Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Carts Don't Cut It (and other findings from Linda Darling Hammond)

Broken Lock by lyudagreen, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  lyudagreen 

Every so often, I'm asked: CARTS or 1:1? And while we all agree that having technology in the classroom is a prerequisite for authentic work, it's less likely that we agree how it should look.

For me, I've always seen a cart of devices as something that is controlled by the teacher. The teacher determines when and how the devices are used. Commonly, there's a lock on the cart that the teacher has access to.

Imagine that - a lock on learning.

That's why carts don't cut it.

We live in a world with boundless access to content and people. Attempting to control learners is future. We must lead and learn alongside them. We must question and probe with them. We need to stop trying to remove the messiness that exists within the learning experience.

Further, new research is showing that access to a personal device creates better outcomes for kids. A report authored by Linda Darling Hammond, Molly Zielezinski, and Shelley Goldman cites that the most successful implementations and learning experiences required 1:1 access. 

Consider this quote from the report:
"When students were given 1:1 laptop access as well as access to the internet at schools, they made use of this opportunity at least several times a week, for purposes ranging from seeking background knowledge, facilitating 'just in time' learning, and supporting research projects. In addition to the work students were doing in math, the researchers noted that 1:1 laptop implementation increased students' likelihood to engage in the writing process, practice in-depth research skills, and develop multimedia skills through 'interpretation and production of knowledge.'
It's a new world, and the learners are in control. 1:1 computing supports learner empowerment and represents a preferential learning environment.

So, the jury isn't out anymore. When it comes to the question CARTS or 1:1, we should move towards 1:1 implementations.

It's well worth your time to check out the entire report by Linda Darling Hammond and her colleagues here.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Help Us Get Funding for #Edcamp in a Box

Teach to Lead, a program designed to empower educators, is off and running.

Of course, I am always excited when I see people kickoff programs designed to empower educators. One of the coolest elements of the program is a site where you can post your idea to empower educators and have others in the community vote on the idea. Ideas at the top will receive support from the USDOED. Cool, huh?

So, of course, there's a submission in there from the Edcamp Foundation: Edcamp in a Box.

Here's the general idea:

Please vote for us or submit your own idea! See you on the other side!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Why Sharing Your Good Work Is Necessary, Not Boastful

Megaphone man at the Metro 4 by Hazzat, on Flickr

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License
   by  Hazzat 

Just last week, I have having a conversation with two educators at a family picnic. They were a thoughtful pair, and they had a wonderful grasp of teaching and learning.

About halfway through the conversation, I asked them the following question:
"Have you ever considered your sharing your good work on Twitter or social media?"

I thought the question was relatively innocuous as both of them had checked Facebook or Instagram throughout our chat. However, their responses were really interesting. They both turned to me and said, "We don't do that." When probed, they explained that they felt that it was boastful to show your professional accomplishments on social media.

Their words caused me to stop and refelct. If we're not sharing the good things we're doing in our classrooms on social media (and beyond), I believe we're going to end up with a lot of misperceptions and confused educational stakeholders.

Enter the 2014 Gallup Poll.

The Gallup Poll is an annual tool that seeks to understand the general opinions and feelings of the public in the United States with regards to education. However, it also asks lots of questions that help us see the general confusion that exists about most educational policy in our nation. Some facts from the poll:

  • 48% of respondents incorrectly believe that charter schools are not public schools.
  • 50% of Americans give local schools grades of A or B, even though they believe that the national system is performing much worse.
  • Only 24% of public school parents have heard "a great deal" about the Common Core Standards.
I think it's clear that there is a lot of confusion out there, regardless of topic. I also believe that there are many competing voices from politicians, thought leaders, and others.

However, it's critical that we add our voices, the voices of educators, to the conversation. Whether you use social media or not, share your good work. Share the progress your learners are making. BRAG. If you don't do it, no one will!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

#EdcampOnline Is Back!

October is right around the corner....

And that means it's almost Connected Educator Month!

To help educators debrief and reflect on that learning, the Edcamp Foundation has teamed up with MIT Media Lab and the National Writing Project to offer the 2nd Annual #Edcamp Online.

The software, called "unhangouts," leverages Google Hangouts but adds special functionality so that we can truly simulate the Edcamp experience in an online space.

Mark your calendars for October 25, 2014 from 12:30pmEDT-2:30pmEDT and REGISTER HERE!

See you online!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Designing PD this year? 3 Things You Can't Afford to Forget

As the school year gets off to a running start, stressors are everywhere. Even things that delight us (Back to School Night, First Day of School, Fall Fun, etc, etc, etc), add extra things to our plates and change our routines.

How we cope with this stress often defines two things:

1) Who we are as people

2) The capacity we have to innovate personally and professionally

And while these two things may not seem related on the surface, every successful innovation usually relies on a set of connections and personal networks that inspire, push, and scale our craziest ideas.

So, if we plan to innovate this year, we need a lot more than good PD. We also need strategies for coping with stressors. Not only will this keep us all healthier, but it will also free us up to take risks in all aspects of our lives. Consider this chart published by NPR from the Harvard School of Public Health:

WOW! Social interactions are the most effective method of reducing stress! This study serves to remind us that designing social interactions around transformative change can serve to reduce the impact of the stressors surrounding the learning, risks, and innovation.

So, as we prepare to design learning experiences and implement change in our schools, what should we do?

1) Make sure that every learning experience has a social element. 
Don't just ask staff to read a book or journal article. Host an informal book club with casual conversation, snacks, and new faces. This will provide people with new ideas as well as increase their retention of the ideas. If a face-to-face meeting isn't possible, try VOXER to bridge the gap between learning and social conversation.

2) Acknowledge and value social connections that teachers make beyond your PD.
Are your teachers connecting with other educators at social events? conferences? Edcamps? If so, acknowledge this behavior as one that creates a well-rounded, productive learner. Share information about social meet-ups for teachers in your area and model this practice yourself.

3)  Explicitly share the purpose underlying your social designs.
Sometimes, educators will balk at social learning activities. (Why do we have to do this? Can't I just go back and work in my classroom? etc etc etc) Make it very clear to all the members of the learning community that social activities reduce stress and make us all better prepared to serve our students. I've never met an educator that said they didn't want to help kids. By explaining that taking better care of yourself makes you better able to help kids, you build a strong argument for your methods!

I'd love to hear what you're doing this year to navigate the stressors of change by using social design!


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Hack Your Notebook - #EdcampSFBay

Photos from #EdcampSFBay

#Edcamps are about HACKING professional development, and this Saturday's #EdcampSFBay was no different.

Organized by Karl Lindgren Streicher, Elana Leoni, and many other amazing educators, the day was designed to maximize the time actually sharing and learning. This type of hacking is growing and spreading to every corner of our great country, and it couldn't be more exciting.
Debating Social Media Use in Schools
For me, I spent the day exploring different ways to HACK MY NOTEBOOK. I'm a meticulous notetaker, and my note taking "weapon of choice" is Evernote. However, I've noticed that a screen can sometimes distance me from the conversations and relationships at my fingertips during work and PD.

So, I learned about 2 ways to write to learn instead of writing to remember. (If I need to remember, I can just pop the "record" feature on in my Evernote!)

My #EdcampSFBay Sketchnotes

In his session on sketchnotes, Moss Pike explained that visual thinking not only helps you synthesize what you experience but it also helps you share it. Citing inspiration like Brad Ovenell-Carter and Mike Rohde, he shared that drawing and sketching can be a part of the learning process.

Even if you don't consider yourself an artist, sketching the big ideas can help you synthesize relationships between conversations and ideas. It engages your whole mind, especially the visual and verbal parts.

And, sketchnoting isn't just for grown ups. It's great for kids as well. Put some paper out, cue up an interesting TED talk, and have kids practice visualizing the most important ideas, using specific details from the film.

Try it at your next faculty meeting. Or keynote. Or Edcamp. Or SOMETHING.

I'm planning to sketchnote at every meeting for at least one month. I'll let you know how it goes...


The National Writing Project has taken hacking your notebook to a new level. The expertise of Paul Oh and others forged a session on building circuits to light up your notebook (literally). As I played with conductive tape, LED stickers, and batteries, the time whizzed by. It felt so good to create something with my hands and to manipulate new, exciting materials.

Kids would LOVE this and it would teach them so much about the facets of literacy. How do words, lights, and materials combine to tell a compelling story?

Here's my first notebook light:

And, here's what's possible:

Interactive Light Painting: Pu Gong Ying Tu (Dandelion Painting) from Jie Qi on Vimeo.

What can you HACK in your classroom this week?

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Calling All #Edcamp Organizers - Join the #EdcampChallenge

Calling all Edcamp Organizers!

We want YOU to participate in the #EdcampChallenge !

This week, the Edcamp Foundation Partner Program had a great meeting. In the session, we wanted to put together a challenge that would allow Edcamp organizers from across the country support each other by sharing their best tips and tricks.

Here's how it works:

Step 1: Think of your BEST TIP for organizing an Edcamp.

Step 2: Record a simple 1 minute video of yourself explaining the tip. (No fancy editing required!)

Step 3: Tweet that video to #EdcampChallenge and tag another Edcamp organizer in the tweet to pass along the fun!

Here's the first one:

Join us in our quest to amass 100 organizer tips!
The TOP 5 TIPS will receive a copy of the new Edcamp book! Yay!


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