From DSC:
I’m very grateful for the teachers that I’ve had in my life as well as for the teachers that our children have had throughout their lives! (This goes for the coaches and pastors that have been in our lives as well!) Many of those teachers really went the extra mile — making personal sacrifices while they contributed the additional time and efforts that it took to get the job done.

Teaching and learning is messy and very tough work.  For example, it’s very difficult — if not impossible — to simultaneously provide personalized/customized learning to 25-30+ students (and to do so every day)!

  • Not every student has the same prior knowledge.
  • Not every student has the same capabilities; some students have additional/special needs to help them learn.
  • Not every student learns at the same pace.
  • Not every student has the same goals.
  • Not every student has the same interests and/or passions.

The job can be very stressful, for a variety of reasons — one of which is that teachers have to deal with all kinds of agendas that are simultaneously coming at them.

So thank you to all the teachers out there who are making significant contributions to others’ lives.

Thank you for your service to others!

#TeacherAppreciationWeek2018

 

What online teachers have learned from teaching online — from insidehighered.com by Mark Lieberman
Online instructors offer wisdom they’ve gathered — what to do and what not to do — from years of experience teaching in the modality.

Excerpts:

When I first began teaching online, I noticed a disconnect between students and the course content. While I worked to make it relevant to their lives, I often saw students doing the work simply for the grade. Clearly something was not translating. In the last year, I’ve become more focused on helping students connect their passions to the course content. My courses still have objectives. However, I ask students when the semester starts to identify one to three goals and create a short video about what they want to achieve in the course. They reflect on these goals and can modify them at the midpoint and the end. During the semester, I ask students to consider what they are doing during the week to help them meet their goals. They don’t always need to share this information, but having this as a thread in the course helps them stay connected to the content and each other. Students are aware of what their colleagues’ goals are and often reach out and share ideas and resources in support. [Hall]


I also began to see that teaching online could support learner variability better than teaching in a classroom. I observed one student with dyslexia express herself eloquently in video, while her written expressions were fragmented. These experiences illuminated the value of Universal Design for Learning, opening a new world of opportunities for teaching online. [Brock]

I’ve been teaching online since 2008 and entirely online since 2013. When I first started teaching online, I was afraid to create new content or change the course in any way once the course launched. I thought the course curriculum and online environment had to stay “frozen” and intact or I would risk confusing students. Now, I create additional tutorials as needed, using screen-casting tools, videos and podcasts to add additional content to assist students. I have also since learned that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to online teaching and learning. Some students prefer basic content and straightforward assignments. Other students like to interact with the instructor through instant messaging, email and discussion boards. I started doing optional webinars for students who wanted more interaction and personalized learning, but I don’t require them. I find that the same group of online students in each course (who enjoy interaction) usually attend the webinars. The webinars are recorded for students who couldn’t attend or prefer the recording format.

Over all, I’ve learned to be more laid-back, multimodal (e.g., webinars, podcasts, etc.), proactive and flexible for my students.

Semingson

 

 

There need to be more active learning activities in an online course.

Greenlaw

 


In a typical class, students talk only to the instructor and each other. Resources, questions and information that are created and shared rarely transition to the next course. In true community, all students and instructors within a program could regularly access information and ideas in a shared space regardless of the content they are currently learning. [Hall]

There are numerous tools and strategies for interacting with students, like web-conferencing platforms, course audio and video tools, and collaborative tools that allow for synchronous or asynchronous interaction. There are simply more ways to communicate, to collaborate and to create. [Hobgood]

Insert from DSC:
Re: this last quote from Hobgood, I love this idea of creating an online-based community of practice — or community of inquiry — that spans across classes and semesters. Great call!

 

Efforts to improve student access to online courses are key, but we also know that equity gaps get worse when minority students learn online. We must not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Relationships are at the core of meaningful college experiences and they’re particularly important to underserved students who are more likely to doubt their academic abilities. Underserved online students need the presence of an engaged instructor. If you teach online, your human presence matters. This has been my greatest takeaway from 15 years of teaching online and, perhaps, more striking is that this point still seems revolutionary to so many.

Pacansky-Brock

 

 

 

Addendum:
7 Steps to Better Online Teaching — from chronicle.com by Esther C. Kim

Excerpt:

Provide suggestions for a strong classroom climate. At the start of the semester, I offer ways for students to stay engaged in an online classroom environment, and I explain the importance of remaining on camera and on audio. Without a proper explanation, students mistakenly think that they can multitask during live class sessions. Among the tips I offer them:

  • Refrain from opening email, texting, or browsing the web.
  • Choose a space where you don’t encounter distractions, which could include family members, laundry, dirty dishes, or a busy street outside your window.
  • Avoid sitting on a comfortable couch or bed.
  • Pay close attention to peers’ comments and ask yourself if you agree or disagree, and why. Add to the dialogue by sharing your thoughts.
  • Avoid taking class from coffee shops or other public spaces. The background noise can create a distraction both for you and for the entire class. Also, internet connections may be inconsistent in public spaces.

Don’t use the chat box when you can speak instead. On my university’s platform, there’s a chat box in which students can type messages in real time. This could be a useful tool if used properly. But I often find it difficult to simultaneously read the chat box while listening to a student who’s speaking. The same goes for when I am speaking and someone is typing comments or questions in the chat box. If there’s a robust dialogue happening among a few of the students and others want to interject, they can place their comments in the chat box. Otherwise, I ask that they take advantage of the face-to-face online time by verbalizing their questions or comments.

From DSC:
Esther’s point on how difficult it is to both read/respond to the chat area while also trying to listen to someone else speaking is a great example of cognitive load — and it being overwhelmed with too much information to process at one time.

 

 

Students are being prepared for jobs that no longer exist. Here’s how that could change. — from nbcnews.com by Sarah Gonser, The Hechinger Report
As automation disrupts the labor market and good middle-class jobs disappear, schools are struggling to equip students with future-proof skills.

Excerpts:

In many ways, the future of Lowell, once the largest textile manufacturing hub in the United States, is tied to the success of students like Ben Lara. Like many cities across America, Lowell is struggling to find its economic footing as millions of blue-collar jobs in manufacturing, construction and transportation disappear, subject to offshoring and automation.

The jobs that once kept the city prosperous are being replaced by skilled jobs in service sectors such as health care, finance and information technology — positions that require more education than just a high-school diploma, thus squeezing out many of those blue-collar, traditionally middle-class workers.

 

As emerging technologies rapidly and thoroughly transform the workplace, some experts predict that by 2030 400 million to 800 million people worldwide could be displaced and need to find new jobs. The ability to adapt and quickly acquire new skills will become a necessity for survival.

 

 

“We’re preparing kids for these jobs of tomorrow, but we really don’t even know what they are,” said Amy McLeod, the school’s director of curriculum, instruction and assessment. “It’s almost like we’re doing this with blinders on. … We’re doing all we can to give them the finite skills, the computer languages, the programming, but technology is expanding so rapidly, we almost can’t keep up.”

 

 

 

For students like Amber, who would rather do just about anything but go to school, the Pathways program serves another function: It makes learning engaging, maybe even fun, and possibly keeps her in school and on track to graduate.

“I think we’re turning kids off to learning in this country by putting them in rows and giving them multiple-choice tests — the compliance model,” McLeod said. “But my hope is that in the pathways courses, we’re teaching them to love learning. And they’re learning about options in the field — there’s plenty of options for kids to try here.”

 

 

 

Very clever designs! Some serious creativity here! 

From DSC:
NOTE: I’ve never been to this site before, but I saw the clever QWERTY image on Pinterest, which lead me to this page. What if more of our learning spaces — and/or perhaps our playgrounds — featured this level of creativity, color, innovative design, passion, beauty, and energy?

Some examples:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Curiosity Guide — from byrdseed.com Ian Byrd


Excerpts:

Anticipation and Dopamine: In part one of this curiosity series, we explore the connection between curiosity, anticipation, and dopamine and discover why we remember things better when we are allowed to wonder.

So, to wrap up our first round of exploring curiosity:

  • When we become curious, we are anticipating learning information.
  • Our brain releases dopamine, a pleasurable chemical related to the anticipation of a reward (in this case information).
  • Simply being in this curious state activates the hippocampus, enhancing memory.
  • We remember things better when we are in this state, even things we weren’t actually curious about.

Closing Question:
How many times a day are your students in a curious state, eagerly anticipating information?

 

Confusion and Curiosity: So how do we make kids curious? We’ll cover two aspects: creating information gaps and (yes) purposefully confusing our students.

In the first article, we covered what happenings in our brains when we become curious. We also noted that just being in a state of curiosity can improve memory, even for things you’re not curious about.

Here’s one key: to become curious, you must already know something about the topic. Curiosity only fires up when we discover that some important information is missing or that it contradicts information we already had. George Loewenstein calls this the Information Gap theory of curiosity.

Simply put: we have to give students enough information for them to become curious about the missing information.

To wrap up part two:

  • Curiosity requires us to know something about the topic.
  • We become curious when information doesn’t fit an existing mental model.
  • Confusion is part of curiosity. We enjoy a certain amount of cognitive disequilibrium.
  • But! No one wants to be curious forever. It must be resolved.

 

Curiosity Is Social: When we’re curious, we can enhance that curiosity by discussing it with others. Our mutual confusion takes us deeper into the experience.

So, in classrooms, it’s worth purposefully (but gently) confusing students and then letting them talk to each other. It will build their interest and enhance their curiosity.

 

Creating Cultures of Curiosity: The biggest factor in our students’ curiosity at school is us! Teachers can create (or kill) cultures of curiosity. We’ll look at four qualities and a couple experiments run by Susan Engel.

Teachers have enormous power to encourage or discourage curiosity. Every word and action can either build a culture of curiosity or a culture of compliance.

 

 

 

From Elliott Masie’s Learning TRENDS – January 3, 2018.
#986 – Updates on Learning, Business & Technology Since 1997.

2. Curation in Action – Meural Picture Frame of Endless Art. 
What a cool Curation Holiday Gift that arrived.  The Meural Picture Frame is an amazing digital display, 30 inches by 20 inches, that will display any of over 10,000 classical or modern paintings or photos from the world’s best museums.

A few minutes of setup to the WiFi and my Meural became a highly personalized museum in the living room.  I selected collections of an era, a specific artist, a theme or used someone else’s art “playlist”.

It is curation at its best!  A personalized and individualized selection from an almost limitless collection.  Check it out at http://www.meural.com

 



Also see:



 

Discover new art every day with Meural

 

 

Discover new artwork with Meural -- you can browse playlists of artwork and/or add your own

 

 

 

 

From DSC:
As I understand it, you can upload your own artwork and photography into this platform. As such, couldn’t we put such devices/frames in schools?!

Wouldn’t it be great to have each classroom’s artwork available as a playlist?! And not just the current pieces, but archived pieces as well!

Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to walk down the hall and swish through a variety of pieces?

Wouldn’t such a dynamic, inspirational platform be a powerful source of creativity in our hallways?  The frames could display the greatest works of art from around the world!

Wouldn’t such a platform give young/budding artists and photographers incentive to do their best work, knowing many others can see their creative works as a part of a playlist?

Wouldn’t it be cool to tap into such a service and treasure chest of artwork and photography via your Smart/Connected TV?

Here’s to creativity!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keeping Joy in the Classroom — from teachervision.com by Lisa Koplik
How do we keep joy in our classrooms — for both students and teachers?

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Teaching today is nothing like it was in the past. Gone are the days of loose curriculum, infrequent observations by your principal, and learning cursive; we now have structured lessons, unannounced walkthroughs by both the principal and the superintendent, and a lack of downtime.

How do we keep joy in our classrooms — for the kids and also for us? Take a look at some tips for continuing to make teaching and learning fun.

4. Allow for Choice
As much as you can, give the kids choices. While this isn’t always possible, there are ways to promote student choice. If your school has an intervention time, or a “What I Need” (WIN) block, create a menu of student options. Recently, my WIN time menu has included Greek myths, multiplication practice, a persuasive essay piece, informational task cards, and multi-step word problems in math. These activities are considered Must-Do, and if they finish all Must-Dos, they can move on to optional choices. Another great way to allow for choice is by using Seesaw, a website that allows for students to represent their learning in a variety of ways. I have used Seesaw during assessments to allow students the choice of typing, voice recording, or writing by hand. They definitely enjoy filming themselves talking!

 

 

From DSC:
Seeing as all of us are now into lifelong learning, it’s to all of our benefits to make learning fun and enjoyable. In fact, I wish that were more a part of our formative assessments…not just how did our students score on this or that standardized test. The skills that are needed in the future are hard to cram into a standardized test; skills such as creativity, entrepreneurship, tenacity/grit, patience, teamwork and collaboration, being innovative, being able to quickly adapt to change, etc.

Sometimes the problem is that it takes too much time to provide a solid level of choice. I get that. But with some tools/services — as in the case where Lisa mentioned her use of Seesaw — there are some options that aren’t so labor-intensive for the teachers.

I have it that if someone has had an extended period of painful or bad learning experiences, chances are that they won’t want to “go back to school” — in whatever form that additional training/education might look like. But if they enjoyed their learning experiences, it becomes much easier for consistent, lifelong learning to get baked into our daily/weekly habits and into our lives.

 

 

 

 

 

How a Flipped Syllabus, Twitter and YouTube Made This Professor Teacher of the Year — from edsurge.com by Bruce Anderson

Excerpt:

A few years after John Boyer began teaching world geography at Virginia Tech, a survey revealed that 58 percent of college-aged Americans could not locate Japan on a map. Sixty-nine percent could not find the United Kingdom.

Boyer raced ahead undaunted. He loved the scope and implications of his subject. “The great thing about geography is . . . everything happens somewhere,” he explains. “Geography is the somewhere.”

Boyer is now a senior instructor and researcher at Virginia Tech. He took over World Regions, an entry-level geography class, while he was working on a master’s degree nearly 20 years ago. The class then had 50 students. Now the course is offered each semester and a whopping 3,000 students take it in any given school year.

What has made it so popular? Innovative pedagogy, for starters. Boyer uses a “flipped syllabus” in which students’ final grades are based on the points they’ve earned—not lost—throughout the semester. His legendary assignments range from reviewing films to tweeting on behalf of world leaders (more on that below). Mostly, Boyer himself has made the class a rite of passage for undergraduates, who typically find him funny, passionate, and consummately engaging. Boyer even created a comic alter ego called the Plaid Avenger, who has narrated textbooks and podcasts but is now largely retired—though Boyer still sports his famous plaid jackets and drives a plaid Scion.

 

 

Given the disparity in knowledge levels as well as the disparity in what they like to do in terms of work, whether that be watching international film or writing papers, I wanted to increase the flexibility of what the students could do to achieve a grade in this class.

 

 

Tell us about the Twitter World Leaders.
You can choose to be a true, real world leader. Of course, they’re fake accounts and we make sure everyone knows you’re the fake Donald Trump or the fake Angela Merkel of Germany. Once you take on that role, you will tweet as the world leader for the entire semester, and you have to tweet two to three times a day. And it’s not silly stuff. What is the chancellor of Germany working on right now? What other world leaders is Angela Merkel meeting with? What’s going on in Germany or the EEU?

 

 

 

It’s Time for Student Agency to Take Center Stage — from gettingsmart.com by Marie Bjerede and Michael Gielniak

Excerpt:

Jason took ownership of his class project, exhibiting agency. Students who take ownership go beyond mere responsibility and conscientiously completing assignments. These students are focused on their learning, rather than their grade. They are genuinely interested in their work and are as likely as not to get up and work on a project on a Saturday morning, even though they don’t have to (and without considerations of extra credit.)

They complete their homework on time and may well go above and beyond, and they have interesting thoughts to add to classroom dialog. For many teachers, they are a joy to teach, but they are also the ones who may ask the hard questions and they may be quick to point out what they see as hypocrisy in the authority figures.

“Responsible” students, on the other hand, are compliant. Most teachers think they are a joy to teach. They complete their homework without fail, and pay attention and participate in class. These are the kids typically considered “good” students. They usually win most of the academic awards because they are thought of as the “best and brightest.”

Responsible students are concerned about their grades, and can be identified when they ask questions like::

  • “Will that be on the test?”
  • “How many words do I have to write?”
  • “What does it take to get an A?”

Students who take ownership, on the other hand ask questions like:

  • “There are several different viewpoints on this subject so why is that, and what does it mean?
  • “Is what you are teaching, or what is in my textbook, consistent with my research?”
  • “Why is this important?”

Compliance or agency? We need to decide.

 

 

The past decades have been the age of the responsible, compliant student. Students who used to be able to get into college and then immediately secure a good job. But the world and the workforce have changed.

 

 

 

 

 

A new report from Silicon Schools: All that we've learned: 5 years working on personalized learning -- Cover of report

 

A new report from Silicon Schools: All that we've learned: 5 years working on personalized learning

 

 

 

“Personalized learning seeks to accelerate student learning by tailoring the instructional environment — what, when, how, and where students learn — to address the individual needs, skills, and interests of each student. Students can take ownership of their own learning, while also developing deep, personal connections with each other, their teachers, and other adults.”

 

 

 

A new report from Silicon Schools: All that we've learned: 5 years working on personalized learning

 

WE’VE ALWAYS HAD FOUR STRONG BELIEFS:

  1. Students’ ownership of their learning is critical to long-term success.
  2. When it comes to learning, students should get more of what they need exactly when they need it.
  3. Ensuring equity requires getting each student what he or she needs to succeed.
  4. It is possible to redesign schools to work much better for students and teachers.

 

 

 

 

We do not believe that there is yet definitive proof that personalized learning works better than other models. Ultimately, we hope that personalized learning will improve life outcomes for students, with clear evidence to support its efficacy. In the interim, we look to traditional academic measures (e.g. state assessments or assessments like NWEA MAP), to provide early signs of the efficacy of personalized learning.

Despite the lack of conclusive proof, there are two important data sets that we find compelling. First, RAND conducted a study of 11,000 students and 62 personalized learning schools nationally and found that “students made significant gains in mathematics and reading overall, and in elementary and middle schools [1].” More recently, RAND published the third of its studies of personalized learning. It again found statistically significant gains in math, however, the effect size had decreased notably [2].

 

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