Wednesday, December 15, 2010

How To Learn? From Mistakes

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Educon 2.1 Conference at Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia. One of the highlights for me was the chance to tour the school and sit in on classrooms to learn some of the pedagogy that makes SLA so unique. One of the classrooms I visited, was Diana Laufenberg's Government Class. Students were sharing their stories from public meetings they had attended and were sharing their learning.

Last month, Laufenberg presented at the TEDxMidAtlantic Conference. In the talk, she shares the story of learning from the perspective of her grandmother, father, herself, and now her students. In her grandmother's world, school was where you had to go to "get the information." She points out that today, that is no longer the case. By asking students questions, allowing them to make mistakes, asking them what they can do with the information, we can offer a richer learning experience. She challenges us to provide experiential learning opportunities, to empower student voice and embrace failure in the learning process. The video is about 10 minutes long, and gives a great message of how schools can change to reflect the information world we live in.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

TIES 2010 Keynote: Bernie Trilling-21st-Century Skills: Learning For Life in Our Times

Bernie Trilling, co-author of 21st Century Skills, Learning for Life in Our Times, spoke in the Tuesday TIES 2010 Keynote. He started by thanking TIES, and remembering "Oregon Trail," which you can still get on your iPhone!
His focus today is on 21st Century Learning and the current progress on it.
This is an interesting time for education right now.
A tale of Two Cities...The best of times and the worst of times!
What is really going on in Education right now:
  • 1 Foot in the Industrial Age model-An old boat that looks a little rusty
  • Drop out rates are high because the kids are "over-bored!"
  • 1 Foot in the "iBoat!"
  • The boats are moving apart from each other
  • At some point we need to make a decision on where we are headed.
  • This is the case all over the world

How do we get through this transition?

Churchill said, "You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing...After they have tried everything else!""

The critical question: What do students need to learn to be successful in the 21st Century?
The Rear View Mirror
Unfortunately, we have a "rear view mirror" syndrome. We were all in school.. this prevents us from moving forward! We need to toss out the rear view mirror and focus on the future!

The Future:
It Ain't what it used to be!-Berra
The best way to predict the future is to invent it! -Kay
Why do we need 21st century learning?
What do students now need?
How do we get there?
Trilling then lead us through "The four question exercise"
1. In 20 Years, when the child leaves formal education, what will the world be like?
Audience Response:
  • Like the Jetsons!
  • Independent/Personalized Learning
  • Paperless
  • Increased Computer Capability
  • Overcrowded and too warm
  • Work from home, anytime, anyplace
  • Digital Natives in control
  • Disparity between haves and have nots!
  • Learning is entertaining
  • More communication, less boundaries, more connected!
  • Quality of life based on access to technology
2. What skills will your child need to be successful in the world you just painted?

  • Ability to learn and adapt independently
  • Not always a "right" answer
  • Culturally aware AND Globally responsible!
  • REALLY good communication skills
  • Growth minded!-Willing to believe that they can and should continue to learn!
  • Keeping up with the technology
  • Synthesize and evaluate information
  • The easy way is not always the right, moral or ethical way!
  • Finding Balance-Mind, body and spirit
  • Collaboration
  • Connection with the natural world!
  • Flexibility
  • Open minded
  • Know how to "brand" themselves!

3. In your own life, what were the conditions that supported your peak learning experiences?

  • Enthusiastic/passionate teachers, content and students
  • Supportive parents
  • Choice
  • Learning more important than behavior
  • Not driven by grades-Importance of topic is valued
  • Taking responsibility for own learning
  • Connection and empowerment to rest of the world
  • Travel, people skills
  • Involved positive risk-taking
  • Part of a learning community

Trilling: We have created a blueprint for learning!
What would learning look like if it was designed around these
Which skill is most important? Trilling says, "LEARNING! The profession of being an adult in the 21st Century!"

Trilling reminded us of home media technology in 1975 to today. He also notes that students are different today from how they were then as well.
Tapscott study:
  • Personalized Learning
  • Speedy access to online research, writing, sharing, project tools
  • Social Tools
  • High School Survey of Student Engagement from Indiana:
  • 65% of students are bored every day
  • 82% Material not interesting
  • Not relevant
  • No Teacher interaction
The world IS flat!, but workers need 21st Century Skills to compete! Are students ready to work?
Businesses want: Oral skills, teaming, project management-AMA 2010 Critical Skills Survey
The Future World of Work-Routine work done by people or machines going to the lowest bidder. Creative work is where it's at!
He then showed the Partnership for 21st Century Skills Framework. If you look at the framework, almost all were mentioned in the audience response above!
He calls this the 7 "C's"
  1. Content Understanding
  2. Critical Thinking
  3. Cross Cultural Understanding
  4. Collaboration
  5. Communication
  6. Computing Skills
  7. Career and Civic Learning and Self-Reliance

3R's x 7C's =21st Century Learning
How do we do this?
Trilling then showed a clip from Dan Meyer's TEDxNYED talk:

"Every student is intuitively involved." There is no answer in the back of the book! Trilling says that like Dan Meyer, We need to "Be Less Helpful!"
When we "learn about learning" we know that we need context, caring, construction, competence, and community.
He then shared a "Deeper Learning" School Network whose schools use a project-based approach that introduces an authentic essential question to start the learning process. This network includes Edvisions Schools, which includes the Minnesota New Country Day School.
Trilling talked about the importance of the Essential Question in the Project Based Learning process.
He closed his talk with a wonderful story about a school in California that for 18 years has been working on a project that started with a simple question...
And then we read the pledge...(Thanks to @recessduty for the picture)

TIES 2010: Exceptional Teachers

At the TIES 2010 conference, Mark Walace and Kathleen "KC" West were honored as Exceptional Educators for modeling best practices and engaging students in learning! Congratulations!

Monday, December 6, 2010

ISTE 2010: ABC's of Advocacy with Hilary Goldmann

Hillary Goldmann, Director of Government Affairs with ISTE presented on Educational Technology Advocacy issues. The session was attended by Technology Directors, teachers, educational consultants, administrators interested in advocating for curricular and funding needs.

State Level
Carol McFarland, a Minnesota State Representative from White Bear Lake, Minnesota, came to share her thoughts on educational advocacy issues at the state level. Before she became a legislator, she was a parent volunteer and school board member. She reminded us that democrat or republican, you can not pigeon hole legislators, as they are all individuals. It is important to talk to both parties. Education is NOT about partisanship. She is on the Education Policy committee, and believes that there needs to be better alignment between K-12 and post secondary. What are issues regarding collaborating. Currently, cities, counties and townships do not have to go to the voters regarding expenditures. Schools do. This needs to change.
Tell your story, to ANYBODY and EVERYBODY! Engage your legislators, not just your local legislators. Contact committee members, but don't stop there! If you have individually done your work telling your story, when bills get to the floor, all will have heard it!
Build coalitions! How many know that the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce has Education as a high priority! The problem is we speak different languages. They want a return on investment, and a strong work force. The battle scars of political elections make it difficult for people to get together to work on issues, but work together they must!
Letters are more effective than e-mails, since people took the time to write, rather than copy and paste an e-mail. This is significant! Make appointments to talk with legislators. It is more effective to write a short, sweet letter to tell your story. Robo-e-mails are less effective. Sometimes students are the best advocates, but make it genuine, not prepped! "Bills are a start of a conversation!" It may not pass, but it gets the conversation going! The Minnesota Department of Education has been cut so much that it is hard for them to advocate. Many omnibus bills are voted on whether bills have more good than bad. Approach legislators with opportunities and solutions rather than just telling them to fix it. Tell your story! She shared how her granddaughter's 3rd grade teacher has received grants to integrate technology into his curriculum. Ananth Pai, the teacher happened to walk by as she spoke. He said, the best thing you can do is invite people to your classroom! TPT did an interview on what he is doing as well!
Hillary pointed out that when teachers scrape and hunt for funding, it causes a difficult issue when trying to move something to scale. As advocates, this makes things tricky, because not every teacher can do that, and there are only so many grants to go around.
Just Show Up!
Jennifer Bergland, Director of Government Affairs for the Texas Computing Education Association Skyped in, to share how she started and what she does.
Legislation happens from those who show up! So show up! Instead of being intimidated by the process, remember that you are the expert that has information that can help legislators. The more you know them, the more they seek out you! Sign up for ETAN or other resources that push information to you!

She majored in Political Science, but she went into education because she loved kids. She worked as a Social Studies teacher, Technology Director and now the TCEA. She felt that her organizations were not doing enough to advocate for Ed Tech Funding. 7 years ago, she received funding for a Middle Level 1:1 initiative. As that project evolved, she realized the need to advocate at the state level for funding.
She worked with Tech Companies, the Texas School Board Association, and teachers organizations. She worked on a bill to allow districts to use textbook funds in a flexible way, so that they only have to buy classroom sets rather than one for each student, so that remaining funds can be used to purchase digital materials and equipment.

Advocating with Members of Congress

Joe Campbell, a member of Senator Amy Klobuchar's office who works on educational policy issues came to talk about what Senate offices are like and how they operate. They have 17 staff in the Minneapolis office, 25 in the Washington office, along with regional offices for out state.

At each office, there are staff who work on specific issues.
Senator Klobuchar reads every response from her office that goes to 5 or more people.
When engaging with a legislator, it is a strategic decision. If it is something that affects a small fraction, you may want to choose a smaller pool to meet with, where if it affects more people, you may want to contact more people.
To schedule a meeting, a member of the staff are always available. Be flexible.

Assume that staff know nothing, but that the member of congress knows everything. Use that time to get into the meat and potatoes. We are the experts! Senator Klobuchar will usually ask questions. Keep it simple, and stick with the agenda. Staff will stay after to discuss further! Be ready to share "the ask!"
It's important to make the effort. The more information legislators have, the better decisions they can make!
Another option is to talk with staff about issues and ask them to write "Dear Colleague" letters to advocate with other legislators to advocate and share stories that way.

Next we had a chance to share our stories and needs in EdTech Funding, and concerns over NCLB reauthorization. I had a chance to share my views on making the National Educational Technology Plan play a more important role in Educational policy.

Campbell stated that Senator Klobuchar is a strong advocate for investing in our national infrastructure, expanding access. Session participant, Josh Sumption, from Marshall, Minnesota discussed the issues in South West Minnesota, where at school there is great access, but at home they are still dial-up. The "school-to-home" option is a good one, but Hillary pointed out that it should happen, but not at the expense of E2T2 funding!

If you have an issue you would like to discuss with a representative from outside your district, right now, you are limited, because on the Web sites, you need to be a member of that district to contact. Campbell said that you should simply state, "I'm not from your district, but have an issue I would like to discuss with you. What is the best method?" Senator Klobuchar has also participated in video conferences from her office. She also stops in every county, every year. Given that Klobuchar is on the Commerce Committee, she may not have as much to say about ESEA reauthorization, but she will play a huge role in broadband infrastructure! Senator Franken is on the Education Committee, and will have an influence on ESEA re-authorization.

We closed the session discussing what we can do moving forward. For those that send an EdTech Advisory Network letter, Hillary would like us to send the response that we get, so that she can track responses. There are more resources on the conference Wiki if you would like more information.

TIES 2010 Keynote: Sir Ken Robinson

The Keynote Speaker at this year's TIES Conference was Sir Ken Robinson. I had seen his TED Talks and was really excited to see him present.

He spoke today on The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything!

Winnepeg is the coldest place on earth! He talked about taking a cold shower in Winnepeg. "California doesn't do cold water!" Winnepeg does!

Not sure he's happy to be hear in Minnesota!

He talked about a recent trip to Las Vegas to renew his vows. Las Vegas doesn't have a reason to be there. Some do have a reason, natural harbor, water way. There is no advantage to the location of Las Vegas. The reason it's there is that it represents the most powerful capacity that we humans have! It is unique to human culture. The power of immagination! This is unique to human beings. To conjure up the possibilities. Entering the hearts and minds of others, visit the future, etc. Though it is impossible to predict the future.

J.K. Gallbraith-The primary purpose of economic forcasting is to make astrology look reasonable.

The power of immagination has underpinned everything that has sprung up in our history. It's failure has helped create our greatest mistakes as well. There are forces at work now, unleashed by our immaginations that make the some tremendous challenges. This may be the most tumultuous century in history.

Taken as an aggregate there are several forces that are making things

  1. We are living in a period of revolution.

  2. If we are to collectively meet this revolution, we need to think differently about ourselves.

Too many adults underestimate their talents. Many don't enjoy the things they do. Others really DO like what they do, however the majority do not. This is another type of "Climate Crisis." The crisis of human resources. We currently have a 40% drop-out rate. They don't feel it's about them. And their right! All of the remedial programs to bring people back to education are based on personalized instruction. If they had that to begin with, they wouldn't drop out!

Like in every profession, there are good teachers and bad teachers. The bad teachers should do something else! The systemic issue is that it is enherrently blind to the needs of individuals.

The Correction System is the fastest growing system in the U.S. California spending on the correctional system will soon be greater than what is spent on education. The costs of "mopping up the damage" of drop-outs is to high. We must have different strategies.

It has to begin with talent and ability. Go "back to basics!" Talent of ever teacher and student in the system!

In the 1950's if you had a record player, phone and TV, that was the extent of consumer electronics. His 8 great-grandparents were all born within 2 miles of each other. "I just think people bumped into each other on the street and said, 'You'll do!'"

Contrast that with today!

Digital technology has mostly happened in the last 10 years. Todays iPhone has more computing power than all the computing power on earth in 1950. 10 years ago, Google was a novelty! No Wikipedia, Facebook, Youtube, etc. When he was working in the 1970's on his Ph. D., he would spend 3 hrs. in the Library to scour the shelves to find 6 authentic references. That was a good day! Today, 100 pages of great stuff can be Googled on your cell phone, and if it takes more than 15 seconds, you get irritated!

Our children have grown up with this stuff, and they take it for granted! It is true, however, that the gadgets we are using now, will be antiquated very soon!

He told the story of a conversation with an Apple Engineer who said, "the most powerful computers in the world today have the computing power of the brain of a cricket!" Computers are inert calculators. Within 10 years, they'll have the capacity of a 6 month old child. At that point, computers will be able to learn, re-writing their own operating systems.

Kurzweil-in the 2020's will have OS that will be close to the human brain. How will it feel when you sit down at a device and it is as smart as you are?!

"We are reaching a point where information systems will simulate human conciousness."

No one knows for sure what the world will look like in 5 years.

Education is still getting used to the idea of how technology can be utilized in the classroom. There is an opportunity of collective conciousness that is unpresidented. We need to get on with it, because culturally, we're no where near keeping up with technological changes. For most of human history, there have been 1 billion people. Now there are 7 billion, and by mid-century we'll be closer to 9 billion. BBC program, "How many people can live on Earth?" with David Attenborough. If everyone consumed the same as someone in Ruwanda, the Earth could sustain 15 billion. If everyone consumed as much as the U.S., the earth could sustain 1.5 billion.

We need to educate our students to understand this fact.

Our classrooms are designed for the 19th Century. We need to get back to the basics of "people."

"Finding Your Passions Changes Everything!"

Most people don't understand their true talents and don't connect with them!

He told the story of having to introduce the Dahli Lahma on a panel last year. The Dahli Lahma was asked a question, and after a pause, he said, "I don't know!" How many teachers say that?

If you think about all the circumstances that caused you to exist, the odds on you being here are stacked against you! Being born at all is a miricle! So you should do something worth-while!

Robinson spoke of Terrance Tao, a math prodigy, who at age 7 was taking Calculus!

If you have to do math, and can't, you assume you're not smart instead of realizing that you are not smart in Math, but may be smart in something else!

He was "chilling" with Sir Paul McCartney, who said that he HATED music in school. No one at the school thought George Harrison had any talent either. So there was a teacher in Liverpool in the 1950's who had 1/2 of the Beatles in their classroom and didn't see that they had any talent! Elvis didn't get accepted into his Glee Club! How many of our students untapped potential is sitting in OUR classrooms?

To be in your element, you have to love it, and then you never have to "work" again. Bart Connor learned how to walk on his hands at age 6. Not much use at the time, but when he was 8, his mother arranged to have him go to the gymnastics center. For him, that place was like Santa's House and Disneyland, combined. Is that how we feel when we walk into a gym, a classroom? Connor's mother could have said, "stop it with the hands thing!" but instead she encouraged it! She couldn't have known that the journey would take him to the Olympics. Life is organic. "It's not what happens too you that makes your life, it's what you make of it."

Our educational systems have to be predicated on our diversity of human talent!

If you have the potential to be a talented violinist, basketball player, etc.

All you can do is invest in the moment and encourage the passions you see in front of you!

Cultural-We need to educate our students to be informed members of society.

Economic-We're educating students for the old economy rather than the new.

We need to change metaphors! At the curriculum, pedagogy, assessment, design!

We need to move away from the industrial model of education. Most of the assumptions of this are now broken. In the 70's if you had a college degree, you had a job. Not any more!

Now education needs the organic metaphor, based on human beings!

He told this amazing story to emphasize the importance of nurturing student passion and potential:
Near Las Vegas is Death Valley, the hotest, driest place on earth. In the winter of 2004, it rained. In the Spring of 2005, the floor of death valley was a beautiful flower garden. Death Valley isn't dead! It's dormant! and with the right conditions they will produce a harvest. The same is true with students and education! Running a school is more like agriculture, encouraging growth! There are no schools better than it's teachers, principals and superintendents.

Schools can NEVER be fixed permanently.

Schools need to be personalized around people's creative talents! Plants don't grow by themselves! With organic systems, miricles can happen every day!!

After his talk, Carl Anderson asked Sir Ken a question. "What is the purpose of school?" You can see his reply here.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

"Go Wireless" Initiative Year 2 Update

October 14th, I met with 52 parents and students at Valley View Middle School, where I presented our plan for year 2 of our "Go Wireless" laptop learning pilot. I've written before about our initiative and the ups and downs we have incurred, and as we move in to year two of the pilot we are looking at a "Bring Your Own Laptop" model.

During our question and answer session, one of the parents brought up the important question of equity and whether we were creating a situation of "haves" and "have nots" by allowing students to bring personal devices to school. The district has provided laptop carts in each building for staff to check out to use with their students. In addition, a set of netbook carts has been purchased so that students could check them out overnight using our library catalog system. We've created a Website for staff, students and parents to purchase equipment at a discount, and we are also looking at possible funding sources to create grants for those who may have a financial need to cover all or part of the cost.

After our teacher convention break, students who attended the training will be brining their laptop to assist in their learning. I look forward to learning along with them!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

How Millennial are You?

Students in KC West's Mass Media course at Edina High School took a quiz recently to see "How Millennial" they were. They used the Pew Research Center assessment answering 14 questions on how they access and consume information. KC is teaching this course in a "blended" format, and has great reflections on that aspect on her blog. KC's work on blended learning is a great example of what's working in public education.
After taking the quiz, she had them create a Prezi presentation to share how they consume media. It was interesting to see how they consume their news, music, and entertainment. Some were very "millennial," tweeting, texting, blogging, reading on Kindle's and iPads, while others were not.
Here are a few examples of how the students see themselves:

It was interesting to hear the students present. Some talked about how they read books on their Kindle and iPad, others have been blogging and tweeting for awhile, while others did none of those things.

How millennial am I? Well.....I took the quiz and here's how I scored:

Something about reading an actual newspaper in the last 24 hours and having no piercings or tattoos...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Project BluePrint: Tech Trends

The districts that participate in Project Blueprint shared the state of Tech in their district. I've highlighted what I think were the important points.

  • 3,210 desktops and laptops (PC now, but may support other soon.)
  • LCD in each classroom
  • Fiber, 1 gig between buildings
  • 50 meg connection to the Internet. (Buying roughly 10 meg per year additional.)
  • Network (IP phones, digital video)
  • Wireless: 90% coverage at Secondary, 20% coverage at elementary
  • Aligned to mission and vision of the district, promotes curriculum and instruction, encourages innovation
  • Improve efficiencies and effectiveness in the delivery of technology services
  • ITIL framework
  • Providing access
  • Allowing personal devices
  • Student Centric Learning: Cloud based, Universal Design for Learning, Easy wireless access, Anytime-Anywhere learning opportunities, rich multi-media content.
  • 10 gig between the building
  • 1 gig within
  • 50 meg connection for 2500 students, but seeing that be tapped out. Looking at 100 meg this summer.
  • Looking at VOIP
  • 100% g wireless coverage and moving to upgrade to n this year.
  • Doesn't want to be seen as an inhibitor
  • Centralized IT support. Only 2 1/2 miles across. Remote in to computer. 95% of problems can be resolved this way. If not, help ticket. They can get most things done w/in 1/2 hour.
  • Mac District. All but 60 are Apple. VNC w/ Remote Desktop
  • iPad trial going on right now. Bundles of 4 for classroom teachers and some for teacher checkout.
  • All of E's "Inservice" tool for PD.
  • Struggling with some "cloud based" tools
  • PowerSchool for SIS
  • Quia, Moodle, Working to define the best tool for the task
  • Pilot first before implementation

Thomas Forcella talked about his work in Maine where 1:1 computing and moved to Connecticut. 5 years ago, they had no mobile tech, 1 IWB, etc. Multiplied tech funding 4x's the level of 5 years ago. Starting from scratch allowed them to focus first on student learning.

Gave every teacher a laptop, with expectations on how to use it, which helped a great deal with innovation.
  • Mission: Provide instruction that invites effort and supports rigor.
  • Smartboards: Cognitive apprenticeship, student and teacher demo in front of students. Goal is to create producers not "reproducers." The IWB is the first step of the process.
  • "We want students who produce knowledge, not reproduce knowledge."
  • Video Integration: Interactive Reading Project-Across schools AND grade levels. Students challenged one another about the books they were reading
  • Expanded the use of Web-based tools: Voki, Wikis, Blogs, etc.
  • Document learning: Flip Camera project
  • SmartMusic, Lab Simulations, Movie Production
Burning Questions:
How can we insure that all students have access to rich technological experiences in school? (How do you ensure other curriculum standards/experiences are provided?)

How do we keep technology from being "busy work" or "entertainment centers" in classrooms?
(They do learning walks a few days a year and see abuses.)
ID of right programs that allow differentiation of instruction by curriculum and integration specialists

This video might have some answers...

Within 3 years, anyone with a "smart phone will be inexorably linked to it. How does this impact our schools?

Shared their Program Review where they had a 2 day process of review and assessment.
PD was an area of concern
Only those interested were attending
If people are required to attend...that increased participation.
  • They require daily updates to Teacher Web Pages.
  • Online Grading and student management
  • The more accountability, the greater level of concern by staff
  • Expectations of parents has driven that too!
Tech Leaders in the building w/ stipend.
PA Classrooms for the Future-Included a Full year of coursework to receive it.
Nationwide sponsors their Website. Best Buy provides scholarships for funding
Cybersonics Robotics program-Best example of PBL and 21st Century they have
Academy for Tech during the summer
They are exploring the California online textbooks

The equity issue: Wayland looking at "student computer" innitiative and what this means.

Parents not comfortable w/o control for how students are learning and what that means..

  • Mobile technology for students and staff
  • Improving network infrastructure
  • Paperless classrooms and new PD model for teachers
  • Virtualizing their data centers -VDI
  • A lot of $ on upgrade of switches and access points
  • "Learning To Change" 3R's & 4 C's : Critical Thinking, Communication, Creativity Collaboration, (Curriculum would be the 5th)
  • Instructional tools they are using: Need to consolidate
  • Single Interface called: "It's Learning"
  • Can't call it 1:1...It's too controversial-budget concerns
  • Teachers have laptops, students have access to lab/carts in Physics
  • Blended Learning for PD-"Wayland Rises"-Rich Instruction for Student Engagement and Success
  • More student-centered learning. Modeling for staff
  • Learning the "It's Learning" interface through PD
  • Using STaR, MassONE (Tech Self Assessment Test), Surveys
  • Looking at the actual work of the students to assess if teachers are truly integrating
  • On their Website, they added a "Fast Facts" page about the district that the "stole" from Whitefish Bay.
  • It's Learning has a plagiarism component as well.
Many ideas here made me think of this video I've posted before, but feel fits the shift we are seeing in student learning. Wendy Drexler created it about 2 years ago, but it is still relevant today!

Much of the discussion after focussed on shifts to online learning.
Who's really doing the work?
How do we maintain our brand if we start using non-district products?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Project BluePrint: Curtis W. Johnson

Edina is hosting Project BluePrint Schools this week. Comprised of districts that are suburban and of similar stature in their respective states, Project BluePrint consists of the school districts of Guilford, Connecticut; Wayland, Massachusetts; Cape Elizabeth, Maine; Palisades, Pennsylvania; Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin; Clayton, Missouri and Edina.

Curtis Johnson, co-author of the book Disrupting Class, How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns, was invited to speak to the superintendents, curriculum directors, technology directors and teachers representing the different districts. My notes on the session follow.

Johnson began by asking those in the audience "Why would a 14 year old want to go to High School?
His answer: Social Peer group interaction and to feel competent. Are our schools meeting those needs?

He then told the story of a suburban Boston convenience store that had lines of people buying milkshakes between 6:30-7 a.m. Johnson said that people "hired" the milkshake to have something to hold on to on the commute, because it was viscous so it would last a long time and not spill as easily as coffee, and it was filling enough to get them through lunch.

Johnson then shifted to our current realities in education.
Not long ago, dropping out could still be a ticket to success later in life. Today, not so much.
The economic downturn has lead to a new normal: We are not on top, we can't just roll out of bed and be successful. Commodities were cheap. Every trend that made us stay on top are in reverse.

China is back and here to stay.

Are we going back to that profile? Here are some statistics prior to the downturn:
  • 41% of workforce in financial services.
  • 35% of U.S. capitalization was in Real Estate
  • 58% of graduates of top universities went into Law or Finance. Not making things, or running things.
  • 1/2 of Wall Street trading on average is flash trading w/ naked access. All algorithms based transactions, not creating any value for anyone.
So where are we headed?
We're probably only going to do well if you are prepared to do something with your head. We still lose 20% of the kids. School is rigid, predictable and boring for those at the top, and we lose them too!

Disruption is a good thing!
Christiansen observed successful companies like Data General and Wang that died very quickly despite being well managed. The common thread was "good management!" They didn't look out their windows to see what was going on in the rest of the world. Why would they build a $2,000 computer with 4% margin when they could build a $500,000 with 40% margin.
What happened to the phone company?
Look at Toyota. The 1st Corolla's were poorly made, but "non-consumers" could afford them.
What drives organizations? People, Process and Priorities. Enterprises repeat the things that work. This becomes the organizational culture. Listen to your best customers. Who are the best customers in K-12? Parents of the children who do well! (Usually they did well in that type of environment too!)

"Society has moved the goalpost on K-12 education the last few years." From you are supposed to provide access to "you are supposed to provide achievement." The problem is the operating model of current K-12 is the model is not reflective of 21st century realities. Sequences and Silos. Getting to knowledge is not an issue today, yet the sage on the stage is still the most common pedagogy.

The model is NOT the way kids learn. Integrated knowledge is a part of who they are.
Never has every kid learned the same thing at the same time in the same place on the same day.
Standardization in the name of efficiency is not helping our students.

We have a performance problem, not a design problem. They just need to work harder! We don't back up to see if it's really a design problem.

If this is true, a big change is coming....
The online platform behaves like every other disruptor. Online learning 1.0 only appealed to a small narrow population. (TV delivery) 2.0 Online learning was a bit more creative, as it allowed schools to continue to offer subjects like German, Economics, etc.
Now, online learning is heading to the 3.0 phase. More interactive, individualized, beyond the experience available in the classroom. Video-conferences, guided tours of museums, languages, the best Chemistry course in the United States is online. It is too good to ignore.

How do we participate in this? The only examples of professionals participating in their own disruptions that are successful involve these important components:
Separate Space. Don't try to change everything or everybody-Just allow a few to try it. (Dayton's-Target example of decentralized Target didn't have to report to the Department store)
Radical Autonomy-IBM was the only company that survived the changes in the computing industry from mainframe to mini, mini to PC, and beyond.

It's a hard thing for people to do that, when there is fear of "what if they do well?" What about how unions will react?

Portfolio schools. Allow them to go do it and turn them loose. Judging them only on the results they get. If they can get to the 30-40% who we are not getting, then we might be able to do it.

Think about how different our demographics are from 30 years ago. Different internally from each other. Much more diverse. Students in Minneapolis come from families that speak 37 different languages. Shoving computers into classrooms hasn't done it.
It's changing the pedagogy to teacher as facilitator, coach, etc. that is needed. We've been talking about personalizing learning for decades, but the only place we really do it is Special Education.

Inserting our agenda into their use of technology.

Palisades has an Academy program where kids can learn in a different model.

Johnson on "Chartered Schools"-"There is no such thing as a "Charter school" it is a license to create a school under certain criteria. Is a Chartered School better than regular public school? "It's like asking if it's better to cook at home or eat out!"

Wayburn's superintendent asked the question: "How do you entice "us" to change? We're some of the most effective schools in the country! Why should we embrace this?"

Johnson: In the 90's there was no demand for e-mail. The same thing may happen in response to your question. If people are forced to move in that direction, they won't have the time to do it, unless they test it and develop best practice now.

The fuel injector put the carburetor out of business.
There is a perfect storm of kids who power down when they come to us. Parents think we're good at getting kids ready for beyond school and they need an online, student lead experience.
Efficiency in how we use our time as teachers.

In other industries, are their "creative deviants" that are currently underground and we're just waiting for them to surface. Are they under-represented in K-12?
Maybe many who leave after a few years are the ones who are leaving. "We won't get better teachers unless teaching is a better job!" "This is not a professional opportunity if you can't control your work."
Creating a space or environment where we're not compromising the results, but we're adding critical thinking and creativity.
Accountability for results next to the authority for the work. In teacher lead schools, they have both, and it makes all the difference.

Closing comments: see more at

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

ISTE 2010: Session: Howard Rheingold: Critical Thinking while Exploring the Web

I've seen Howard Rheingold present online, and was looking forward to seeing him live.

First we looked at Bing and the photos that they use on their opening page.
There is a Wikipedia tab whenn you search in Bing, along w/ related searches on the left. You can see the tone of the related searches as you search through something like "global warming." If you search "Global Warming," you will see "myth" or hoax, as you go further, you can see how the tone shifts in thinking on the topic.
They now have a beta Social Search in Bing as well. And "
Microsoft has a site for teachers around critical thinking here.

Finally, Howard started talking and began by sharing the resources for the session.
We used the hashtag on Twitter #istect and people also added resources on the wiki page.
This allowed for the creation of this .pdf at the end with resources created by the participants.
The resouce mining included a Diigo Group called Critical Thinking where you can join and find great resources.
Howard asked the audience if there was anything you could tell your administrator about it, what would it be? Angela Maiers was in the audience, and said, "start early, do it often, and don't underestimate young minds."
It is important to show students early where information comes from, and show them sites that have bad information.
Rheingold discussed, a site I have used many times with students to discuss critical thinking.
A site called Newstrust can be used w/ older students and has resources for educators.
Rheingold stated that Wikipedia is a marvelous educational tool precisely because it is untrustworthy, and it reveals the process. "It's the best place to start, and worst place to stop researching on a subject."
You can triangulate by doing a Bing, Google and Wikipedia search on a topic. This will give you a better start.
Teachers need to develop THEIR critical-thinking skills as much as students!
Someone in the crowd asked whether there was a wiki page on Wikipedia discussing the validity of Wikipedia? Yes, in fact there is.

Rheingold talked about the scientific method and degree of authority. We need to instead develop a process of thinking where we can defend the sources we use.

Someone made the valid point that we need to have the same critical thinking we have with books that we have with Wikipedia. We need to question EVERYTHING!
There need to be a partnership between classroom teachers and media specialists on this.
CommonSense Media has some great resources on this.

The session gave many resources in many formats that will be valuable assets on this topic.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

ISTE 10: Tuesday Session: Google Wave

Tim Stack and Jared Covili from the Utah Education Network presented on how to use Google Wave as a tool and how to put it into the K-12 classroom.

Education in our generation has been force fed, and then...the info is gone.
59% of students online talk aobut educational projects
50% of students are learning online
They want choice. Today they have 150+ stations
They want control
How can Wave help some of these issues?

They created 2 waves for this presentation, one for the presentation:
And one for the comments and questions like a back channel.

Replies that people make create new "Blips" on the Wave. By Control-Clicking on the second wave in your list, you can have 2 waves open at a time, then by closing the minimize button on the search panel, you can see both Waves side by side.

Issues: when waves are public, the creator can be deleted, and people can change content. In fact about 3/4 of the way through the presentation, someone deleted the resources section of the presentation!

Next we looked at management of the Wave. Stack said that the more you use it, the easier it becomes. It's just different.

Since this is an open source project, there are some apps like that can be added to allow for things like translation from Spanish to English. You drag the app to be a participant in the wave and then you get a drop down menu when people are editing. In the wave, you add these apps as contacts to your wave.

It's still in it's infancy, so it requires extensions and gadgets to allow for waves to be Public, to embed calendars, and other extensions.

You need Google Gears installed on your browser for dragging and dropping of documents and images in a Wave. Surprisingly, Google Gears is currently not supported in Chrome!

They then showed a wave for the Utah State " Amazing Race" contest and how you can pull in .pdf documents and images. The images appeared in a preview mode similar to Google Buzz.
Any document can be added to a Wave as well.

There is also an extension that brings up a video chat with up to 6 people.

I was excited for this session, as along with many, I had tried wave back in January and was ready to get some tips and to see whether I wanted to train staff to use it this year, since it is now part of our Apps for Education package. At this point, I think I will wait.
The apps and extentions are currently only added at the user level. If you are a member of a wave created by someone who added the bot/app to the wave you can use them. Perhaps teachers could be trained in adding specific extensions and then invite their students to the wave. For sychronous creation it does have intriguing possibilities.

Monday, June 28, 2010

ISTE 2010: Session: #Tweet, #Learn, #Lead

I stopped by to listen in on Chris Craft (@crafty184), Jonathan Becker(@jonbecker) and Jeremy Brueck (@brueckj23) discuss how to use Twitter more efficiently. It was interesting to see these three educators from different parts of the country collaborate and share their perspectives on how Twitter can be used effectively. I've been trying to grow things grass roots in Edina the last couple of years, as it has greatly benefited me professionally, and I was hoping to gain some insights from this ISTE Bring Your Own Laptop session.

They actually began their session last week, by inviting those registered a Google Form Survey created by Brueck to gather background information on the participants skill level and to attend a Moodle course on Twitter providing introductory lessons and a quiz. Brueck also has this Wiki site with great resources for every level of Twitter user.

They created three hashtags which formed a backchannel for the session :
#isteask for people to ask questions during the session
#istelearn for people to share information
#istelead for people to share how administrators might use Twitter.
I thought this was clever and they had the 3 tags as columns on Tweetdeck up on the screen as they presented.

Craft began by assuming that everyone there wants to use Twitter.
  • Do you want links to resources?
  • Ideas for the classroom?
  • Conversations about topics?
Then Twitter can be an effective tool for you!

He noted some important things to remember:
  • It is entirely acceptable to unfollow someone who isn't tweeting, or isn't giving you good information.
  • It is entirely acceptable to block someone from following you. (I have had to do this when obvious spammers have started following me.)
How do you use this tool without being overwhelmed? (This is something that a few of the people I have attempted to get on Twitter have struggled with.)
American Education Research Association Conference this spring Craft presented on some of his Twitter research. After looking at 250 self-identified educators over the course of 18 months, most of their tweets were socializing. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but can be noise in your stream.
If you want to use Twitter for learning, you need to carefully choose who to follow, carefully choose who not to follow, and carefully choose who to engage.
He follows around 400, as do I, though I have heard Will Richardson say that he prefers to follow only around 150 or so.

This is YOUR network. YOU need to Own it! Follow people smarter than you!
Follow people who can be leaders for you.

Jon Becker began by asking this question: "Is the faculty lounge valuable? How?"
One respondant from the audience said, "Depends on who's in there with you!"
Most aggreed that conversations about teaching and learning in the faculty lounge can improve your instruction.
Twitter is a nearly boundless faculty lounge for you.

Many school leaders don't have that space to talk with other educational leaders. Twitter gives them the ability to grow the list of people they can connect with, ask questions and learn from.

You can follow people that someone like Chris Lehmann, the principal of Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia follows (in Lehmann's case that would be 2,247 people!) or if they have a list of administrators like Chris has, you can follow the entire list (Cutting the number to 63!). Another option is to use Tweepsearch or Listorious and search for the word principal.
Becker suggested that Pam Moran (@pammoran), David Dotty (@canynosdave), David Briten (@ColonelB), and John Carver (@johnccarver) are superintendents who are active on Twitter and worth following.

There are a set of standards that people in the field of Educatonal Leadership that school administrators need to aquire, such as the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium's (ISLLC) Standards for School Leaders. Community Engagement is one of these standards. Becker feels that there are great possibilities for using Twitter to meet this standard. The Van Meter, Iowa School District is a great example of this with the #vanmeter hashtag. It's a great way to be transparent to your community and for you to control the message.

Brueck explained hashtags as a tool to aggregate tweets. Also, Tweetgrid can give real-time search results. (Thanks, @tollsy!)

Some districts are using Yammer, a "walled garden" approach to using Twitter, which is a social network for private social network for businesses that can still be synched to your Twitter account.

Bruek then explained how he uses Tweetdeck to manage multiple Twitter accounts and other social network feeds. He showed how he created columns for

Becker mentioned a local reporter tweeting from a school board meeting. Do you want that, or should the school control the message. He reiterated that Twitter is a great way to engage the community while also controlling the message.

Brueck shared how to click on the time date stamp in Tweetdeck to bring up the individual Tweet for when you want to share a relevant tweet with others.

Becker showed how to roll over a tweet in Tweetdeck to e-mail the tweet directly to people you want to share it with.

There was great discussion of whether to have multiple accounts or to live life in the open. B
Hootsuite is a tool that can assist people with managing multiple accounts.

This session gave me some ideas to try this coming school year to help people who might be feeling overwhelmed, and a few new tool suggestions as well.

ISTE 2010: Monday Session 1: Teaching the Digital Generation: A New Face For Learning

This session featured Ian Jukes and Lee Crocket in a "drive by conversation" on Teaching the Digital Generation.
The presentation material can be found here if you sign up.

He asked us to step back from our exsisting world and get a "swift kick in our assumptions."
The powerful new technologies are affecting todays students. Most of the change that our parents and grandparents experienced were incremental. Anyone under the age of 25 the changes are more rapid and
Understanding the Digital Generation book
As parents, citizens and educators need to understand that on the inside today's kids are completely different. Not because of them physically maturing faster, their clothing styles, or what they listen to. Due to digital bombardment, primarily outside of school, their brains are adapting to these new technologies. They have developed a cultural brain.
Because of this bombard ment their brains are physically changing. They are neurologically different, and they see and interact with "hyperlinked minds" with "neuroplasticity."
They are constantly creating new thinking patterns. The eyes of digital readers process images 60,000 times faster than text.
The eyes of older brains find the "golden mean" 1/3 to the left and 1/3 down. A z curve.
Kent State research shows digital readers don't do that. They unconciously scan the bottom and sides first.
The brighter the color on the page the more they focus on the page. They read in an F pattern. They ignore the right side and bottom of the page, unless they are highly motivated to explore it.
This affects the way they view the world.

Digital learners prefer receiving info quickly from multiple media sources.
Educators prefer slow controled content from a single source.

Kids come to school and feel like they've run into a wall. We need to acknowledge as educators that the digital world is different.

National School Board Association says that by ignoring this and the tools that students use outside of school w/o first concidering the educational possibilities we are "blowing it!"
The world has changed and we need to get over it and get on with preparing them for it!

Digital learners prefer parallel processing and multitasking, most educators prefer linear processing and focus on a single task.

Continuous partial attention, multi-tasking, has been around for ever. The difference is that for the digital generation, they multi-task much faster. That's not the way WE grew up!

Dr. John Medina, author of "Brain Rules"-Research on multi-tasking, students are 40% less effective when mult-tasking. Students need to focus for extended periods of time. However, whether we like it or not, we're never going back to 1985 again.
Jukes says that unfortunately, many teachers still teach like it IS 1985!

Educators prefer text before pictures/sound/video. Kids want the opposite.
Back when we were growing up, the images were meant to compliment the text. For digital learners, they want to experience the images first, then

People can remember the content of 2500 images 72 hours after only 10 seconds exposure with 90% accuracy! If this is the case, our stand and deliver lecture model is not cutting it.

Images and video are powerful enough on their own. Do you learn more from the video or the words on the evening news? Medina says the new generation is visually fluent. They are moving more to a digital right brain world.
We were paper trained, linear logical, left to right. The new generation prefers beginning w/ visuals and then moving

Digital learners prefer random access to hyper-linked multimedia information. Many educators prefer the linear delivery method.
The constant exposure students have had has created "hyper-linked minds."
Moving from linear to multiple paths of thought is a good thing, but exposure to this makes it hard for learners to follow linear thought, because they get bored.
Kids are increasingly non-linear thinkers. Why do I have to read to the end if I can explore the links and create my own ending?!

Jukes says that both styles are ok, just different.

Digital learners prefer to network and collaborate with others. Educators prefer students to work independently before interacting.
When we were growing up there were 2 ways to communicate Face to face, and phone.
The digital world has 1000's of ways to communicate. The digital generation takes these for granted. It does not exist in isolation from the physical world. Our generation struggles to understand this!

What is the 1st thing kids do when given a new game? Pull out the instructions? NO. They mess with it. They look for cheats, they ask their friends, etc. This is fundamentally different learning.
Learning by intuition,

Digital learners prefer "just in time"
Many educators prefer "just in case!"

The idea of having a career for life is highly unusual now. Companies: If you wanted loyalty, you should have bought a dog!

Kids today will be dealing with 10-17 careers. The top 10 jobs in 2020 do not exist today. (Friedman) If we are going to prepare our kids for the world they will meet, we need to teach differently.
"No child left untested" is

What world are we preparing our kids for?

Digital learners prefer instant gratification and instant rewards. Educators prefer deferred gratification and delayed rewards.
Video developers make new games planning a new decision every 5-10 seconds and a reward every 7 seconds. On average, students get asked a question or get feedback every 25 minutes in school.

Time to reflect: Kids are different and we need to acknowledge that.

So now we know. How do we change things?
These 6 things should be in the front of ever room:

Solution Fluency:
Define, Discover, Dream, Design, Deliver, Debrief
In the real world, it's not enough to design the presentation, you need to deliver it, and then debrief! Students need to be involved in the process.

The deliver phase
Information Fluency-Every minute, 24 hours of Youtube videos are uploaded. Every minute you are a day behind. Is it more important to know or to manage the information
The 5 A's:
Students need to be able to ask, aquire (wrong info is an opportunity for learning!), analyze, apply, assess
This should be embeded in every lesson and skill.

Creativity Fluency-
$200 to get into the lobby of a Dubai hotel
Design is the key in the marketplace.
2/3 of our economy will be creative class jobs
Logical and analytical abilities can no longer guarantee success-Olivier

Media Fluency
Determine/evaluate the media
Determine the best way to communicate your message
Challenge students to communicate more effectively, not just about language!

Collaboration Fluency
Digital Diet book written by Ian, Lee and Andrew Churches all done online

All of these fluencies are done in context as a digital citizen.

Traditional Literacies 21st Century Fluencies should be balanced

Teach problems then content.

The focus is on "headware" not "hardware!"

It's not that kids are ADD or ADHD, outside the US there are very few diagnosis this way!
We don't understand that the digital generation is different, and schools are NOT designed for them!
There is not a greater "anti-brain" environment than today's school.

Jukes says there IS a place for basic skills and understandings, but traditional literacy is NOT enough!

There needs to be balance between their world and our world!
Every generation has said, "What the hell is wrong with these kids?"

This was my first time watching Jukes present. It was a fast talking, information filled talk, that had many implications for educators.