Digital Leadership with @E_Sheninger

This past week, I was fortunate to spend an entire day with Eric Sheninger at a workshop session called Digital Leadership.  I have been a follower of Eric’s for some time, watched his Ted Talk and read his Digital Leadership: Changing Paradigms for Changing Times book. (which is now signed!)  But, I have never had the opportunity to hear him speak.  SO, when I found out he was coming to Rochester, MN and would have a whole day session –  I was in!

He provided incredible insights on how he was able to lead his school, New Milford High School a small high school with 600+ kids in New Jersey, with high diversity, little or no technology to become a  nationally recognized school and greatly improving test scores and graduation rates.  Below are my key takeaways!

No more excuses
An early turning point in the transformation was a  “Stop Making Excuses” mindset and it had an enormous effect on New Milford’s culture.  Because  “If it’s important to you, you will find a way.  If not, you will find an excuse!”

Accountability QuoteAccountability
Of everything that Eric shared that day, this was probably the most the biggest takeaway for me.   Eric shared that he observed EVERY teacher in his school 5 times per year.  Two were officially scheduled observations while 3 were unannounced.  His classroom look fors:

  • Clear learning objectives/outcomes
  • Student-centered as opposed to teacher-centered
  • Construction of new knowledge
  • Acquisition and application of essential skills
  • Creation of a learning artifact
  • Assessment – evidence of higher order thinking skills
  • Student Feedback

If he did not observe something in action, he would email his teachers and they would have so much time to provide the information. This would include learner artifacts and the standards they were aligned to.  One of my favorite quotes from his session – “I collect assessments, not lesson plans”.  I would have to guess the conversations around learning would be incredibly powerful with the data/evidence!

The collection of digital artifacts were beneficial for his educators too, as all educators have e-portfolios and are provided time (on the job) to work on their ePortfolios.  To do this, Sheninger eliminated non-instructional “duty-time”.  “We do not need $45/hr cafeteria monitors”.  Instead, he opted to provide team time and time for educators to reflect on their practice.

Eric did share that this observation model did not start right away.  I believe it wasn’t until year  3 or 4 into his transformational instructional design process.  This also was about how much time it took for the diffusion of this instructional design to happen. (Refer to diffusion of innovation)

Rigor, Relevance, and Innovation

Sheninger also shared the Relevance Instructional Design Framework developed by the International Center for Leadership in Education. (Sheninger now works for them).

Rigor and Relevance Framework

 While we have been focusing on deeper learning this year, what I like about this framework is it provides a scaffold of these types of learning environments.  Sheninger said while our goal should be to get our students to quadrant D, it is impossible to reside there at all times. In my opinion, It is also not fair to kids to provide them with an education that never allows them to move out of Quadrant A.   As I was perusing the leadered website, I did stumble on the rubric that aligns with the framework. Question to self – Could this align to our scale work? Should this framework be used in my Real World Learning design course?

Questions to reflect on… what do assessments look like in each quadrant?  My guess, as you move from quadrant to quadrant, the assessments move from knowledge-based assessments (quizzes/tests) to performance-based assessments. Eric did share one such project from his school and the rubric to match!  I believe all students in his HS had ePortfolios.  We should not only use student ePortfolios to show what they know… but show what they understand.   Evidence and reflection will be key.

Be sure to read Will Dagget’s research around this framework. (pdf)  My favorite quote from this whitepaper:

The value of state assessments is undeniable, but we cannot view them as the definition of academic excellence. Unfortunately, many of those in education do. When assessment is viewed as the end goal or finish line,
the test itself becomes a barrier to high levels of student achievement. However, if curriculum, instruction, and relevant learning become the focus, the tests will take care of themselves.


We need to “marry innovation with achievement when we look at instructional design”.  While we are always seeking to engage our students, engagement does not automatically equate to learning.  I have been guilty of this numerous times.  I get excited by shiny things but at the end of the day, if our students are not learning our objectives, we are wasting valuable instructional time.  It’s important to continually assess their understanding.  Can learning be fun? Absolutely!  But we need to keep the lessons/activities learner and learning focused!  

What do you want students to do with technology?As for technology, there is no doubt it can amplify and accelerate learning vs.  “water it down”.  Instead, we should ask ourselves how can technology be used to support sound student-centered pedagogy?

If leadership doesn’t get it – it’s not going to happen. This includes leaders in classrooms, schools, districts! Eric did a very good job modeling tools and effective practices during this session.  When I think of PD, this is the biggest improvement needed in our schools. I rarely see people MODEL effective technology with effective PD design.  RARELY.  While I feel good about the district side PD we tried this year, (post)  we need to challenge ourselves improve PD in our districts – modeling is key!

Note to self – use/model mentimeter and check out these tools that were shared during this session. (below)

All in all it was a fantastic day of learning, conversations, and reflection! Below is the storified tweets from this session.  How will this newly aquired information be applied, assimilated, or adapted???? Well…that is to be  continued!

Technology as the accelerator in learning

This post was originally published to MASA Leaders Forum Spring Newsletter (PDF). Since the original posting, I have also included artifacts of the learning experience. Enjoy!

As you look at 1:1 student device implementation plans across MN, equitable access to technology is usually a driving goal.  It’s important.  If our kids do not have access to technology (with high-speed bandwidth) we cannot provide the visionary education of our future.  However, getting devices into the hands of our students is only one piece of the puzzle.  Michael Fullan is quoted as saying, “Pedagogy is the driver, technology is the accelerator”.   If we are truly going to get the most bang, for all of our tech spending bucks, we must continue to focus on learning and how technology can support, accelerate and amplify it.

We know that classrooms that solely rely on didactic teaching (one size fits all – I lecture you listen) does not work for all kids. Simply digitizing these classrooms will not improve results either.  While putting content online may provide 24-7 access – if students are still only left to memorize or regurgitate the facts from videos/resources, learning will have very little chance of being deep and lasting.

Student-centered instructional design is a great avenue for learning today with today’s tools.  Below are examples of pedagogical best practices that support learner-centered instruction.

  • Clear learning goals
  • Student choice and voice
  • Assessment of, for, as learning
  • Feedback – student:student,  teacher:student,  student:teacher
  • Collaborative learning groups
  • Active/authentic learning
  • Metacognition

I have had the opportunity to observe many powerful learning experiences, designed by educators, who continue to drive innovation to engage students and deepen learning.  One such story comes to mind from this past fall.  

@ByronDigCit Twitter Profile

Twitter profile @ByronDigCit managed by 8th grade students

In 8th grade, ELA teachers @JanelleGroehler and @Mrs_Ausman4 asked their students “How can we, as 8th graders, educate our community on the importance of a positive digital footprint?”  In collaborative groups, the students selected target audiences and presented their project ideas to a team (teachers, principal, and other students) for feedback.  Once they received the green light, students began working on their project and would conference with their teachers on a bi-weekly basis to receive formative feedback on their projects as well as to check for understanding of lesson outcomes.  All projects would come to life during Digital Citizenship Week in October.  All students were required to research and then advocate for positive footprint for a variety of audiences. Some students presented to elementary students; others presented to high school or middle school students.  One team presented to district parents and another presented to staff.  The social media team created accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to share their message and share the work of their fellow students.  Other collaborative projects included a game called “Byron Go” with a digital citizenship theme, the development of an online video game, newsletters to email, creating a coloring book with a story and original artwork for elementary students, and posting public service announcements via Youtube, etc. The culminating event was a project by several student groups that created a school wide retreat with digital footprint theme-based activities for their peers. (ex 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

After the project was complete, students posted their learning artifacts to their ePortfolios and were provided prompts to reflect on their learning.  After observing the work of our students, I believe many of our kids already have resume ready artifacts and experiences as 8th graders! Imagine if these students were able to continue to build upon and master these skills over the next 4-5 years?

While there are were numerous ELA standards embedded and assessed in this project – how well do you think students met the following essential learning outcome?  I can produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. It will be important, as with any innovation, that we don’t get so caught up in the excitement of the innovation, that we forget to assess the learning target(s) we set out to teach our students.

As I reflect on this project, pedagogy clearly was the driver. Educators were able to take their standards and make them come to life for their students.   I observed very high student engagement, especially during the Digital Citizenship Week, when all of the work of our students came to fruition.  Why? Because their work mattered.  Not just to their teachers or classmates but to their local and digital communities.

So what about technology? In what ways did technology accelerate or amplify student learning?  If you were to remove technology from this project, would it have had the same success?  If this project would have been more didactic aka lecture, listen, worksheet, test would it have had the same lasting results? I will let you come to your own conclusions.

Don’t get me wrong. I still believe there is a place for lectures, there is a place for worksheets (not packet after packet!), and there are ways to design INCREDIBLE active learning experiences that require no technology at all.  We cannot dismiss the powerful face to face learning strategies that still work today, but we also cannot ignore the opportunities that technology brings to learning either.  It’s about balance and trying to unlock the art and science of today’s teaching and learning!
One final thought –  It’s important to also reflect on the culture of the classroom, school, and district that allowed this powerful learning experience to happen. As with any innovation, there is a degree of risk and uncertainty. What if this fails? Well, what if it doesn’t? Even if it does fail, what does revision 2, 3, 4 look like for our students? Within a culture of learning and innovation, there must be a high degree of trust and transparency between administrators, teachers, and students.  No matter what role we have in education, we must continue to support and foster a culture that allows powerful learning experiences for our students to happen.

My trip to #One91: Reflections of Classroom/School Design

Last Friday, I was fortunate to participate in Google’s ExploreEDU event, held at Burnsville High School in Burnsville MN.  Part of the agenda,  that day, was to take a tour of Burnsville’s new facility.  This was a big draw for me.  I had heard about their career pathways and their newly designed learning spaces… and decided to take the opportunity to see it with my very own eyes!

Career Center

The career center is an integral part of the Career Pathway program.  Whether they are learning about careers/colleges/ or going on Google Expeditions (career AND college) the space is used independently and with classes.  Understanding the students interests and passions are essential to student success within the program.

 

Typical Classroom

Check out this snapshot of a Burnsville classroom.  No more sage on the stage.  Teachers can either stream content to all 6 TVs or students can collaborate with each other using their group TV.  The furniture in classrooms is very flexible and powered. They have floor to ceiling windows and many of the teachers were using the glass to write notes.  It’s also very easy to observe learning activies this way.  Beside every TV was a whiteboard (NOT SMART BOARD) for further STUDENT collaboration/notes/ideation.  Just a side note – Burnsville recently went 1:1 with Chromebooks.  One point of feedback I heard – was the pickup for the devices was 10 minutes long.  Impressive!

Flexible Spaces outside of classrooms

I will be honest, the space outside of the classrooms was pretty cool too.  I really liked that moon shaped sofa, with standing desks or tall stools behind it.  Again, there is an ability to connect to a large TV screen to and give presentations. Check out the cool furniture and use of space!  (Self directed space – that seemed to give students plenty of autonomy)

 

Certified Nursing Assistant Classroom/Lab

Here is a classroom that is used to certify nursing assistants.  It combines the classroom with the “hospital” lab.  Students going down this route would also have to have 20+ hours of clinicals at a local nursing home before receiving their CNA certification.

 

Cafeteria/Kitchen/Culinary Lab

The Cafeteria/Kitchen area had a very upscale feel to it.  Check out the digital signage in the kitchen as well as the large commons area.  I am guestimating 15-20 TVs.  This space is also used by students in the culinary arts pathway and students get to use the professional kitchen as a lab area.

CNC/PLTW/Engineering

And finally, I was very impressed with the CNC/PLTW/Engineering area.  Between the labs, classroom space, and flexible space inside the classroom space – it was amazing!  The students had access to industry standard equipment.  In the last video, we actually stopped by to speak to some students who just helped the local credit union re-brand their company.  How awesome!  I also learned that the credit union was also going to be setting up shop in the high school.

Final Reflections

Within the pathway program the district is being very progressive in trying to continually provide students with:

  • College credit
  • Industry level certifications
  • Student internships
  • Business partnerships (some of these partnerships also provide grant $)

Example of Pathways

One of the roadblocks ( I have heard in the past) is that sometimes these pathways “LOCK” students into a particular path.  That is not the case in Burnsville.  For instance, let’s say that a student has an interest in a health career.  Then, after going through the CNA class, the student decides they really do not like the nursing experience.  Students could select other options like  business administration in health.  See the latest indeed.com job search for the Mayo Clinic as there are so many health careers that are beyond nurses, doctors, ect.  I like this flexibilty. I also assume, they can hop over to another pathway all together!

The big picture to remember- is that Burnsville students are going to have a more real world – authentic learning experiences in high school, BEFORE they decide to go to college or step into a career.  I can not tell you how important this is especially when you consider the success rate of college students, the amount of student debt students may have upon graduating.  (See my past blog post about the parents perspective of innovation)  If students decide to go the career route – they will already have some serious resume experiences and certifications that will give them a “one up” on the competition.

This was incredibly inspiring – as someone who works in education and as a parent! Way to go Burnsville – for paving the way for the future of High Schools in MN!

Influence and Personalized Gamified PD

Over the break I decided to take some time and read Influencer: The new science of leading change.

In the book, the authors share 3 keys to influence change.

  • Focus and measure – have crystal clear goals AND good frequent measures
  • Find vital behaviors – Don’t spend time and effort on wrong behaviors – instead draw out underused behaviors, risk takers, positive deviants and culture busters!
  • Engage all 6 sources of influence (Image below).

Throughout this book I did quite a bit of self-reflection on my role in influencing and achieving our district’s strategic plan and  technology plan.

One support program, that kept crossing my mind, was a new program created this year called BearsPD.  It is personalized, gamified, and has a social twist.  While it is still in its infancy, it is having having an effect on learning in my district.  We have had over 50% of our teachers participate thus far.   It provides choice and voice in learning through 4 tracks – iPad Playdates, Google Apps for Education, Innovation, and Creative Pedagogies.  Teachers can earn badges and points for their participation in a program.  These points will then go into a drawing for prizes (up to $2000 classroom innovation shopping spree).

The following badges have been aligned to our district’s vision  – Learn. Share. Innovate. Inspire.

  • Level 1 – Learn Badge – 1 pt – Attend a session. (just show up)
  • Level 2 – Share Badge – 3pt – Share what you know (share teacher evidence)
  • Level 3 – Innovate Badge – Integrate into the classroom (share student evidence)
  • Level 4 – Inspire Badge  – Teach others about what you have done (through presentation, blogging, ect)

You can learn more about the program by reviewing the following slide deck.

So how does this relate to influence?  In the book, the authors share that you need to target SEVERAL (not just one) of the 6 keys of influence.  The following are ways  BearsPD aligns to these keys.

Personal Motivation.  In the book, the authors share 4 tactics to make them “love what they hate”.  1) Choice 2) Create direct experiences 3) Tell Stories 4) Make it a game.  In this program, teachers have complete choice of what they want to learn and how far they want to take the learning.  We have also gamified it to add a little “friendly competition”.

Please note – We track everything via Google Apps for Education (Google Forms/Sheets). A BIG thank you @kmgriswold1 for helping us set this up. We are using  addons like Autocrat and FormMule as well as a whole ton of formulas I never knew existed until now!  I hope to gain better skills in advanced use of Google Apps as it is an incredibly powerful tool and very VERY efficient when setup correctly.

Personal Ability.  While this program is about improving the personal abilities of our staff, participants can also request follow up from our coaches.  Most sessions are short (1/2 hour to 1hour) and frequent – at least monthly.  I wish I could do more – but my schedule just will not allow for it!

Please Note – In the book, the authors also mention feedback – specifically “Provide immediate feedback around a clear standard” (p.128).  This leads me to wonder if future revisions of this program should include 1 track that educators focus on all year long to give better feedback.  We are going to work on perfecting this with our Google Apps rollout and basic competencies.

Building Graph

Example of social influence by building

Social Motivation. We have a leaderboard that tracks and counts the badges of individuals as well as the badges by building and by PLC/Grade level.  Once per month, teachers are emailed their progress reports.  On the progress report it has their personal progress (points/badges earned) as well as the number of  points of the district leader, the points of the building leader, and the points of each team.  Also, when a participant submit digital evidence and it is approved, the participant and principal are emailed their approval with the digital evidence.  Eventually I would love to tweet these or have a newsletter with the ideas to have it be even more social.

Please note: the conversations we have with teachers are  growth mindset oriented.  We know that things will not work all the time. That is OK.  The more we can model this at a social level – the better! Also, the book highlights to engage your opinion leaders to help with social motivation.  Opinion leaders are not always the lead innovators.  The idea of this program is based on meeting the skill of each individual participant. We want all to have a great learning experience!

Social Ability. The final badge – Inspire –  encourages sharing.  Through blogging, presentations, staff sessions –  participants can share what they have learned.  At some point, I hope to have more staff lead sessions within this program.  (time is an issue)  It is incredibly powerful to have educators model their learning in front of their peers.

Structural Motivation.   Dan Pink is the master of motivation and has shared that true motivation goes beyond carrots and sticks. (reward and punishment) Instead, what people want is purpose, mastery, and autonomy.  When PD does not have these 3 criteria are it tends to fail miserably.  No voice. No choice. One time sit and get. No follow up. No follow thru. No direction of what’s next.  In this program, rewards are given (through badging and points) by recognizing the behavior we want to see.  Show up – 1pt. Try it yourself 3pts. Integrate it in the classroom 5pts.  Share your results/learning with others (Inspire) 7pts.

Worth a watch – Dan Pink: Drive – the surprising truth of what motivates us. (10:47)

Structural Ability.  This is the area where system improvements could be made.  Right now, this program is voluntary.  The way it works, is I clear my calendar for the day and hangout in a building.  Teachers can drop in before/after school or during their preps/lunch.  If I only had more time – this could be so much better.   The other thing we have not done yet – is flip some of this learning.  That is something I DO have control of.  Finding the best way to do this is and have the time in developing is something I aim to do by the end of the year.  This would be a great way to model blended learning!

And a little more.  One benefit I did not see coming was establishing (or re-establishing) relationships with our staff.  Right now, much of the iPad playdates are lead by me and our continuous improvement coaches.  While sessions only last around 1/2 hour – 1 hour, I have had the opportunity to have great conversations with teachers. These conversations are leading to opportunities for me to learn/observe awesome things in the classroom.  Visibility, trust, and building relationships – also great influential qualities I aim to improve over the year!

Lets get crazy! Reflections from Kevin Honeycutt’s Keynote!

On the Wednesday of MEA weekend,  we were very fortunate, through our local collaborative – Zumbro Education District, to have Kevin Honeycutt (@kevinhoneycutt) come to SE MN and present to several school districts.  It has been a couple of days since that presentation, and I felt compelled to take some time to reflect on the day!

Honeycutt totally reaffirmed everything I believe in the potential of “school”.    Sometimes work in EDU can make things so cloudy, confusing.  Sometimes things that shouldn’t matter get in the way of things that should.  Sometimes things seem so complex, so unattainable, you even begin to doubt yourself.  It’s hard to put into words what the keynote provided me.  I needed it.  It helped me reconnect with My Why.  

 The notes, tweets (#zedrocks2015), pics (selfies) etc do not do this keynote justice.  Kevin shared many stories of how he inspired his students to rise above problems and challenges.   Stories where he was able to connect with students and engage them through use of authentic and relevant learning experiences.  His title”Tools and Tactics in the 21st Century” may have led one to think workshop was going to be about technology (unfortunately still  viewed as extra in many schools) but instead this was about students and learning and the endless opportunities we have to connect with them and inspire them!   And what was exciting? Our entire staff was there!  If anyone left that room – uninspired – they need to seriously have an edu “soul selfie” reality check.  I heard so much feedback from staff ready to put themselves “out there” for the sake of our kids. All kids.  The energy in the room was awesome. I was so engaged, hours seemed like minutes.

 I have been at the TIES conference (MN Tech Conference) with a small group of teachers through similar keynotes.  Simon Sinek, Sir Ken Robinson, Tony Wagner, Yong Zhao.  This was just as inspiring as all of those talks – with a couple of exceptions:

  1. These stories came directly from the classroom – Kevin’s classroom.  He shared stories of self perseverance and grit both personally, professionally as an educator.  Because of this, and his belief in ALL students, he made an incredible impact on kids… his students.   What he shared is obtainable.  Where there is a will, there is a way!
  2. Everyone (my teachers and administrators) was in the room! HOORAY!  Thanks ZED!

Take aways for me –

  1. We can’t afford to have “secret geniuses” in our classrooms. We have so much talent. So much talent that we can learn from right in the walls of our schools.  I sincerely believe, in every room, every teacher has talent they can bring to the table!  Yet some teachers are fearful of sharing.  Many times fearful of sharing with their own peers, their own teams. Many times the “crazy ones” (Kevin referred to – see video below) are left to quietly innovate in their classrooms.  Why? I honestly think it’s a mindset issue.  Instead of feeling threatened by the success of others – Shouldnt we be inspired to learn from one another?  And to the educators who feel they have no one to turn to, lets talk about helping you create your personal learning network (PLN).  There is a whole lot of crazies out there just waiting to support you and celebrate your work!  (Including this crazy  – @jenhegna

    Growth vs. Fixed Mindset

    Growth vs. Fixed Mindset Image Credit – http://carriekepple.com/2015/04/24/growth-mindset-vs-fixed-mindset-which-do-you-have/

  2. Administrators and Teachers need to spread (and be supported/encouraged) their messages and stories of what is working with kids. On top of that –  add the student voice to these successes and people will listen. We need to get our parents talking, our communities talking  because  politicians don’t get it and because they are policy makers they drastically need to be educated! Spreading these message of great teaching – has never been easier.  Within minutes – anyone of us can publish a story.   Anyone can start a movement!
  3. The last take away was “we need to bend to system to fit our kids, not bend kids to fit our system”.  There is a lot of depth  in that quote.  What are the passions and talents of our kids?  How can we connect those to curriculum?  There should not be a one shot one way of showing what kids know.  Our kids have incredible talents and passions (that we can hopefully cultivate to talents).  Let’s make learning real and relevant for them.  Killer App of the 21st century? Learning to Love to Learn!

 

 Are you ready to get a little crazy? 

 

Designing Agile Learning Spaces

Yesterday I attended an excellent  webinar called “Designing Agile Learning Spaces”  Presented by Bill Selak, Director of Technology and Ilsa Dohmen, CTE Research Designer and 6th Grade Science Teacher at Hillbrook School. While watching, I did a lot of reflecting around our new pk-2 building (Due Fall 2016), our current buildings/classrooms AND our district’s strategic plan.  There were  many resources provided  by the participants and audience that I am including in this post.  Side note –  I absolutely loved the action research this team did to measure success of these environments!
Webinar – Designing Agile Learning Spaces  (just enter name and email and you will have access) The webinar is an hour – and is very worth it.  Maybe one of the best I have seen in some time!
MLE Furniture

Photo credit – http://elearningclassroom.wikispaces.com

Technology in MLE

Photo Credit – http://elearningclassroom.wikispaces.com

One of the resources provided by the audience, I especially liked, was the Modern Learning Environment Matrix.    I  appreciate the guiding questions for each criteria in each phase.  Scroll to the very bottom and you some guiding questions for measuring the success of these environments including:
  • Ubiquity in Learning
  • Student Agency
  • Connectedness
Modern Learning Environments
Other links worth reviewing and provided in the webinar

Where are you and your district in your journey of designing modern classrooms/schools? Please share any resources you have found to be valuable!

These kids TODAY…

In the history of education, our kids TODAY have more opportunities than ever before to connect, learn, and co create new knowledge with other classrooms, organizations, and experts from around the globe.  Through these connections, our kids TODAY, have more opportunities to make an impact in this world and make it a better place for generations to come.

I see a shift in schools, from being solely “dispensers of knowledge” to, instead,  helping students learn how THEY can apply their learning in a real world context.  I see a shift in schools from focusing solely on test scores – to fostering and measuring the whole child.

In my mind, our challenge is “How do we “do school” efficiently to incorporate these shifts and effectively measure success?”  Its going to take a different school system than we have TODAY as we can not continue to add these new shifts to traditional paradigms.

There is never enough time! TODAY, we need to evaluate and challenge how we currently use our time in education. TODAY, we need to create new ways to evaluate and measure student success – beyond the test score.  And TODAY, we need leaders in our schools with a mindset to challenge these traditional paradigms to support and create a better, more efficient way to “do school” in order to support every learner.

Who is up for the challenge TODAY?

I will leave you with this quote – tweeted last week by @justintarte that really hit home in my thinking…  I hope to use this blog in the weeks to come to share ideas of how we can challenge (and ACT upon) these paradigms.  Stay tuned!

Jefferson Quote

 

 

Observing Gamification

I recently was invited to an Advanced Health Classroom to observe a gamified lesson in action developed by teacher, Aaron Murray.  While I will not go full detail into what gamification is – I wanted to take some time and reflect on what I saw.

2014-09-22 08.34.37

1. Tasks were chunked and divided into beginner, intermediate, and advanced  type challenges. Students had to participate in all challenges.  As the student progressed, the challenges would become more difficult and would require more applied learning, decision making, and creativity.  In this lesson, I noticed every Blooms Taxonomy level was represented.  At first, students would INDEPENDENTLY Define, List, Search for info on key vocab terms, related health, on their iPads.   I seen students demonstrating exercises and stretches that could prove beneficial to their health. I heard student give their opinions on what exercise is better than the other…and why.  The final challenge include the creation of a self reflective health video. (Hope I can get a sample to share!)  Students could determine how far they wanted to take the challenge and could decide to select an advanced challenge vs. a beginner challenge.  However, the greater the challenge, the more experience points  (XP) they would receive.

2. XP was collected and accumulated into levels.  This unit had 10 levels and students would receive certain incentives once they accomplished a level.  (Very clever – lowest level was a “limp noodle” and the reward was encouragement – while the mastery level was  “Super Saiyan” and the reward was leaving class a minute early on Mondays and Fridays.)

2. Once students believed they completed a challenge, they would verify with their teacher.  The teacher would provide them with a  badge based on their completion of that challenge or would provide them feedback on what they had to do to better complete the challenge.  This is KEY.  The teacher was able to have many many opportunities to provide personalized feedback to all of his students.

3. There was was numerous opportunities for STUDENT choice and voice. While each student had to go through every challenge, they had the opportunity to select how deep into the challenge they would go.  They received personalized feedback from their instructor on how well they did.  There was quite a bit of energy in this  classroom and I did not see students off task.  Some students working independently – others collaborating.

What a fun way to learn about health!

Whats your Status Quo of EDU?

One of my district’s vision statements is to “Create new norms in education that challenge the status quo”.  I thought it might be helpful to actually define some areas of the status quo that we should be challenging.  Here is my list:

Don't Change - Stay Put

Image credit – http://returnonfocus.com

  1.  Good tests scores = good schools
  2. Good test scores = prepared students
  3. Good grades = prepared students
  4. Report cards
  5. Grade levels
  6. Bells/schedules
  7. School calendar – Starts in September, ends in May/early June
  8. Teacher – center of instruction
  9. Learning = classroom seat time
  10. Learning = sit and get instruction
  11. Teacher designs/facilitates student learning experiences
  12. One teacher, one subject, one at a time
  13. Teacher learning = seat time
  14. College ready trumps career ready
  15. Technology is add-on, or breakout class
  16. Decisions are made top down
  17. School = Academics only
  18. What am I missing? Please share your ideas!!!