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.