Friday, March 28, 2014

PD? Really? Umm...I Don't Have Time?

Why do teachers seem to dislike professional development opportunities so much?  What will make PD more interesting and relevant to teachers?  

Here are some of the things a group of our teachers recently said they would like to see more of in professional development:

Choice: teachers, like their students want choice.  The one size fits all mentality doesn't work anymore.  We keep telling teacher to individualize learning and give choice to their students.  Now they want the same opportunities.

Teacher taught and led:  Teachers want to learn from other teachers.  I think it's a comfort thing.  Teachers teaching other teachers just makes sense.  

Time to practice what they learn:  We need to give teachers more time to process what they learn.  We also need to give them the time they need to practice what they learn.

Recognition:  Teachers want to be recognized for the things they do.  It is amazing to me how important things like badges are to teachers.  Let's recognize them for their learning.  We all know how valuable time is to teachers.  

Extended learning times:  Teachers want extended time to not only learn but to apply and/or  produce a product they can use.  You can't get that sort of learning in 30-45 minute sit and gets.

What do you think professional learning opportunities should look like?  Let me know in the comments section.

Image by Omer Unlu

#EdTech Resources 03/28/2014

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

Thursday, March 27, 2014

#EdTech Resources 03/27/2014

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

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Some Days are Better Than Others.

Today was a good day at work.  Here is what I got to do today.

  • I was able to work with some students on ePortfolios.
  • Finished the day off with a session on "Blended Learning using Discovery Streaming."

Image by Jason Hargrove

Why is change so hard?

Last week while I was at  the ASCD conference I heard about some pretty cool things happening in schools across the US.  Hearing about these ideas always leads to discussions about how can we do that in our district?  Now don't get me wrong. We do some great, interesting and progressive things in our district. But there are always areas for improvement and things you would like to see change.  But for whatever reason, change always seems difficult to bring about.  I guess if it was easy it would have already been done.  

I wonder why change is hard in education.  The idea of change got me thinking of a quote I came across, "We can not solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." - Albert Einstein.  While at ASCD, I heard Brian Perkins makes the statement (paraphrasing here) . .  we need to stop redecorating and begin remodeling. When we redecorate a room, we might paint, add a few things here and there.  But the function of the room remains the same.  When we remodel we begin to change things.  We take everything out of the room and we tear down or move walls.  When we put the room back together we add back the good stuff and leave out the bad. We change the function and look of the room.  

Maybe we need to get out of the redecorating business and get into the remodeling business.  Change can be good.  It's time to start thinking differently than we have in the past.

Image from Will Scullin

ED Tech Resources 03/25/2014

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

Monday, March 24, 2014

Speech and Debate vs. School

My daughter just finished with her speech and debate season.  The District tournament was this past weekend, and overall she was happy with her performance. Proud dad moment:  She placed first in the state in Novice Lincoln and Douglas.  For me it was fun listening to her develop her arguments and seeing her work through various issues, and putting it all together.

This past season she switched to Lincoln and Douglas Debate.  Speech and Debate at her school is demanding.  It is a club activity that requires as much time as any sport.  Practices happen 2 and 3 nights a week and on Sundays.  More practices are added the closer you get to big tournaments.  All this extra work added to her plate, but she loves it.  She doesn't feel the same about school.  At the end of the second 9 weeks when grades came out, my daughter got her first F on a report card.  A 68 in Algebra 2. This grade leads to a call from her mother wanting to know what we should do?  All the normal stuff was placed on the table:  no cell phone, no social media, no TV, no more speech and debate.  Me being the more forward thinking liberal educator, thought none of this will really solve anything.  I definitely did not want to take away Speech and Debate.  To me it is the one activity she participates in that actually provide her with skills she will use in the future. With the end of the season she post on Facebook:  

"Waking up this morning and knowing that this debate season is over is probably one of the hardest things in the world. This year, I met so many incredible people and accomplished so many incredible things. I want to say a major thank you to all of my coaches and captains for believing in me, and to all of my teammates for helping me out and keeping a smile on my face, and to all the friends I had the privilege of meeting this year. As Mr. Dejesa would say, love is knowing you can count on someone, and I can honestly say that I love you all so much. Thank you for everything and I can't wait until next year"

I don't think we will see a post like this on Facebook at the end of the school year.

What is she getting from Speech and Debate she is not getting from school? Here are my thoughts.

  • Challenge:  The topics in a debate are not easy.  They require her to research, read, write, revise, and collaborate in order to be prepared.  Most of the work (not all) she is doing in school is recall memory work.  

  • Audience:n In debate her audience are the other debaters, judges, teammates, coaches, and volunteer parents.  This is a much larger than the audience of one (teacher) she has in school.

  • The ability to improve:  You debate a topic multiple times from pro and con sides.  You learn from those you compete against and improve your arguments based on rebuttals from the other debaters.  School work is usually one and done.  Do it once, turn it in to the teacher and get the grade.

  • Authentic work:  The debate topics are real problems.  Making a case for these topics has some real meaning in her life.  She is not completing a task just for a grade or an assignment.

Statue photo by josephleenovak

ED Tech Resources 03/24/2014

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

Sunday, March 23, 2014

ED Tech Resources 03/23/2014

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

Friday, March 21, 2014

ED Tech Resources 03/21/2014

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

#ASCD14 My Reflections: Russell Quaglia Keynote Session

Moving Forward With Our Greatest Resource; the Students 
Student Aspirations the Key to Unlocking Schools Potential

Let me start off with saying, this may have the best keynote I have heard in a long time.  To be honest I didn't know a lot about Dr. Qualglia before ASCD.  When I saw his name on the keynote list I had to do a little research to learn more about him.  Any research I could have done would not have prepared me for his talk.  I left that hall inspired and challenged.  I can not wait to see the recorded version of his talk.

Qualglia talked about student aspirations. defines aspirations as " strong desire, longing, or aim; ambition, and a goal or objective desired."  Aspirations defined by Qualglia "ability to dream and set goals for the future while being inspired in the present to reach these dreams."  It's not that students have no aspirations; it's more like teachers not paying attention to student's goals and dreams.

Qualglia shared his Aspirations Profile matrix.  
  • Hibernation:  Has goals for the future and puts no effort into the present
  • Imagination:  Sets goals for the future but does not put forth the effort to reach those goals.
  • Perspiration:  Works hard in the present but has no goals for the future.
  • Aspirations: Sets gals for the future and puts forth the effort in the present to reach those goals.
The question is how we do we move students? Answer; we build self-worth which is advanced by
  • creating a sense of belonging,we want students to be part of a community, while also keeping their individual identity.
  • Heroes:  We  (teachers, educators) are heroes to our students whether we want to be or not.  The question is will we be a good hero or a bad hero?
  • Sense of accomplishment:  we need to recognize student successes, even effort.
We need to do what ever it takes to move our kids along.  Kids come to school curious and excited to learn. However, research shows the longer they stay in school, they become more disengaged from the learning process.  New teachers come into the profession excited and ready to change the world.  In no time they are like a lot of seasoned teachers, merely going through the motions almost zombie like.  

Quaglia challenges us "to reflect on why you get up everyday, to never stop learning from students, and send more time with kids on where they;re going and less on where they are coming from.  All hopes and dreams we have for our students, ourselves, and our children are within our reach, and I challenge you to do it now."

My tweets from the session:

Common sense is being replace with common knowledge.
We are a hero to kids. Whether we want to be one or not. Our choice are we going to be a good a good hero or bad hero.
 Mar 16
Aspirations: the ability to dream and set goals for the future while being inspired in the present to reach these dreams.  
Retweeted by 
 Mar 16
1st part of the journey is creating self-worth
Be a part of the community but be an individual
We are a hero to kids. Whether we want to be one or not. Our choice are we going to be a good a good hero or bad hero.
So true: No matter what staff you have there are always asses in remission.
Love the honesty of We need more honesty in education.
Retweeted by 
 Mar 16
Lots of lip service given to citizenship as part of education, but how is this translated into daily practices?
Only 50% of students think teachers care if they if they are absent.
Engagement: The delicate boundary between interest and opportunity. We provide opportunity but are lacking in interest.
Kids come to us curious as hell and then it goes away...staff come to use curious and then it goes away. Why?
stop asking kids what they want to be ask them who they want to be.
We have an achievement gap? No we have an expectation gap.
We should and we must deal with out students differently .Our past is not how we should deal with our students future.
Totally inspirational! Thank you
That was awesome! The challenge has been laid down. Are we up for it?