Boosting High School Students’ Sense of Agency and Motivation — from edutopia.org by Mary Davenport
Providing students with greater voice and choice in the classroom can build their desire to learn and do well academically.

Excerpt:

This year, instead of repeating essay after essay, we included project-based, performative, and creative assessments. The variety allowed for every student to shine at some point in a way unique to themselves.

More than anything, creating opportunities for autonomy has necessitated a shift in my perspective. Our field likes to talk about everything standards-based, but there are dangers to that: When the standard becomes more important than the student in front of us, we have lost the true meaning of education.

I offer students choice by giving them options regarding

    • learning content (which texts to read, videos to watch, podcasts to listen to);
    • communication and processing (written, verbal, or visual);
    • assessments (choosing topics, choosing texts, choosing supports, choosing structures); and
    • work time (independent, collaborative, location).

Learners need: More voice. More choice. More control. -- this image was created by Daniel Christian


 

Future of Learning Council on Statewide Grassroots Strategies & Pathways — from gettingsmart.com

Description of podcast:

On this episode of the Getting Smart Podcast Shawnee Caruthers is joined by Dr. Dave Richards, the Executive Learning Strategist for Michigan Virtual and a key part of Future of Learning Council, a partner that we’ve loved working alongside over the last year.

We are also joined by two superintendents who are a part of this project – Dr. Christopher Timmis, Superintendent of Dexter Community Schools and Dr. John VanWagoner of Traverse City Area Public Schools.

 

From DSC:
It will be interesting to watch the pre-K-12 learning ecosystems out there, especially if the exodus from traditional school systems gathers momentum — both student *AND* teacher-wise.


‘Alternative to school:’ Las Vegas has self-directed learning center — from reviewjournal.com by Julie Wootton-Greener

Excerpt:

It’s part of a movement called “microschooling.” The trend accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic — particularly, while Clark County School District campuses operated under a year of distance education until in-person classes resumed in spring 2021.

Southern Nevada is home to more than 20 microschools, which are “multifamily learning arrangements,” said Don Soifer, president of Nevada Action for School Options and a former board member for the Nevada State Public Charter School Authority.

Most are operating with children who are considered homeschooled, he said, while some are small private schools.
.

Showing up in our homeschools — from raisinglifelonglearners.com by Colleen Kessler

Excerpt:

What do you want your kids to think about homeschooling? What do you want their homeschooling experience to be? Choose how you want that to look and then work on it, set an intention for the day or for the week and show up that way.

Take a deep breath. When things get difficult, respond with peace, not anger.

Notice little things, be curious about what’s going on in your homeschool, and then find ways to make it look the way you want it to look.

I share more in depth strategies all about making this intentionality happen in today’s episode of the podcast.
.

A Guide to Rethinking Education After Pandemic — from edsurge.com by Michael Staton

Excerpt:

During the pandemic, there were those who rose to the occasion—innovators who forged a new path, students who learned more than they knew they could, teachers who felt unbound by convention, administrators who mobilized bureaucracies known for inertia and parents who saw first-hand that another world is possible. There were many individuals and organizations who knew it was a once in a millennium moment to rethink what has been, to experiment with what could be, to create an upgraded education model and a better school experience.

Michael Horn’s new book, “From Reopen to Reinvent: (Re)Creating School for Every Child,” highlights key organizations and individuals who seized the moment—some because they were prepared; some because they were lucky enough to have a quirky vision which suddenly made sense to try during pandemic lockdown; some because they were forced to adapt and had no other choice. From those, Horn sheds light to help others learn a brighter path forward.
.

Pandemic “Learning Loss” Actually Reveals More About Schooling Than Learning — from fee.org by Kerry McDonald
The alleged “learning loss” now being exposed is more reflective of the nature of forced schooling rather than how children actually learn. 

As we know from research on unschoolers and others who learn in self-directed education settings, non-coercive, interest-driven learning tends to be deep and authentic. When learning is individually-initiated and unforced, it is not a chore. It is absorbed and retained with enthusiasm because it is tied to personal passions and goals.

 

Yale Study: Vast Majority of High Schoolers Unhappy at School — from fee.org by Kerry McDonald
The Yale findings echo previous conclusions about young people’s attitudes toward school.

Excerpt:

Most high school students are not happy at school. A new study by Yale researchers finds that nearly three-quarters of high schoolers report negative feelings toward school. The study surveyed more than 20,000 high school students in all 50 US states and found widespread dissatisfaction at school across all demographic groups, with girls reporting slightly more negative emotions than boys. According to Yale co-author Zorana Ivcevic,

It was higher than we expected. We know from talking to students that they are feeling tired, stressed, and bored, but were surprised by how overwhelming it was.

From DSC:
If you were to have polled him during his ninth through eleventh-grade years, our son would have been one of the very disgruntled students going through high school. His senior year was spent doing exactly what he wanted to be doing — and he was much happier, more engaged, and more motivated to learn the material. He was also around an entirely different student body his senior year — where students were there because they wanted to be there and they were all pursuing their craft.

Fast forward a couple of years, and he actually enjoyed a good deal of his learning experiences this summer and he’s really looking forward to his film and acting classes this fall. It’s amazing the amount of energy and determination/interest that gets unleashed when the motivation is intrinsic.
.

Learners need: More voice. More choice. More control. -- this image was created by Daniel Christian

Also from fee.org by Kerry McDonald:

.
9 Digital Etiquette Tips — from techlearning.com by Lisa Nielsen
Teaching proper digital etiquette to students starts with modeling it

Excerpt:

It’s undeniable that the pandemic changed the way we teach, learn, work, and live, but when some people returned to in-person learning and their schools, it seemed they could use some advice on digital etiquette for the new, and extremely connected, world in which we are now operating. This is a world where at any time you may be meeting or teaching in-person, via video, phone, or a combination thereof at the same time.

While adapting was easier for some, others could use a bit of help. For those people, you may want to share or discuss these tips with them.

A Guide To Design Thinking For Kids — from edtechreview.in by Saniya Khan

Excerpt:

The concept is active and inclusive. What’s more, children embrace design thinking with enthusiasm. Across the globe, schools are embracing design thinking as a new way to learn and increase student participation. It should be on our education agenda. Of course, this is more complicated than standard repackaged evaluations. However, conceptual thinking gives children golden opportunities for commitment and creativity, two prerequisites for true learning.
.

 

How Accredible Makes Learning Credible — from gettingsmart.com by Tom Vander Ark

Key Points

  • To increase the value of credentials, Accredible launched Spotlight Directory.
  • This allows issuers to provide a home base for people that hold their credentials.

Excerpts:

Learners store credentials in their Accredible wallet and can incorporate them into their LinkedIn profile.

To increase the value of credentials, Accredible launched Spotlight Directory which allows issuers to provide a home base for people that hold their credentials. For example, the Hootsuite Certified Professionals Directory showcases everyone that has earned a Hootsuite credential.

The faster the world of work changes, the more the transcripts lose signal value and the more we need finer grained and more dynamic ways of communicating capabilities.

Tom Vander Ark


Addendum on 8/22/22:

What parents should say to teachers (according to teachers) — from washingtonpost.com by Elizabeth Chang

Excerpt:

“Parents are often surprised by stories of other parents’ treatment of teachers,” wrote Margaret Flaherty, 42, a high school English teacher at a public school in Byfield, Mass. “When I share some of the things parents have said or written to me, mouths go agape. They can be mean. Very mean. And we are so tired. Start with assuming good intentions and take it from there.”


 

Aurora Institute: Federal Policy Priorities and Recommendations 2022 — from aurora-institute.org

Introduction:

It is critically important for our country to reimagine education and focus on investing in our future, not our past. The current K-12 education system has not produced equitable outcomes for all students. We must change policies and invest in innovation to transform our education systems. Student-centered policies are needed for true systems change and innovations for equity. We must challenge frames and investments that perpetuate tinkering with the existing system, rather than reimagining it. The time is ripe to redesign education to align with future needs and purposes to achieve human flourishing.

To ensure all learners are prepared for life’s uncertainties, as well as a more knowledge-driven workforce and economy, we must restructure the education system to universally recognize anytime, anywhere learning. Many states and districts have taken steps to move in new and improved directions, but more work must be done to meet students where they are and accelerate them to successful futures and prosperity. We must question the fundamental purposes of our education system, align our goals to that purpose, and expand learning to anytime and anyplace, with greater opportunities for next generation learning.

Aurora Institute’s latest Federal Policy Priorities represent an equity-oriented and future-focused set of recommendations designed to ensure that the nation’s education system moves from its current state to a system capable of preparing all learners with the knowledge and skills necessary to achieve lifelong success.

 


From DSC:
I post this because I like the design thinking exhibited herein. I love the idea of greater collaboration between K-12, higher education, vocational training, and the workforce/workplace. We should consider eliminating — or at least building much better bridges between the — existing silos. These silos seem to be easier to put up than they are to take down.


 

 

From DSC:
Is the use of virtual instructors going to be used more to fill vacancies within K12? Hmmm…time will tell. 

By the way, I think online-based learning works for many people, but certainly it isn’t for everyone (even with the likely unfair assumption that everyone has Internet access and the equipment/setup that they need). From what I’ve observed, it works best for very disciplined, motivated students — they need to be a bit more independent in their learning. But school systems should have backup plans in place if the exodus continues.



Education tech companies bring virtual teaching to the table as solution to teacher shortage — from thedenverchannel.com by Chloe Nordquist

Excerpts:

Education technology companies like Elevate K-12, which is a live streaming instruction platform, are growing. Especially in areas where hiring a teacher can be tough.

The company is seeing more interest from teachers in joining their platform. One is for schedule flexibility.

 

Encourage Learning Over the Summer with Buncee & PebbleGo Create — from rdene915.com by Rachelle Dene Poth

Excerpts:

In each of these, there are opportunities for students to take a close look at the world around them and become curious about learning. Students can connect with things that are happening in the real world.

Another item from Rachelle:

Enhanced Learning with IPEVO!

From DSC:
In my last position, we used IPEVO devices as well. I purchased one for my sister last year as well. They do the job quite well — at a very decent price.

 

Survey Shows Teachers See Play and Choice in Learning Methods As Key to Student Engagement — from thejournal.com by Kristal Kuykendall

Excerpt:

A recent survey of teachers by Kahoot reveals that educators see playful learning and student choice in learning methods as vital to helping boost student engagement and outcomes, according to a new report from the ed tech company.

Kahoot’s May survey of over 8,000 K–16 educators nationwide found that teachers are still concerned about drops in student engagement during the pandemic, and they consider more student-centered approaches as the path forward.

 

From DSC:
Below are several observations re: our learning ecosystems — and some ideas on how we can continue to improve them.


It takes years to build up the knowledge and skills in order to be a solid teacher, faculty member, instructional designer, and/or trainer. It takes a lot of studying to effectively research how the brain works and how we learn. Then we retire…and the knowledge is often lost or not passed along. And the wheel gets reinvented all over again. And again. And again.

Along these lines — and though we’re making progress in this area — too often we separate the research from the practical application of that research. So we have folks working primarily in learning science, neuroscience, cognitive psychology, and related fields. But their research doesn’t always get practically applied within our learning spaces. We have researchers…and then we have practitioners. So I greatly appreciate the likes of Pooja Agarwal and Patrice Bain out at RetrievalPractice.org, Daniel Willingham, Eva Keiffenheim, The Learning Scientists, James Lang, and several others who bridge this gap.

We need to take more of the research from learning science and apply it in our learning spaces.

Perhaps more researchers, faculty members, teachers, trainers, instructional designers, principals, provosts, etc. could blog or be active out on social media.

***

Along these lines, we need to spend more time helping people know how best to study and to learn.
If that type of thing is ever to be learned, it seems like it’s often learned or discussed in the mid- to later years of one’s life…often after one’s primary and secondary days are long gone.

Instead, we should consider putting these easy-to-understand posters from the Learning Scientists in every K-12 school, college, and university in the nation — or something like them.

***

To provide the most effective engaging learning experiences, we should consider using more team-based approaches. As appropriate, that could include the students themselves.

***

We put way too much emphasis on grades — which produces gameplayers who seek only to do the minimum amount of work necessary to get the A’s.  Doing so creates systems whereby learning is not the goal — getting a 4.0+ is.

***
As we are now required to be lifelong learners, our quality of life as a whole goes waaaay up if we actually enjoy learning.  Many people discover later in life that they like to learn…they just didn’t like school. Perhaps we could place greater emphasis within K-16 on whether students enjoyed their learning experiences or not. And if not, what might have made that topic more enjoyable to them? Or what other topics would they like to dive into (that weren’t’ on the original learning menu)?

This could also apply in the corporate training/L&D space as well. Such efforts could go a long way in helping establish stronger learning cultures.

***

We don’t provide enough choice to our students. We need to do a better job of turning over more control to them in their learning journey. We turn students off to learning because we try to cram information that they don’t care about down their throats. So then we have to use the currency of grades to force them into doing the work that they could care less about doing. Their experience with learning/school can easily get soured.

Learners need: More voice. More choice. More control. -- this image was created by Daniel Christian

We need to be more responsive with our curricula. And we need to explain how the information we’re trying to relay is relevant in the real world and will be relevant in their futures.

***

So those are some ideas that I wanted to relay. Thanks for your time and for your shared interests here!

 

Teaching Financial Literacy — from techlearning.com by Erik Ofgang
More states are adopting financial literacy requirements for students. Here are tips for teaching the topic.

Excerpt:

Teaching students about this financial misinformation is vital, Pelletier says. As is giving students the tools to understand cryptocurrency, NFTs, intense inflation, and student debt, along with more traditional lessons in financial literacy.

Financial Literacy: Teaching and Engagement Resources
There are free online resources with ready-to-go financial lesson plans, videos, and classroom exercises.

While not much time is spent in K-12 educating students about money, once they graduate, it will be an important topic for them. “Not a day will go by that they’re not thinking about money. How to make it, how to spend it, how to save it,” Pelletier says. “And yet it’s like the least thing you’re taught in school.” 

From DSC:
I appreciated Erik’s article/topic here and I would add that I wish that we would teach high schoolers about legal-related items such as wills, trusts, power of attorney for health care and for finances, finding legal assistance, etc.

But even as I write this, I recall that my neighbor is leaving our local school district to move to another school district for her kids’ sake (her and her husband’s words, not mine). I get it. Teachers have sooooo much on their plate already. So I don’t mean to throw another item on their jammed-full job plates.

But I hope that we will look at how to redesign our lifelong learning ecosystems to make them even more relevant, helpful, practical, useful, and up-to-date/responsive. We would probably find that the youth would be more attentive if they sensed that the information they are being taught will definitely come in handy in their futures. Better yet, bring former students in via digital video to relay practical examples of things that they — or their parents, grandparents, friends, etc. — are experiencing to the current students.


Also relevant/see:

High School Students Say They Learn The Most Important Skills Outside of School — from edsurge.com by Jeffrey R. Young

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

The trend that could have a huge impact on education, at the K-12 and college level, Evans argues. For one thing, it’s a challenge to teachers—that they should do more to tap into the intrinsic motivation of students, that students can learn so much more if they’re excited about what they’re doing.

From DSC:
This item from EdSurge mentioned “free agent learning” — so I put a Google Alert out there for this phrase this morning, as I want to learn more about that topic/item.


 

Blurring the lines between education and workforce — from hechingerreport.org by Javeria Salman
A proposition to ‘blur’ the boundaries between K-12, higher ed, and the workforce industry

Excerpts:

One idea that’s been gaining steam since last year is to break down barriers between high school, college and career to create a system that bridges all three.

The concept is called the “Big Blur.”

“What would it look like to change the typical, or what we think of as the conventional high school experience and instead design something that was built for the modern economy?” said Vargas.

Vargas said that JFF is arguing for new programs or institutions that serve students in grades 11 through 14 (grades 13 and 14 being the first two years of college, under our current configuration). The institutions would be co-designed with regional employers so that all students get work-based learning experiences and graduate — without tuition costs — with a post-secondary credential that has labor market value.

 

From DSC:
The following items made me reflect upon the place of COVID-19 in causing the current ills within higher education — but also thinking about the ills that were present long before Covid hit us.

Key point:
We should be careful not to conveniently use COVID-19 as the scapegoat for all that’s wrong within higher education.


On the faculty/staff side of the house


The Season of Our Professorial Discontent — from chronicle.com by Paul Musgrave
The pandemic irrevocably changed the student-teacher relationship — and not for the better.

Excerpts:

As pandemic slides into endemic, it’s worth asking: Did the pandemic break something fundamental about academe? Was the spring of 2022 the end of pandemic disruptions, or the start of a new normal?

This time, as I delivered the lines to an audience of 30 in a course with 200 students enrolled, I was wondering whether I wanted to give a lecture ever again.

From DSC:
Regarding the first quote…several things were broken within academe long before COID-19. Re: the second quote, what should that tell us if only 30 students showed up in a class with 200 students in it?

Faculty autonomy and faculty satisfaction are being whittled away.

From DSC:
From what I can tell, that’s been happening for years within the K-12 learning ecosystem. It seems like this trend is now occurring within the higher ed learning ecosystem. (I could go off on a tangent about why we didn’t help our fellow educators within K-12 — whose “product” directly impacts those working within higher ed — but I better not. This posting is already packed with reflections.)

Below are some relevant quotes from Kevin McClure’s 5/27/22 article out at The Chronicle of Higher Education (emphasis DSC). I agree with much of what Kevin is saying here.

Don’t Blame the Pandemic for Worker Discontent
It hasn’t just been a tough two years. It’s been a tough two decades.

Excerpt:

The pandemic alone didn’t cause the low morale and turnover you might be seeing among your faculty and staff members just as the lack of personal protective equipment didn’t solely give rise to the Amazon Labor Union. Yes, today’s workers are re-evaluating their workplaces, seeking reassignment within their institutions, and in some cases resigning from jobs altogether. But they are doing so for many of the same reasons they did 20 years ago — poor working conditions.

So burnout isn’t just about people struggling to cope with stress; it’s about people struggling in workplaces where stress never subsides.

In my own interviews on morale, higher-education workers have talked about leaders who aren’t listening, low compensation, and understaffing.

We see our workplaces differently, and our tolerance of poor working conditions has evaporated.

 


On the student side of the house


“It hasn’t just been a tough two years. It’s been a tough two decades.” The same — and likely more — could be said for the student side of the house, especially in regards to the price of education and how relevant/up-to-date the content has been. As the prices of obtaining a degree have skyrocketed over the last several decades, students and parents now HAVE to ask, “What’s the Return On Investment (ROI) here? Am I gaining the skills in college that will get me hired after college?”

Again, the point I’m trying to make here is that we should be careful not to conveniently use COVID-19 as the scapegoat for all that’s wrong within higher education.

Along these lines, the following two quotes seem relevant to me from Beth McMurtrie’s (6/2/22) Teaching e-newsletter (also from The Chronicle):

I asked Walton to tell me more about the setup at his university. He said classes were fully in person but instructors were encouraged to record lectures and be highly flexible with due dates. The result: Most days he had less than 50-percent attendance, and he received a lot of last-minute emails from students who said they woke up that morning with a headache or otherwise not feeling well. A few filed documented absence requests, but not many, suggesting that these were not serious illnesses, like Covid.

I’ve never had more incompletes for courses than in the last two years, so signaling to students that their distribution courses are flexible and accommodating has only let them de-emphasize them even more.

There’s likely a variety of causes/possibilities here — and I’m sure that Covid-related reasons are among them. But it makes me really wonder if students don’t think that the content is all that valuable or relevant to begin with these days. Is college even worth it anymore? Why am I here in the first place? Where is the motivation coming from? Is it extrinsic or intrinsic motivation?

Perhaps it’s time to change the curriculum/content as well as the price.


Daniel S. Christian: My concerns with just maintaining the status quo (from 2009).

A graphic I created back in 2009, with Yohan Na’s assistance.


 

Teacher Moves That Cultivate Learner Agency — from edutopia.org by Paul Emerich France
Helping students become independent, questioning thinkers begins with stepping back and guiding them to take the lead in their learning.

Excerpt:

Cultivating learner agency is an endless journey. It not only entails knowing our students as human beings but also requires identifying and unlearning patterns in our teaching that unknowingly engender dependence in learners.

The term agency comes from the Latin agere, meaning “to set in motion.” It is precisely what agency should do in our classrooms: empower learners so that their minds and hearts become the engines that drive learning in our classrooms. This isn’t as simple as some might believe. Providing too much voice and choice without proper scaffolds can be counterproductive, resulting in chaos in the classroom.

Consider the following moves that cultivate learner agency—and choose one to try in your classroom.

 
 

K-12 education in America is like quickly moving trains that stop for no one.

K-12 education in America is like quickly moving trains that stop for no one.

From DSC:
A family member struggles with spelling — big time. This causes her major amounts of anxiety in school.

Another family member had some learning disabilities and reflects back on school with some bad memories.

Another family member struggles with social graces and learns at a much different pace than her peers — the move to her education being (predominantly) done via homeschooling has helped significantly.

A friend of mine has Dyslexia. He recently said that school was hell for him.

Another person I know doesn’t understand his daughter’s learning disabilities — at all. He’s asking a fish to climb the tree and yells at his daughter when she doesn’t produce like the other kids do. Her school is for college-bound learners, and there’s always pressure to maintain the school’s “blue-ribbon” status (i.e., sorry if you don’t fit in…but please board the train anyway, as it’s about to depart).

These people and stories about their educations got me to reflect on all the people who went through the school systems in the United States (over the last few decades) that didn’t work well for them. In fact, not only did the systems not work well for them, they were the sources of a great deal of pain, anxiety, depression, anger, frustration, and embarrassment.  Instead of being a place of wonder or joy, school was a painful, constant struggle to get through.

For those who can keep up or even excel at the pace that the trains travel at, school isn’t that much of a problem. There are likely different levels of engagement involved here, but school is manageable and it doesn’t cause nearly the stress for someone who struggles with it.

For those with learning disabilities, I’d like to apologize to you on behalf of all the people who legislated or created rigid, one-size-fits-all school systems that didn’t understand and/or meet your needs. (Why we allow legislators — who aren’t the ones on the front lines — to control so much of what happens in our school systems is beyond me.) I’d like to apologize on behalf of all of the teachers, administrators, and staff who just accept the systems as they are.

Please help us reinvent our school systems. Help us develop the future of education. Help us develop a more personalized, customized approach. For those who are working to provide that, thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

To everyone working within Pre-K through 12th grade, help us offer: More voice. More choice. More control. The status quo has to go. School should not be a constant source of pain and anxiety.

Learners need: More voice. More choice. More control. -- this image was created by Daniel Christian

 

 
© 2022 | Daniel Christian