Saturday, December 24, 2011
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Friday, December 16, 2011
Friday, December 2, 2011
Sunday, November 27, 2011
What School Leaders Need to Know About Digital Technologies and Social Media-
THE CLIFF NOTES
First, I want to thank Chris Lehmann and Scott McLeod. They are two wonderful leaders in changing the momentum when it comes to school leaders and their learning. There book, "What School Leaders Need to Know about Digital Technologies and Social Media" is a great effort to crowd source all of the areas of learning that school leaders need to be introduced to in order to be effective in preparing unique, creative students for the future. I truly believe that it should be required reading for every Missouri principal attending the spring conference in March.
I've worked hard to stay informed about a lot of the topics in the book, so I needed to dig a bit harder to leave with new tools and knowledge from this text. The remainder of this post is my effort to synthesize this book into digestible chunks for those looking for new tools and ideas for this schools.
"Today's information landscape requires a wide and exciting range of skills involved in exposing the value of the information we encounter, employing the information by working the numbers that define it, expressing ideas compellingly to produce messages that compete for attention, and habitually considering the ethical implications of our use of information."
Chapter 1- Blogs...
"One of the great educational benefits of the read/write web, and blogging particularly, is the opportunity for the student to become a 'teacher' by presenting material to an audience. When we teach, we learn."
As schools try to truly think about their acceptable use policies, they should begin with learning in mind, not policing the Internet.
Bud the Teacher provides sample AUPs
David Warlick's AUP options.
"Podcasts and webinars offer opportunities for educators to shift the time and place of their learning, listening to, and reflecting on ideas to the schedule and location most convenient for them."
-For Digital citizens, attribution is still the right thing to do.
“Following are three issues that should be addressed as part of a mobile safety lesson: digital footprints,;public record; and sexting, bullying, and other inappropriate uses.”
Students can use www.mapmyrun.com in physical education to keep track of their time and distance for bikes, hikes, and runs.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Friday, November 18, 2011
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
I'd rather be in the wall on a set play 18 meters from goal and get drilled by the ball or get drilled by a 90 mph fastball off the batting helmet than get drilled at the dentist. I have a true wizard for a dentist. She is smart, gentle, thorough, and tells it like it is, but none of this matters when you lying in the chair for two hours. There is anxiety, pain, and need for lots of pain medication and nitrous oxide.
Monday, October 31, 2011
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Friday, October 28, 2011
Friday, October 14, 2011
In today’s educational landscape, an open teaching position in the St. Louis area often produces upwards of one hundred applicants. Thus, the importance of effective hiring is magnified. I remember reading about “getting the right people on the bus” from Jim Collins’s book Good to Great, and my teaching and graduate school experience has served to strengthen my belief that having the right people in our schools makes everyone’s job much easier and is better for our students. With this point established, how does a school leader hire the right person from a stack of resumes that approaches the thickness of a ream of paper?
Effective hiring starts with a purposefully developed application process. School leaders should meticulously examine each aspect of this process and make sure that it accurately reflects the values and needs of the school and its students. The process should not only include penetrating questions that give the school leader a picture of the applicant’s teaching practice, but also give the applicant a chance to actually put that practice into action. To give a clearer picture of what this process should look like, let’s use data-driven instruction as an example.
In a pool of one hundred applicants, a majority of candidates would probably be able to say that data should be used to drive instruction. But what does this actually mean to the candidate? We as school leaders have to go deeper.
The applicant should be able to give concrete examples of how he/she used data to improve outcomes in previous experience. The applicant’s resume should show concrete examples of the teacher using and producing results from data-driven instruction. The resume should also show quantifiable achievements and should showcase the candidate’s abilities as a teacher, collaborator, and leader. For example, the statement “taught math” on a resume could be enhanced to “planned and delivered instruction in 7th grade math” and “led students to at least 5% improvement each year on the 7th grade mathematics MAP test.” Statements like these help to differentiate the applicant’s resume. The school leader at this point has probably significantly narrowed the number of applicant choices, but more work still needs to be done.
The leader should have the applicant show a tracking system that he/she has used and demonstrate specific examples of how the data is used to increase student achievement. However, the school leader could go even farther.The applicant could teach a model lesson, and the school leader could critique and evaluate it through the lens of data-driven instruction, as well as other characteristics of an effective teacher.
Another challenge that a school leader faces in the hiring process is how to learn the intangibles about people. This skill can be harder to master than other parts of assessing a candidate. Part of the solution is dependent on the school leader’s intuition, but the hiring process can be crafted to help bring out these intangibles in candidates.
The Harvard Business Review suggests the following three steps in hiring to assess intangibles:
1) Determine which intangibles you want and are most important for success in the open position.
2) Craft targeted questions that reveal a candidate’s personality traits.
3) Distinguish real from rote by assessing signals consciously and unconsciously given by the candidate.
Steps like these help shine the light on applicants who go beyond saying the right things and actually put them into practice for the benefit of students and screen out applicants who simply know the right things to say. While no hiring process perfectly guarantees the best hire, purposeful development of a process with a focus on student achievement can go a long way in this direction. And in the end, our students are the people for whom we as educators work.
Friday, October 7, 2011
Sunday, September 25, 2011
Cooperative learning, brain research and teens
Are you a 21st century educator?
For our Dog Club friends, and other lovers of dogs/
A great National Geographic Story about teenage brains
I'm struggling with the need for more or different standards, but we should approach our work with common core with all of the ammunition.
Friday, September 16, 2011
The Guitar Player Movie from The Guitar Player on Vimeo.
Sunday, September 11, 2011
A BLOG WORTH READING.. I really have enjoyed Josh's work. It was great to first learn from him, then talk to him, then meet him last summer, but now I'm finally sharing him. The professional relationship paradigm is so different these days. I'm not sure that I'm lock step in his camp on homework, but he has some great thoughts, and this is a great blog to follow.
100 Teacher Video Sites: Love that they are by subject Need Education Apps....here's a great list.
Here are a couple of great sponge sites for vocabulary. HERE and HERE
This is a must read to keep our arms around the varied opinions on technology in the classroom. Can we answer WHY technology integration is a big part of education?
Thursday, September 8, 2011
Monday, September 5, 2011
Friday, September 2, 2011
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Systems Thinking training looks at a number of areas, the first being the habits of a systems thinker. These thirteen habits really tapped into the ideas of critical thinking, deep learning, and bringing a larger perspective to the daily learning of students. Some of the habits of the systems thinker include: observes how elements within systems change over time, generating patterns and trends, changes perspectives to increase understanding, and considers both short and long-term consequences of actions. Taking these ideas to my staff as essential areas of growth for our kids seems like an appropriate first step for bringing this training to life for my staff.
The training also examined a number of structures that promote individuals being able to bring sense to complex situations, and in a world of global interconnectedness, it is so important that work in systems in an essential part of our students' lives. We talked about looking at Behavior Over Time Graphs which examine patterns and behavior, and we examined the Ladder of Inference that allows us to see that our beliefs and perceptions impact our action.
We spent time looking at the Iceberg Model, which allows us to use events, structures, and behaviors to dig deeply into the mental models that we hold. Another essential structure was the Causal Loop Diagram which provided a way of looking at reinforcing and balancing loops. Ultimately, these loops were broadened to look at the archetypes that emerge from these loop patterns. It was definitely a new lens to view so much through.
A couple of other structures that we examined were Stock Flow Diagrams and Connection Circles, both ways for kids to tell the narrative of science and social studies. We also looked at a number of ways to use the structures to examine literature in a rational way. It is good to step away to grow, and I'm ready to have some fruitful conversations with my teachers about using these items in their classrooms, but it will take some time for me to lead using these structures. I think that I will find myself reflecting using these tools, but to use these structures as a way to grow the capacity of my staff may take a bit longer.
It would be great to connect with some school leaders using these structures in their daily leadership efforts.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Friday, August 19, 2011
Don't forget that you can make each of your kids matter...
If you are looking for team or class ideas that extend off of our two-hour movie project, here is one that students could do in the neighborhood or over the course of the a semester.
Looking for ways to have an easy student response system....no clickers needed. Try this.
The annual PDK survey about schools is out. They do a great job looking at schools from a variety of angle, good make for a great conversation starter for students too.
Nick Sauers does a great job with his blog on 1:1 schools. This post contains some ideas for teaching students a variety of ways for their voice to be heard in the classroom and beyond.
Monday, August 15, 2011
This is the easiest access to resources from multiple federal agencies. Unlike the actual federal department sites, this one is arranged by subject area and topic making search features much easier. Take a look at the animated science demonstrations. I didn't dig in here long enough to be sure they are your GLE topics, but it looks promising.
Thinkfinity: This is a collection of interactive demonstrations for students. You can search by content area and level. I left up the link to National Geographic's Living Landscapes lesson as it might complement your geography unit and give students tools they can use if they want to investigate further. The Read, Write, Think Section of this website has powerful interactive tools for teaching reading and writing skills.
Thinkquest is a project based learning competition where students design educational websites. From the link below, you can view winning projects or get info on the competition. As we discuss authentic work and project based learning, I'm hopeful that the projects represented on this site will get us thinking.
This is a site from the national institute of health. There is lots to link to our sustainability efforts. Of note are the computer based interactive resources for students as well as the career finder tool that allows students to match their interests to careers in science.
This math forum site has lots of free resources including online math puzzles and problem of the week. Students can ask "Dr. Math" their math questions. I thought this might serve as an outside expert as kids think about authentic work.
Here are free sheet music sites, for historical connections. The final site has multimedia resources to explore musical genre.
Friday, August 5, 2011
The new map has features on it that no map has ever had. The new map is education with the technology of the future fused to the core. The new map allows schools to rewrite the definition of success. The new map has answers to the questions that have plagued us for ages.
Does anyone want the new map? It is THE way forward. Can you truly LEAD without it?
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Monday, August 1, 2011
The K-12 education landscape is currently undergoing rapid change throughout the United States. Change as we see it today has taken many forms, and the urgency of the situation in our education system is increased by the fact that American schoolchildren’s academic underperformance as compared to students in many other nations. With this context in mind, the challenge for today’s school leader is to effect systemic change (being an agitator) while also valuing stakeholders who are working in the system (being compassionate). While I am only starting to explore the education landscape through the
lens of a possible future school leader, my teaching experience has given me insight into this issue.
As a 2005 Teach For America – St. Louis corps member, I am well-acquainted with educational change. Teach For America continues to grow as it works toward its mission of eliminating the achievement gap, but the organization also draws some criticism. I came face to face with many of these criticisms early in my experience as a high school math teacher. Did I have what it takes to successfully teach my students after not studying secondary education as an undergraduate? Did I truly care about the school and the students, or was I going to leave the system as quickly as I could and just use the experience as a resume builder? These questions were legitimate, but I provided answers to these questions over the next six years, by teaching, learning, collaborating, coaching, tutoring, serving, laughing/crying with students, and doing seemingly everything in between. I won the respect of colleagues by simply putting in a hard, honest day’s work and by caring for the students, day in and day out. In addition, my students answered the call by working diligently and consistently posting high academic achievement.
What lessons does my experience hold for school leaders about being a compassionate agitator? First, we must set high expectations for ourselves and for our colleagues, and we must set an example by working honestly and purposefully to achieve those expectations. Second, we must show that we respect and care for our colleagues by trusting them and collaborating with them in achieving goals, not just in their classrooms,but in the school and in the larger context in which the school exists. If we as leaders set the example by practicing these two ideas, we can build a system in which educators join together and successfully effect the change that we all desire: increased academic achievement by our nation’s students.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
There isn't enough passion in education. I have been reminded of this over and over this summer. From the book, Passion Driven Classroom to the Guidelines for Passion-Based Learning to my leadership development with Peter Senge at Camp Snowball, it became clear that the idea of passion has slowly been sucked out of the joy of learning. How do we bring it back? Why do we need to bring it back? Those are two of the questions that I hope to explore in the time that I have with my staff in a few weeks.
At times, people associate the terms passion and mission, and I think that it is true that the concepts of passion, mission, and vision are wrapped into a necessary dance for a successful learning environment. The idea that teachers and students can't wait to arrive at school each day to grow in their understanding is an essential aspect of a healthy school. In June, as a staff, we talked at length about the overarching enduring understanding and essential questions that naturally emerge from our expeditionary learning and our curriculum convenant. An exciting document emerged that I believe can be the compass for our work for many years to come. This document, currently in draft form, waiting for feedback from teachers, students, and parents, explains our dedication to growing in a deep way about the concepts of stewardship and responsibility, perspective and change, and collaboration and community. Rarely does a school have a clear way forward that goes beyond test scores or chasing an old definition of success, but I believe that our depth in understanding our curriculum based on our work with D2L and our constant desire to grow and revise our work to maintain the curricular edge has unique placed us on a progressive road to greater success. During Camp Snowball (the Systems Thinking, Sustainability, and Leadership Capacity building conference in Tucson), Peter Senge and Michael Fullan continued to talk about having a shared vision in a school, but they emphasized that it isn't about what the vision is, but it is what the vision does.
The growth of MRH in the last decade was based on a model of curriculum reform that takes the long view to success. It looks at both building the culture and the program. Both areas of schools have to be strong and complement each other for success to be maintained over time. Reform in the area of culture has three essential areas: the compelling educational vision, a positive environment, and a desire for continuous improvement. Reform in the area of program also has three essential areas: personalized service, a curriculum covenant, and instructional best practices. Continuous work in these areas by the people in this room and people that have contributed and now left the district have left us with a foundation upon which the next decade of excellence can be built. This success can be seen in a number of measures including our discipline data, student achievement data, and more recently our results on the EXPLORE test. Our students now have every opportunity to learn everyday at a high level in a learning environment that truly promotes learning.
We should be passionate about the foundation that has been laid, and we should be passionate about the fact that we are doing the right things for kids. We should tell our students, parents, community, educational colleagues, and global collaborators about the incredibly healthy school that is making a difference for kids. I love telling our story. I passionately defend our work with expeditionary learning and technology integration, calling them difference makers and a true path forward to growing students in a way that is chasing a new definition of success in schools.
I also want to be passionate about the road forward. There is no time to put the car in neutral as too many schools plateau and becoming as Michael Fullan called them "cruising schools". We still have too many students that leave us without the skills, understanding, and spirit that they need to be successful after school. We still need to find ways to build systems that are nimble and can adjust quickly to needs of students as well as systems that are regenerative so that when one member leaves us the institutional knowledge and system capacity isn't lost.
As I looked to the next decade of growth, I first started with me as a leader, asking myself, "How can I grow as a leader so that my students and my school have the greatest chances for success. After serving as an assistant principal or principal for the last eleven years, I have decided that I must also find a new level in my leadership, and I again turned to the word passion. There have been times in my career, where the voice of fear has crept into my leadership. I feared not fitting in. I feared getting fired. I feared that taking a stand would result in more personal harm and good. This fear has led me to push some of my passion for kids and their success away, so that things would be peaceful. I truly believe that the next phase of my leadership has me leading from the power that comes from the heart, emotions, and feelings that drive the human experience. Schools can be peaceful places when the adults don't have their emotions for kids in the forefront, but they will never be places of excellence until we can bring our personal passions for education into a fostering community setting where people support each other on this deep level.
System Thinking uses an iceberg model to describe the idea that events and actions stem from deeper places that can't be seen from the surface. Our personal and organizational mental models truly drive our actions, and it is important that as a growing school culture that we take time to dig into our mental models about education, schooling, learning, opportunity, and community growth. When these things are on the table, we have new found opportunities to grow. Different folks talk about the levels in different ways; Systems Thinking talks about how events are caused by the structures that we have created which are shaped by our deep mental models about the situation. Simon Sinek in his TED talk
calls it the Golden Circle where healthy, passion-drive organizations work, dream and market their work first from the deep level of why they do the work, then how they do the work and finally to what the work is. This is similar to the systems thinking model, and we as an organization should work to make decision with the why at the forefront of all of our decisions.
As I looked at our programming through this lens, it started to help me organized why, how, and what we do for kids. At the heart of why we do our work is preparing students to be leaders, scholars, citizens, and stewards for our community and larger once they leave MRH high school. The how we go about developing these skills and understandings comes from a set of growing best practices that are at times school-wide, and at times they are specific to your subject and classroom. It is our job as a collective to grow and learn in these areas from each other. This year, I hope that we can place additional emphasize on five areas that appear to be ripe for leveraging our system forward. These are: producing excellent student work as discussed and demonstrated by Ron Berger and through our own projects and work, building classrooms with a greater sense of cooperative learning using the Kagan strategies with the support of our cooperative learning coaches, redesigning our grading practices so as to create a fair and accurate system that supports the learning of all students, infusing high levels of technology integration so that our 1:1 platform can be fully unleashed to allow for greater student learning, and generating daily learning target that can bring clarity for students to the question, "Have I been successful in this class today?"
Then there is the what we do. Our daily work with students to build trusting relationships that foster risk-taking, critical thinking, and empathy go a long way to achieving our goals. When we create engaging daily lesson that value the voice of students, it builds capacity and momentum for learning. When we have deep knowledge of our subject area, we can be magicians about how to get our students to proficiency in their understanding, and on a daily basis, we can promote high levels of academic study and support the behaviors that surround it. From our June meetings on PBIS, we left with the idea that we would like to focus on students being: prepared, engaged, reflective, able to persevere, and be academically driven.
With some additional conversation, we can continue to grow our common understandings of the why, how, and what, so that we can all begin to document our work in these areas. We have an opportunity to show our students, parents, and community that a successful and healthy school can and should defined beyond the test scores that arrive in August, but to do this, we have to provide an unprecedented level of transparency in our work. Through our technology grant, we were awarded four digital cameras for each team, an HD video camera for each team, and a set of iTouches for each team. This should provide the resources necessary to document our excellent work on a daily basis and through our lines of communication; e-mail, newsletter, YouTube, Twitter feed, Flickr, and Facebook, we should be able to reshape and reinforce the images of our building. This level of communication is necessary when you are a school doing things a bit different, not cruising and trying to redefine success and excellence.
As a team, it will be important for us to shape our goals for the year in the next few weeks. When we left the 2010-11 school year, we left with some broad areas to build goals (Building Student Mindset, Finding New Levels of Achievement, and Creating the best Possible Expeditionary Learning Program). These seem like good places to start our conversation in August and September. As always though, I hope that we can be Better Today Than Yesterday Last year, I asked if it was possible for each of us to find 5-10 people that do our job as well or better than us to collaborate with throughout the year. The idea was to build a professional learning network that spanned throughout the country. I'm not sure how many of you took that challenge, but for me, it has been personally rewarding to work with principals in Canada, Boston, Memphis, Springfield, MO and Australia. This is a still a great challenge that I hope that you would consider, and a challenge made easier by the learning network enhancer than comes through being on Twitter. My new challenge comes from Camp Snowball, where Michael Fullan discussed the need for educators that are truly passionate about not only changing their classroom and their school, but are interested in changing the face of the education system. He called for them to begin thinking about how their work can bring success to other classrooms and other schools besides their own. He believes that only through hoisting ourselves into the next circle or system above our current control can we be the change that so many of us desire, so how can your work aid the success of another teacher or school outside of MRH.
Being passionate about our work is the way to an enjoyable everyday. It is the way to make change in the lives of individual students, and being passionate means the opportunity to serve with joy, but being passionate most importantly means taking positive risks for kids. I encourage each of you to doing the things that you have always wanted to do in the classroom, don't save your ideas for a different day. Let's bring a wall of learning energy crashing down on our students, so they know that we care deeply about their future.
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Discipline in Modern Education by Lindsey Wright
Although we are well into the 21st century and have developed several alternative approaches for educating students, like holding classes at an online school instead of a brick-and-mortar campus, many teachers still rely on traditional discipline methods to keep control in the classroom. The majority of these techniques involve time-tested protocols such as giving warnings, keeping a child in from recess, keeping him or her after school, or sending the student to the principal’s office. In some cases teachers have blindly adhered to such practices without considering if there might be a better, more effective way to gain and keep control of the classroom.
However, there are other teachers who have been significantly troubled by what they see as the shortcomings of a time-honored tradition whose day has come and gone. Yet traditional discipline methods are still embraced in the majority of schools across the U.S. How can teachers begin to implement a more enlightened approach to discipline in the classroom?
Any experienced educator has long since learned that children in the classroom have a way of feeding off of a teacher’s energy. If the teacher is nervous, distracted, stressed, or angry, the students seem to have an innate ability to pick up on these negative emotions and find a way to exacerbate them. In order to avoid such a situation it's important for the teacher to remain calm and centered, particularly when taking disciplinary action. Meditation is an excellent way to achieve this, as it allows the teacher to find and develop peace and strength within. Students can also benefit from this quiet time, as studies have found that students have improved tests scores and better classroom discipline when they mediate.
Another key to enlightened discipline is getting to the root cause of the behavior. When utilizing this method, the teacher works closely with the student, and even the parents, to discover why a bad behavior is repeated. The goal is to then come up with a plan to address the issue so that it can be overcome. Once this happens classroom discipline will inevitably improve.
If none of the other approaches to seem to be effective, teachers can also try limiting classroom rules. Having some rules is always a good idea as they establish behavior standards that help students know what is expected. However, try to keep them brief and have as few as possible. Ultimately, it is through methods such as these that teachers can promote better discipline and develop more positive relationships with students.
Lindsey Wright, writes for OnlineSchools.org. She can be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
This is a super easy format.
Could our kids create something for TED....
Part of our work with the creation of excellent student work is the development of authentic audiences that can push the quality of the work. It would be incredible for students to submit and have something accepted for TED-ED
This is the preamble for The Earth Charter Initiative- Values and Principles for a Sustainable Future. I thought that is is a power text for kids to dissect to dig into the concept and importance of sustainability.
We stand at a critical moment in Earth's history, a time when humanity must choose its future. As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future at once holds great peril and great promise. To move forward we must recognize that in the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms we are one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny. We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace. Towards this end, it is imperative that we, the peoples of Earth, declare our responsibility to one another, to the greater community of life, and to future generations.
How to implement e-portfolios...
Incredible resource for teaching the Civil War
As we add more technology to our classrooms to create depth in learning and transparency in our work. Here are a couple of links:
I really enjoy the way that infographic communication information to the visual learning; would be interesting to see our kids create some really good ones.
Just like the Thinkfinity site, this seems to have some great lesson ideas that fit with our units.
Incredible collection of tutorial videos for teachers and kids to grow with 2.0 tools. Log in as a guest, and there are hundreds of videos to learn from. Assign videos to advanced learners to continue their growth.
iTunes App Store launches "Apps for Teachers" section
This seems like a nice set of learning games for kids from our friends at Brain Pop.
We need to continue to find space for kids to reflect on their work in meaningful ways. This is a great blog post with resources.
Teaching Tomorrow's Skills to Today's Students
Don't take the easy way out.... Great post from a great principal
What do you do when your students don't learn?
What are you going to do when you hit a problem you don't know how to solve? or, when you feel like giving up?
Please share a significant failure that you have experienced. What was it ... [and its effect on you]?
Describe a time when you had an effective interaction with a student. A time with a struggling student, what did you do to help?
If a parent/colleague/administrator walks into your room, what will they see/hear/smell? Why?
What is the most important thing to walk into a classroom with organization or imagination?
"Tell me what 'thinking' looks like in your classroom"
What do you enjoy most about listening to people?
What instructional practices and/or pedagogy will you use or implement in your classroom that will ensure student success?
What influences student success?
We often talk about educating our students to enter the global society. What would a learning environment look like/be to support this?
How do you plan to "lead" in your classroom, school, and district? Describe your professional learning goals and how you are currently addressing these?
How do you view professional development? How do you keep improving yourself? What is your students’ role in your classroom? How do you address different needs?
Tell me about a time you failed and what you learned from the experience.
How did you/will you integrate technology into curriculum?
Do you use social media for professional purposes, e.g. chats?
What is the role of technology in education? Give an example of how technology can be used to transform the learning environment?
How do you engage parents? 2. Do you believe that every student can learn?+
What have you learned this week and who are you learning with?
What will the classroom look like in 30 years? Will there even be teachers?
What were the last three books you read?
What is the purpose of education? Why should students come to school?"
What is your definition of an exemplary teacher? How will you support or realize this definition in your teaching?
What does it mean to be part of a team? How do you see yourself as part of a team?