Cut the curriculum — from willrichardson.com by Will Richardson

Excerpt:

Here’s an idea: A Minimal Viable Curriculum (MVC). That’s what Christian Talbot over at Basecamp is proposing, and I have to say, I love the idea.

He writes: “What if we were to design MVCs: Minimum Viable Curricula centered on just enough content to empower learners to examine questions or pursue challenges with rigor? Then, as learners go deeper into a question or challenge, they update their MVC…which is pretty much how learning happens in the real world.”

The key there to me is that THEY update their MVC. That resonates so deeply; it feels like that’s what I’m doing with my learning each day as I read about and work with school leaders who are thinking deeply about change.

 

When we pursue questions that matter to us, rigor is baked in.

 

From DSC:
I love the idea of giving students — as they can handle it — more choice, more control. So anytime around 8th-12th grade, I say we turn much more control over to the students, and let them make more choices on what they want to learn about. We should at least try some experiments along these lines.

 

 

As everyone in the workforce is now required to be a lifelong learner, our quality of life goes much higher if we actually enjoy learning. As I think about it, I have often heard an adult (especially middle age and older) say something like, “I hated school, but now, I love to learn.”

Plus, I can easily imagine greater engagement with the materials that students choose for themselves, as well as increased attention spans and higher motivation levels.

Also, here’s a major shout out to Will Richardson, Bruce Dixon, Missy Emler and Lyn Hilt for the work they are doing at ModernLearners.com.

 

Check out the work over at Modern Learners dot com

 

 

How to teach a good first day of class — from chronicle.com by James Lang
Four Key Principles | Before the First Day | The First Day of Class | After the First Day | Resources

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Do not begin the first day of the semester by immediately handing out the syllabus. Instead, spark their curiosity about the content first, and then demonstrate — with a review of the syllabus — how the course content can help satisfy that curiosity.

 

From DSC:
I think what’s also implied here is putting one’s case forward about how the content is ***relevant*** today.

 

Also this is a good practice to do as well, but for the end of the term/semester/quarter/whatever:

 

 

Top Education Trend of 2018: Active Learning Spaces — from gettingsmart.com by Tom Vander Ark

Excerpts:

The top learning trend in K-12 learning in 2018 was active learning spaces–from double classrooms in old buildings from California’s Central Valley to the west tip of Texas in El Paso and multiage pods in new spaces from Redwood City to Charlottesville.

The flexible spaces facilitate project-based learning and competency-based progressions. Students move from project teams to skill groups to activity centers building skills and developing agency and self-management.

Competency: The Trend to Watch in 2019
A year from now people will be talking about competency frameworks–how learners progress as they demonstrate mastery.

The shift from marking time to measuring learning will be generational in length, but our landscape analysis suggests several interesting signs of progress that will be evident in 2019:

  • In the most interesting merger of the year, LRNG, the leading youth badging platform, joined forces with SNHU, the leading online university. Look for badges capturing in and out of school learning that stack into college credit.
  • More schools, like Purdue Polytech, will embrace project-based learning and competency-based progressions with support from XQ, NGLC funds, and NewSchools Venture Fund.
  • More platform partnerships where districts/networks are working in development cycles with platform providers (e.g. Brooklyn LAB and Cortex, Purdue Polytech and Course Networking, Lindsay USD and Empower).
  • More artificial intelligence is showing up in learning platforms improving personalization, formative feedback, and student scheduling.
  • More demand for interoperability will be evident as a result of efforts like Project Unicorn.

It’s going to be a good new year. Find a couch or pull up a bar stool–your choice. Work on a badge or microcredential, it’s likely to be more widely recognized next year.

 

Also see:

Brickstuff is the perfect way to light up Lego builds. This starter kit includes everything you need to get started. No electronics or soldering knowledge is necessary to set up these lights and start using them right away. Each flexible 2-LED Light Strip has a self-adhesive backing, which allows easy mounting to almost any surface. The strips are flexible, allowing you to mount them even on curved surfaces. This kit also includes a battery pack, so you can be up and running right away. This kit is ready to use with any microcontroller or robotics project too.

 

From DSC:
Not too long ago, I really enjoyed watching a program on PBS regarding America’s 100 most-loved books, entitled, “The Great American Read.”

 

Watch “The Grand Finale”

 

While that’s not the show I’m talking about, it got me to thinking of one similar to it — something educational, yet entertaining. But also, something more.

The program that came to my mind would be a program that’s focused on significant topics and issues within American society — offered up in a debate/presentation style format. 

For example, you could have different individuals, groups, or organizations discuss the pros and cons of an issue or topic. The show would provide contact information for helpful resources, groups, organizations, legislators, etc.  These contacts would be for learning more about a subject or getting involved with finding a solution for that problem.

For example, how about this for a potential topic: Grades or no grades?
  • What are the pros and cons of using an A-F grading system?
  • What are the benefits and issues/drawbacks with using grades? 
  • How are we truly using grades Do we use them to rank and compare individuals, schools, school systems, communities? Do we use them to “weed people out” of a program?
  • With our current systems, what “product” do we get? Do we produce game-players or people who enjoy learning? (Apologies for some of my bias showing up here! But my son has become a major game-player and, likely, so did I at his age.)
  • How do grades jibe with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs)? On one hand…how do you keep someone moving forward, staying positive, and trying to keep learning/school enjoyable yet on the other hand, how do you have those grades mean something to those who obtain data to rank school systems, communities, colleges, programs, etc.?
  • How do grades impact one’s desire to learn throughout one’s lifetime?

Such debates could be watched by students and then they could have their own debates on subjects that they propose.

Or the show could have journalists debate college or high school teams. The format could sometimes involve professors and deans debating against researchers. Or practitioners/teachers debating against researchers/cognitive psychologists. 

Such a show could be entertaining, yet highly applicable and educational. We would probably all learn something. And perhaps have our eyes opened up to a new perspective on an issue.

Or better yet, we might actually resolve some more issues and then move on to address other ones!

 

 

Assessment for Learning: It Just Makes Sense — from facultyfocus.com by Cathy Box

Excerpt:

Assessment for Learning (AfL), sometimes referred to as “formative assessment” has become part of the educational landscape in the U.S. and is heralded to significantly raise student achievement, yet we are often uncertain what it is and what it looks like in practice in higher education. To clarify, AfL includes the formal and informal processes that faculty and students use during instruction to gather evidence for the purpose of improving learning. The aim of AfL is to improve students’ mastery of the content and to equip and empower them as self-regulated, life-long learners.

There are many strategies that serve the purposes of AfL, commonly centered around three questions: 1) Where am I going? 2) Where am I now? and 3) How can I close the gap? (Chappuis, 2015; Sadler, 1989; Wiliam, 2011). This process represents a natural progression from the beginning of a lesson to closing the learning gaps at the end and provides a recursive loop when necessary. The following narrative describes two AfL strategies that I have found work extremely well in my courses, resulting in higher quality work, leaving me time to provide feedback on the more challenging aspects of the assignment. These strategies fall under the question “Where am I going?” and are true to the tenets of AfL, having a significant impact on learning and putting students squarely in the driver’s seat.

 

“Indeed as one of the most prolific writers on the topic, Alfie Kohn suggested, ‘assessment should be an unobtrusive servant of teaching and learning.’ (source)

 

 

The Top 20 Education Next Articles of 2018 — from educationnext.org

Excerpt:

Every December, Education Next releases a list of the most popular articles we published over the course of the year based on readership.

The article that generated the most interest this year was one that looked at the policy of inclusion, or mainstreaming, in special education. A response to that article was our third most popular article of the year.

Some other popular articles were studies finding that teachers’ impact on non-cognitive skills is 10 times more predictive of students’ longer-term success than teachers’ impact on test scores; an analysis of the effectiveness of instructional coaching for teachers instead of regular professional development; and a look at whether teacher preparation programs can be evaluated based on the learning gains of their graduates’ students.

Other articles collected data on public support for higher teacher pay and greater school spending, the decline in private school attendance by middle school families, and whether states are lowering their proficiency standards.

Here’s the list of 2018’s Top 20 articles…

 

 

Virtual classes shouldn’t be cringeworthy. Here are 5 tips for teaching live online — from edsurge.com by Bonni Stachowiak (Columnist)

Excerpt:

Dear Bonni: I’m wanting to learn about best practices for virtual courses that are “live” (e.g., using a platform like Zoom). It differs both from face-to-face classroom learning and traditional (asynchronous) online courses. I’d love to know about resources addressing this learning format. —Keith Johnson. director of theological development at Cru. My team facilitates and teaches graduate-level theological courses for a non-profit.

Teaching a class by live video conference is quite different than being in person with a room full of students. But there are some approaches we can draw from traditional classrooms that work quite well in a live, online environment.

Here are some recommendations for virtual teaching…

 

 

Modern Learners 2018 Provocation of the Year — from modernlearners.com by Bruce Dixon

Excerpt:

In this context, provocation is therefore about deconstructing meanings and hidden agendas, challenging assumptions and seeking new ways of thinking not just about what we do, or how we do it, but most importantly, why we do what we do.

It is in this context that the choice for our 2018 Provocation of the Year came down to a single word… assessment.

 

 

“Indeed as one of the most prolific writers on the topic, Alfie Kohn suggested, ‘assessment should be an unobtrusive servant of teaching and learning.’ Now there’s a provocation to really start a vibrant conversation.“

 

How faculty can ‘click’ their way to a more inclusive classroom — from edsurge.com by Kelly Hogan and Viji Sathy

Excerpt:

What do you think is important for an instructor to do when using classroom response systems (polling software or clickers)? Select all that apply.

A) Choose questions that most students will be able to answer correctly.

B) Vary the types of poll questions beyond multiple choice.

C) Ask students “Please discuss your answer with a neighbor.”

D) Stress that students answer questions independent of their peers.

Classroom response systems (CRS) have a mixed reputation. Studies have suggested that these tools, which allow students to respond in real time to questions provided by an instructor, can improve student learning. But other reports show that is not always the case.

Like many education tools, it depends. And in the case of clickers and other classroom polling software, it largely depends on how instructors are using them. If used thoughtfully, we’ve seen that CRSs can help facilitate active learning in a classroom. What’s more, these tools can be used to also facilitate an inclusive classroom.

What do we mean by an inclusive classroom? Faculty risk excluding certain students and impeding their ability to succeed when they aren’t intentional about design and facilitation. Inclusive course design involves more than choosing content; it also requires considering the number of assessments, opportunities for practice, the chances for students to assess their understanding of material, among other attributes.

 

 

From DSC:
First of all, an excerpt from an email from RetrievalPractice.org:

Last week, we talked about an activity we call Flash Forward. Simply ask your students these questions:

“Now that you’ve taken this class, what is one thing you want to remember 10 years from now (and why)?”

“How will you remember that one thing? What will you do to make sure you don’t forget?”

Second of all, the topic of remembering something 10 years from now (from some current learning) made me think about obtaining a long-term return on investment (ROI) from that learning.

In the online-based course that I’ve been teaching for a while now, I’m all about helping the students in my classes obtain long-term benefits from taking the class. Grades aren’t the key. The learning is the key!

The class is entitled, “Foundations of Information Technology” and I want them to be using the tools, technologies, services, and concepts (that we learned about) loooooong after they graduate from college! We work on things like RSS feeds, Twitter, LinkedIn, WordPress, building their network, building their personal brand, HTML/web design, Microsoft Excel, the Internet of Things and much more. I want them to be practicing those things, leveraging those tools, pulse-checking their surroundings, networking with others, serving others with their gifts, and building on the foundations that they put into place waaaay back in 201__.

 

 

 

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