- About ACCE
I was reading Mark Guzdial’s blog this morning (A goal for higher ed: “There is magic in our program. Our program changes lives.”) and as often happen it got me thinking. His daughter is in a summer program with no grades and no tests. The idea is that students are there for learning’s sake. Scott McLeod also had a recent post about learning for the sake of learning - Summer of Code Scott’s family is learning to code on their own (with help from some online resources he lists.) Again there are no grades involved. It’s about learning.
Grades bug me. One summer I was teaching summer school at a prestigious boarding school. One of my students was very concerned that her good but not exceptional grade in my course would bring her GPA down to the point where she was not the top student in her class at home.This has stuck with me for probably 20 years now. How can we have a system where the grade is more important than the learning? And yet that is what we have.
I took my first computer science course near the beginning of my university career. I loved it. It was magic. I spent every free hour for the rest of my college career learning as much as I could. Some of it in classes but much of it on my own and with peers. My transcript may show how much (or how little) I cared about grades but my career over the last (gasp) 40 years shows, I think, shows how much I like learning.
I was lucky in that I had professors who encouraged experimentation and independent learning. They all seemed much more interested in us learning than in the grades themselves. It is an attitude I hope my students see in me as well.
There is a magic in knowledge, in learning, in ideas. There is no magic in grades. The hard thing is getting students to want to learn things. Passion from teachers can help. It is something I strongly believe teachers need to have to be good teachers. But it is often not enough. Grades are the club we use to force students to do things that we believe they will learn from. This often results in short term learning that fades with time. Hardly a good thing. In the long term this emphasis on grades as a mix of carrot and stick detracts from learning.
The trick, if you will, is to find other motivations. Motivations that come from within the student rather than being forced on them externally. As I look though my curriculum and plans for next year I will focus on what students found as fun. What made them want to learn more for themselves rather than just for the grade. When students want to learn to solve their own problems they seem to learn so much more that really does feel like magic.
- A great article about using podcasts for assessment of yr 10 students to demonstrate their understanding of literary concepts - Rhondda Powling
by: Rhondda Powling
- "Making your notes more interesting doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking. If you think sketchnoting looks fun, Some tips in this post to get you started." - Rhondda Powling
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- "An infographic created by Mentoring Minds in which they featured 25 ways to develop 21st century critical thinkers" - Rhondda Powling
by: Rhondda Powling
National Geographic encourages student citizen scientists to participate in their Genographic Project, which employs cutting-edge genetic and computational technologies to analyse historical patterns in DNA from participants in an effort to better understand our human genetic roots. They have an emerging education focus that encourages schools to participate.
Last year I wrote about plans to personalise Big History by having students participate, as citizen scientists, in The Genographic Project. Today, my very excited and enthusiastic class, collected samples of DNA* from their cheeks (using the Geno 2.0 kits) and posted them to National Geographic.
It will take two months for their DNA to be analysed and the data to appear at their personalised page at the Genographic site. This will not only tell them the migratory paths ancient ancestors followed thousands of years ago and what percentage of their genome is affiliated with specific regions of the world but also if they have Neanderthal or Denisovan ancestry. They will also be assisting, as citizen scientists, to build on our total knowledge of the human journey by contributing the story from their DNA.
The students will be receiving their results around about the time they commence Threshold 6 of their Big History course which explores early humans and collective learning. This seems symbolically significant as the nature of citizen science is yet another example of the human urge to share and cooperate. The students will have a very personal connection with our earliest origins as they will be able to see their own genetic route out of Africa.
We are all very excited!Partnerships
Today, this process of collecting DNA samples, has only been made possible through partnerships the school has developed. We are always enthusiastically forging relationships with the tertiary sector that benefit our students in many areas of life and learning. There are now many programs that result in a wide-range of workshops at school or at our local university that prepare students for tertiary education. There are a variety of experiences, such as mentoring programs and academic extension opportunities too, on offer.
Professor Bert Roberts, Director of the Centre for Archaeological Science at the University of Wollongong, funded the Geno 2.0 kits so it was free for the students to participate. Usually, there’s not much change from US$200.00 to complete the testing so it is highly appreciated by the students and our school that the university has financially supported this initiative. I know Professor Roberts is hoping to gain some some great students for his course who are deeply engaged with archaeological science from an early age and these students during next term will learn a great deal about prehistory and also how aDNA (Ancient DNA) can inform our understanding of the past.
We have commenced planning for an exchange with a school in Indonesia, potentially on the island of Flores, and Professor Roberts has indicated it is possible for the students to visit the cave where Flores Man (‘The Hobbit’) was discovered. Students studying Big History could really broaden their experiences and start to understand the complexities of archaeological excavation in the 21st century.The Future
My proposed study tour will focus on forging closer links with key innovators, academics and institutions that can assist NSW teachers with processes and support to engage students with significant, intellectually rich opportunities to learn by creatively and innovatively employing new and emerging technologies in the classroom. The opportunities to personalise concepts in NSW syllabuses, especially in the subjects of science and history, are extensive and exciting as students are connected with the Big Picture of our shared human journey.
I have applied for a NSW Premier’s Teaching Scholarship in an attempt to make it easier for students and teachers to become citizen scientists with the Genographic Project. Currently, it is quite a challenge to fund and even ordering the kits from the USA is much more difficult than it should be for a range of practical reasons. I hope to meet with the Genographic team and it would be fantastic if Dr Spencer Wells could be a supporter of citizen science in NSW schools.
It would be fantastic if all students had a chance to study the fabulous Big History course and to personalise their learning with support from National Geographic.
* The testing is a non-medical DNA test and will not reveal information about potential illness.
After a conference, there is the thought that many need something they can do right away with students. The demands of being a teacher, while also keep opportunities “fresh”, is something that lends to this way of thinking. If you go to any conference, there will be a ton of “apps” shared of cool things you can do, but often times, the learning with this is more novelty than depth. Learning that empowers and makes an impact takes thoughtful leadership at all levels, as well as vision. It also sometimes not only takes a “village”, but the vision of the village to come together.
With that being said, I have been focusing on some initiatives that are new(ish) in some schools, that will need communities to come together. Obviously, ideas like leadership and sharing mutual respect for others, as well as appreciating and celebrating both our similarities and differences, are crucial to our school environments. Powerful learning does not happen in schools without a focus on relationships and community.
Here are three initiatives that will take time, effort, and community to make happen at the systemic level.
1. A focus on digital citizenship/leadership.
This above image created by Bill Ferriter, quoting Will Richardson, is one that has made a significant impact on my thinking. I have often asked educators, if a fight broke out, which subject area teacher would deal with it? They look at me as if I am crazy, and then I mention that is much how we treat the notion of digital citizenship. This is on all of us.
I recently shared the idea of “3 Things Students Should Have Before They Leave High School“, but often remind educators that this is not something that starts in high school, but should be part of the fabric of our schools at all levels. This is either in modelling or helping students create. This is not to say that students all have to be using social media, but at least the option is there to ensure that the understand the implications of a positive, negative, or neutral footprint.
I get the general idea, and support it, but I think the description is way too narrow. I’d rather see people have much more than an about.me page and personal portfolio – I think they should have a wider online presence with credentials, tools, artifacts, and whatever else they need. The same with a social network – but not just a ‘social network’ but wide-ranging interactions with people inside and outside their own field.
I couldn’t agree with him more, but definitely believe there needs to be a starting point and emphasis on teaching this in schools. The shift from “digital citizenship” to simply “citizenship” (since technology is just part of our world) probably won’t happen without putting an emphasis and placing some of these ideas at the forefront. This is not the work of “specialty” educators, but something we all have a responsibility towards.
2. Digital Portfolios
Building upon the first idea, I think there is a huge power in “Digital Portfolios” to not only help build a footprint, but transform practices in learning and assessment. We have often seen learning in “chunks” in school practice (grade two to grade three, etc.), but is something that is continuous and messy.
Years ago, I wrote a comprehensive plan on the “blogs as digital portfolios“, and really explored the impact it could have on helping connecting learning throughout the school and amongst different subject areas. This should not be limited to any specific class or grade level, but something that actually becomes an opportunity to not only reflect, create, and connect, but also helps to provide authentic examples of student owned learning. That being said, if we are to be successful with this type of opportunity, it would make a huge impact if educators had their own versions of digital portfolios, to really understand the impact this could have learning. This is a “barrier” that could easily become an opportunity.
3. Embracing the Innovator’s Mindset
For any of these things to happen, or other opportunities, we need to embrace a mindset that is open to conducive learning, while also helping to develop it in our students. The “innovator’s mindset” is defined by the following:
With ideas such as genius hour, maker spaces, innovation day/week, and a whole myriad of other ideas for powerful creation to connect learning, it is important that we think differently about learning, and help develop that mindset with our students.
I love this idea from the Center for Accelerated Learning on learning as “creation”:
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.
Krissy Venosdale also shared a powerful image on what “learning” looks like.
This mindset should not be limited to our students, but to all of those involved in education.
To achieve these goals in a meaningful way, we have to realize that it will take a whole community approach, and cannot be left to the few to achieve. This takes a change in mindset while also creating the need for leadership to remove barriers to unleash talent which leads to innovative opportunities. What I believe is the real power of these initiatives, is that these ideas I have shared are not an endpoint, but only a beginning. When we create a culture of sharing, innovative flourishes. Embracing the idea that everyone is a teacher and everyone is a learner, and that these roles will change multiple times daily, is the only way that any initiative will truly succeed in our schools today.
The books and best practices that change everything in your classroom
Teachers who are leaders change the world one student at a time. Leaders are readers. Leaders are learners. But where do we start? What do we read? What do we learn?Be a multiplier.
According to the book, Multipliers, there are two kinds of leaders: multipliers and diminishers. Some leaders help a person operate at more than they are capable of doing. Then there are those sad souls who diminish others. Poor teacher leaders have students wallowing the squalor of low performance.Teacher Leader Tip #1: Leadership is often neglected in teacher education courses. Educating yourself on what teacher leadership looks like comes first. Read books like Multipliers and What Great Teachers Do Differently. Understand the characteristics of great leaders. Listen to and Act Upon Feedback from Your Students.
In Todd Whitaker’s 1993 research on what makes excellent principals, he found they “routinely consult teacher leaders for input before making a decision.” (What Great Teachers Do Differently, p 92) We should do the same with students.
College professor Dean Shareski asks after every assignment, “How can this assignment be better?” For example, in a flipped classroom assignment, one student asked, “why not have us create a flipped classroom lesson?” Dean said that suggestion was an obvious improvement.Teacher Leader Tip #2: Ask after each assignment or unit: How can this assignment be better? Take the time to listen to your students via anonymous surveys or focus groups. Help Students See Their Value and Worth.
Booker T. Washington said,
“Most leaders spend time trying to get others to think more highly of them when instead, they should try to get their people to think more highly of themselves.”
When a student is underperforming, I’ve found that it is often an internal struggle. Before students can succeed, they must try. Before students try, they must have hope. Hope comes from knowing that you either have the strength or someone will help you.Teacher Leader Tip #3: Help students find their individual strengths. Teachers should be hope-inspiring coaches on the learning journey. Unleash the Power of Yet.
In Carol Dweck’s TED Talk, she shares how people with a growth mindset will say, “I’m not good at ____ yet.” In her research, she calls people who think they have fixed abilities: “fixed mindset.” These people rarely level up and are grossly incorrect when they self-assess their talents. Fixed mindset people resist learning.
Those who adopt a “growth mindset” believe that they can improve and level up. Growth mindset people see their abilities as separate from their worth as a person. Growth mindset people learn.
Incredibly, a growth mindset makes all the difference, AND IT CAN BE TAUGHT. A growing body of knowledge on metacognition helps us teach the growth mindset.Teacher Leader Tip #4: Understand what a growth mindset is by reading Mindset and other research. Learn the metacognitive techniques that will help your students overcome problems and develop grit. Admit your own “not yet” items to your students as you journey to learn too.
When faced with mediocrity or injustice, leaders stand up and say “It is not going to be this way.” Leaders are visionaries who see a brighter future just past the problem. Most importantly, leadership can be learned and taught. We need teachers to rise up and lead. We need open minds and a willingness to help students (and ourselves) achieve more.
For when a teacher leads, they are teaching far more than content knowledge, but spawn the leaders of tomorrow.
ECM 154: How 30-Year-Teacher James Sturtevant figured out how to relate to most students.
Kids don’t get teachers. Teachers don’t get kids. Times change. Life can be hard for some kids. How do we connect when we’re so different? We need trust. We need respect. We need learning to happen. Here’s how.
James has taught for thirty years. Although he’s been trained on many tools, James believes most teacher education training misses the point. Teaching is about relationships.When we lose sight of the fact that education is a people business, we get in trouble. @jamessturtevant #edreformPowered By the Tweet This PluginTweet This
“Positive teacher-student relationships — evidenced by teachers’ reports of low conflict, a high degree of closeness and support, and little dependency — have been shown to support students’ adjustment to school, contribute to their social skills, promote academic performance and foster students’ resiliency in academic performance (Battistich, Schaps, & Wilson, 2004; Birch & Ladd, 1997; Curby, Rimm-Kaufman, & Ponitz, 2009; Ewing & Taylor, 2009; Hamre & Pianta, 2001; Rudasill, Reio, Stipanovic, & Taylor, 2010).
Teachers who experience close relationships with students reported that their students were less likely to avoid school, appeared more self-directed, more cooperative and more engaged in learning (Birch & Ladd, 1997; Decker, Dona, & Christenson, 2007; Klem & Connell, 2004).”
We need positive relationships with our students. How do we do it?Important Take Aways About Relating to Students
- Add teacher James Sturdevant to your PLN @jamessturtevant
- James’ book that was discussed in the show: You’ve Gotta Connect: Building Relationships That Lead to Engaged Students, Productive Classrooms, and Higher Achievement
- Do you accept your students AS THEY ARE? James says teachers must have “radical acceptance.” “We must accept kids wherever they are.”
- Was your first year a disaster too? James’ first September as a teacher was awful. “They wanted nothing to do with me. That was the longest September of my life. At the end of that month, I felt like a failure.”
- Can you let go of the “good old days” and focus on now?
- Can you listen to your students so you can relate?
Alberty Einstein said
“If a is a success in life, then A equals x plus y plus z. Work is x; y is play; and z is keeping your mouth shut.”
There are times we need to listen to our students. This year, I’m going to be putting a timer on myself and limit my talking. As James said,
“Something in me told me ot shut up and listen to their conversatin and I would learn something.”
Kids need us. Students need us. They need us to be adults. We need to put on our listening ears and not just expect it from them. James’ wisdom from thirty years of teaching speaks to us all.
The post Some teachers get frustrated trying to reach kids. This teacher has the answer. appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog.
Progress Happens when Educators stop looking down their nose at education in Africa and start learning with them.
ECM 153: Noble Kelly and Education Beyond Borders show how working together changes things.
Imagine being the only teacher in a village. You’re alone. You go home on the weekend. You don’t get paid on time. Your students miss school. But one day, another teacher comes to help. You don’t feel alone anymore. Education Beyond Borders does this now.
“Isolated educators don’t have a lack of knowledge, but a lack of access to best practices, resources, and each other,” says Noble Kelly.
Today’s guest, Noble Kelly, started Education Beyond Borders. After a teacher signs up, they raise money. They travel to help other teachers in South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda. But chances are everywhere for us to help other teachers.
Sharon Brown-Peters, one of the first people I “met” online, first told me about Education Beyond Borders. I admire her work in Mozambique. I admire her questions. (Sharon is now at ASB in Mumbai, India. ASB is a fantastic school.)
According to Education Beyond Borders , with 59 million of us, teachers are the largest group of trained professionals in the world. However, we need 30 million more trained teachers to reach every child.
When we educate teachers, we help kids. When we encourage teachers, we help kids. As teachers, we believe in the power of our profession. If we’re going to help it improve, that responsibility is on our shoulders. Not every place in the world has money to train teachers. Sometimes, they get whoever they can to “teach”. Other times, teachers struggle with the isolation.
Teachers are an incredible resource for each other. Embedded in this show are some great truths we can all learn as we work to help our colleagues who work in isolated places. It starts with respect and working together – not arrogance or pity or self-righteous ‘helpfulness.’Important Take Aways from Episode 153
- Follow Noble Kelly @noblekelly
- Noble gives some essential points for service learning projects. If you plan such projects, you should listen to his advice.
- Because so many non-working “junk” computers are “gifted” to poor schools, the cell phone is being seen as a key to improving education in remote areas. (See the 2014 GESF Panel where we discussed mobile phones in rural areas for ideas.)
- As a teacher, there are organizations that need your expertise. Volunteer your time to help other teachers and learn with them.
- As teachers, we need each other. We need ideas. We need encouragement. We need to feel that we are not alone. Because of discouragement, Noble says teacher absenteeism is a big problem in many remote places. (As USA Today reports, this is a growing problem in the US as well.)
- Take the time to volunteer your time. As I searched, I found one example of Mission Trip finders for teachers. Many charitable organizations have unique needs for teachers. So if you want to help – tell your favorite charitable service organization that you’re a teacher and let them know your skillset. For my North American friends, take the time to call this summer so you can plan for next year.
I took it easy last week. Let’s call it retirement practice. Hope you’re enjoying your self and if you are also on summer break I hope you are resting physically and mentally.
Only a few things to share these week.
CSP: IP Addresses and DNS with Vint Cerf doing a lot of the narration. It’s a really nice video which I plan to use with my classes next year.
ACM, CSTA Announce New Award to Recognize US High School Students in Computing – he official press release announcing the Cutler-Bell award for high school computing.
EV3 Basic is a new Extension to Microsoft Small Basic that allows Small Basic to interact with the Lego Mindstorms EV3 robot. May be worth a look if you are using robots.
Interesting video from ComputerCraftEdu: Starting to Program in Minecraft. I don’t know much about Minecraft but people seem to like it.
- Some useful tools for educators discussed here - Rhondda Powling
by: Rhondda Powling
I have had the privilege to speak in Indiana for their “Summer of eLearning” events over the past three years and I have been able to see snapshots of the state, that have given me some perspective. The growth not only in the conversations, but the opportunities has been significant as a whole. Years ago there were educators that were pushing the boundaries in the state, but there seem to be a lot more and I know that it is because of the persistence of many levels (top down and bottom up) that have made this possible.
What I have been thinking about how we have to realize that it is not only learning that is differentiated, but at the rate that we are accepting of change. For some, change is happening too slow, but for others it is happening too fast. It is the Goldilock’s conundrum that we are facing; how do we make it happen so the pace of change is just right?
Short answer? We can’t.
We have to realize that in educators are not simply educators. They are mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters. There are so many other things that are happening around them that many of us can’t fathom. I have good friends that are doing amazing things in spite of the things that they are dealing with at home. In fact, sometimes they do these amazing things because it helps take away from some of those things they have to deal with. I know that sometimes when I struggle personally, it is easy to bury my head and drive forward professionally. Sometimes when I struggle personally, professionally I also struggle. It is dependent upon many factors.
This is a profession where humans are dealing with humans. The amount of variables that we deal with daily are infinite as a profession.
So do we give a pass to those that aren’t open to change? Not a chance. Change will happen with or without people, but it is up to ourselves to evolve, adapt, and thrive. What is important that we need to recognize when people are moving forward, not necessarily their endpoint. One of the ideas that I have embraced in my role is that we help move people from their point ‘a’ to their point ‘b’. Movement forward is necessary.
Sometimes it is easy to think education has not changed in the past few years, but if we sat back and took snapshots, I know I have personally seen growth in the profession. The conversations on assessment, learning-centred classrooms, innovation, and mindfulness are things that were not the norm when I started teaching. This doesn’t mean that we can’t be frustrated with many of the barriers that are still in the way to help us move forward. I encourage you to continuously challenge them. What is important though is that we sometimes take a step back and appreciate some change that has happened. I know personally that we move a lot further forward when we focus on strengths and show appreciation for one another, than we do when we criticize.
And just so you know, if education is truly learning focused, we will never get there (wherever “there” is). Growth and change is part of the process of learning, and as organizations and individuals, we will need to embrace that.
Thinking of my dad on this Fathers’ Day, I looked at his actions, and the one thing he always reminded me of through his actions is that change is an opportunity to do something amazing. The more we embrace that notion, the better we will all be.
- A critical component of learning is the ability to reflect on one's learning and the processes that occur while we are engaged in learning. If we are to develop independent, empowered learners then we need to build the skills required for metacognition both directly through the provision of suitable strategies and indirectly via the modeling of effective learning that we provide. - Nigel Coutts
by: Nigel Coutts
A while ago I realised that my online life was in password hell. I was using literally hundreds of sites and services that required passwords, but they were held together with a confusing mess of old passwords that I’d mostly forgotten, numerous passwords which were being used on more than one site, passwords that didn’t meet the usual complexity rules usually required across the Internet, and so on. I often found myself having to do a password reset just to access a site, and of course that new password became yet another one I had to remember. Or forget.
I felt things were a little bit out of hand so I finally took a few steps to clean up my digital life.
First, using the same password for everything is an exceptionally stupid idea. Instead, I came up with my own system that helped me create hard-to-guess, but easy-to-remember passwords that I could apply to any site. Having a clear system for this meant that when I signed up for some new online service I could quickly come up with a password that was memorable while also being unique to that site. It really helps to have a system. I made sure that my system always met the minimum complexity rules usually found online… that is, they contained uppercase, lowercase, numbers and symbols and were at least 8 characters long. If you do nothing else, come up with a system for your passwords! It’s so frustrating when you attempt to log in to a site that you’ve been to previously and can’t remember your password. So come up with a system for yourself, and please don’t just use the same password everywhere!
Secondly, I turned on multistep or 2-Factor authentication for passwords on every site that offered this option (and there are a lot of them now). This is probably the single biggest thing you can do to improve the security of your online life. If you go online and don’t use 2 factor authentication, you’re not really serious about your online security. It’s that simple. I find it both amusing and frustrating when I hear people questioning the security of online services, and then find out they don’t use 2-Factor passwords. If you don’t use 2-Factor on every site that enables it, please, don’t ever complain about the dangers of online security. It just makes you sound silly. It’s not hard to set up, and if you use something like Google Authenticator to manage your second factors, it’s very simple to use. The minor inconvenience of having to enter the second factor is far outweighed by the added security. Trust me on this. Turn it on. Now.
Finally, I set up a password manager. I chose LastPass, but there are others. It took a while to get my head around how LastPass works but once I did, it made life so much easier. If you want to try LastPass for yourself you can get it on this link.
If you are in password hell like I was, take some of these positive steps to sort it out.
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- Some good ideas worth exploring here. Includes video and many links . - Rhondda Powling
by: Rhondda Powling
- "Are you creating a learning space where your students have ample voice, engage frequently with each other, and are given opportunities to make choices.Some guiding Questions to help you reflect on the learning environment you design for students:" - Rhondda Powling
by: Rhondda Powling
6 Collaborative Social Tools and Platforms for Better Writing and Collaboration — Emerging Education Technologies
- "Collaborative, socially-enabled tools can provide excellent opportunities for practice, assessment, better writing, and better communication. In this post are some good collaborative web apps and resources, with social functionality, that can play a valuable role in classroom lessons and assignments:" - Rhondda Powling
by: Rhondda Powling
- Intuitiv bedienbares webbasiertes Learning Design Tool. Drag & Drop Lerneinheiten. Kostenlose Templates. - Gaby K. Slezák
by: Gaby K. Slezák
- Recently I have found a number of ideas on the web that were particularly interesting and together paint a compelling picture of education's future. Each fits into a model where the focus is on developing skills, dispositions and habits that will last into the future - long life skills. - Nigel Coutts
by: Nigel Coutts