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Bo Adams

A Vision For Teacher Training At MIT: West Point Meets Bell Labs : NPR Ed : NPR - 0 views

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    HT @AKytle
Bo Adams

The Art of Getting Opponents to "We" - The New York Times - 0 views

  • Significantly, participants all came to align behind a single vision statement — and now they are actively communicating and advancing that vision nationwide through their organizations and networks. They host meetings with educational networks, superintendents, principals, teachers and philanthropists, reach out to libraries, museums and after-school programs, and identify and connect pioneers in learner-centered education.
  • Convergence staff and facilitators work to create a “safe space,” maintaining a strict neutrality and ensuring that everyone feels heard, says Fersh. It’s important that participants “feel they’re not in a place that’s already cooked or leaning toward any solutions.”
  • Convergence staff members look continually for opportunities to forge connections among participants. They begin meetings with “connecting” questions — for example: “When did you know that education was of great importance to you?” — that are designed to reveal people’s values and experiences, rather than highlight their disagreements. The objective is not to sweep differences under the rug, but to build rapport that a group needs to grapple effectively with its differences.
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  • Another key is to identify a frame that energizes everybody, but is not so broad that it is meaningless. “For us the gold standard is that the dialogue has to lead to action,” said Fersh. To do that, he said, there are intermediate goals: “Can you get people to the table and sustain their presence? Can you find agreements that are worth fighting for? And can you keep people together to keep working over time to make sure something happens?”
  • In the end, she said, people converged on the notion that they had to do far more than tinker around the edges of a broken system held over from a bygone industrial age. “There was a lot of conversation that the current system is ill designed to create 21st century outcomes for students,” said Young. “But there wasn’t alignment around what a new system could look like. People really wanted to be part of that conversation.”
Jim Tiffin Jr

Let 'Em Out! The Many Benefits of Outdoor Play In Kindergarten | MindShift | KQED News - 0 views

  • With no explicit math or literacy taught until first grade, the Swiss have no set goals for kindergartners beyond a few measurements, like using scissors and writing one’s own name. They instead have chosen to focus on the social interaction and emotional well-being found in free play.
  • With many parents and educators overwhelmed by the amount of academics required for kindergartners — and the testing requirements at that age  — it’s no surprise that the forest kindergarten, and the passion for bringing more free play to young children during the school day, is catching on stateside.
  • “So much of what is going on and the kind of play they do, symbolic play, is really pre-reading,” Molomot said. “It’s a very important foundation for reading.
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  • Donnery notices that the gross motor skills of many of her kindergartners are underdeveloped, noting that usually means that fine motor skills are also lacking. “Developing those gross motor skills is just critical, can impact so much of later learning,” she said.
  • Scenes of rosy-faced children building forts in the snow are presented in sharp contrast to the academic (and mostly indoor) kindergarten in New Haven, Connecticut, where a normal day is packed full of orderly activities: morning meeting, readers’ workshop, writers’ workshop, a special activity (like art, gym, and music), lunch and recess, storytime, “choice” (a fancy word for play), math centers, then closing meeting.
    • Jim Tiffin Jr
       
      I would like to see this movie.
  • You’d be surprised at the importance of play.
  • lacking in the attention needed to learn, with more than 10 percent of the school population diagnosed with some kind of attention disorder.
  • occupational therapist Angela Hanscom opined in the Washington Post that there’s good reason our kids are so fidgety: more and more students come to class without having enough core strength and balance to hold their bodies still long enough to learn.
  • “In order for children to learn, they need to be able to pay attention. In order to pay attention, we need to let them move.”
    • Jim Tiffin Jr
       
      But this has to be more than just a wiggle stool or yoga ball... HMW get greater movement into Kindergarten? (and it need not just be in the Kindergarten classroom)
  • A recent study by psychologists at the University of Colorado shows an even stronger reason for free play: children who experienced more undirected free play showed signs of stronger executive function, a strong predictor of success in school. “The more time that children spent in less-structured activities,” wrote researchers, “the better their self-directed executive functioning.”
  • Reading and recess are important enough that we need to do both.
  • While this kind of adult-led movement is a far cry from the nearly unstructured free play of a forest kindergarten, it does serve the school’s purpose of high academic standards for their kindergartners, in hopes this prepares them for future academic success.
    • Jim Tiffin Jr
       
      Note that it says "hope"...
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    Article contrasting two different approaches to Kindergarten - one outdoor-based and one indoor-based. Full of links to the research regarding the claims made in the article. Additionally, more language around executive function, and its importance for students, is used.
Meghan Cureton

The Case Against Grades (##) - Alfie Kohn - 2 views

  • Collecting information doesn’t require tests, and sharing that information doesn’t require grades.  In fact, students would be a lot better off without either of these relics from a less enlightened age.
  • As I’ve reported elsewhere (Kohn, 1999a, 1999b, 1999c), when students from elementary school to college who are led to focus on grades are compared with those who aren’t, the results support three robust conclusions:
  • Grades tend to diminish students’ interest in whatever they’re learning.
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  • Grades create a preference for the easiest possible task.
  • Grades tend to reduce the quality of students’ thinking. 
  • For example, a grade-oriented environment is associated with increased levels of cheating (Anderman and Murdock, 2007), grades (whether or not accompanied by comments) promote a fear of failure even in high-achieving students (Pulfrey et al., 2011), and the elimination of grades (in favor of a pass/fail system) produces substantial benefits with no apparent disadvantages in medical school (White and Fantone, 2010).
  • Extrinsic motivation, which includes a desire to get better grades, is not only different from, but often undermines, intrinsic motivation, a desire to learn for its own sake (Kohn 1999a). 
  • Achievement:  Two educational psychologists pointed out that “an overemphasis on assessment can actually undermine the pursuit of excellence” (Maehr and Midgley, 1996, p. 7). 
  • There is certainly value in assessing the quality of learning and teaching, but that doesn’t mean it’s always necessary, or even possible, to measure those things — that is, to turn them into numbers.  Indeed, “measurable outcomes may be the least significant results of learning” (McNeil, 1986, p. xviii)
  • Once we’re compelled to focus only on what can be reduced to numbers, such as how many grammatical errors are present in a composition or how many mathematical algorithms have been committed to memory, thinking has been severely compromised.  And that is exactly what happens when we try to fit learning into a four- or five- or (heaven help us) 100-point scale.
  • Portfolios, for example, can be constructive if they replace grades rather than being used to yield them.  They offer a way to thoughtfully gather a variety of meaningful examples of learning for the students to review.  But what’s the point, “if instruction is dominated by worksheets so that every portfolio looks the same”? (Neill et al. 1995, p. 4).
  • It’s not enough to replace letters or numbers with labels (“exceeds expectations,” “meets expectations,” and so on).  If you’re sorting students into four or five piles, you’re still grading them.  Rubrics typically include numbers as well as labels, which is only one of several reasons they merit our skepticism (Wilson, 2006; Kohn, 2006).
  • It’s not enough to disseminate grades more efficiently — for example, by posting them on-line.  There is a growing technology, as the late Gerald Bracey once remarked, “that permits us to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn’t be doing at all” (quoted in Mathews, 2006).  In fact, posting grades on-line is a significant step backward because it enhances the salience of those grades and therefore their destructive effects on learning.
  • It’s not enough to add narrative reports.  “When comments and grades coexist, the comments are written to justify the grade” (Wilson, 2009, p. 60).  Teachers report that students, for their part, often just turn to the grade and ignore the comment, but “when there’s only a comment, they read it,”
  • It’s not enough to use “standards-based” grading.
  • Sometimes it’s only after grading has ended that we realize just how harmful it’s been.
  • To address one common fear, the graduates of grade-free high schools are indeed accepted by selective private colleges and large public universities — on the basis of narrative reports and detailed descriptions of the curriculum (as well as recommendations, essays, and interviews), which collectively offer a fuller picture of the applicant than does a grade-point average.  Moreover, these schools point out that their students are often more motivated and proficient learners, thus better prepared for college, than their counterparts at traditional schools who have been preoccupied with grades.
  • Even when administrators aren’t ready to abandon traditional report cards, individual teachers can help to rescue learning in their own classrooms with a two-pronged strategy to “neuter grades,” as one teacher described it.  First, they can stop putting letter or number grades on individual assignments and instead offer only qualitative feedback.
  • Second, although teachers may be required to submit a final grade, there’s no requirement for them to decide unilaterally what that grade will be.  Thus, students can be invited to participate in that process either as a negotiation (such that the teacher has the final say) or by simply permitting students to grade themselves.
  • Without grades, “I think my relationships with students are better,” Drier says.  “Their writing improves more quickly and the things they learn stay with them longer.
  • Drier’s final grades are based on students’ written self-assessments, which, in turn, are based on their review of items in their portfolios. 
  • A key element of authentic assessment for these and other teachers is the opportunity for students to help design the assessment and reflect on its purposes — individually and as a class. 
  • Grades don’t prepare children for the “real world” — unless one has in mind a world where interest in learning and quality of thinking are unimportant.  Nor are grades a necessary part of schooling, any more than paddling or taking extended dictation could be described that way.  Still, it takes courage to do right by kids in an era when the quantitative matters more than the qualitative, when meeting (someone else’s) standards counts for more than exploring ideas, and when anything “rigorous” is automatically assumed to be valuable.  We have to be willing to challenge the conventional wisdom, which in this case means asking not how to improve grades but how to jettison them once and for all.
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    HT @tedwards
T.J. Edwards

Meeting Students Where They Are At-Literally And Metaphorically | GOOD - 1 views

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    XQ Rise schools. rethinking High School
Bo Adams

Meet the school with no classes, no classrooms and no curriculum - 0 views

  • their entire approach is centred around projects. This is a school focused on learning, not teaching.
  • Our teachers work five days, four days with kids, and on the fifth day I don’t allow them to work with kids, they have to observe other teachers and give them feedback.
  • And if they do that enough I say ‘get out of the school’, go to a museum, go to a laboratory, go to a business and tell us what you found there.
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  • Well if you look at the skills employers constantly cry out for: empathy, communication, teamwork, agility, flexibility, and the ability to design and make solutions to multidisciplinary problems
  • chief among their soft skills is a sense of confidence in their abilities to tackle problems and communicate with adults and each other.
T.J. Edwards

How Engineering Class in 9th Grade Can Excite Diverse Learners | MindShift | KQED News - 0 views

  • Engineering has been getting a lot of attention because of its real-world applications and clear job prospects, but learning to think like an engineer could be useful no matter what students decide to pursue for work
    • T.J. Edwards
       
      Not making engineers....learning to think like
  • all ninth-graders
    • T.J. Edwards
       
      What if Ted was required for all?
  • I felt like I didn’t know how to make enough stuff,”
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  • Pilla worked as a mechanical engineer at Lockheed Martin before switching to teaching. “I didn’t have enough experience working on and planning out a really big project,”
  • That’s what he tries to give his students in high school.
  • When students newer to making come in excited to take on a project, the old hands help them get up to speed on the skills. And a lot of those projects are about improving the school itself.
  • Tiarra Bell, a senior at SLA Center City. Design drew her into engineering. She experimented with architecture and industrial design, but has really become passionate about furniture design. She now makes and sells her own furniture.
  • Kamal and Pilla meet with an advisory group of engineering industry professionals periodically to make sure their program is truly equipping students with the skills they’ll need to go into these fields later
  • The experts say students need to be able to write, to find problems, to communicate, to Google, to understand constraints. They need to be creative, take thoughtful risks and have a “fearlessness to leap.
  • robotics, senior engineering, astronomy and space sciences, MakerSpace, electronics and programming)
    • T.J. Edwards
       
      Seems like a lot. Too many choices?
  • To me it’s not about becoming an engineer in college or after. It’s about the critical thinking and the challenges and the creativity that comes with it,”
T.J. Edwards

Why we should bring back vocational training | MNN - Mother Nature Network - 0 views

  • College isn't for everyone.
  • That's 59 out of 100 students whose high school program (or life situations) didn't prepare them for the type of work they'll be doing for the rest of their lives
  • The demise of vocational education at the high school level has bred a skills shortage in manufacturing today, and with it a wealth of career opportunities for both under-employed college grads and high school students looking for direct pathways to interesting, lucrative careers."
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  • Because my high school offered auto mechanics as part of a region-wide vocational program, I thought I could add that onto my course load with some careful maneuvering of classes. The problem was, I was a strong student academically. And the part of New York where I'm from, like many other places, separated students into academic versus vocational training tracks — and never the twain shall meet
  • just because someone studies to be a car mechanic doesn't mean they won't love Shakespeare or calculus is just as silly as assuming that someone headed to college doesn't need to know how to fix a car.
  • but I never really "use" trigonometry either
  • vocational programs for everyone would allow academically oriented kids to find new hobbies or new ways to solve problems, and would also destigmatize the jobs that they're connected to — which are necessary, interesting and challenging. There's more than one path to success
Meghan Cureton

Educational Leadership:Science in the Spotlight:How Do You Change School Culture? - 0 views

  • Cultural change, although challenging and time-consuming, is not only possible but necessary
  • First, define what you will not change
  • Second, recognize the importance of actions.
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  • Staff members are not seduced by a leader's claim of “collaborative culture” when every meeting is a series of lectures, announcements, and warnings.
  • Third, use the right change tools for your school or district.
  • Fourth, be willing to do the “scut work.”
Bo Adams

Purpose Based Learning (a #FailUp moment) | Planting T's - 0 views

  • So what is the big #failup moment? Well…perhaps product is more important than teachers tend to let on?
  • Reflecting back, I am more and more convinced that product and process are equally important. p[-[ I don’t mean to devalue the process by any means. That is where the learning happens. But the product – the thing – the solution – is why the learning happens
  • Last semester I had quite a different “engagement curve” with my T.E.D. class major project. In meeting Alex and 3D printing a prosthetic hand, my class and I made noticeable shift from working on a project to working for a purpose
T.J. Edwards

Here's Why Coding Is Much More Creative Than You Think - 0 views

  • The directions for learning Processing are all written in a way that people who've never coded before can still understand, and there are simple examples to guide beginners through the process
  • Processing's flexibility makes it more appealing to students just starting to code, and computer science programs across the country are combining art and programming to meet this creative coding niche need.
  • "Taking it broadly, you could see Processing as a gateway into learning programming proper,"
Bo Adams

One Small Step…in Time - 0 views

  • High Tech founding principal Larry Rosenstock realised if he wanted a more collaborative  project-based pedagogy across the school in line with their beliefs about learning, then he would have to make time for his teachers to work together.
  • He also knew that after school, at the end of a long day is never a good time, so he rescheduled his school day …and school year to provide his teachers with time to meet in teams for at least one hour for planning and staff development every day before school
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    How can we expect teachers to innovate and create new and exciting learning experiences for their students if they are expected to do so within the constraints of traditional or legacy learning architecture?
Meghan Cureton

A More Complete Picture of Student Learning | Edutopia - 0 views

  • I’m really excited to see that educators are clear about the use of formative and summative assessment.
  • At the same time, by naming assessments, we may be falling into a trap of being too rigid.
  • Our current assessments are geared toward reporting on mastery—often what the grade measures—rather than learning. But we could create assessments that value the learning along the way. Such a system would record not just quizzes, tests, written work, and presentations, but also exit tickets, and even conversations between student and teacher.
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  • Instead of being rigid, we should be able to change the purpose and use of an assessment in order to meet the needs of our students.
  • It’s important to remember that assessments and their purpose can change.
  • student learning as a photo album or a body of evidence rather than as one or the other of two things, either formative or summative.
  • Assessment should be more like a photo album, capturing many moments of learning.
  • A photo album is celebratory and powerful, and assessment should be the same.
  • As the teachers I work with plan units, I encourage them to not be tied down to rigid structures of assessment.
  • Consider the idea of a body of evidence. When we focus on a body of evidence, we don’t have to limit ourselves to a set number of assessments.
  • So students might have different numbers of assessments.
  • Here are some questions to reflect upon as we consider this approach to assessment:How can students generate their own assessment tasks? Where can I be flexible in using assessments to report on student learning? Can I use a variety of types of assessment to create an album of student learning? Can I rely on a body of evidence rather than a set number of assessments? How can I report on the most current data of my students? How should I communicate this approach to parents and students?
Bo Adams

Why Students Should Take the Lead in Parent-Teacher Conferences | MindShift | KQED News - 1 views

  • at schools built on Deeper Learning principles, the meetings are often turned into student-led conferences, with students presenting their schoolwork, while their teachers, having helped them prepare, sit across the table, or even off to the side
  • students are responsible for their own success.
  • this is the student’s moment to share his or her reflections on achievements and challenges
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  • encourages students to reflect on the connection between the effort they have made and the quality of their work
  • asks them to choose three examples that help them tell their parents a deeper story: one that shows they have recognized both a personal strength and an area in which they are struggling
  •  
    HT Emily Trenney
Meghan Cureton

How to Design a School That Prioritizes Kindness and Caring | MindShift | KQED News - 1 views

  • You can’t just snap your fingers, and show a video, and it’s done,” she said. Rather, the school needed to adopt a philosophy of kindness that was “infused and woven through
  • initiatives had to seem to come from within, organically
  • They also do a “mix-it-up” exercise, borrowed from Borba’s book, that moves students around in advisory groups to blend grade levels. And to get teacher buy-in, select students attend occasional faculty meetings to share what excites them about their project and how their classmates are responding.
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  • Simple changes can have an outsized effect. Knowing the names of all the students in school, being generous with “hellos,” and encouraging teachers to greet every student by name in class, for example, are low-burden but powerful exercises,
  • “kindness strategies” are short and focused, rooted in relationships, carried out repeatedly, and related to actual events in school,
  • Two of the most fruitful exercises Carrollwood Day embraced, both borrowed from the Harvard project, were “Circle of Concern” and “Relationship Mapping.”
Bo Adams

The Monthly Recharge - Risk Over Safety - 0 views

  • The learning classroom is active, collaborative, and full of real, thoughtful, academic-discipline-informed discussion with students working together to solve challenging problems
  • But when the teachers see it, really get it, there is no going back. It is what they are after for their students and classes: problem-based, project-based, inquiry-based, discussion-based-all student-centered deep learning.
  • And to pursue learning for their students, teachers must be pedagogical scientists. Every day, in every class, teachers must conduct research and experiments into the most compelling learning experiences for their students. In these experiments is unavoidably innovation.
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  • We can support teacherly innovation/experimentation a host of ways: Establish it as an expectation in posts for jobs and at the time of hiring new teachers. Discuss it in teacher evaluations and self-assessments. Feature examples of it in faculty meetings. Provide innovation grants for summer design work. Give time to teachers (through course loads, class enrollments, course reductions, and even sabbaticals) for innovation work.
Meghan Cureton

3 Ways to Unlock the Wisdom of Colleagues | Edutopia - 0 views

  • when teachers have regular, structured opportunities to learn together, good ideas are more likely to travel from one classroom to the next.
  • Collaboration takes time and planning. If classroom observation becomes part of a school’s strategy, administrators have to make time during the regular school day for shared professional learning among the staff. School leaders should also have to have clear objectives for the program of observation, and protocols to keep discussion on track and to ensure that the time isn’t wasted.
  • A spirit of continuous learning permeates the school, which encourages all teachers
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  • “Sometimes the best things going on are happening in your own building, and you might miss them because you’re doing your own thing,”
  • teachers meet regularly outside of class time to examine their students’ coursework as a team.
  • “The reason we look at student work is to help teachers become better teachers,”
  • “are better able to guide and facilitate a deeper level of student learning.”
  • community of learners who use planned, peer-to-peer feedback to help raise student outcomes throughout the school.
  • Each three-hour teacher lab focuses on a specific instructional topic that teachers choose to explore together, such as student engagement strategies.
  • To encourage more teacher collaboration in your school, you’ll want to consider: Time: Where will you find time within the regular school day for teachers to step outside their own classrooms and learn together? Structure: How might a protocol or specific observation prompt help to focus the learning experience? Who will play a lead role in facilitating the teacher experience and encouraging reflection? How will you capture takeaways? The National School Reform Faculty publishes a number of protocols for professional learning, such as this one for looking at student work. Follow-up: How are teachers applying what they learn together? How do students benefit as a result of teacher collaboration?
Meghan Cureton

Six Fixes for Proficiency-Based Learning « Competency Works - 0 views

  • Proficiency-based learning, at its core, is about redesigning the learning and teaching system of America. Instead of basing learning on how much time a student spends, it bases learning on what students can demonstrate—exactly the same as every other system students will encounter in the world outside of school.
  • In addition, schools should continue to share information pertaining to course grades and start to share information regarding student attainment of specific standards, including course-crossing skills such as problem solving, creativity, and analysis. While we would recommend that the course grades continue to use A-F or 0-100 scales, shifting to a 1-4 scale on the standards probably provides better insight for everyone involved. In this way, parents, students, and educators will know how students are doing within the structures of a class and how students are doing in regard to specific standards. This both/and approach will provide more information that can then be used to promote better learning.
  • Keep cohorts of kids together as they progress through their learning. Teachers can vary the learning strategies for various cohorts of students, supporting some students to dig deeper into various standards while others realize initial achievement—and then bringing everyone back together again to start the next unit of learning. Further, as research on learning has demonstrated, learning is a social endeavor, not meant to be undertaken alone. A cohort model supports this research.
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  • Hold students accountable to key and important standards, designating a small handful of “graduation standards” while using the other standards in the Common Core or various state standards to develop curriculum, guide instruction, and build classroom assessments. This strategy focuses learning on key and endurable concepts, skills, and themes; ensures that instructional support is targeted at the most important learning; and pushes students to think about and analyze ideas deeply rather than memorize an unwieldly number of discrete facts.
  • Educators need to clearly define top levels of performance and provide explicit expectations and opportunities for students to achieve these levels of learning. While we should not expect students to “exceed” standards in all cases, educators should require students to do so in areas of particular interest and aptitude for students.
  • Schools must establish both incentives and consequences for critical work habits such as time management and meeting deadlines. Rather than ignore these, they must teach, model, assess, and report them separately and eliminate the practice of controlling behavior by reducing grades. We have seen numerous effective strategies where late work requires coming in after school, not attending co-curricular activities, or mandatory guided study halls, to name a few examples.
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