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If Some High-Poverty Schools Do Well, Can All?

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 30 September, 2016 - 20:40

Dr. Anael Alston talks about what really turns schools around

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

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Today we’re talking to Dr. Anael Alston about specific issues with high-poverty schools. In a refreshing take on dramatic school change, Anael does not recommend that we assign blame. Instead, he recommends an approach that focuses on teacher expectations and several other things. As a turnaround principal himself, Anael has insights into how to help teachers change their attitude about how students can perform.

I think his principles apply to all teachers, because we all have students who struggle. We all have students who need us to believe in them. I think perhaps the greatest challenge is what Anael tells teachers who just don’t believe the kids can do it. It’s actually genius. Take a listen.

(Oh, and there were so many great quotes, I’ve included them in graphics at the bottom for those listeners who love to pin great quotes to Pinterest!)

Listen to this show on: BAM Radio Network | iTunes  Today’s Sponsor: Bloomz Bloomz is your one-stop solution for parent-teacher communications. More than just connecting with their cell phones, you can send long or short messages. You can share pictures and links. You can even coordinate volunteer schedules, donations, and parent-teacher conferences. I’m using Bloomz in my classroom.

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Show Notes:
  • How do you get started with change in high-needs schools?
  • What should principals do when teachers just don’t believe the kids can do it?
  • How do you help teachers reframe their expectations?
  • What kinds of things did Anael do to help teachers change their attitudes in the high-needs schools that he has helped turn around?
  • Why does the blame game accomplish nothing? What do you do instead?
  • What can teachers in high-needs, high-poverty schools do to adjust their own attitude when they feel like they’re not getting leadership from the top?

Who is Dr. Anael Alston?

Born and raised in Bedford-Stuyvesant Brooklyn, Dr. Anael Alston @DrAAlston is the Superintendent of the Hamilton Central School District. Dr. Alston has written political commentary for Newsday, written nationally for EdWeek, has presented at national and statewide conferences on school change and curriculum reform, testified for Governor Cuomo’s Education reform Commission, and occasionally does radio as an education expert.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or elsewhere, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above.

The post If Some High-Poverty Schools Do Well, Can All? appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

My #reading September 2016

Darcy Moore's Blog - 29 September, 2016 - 14:33

“I came to the realisation that there was a major disconnect between leadership and teaching, and between teaching and learning. I realised I needed to know more about learning, how teaching facilitates this, and how teaching can be supported by leaders, whose main function shouldn’t be management.”         Prof. Stephen Dinham

Leading Learning and Teaching by Stephen Dinham, Professor of Instructional Leadership and Associate Dean of Strategic Partnerships in the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne, is a book for school leaders who believe that the “continued focus on management to the neglect of teaching and learning” needs to be reversed. This has been a theme pursued for well-over a decade by the author. In a recent speech, Dinham said of his previous book, How to Get Your School Moving and Improving: An Evidence-based Approach (2008), “I’d like to think this book was influential in questioning the dominant management paradigm of the time.” 

The book has five well-formatted sections: research evidence on teaching for learning; the importance and impact of educational leadership; professional learning in education; school improvement and educational change; and leadership preparation and development. Dinham is focused on relaying what evidence suggests works but one also senses a good deal of experience and wisdom throughout the book, especially in selecting what he quotes.

Chapter 14: What are the forces, contexts and features of educational change? What role can leaders play? is a very sensible (and amusing) analysis of organisational culture with good advice to new (and not so new) leaders:

“…it takes time to tune into, dig down and understand the culture of a school…”

Dinham quotes extensively from Deal and Peterson’s text, Shaping School Culture, especially their “antidotes for negativism” to great effect. One suspects that academic research has been complimented by personal experience.

Dinham summarises the essential messages from the research that underpins his book as:
1. Quality teaching matters
2. Leadership is a big enabler and is exercised with and through people
3. Professional learning is essential for change
4. The best classrooms. departments, schools and even systems have a central focus on students as learners and people
5. Educational systems, leaders and teachers need to plan, proceed, assess, evaluate and modify as necessary on the basis of evidence
6. Data is not just about compliance – it is about improvement
7. Vision is important but it must rest on evidence

Leading Learning and Teaching is a mighty achievement and Professor Dinham’s work in academia will help many educators in schools for years to come. However, it is difficult not to notice the lack of research about the impact of technology on education in his work. The index is worth scanning with this in mind. Dinham names the “so called 21st century curriculum” in his ‘fads’ chapter (which is fair enough) but does not explore further. There is a great need to have quality research about the impact of technology on learning and teaching practice.

Recently, I was asked by a student what is the greatest change schools have experienced in the last couple decades. The growth of technology, especially access to knowledge via the world wide web, has had a profoundly important democratising effect on who can access knowledge. In Australia, the ABS reports:

“In 2014–15 for those households with children aged under 15 years, 97% had access to the internet compared with 82% of households without children under 15.”

The Hawke-Keating governments addressed globalisation by opening the economy and modernising Australia. Currently, the digitisation of society is providing opportunities and challenges that are not being addressed by our education system or government with any strategy that makes sense. This area is ignored in the book but considering the speed of societal change super-charged by technology, educational systems, schools, leaders and teachers need to be better informed about what has changed and what works in the classroom.

Most would find it hard to argue anything other than the author is correct in his belief that here has never been a more “turbulent period in education, with competing pressures, agendas and ideologies all being brought to bear on the ‘problems’ of schooling, teaching and learning”. Dinham made it very clear at the launch of his book about his concerns with:

“…non-evidence based solutions to the so-called problems of education imported from places such as the UK and USA. Some of this is ideological and is a matter of financial opportunism. The biggest publishers in the world today are educational publishers and every day someone is knocking on a minister’s or director general/ secretary’s door offering a quick fix, but very expensive, solution to the supposed problems of education.”

Most would find it hard to argue anything other than the author is correct in his belief that here has never been a more “turbulent period in education, with competing pressures, agendas and ideologies all being brought to bear on the ‘problems’ of schooling, teaching and learning”. Dinham made it very clear at the launch of his book about his concerns with:

…non-evidence based solutions to the so-called problems of education imported from places such as the UK and USA. Some of this is ideological and is a matter of financial opportunism. The biggest publishers in the world today are educational publishers and every day someone is knocking on a minister’s or director general/ secretary’s door offering a quick fix, but very expensive, solution to the supposed problems of education.

One would hope Leading Learning and Teaching by Stephen Dinham will be read by a very large percentage of those who lead, or aspire to lead, Australian schools. The book is successful based on the author’s stated three R’s for educational research: relevance; rigour; and readability. Dinham successfully not only “bring(s) together essential research and understandings of how educators can lead teaching and learning” with very readable writing but also asks educators to be reflective, continually revising and reconsidering their professional practice. It will be interesting to see what changes for Professor Dinham in his educational outlook during the coming decade as societal change continues to be exponential.

The unpurged images of day recede; The Emperor’s drunken soldiery are abed; Night resonance recedes, night-walkers’ song After great cathedral gong; A starlit or a moonlit dome disdains All that man is, All mere complexities, The fury and the mire of human veins.                                                               (from Byzantium by William Butler Yeats)

All That Man Is  by David Szalay is on the short list for the Man Booker but won’t win for a number of reasons. The nine stories in the novel (and one cannot be listed for the Man Booker for short stories so it must be a novel) are not really connected. Yes, the male protagonists are all suffering ennui and relationships with women are challenging or unsatisfactory. Yes, employment and their lack of sense of a larger purpose or meaning connects them but each story stands alone (although in the final chapter the protagonist is the grandfather of the teenager in the first). I doubt the judges will award him the prize for this reason and ultimately, the book, as much as I enjoyed the stories of most of the nine, is a disappointment.

The opening pages really engaged, encouraging me to purchase; it felt like Szalay might have something to say about the male human condition. Unfortunately, by the end of the novel this was not realised in the way I’d hoped. The nine protagonists were mostly interesting and the slivers of their lives presented engaging but the philosophical musings – although certainly not boring or banal – were limited. Having said that, I enjoyed his representations of ennui: “Yesterday he experienced a sort of dark afternoon of the soul. Some hours of terrible negativity. A sense, essentially, that he had wasted his entire life, and now it was over. The sun was shining outside.”

The protagonists seem to become progressively older as the narrative unfolds. Two of the stories – about Balázs and Alexandr – were more interesting than the rest which included those of an unemployed teenager, real estate agent, scholar, drunkard and suicidal billionaire. Szalay’s prose loops, with endless repetitions that mostly work well and this style is evident from the first few pages and throughout the novel:

The life of the station plunges and swirls like a dirty stream. People. People moving through the station like a dirty stream. And that question again – What am I doing here?

He is enjoying talking to her – there is something fresh and straightforward about her – so he tries to think of something else to say, something which is true. He says, ‘When I woke up one morning and realised it was too late to change anything. I mean, the big things.’ ‘I don’t think it’s ever too late to change things,’ she says. He just smiles. And he thinks: That’s the thing about fate, the way you only understand what your fate is when it’s too late to do anything about it. That’s why it is your fate – it’s too late to do anything about it.

He leaves the office two hours earlier than usual. Mid-afternoon, half-empty train to Gatwick. A window seat on the plane. Weak tea, and a square of chocolate with a picture of Alpine pasture on the wrapper. And then it hits him. Floating over the world, the hard earth fathoms down through shrouds of mist and vapour, the thought hits him like a missile. Wham. This is it. This is all there is. There is nothing else. A silent explosion. He is still staring out the window. This is all there is. It’s not a joke. Life is not a joke.

All in all this is a better than average novel but I am surprised it has been nominated for such a prestigious prize. The author has been listed as next-big-thing for some time now and I would happily check out his next book to see if that promise is realised.

Finally, I was reminded that it is about time Christopher Clark’s The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 – mentioned towards the end of the novel – which I have owned for some time was placed on the top of my reading pile.

Australia still can’t decide whether we were settled or invaded. We have no doubt. Our people died defending their land and they had no doubt. The result though was the same for us whatever you call it. Within a generation the civilisations of the eastern seaboard – older than the Pharaohs – were ravaged.

There is nothing genetic that separates us; what divides us is our history – what we have done to each other in the name of race. It is this racism that persists so powerfully in our imaginations. Racism benchmarks civilisation and ranks us all in order. Racism justified taking everything from us.

I read Talking To My Country by Stan Grant for our school book club. By the end of the memoir, even though the authors reliance on very short sentences was a distraction, wished it would grace the bestseller lists here and overseas. The story of Grant’s quest for identity and the paradoxes of his own ancestry are clearly rendered. Readers not acquainted with Australian history and Aboriginal dispossession post-1788 will learn about the ongoing impact and unresolved issues that are omnipresent in our nation.

Grant’s reading of Australian history is one I could not fault. I see our country through different eyes but in the same way. His experience of country towns and schools is significantly different to mine but I recognised it all too well. Socio-economic background impacts heavily on children growing up but he is unfortunately right in saying there was something more that became evident as he grew up; the colour of his skin. I related to the freedom Grant finds in books and love of learning:

I had never truly felt a sense of belonging except back on the road in any of the small towns that had littered my childhood.

My love of books formed a buffer against my sporadic school years. I read whatever I could find. My mother always joked that I was ‘old in the head’. I could read before I started school. I would grab what I could from libraries or old discarded books in second-hand stores.

But my school report cards would never reflect this love of learning. I could never settle in long enough to find any consistency. On and on we moved, from one ramshackle house to another. The years passed sleeping in the backs of cars or crammed into an old plywood gypsy caravan.

Grant relates how education, journalism and travel gave him perspective. As did his genealogical research which forced him to grapple with what it revealed:

Out of the haze of this frontier Australia, one name emerges. William Hugh Grant, an Aboriginal boy born in 1856 and raised on Merriganowry. He later married a white woman from nearby Cowra. His marriage certificate lists his father as John Grant, squatter. As in all families, there is argument and conjecture. There are competing stories and myth that shroud his birth and parentage in mystery. This one document – the marriage certificate – provides the only evidence…“Where official records may fail, I have my imagination to try to fill in the gaps. It isn’t hard to see a property with a white master and his growing children, surrounded by blacks still living on what they would consider their land. Like a scene from the slave plantations of the American south, the blacks worked as farmhands and cooks and cleaners for their new white landlords.

I found refuge outside Australia. My many years working in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa liberated me. Here were the problems of other peoples and other lands. Here I was an observer freed from the shackles of my own country’s history.

Stan Grant’s memoir is raw, reflective and deserves a wide readership. One hopes that his belief, that “racism isn’t killing the Australian dream. The Australian dream was founded on racism”  can be overcome by knowledge, wisdom, goodwill, sound policy and reconciliation.

“Humboldt wrote about the destruction of forests and of humankind’s long-term changes to the environment. When he listed the three ways in which the human species was affecting the climate, he named deforestation, ruthless irrigation and, perhaps most prophetically, the ‘great masses of steam and gas’ produced in the industrial centres. No one but Humboldt had looked at the relationship between humankind and nature like this before.”

The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World by Andrea Wulf made me want to do the author’s bidding and help place him ‘back on a pedestal where he belongs’. Humboldt, who died in 1859 just a decade short of a century, was a Prussian scientist, geographer, naturalist, botanist, explorer and embodiment of the Romantic era but is now largely forgotten. He was the most famous person in the world except for a monarch or two, and Napoleon. Take a moment to watch the biographer enthuse, quite rightly over her subject.

Humboldt’s travels and science influenced a who’s who of nineteenth century thinkers including Thoreau, Whitman and Darwin, who says he would never have boarded The Beagle without having read Humboldt. I loved how Wulf tells of her experience reading Darwin’s own heavily annotated copies of Humboldt’s books as part of her research; what reader could not imagine and share in her ecstasy.

“Knowledge, Humboldt believed, had to be shared, exchanged and made available to everybody” and the roads to his lectures in Berlin were jammed as both men and women strove to attend. He shared his knowledge and ideas literally to the day he died finishing his last book days before his death.

I will not read a more interesting book this year and, like Wulf, marvel that I have never heard of Humboldt finding this hard to believe considering his achievement in shaping the way we see our contemporary world. My highest recommendation.

I want to propose two readings of High-Rise here: the book is all about architecture; the book is not about architecture at all. Ned Beauman

I read High-Rise by JG Ballard after watching the film adaptation, which is slavishly faithful to the novel, directed by Ben Wheatley. After consuming both a review by Christos Tsiolkas appeared which accurately describes the novel:

The novel is a one-trick pony, an allegory of class set in a futuristic multilevel apartment tower. As the amenities of the high-rise begin to falter and break down, an increasingly savage conflict between the ruling elite on the top floors and the aspirational middle class on the lower levels begins to unfold. The carnage keeps building but, because the characters are never anything more than stick figures, the escalating violence has no resonance and, though only a slim volume, the book becomes wearisome very quickly.

Tsiolkas skewers the film too (a little unfairly because he values “Wheatley highly as a director”). The main criticism being that Wheatley has not updated the film to explore contemporary issues about class. There was a quote from Thatcher at the end of the film from a loudspeaker though:

“There is only one economic system in the world, and that is capitalism. The difference lies in whether the capital is in the hands of the State or whether the greater part of it is in the hands of people outside of State control. Where there is State capitalism there will never be political freedom”.

Not having read the novel, I loved the film and found it sensuous, amusing and also very, very disturbing. Here is the trailer:

Like some of you, I saw the deeply affecting Portishead cover of  ABBA’s classic pop song, “SOS” during the lead-up to the BREXIT referendum earlier this year not realising it was from this film. The song was made even more poignant due to the murder of Jo Cox MP. Like Tsiolkas, “I think it will be the one moment that will stay with me from the film”.  Enjoy!

I would never have found The Last Wish (The Witcher, #1) by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski or the video game, The Witcher 3 without seeing a quote from Barack Obama about it used to advertise the franchise:

“The last time I was here, Donald (Polish prime minister) gave me a gift, the video game developed here in Poland that’s won fans the world over, The Witcher. I confess, I’m not very good at video games, but I’ve been told that it is a great example of Poland’s place in the new global economy.”

This book of inter-connected short stories about Geralt of Rivia is surprisingly engaging and it very likely to interest teenage gamers who may not always be keen readers, especially if they are immersed in the roleplaying game. You probably need to know that a witcher is a specially trained monster-killer. I am uncertain if Barack Obama read his signed copy or not but if teenagers and fantasy fans like this kind of thing there’s plenty more in the series.

I read (or rather listened) to The Art of Living: Vipassana Meditation: As Taught by S. N. Goenka by William Hart and An Ancient Path: Talks on Vipassana Meditation as Taught by S.N. Goenka by Paul R. Fleischman to help with my deliberations about doing a 10 day retreat in the Blue Mountains for a significant birthday. I knew a little about the retreat – that one cannot speak, read, write or communicate with others – but not much of what underpins the philosophy and practice. Both books are excellent introductions and perhaps a little more than that. 

Vipassanā, which means to see things as they really are, is one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation and appeals to me as it has a more secular focus than other popular meditative practices. Originally, the notion of not speaking with my family at all, even via Skype seemed to be more problematic than the complete “digital detox” but on closer examination I suspect the physical discomfort of not moving, while meditating for long periods may be more of an issue for my back, especially my sacroiliac joint. I have not made a final decision about taking ten days – really it is eleven plus travel – to meditate and be silent but suspect it would be a good, reflective way to mark the significant personal milestone of half-a-century walking the planet.

You can read more here.


Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!: Adventures of a Curious Character by Richard Feynman is pretty good fun and the best of his autobiographical books I’ve read to date. The author is such an interesting character and uniquely individual. Not only a Nobel Prize winning scientist, Feynman is an extraordinary autodidact and rebel against mindless conformity.

“You have no responsibility to live up to what other people think you ought to accomplish. I have no responsibility to be like they expect me to be. It’s their mistake, not my failing.”

The most interesting stretches in this book are the extensive, detailed explanation of how he learns to crack safes and his bongo-drumming exploits. Against considerable personal and self-imposed odds, he learns to draw and has an exhibition after being taught by a friend. I think this has motivated me to try and develop my non-existent skills with brush, easel and pencil. Maybe.

I really do need to read or listen to his lectures on physics too.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Harry Potter, #1) by JK Rowling does not really need a review. However, I am reading the series aloud to Miss 10 and we finished it this month. Originally, before anyone had heard of Potter, I was at Better Read Than Dead in Newtown looking for a present for my niece. The assistant recommended* a book she said was selling well in Britain. I bought it and read the first three books in the series before stopping, as the films were released. Still haven’t read the last four instalments but am looking forward to working my way through the series with my daughter (who has read all of them and the latest script).

What I noticed is just how reassuring and comforting the book is while reading aloud. It is a really pleasant world to stay in.Even though I know people criticise this notion, Rowling makes me feel the same way Enid Blyton did as a kid. It is a very pleasant world to visit, especially with a child.

Featured image: screenshot of book covers

* Actually the assistant recommended two books. The other was by Odo Hirsch, Antonio S. and the Mystery of Theodore Guzman. Still haven’t read that one but am pretty sure it didn’t sell as well.



The post My #reading September 2016 appeared first on Darcy Moore's Blog.

Categories: Planet

Kids Teaching the World

The Principal of Change George Couros - 29 September, 2016 - 09:59


Leading #IMMOOC right now, once a week Katie Martin and I lead a YouTube live session for participants.  Because our schedules are busy, we can not have a show at the same time each week, as well, participants also have their own lives. It is a lot to expect people to watch a live show when YOU want them to watch it.  That being said, since the show is conversational, why does someone have to watch it on YouTube when it can be a podcast?  Problem is I do not know how to make a podcast.

Here we go…

First off I get the audio from my YouTube video using a service like ClipConverter.

Then I go to GarageBand and have no idea what I am doing.  I can figure out how to bring in audio, but I do not know how to cut it (figured that out), but how could I fade the music out as my speaking comes in? No idea. Try and try again and nothing.  Then, I google it and a kid who is probably under 12 years old makes a video that explains something to me that saved me hours of time.

Was I embarrassed?  Nope.  My whole career I have been open to learning from kids, but they were usually in my class and school.  Now I can learn from them any place, anywhere, and at any time, on so many topics.

While so many schools are trying to figure out if they should open up YouTube so students can watch videos, not enough are thinking about how they can use YouTube for students to upload their videos to teach others.

Knowledge is not limited to age.  After I figured out how to make the file for the podcast, I learned how to upload it to iTunes from several adults, using SoundCloud to upload directly to iTunes.

A few things:

  1. Learning and sharing are not limited by age.
  2. Struggle is good for learners…knowing information and knowing how to find information are both crucial, if you can do the latter, the former seems to happen.
  3. The ability to teach something increases your knowledge.  Not only can kids learn, they should teach. We need to take advantage of this amazing opportunity for them to share their knowledge.

One of my favourite quotes on learning is the following:

Let’s take the advantage of not only the opportunities for learning in the classroom, but for teaching to the world.

P.S. If you want to take a listen to the podcast, you can either check it out on Soundcloud or iTunes.

Categories: Planet

Digital scholarship and ePortfolios

HeyJude Judy O'Connell - 28 September, 2016 - 17:58

Current online information environments and the associated social and pedagogical transactions within them create an important information ecosystem that can and should influence and shape the professional engagement and digital scholarship within our learning communities in the higher education sector.  Thanks to advances in technology, the powerful tools at our disposal to help students understand and learn in unique ways are enabling new ways of producing, searching and sharing information and knowledge. By leveraging technology, we have the opportunity to open new doors to scholarly inquiry for ourselves and our students. While practical recommendations for a wide variety of ways of working with current online technologies are easily marketed and readily adopted, there is insufficient connection to digital scholarship practices in the creation of meaning and knowledge through more traditional approaches to the ‘portfolio’.

Reflection on practice

A key area in the development of the professional practitioner is the ability to reflect on practice as the basis for learning, with the effectiveness of this practice having been confirmed through research to be linked to inquiry, reflection and continuous professional growth (Killeavy & Moloney, 2010). Reflection can be understood as a process of internal dialogue facilitated by thinking or writing and through an external dialogue and reflection together with others (Clarke, 2003). Reflective practice writing is creative, a way of gaining access to each practi­tioner’s deep well of experience not always accessible to everyday channels and is a valuable mode of expressing, sharing, assessing and developing professional experience (Bolton, 2005). By recognising and taking responsibility for personal and professional identity, values, action and feelings the student undertaking reflection within the constructs of subject and program requirements is demonstrating a willingness to stay with uncertainty, doubt and questioning in order to engage in spirited enquiry leading to constructive developmental change and personal and professional integrity based on deep understandings (Bolton, 2010, p. 7). Knowing what to reflect upon is as critical a part of the educative process as the reflection action itself, perhaps explaining why reflective practice has become a standard in initial and continuing professional education and development. This is a pedagogical approach that draws together reflective practice and reflexivity (finding strategies to question our own attitudes, values and limits of our knowledge –  Bolton, 2010) as a state of mind to empower the process of learning.

In professional programmes in particular, it is useful if students keep a reflective journal, in which they record any incidents or thoughts that help them reflect on the content of the course or programme. Such reflection is basic to proper professional functioning. The reflective journal is especially useful for assessing ILOs (intended learning outcomes)  relating to the application of content knowledge, professional judgment and reflection on past decisions and problem solving with a view to improving them.” (Biggs & Tang, 2011, p.261).

It is perhaps simplistic to migrate a pre-digital taxonomy to a digital environment and to ignore the function of and relationship to digital scholarship for the educator or higher education academic. When it comes to online learning, it is understood that interaction with others (peers and instructors) is a highly important variable in successful learning experiences within the online learning environment, particularly when coupled with the need for students to achieve self-regulation between their own knowledge/experiences and the content of a subject (Cho & Kim, 2013).  This reflective practice, which assists in assembling knowledge and experience in meaningful ways, can be facilitated by the use of an ePortfolio, and may facilitate independent learning, development of identity, a sense of empowerment, greater awareness of self, and promote active engagement in future oriented professional practice (Rowley & Munday, 2014).

The digital information environment in which an ePortfolio is situated is one that demands a new knowledge flow between content and digital connections. While academics may consider themselves to be pedagogically driven in their learning and teaching, the availability of technologies to support different models of learning strongly influences what kinds of pedagogies will now emerge in terms of course content, subject dialogue and conversation.  As McLuhan (1964) first argued, technologies also influence and define the usage, in this case the pedagogy instantiated in the learning and instructional designs (Anderson & Dron, 2010). Academics (as teachers) need to support and nurture learners to learn within connected and collaborative learning environments, to lead purposeful and corrective discourse in relation to multiple information environments as part of the construction of meaning and understanding (Garrison, 2015).


Anderson, T., & Dron, J. (2010). Three generations of distance education pedagogy. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 12(3), 80–97.
Biggs, J., & Tang, C. (2011). Teaching for quality learning at university. Open university press.
Bolton, G.(2005). How to begin writing. In Reflective practice: writing and professional development (2nd ed.)(pp. 141-162). London, UK.:Sage.
Bolton, G. (2010). Reflective practice: Writing and professional development. Sage publications.
Cho, M. H., & Kim, B. J. (2013). Students’ self-regulation for interaction with others in online learning environments. The Internet and Higher Education, 17, 69-75.
Clarke, M. (2003). Reflections: Journals and reflective questions a strategy for professional learning, NZARE/AARE Conference. New Zealand.
Garrison, D.R. (2015). Thinking collaboratively: Learning in a community of enquiry. London: Taylor & Francis.
Killeavy, M., & Moloney, A. (2010). Reflection in a social space: Can blogging support reflective practice for beginning teachers?. Teaching and Teacher Education, 26(4), 1070-1076.
McLuhan, M. (1964). Understanding media: The extensions of man. New York: McGraw Hill.
Rowley, J., and Munday, J. (2014). A ‘Sense of self’ through reflective thinking in ePortfolios, International Journal of Humanities Social Sciences and Education, 1(7), 78-85.

Extract from

Digital scholarship powered by reflection and reflective practice through the use of an ePortfolio approach to course design in Higher Education. (in publication)


Filed under: Blogging, Curation, Digital citizenship, Digital Media, Higher Education, Pedagogy Tagged: digital literacy, digital scholarship, ePortfolio, knowledge networks, participatory learning
Categories: Planet

Would you read what your students write if you weren’t paid to do so?

The Principal of Change George Couros - 28 September, 2016 - 00:45

Lots of questions in this post…and this is definitely a post that I am writing to understand my learning, not necessarily share it.  I would love to know what you think.

Teacher-extraordinaire, Kelli Holden, shared this video of her former student Maddisyn reading to Kelli’s current class.  Maddisyn was sharing about an experience she had four years ago where she blogged on PSD70’s 184 Days of Learning Project, and the author of the book that she wrote on, Peter Reynolds, actually commented to her. It was a big moment for her at the time, and she wanted to share her experience with Kelli’s current class.

As I watched her video, two things really stuck out to me.  The first was that the students she was talking to were almost nonchalant about the opportunity to speak to authors of books, since this is something that is becoming more of a norm than an exception (in some classrooms). The access is there but are we as educators willing to embrace it?

The other thing that stood out to me was when Maddisyn said the following:

“It was a really big deal for me…because most creative writing you do in grade 2 and grade 4ish, doesn’t really get out there, doesn’t really make a difference.”

This is a very powerful statement from Maddisyn (and you can see how much her time with Kelli still resonates with her)  but I am going to rewind back to a conversation I had earlier in the week with an educator.

As I was working with high school teachers, I asked an english teacher the following question:

“Would you read what your students write if you weren’t paid to do so?”

She kind of laughed and nodded “no”, but is this not true in many situations? I have heard many teachers talk about their lack of excitement to read the essays of their students on the weekend, but I can’t think of one time that I have heard the opposite.

This is not saying that students are poor writers, but do we actually encourage them to write in a way that is compelling to read?  When Maddisyn was sharing her experience, she understands her work is going out to the world, and even at the grade 4 level, she wants people to read it.  Do we teach students to write in compelling ways that someone would actually want to read what they write, or do we teach them to write in a way that we can say we have simply taught to the curriculum?

An argument I have heard often is that we need to prepare students to write at the post-secondary level, but is this enough?  The way that many people write at the post-secondary level is also unappealing to many, not because of the ability of the person writing, but because of the expectations of the system.  If we are only prepare students to write at the post-secondary level, are we ignoring many of the opportunities that students have to be creators online, not simply consumers?

I love this quote attributed to Rushton Hurley:

Is “good enough” our standard or are we reaching for something much deeper and much more profound?

Yes…there are definitely structural elements to writing that are crucial to teach, but there is also an emotional appeal that is necessary for writing that resonates.  Do we feel something when we read what has been written?  Does the writing resonate after we are finished reading it?

I’ve had experience teaching english several years ago, and so much has changed since then. Is the type of writing that I am speaking of taught by many teachers, or is it the exception?  How often does a student write something in school that catches momentum outside of education circles?  Is this one of the goals of work in today’s education systems?

If it isn’t, should it be?

Would love to know your thoughts as I am still trying to work mine out.

Categories: Planet

Interesting Links 26 September 2016

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 26 September, 2016 - 22:51

We celebrated my grandson’s second birthday yesterday. Somehow I couldn’t get into putting this post together afterwards. It felt like work. Having grandchildren changes perceptions. But now I am at work and have things to avoid doing so this feels like a good idea. Ever have a day like that? Plus there are some good links that really should be shared.

We Have to Start Thinking About Cybersecurity in Space I’m not sure I want to but we probably do.

Students ask me "What other kinds of jobs can a person get with a computer science degree besides a developer?" Other jobs in CS post by Marty Stepp Lecturer, Computer Science Department, Stanford University

How six scrappy young inventors built a breakthrough text-to-Braille translator device Spoiler alert: The whole team is young women.

Barriers to Stack Overflow Use for Females by Mark @guzdial For myself I wonder how the field, especially via the Internet, acts towards beginners of all kinds.

Are you developing primary computing in your school? Find out what has worked in Hampshire, England http://code-it.co.uk/cpd

How Microsoft wants to 'solve cancer' using computer science via @CNNMoney Quite a story. Computer science means getting involved in a lot of big deals.

Why I Teach Kids to Code at the EE Times by ex-Microsoft person (and friend of mine) Lynn Langit via @eetimes She’s doing some great work.

Humor. Or is it? I showed the below to my students so we could talk about is.

"Spaces or tabs?" "Semicolons."

Categories: Planet

Top Tips, Tools and Techniques for Easy Formative Assessment

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 26 September, 2016 - 21:01

a Talk with Tony Vincent

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

A secret to great teaching is to understand what students know. I’ve had times when one or two students begged me to move on because what I was teaching was “so easy” or they were “bored. When I did, I would discover that the rest of the class did not master the material and I had moved on too quickly! We all struggle to know what students know “in the moment” so we can adjust our teaching. We need them to master the material. We need to teach it. But how can we know what they know without depending on hand raising and verbal feedback from just a few students? Formative assessment is the answer. Formative assessment can supercharge your classroom learning. Technology can make formative assessment easier for you. Lesson flow.

Formative assessment gives us the ability to quiz every single student in the class. Every teacher should have one or two formative assessment tools that are part of their lesson flow. In today’s show, you’ll get lots of options. Find one or two that work for you and start using them.

I would go so far to say that formative assessment is one of the greatest gifts of education technology to the classroom. A teacher with a smartphone has amazing tools in hand. Used properly, they can save time and help you understand students better.

My question is why more teachers don’t use these tools. I guess they don’t realize the time savings. One of our biggest problems as teachers is not having enough time.

Here’s how I saved time using these tools. When I used to teach binary numbers, it used to take me 2-3 hours a night to grade the quizzes. (After all, binary numbers is all 1’s and 0’s. That is it. So, I also made mistakes.) Now, the moment a student hits a button on the last question, the quiz is graded, and I can go over what they missed with them! It is fantastic.

Let’s dive deeper into formative assessment in today’s show! I challenge you to find ONE tool and try it out. (Listen to the show and check out the links at the bottom of this post.)

Listen to this show on BAM Radio Network | iTunes 

Easy Grading

Gradecam – Today’s Sponsor Formative assessment options can save you time. GradeCam is a quick grading tool for formative AND summative assessment. You get instant feedback on what students know. Gradecam lets you print out forms. You can take a quick picture of their answers. It grades in a snap using your smartphone.  If you are taking the grade for the quiz or test, you can send those grades to your Gradebook software in a snap.

If you visit Gradecam from this blog post, you can get a 60-day free trial. You can also listen to a bonus episode I recorded about the “Biggest Formative Assessment Mistake that People Make” with Tony Vincent.  Show Notes:

  • What is formative assessment?
  • How can technology empower a teacher to ask the whole class a question and get their answer?
  • How does a formative assessment fit in the moment of teaching?
  • What are some examples of technology and formative assessment in the classroom?
  • What mistakes do many teachers make when they use Plickers in the classroom?
  • How can teachers collect open ended questions from students?
  • How can word clouds help you visualize data at the beginning of a unit of study?
  • How does formative assessment give every student voice?
  • How can students share using drawings and images?
  • How can we have evidence of learning in the moment?

Formative Assessment Tools and Blog Posts Mentioned in this Show: Who is Tony Vincent?

Tony Vincent likes to learn, teach, and make things. Since 1998 Tony been a pioneer in digital learning, and he continues to help educators use technology for teaching and learning. @tonyvincent

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or elsewhere, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above.

The post Top Tips, Tools and Techniques for Easy Formative Assessment appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

No Shortage of Road

The Principal of Change George Couros - 26 September, 2016 - 05:08

I used to be a pretty good runner, in what seems like forever a go.  I used to run marathons and would wake up every morning with my shorts and socks on (literally), so I could just brush my teeth, put on my shoes, and take off.  I was good at it because I would run a lot.  I would not just crave and look forward to the races, but I loved the training.

Not so much anymore.

I don’t love it.  I am trying to, but I am out of shape and it is hard to love something you are not good at.  Instead of having my shorts on and being ready to go, I avoid it in the morning as much as I can. I know it is going to be painful. That being said, I still run. I still go through the grind.

One of the hardest parts of running now is getting passed on a path. Over and over again.  Every time someone passes me, it is kind of deflating.

Yet this morning when I was on a run, and one person after another passed me (I stopped counting at 40), I realized something.  I only see the people who are faster than me.  The people who are behind me,  I won’t see (today).  It is easy to focus on those who are ahead of you, but you tend to lose sight that you even being in the race, probably means you are still ahead of others. Even if you are in a race, and are in dead last place, remember this:

Having been a pretty good runner before, I know the work it takes for someone to be really good at running.  When I used to run marathons and people would ask me, “How can you run a marathon?!?!? It seems so hard.”  What I would always tell them is, “The marathon is easy…it’s the training is hard.”

What I loved about running before was the community…Although there were some who cared only about their running (which is fine because they may have a different purpose for why they do it), there were so many others who cared about one another.  People would both push and support.  The people ahead of you might drive and push you to get better, but the people still trying to get to where you are at, you would support.  There is never a shortage of road.

Probably one of the reasons I still run, is that I know there is so much I learn from the process.  I can continue to focus on those that are ahead of me and become deflated, or I can continue to work hard to be better at what I do.

As my friend Dwight Carter often says:

“Make it a great day…or not. The choice is yours. #BeGreat

Every day I get up for a run, is a choice that I am making that is making an impact on not only today, but tomorrow and moving forward.  Just something I wanted to remind myself.

Categories: Planet

Organisational Learning — The Learner's Way

Classroom 2.0 Diigo Group - 25 September, 2016 - 18:11


  • For schools the concept of a learning organisation should make perfect sense, after all learning is our core business, or it should be. Perhaps that almost three decades after Peter Senge identified the importance of learning within organisations the idea is only now gaining traction in schools tells us something about the approach taken to learning and teaching within schools. With an increased focus on the development of professional learning communities as a response to the complex challenges that emerge from a rapidly changing society, it is worth looking at what a learning organisation requires for success. - Nigel Coutts

Tags: learning, education, collaboration, teaching

by: Nigel Coutts

Categories: International News

Focusing on What Students Can Do

The Principal of Change George Couros - 24 September, 2016 - 08:27

I had the privilege of speaking to middle school and high school students on the notion of “Digital Leadership”, which I wrote a definition for in 2013:

Using the vast reach of technology (especially the use of social media) to improve the lives, well-being, and circumstances of others.

As I started the presentation, I asked the question, “How many of you had the talk on cyberbullying?”

It was pretty much 100%.

I followed up with, “How many of you have heard the talk on cyberbullying 3 or more times?”

Again, almost 100%.

Then I asked, “How many of you are sick of hearing about cyberbullying?”

The last answer looked very similar to the first two.

Think about it…How inspired would you be if you were constantly told what not to do? In fact, brought into a gymnasium as a group, and then told what not to do.  I really don’t blame kids for feeling annoyed.  Of course we want students to be good to each other, but the majority of them will do that.  We teach too much focusing on the few, and not the majority.

What I try to do is share stories of students who are making a difference right now! Like this teen who created the “Sit With Us” app, to help students find welcoming students to join during lunch. Or the 9 year old, “Little Miss Flint”, becoming a voice of a city and educating people about the water crisis in her city of Flint, Michigan.  Both of these young people are not waiting to become the leaders of tomorrow; they are grabbing these opportunities today.

Our goal as educators should that these stories are not the exception, but the norm. By raising the bar and our expectations for our students, we are more likely to get there than by simply telling them what they should not do.

As I have learned from students before…


Below is a one minute video that I shared on Twitter regarding my experience with students.


Believing in what kids can do as opposed to focusing on what they shouldn’t do. #IMMOOC pic.twitter.com/THHVNYssnQ

— George Couros (@gcouros) September 22, 2016

Categories: Planet

When But It Works Isn’t Enough

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 24 September, 2016 - 03:18

I saw this image on Twitter recently. It was captioned:

"Spaces or tabs?"

It’s all perfectly legal C or C++ code. And a decent compiler will handle it just fine. But oh is it ripe for bad things to happen. Of course this is just a humorous example. No one would ever do it. Right?

On the other hand I have seen some code that was pretty hard to read. Students need to learn the value of programs that people can read as well as the computer. Somethings that get in the way of people understanding code can lead to things the computer gets wrong as well. At best they make it hard to update, modify, enhance, or fix programs. A working program that is unreadable by people is not as useful as one that people can read.

Another  of the things I see regularly is student code that compiles and executes and gives the correct answers but is horribly inefficient. Or it takes advantage (often unintentionally) of side effects that are not always going to be consistent, for example across different libraries. Or they just plain do things the hard way.

I’ve been working with my students on loops and if statements. We created a program that works just fine for small samples but it doesn’t scale easily. By adding arrays we can make it much more scalable but we haven’t introduced arrays yet.  When we do they’ll see better, easier ways to do man things. This particular program will seem obvious to almost every student. Not all optimizations are as obvious though. This is something we have to teach.

Beginners are often ready to settle for “it works. it gives the right answer. What more does it need?” Eventually many of them will get to a point where performance is an issue. Or maintainability will be an issue. Sure many will never get there but increasingly I think we do students a disservice if we are willing to accept work that is not as good as it could/should be for the level of knowledge.

Categories: Planet

In the bag & pocketses #techtools #edutech #mobile

Darcy Moore's Blog - 23 September, 2016 - 12:33

Thinking back over the last five years about tech tools that have been in my bag or pocket there are some proven stayers and some other, more recent essentials that make my life connected, pleasant and productive.*


My MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Late 2013) 2.6 GHz Intel Core i7 comes most places with me and is indispensable to my jobs as a deputy principal, university lecturer and teacher but is also fundamental to photography and travelling. A Chrome browser and the Apple email client are the most used tools on the laptop and sometimes I forget how important Skype and Sonos are too the week. My iPhone 6 with Mophie Juice Pack Plus is ever-present and when I am travelling uber-light, a Jorno bluetooth keyboard turns it into a typewriter when connected to my Ulysses app.

My Kindle Paperwhite (7th Generation) is with me on the train each day and last thing at night. The ability to swipe my finger and curate quotes and notes is fundamental for my blogging and other writing. My Kindle Highlights page is a record of what has stimulated rather than sticky notes or dogeared pages that cannot be accessed from anywhere.

Fitbit Flex provides data about sleeping patterns, activity and weight (as it is connected to Aria scales). I have never made the time to enter food consumed but wish I did.

Social Media

Although Twitter has changed dramatically for the worse in recent years it has been my favourite social media since early 2008. I can imagine life without it but would be sad if that happened. Facebook for all the issues that come along with its “one portal to rule them all” philosophy is an incredible tool. There are several important professional groups that bring us together as teachers, sharing resources, ideas and laughs. Yammer is great for staying in contact with colleagues in the NSW Department of Education and also other Big History teachers.


Flickr is a long time favourite for photo storage and sharing and I use Alan Levine’s great Flickr CC tool for inserting images directly into my blog. Adobe Lightroom CC with Topaz plugins are essential tools on my Macbook Pro. Shots taken with my Nikon D700 or D800 are uploaded to Lightroom using Cardette Ultra

Increasingly I am experimenting with mobile Lightroom and a host of mobile Adobe apps. I use Camera+ for zooming shots on my phone. Snapseed is a good all-round phone editing app and Distressed is another fave for editing. Eyeem is greatly preferred for sharing images over Instagram. Just add a Joby Gorillapod with Olloclip Studio to my phone and I have a powerful mobile video or photography kit.

Apps for school and uni

GAFE, especially Google Classroom is now my main sharing tools with students at school. I also use the education version of Weebly for student websites. Adobe Spark is a really great suite of apps for the classroom that allow students to make images, video and web pages easily. Edmodo is still my fave app for sharing with my university students. The Australian Macquarie Dictionary app is used most days. My Leef iBridge is a great USB which connects to iOS devices and to a regular USB port.

Other tools

Weatherzone+ is probably more important than I give it credence. Flashlight is super handy when the lights are out or one is walking home late through the wetlands that surround my home. 1Password manages all my password security needs across my iPhone, Macbook and iPad. The Audible app is used everyday as I walk to listen to audiobooks. Feedly houses my RSS feeds.

What do you have in your bag and pocketses?

*Thanks to David Hopkins who asked what tools are indispensable to my professional and personal day.

Feature image: Fickr photo by Darcy Moore https://flickr.com/photos/darcymoore/29865707285 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license

The post In the bag & pocketses #techtools #edutech #mobile appeared first on Darcy Moore's Blog.

Categories: Planet

Bug Reports

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 23 September, 2016 - 02:41

I saw the following tweet earlier today.  Still earlier in the day I read a post on Mark Guzdial’s blog about Barriers to Stack Overflow Use for Females which had me thinking about how people ask for help on Stack Overflow.

Basic computer literacy should include how to write a good bug report.

— Dave Winer (@davewiner) September 21, 2016

What is the connection? Well it seems to me that one source of frustration and negativity on Stack Overflow is related to people not reporting bugs well. In general beginners do a poor job of reporting bugs. Experts, like those on Stack Overflow, often lack patience with poor bug reports.  Teachers don’t have the option to be impatient though. It is our job to work with students to help them understand. That means helping them learn to report bugs.

A student will often start by reporting “my program doesn’t work.” Somehow they think that is enough information. Of course it is not. The definition of a program not working is a broad one. “Why doesn’t your program work? Because you have done something wrong.” Two completely accurate statements without a trace of enlightenment in them.

Often I mind myself asking “What does ‘doesn’t work’ mean?” The process of analysis and developing an understanding of the basic problem has to be taught. Students don’t always know how to describe the problem.  It is as if they stop thinking when something unexpected happens. Part of teaching has to be to help students look for and acquire more information about the problems they are seeing.

Another problem is a lack of vocabulary. What is a stack overflow anyway? Sure an experienced person knows but the student decides that maybe he can have his function call itself soon discovers that “something bad happens” even if he doesn’t understand why it happened.

One of the things I have to get students to share when they have troubles is what problem are they drying to solve. What they think is the solution my be breaking because it really isn’t a good way (or a way at all) to do what they need. Explaining the problem they are hoping to solve often leads directly to understanding what is really going wrong with a project.

Student’s usually want and sometimes need hints (Would You Like a Hint? ) but we have to help them learn how to report/explain their issues first. If not we’re not really helping them learn at all. We’d just be giving answers away.

Categories: Planet

Create Safe & Secure Passwords - Password Generator | Norton Identity Safe

Classroom 2.0 Diigo Group - 22 September, 2016 - 16:59


  • The Norton Identity Safe password generator is a free tool that creates highly secure passwords that are difficult to crack or guess. Visit the website to use the online version or download the free desktop client now. - Joao Alves

Tags: password, generator

by: Joao Alves

Categories: International News

The rearview mirror

Bluyonder Greg Whitby - 22 September, 2016 - 10:53

It was media theorist Marshall McLuhan who famously said we look at the present through a rearview mirror.  This is what I am doing at the moment as I reflect on the last 498 posts on bluyonder.  There have been some posts that were well-received, others critiqued and many that have been ignored. The blog was never
going to be a lone catalyst for educational transformation but it joins the thousands of educational blogs around the world creating a critical mass for change.

In all the bluyonder musings, the biggest challenge seems to be ‘why is it so difficult for teachers to change?’ For the most part we are stuck in the liminal space between the vast experience of the past and the unimaginable possibilities for doing the valuable work of schooling differently.  This isn’t the responsibility of the teaching profession alone (although the profession needs to drive the agenda) – it is one that society shares. Teachers need the support of the local school communities. These communities need the support of coherent education policies that reflect an understanding of the challenges in providing a first class contemporary schooling experience.

Unfortunately what I continue to see is a vicious cycle where teachers don’t trust the administration when improvement is advocated, where governments want students to be creative and innovative but continue to support high stakes testing and where parents want more engaging learning experiences without schools daring to be innovative in teacher practice and school design. All these come together in the perfect storm alongside publication of  international test rankings and federal and state elections. If we want contemporary practice, innovative solutions, continuous improvement and the like as the norm for all schools, some things have to change. A good start would be for communities to talk up the work of their schools. This requires a stronger and deeper engagement than currently exists.

However the most important change we need is to turn the schooling model on its head. Most schooling is still defined and designed around “the Curriculum” and the delivery of this curriculum through the timetable construct. It is not the curriculum that should shape the learning and teaching but the students themselves. In other words the kids are the curriculum. The question of why it so difficult to start with the child rather than the curriculum isn’t new thinking (John Dewey) but it seems we have become increasingly fearful of failure as compliant servants of an industrial system (Ken Robinson). Yet failure is at the heart of learning, teaching and ultimately improvement (Dylan Wiliam) and it is this that keeps me fixed on the bluyonder while occasionally pausing to see where we’ve come through the rearview mirror.



Categories: Planet

Beyond Knowing

The Principal of Change George Couros - 22 September, 2016 - 08:23

Recently at a workshop, one of amazing educators in the room talked about the shift in language from a “fixed mindset” to a “growth mindset”.  She made this distinction:

Fixed Mindset –> “I don’t know.”

Growth Mindset –> “I don’t know…yet.”

This belief in your ability to learn is crucial not only for our students, but also for our educators.  Common sense will tell you that believing you can learn is a great first step to being able to learn.

But when does, “I don’t know…yet.”, become, “I don’t know anymore”?

For example…Today I asked a group of Canadian educators if they have ever learned about the fur trade in school. As this is an extremely Canadian thing to teach, I know that the answer was going to be 100%.  Then I followed up with, “Unless you teach it currently, what can you tell me about it (other than Hudson Bay is mentioned somehow)?”

Nobody could answer.

Something we all learned, yet no one can remember.

So building upon the earlier prompt, what happens when we shift from fixed, to growth, to “innovator’s mindset”?

Fixed Mindset –> “I don’t know.”

Growth Mindset –> “I don’t know…yet.”

Innovator’s Mindset –> “This is what I have created with what I know.”

Does our depth of knowledge not become substantially greater when we take our knowledge and create something with it?  Is it also not more likely to go beyond the immediacy of when we our asked to know something?

Personally, I do not speak about things until I blog about them as I know that I will have a better understanding when I take time to make my own personal reflections and connections to content.

I love this thought on learning from “The Center for Accelerated Learning“:

Learning is Creation, Not Consumption. Knowledge is not something a learner absorbs, but something a learner creates. Learning happens when a learner integrates new knowledge and skill into his or her existing structure of self. Learning is literally a matter of creating new meanings, new neural networks, and new patterns of electro/chemical interactions within one’s total brain/body system.

As Thomas Friedman states, “The world only cares about — and pays off on — what you can do with what you know (and it doesn’t care how you learned it).” Let’s ensure we are going beyond just “knowing” with ourselves and our students.


Categories: Planet

3 More Critical Questions For the Innovative Educator

The Principal of Change George Couros - 20 September, 2016 - 09:23

I originally posted “5 Critical Questions for the Innovative Educator” in September of 2014.  Here are the original five questions that I still think are crucial:

Would I want to be a learner in my own classroom?

What is best for this student?

What is this student’s passion?

What are some ways that we can create a true learning community? 

How did this work for our students?

As I have learned a lot in the past few years on this topic, here are some other questions that I think are crucial to innovation in education:

  1. How can we be innovative given the constraints that we have to work within? The best way to deal constraints is to first identify that they are there.  Yes, you have to teach a curriculum. Yes, you will be limited in money.  No, the walls in your building will not be shifted.  Identify the constraints and then think how you can work within them.  The curriculum can be brought to life and what you teach can go way beyond what static documents will tell you. When you are thinking of constraints, I always use the Vine example.  A lot of people looked at the video service Vine and they asked, “What could you possibly do with 6 seconds?” where others said, “You should see what I can do with 6 seconds.”  Same constraint, different thinking.
  2. Is this better than what we have had before? As you evaluate what you are doing in class, it is essential to identify whether this is actually better than what has been done before. If not, it is not innovation, it is simply change for the sake of change.  Has your thinking created something that is creating better learning and opportunities for those you serve? What measures are you using to identify this (please go beyond test scores)? We can’t really identify if it was innovative or not unless we identify if it is better than what we are doing before.
  3. How do we share this with others? Now if what you are doing is better than what you had before (see question 2), shouldn’t others know about it?  Not just in your own school, but around the world.  The power of sharing is that it not only benefits the students, but it benefits the “sharer.”  If I know that anyone in the world can see my stuff, it makes me think a lot deeper about what I am sharing.  Make great learning go viral.

Innovation always starts with questions, not answers. Do these questions lead you to move forward, or fall behind?

What are your questions in the pursuit of innovation in education?

Categories: Planet

Interesting Links 19 September 2016

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 19 September, 2016 - 19:30
The big news last week was the launch of the CSforAll Consortium  with over 180 members committed to K12 CS Education. That was not all I picked up last week though. I’m pleased to have a good bunch of links to share with you today.  Let’s start with some CSTA news in case you missed it!
Have you seen the new @csteachersorg Standards Video  Computer Science Teachers Association standards announcement video.
ACM and the CSTA announced new awards for teaching excellence in computer science funded by the Infosys Foundation. Very exciting! Are you a good candidate? Check it out soon.

Interested in hosting a Family Code Night? there is a free kit for elementary schools available online. Sets start people thinking about (and in) code early.
  There is a new drone programming course for schools, Drones 101 from @gotynker I think I need a drone. Are you using one or more with students?
Robot Reinforces Learning Interesting article on the Blo0g @ACM  about “Quinn provides feedback to the students through an easily recognizable facial emotion set, here smiling to indicate approval.”

Categories: Planet

Stuck in a rut or going deep?

The Principal of Change George Couros - 18 September, 2016 - 23:30

Over the past few years, I have been really focusing on the notion of “innovation in education” and what it actually means?  Sometimes though, I feel that there is a lot of repetition in what I am saying, and although a different audience may not have been exposed to my thoughts, I am on a continual basis.  It is easy to feel “stuck”.

That being said, for anyone to really understand something, we must realize that true depth of knowledge takes time.  The more I read the viewpoints of others on innovation in education, and think about their questions, the more it helps me to think about my own learning.

For about five years, I have been watching this account live tweet World War II on a day to day basis.  Is this someone who is stuck in a rut or will know World War II inside out especially after this process?  The question I wonder about this process is that their is logical ending to this Twitter account; next year will be the end of the war.  Will they continue on to discuss the negotiations and impact after the war, or is this a logical ending to this process?

I truly believe that less is more, and that by focusing on everything, you become good at nothing.  Depth is needed.  What is crucial is to understand when you become too comfortable and are stuck in a rut, or you are looking to dig deeper.  Finding this balance can become tough, but it is important we are constantly reflecting upon our own process.

Categories: Planet

Valuing and responding to resistance to change — The Learner's Way

Classroom 2.0 Diigo Group - 18 September, 2016 - 16:59


  • Change is something that we fear or embrace. It is widely considered as the one constant in our lives. For education at present we face a deluge of reports that the pace of change shall only accelerate and its scale become more absolute. No wonder then that many teachers feel now is a good time for a move out of the profession. For others the changing face of education is seen as bringing exciting new possibilities wrapped in engaging challenges. Regardless of how reliable predictions for change may prove to be it is worth considering how individuals and groups respond to it. - Nigel Coutts

Tags: resistance, change, learner, education, collaboration

by: Nigel Coutts

Categories: International News
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