Category Archives: School Reform

We’re Different – And Why?

How do we successfully navigate the chasm between “progressives” and “traditionalists”?  The RSA Report (March 2016) Creative Public Leadership suggests that creating a compelling argument is the first step.

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For those of us who have been learning online for nearly 20 years, creating a compelling argument might seem redundant.

We wonder why it seems so hard to convince those higher up in the education hierarchy that change is an urgent need.

Perhaps the work of Roger Martin can help us understand the chasm more clearly.

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STANCE

If I am an educator and/or education leader, and I believe that I am doing excellent work, I have no reason to look for new tools to change my practice.

If I believe that I am a learner, and that my practice can always improve, I look for tools to help me organize my thinking, to learn more about the world and to connect with others in like roles.  These tools include traditional learning materials like books and research papers, but they now also include digital tools and social networking opportunities.

TOOLS

How I see myself and my purpose influences my choice of tools.  If leaders use traditional tools like books and articles, they might insist that I do as well.  But if I am an innovative thinker, I will stretch beyond what my leadership team is modelling and engage in digital tools that might lead me to online conversations and learning – to building a powerful network of online learners who challenge my thinking and invite me to participate in a whole different level of learning.

This begins to change who I am, and my thinking about what tools are best for my learning.  We can see already how this begins to conflict with the thinking of education leaders who have not used the vast array of today’s online tools for learning.

EXPERIENCE

Choosing digital tools creates opportunities for unique, personalized and deep professional learning, outside of what has been prescribed by education leaders.

This changes us.

Our thinking about our practice is now influenced by educators from around the world, not just those in our hierarchy.  And those “above us”  in our deeply hierarchical education systems may have no clue that this learning is possible, thereby devaluing its importance.

We liken this to coming out of a cave, realizing that the paucity of learning “in the cave” using traditional tools is not what we need in this *VUCA world.  We recognize that the vastly expansive and rich  learning opportunities and the tools that support and leverage them are critical to the success of our students today.

We are changed educators. But when we jump up and down and try to make others see this (invisible) world we have discovered, we are often met with disappointment (or worse).

David Truss, in 2012, described it beautifully here.

Seth Godin asks us today:

It’s far easier to worry and gripe about insufficient authority, about those that would seek to slow us down, disrespect us or silence us.

But we live in a moment where each of us has the power of influence.

What will you do with it?

Seth Godin, More Powerful Than You Know

*VUCA=Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity

Featured Image by Carl Jones: CC-BY-NC-2.0

RESOURCES:

David Truss: The Lone Wolf

Heidi Siwak: The Very Strange World of Adult Problem Solving

Seth Godin: More Powerful Than You Know

Roger Martin: The Opposable Mind

The RSA: Creative Public Leadership

Canada’s Digital Talent Strategy for 2020

Harvard Business Review: What VUCA really means for you

#InnovatorsMindset Blog Hop 4: Resources on Assessment for Learning

It’s March Break, and while I am taking some time away from thinking hard about innovation and education, I have been collecting some great resources that I will use to write a response to this blog hop question in a few days.

The provocation:

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Here are some of the resources I have been reading to prepare for this weeks’ blog hop.

One of the most powerful paragraphs comes from Will Richardson:

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Is the best measurement that which determines how motivated a student is to learn more?

Further Resources:

Joe Bower: Assessment and Measurement are NOT the Same Thing

The RSA: Re-imagined System Leadership

 

Michael Fullan: How testing does not align with our education goals

Danger of the Dunning-Kruger Effect

Creating Innovators by Tony Wagner and Robert Compton

Most Likely to Succeed: Preparing out Kids for the Innovation Era by Tony Wagner and Ted Dintersmith

Most Likely to Succeed (the movie)

Working at the Edge: Kinds of School Leaders

OECD: The Nature of Learning

Chris Wejr: Are we Marking Assignments or Assessing Learning?

Dean Shareski on Exemplars

BBC: Stress and Teens

BBC: Robotics used to give financial advice

Pedagogical Documentation (Ontario)

The Gap Between Educators

Robot-Proof: How Colleges Can Keep People Relevant in the Workplace by Joseph Aoun

 

When Will You Be Ready? 9/10

Are we preparing our students for the world we grew up in or the world they are growing up in?*

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This post is part of a 10 day posting challenge issued by Tina Zita. You can’t be a connected educator if you don’t contribute. Sometimes we need a nudge to remember that if nobody shares, nobody learns. Thanks Tina!

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This image of disruptive technologies caught my interest this morning.  I see that John Mikton has written further on this image here.

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Over and over we see images of the fast pace of change in the world.

Over and over we hear that schools are becoming irrelevant because they are not changing fast enough.

Over and over we hear about goals for student achievement that include no technology integration whatsoever.

Over and over we hear stories from parents – my child spent four nights at the kitchen table colouring maps this week, or my child got a 0 because one word was spelled incorrectly.

Over and over we hear from leaders and educators that they are “not ready” to integrate technology into their practice.

Where are the rights of the children in these scenarios?

Tina Zita asked this recently:

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I responded with a link to Tom Whitby’s post here.

How do we stop illiterate educators?

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Is educating our students for their world a priority in your school?

Resources:

What Drives Student Achievement?

*With special thanks to Patti Pella, Thunder Bay Regional Manager, Field Services Branch, for asking this question in one of our learning sessions: “Are we preparing our students for the world we grew up in or the world they are growing up in?”

We Don’t Think Differently (or do we?) – 7/10

Do we think differently, or have we just learned differently?

This post is part of a 10 day posting challenge issued by Tina Zita. You can’t be a connected educator if you don’t contribute. Sometimes we need a nudge to remember that if nobody shares, nobody learns. Thanks Tina!

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Silence.

You’ve felt that right?

You know, it happens when you say something like, “Why would we not just share that openly on a blog for everyone to see?” – and the room goes silent.

For those of us in the Lone Wolf Pack, this is our normal.

We are told that we “think differently”.

I’m not sure I buy that.  I am not sure that I believe we “think differently”. I wonder if we have just been through very different learning experiences.

We have been learning as networked, connected learners for years – decades in fact.  We have been learning in spaces yet to be discovered, yet to be respected, yet to be acknowledged by the status quo in our profession.

We have been learning different content.  We have been learning through ideas.

Ideas just pop into our network all the time.  Seeing and exploring new ideas daily, hourly, but the minute almost, is what we do.

We have had the time to share, converse, think through, research, challenge, ask about – to form thinking about – millions of ideas from around the world.

Then we throw out one of these ideas f2f,  and silence.

We are called names, like “rogue“.

Screen Shot 2016-01-24 at 9.14.05 AMIt’s not so much that we might think differently, it’s that we learn differently.

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We learn through education 3.0, in a profession that is talking 2.0 while remaining firmly entrenched in 1.0.

 

 

And that’s the problem.

 

Shared by Dr. Jackie Gerstein under a CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0 license https://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2014/12/01/experiences-in-self-determined-learning-moving-from-education-1-0-through-education-2-0-towards-education-3-0/
Shared by Dr. Jackie Gerstein under a CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0 license https://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2014/12/01/experiences-in-self-determined-learning-moving-from-education-1-0-through-education-2-0-towards-education-3-0/

 

Featured Image: Shared by Dr.  Jackie Gerstein  under a CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0 license

RESOURCES

Dear Lone Wolf by David Truss (@datruss)

 

We Feel Lost – by Will Richardson

35 Years Later – by Tina Zita

 

Katie Martin: 5 Reasons Professional Development is not Transforming Learning.

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http://katielmartin.com/2015/10/05/5-reasons-professional-development-is-not-transforming-learning/

Let’s UNLEARN a Few Assumptions About School

Many teachers teach the way they were taught.

The B.Ed. program would do well to emphasize the unlearning of wrong assumptions about schooling – like “sit up straight” and “sit still” and “look at the teacher”.

Change won’t happen until we all deeply question our assumptions of what school should look like for kids.

Thanks to Joël McLean for sharing this video on Twitter yesterday.

 

 

#FutureLearning – Students Wonder What School Could Be

I was so fortunate to be asked by the students of 3UU at Cameron Heights School in Kitchener, to sit on a panel to discuss with them the Future of Learning.

Here is a wonderful explanation, written by the class, of what their class is about:

“3UU is an extraordinary class, it is a Future Forums style class (a WRDSB initiative) that is worth two credits combining English, Sociology, Anthropology, and Psychology. This class allows us to express the way we learn and present our thoughts in our own personalized way of showing the knowledge we possess (through different mediums, such as videos, class discussions). We learn at different paces and take in information in various ways, therefore it’s easier for us to understand. In this environment, we function in a more self – directed style. Finally, we work more on developing skills that will help us in the future, rather than just focusing on what will help us pass this class.”

This is what they were hoping to achieve:

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from an email from the Cameron Heights school 3UU class, November 16, 2015.

Thank you to teacher Ms. Jamie Reaburn Weir  (who shares her reflections on her work here) for the invitation to join the panel.

Other panellists for the event included:

Geoff Williams

Dean Shareski

Karen Beutler

Brenda Sherry

Mark Carbone

The Storify of the event is here.  The recording is below.

I will add links to all of the mentioned resources later today.

 

Resources:

OECD publication – The Case for 21C Learning

What is School For? Stop Stealing Dreams (Seth Godin)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Intergenerational Digital Literacy

This past week, I read a blog post by Jennifer Casa-Todd: Childrens’ Rights in a Digital World

It is based on this UNICEF publication: Childrens’ Rights in the Digital Age

This is the quote that first attracted my attention:

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“… digital literacy across generations..”

I immediately thought of Ontario’s Renewed Vision for Education.

Screen Shot 2015-06-06 at 9.34.37 AM “Our children, youth and adults will develop the skills and the knowledge that will lead them to become personally successful, economically productive and actively engaged citizens. They will become the motivated innovators, community builders, creative talent, skilled workers, entrepreneurs and leaders of tomorrow.”

http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/about/renewedVision.pdf

When children attend a school, their experiences should not be limited by the knowledge and skills of the adults in the building.   The educators, as digitally literate, connected professionals, should be able to bring the world to the children.

[Edit: Please see the comment below suggesting a rephrasing of the above statement – 

My thinking: “The educators, as digitally literate, connected professionals, SHOULD BE ABLE TO FACILITATE THE CHILDREN’S LINKING THEMSELVES TO THE WORLD.”]

 

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The school building can be a community hub for all to access the world outside the community.  This concept of connected learning is well-explained in the short video below.

The importance of being part of a connected world is emphasized in a recent OECD Report – Connected Minds: Technology and Today’s Learners.

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From OECD: Connected Minds: Technology and Today’s Learners http://www.keepeek.com/Digital-Asset-Management/oecd/education/connected-minds_9789264111011-en#page23 (Page 23)

So how do we help adults improve their digital literacy?

Earlier this week, HWDSB Grade 1 teacher Aviva Dunsiger led a discussion in the OSSEMOOC session demonstrating how she empowers the parents of her students through the use of technology.

Aviva uses technology to share her students’ learning throughout the day, and provides parents with simple suggestions for how the learning can be extended at home.

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From Slide 15 by @dajbelshaw (Doug Belshaw) http://www.slideshare.net/dajbelshaw/sssc-digital-literacy-workshop

During the recent Google Education On Air Panel Discussion (14:00), Zoe Tabary (from The Economist, Intelligence Unit) reminded us that there is no “extra” time in the school day to add digital literacy. Digital Literacy learning must be integrated into the current curriculum (Sean Rush, Junior Achievement Worldwide).

The recent report (Driving the Skills Agenda) from The Economist states that only 44% of the students surveyed (ages 18-25) feel that schools are providing them with the skills they need to enter the workplace, and while teachers report that technology is changing the way they teach, 77% of students report that schools are not effective in using technology for instruction.

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from Driving the Skills Agenda: Preparing Students for the future. http://www.eiumedia.com/index.php/latest-press-releases/item/1853-education-systems-are-not-arming-students-with-21st-century-skills-eiu-study-finds

How, then, does Digital Literacy for all become an integral part of learning in our schools?

If we are educating learners in our communities to be full participants in society, digital literacy must become a priority.

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From Slide 22 by @dajbelshaw (Doug Belshaw) http://www.slideshare.net/dajbelshaw/sssc-digital-literacy-workshop

Further Resources:

Critical Literacy: Is the Notion of Traditional Reading and Writing Enough? (Langwitches Blog)

Literacy Redefined (Jennifer Casa-Todd)

Driving the Skills Agenda (The Economist)

KISS [Keep It Simple Stupid!]

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Image shared under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial Share-Alike license by Kristina Alexanderson https://www.flickr.com/photos/kalexanderson/5699823858/

 

Tell them what you are going to tell them.

Tell them.

Tell them what you told them.

Keep It Simple, Stupid!

These are great words of advice for creating a presentation.

Could they work as well for those of us designing professional learning?

In his address to the Ontario Leadership Congress in April 2015, Simon Breakspear emphasized the importance of having a clear vision of what future learning looks like, sounds like, feels like.

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Image shared under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License by Stephen Downes https://www.flickr.com/photos/stephen_downes/3808714505/

 

He said, “We cannot lead others into a future we cannot see.”

Our role as leaders is to get out of the conceptual, and move from vision documents to “here, let me show you”.

So what is our profession, then, at the bare bones level?

Teachers cause learning to happen.  They cause learning to happen for every child and student trusted into their care.  Every single one.

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Shared under a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, Share-Alike License by Darren Kuropatwa https://www.flickr.com/photos/dkuropatwa/4421657130/

 

 

It is not okay for a child to be ‘stuck’ and not learning in a classroom.  It is the responsibility of the teacher to ensure that child is learning.  No teacher has to do this in isolation.  Teachers are aware of their best practice, and they search for their next practice that will help that child learn.  The wider the professional network, the larger the opportunity to find solutions to learning problems.

This remains one of my favourite simplified statements about the work teachers do.

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 Catherine Montreuil, 2013

Let’s keep it simple, and make sure all of our children are on a path of learning.

 

 

 

 

Learning From Afar: CanConnectEd 2015 Live Stream

The live stream for Connect 2015 can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/embed/y_ZmM7zPLyI?rel=0

I was thrilled to catch Jamie Reaburn Weir and Dan Ballentyne today.  They shared this video, which I believe is important for all to watch.  Most educators intrinsically know all of this already.  They do live it, after all.

They just don’t know how to change it.

That’s why more than just educators need to watch.  What kind of world do we want?

Is it not a national tragedy that so many students are turned off learning, and that a number determines their future learning opportunities?

How many brilliant people refuse to play the game?

I will not let an exam result decide my fate:

Dangerously Irrelevant!

#makeschooldifferent: My Five Things We Need To Stop Pretending


http://dangerouslyirrelevant.org/2015/04/we-have-to-stop-pretending.html

Scott McLeod’s blog is a source of inspiration for me.

I know by the number of times that I have shared “The Lone Wolf” by David Truss that educators are a frustrated group of professionals, advocating relentlessly to change our public school systems so they align with the learning needs of our students in a world that does not resemble the one in which the school system was originally created.

I embrace the tone of the challenge: What are five things we need to stop pretending in our schools?

We are all part of these conversations.  We know what must change. We work relentlessly, but the pace of change inside our schools can be so much slower than the pace of change outside our schools, that becoming “dangerously irrelevant” is exactly where we are in danger of heading (read Simon Breakspear as well).  It can be heartbreaking work.

I have far more than five ideas to contribute.  We all have more than five ideas to contribute.  But this is a great place to start.

Please read the entire collection and follow #makeschoolsdifferent on Twitter.  Do your part to effect change.

When it comes to education, we have to stop pretending…

1. That we know what school is for.

Until we actually ask this question, and come to some agreement on the purpose, we will continue to argue about what is best for our children.  It is NOT to give students the skills they need to find jobs that existed when they were born.  There will be far more graduates than jobs, and those traditional jobs are mostly gone.  “What is school for?” must be a constant conversation.

2. That it’s okay to determine access to future learning based on a two digit number assigned by a secondary school teacher to a graduating student.

Marks are not an indicator of ability to learn.  In fact, marks can be a detriment to learning. We pretend that the current system of determining access to university programs based on marks is acceptable.  Marks promote cheating. Check out all the youtube videos on how to convince your teacher to give you a higher mark. Marks promote classroom competition over collaboration. Marks turn school into a game of winners and losers instead of a place where learning is sought.

Let’s find a better way to encourage all students to keep learning.

3. That it’s okay for any student to be stuck and not learning.

It is not the job of a teacher to teach.  It is the job of a teacher to ensure students are learning.  Not alone – teachers have access to networks of educators and professionals to help – but learning must happen.  “He has the right to fail” is not an acceptable statement – ever*.

4. That it’s okay to bash teachers.

Stop.  The teaching profession is the most important profession in society. “Teacher bashing” is not productive. It turns great potential teachers away from the profession.  Our children need the best teachers we have to give them.  Let’s elevate the profession to a place where the best people are attracted to the profession of ensuring that the upcoming generations are able to solve the world’s biggest problems.

5. That it’s okay for only some people to have access to the internet and the world’s body of knowledge.

We need to stop pretending that all children are digital natives. Many children still have no access to the internet and the world’s best teachers, and we don’t have access to their voices.  That is not okay. What are we doing today to get access for these children and their families?  It is an enormous inequity that we need to solve.

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Please watch “The Loon Project” by clicking on this image.

I am tagging everyone in my PLN to share their thinking on the five things we need to stop pretending.

I am particularly interested, for purely selfish reasons, in the thinking of the following five people:

Ron Canuel, David Truss, Julie Balen , Mark W. Carbone, Stephen Hurley

Please share your thinking and add it to the growing body of ideas here.

My granddaughter, Chloe Patricia Avery, is two months old today.

Let’s make sure that when she starts school in September 2019,  it looks very different from the model that worked for her great grandparents.

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Chloe on her 1 month birthday.

Thank you for reading this.  What is your next?

 

 

*In the context of “earning a credit”. It is this thinking: “I taught him, he chose not to learn” that I object to, not the understanding that we learn from our failures as part of the learning process.

Resources:

The Lone Wolf: David Truss shares some inspiration with educators who are feeling like they can’t make the difference they want to.

What are the changes we want to see? #makeschooldifferent

The man who discovered the genetic link to cystic fibrosis, Dr. Lap-Chee Tsui, did not have a standardized mind. He barely made it through the school system:

http://dfryed.tumblr.com/post/116635201423/the-man-who-discovered-the-genetic-link-to-cystic