Are You Ready to Disrupt Learning?
Mar01

Are You Ready to Disrupt Learning?

In late 2015, my best friend’s daughter was going through something really horrific at school. She would come home and cry about math tests and she was beginning to show signs of  hating school. Tanya and I think it was because her teacher was so caught up in making sure she delivered certain content in a timely matter, that she had failed to notice that some of her students were not understanding the information. In addition, her daughter was becoming frustrated with what she thought was her inability to learn. One evening while saying her “good-nights,” this sweet seven year old girl confided in her  mom about a punishment she had received for talking during class…and as she told her story, her mom began to cry. It is from this story of an unjust punishment – a public humiliation really – that this TEDx talk was written…   Share...

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Disrupting A Culture of One Right Answer
Dec21

Disrupting A Culture of One Right Answer

Disrupting A Culture of One Right Answer In my 17 years of teaching, I have come to understand one truism. Multiple choice questions WILL NOT, HAVE NOT and DO NOT give us rich information about student learning and growth. Period. Full Stop.   This epiphany has haunted me for years because of the countless multiple choice tests I gave, and the subsequent judgements I formed about a student’s abilities based on how they answered. I wish I could say…that was the way I was taught… so in my defense, I didn’t know any better...but that would be complete bullshit…and you might want to stop reading this blog,  if you want me to play nice with schools still teaching students to regurgitate answers. I knew better… Truth is I knew better!  I was once a student. I knew that multiple choice questions didn’t show my real understanding – and that I could easily manipulate, even sell my learning short, to meet the needs of a test. I knew that if a willing teacher might have asked me a question in a different way – my explanation of the event, or problem, would have been so much more illuminating and profound. So I knew! This is why the guilt started to get the best of me.   I knew instinctively using multiple choice questions to gather real insight about what my students knew, understood  and could do – was not teaching and learning at its best.  Sadly,I found countless reasons to ignore this fact. Maybe I used multiple choice questions to chase after an easy grade  – but when I did – I settled. By my second year of teaching, I had developed a real passion for teaching and learning  and it broke my heart to continue the facade. So, I stopped… or I tried to stop, but  one big impasse stood in my way. The status quo of school got in the way Like a boulder blocking a mountain road, what stood in my way, was the status quo of school itself.  The administration (district level admin) who wanted my grade level PLC (Personal Learning Community) to discuss every month how our students did comparatively on identical unit tests we administered in our classrooms. That meant,  based on examining students answers on a multiple choice test, we could somehow grow as teachers and improve our instruction (it hurts me to even repeat this line of thinking). This was based on an underlying fallacy that all students learn in the same way – and that their chosen answers somehow gave us insight into our teaching abilities.  In addition, there was always this pressure to have a lot of grades I could post in my gradebook, because as we went to online grades –...

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Google Introduces Expeditions for the Classroom
Sep29

Google Introduces Expeditions for the Classroom

Take your students places a school bus can’t go! Nestled at the bottom of South Australia sits a town known for it’s amazing wine and beautiful beaches – Adelaide. This week, however, Adelaide took on a new distinction, it became the home of the world première of Expeditions, Google’s new virtual reality learning tool. (Think of it as Google Classroom, meets Google Cardboard, meets Google Streetview ) Luckily, I happened to be in Adelaide at the same time, so I attended a session. I entered the Expedition classroom with a healthy dose of curiosity and skepticism – but with one look at the table of “cardboards,’ all I could feel was pure anticipation – and I could sense the collective excitement from the other teachers. It was as if we all instinctively knew that this could become one of those educational tools that might just change the way students see themselves and the world. What are Expeditions? Simply put, they are field trips from your desk. Using Google Cardboard as a catalyst, Google has put together 100 initial Expeditions so students can explore the world. These “Expeditions” are made with 360 degree cameras by a host of Google partners who have created amazing imagery of international landmarks such as the Great Barrier Reef, El Capitan in Yosemite, and the ice-covered land masses of Antarctica. Google hopes to open up a world of knowledge to students – allowing them to visit different locations, experience underwater geographical features and learn about lands far, far away. Someday, it might give young learners the ability to virtually experience a day in the life of an unknown cultures Hopefully, this will allow students to develop an empathetic view of the world and a healthy respect for the cultural differences that makes our world great.     To help teachers guide students through the Expeditions – a “script” is provided from the Expedition content (if the teacher needs it), and he or she can begin reading about the important events in the expedition and point students to important details using the touch of a screen. This touch will deploy embedded arrow markers on the screens of the students. These markers help students find the spot being highlighted. I got a chance to run my own expedition – and saw first hand the power of this evolving virtual learning tool. How can we use them in the classroom? Learning about coral reefs? Why not visit the Great Barrier Reef in Australia? Students can look around as the teacher explains the importance of the reef and how it is supported by the fish and animals (that you can...

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Periscope in the Classroom
Sep07

Periscope in the Classroom

This year give Periscope a try in your classroom. This quick video will give you some great ideas on how to do it well.   Six Periscope Ideas for the Classroom: Livestream students working on a project – have them explain what they are working on to gain an authentic audience or followers on their blogs. Livestream debates and speeches. Livestream class discussions. Livestream all the fun you are having in class! Livestream any homework and directions (not that I want you to give homework). Livestream a five sentence wrap-up of what you learned in class.   Share...

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Google Classroom Meet Chrome Extension
Sep02

Google Classroom Meet Chrome Extension

Great new extension makes it possible to get everyone on the same page! In your Google Classroom. New Chrome extension, Share to Classroom, is great for that BYOD classroom or 1:1 classroom. It allows teachers to push out a webpage to everyone so that learning can begin and headaches can end. *Note: Google Apps admins can install the extension for their entire domain so that it’s easiest for teachers and students to get started. Teachers and students both need the extension in order to push web pages to each other. Share...

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