Tuesday, December 16, 2014

#EdcampGift Recap 2014!

Happy Holidays, Edcampers!

Last week, we concluded the 10 Days of Edcamp as a way to celebrate Edcamp organizers, amazing Edcampers, and Edcamp events all over the globe.

It was a roaring success (mostly because Edcampers are #eduawesome), but here are some of the stats:

  • Over 1,300 tweets were added to the #edcampgift hashtag over the 10 day span
  • Our conversation appeared in people's Twitter feeds over 3 million times
  • Our tweets reached 820,777 people
  • Over 230 links and pictures were shared during the 10 days
Thanks to Remind, the following Edcamps will get a little extra boost for their planning next year:

  1. Edcamp PACS
  2. Edcamp Idaho
  3. Edcamp STL
  4. Edcamp Long Island
  5. Edcamp South Florida
  6. Edcamp SF Bay
  7. Edcamp Birmingham
  8. Edcamp Baltimore
  9. Edcamp Maryland
  10. Edcamp Fox Valley
Thank you for all you do to support the Edcamp movement. I am honored and blessed to collaborate with all of you each and every day. So, thanks.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A Piece in ISTE Lead the Way: Edcamps Are Redefining Professional Learning

I was honored when Diana Fingal asked to include Edcamps in the "ISTE Lead the Way" series. The piece, entitled "Edcamps Are Redefining Professional Learning" was a lot of fun to write.

Here's my favorite part:
From Portland to Pittsburgh, Seattle to Stockholm, Abu Dhabi to Atlanta, and in hundreds of towns and cities around the globe, authentic professional learning is energizing educators. Edcamps — participatory, teacher-driven professional learning events — are multiplying on a national and international scale, creating local and global communities of passionate educators.

You can read the entire article here.  

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

My Heart is Bursting #Edcamp

Amazing Image from Krissy Venosdale

As you know, this is the time of year to celebrate and give thanks. I live a very lucky life; my family, friends, and work inspire and invigorate me daily. However, today I want to write a post of thanks just for a special group of people in my life - EDCAMPERS.

Just weeks ago, we announced that Hadley Ferguson would be stepping into the role of Executive Director for the Edcamp Foundation.  Hadley is a good colleague and a great friend. Ever since we coauthored Unleashing Student Superpowers together, I have unending faith in her ability to make miracles happen.

As the days led up to the announcement, I became more and more nervous. Questions rattled around in my brain ceaselessly:

  • How will the announcement go?
  • Can we really do this?
  • What's going to happen?

But, in true Edcamp-style, the news was embraced and celebrated across the Edcamp community. I was moved to tears when I saw the Twitter feed that morning:

Five years of work from people all over the world have made Edcamp what it is. We all banded together, grabbed our post-its, took to our twitter feeds, and created a movement. This small idea has single handedly changed the way that hundreds of thousands of educators think about learning. That's powerful.

And we're only getting started.

We're about to embark on a new leg in our journey. We want to support you better, listen more, and gather more resources to create informal learning for educators, students, and parents.

Because Edcamp wouldn't be Edcamp without its Edcampers. And for that, I'm truly thankful.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Join #EdcampGift 2014!

Did you enjoy "The 12 Days of Edcamp" last year?
Well this year, it's back and better than ever.

Join the Edcamp Foundation for #EdcampGift 2014.
This year we're powered by Remind and ready to rock!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Only 1:3 Students Are Hopeful, Engaged, and Well - It's NOT Enough

As educators, we often wonder if we are reaching all of our students. We engage with them academically, ask them critical questions, and take interest in their personal lives.

But, are our efforts working?

Data from Gallup's State of America's Schools suggests we have a lot of work to do. A survey of over 600,000 students in grades 5-12 reveals that only 1 in 3 students have high levels of hopefulness, school engagement, and well being.

That means that 66% of our learners don't have what they need to succeed.

While it might be easy to point fingers at educators and say "care more" or "do more," I don't think it's that simple. Educators (specifically teachers) are some of the most caring people in the world. I can count on one hand the educators that I've met in my career who don't have kids' best interests at heart. We all really, really want this to get better.

But the data shows that our efforts aren't moving the needle. So, what exactly, is it about the system of SCHOOL that isn't meeting kids' needs? After checking out what's happening in hundreds of schools, here are the common themes I see:

1) "School-life" and real life are very far apart. 
Most schools don't look like the junior version of real life. Instead the systems look like "school," a distinctly unique beast all its own. Kids figure this out very early on (sometimes as early as 3rd or 4th grade) and it causes them to see school as less valuable than the rest of their life.

2) Our curriculum is not life worthy. 
How many things do you really remember and use from your K-12 education? (especially high school!) You probably remember some things, but there are likely many things that you've never used beyond high school. (That extensive unit I did on the French Revolution doesn't really help me in the day-to-day...) Despite the excitement and fervor we may bring to these curricular topics, it's hard to mask the lack of value that many topics exhibit. So-- let's change it. I love David Perkins' new book Future Wise as a guide for making this happen.

3) Our assessment systems often give kids the ability to opt-out.
The assessment is over, and a learner does poorly. What happens next? Too often, the answer is NOTHING. Kids are able to squeak by, pass, and move on. What if we kept learning and exploring until we truly reached mastery? What if every score was replaced by GOT IT and NOT YET on our assessments? How would that change the ways that kids feel about school and feel about our classes? I bet it would give kids the room they need to fail forward and truly innovate. (assuming the work is authentic, of course)

I'm certain that these large systemic changes won't happen overnight. However, the small decisions along the way start TODAY. What small choices will you make in your classroom right now to make schools more like the real world?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Evaluating the Media? Begin With Questions

November's issue of Educational Leadership focuses on talking and listening. As I believe that explicit teaching of speaking and listening (especially in digital spaces) is absolutely critical for today's learners, I was delighted that ASCD included one of my pieces in the edition about media evaluation.

Here's my favorite part of the article:
When hearing anyone speak through any medium in today's world, it's necessary to begin with questions, not confidence. The advent of digital networks and media sharing has enabled just about anyone to share his or her words online. And although this growing ability to connect and listen has enormous value for our students, it makes critical consumption of information more important than ever.

The entire text is available freely here. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Teaching Creativity

"Every child is an artist. 
The problem is how to remain an artist when we grow up." ~Pablo Picasso
Picasso by thewhoo, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License
   by  thewhoo 

Over time, the pressures of every day life lead many people to discard divergent thinking. It's common to awake every day seeking to embody competency, efficiency, and accuracy. Unfortunately, the problems facing our world will likely not be solved by using existing methods with greater speed. Instead, we'll need to build unknown solutions. Such creative solutions arise from, well, being creative.

You're not creative you say? We'll you're in luck.

Creativity is a discipline; it can be practiced. 

Brain science is beginning to show that intentional practice and routines can increase one's ability to devise unique solutions.

In her recent book called Sparking Student Creativity, Patti Drapeau does a great job of operationalizing creativity for both adults and kids. She cites four domains, inspired by the work of Paul Torrance, that we must emulate in our classrooms and in our lives to become more open to insight.

They are:

Fluency - The ability to generate MANY ideas.

Flexibility - The ability to change DIFFERENT KINDS of ideas.

Originality -  The ability to generate UNUSUAL ideas.

Elaboration - The ability to ADD DETAIL OR EXTEND ideas.

As educators, we must design learning experiences that allow students to practice the four domains of creativity. This can be as simple as changing a closed prompt into an open brainstorm, teaching students to use "yes and" language, or having students identify their most unusual idea instead of the most "correct" one.

I'm going to make a point of engaging in each one of these domains over the next week. By making this a part of my active learning process, I hope to become just a little more creative.

What do you do to spark creativity?


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