Thursday, December 13, 2012

How Deeper Learning Contributes to Digital Learning

Today on the "Getting Smart Blog," I saw a great infographic that gives great examples of how our eLearning2 Initiative in Edina can transform student learning.

Many of our staff are already implementing learning like this in their classrooms, and our professional development plan will definitely include these ideas!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

TIES 2012: Tuesday Keynote: Tony Wagner on Creating Innovators

Tony Wagner, author of the book, Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change The World was the keynote speaker on Tuesday, December 11 at the 2012 TIES Conference
He began by sharing the story of a classroom in New Orleans, where kids were excitedly using do test prep.
In another question, he talked about a teacher using lots of technology, but never explaining, "why math?

Knowledge today is commoditized. Very quickly you will be able to get a college education without leaving your house. What's school for then?

Routine jobs are being outsourced. 
The world no longer cares how much our kids know. It cares about what are students can DO with what they know!
Students need to be able to transform knowledge.
So what is the teachers roll?

When he read, The World is Flat, it scared the heck out of him. He talked to executives, community leaders, college teachers and recent graduates. They stated that the following competencies are more important than content acquisition.

  1. Critical Thinking and Problem Solving-We haven't done enough here, because we rarely assess it. The ability to ask really good questions, and Identify problems is more important. 
  2. Collaboration Across Networks-Collaboration around the world so that things work in more than one culture. Deep appreciation of differences. Lead by "Peers through Influence." Aside: Education is one of the biggest silos. How are educators going to be able to teach if they are not collaborating themselves?
  3. Agile and Adaptable 
  4. Initiative and Entrepreneurial Spirit-Employees with 10 stretch goals, who only reaches 5-7 is a hero.
  5. Writing-Students don't know how to construct and argument and write with voice.
  6. Accessing and Analyzing Information-In high school, we had to memorize the Periodic Table and planets. These have changed...
  7. Curiosity and Imagination-He talked about "A Whole New Mind" as an example of how right brain skills are very important today.

Right now, most of our instruction is multiple choice test prep that doesn't prepare us for these key skills.

He believes we need "Accountability 2.0" and rethink high school education. Then came the global economic collapse...
For the first time, we saw students with a B.A. degree and $25,000 in debt, unable to get a job.

He thought that students who went to school became more skillful. He was wrong!

Those skills are not being taught! The only thing sure with a B.A. is debt!

Our economy is based on consumer spending, fueled by people going into debt. 

Innovation is the key-We need students to be creative problem solvers!

Start with healing the planet!
The United States has always been known as a place of innovation. 
He listed Bill Gates, Bonnie Raitt, Mark Zuckerberg and others who were all Harvard drop-outs!

He mentioned Sir Ken Robinson's work on school killing creativity.

Wagner interviewed several innovators in their 20's who could all remember a mentor who made a difference in their lives. Those teachers were all outliers!

The patterns of teaching in the innovative schools like High Tech High, the MIT Media Lab and the Stanford D-School were similar.

  1. The culture of schooling ranks kids, and creates individual competition. The schools above value collaboration.
  2. The culture of schooling compartmentalizes. Innovation is interdisciplinary.
  3. The culture of school is passive. Sit and Get. In the innovative classrooms, the emphasis is on creation.
  4. The culture of schooling is risk adverse. We penalize failure and reward compliance. The culture of learning as an innovator is to learn from mistakes. (IDO is an example of an innovative company. Need trial and error.) The grade of F for students who try something and fail is now the new A at the Stanford D-school. 
  5. The culture of schooling relies extensively on extrinsic rewards for learning. In every case, the young innovators he talked to were intrinsically motivated. Their parents and teachers had emphasised play, passion and purpose.

Sometimes kids have to be bored to learn how to get unbored! Limited screen time was a common theme.
The importance of whimsy! 

Passion was valued more than achievement  Time was built in for students to design and build their own questions. Students focused on their interests and grew. Students learned that they were not on the earth just for themselves!

Wagner has 2 ways to make this happen for every kid! Accountability 2.0.

  1. We have to develop an accountability system that samples rather than tests every kid. Every student should have a digital portfolio with core competencies. Students and teachers collect the best evidence of mastery of those competencies. Teachers work to develop standards. The work is transparent though technology.,,. We also need teacher portfolios, with video of student interaction and student feedback.
  2. The Google Rule of 20% or the 3M Rule of 15% where people can follow their passions should be followed. He believes this rule should apply to every classroom. Students should document in their portfolio, set goals, evaluate, and set new goals. The teachers works as a "coach for excellence." Every teacher needs to be an effective coach today. Teachers need to model this innovation in their classroom.
He ended talking about a trip to Singapore, where he was talking about needing to be innovative by writing a book. He added a QR code linking to videos that tie to the book. 

He closed with a quote from Dicken's A Tale of Two Cities

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.."

He gets to see the good things happening in classrooms around the country where people are bringing passion to their classrooms every day.

Monday, December 10, 2012

TIES 2012 Monday Keynote: Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek, author of the book, "Start with Why" was the keynote presenter Monday at the TIES Conference. His TED Talk on content from his book has been extremely popular.

Sinek, considers himself an early adopter, but he likes human beings more than technology! How do we use technology to make things work better for the human being?

We need a human problem before technology is used most effectively.
He gave the example of screens with string to pull down. 

A brilliant example of tech is to go to Bed Bath and Beyond. Some toasters have a function where if you lift the button, the toast comes up. 

First, what is the human problem we are trying to solve? We have to remember why we are teaching this in the first place. We teach students, not curriculum!!

So what can technology do for education? Sinek believes it can be used for:

Humans are fundamentally social. What is so remarkable about us that made us not only survive, but thrive?
Human beings want to feel that they belong. Especially with those with similar beliefs and shared values. 
How do we get people to do things
Rewards and incentives, threats of punishment, etc. The human body also has chemicals that incentivise us to happiness. Good feelings come from certain chemicals: Endorphins, Dopamine, Oxytocin and Ceretonin. 

Endorphin's are what give us the "runners high." They hide physical pain. They mask physical pain to incentivize us to keep going, whether in a workout or on a hunt. No practical reason to get this anymore.

Dopamine-When you find something you were looking for or accomplish something, you feel good because of this. It gets us to do things, even though we don't have an immediate need right now. "Write down your goals so you can check them off and feel good." "We are biologically designed to collect stuff-It's why we like shopping!" Refreshing a cell phone for e-mail. We love the ding, or the buzz. It's an addiction! Selfish chemicals to keep us alive. 

Ceretonin-The leadership chemical. The alpha chemical. We can feel that people are nervous about us. Getting awards in public is a way to get it. Graduates get it, AND so do their parents! The reason it is there is because we are looking after each other. Thank the team, or the coach, parents or God, because we need the respect from other people. Status symbols.

Oxytocin-Warmth, really good feelings. Women get huge bursts of it when giving birth. Human contact. Handshakes. We need to trust someone in order to get it. Acts of generocity also gives bursts for both the giver and the person giving. When you have it, you actually want to give more. Online, you don't get that reciprocity. Giving money doesn't create this, either. 

The greatest thing we can do is give TIME and ENERGY to others.-This generates a great deal of oxytocin for both.

Witnessing acts of generocity makes you more likely to give yourself. Money, or a promisory note don't do this.
His concern about technology is that we are trying to solve problems with technology that circumvent bonds of trust. We need to be intentional. It's about the teacher using the technology, not the technology itself. The bond between teacher and student, the trust, and being ok with failing, then 
Big mistakes in school are a way to learn!

He had us close our eyes and think back to high school, and the teacher who knew us, and believed in our potential. The people who believe in us are the ones we carry around with us for the rest of our lives! How many students would say your name? It's not because of the technology we used, it's because we connected with them and believed in them.

Technology does not form the bonds of relationships.
We are here at the conference to share ideas and build relationships. 

Alphas-The leaders, the strong, smart. We give them love and respect, which boosts their Ceretonin and their self-confidence. There is an anthropological reason we have alphas: the practical problem of food! We evolved into heirarchical animals. The weaker ones stepped back for the stronger to eat first. The alphas got first choice of meat and mates. 
Today, we have no problem with the fact that bosses have a bigger office at work, or that celebrities get all the pretty ones.
The rub: The alphas get this special treatment and ceretonin, but if there is an outside threat that attacks the group, the alphas have the confidence to stand up to it.
Leadership has a responsibility to protect those who serve you.
If you are not willing to put your career on the line to protect the studetns and teachers in your care, you are just an authority, not a real leader.
This leadership and sacrifice comes from the parenting model. Every teacher should be sacrificing so that their students can be greater than they could ever be. Every principal should be sacrificing so that teachers can be greater.

We have a strange over reliance on technology. He gave the example of the Air France Airliner that crashed after take-off from Brasil. An instrument on the aircraft calculating airspeed gave a false reading about the speed. The computers released the autopilot, but the pilots had never been trained into what to do. Airbus philosophy was that the computer was brighter than human beings. Because the pilots trusted that, over 200 people perished. Every now and then there are crashes. We are ok that people are fallible, but not technology. It can never replace human beings.

He finished with a story where he lost his sense of purpose. He went to Afghanistan with the U.S. Air Force to see how his theories were working in action. The goal was to be in country for 30 hours to view an air drop. 10 minutes after landing, his plane came under rocket attack. After the all clear, and a bit of rest, he went on a mission for the air drop. While leaving, he was supposed to leave on a Medical evacuation flight. He was bumped, and was going to be stuck there for 4 days. Cortisol, which is the chemical for anxiety kicked in, alert and hyper-aware. Survival mode. He felt himself becoming self-consumed, and tried to change his attitude, with no luck. It was like being in a dead-end job, and fear was all consuming. He gave up and resigned himself, and decided to make himself useful by serving others. After making that decision, he felt an amazing sense of calm. Just then, he ended up catching a flight with a fallen soldier, as the only passenger carrying the soldier home. The flight home was silent. After having gone through that, he felt honored to be on that flight.

The thrill of serving others is what it's all about. We get this not from tech, but from the safety and trust of human relationships.

TIES 2012: Kathryn Smith: Innovative Spaces Support 21st Century Learning

Kathryn Smith, former Bemidji State professor, presented on Innovative Spaces Support 21st Century Learning.
Her presentation slides can be found here.

Today, learning can happen anywhere, anytime, and on any device. 
She started by using PollEverywhere to ask about the status of mobile technologies and school learning environments.

She thinks that the TPACK model is a good one to use when implementing professional development around 21st Century learning. We are using this model in our BYOD professional development.

Smith notes that the National Educational Technology Plan, is a great road map for change. Research has shown that the appropriate use of technology and the appropriate design of learning spaces is having a significant positive impact on learning.

The learning spaces today are not that far removed from 19th Century classrooms. She showed this video from the University of Michigan on research on design of learning environment.

Here are more videos from SteelCase, that show new learning space design.

In the video, you see "node chairs," similar to traditional chairs, but mobile, and flexible. Here are some examples of the spaces they designed.
Her presentation has additional links to Steelcase and some of the designs they came up with for learning.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Side of Flipped Learning We Don't Always See

Often, when people talk about Flipped Learning, the focus is on the videos students sit and watch. Rarely, do we get to see how classroom pedagogy shifts. The other day, I came across this scene at one of our middle schools.

The teacher was working with a small group of students showing them how they would be using iPads to create their own videos for classmates on problems that were directly tied to power standards in math. His other students were in the classroom, organized in groups solving problems. By moving his instructional lecture to video, he was freed up to work with this small group. Too often, the focus of flipped is on the videos, and not enough is spent showing the classroom interaction that can occur because the lecture is online.

Monday, November 26, 2012

eLearning2...The Shift

The following article was recently sent out to parents to share some of the ways teaching in Edina has "shifted" as a way to introduce our eLearning2 Initiative.

The Shift

A recent post on the educational blog Mind/Shift captures a discussion educators around the world are having today. In the article, How Should Teaching Change In the Age of Siri?, the author points out that students can ask Siri (the iPhone/iPad voice recognition system) almost any “knowledge based question” and instantly get an answer. In order to stay relevant and provide students with the real world skills they need, teachers shift their instruction from asking students questions for the purposes of getting answers, to asking students to analyze, synthesize and create new meaning based on the answers they find.
Fortunately, many Edina Public Schools educators are already making that shift in their instructional practice, modeling innovative and creative teaching that is not only fulfilling our 2015 Technology Plan, but is also engaging all of our students in ways that empower them to take ownership of their own learning.  
An Economic Upturn
Last year, Edina High School teacher Jason Szporn developed a “blended learning” course (i.e. combining face-to-face classroom experiences with online learning) for his Advanced Placement Economics students. By incorporating best practices of economics instruction into a blended learning model, Szporn developed a rigorous course that included video lessons, of which he produced, numerous online resources, and a variety of assessments to help monitor understanding and mastery of the content. Students worked at their own pace, receiving feedback in face-to-face discussions as well as online from Szporn and fellow classmates. The online course tools allowed Szporn more time to work individually with students who needed extra help, while also motivating students who caught on more quickly the opportunity to explore topics in more detail.

The results of this instructional approach were astounding. Of Szporn’s AP Economics students, 71% them achieved a score of four or higher on the AP Macroeconomics exam (on a five point scale, generally a score of three is equivalent to college level mastery). This is compared to only 37% of students worldwide who scored at the same level; and the score of the 2012 students was 28% higher than Szporn’s students from the previous year. Szporn attributes much of the increase to the blended learning model of his course, allowing his students to move at their own pace, and giving him the ability to provide more targeted instruction to his students.
Election Night in Edina
On Election Night (Nov. 6), South View Middle School government teacher, Claude Sigmund, hosted a “backchannel” chat for his students. Using a website called Chatzy, students were able to log in to a private chat room to discuss the election and share insights with each other as they watched the election returns come in throughout the evening. It was quite a lively discussion, with Sigmund noting that at 11 p.m. he had to tell the ten remaining students that they really needed to “go to bed.”
The next day, a mother of one of the students who participated in the online discussion noted how engaged her son was with the entire election process and how eager he was to share with his classmates about the results.
“I wish I had a picture of last night during the elections,” she said. “[My son] was sitting on our bed with two laptop computers going and watching the election on TV.  His brothers were in the room watching and I was sitting next to him, thoroughly enjoying the class conversation from your Chatzy page.  As the night went on, he was telling us things he had been learning in class. His passion for the election was contagious. Thank you for your excellent job in teaching him.  I can tell he really enjoys your class.”

Thanks to the creativity of teachers such as Szporn, Sigmund and others in Edina Public Schools, coupled with the integration of mobile technology, we are able to engage students in their learning in new ways. With the District’s new eLearning2 initiative, the notion of Bring Your Own Device is expanded beyond the device to a recognition that it is the combination of great teachers and personal technology that will really take learning to the next level … the individual student level … to learning2.  

Already, eLearning2 is helping staff to learn how to use make these pedagogical shifts and use mobile technologies to help all of our student’s expand their abilities to communicate, collaborate, problem solve, think critically, and create. In so doing, Edina Public Schools realizes its mission of ensuring that all students have theskills, knowledge, creativity, self-worth and ethical values to thrive in a rapidly changing, culturally diverse, global society.”  

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Pedagogical Shift in a BYOD Classroom

Recently, I was sharing an opportunity for professional development that staff at our secondary schools will be able to participate in for teaching in a "Bring Your Own Device Classroom."
One of the teachers asked a common question that I hear from colleagues, 
"So you are telling me that now I will need to know how to use all of these devices, not just the ones that the district provides?"

My initial response was, "No, it's the student's device, and they are the ones responsible for knowing how to use it." Part of our training is helping to identify the "Device Agnostic" tools that will work on virtually any device. Later that day, while looking through a great slide deck talking about Using Technology to Support Higher Order Skills created and shared with me by Ollie Bray, an educator from Scotland, I ran across this slide:

I think it speaks to a growing understanding that in today's world of Web 2.0 and beyond, that it is impossible for teachers to know how to use EVERY tool available to students. However, as Ollie points out, it IS important that teachers know what digital tools can DO
It reminds me of the time I was helping our 7th grade science teachers introduce students to Prezi. I helped students login and create accounts, then moved over to the other lab to do the same. I came back 10 minutes later and saw things on the screen I didn't think were possible! I said to the student, "How did you do that!?" I knew how to use the program, but the student took it to another level, and taught me in the process!

Later that night, I saw this post from Ben Grey. It is his response to a story about the One Laptop Per Child program, and an experiment they facilitated in Ethiopia. The researchers had the following goal:
to see if illiterate kids with no previous exposure to written words can learn how to read all by themselves, by experimenting with the tablet and its pre-loaded alphabet-training games, e-books, movies, cartoons, paintings, and other programs.
Within 4 minutes some of the children had un-boxed the device and turned it on. In less than a week, children were using on average "47 apps per child per day." A few days later, the children were singing the "Alphabet Song," and within 5 months, someone had hacked Android to get the built in camera to work. On their own, with no adult intervention. 

Grey noted that this story, and the work of Sugata Mitra in India shows that we have much to learn about learning, and that it raises many questions:

  1. Why don’t we give kids more credit for their natural capacity to learn?
  2. What if we’re the ones getting in the way?
  3. Can we finally put to rest the silly digital immigrant/digital native nonsense?
  4. Why does there remain such a fascination with teaching kids very specific technology skills in our schools today?
I know that I am guilty of creating "step-by-step" tutorials on every aspect of a tool for my students or colleagues. I rationalized that it was to expedite the process and allow the person to focus not on the tool, but the content. Unfortunately, rather than being a help, I have come to realize that it enables the learner to wait for the hand to be held, or move on to the next step, instead of transfer skills learned in other programs and explore on their own. As Dan Meyer says, I need to "Be Less Helpful!

If our end goal is to create self directed, collaborative learners who think critically and problem solve, it is critical that we design learning experiences and assessments that allow them to do so. Providing options for the tools our students use in a BYOD environment, within the parameters of our learning goals is a shift in that direction. 

The professional development we are developing for staff surrounding BYOD incorporates this shift, focusing on helping staff curate resources, identify "device agnostic" tools, develop project based activities , hone management strategies, and integrate digital literacy into their curriculum. 

As always, I welcome your thoughts.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Superhero12: Mini-Sessions

In this session at the Superhero conference, participants shared a 15 minute session on a topic. 

Flipping with Glogster
Rojanne Brown shared her ideas about Flipping the classroom with GlogsterEdu.
Here is a link to her resources.

This provides a different way for students to share information.
With the paid version, teachers can manage student accounts.

Breaking the Barrier of Space and Time
Siri Anderson who is the Director of Online Learning at the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, talked about how to transform their practice. Here is the link to her presentation.
Right now, colleges are really worried about COWS!
Here are her notes:
Breaking the Barrier of Space and Time Siri Anderson, St. Catherine University
There is a lot of concern about MOOC’s right now in higher ed. Coursara, Udacity, EDX, MIT Open Courses
in higher ed. Coursara, Udacity, EDX, MIT Open Courses
Can we use the acronym RATS = Replacement - Amplification - Transformation  to transform what can we transform as a group?
Amplification - Transformation  to transform what can we transform as a
avenues for content to reach learners, learners to reach opportunities,
opportunities to reach teachers.
Example - students in a pre-service methods class worked directly with K-8 students through online tools and develop curriculum for the teachers to use as well as respond to each students inquiry.This transforms the usual paradigm where students (in college and in elementary school) perform only for their teacher. It creates efficiencies for the faculty in the schools and opportunities for the college students at no additional cost. Elementary students experienced improved engagement and interest in the topic with tremendous enthusiasm for working directly with college students.
worked directly with K-8 students through online tools and develop curriculum
for the teachers to use as well as respond to each students inquiry.This
transforms the usual paradigm where students (in college and in elementary
school) perform only for their teacher. It creates efficiencies for the faculty
in the schools and opportunities for the college students at no additional
cost. Elementary students experienced improved engagement and interest in the
topic with tremendous enthusiasm for working directly with college students. Can we move towards increasing opportunities for students to demonstrate
competencies in authentic means by integrating more collaborative tools in our
settings -- reduce the need for learning to happen in classrooms and assessment
to be offered only by the teacher.

There is a lot of concern about MOOC’s right now
Can we use the acronym RATS = Replacement -

Transformation can happen when we provide new
Example - students in a pre-service methods class

Authentic Assessments : Open-Internet Tests 
Malene Krig from the Blake School talked about making her 7th grade Science assessments more authentic. She shared some of the projects students have done in the past, such as the Science Fair project, where students are studying, presenting and making things more authentic.
She wanted to make some changes, caterpillars start by eating!
She went to the Constructing Modern Knowledge Consortium, where she was able to learn some constructivist methods of learning.
She shared this video that was an "aha!" moment for her:

Krig asked herself, 
         What am I having my students do? 

Why am I asking students to memorize facts and give it back to me on a test.  

What evidence will students demonstrate on what they are learning?  

Her revelation: “Open Internet” summative (performance) assessment

  • Premise: An earthquake has occurred somewhere in the world.  Students are “earthquake experts” and they would be interviewed by a news channel and report out.  
  • Students were given the location of the earthquake on the day of the test.
  • Students were given a choice to document their interview in Google Docs or Video (PhotoBooth or an Audio Recorder)
Video record answers became option  (PhotoBooth or Audio Recorder) the expert
She shared a great example of a student who video taped herself talking about different waves generated by earthquakes.

Sean Beaverson asked,

How can you do this kind of “open computer” kind of test in your own classroom?"
He shared this idea from John UnruhFriesen:
“Tag” one of the five videos of the course of the year that would be assessed by the teacher.  (John U-F does this with blogs in his classroom.  He doesn’t grade every blog post, but rather his students “tag” which ones to use)

iPad as Documentation Tool
Joe Druskin from The Blake School E & P Lab
Druskin talked about how providing students choice in how they share their learning is one that is resonating with him.
Design Process
Students in 4th grade create Amusement Park Rides. 
Students he uses the engineering design process from Engineering is Elementary.

Students video taped themselves as a documentation tool for every step of the process. The reflection happens as they look at all of their learning throughout the process.
The keys are working on workflow to get the information off of the devices. Since the videos are titled by date and time, there are some management issues, but there are definite benefits.
In reading, they are using the iPad for video to gather information to reflect on what they have read, and allows the students the opportunity to ask questions about the story. It also allows them to share visualization and comprehension.

Design Challenge
The Blake School shared how they migrated from FirstClass to Google Apps
The Hive model for Professional Development-Seeding ideas in how others have worked on inherent design challenges.
Flipped Direct Instruction! They used a Google Form as a self-assessment tool.
Once submitted, they used Flubaroo to send out the results. If they passed, they went to the Intermediate session. It identified the discrete skills people struggled with. 
Developing Expertise-Watching a video about how to do things, paired with a helpdesk ticketing system.
35% tried it, 86% passed it.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Superhero 12: Cool Tool-ThingLink

Tonight while reflecting on the Superhero Conference, I saw this tweet from Carolyn Fruin:

Thinglink is a site where you can upload an image or grab one off of Facebook, Flickr or another Website. I decided to test it out to see what it was like.
I grabbed a photo from our family vacation this summer and went to work, adding tags to the image, linking to sites and resources or to other photos I had taken. Roll your mouse over it to view the "Hotspots," that can be customized and include links.

I can see this as a tool for digital storytelling, or reflection with students. It's fairly easy to use, and I like it's embedding qualities, thought I would first make the image no wider than 640 pixels to be sure it is viewable.

Superhero12: Molly Schroeder on Project 17 What Does Learning Look Like in 2017

Molly Schroeder at Superhero 12
My colleague, Molly Schroeder led this session on 
"What Will Learning Look Like in 2017?" We began attempting to individually answer questions on the Google Doc about what learning might look like.
In her experience as a Google Certified Teacher, she has visited many Google offices, and has seen many different cool work environments. In fact, at Google, they recognize that work does not have to always happen at "your desk." She recently had the opportunity to visit Albany Senior High School in Auckland, New Zealand. The school opened recently  with the philosophy that learning is an active 2-way process.

  • Learning spaces today need to be flexible. We saw that here at the conference, where people gathered to share ideas. Albany has windows and spaces that connect the inside to the outside community. 
  • The space is open and shared.
  • They don't have bells, because they don't want to signify that learning has a beginning and an end. Kids begin their learning on the bus!
  • There are white-boards everywhere in the school to provide informal learning spaces.
  • 3 classes share a "Learning Commons," where separate presentation stations share "benches of knowledge," and labs. 
  • Every space in the school is used for learning.
  • They want to connect their learners to the space and the space to the community. Windows and garage door openings allow for this. Not sure how that would work in the Minnesota climate, but it makes sense for more temperate locations!
  • The media center serves as a "quiet space," with few non-fiction materials, but a lot of fiction and digital content.
  • There is a gathering space known as "The Mountain Top," where students could share their work.
  • Their teacher space has windows so that students see teachers as learners. I think this is a huge shift!
  • They are BYOD, with projectors but know Interactive White Boards.

Impact Project
Schroeder noted that students passions were ignited through a 20% project, called the "Impact Project." Every Wednesday, students work on a project that nurtures a "life-long delight in learning!"
The students have to prepare, present a proposal, plan, perform the plan, present and then reflect. Two of the three trimesters the students work on an impact project. The third trimester is spent preparing for national tests. These projects can be collaborative, which helps develop those skills. This sounds very similar to the vison that Minnesota Department of Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius shared as her vision for assessment in the future when she spoke at our Education Minnesota Conference.

You can share your vision for leaning in 2017 on Molly's form, here.
With this input, along with input we gather from the Designing A New Learning Environment course, we hope to put together a vision for new learning in Edina and beyond.

Superhero 12: John UnruhFriesen on Presentation Zen

The focus of this breakout session at the Superhero Conference was to look at presentations and how we can make them better. It was one of the more popular sessions at last year's event, and I wanted to be sure to see it! 
John UnruhFriesen shared how PowerPoint bullets are all our students see.
Following the Explore...Explain model of Ramsey Mussalam's Keynote, he began by having us begin by creating our own presentation via Google Docs.
Here is my finished model:

In Google Presentation now, when searching for images to include, you can now see only images that have been labeled for reuse!
Always size from the corner. Filling the entire screen is better!

Malcolm Gladwell in Blink asks, "How many seconds does it take for a student to judge your effectiveness?" Gladwell says, "10!" When we see something good right away, that sets the mood for the way things will go in the rest of the time.

How many bullets do we see in meetings? We do the same thing in the classroom!
Unruh-Friesen sees 5 keys to presentation:

  1. Eliminating the "non-essential!"
  2. Empty Space
  3. Simplicity
  4. Elegance
  5. Subtlety
DaVinci-Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication!

Eliminating the "Non-Essential!"

We see many examples of "un-zen " presentations!

If it is not necessary to design more, it is not necessary to design more!
Flipcharts-Too much info! Ugly

Focus on the images, use more slides, keep it simple


  • Powerpoint Karaoke
  • Put the bullets on the speaker notes.
  • Give the students only 20 words total on the screen.
Powerpoint is actually better at this right now than Google-where notes can be displayed for the teacher, but the students only see the presentation.
By doing this, you can also make the presentation non-linear and jump to slides that satisfy student curiousity.

Some suggest the following:

The 1-7-7 Rule
  • One main idea per slide
  • Insert 7 lines of text max
  • only use 7 words per line
Kawasaki-10-20-30 rule
  • No more than 10 slides
  • No more than 20 minutes
  • No less than 30 point font
But does it work? John UF says "No!"
What do people focus on. Putting the image on the left, and words on the right in English speaking room, is better. Reverse it if you have more Arabic speaking students.

If a bullet is important enough, it deserves it's own slide!
Turn on the lights
The Power of Story -"What Would Don Draper Do?"

Use the Rule of Thirds!

Use Good Images
Avoid this...

Too small, too big, bad text, stretched wrong, clip art, watermark, Comic Sans

Do This!
Fill the screen!
If pictures say a 1,000 words let them!
A 2008 Study showed that participants who saw 2,500 images for 10 seconds each had an amazing 87% retention rate 72 hours later. Compare this to 10% retention for what we hear!

Superhero12 Keynote: Ramsey Musallam-Pseudo Teaching

The Superhero 12 Conference kicked off with Ramsey Musallam, a Chemistry teacher from San Fransisco, California, who is a co-host of "Infinite Thinking Machine."
The title of his talk was "Pseudo Teaching", and began by talking about "Michael Scott," who THINKS he's a great manager.

Pseudo Teaching was defined by Frank Noschese and John Burke to describe lessons and pedagogy that you think are great, but really aren't. Musallam thinks Michael Scott is a great metaphor for this. He shared his background, going through pre-Med at UC-Davis, and how he loved explaining things to people as a tutor. As a Chemistry tutor, he decided he needed to be able to show students how to "blow stuff up!"
One of student quotes:
I still have no idea how to balance a reaction, but I loved watching you blow @#!$& up!

He thought engaging and entertaining were the only keys to good teaching.
It was when he thought about "Mr. Miagi" from Karate Kid, and how he got Danny to be good at Karate. He positioned himself to watch Daniel and see exactly what he needed to be successful. He didn't give him the tools right away. Thinking about this process, and having kids, helped him realize that he needed to change.

Explain-"Take these tools."
Experience-"Use these tools."

He realized he needed to put the experience in front of the explanation. He needed to flip them.

Experience first then Explain!

He felt he needed to flip Blooms and start with creating, evaluating and analyzing. Kids are using markers to write all over the classroom to make data collection the "aura" of the classroom.
Now he has his students blog in the lab, and then later reflect with Screencasts and taking snapshots to put them directly into the presentations.
He gives students Youtube videos on topics for the students to view AFTER they have experimented.

He gave an example of a CT scan of his heart anurism two years ago, that was luckily found prior to his daughter's birth. After a 7 hour surgery, with dacron mesh and a mechanical valve, his surgeon who exuded confidence he was ok. Somebody taught his surgeon how to do that. The pedagogy must have been pretty high, because the stakes were SO high! He e-mailed the surgeon how he learned it. The surgeon said:
  1. See one
  2. Do one
  3. Teach one
The problem with education is not one of engineering, but one of design.
Farb Nivi.

How can we use technology to make those learning experiences more rich is what we will be looking at this weekend. More notes can be found here.

Diane Ravitch at the Education Minnesota Conference using Storify

I attended the Education Minnesota Conference on October 18, mostly to hear Will Richardson and Diane Ravitch. It was good to also connect with fellow educators at the conference, and it was really cool to see Minnesota Teacher of the Year, Jackie Roehl encourage educators to reflect on their practice and apply for the Teacher of the Year program.
After talks by Jackie and elected representatives, Ravitch spoke to the crowd about the myths currently driving the education reform movement, and the real motivation behind several initiatives. I decided to use Storify to pull together some of the pertenant tweets and articles shared while she was speaking. I can see this as a great way for students and staff to aggregate information. I was working quickly, and realize there may be many duplicate retweets. I first tried the regular format but quickly found that it was way too much scrolling, so I opted to use their Slideshow format to embed.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

When There Isn't Enough Class Time

The following is a guest post from South View Middle School Government Teacher, Claude Sigmund. Claude needed a way to present and chat with his AP Government students outside of class, and we decided it was the perfect time to use WebEx, a video conferencing tool that we had recently purchased. Up until this time, we had only used it to present professional development to staff, but we thought there would be times, especially at the secondary level, where teachers could use it for help sessions with students outside of the school day. I like that the teacher can present, include video of themselves, have a backchannel chat as well as audio and video with the students, AND it all can be recorded for playback if students couldn't attend. Here are Claude's thoughts about the experience. 

My teaching time was cut short.  With a retreat, NWEA MAP testing and the Education Minnesota Conference,  I was only going to see my kids 2 times in three weeks.  This is ridiculous!

The kids still need to continue learning.  I began posting assignments on Moodle to keep the learning moving forward.  However, my AP students began saying that the material was moving a bit too fast and they needed some help to explain what we were covering.

Thus a new experiment was had. I taught on-line using WebEx.  I put together, a presentation, links to web sites and set up a time for kids to meet me on line.

I logged in at 7:40.  Set up a welcome screen and returned at 7:55.  The kids and I were a bit giddy.  It was cool.  We did some group sharing and learning for the first 5-10 min.  Then I muted their mikes and had them use the chat feature as a back channel.

As I talked I would answer questions from the students and was stunned by the caliber of the back channel.  Students were not only helping one another, but they were interpreting data, asking GREAT questions and actually furthering my presentation.  

At times I would pause and ask a question or put up a graphic for interpretation.  I would then un-mute a student and let them chat.  The hour FLEW by.

I asked the kids if it was worth the hour and there was a HUGE consensus that it was very much worth the time and were looking forward to other on line experiences.

It was so positive for me that I plan on using it for:

1. Test review
2. special help sessions for highly difficult concepts
3. If we have another rash of absences etc.

I would say that most teachers could benefit from this great learning experience for both the students and for their teacher.

Thanks, Claude! It's a great example of "learning beyond the classroom walls" that has been part of our district strategic plan. For staff in our district interested in trying out WebEx, or someone outside the district interested in learning more, feel free to contact me and I can assist you in getting started.