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The SAMR Model again

14 May

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In most ways, teachers that use technology in the classroom are not much different than those that don’t.

All teachers assesses, evaluate and then revises planned instruction based on data from those assessments.

They manage their classroom in a way that works for them, create a positive learning environment, and collaborate with a variety of stakeholders to make sure every humanly possible attempt is made to meet all students need.

They care about learning more than tools, people more than curriculum, and questions more than answers.

But using technology in the classroom–and using it effectively–might require some slight adjustments on the part of the teacher to sustain the effort, creative problem-solving, and innovation required to actually improve learning through the use of technology. This occurs at the belief level–what teachers believe about technology, education, and their own abilities to manage technology.

Looking at the characteristics of teachers that effectively use technology in the classroom can be useful to create a growth mind-set–one that believes in purpose, adaptation, change, and meaningful planning. If you spend your time planning at the upper limits of the SAMR model, it may simply work as a quick reminder of how edtech can work–and work well at the teacher-human-belief level.

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Friday Night Thought

20 Apr

Feedback is an essential part of learning, especially when we want to improve our practice and attain high professional standards. And the best form of feedback is right there in front of us in our classrooms. #nzai #assessment #edchatnz

Assessment

19 Apr

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This term we are looking at curriculum change. This week I attend a workshop run by NZAI. This got me thinking. More on this later. In in developing curricular units of study and the corresponding assessments while talking about the learning skills necessary for students to experience success. I’ve deliberately not used the label “21st Century” in front of “learning skills” as I think we all understand in 2018 that we are in the 21st century. I noted this week our teaching practices to support those skills also need to be different. How we use the evidence gathered from high-quality assessment is a key component to furthering and deepening the work.

Collaboration is an important skill. Collaboration skills may be the “black sheep” of the skills assessment world – until recently there has been very little attention paid to this competency, with very few assessments worth noting. With the rise in importance of collaborative work skills, especially for the productive development of creative work products by work teams, there has been an accompanying rise in attention paid to assessing levels of productive and creative collaboration.

It’s fair to say that we need to deepen the critical thinking skills of our students. It’s also important that we shift to conceptual understanding and away from understanding by an algorithm or rule. Both shifts will require more student agency, collaboration and conversations.

As an offshoot of the advances in technology, it’s been suggested that tamariki today communicate more. While that may be true, I think it’s equally true to claim they talk less. Teachers will need to provide the time to have students explain not only their answers but also their thinking as they developed those answers. Quiet time in class is important, as important for teachers having reflective practice.

Ultimately this will mean less teacher talk time (think of five minutes as your maximum before turning it over to your students) and more collaboration between students. This will require a shift.

Using the evidence gathered from assessments and using the assessments as formative, will result in a shift in the dialogue occurring in classrooms today. It will mean more of the “ working noise” that is evidenced in classrooms where students are highly engaged and deeply involved in their learning, and their teachers are interested in hearing about that learning. It will mean a shift to what was once valued and haled as the most productive classroom—the one where silence was golden and reigned supreme.

Andragogy

2 Feb

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It is important to understand things are changing in our classroom. Central to this is the way learning takes place. I am doing a great deal of reading about andragogy. Andragogy refers to the methods and approaches used in adult education and is directed towards self-actualization, gaining experience, and problem-solving. In contrast, pedagogy is an education method in which the learner is dependent on the teacher for guidance, evaluation, and acquisition of knowledge.

Things are changing and that is why we need to adopt a an anthropological approach to our teaching.

One of the most obvious differences between pedagogy vs. andragogy is the motivation of the learner. Our tamariki require extrinsic motivation: They’re usually learning because an authority figure tells them to, or because they’ll be penalized in the classroom otherwise.

Adults, on the other hand, come to the table self-motivated and interested in understanding new topics and ideas because they know that doing so can positively affect their earning potential, community standing, or personal development. In short, to motivate adult learners, you need to highlight how learning benefits them personally and directly, rather than a “because I said so” mentality.

For better or for worse, kids approach learning as blank slates: They don’t have much experience with most topics, and even when they’ve had experience, it’s been on an academic level only. Teachers and instructors don’t necessarily need to connect learning experiences together for children to understand new concepts.

Things have changed though. Our students now bring so much more to the table.  We must acknowledge they’ve had the benefit of learning and experience. They know what has worked for them in the past or have habits that affect the way they learn and act. Because of this, approaching new topics with a traditionally pedagogical strategy could leave them disengaged and uninterested. Instead, andragogy inspires instructors to do a better job connecting learning experiences to what adult learners already know. Allowing for opinion, better pacing, and knowledge checks and re-checks helps adults leverage their life experience as valuable information.

Those who teach according to traditional theory might not realize the importance behind relevancy as part of the strategy. Our tamariki want to understand why they’re learning a new topic. Not only should it be applicable to either their current position or a position they’d like to achieve, but topics should be hyper-relevant in the moment. They see irrelevancy as a waste of their time, so whether they’re already familiar with a topic or they simply don’t see how it applies to them, you could lose learners if you don’t take the time to highlight the “what’s in it for me right now?” behind any topic.

It’s a common mistake and one that might seem like no big deal, but mixing up pedagogy and andragogy makes your teaching less effective. When teaching your tamariki, don’t patronize them with childlike learning strategies. Indeed do so at your peril.

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Remember at the start of the year..

1 Feb

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I am reminded that at the beginning of the year it is important to celebrate milestones and success. I was inspired the other day when one of my PLN shared her learnings from 20 years teaching. It is important to celebrate and recognise we do things well. As I start the year I remind myself of the following as I begin:

  • If you want to squeeze everything out of life and discover your true potential, you have to be prepared to make some mistakes along the way. Mistakes are ok.
  • When you are going, well people will put you down. This seems to be part of kiwi culture. However, there are those there that are cheerleaders, who celebrate every little win you have even when you cannot see it. Look out for them.
  • There is absolutely nothing that beats a winning day. Enjoy it.
  • There is always more in you than you realize.
  • I have found two things that are so important: resilience (getting up when others wouldn’t) and curiosity – an overwhelming need to know if you can do it.
  • When times are good you will be able to reward yourself with nice things but they will never truly reflect the hard work and sacrifices that has gone in that no one saw.
  • There is nothing that will replace hard work. Nobody can do that for you. There are no short cuts.
  • Most days you will not get everything done and that is ok.
  • My tribe is important. Look after them. They are there.
  • Always remember it is the little things that count.
  • Reach out to your teams and remember we are all alone together! This is best expressed by my own whakatoki this year He waka eke noa. A canoe which we are all in with no exception.
  • The more I learn the more I change but deep down I hold those same values as I did back as a little boy.

Have you had time to reflect before you get into the busy work for the year?

Professional Reading Weekend

28 Oct

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A have had a big weekend dedicated to professional reading. This is all part of my annual goal and to continually improve. Common themes that emerge from my reading were:

  • the importance of connecting
  • a leadership paradigm of coaching
  • collaboration and learning spaces for thinking and working in teams
  • approaching curriculum design as an innovator.

In Where Good Ideas Come From, Steven Johnson writes about generating breakthroughs and the patterns behind innovation. The keys are: developing slow hunches over time (as opposed to sudden Eureka moments), connected minds are smarter than lone thinkers, where you think is crucial, and the best ideas come from building on the ideas of others.

In Creating Innovators, Tony Wagner contends that the disruptive nature of innovation creates challenges to traditional authority.

“Can those of us who have positional authority develop this kind of earned and enabling authority? Can our institutions of learning and work recognize and promote a new kind of authority? Can we move from top-down, compliance-based systems of accountability in our schools to forms of accountability that are more face-to-face – reciprocal and relational? And, finally, are we prepared to not merely tolerate but to welcome and celebrate the kinds of questioning, disruption, and even disobedience that come with innovation?” (Tony Wagner)

In Bringing Innovation to School, Suzie Boss makes the case for design thinking, the use of physical space, gaming for learning, and using networks for innovation.

“When teachers are fine-tuning project plans, they can use rapid prototyping to invite feedback (from colleagues, outside experts, and students), make adjustments, and then see what happens during implementation. Projects will get better with each iteration if teachers make a habit of reflecting on what worked, what didn’t, and how they can improve on the plan next time around. When they approach curriculum design this way, they’re modelling what it means to think and work like an innovator.” (Suzie Boss)

Being Less Happy

24 Aug

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Your smart phone could be making your miserable.

Young people today are experiencing levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and related conditions at rates higher than they were a generation ago. (And the rest of us aren’t doing much better.)

In the USA according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 10 Americans suffer from some form of depression, and people between the ages of 18 and 24 report the highest incidences. Forty million Americans over the age of 18 have an anxiety disorder, but again, as the recent report, “Stress in America,” made clear, millennials are the hardest hit. More evidence: Suicide is the third-leading cause of death for young Americans between the ages of 10 and 24, claiming 4,600 lives per year. All of this, in a society that has more wealth than much of the rest of the world combined.

However it is not enough to simply ban devices. On the back of this I share this video today.

A Mid Term Reflection

22 Aug

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I love being a connected educator. I have gained immensely from connections I have with others through Twitter, Facebook, Edchats, podcasts, at EdCamps, and in person. But, I have a confession, sometimes I feel inadequate when speak with some these talented teachers.

Before becoming a connected educator, I operated in a vacuum, in isolation. I would connect with my faculty and staff but our work wasn’t about sharing best practices or what we were doing in our buildings. It was mostly about listening to ministry and making sure we were leading those. Being connected has opened a new world for me, a world in which I see the amazing things educators are doing every day. And that contributes to my feelings of inadequacy. Often, I have thought, “Wow, that is inspiring; I wish I could do that.” I wish I could communicate and reach out more through blogs, podcasts, You Tube channels and other media as prolifically and proficiently as others do. I wish I could spend more time in classrooms, on the playground, and learning with students as much as others do. So some thoughts:

I reach out to my PLC. Through Twitter I can share with groups or individuals. The times I have reached out individually through Twitter have been powerful and cathartic. It’s amazing that I can share through social media with other educators whom I have never met and feel supported and validated. Just being able to share and have another person, or persons, listen makes a huge difference for me.

I remember to take small steps to put things into my practice. I continually look at our annual plan which indicated a need for improved communication. I think start small and make trying new things part of your practice. By learning from others I have explored and used augmented reality, robotics, video production, and coding.

I must use twitter to refuel. I participate in Twitter chats and engage in discussions. Through thought provoking questions and engaged conversations, I glean a lot from others but I also get to share things I’m doing. The feedback and support I receive makes me feel like I am headed in the right direction. I had been contemplating finding a way to positively recognize more students. Last summer a teacher in a Twitter chat stated she made one positive phone call home daily. What a great idea. What are you doing that innovative? Love to hear from you.

Teaching as Inquiry

11 Aug

Teaching-as-inquiry

The culture of inquiry is so important in our school among all ako. By that I mean students and teachers. As part of our annual plan I have been thinking a great deal about these. For a superb summary of this please click here.  Here some thoughts on the topic:

A Good Question

Questions are an effective way to frame a unit of inquiry. When students struggle to find the answer, it raises the level of inquiry. Questions encourage students to think outside of their class/content area. The inquiry needs to be framed up by this.

Five Benefits of Good Questions:

  1.  Essential Questions establish a learning focus for students.
  2.  The process of identifying Essential Questions helps educators clarify their intended purpose.
  3.  Essential Questions promote critical thinking.
  4.  Essential Questions support integrated instruction (i.e., teaching and learning across disciplines).
  5.  Essential Questions help students see the Big Picture, while allowing each student to connect prior knowledge to new understandings.

Reflection

Reflection is a lost art in classrooms and by teachers. We are constantly battling paper. With the push to cover more content and standards, teachers often make a choice between coverage or pausing for reflection. Reflection comes in many forms: reflective journals, group work, whole class, silent reflection, reviewing yesterday’s work, reflecting on an essential question, or creating a product that shows your thoughts on a previous lesson or understanding.

How often do students feel like the pace of schooling is rushed? Once a unit is finished, the teacher moves to the next unit. Reflection involves slowing down to share what we learned. In the absence of reflection, it is unlikely that a classroom is a Culture of Inquiry. How do students reflect and make meaning out of their experiences?

Learning takes place when inquiry is present. As you meet with your teacher team to develop lessons and assessments, analyse the amount of time students have to question, talk with their peers, and reflect. Career Readiness is not a score on a test or NCEA. Readiness means that students graduate with the skills that provide them with opportunities for success beyond high school. Here’s a thought. Contemplate how the courses in your school foster critical thinking, problem solving, and application of academic knowledge.

 

Get Connected

2 Aug

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While catching up on various professional reading, this includes podcasts and twitter in the holidays I got to thinking it is such a great form of PLD. Plus it’s free. Reconnecting with other educators, making new friends, and strengthening my skills and knowledge so I can be a better leader, are all great reasons to for me to be connected online.

While I was reflecting, I question, why aren’t more school leaders in the secondary environment using these tools? As one school leader who does here are some thoughts.

Reason 1: Time. Sorry that is the beauty of this tool. We can go online anytime.

Reason 2: Tools like twitter are for teachers. Yes, they are, but they’re also for SLT, parents, future educators, curriculum leaders, anyone who has a connection with students and schools. Remember as a school leader you are the Lead Teacher. I have learned so much through these tools.

Reason 3: I’m not a Techie and I am not a Guru. I think there is a common misunderstanding . That’s not true. Any topic is up for learning, sharing, and facilitating. In fact, two of the sessions I attended over the break one I volunteered to facilitate, were about non-technology topics: one was restorative practice and the other flexible learning spaces.

Reason 4: I’m too busy, there’s nothing of value for me. See number one. It is true that you get out what you put in. If you make connections, share ideas, suggest things you want to learn about, and have an open mind, there will be value for you.

School leaders I urge, you need to find and get involved in the conversation. So, dispel those reasons, model for your teachers, and engage in ako-be a lifelong learner.

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