, engagement, and interdisciplinary teaching.

Rick Wormeli: Formative Assessment and Feedback Part 1

Edina welcomed Rick Wormeli, author of "Fair Isn't Always Equal: Assessing and Grading in the Differentiated Classroom" to the district to share his thoughts on Formative Assessment and Feedback. I decided to attend to see how these assessment principles can be enhanced by the use of technology integration. But ended up thinking more about how it might apply to my own professional development offerings!
He began by talking about the book "Inside the Black Box", by Dylan Wiliam and Paul Black. They discussed the impact of intense formative assessment professional development as having the greatest improvement on student achievement. Wormeli said he should be able to circle in a teacher's grade book, what is formal and what is informal assessment. Assessment is taking stock to be used for a decision purpose. The root is "to sit beside", which seems to indicate a coaching. Accountability is to enter into a relationship of mutual support.
"How did assessment inform your decisions this week?" is a question that all teachers should be able to answer, and administrators should be asking. Publicly defending your decisions is a great way for you to inform and improve your practice.
Formative assessment can be given at the beginning or right up to the end prior to summative assessment as long as there is feedback and the student has the opportunity to act on that feedback. Summative assessments that students can go back and improve on can become formative. Wormeli argues that everything can be formative!
What will my kids learn with out my help on their own, what can students learn with my help, and how can I close the gap? -Gallager
Formative has the greatest impact on student learning, yet educators focus most of their time on summative.
Artists and writers continually go back to their work and make adjustments. Teachers don't have that opportunity to impact the students they had early in their careers!
We have an obligation to change our assessments if they do not give the student the best opportunity to demonstrate what they know. (There are people who might use interpretive dance as a way to demonstrate their learning easier than a written test.) The SAT test does nothing but demonstrate the ability to take the SAT test.
"The Hidden Curriculum" is all the information that society demands we teach: taking a test, studying for a test, working ethically, "playing the game of school". We know how students learn, but since college teachers are not trained in pedagogy, they don't teach that way. Yet at the High School level, we teach that way. We are currently on the conveyor belt of the "factory model" school. Many "State Teachers of the Year" were "rule breakers," in order to get where they are.
He talked about Yong Zhao, Professor of Education at Michigan State, author of the book "Catching Up or Leading the Way: American Education in the Age of Globalization who discusses China's attempt to develop students who are creative thinkers, and how we are moving in the wrong direction.
What is fair, isn't always equal in the classroom. Even when we create a differentiated lesson, we end up giving everyone the same practice for homework. Homework should only be to practice things that you already 100% understand. We should create "practice" that focuses on what students really need practice on. If we use informal and formal formative assessment regularly, we will know the kids well enough we can differentiate more easily. Remind parents and colleagues that when they go to the dentist, they don't all have the same treatment. The same way, it makes no sense to prescribe the same "practice" for each student. It doesn't matter when someone masters something, just that they did.
Differentiated instruction and standardized tests are not an oxymoron. Differentiated Instruction maximizes what students learn, and standardized testing measures that learning. If you start using alternative forms of assessment, we HAVE to throw out, permission slips, band practice logs, and...Extra Credit! They don't matter any more.
IQ can be raised by 15-20 points on students in... their 80's! (Bridge is great for this!)

Too often, schools demonize failure. (Wormeli argues that recovery from failure teaches more than any other method. Likes the book, hates the title!) The key is Growth Mindset!
Wormeli gave an example of an essay that a student wrote and asked us to "blind grade" it. Our group scored it from an A-F. He has given this activity out at national science and English conferences and gets the same distribution. (Wormeli later gave us scenarios of students as a way to show relativism that affects grading.) Grades are extraordinarily inferential. They only represent a snapshot in time. In order to teach all the standards in each state would take till grade 22! We must decide what the grade will stand for and we need 3 or 4 examples of evidence over time to get a true picture of that students ability.

What are our 10-12 Non-Negotiables, "The Power Standards", that all kids need, and then assess them over and over to provide opportunities for students to demonstrate mastery throughout the year.
You CAN do this with the non-negotiables.
He then showed this video to demonstrate that with a little help, students CAN succeed:

Natalie matured much faster because someone stood beside her. Jumping in with the kid and sharing the journey with them is what will move students forward far better than stamping a 0 on an assignment and saying, "That's not good enough!" The recovery from failure is what teaches!
"How does assessment inform your instruction?!"

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Powerful Learning Practice Cohort Begins Tomorrow!

Last January, I had a conversation with John Pederson, at the Educon 2.1 conference in Philadelphia about Powerful Learning Practice, a "a long-term, job-embedded professional development program that immerses them (participants) in 21st century learning environments", developed by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Will Richardson. He was trying to put together a cohort of districts in Wisconsin, and had asked Will and Sheryl if he could include districts from Minnesota as well to get the the optimal number of participants. Since I was from Minnesota, he wondered if I would be interested or know of other districts that were interested in participating?After pitching it back in Edina and getting the go ahead to proceed, I presented the opportunity to the TIES Learning and Technology Advisory group, and after a lot of conversations and the inclusion of a great group of educators from New Hampshire, tomorrow we kick off the cohort in Oregon, Wisconsin!
Our team consists of our two 21st Century Literacy teachers, Heather Good and Anna Jankowski, 7th Grade science teacher Tim Ronhovde, 9th grade government teacher Claude Sigmund, and high school math teacher Katie Russell.
At dinner tonight, after describing our district's technology initiatives, Will said that it sounded like we might be farther along than others with the embrace of Web 2.0, the use of social tools and the publishing of student work. In reality, while there are pockets of teachers utilizing these tools for learning, I think we are still in the early stages of adoption. While I appreciated his thoughts, I hope our experience in PLP this year moves teachers in our district from integrating these tools into their instruction toward student's integrating these tools to become connected learners!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Moodle IS boring!

Recently, Sarah Horrigan, a British educator had an interesting post, brought to my attention by colleague Claude Sigmund. Horrigan was talking about how her colleagues were complaining about the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) their institution was using. It got me to thinking about pushback I've heard in our district regarding our VLE "du jour", Moodle. Staff using it for professional development complain that it's "clunky" or "too hard" or "boring." As Horrigan correctly points out however,

I then got them to imagine a really great learning experience that they'd
had while they were at school or university and what made it great. I then asked
the group 'did anyone's great experience involve a great teacher?' Hands. 'A
really great subject area?' A few more. 'A really great activity or
experience?'. Lots of hands and nodding. 'Did anyone's great experience involve
how brilliant the room was where the learning happened? How great the chair was they were sitting on? How great the desk was they were using? The pen? Anyone particularly excited by the pen they were using?'. No-one.

Y'know. I think I actually heard the penny drop as they realised that it's what you do with something that makes it good and not the places or tools which make it extra special. It's funny how quick we are to blame an environment and forget that inspiring teaching and learning is about the people and the players. As adults
we look at an empty cardboard box and see it as a storage device. Somewhere to
put 'stuff'. As children we looked at that same cardboard box and saw a plane. A
car. A train. An adventure waiting to happen. What happened to our own
creativity? It seems like we get confronted by a 'virtual learning environment'
and think that's enough. The learning will happen regardless of the effort we
put into it. Wrong! So, so wrong! When eLearning works, it's an amazing,
interesting, vibrant, evolving, engaging, rich space. When it's just a shell. A
place to download PowerPoints... boy oh boy is it a sad bag

An empty classroom is not a great learning space. It requires an engaging educator and engaging subject matter to make it interesting. So too with Virtual Learning spaces such as Moodle.
So now I'm off on a quest, to find engaging activities for staff using Moodle to extend student learning beyond the walls of their classroom.
Here's what I've found so far:
Hopefully these resources will assist in giving educators ideas on how they can turn their digital learning space from boring to engaging, just like when they meet students face to face in their classroom!

Michelle Martin at the Bamboo Project Blog adds her two cents as well.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Screencast.com Media Roll

For those of you creating Jing movies for students one of the issues you may have had to deal with is managing and posting the movies themselves. (Unless you've purchased the "Pro" Account and are uploading to iTunes!)
With Media Roll, Screencast.com has taken the management off your hands! Now, Math teachers can create Jing videos for sections of a chapter, save them in a folder labeled with that chapter and then embedthe Media Roll for that chapter on sites such as Edline and Moodle!
If embedding is not an option, you can copy the RSS feed from each folder, and add that to your Moodle course or Edline Content.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

1:1 Laptop Learning Pilot-Another Milestone!

Last night we had Open House at South View Middle School, home of our first year 1:1 Laptop Learning pilot. We had a nice turn out and parents asked lots of good questions. They received the policy guide and forms they will need to bring with them next Saturday, when students will be coming to a final orientation prior to taking them home.
Next week, students will be going through training on Acceptable Use, Proper Care, Personal Safety and File Management, then taking a "Driver's License Assessment" to earn the privilege of 24/7 access. Below are the presentations for each of the units. I'd love some feedback!
Acceptable Use

Proper Care

Personal Safety

Friday, August 28, 2009

1:1 Learning Reflection

The fog is starting to clear!
This week we continued on the journey of 1:1 learning with the imaging and testing of student laptops, delivery of teacher laptops, developing our "Driver's License" curriculum and training with the teachers involved in our pilot. The fact that this project is really going to happen is starting to hit home!
In the training, we further clarified our timeline, reviewed and edited policies, settled on the "essential questions" of our student training, reviewed Google Apps and Moodle, and clarified our expectations of students and consequences for misuse. A lot to do, in 2 days!
During an exercise in which I had the teachers explore some of the presentations from this year's Building Learning Communities Conference, science teacher Nicole Nuckley had this question:
How do we balance the time it takes kids to learn the basic information about a subject (information already known and established) with the time we want to give them to adequately, and intelligently, add to and create in that space of already known and established knowledge?

Our pilot has several goals...
  • Enhance the personalized learning experience
  • Expand learning opportunities beyond the school walls by providing real-world learning experiences through the use of technology
  • Develop in students the 21st century skills needed to compete in a global society
  • Help students achieve higher scores on the constructed response questions on the MCA standardized tests
  • Help students achieve a higher score on the MCA science test
  • Maximize the District’s resources of time and talent
While each of these goals is important, I hope we're able Nicole's question too! Or if not fully, at least help clear the fog!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Testing out Twitcam

For those of you who follow this blog, you know that I have been using Twitter to share information and learning and develop my Personal Learning Network. Today, I received an e-mail from LiveStream (formerly Mogulus) that they had developed an interface allowing you to send out a link to your stream and interact with viewers via Twitter called Twitcam. You can see a short test I did over lunch. (It was salami!) Might be useful for professional development or a quick conference. I think I'd use the full blown Livestream for workshop streaming or guest speakers.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Great Summer Viewing for Educators

While on vacation I saw on my Twitter feed links to a blog post about 25 Incredible TED talks for Educators. TED, which stands for
"(Technology, Entertainment, Design) is an invitation-only event where the world's leading thinkers and doers gather to find inspiration."
I have viewed several of these talks, and have often found applications to education, even if the original intent was some other topic. The top one suggested for educators right now is a talk given by Sir Ken Robinson on the need for schools to nurture rather than kill student creativity.
I invite you to take 20 minutes to view it, and once a week this summer pick another to view. It could be on education, or a topic of interest.

July 21-24, the next TED Global conference will be held. Topics for discussion include:
  • What is an accomplished life?
  • Which universe do we live in?
  • Is life a mathematical equation?
  • Where does motivation come from?
  • Who's defining the new geopolitical map?
  • How can we observe what we can't see?
  • Can we design the air we breathe?
  • What's the economic impact of terrorism?
  • Should we fear faith?
  • What makes big cities function?
  • What do top-secret places look like?
  • What's the true nature of modern crime?
  • Can a solar-powered plane fly?
  • What's the power of music?
  • Can we put biodiversity in a bank?
  • How does the brain create the mind?

Video of the conference is usually posted soon after. I bet you'll learn something!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Wolfram Alpha: Computational Knowledge Engine

This morning I saw a twitter post from Karl Fisch, the co-creator of the "Did You Know" video. He linked to a blog post he had just finished talking about a new site being released today called WolframAlpha. This is the latest project by Stephen Wolfram, the creator of Mathematica software.

In a 13 minute video, Wolfram demonstrates what he describes as the early stages of a project to make "all systematic knowledge immediately computable by anyone."

As I watched the video, I couldn't help but think of the computer on "Star Trek" answering questions posed to it!

The implications of a site like this for educators and students is startling! Do we really know what our students need to know anymore? How can we harness the power of something like WolframAlpha and the new search features that Google has just incorporated into our teaching and learning?

As Fisch said in his post:

"I wonder whose problem it is if our students don’t know how to question, ask/search, find, evaluate, synthesize, repurpose, remix, and solve problems using tools like Google and Wolfram Alpha?"

How would you use a tool like WolframAlfa in your classroom?
UPDATE: You can learn more from today's Science Friday on NPR.

UPDATE 2: Apparently there were glitches with the release of Wolfram Alpha tonight! Ah, technology!!

UPDATE 3: Here is e-School New's take on the subject. It appears not everybody is happy about Wolfram Alpha. Is it because they are truly concerned about what students need to know, or because they have some skin in the "knowledge-based" learning paradigm?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

SchoolTube: A Great Alternative!

Recently, I set up an account for our district on SchoolTube, a video sharing site that provides a safe moderated environment for viewing and hosting video.
All I needed was some content to test it with....
That came yesterday, when 8th grade science teacher Beth VonEschen asked about filming a demonstration lab so that her students could view it on a day when she was going to be out of the building for professional development.
Using just our Flip camera and Windows movie maker, I filmed Beth after school, then added some titles to create the movie below.

It took us about a 1/2 hour to set up and shoot, then another 1/2 hour to edit. Not only can she use this with the substitute, but since it's on Schooltube, students who miss class can access it at home via a link on Edline. It also allows students who were in class, the opportunity to view it again, in case they missed something the first time.
After creating the video, I uploaded it to Schooltube. They have a 100 mb limit per file uploaded and also include a "Desktop Uploader" so you can quickly add video.
For those looking for a safe alternative to Youtube, who were frustrated by Teachertube's unreliability and lack of robustness, Schooltube may be your answer!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

From Toy to Tool: Cell Phones in Learning

Today I saw the following Tweet from Jon Tanner, an Oregon, Wisconsin educator:For how many of us, when we see a cell phone in class, is our first reaction to confiscate it?
What if instead, we harnessed the tool to enhance student learning?
That is the motivation behind the Cellphones in Learning Blog, created by Michigan State Graduate Student Liz Kolb.
The site contains examples on using cell phones to enhance learning such as:
  • Poll Everywhere, which turns cell phones into student response systems
  • MuVChat, which allows students to text questions/comments to a screen while watching videos
  • Sending pictures from cell phones to Flickr accounts
  • Yodio-Allows students to call in and create a digital story.
So what do you think? Should we ban them, and not know that students are really texting in their hoody, or should we have students use them as a learning tool? If you think the latter, Kolb's site has a wealth of resources to get started!!

Photo Credit: From Mykl Roventine's photostream on Flickr.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Posting Student Work and How it Affects Acceptable Use Policies

Yesterday's TIES Key Instructional Contact meeting, featured a panel discussion regarding the posting of student work and it's affect on Acceptable Use Policies.
The panel featured panel members:

Jay Haugen: Superintendent, West St. Paul, Mendota Heights, Eagan Schools
Aimee Bissonette: Attorney, Little Buffalo Law & Consulting; author, "Cyber Law - Maximizing Safety and Minimizing Risk in Classroom"
Michael Dronen: Director of Educational Technology, Stillwater Schools

The first question dealt with whether or not districts even need an AUP?
Bissonette and Haugen discussed that policies and procedures are two different things and that it was important legally for districts to cover themselves.
The question of student e-mail came up. Dronen stated that students in Stillwater have an e-mail address grades 5-12 to use on student projects. He stated that students passing notes in the analog world, now it's in the digital. Students get an address if they are working on a project for school, and they have provided a document for parents and students sign off on.

The main difference is the domain of the e-mail address is different.

Dronen said that the teacher-parent communication piece is key to any of this. Teachers being up front with parents about what they are doing in class or on their Web site goes a long way. The perception is the key!

Today's issues:
Cell phone numbers-Is it ok for students and teachers to share those numbers? Facebook friends, is it ok for teachers to friend their students?

Bissonette stated the importance of being as transparent as possible. She handed out a packet she prepared for the talk that included examples of districts that have experienced legal problems due to disciplining texting in class, Facebook postings, the blocking of certain sites,

Is student e-mail private or public? Bissonette said that the question is how students were told the e-mail would be used. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act relates to student privacy enacted first in 1974 requires parental consent to post information. Since the cut off is 18, after that age, parents do not have access to that information. This can pose problems for K-12 schools!

A question from the audience about student e-mail talked about the practicality of teachers being able to access it. Dronen said his directory was only accessible within the district. Teachers access to student e-mail accounts for instructional purposes should be clearly stated in the Acceptable use policy.

All of these are policies that need to be discussed and planned for.

Haugen said that schools need to be about life, if not, we are marginalized. Good policies and procedures need to be in place and then how can we engage students in the technology that is available. If we just say "no", we will lose the students.

The Children's Internet Protection Act requires districts to use filtering software, but districts may control what gets filtered. Bissonette thinks that is a good thing!

A question from the audience asked about Web 2.0 and the difference between content created outside of school versus inside of school. Dronen said that an Edjurist attorney recently commented that these tools have blurred the line between what schools can control. He advocates going slow and steady with Web 2.0 tools because whenever technology is attached to something, there is some fear.

Haugen advocates for teachers can protect themselves by communicating clearly with administrators, students and parents ahead of time. He said that we have confused kids by saying they need to be fearful of predators and not put information out about themselves, but then at school we tell them to be public!

Bissonette-The one key issue about students putting information out about themselves is student disclosure. She said there is a big difference in what you say to a 3rd grader, a 7th grader and a 12th grader.

A comment from the audience mentioned that if students do work on school computers, it is owned by the school, but at home it's yours. Dronen said there is some grey area there. Dronen has set up passwords at the 5th grade level for parents and students to get to see comments and student work. As students get older, there is some additional communication to the parent asking if they can post first and last names. This is similar to the "Walled Garden" philosophy I saw presented by Ryan Bretag and David Jakes at Educon.

Bissonette said that from a free speech standpoint, if kids are on school computers, the district can impose restrictions. If it's off campus with personal devices, if there is a threat or it impacts learning, the school can still have some say. But if a student says something the district doesn't like, but doesn't threaten, there is some serious grey area. Students are suing in these instances on free speech grounds and are winning!

What is the difference between a signed AUP document vesus a posted policy and how often should these documents be signed? Dronen suggested using a dedicated portal for parents electronically signing, though he still has parents sign the forms that are in the student handbook managed at the school level.

I submitted some questions that Ryan Bretag posted yesterday and the panel replied:

If safety is the reason for not publishing their names, is this really a means of ensuring safety or is it a false front?

Dronen asked whether the district should be filtering computers that students are bringing home? He thinks probably. He thinks that it's important to teach anonymity with students but then also having a richer dialog about how safe they really are.

If we are teaching digital citizenship, is an alias or partial disclosure the best approach?

The panel felt that age matters here.

If we are helping students develop a strong, positive footprint, is it best to use their full names?

Dronen stated that the context is important. At some point, students may want to "brand" themselves for the future. We as educators need to be open to it, as long as it's age appropriate.

Bissonette agreed with the concept of context and that there is less of an issue whether a school district discloses the information vs. the students disclose the information. She pointed out that it's important to remind kids that before they post, they really need to think about what information they want out there for "a good long time-possibly permanent?!"
How do we take into consideration professional publications treatment of students such as the athlete who has his/her full name printed next to their photo?

The panel didn't discuss this issue, but in a side conversation with Dronen and others the Minnesota High School league

There was discussion about professional development for staff on these issues and how districts were handling it.

Haugen said it was important not to scare staff, but to boil it down to the key points and make them aware. Bissonette discussed the need to remind staff about copyright and how they can utilize Creative Commons content, not just parameters but showing what they can use.

One audience member noted the importance of telling kids that when they go home, they need to credit themselves when they create content because they are outside of the fair use guidelines of school. Bissonette talked about getting permission from the copyright owners and putting students in the position of being the creator and licensing their work.

Dronen said that as Tech Coordinator, he tells his staff that they are their to serve the classroom teachers, but sometimes requests come in that would not be in the best interest of the classroom or the district!
Haugen chimed in that who should really be having this discussion today are the students!! That's what educational institutions should be about! Having rich dialog with students about the issues that are affecting them.
The key concepts I took away from this discussion were:
  • Communicate!
  • There's lots of grey area
  • Communicate!
You can read more notes on this in the Google Doc here.