Powerful Learning
Apr30

Powerful Learning

Powerful learning happens when students are engaged. One great way to do this is by using  tools which keep kids active. A Chrome App – Kahoots! – is  just the tool to accomplish this! Kahoot! One of my favorite formative assessment tools is Kahoot!, which allows teachers to ask consecutive quiz-show type questions using a highly engaging and fun format. Students can use their Chromebook, iPad or phone to play this active and absorbing game. Kahoot! uses sounds and timers to make the game high energy and interesting to play! “Kahoot! also allows teachers to share their quizzes, so you can search the library to find examples that might be perfect for your class. Kahoot Tutorial Share...

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Questioning ADD
May19

Questioning ADD

This year has been an eye-opening experience for me. I have been able to watch kids in classes from a very different lens, that of an administrator. I get to see the impact very different teaching styles have on children. Watching instruction from afar has made me start to question ADD. I am starting to wonder if kids really have ADD or instead  the problem is that we are not teaching them in a manner that allows them to focus and succeed. When I grew up there were limited channels that I had to get up off my couch to change. Because I did not live in a major city, it was not until I got into elementary school that my family got cable. I was not bombarded with simultaneous streams of information. Waiting for MTV to hopefully play my favorite video was how I spent my day…and until I heard those first lines about …My Adidas ..I sat impatiently waiting until Run DMC made  their way to my screen. In contrast, the students in our classrooms today can watch any video they want at anytime – they don’t need Martha Quinn to deliver it to them. They have over 400 cable channels to impatiently scroll through looking for a better more entertaining show. The chances are they are not even watching TV, but are probably playing video games or group- skyping with their friends or watching something on YouTube. Two years ago a seventh grader said to me in a ‘get with the times’ kind of smirk “Ms. Clark we don’t watch TV, we watch YouTube.”   Information is coming at them from every direction and they know more by the time they are in fourth grade than I knew in high school. They come to school and are asked to get information from one source – the teacher – while sitting for hours at a time. Often instruction is delivered with no play, no passion, and no purpose. Even typing this scenario makes me want to scream. The teacher might have an ipad- or a 1:1 classroom -but the  information is still coming  from teacher directed sources – and learning standards that limit their natural innate wonderful curiosity. Their brains are not able to stay so still and they REQUIRE instruction that looks different.  Maybe in those classrooms where instruction is delivered from in front of the room there is actually less ADD than we thought. More likely ADD means Always Didactically Delivered instruction that  is single-handedly robbing students of their curiosity,  engagement and FOCUS.  As I walk by classrooms, I can see it…to me it is like a...

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Inspiring Innovative Instruction Using Ideas From Dale Carnegie’s Teachings: Part One
Jan21

Inspiring Innovative Instruction Using Ideas From Dale Carnegie’s Teachings: Part One

Inspiring Innovative Instruction Using Ideas From Dale Carnegie’s Teachings: Part One of Four Recently, while preparing my application for Apple Distinguished Educator, I had to write about the ways I am helping teachers innovate instruction. This process made me think about how I could more effectively inspire teachers to redefine the way they deliver instruction. Like most administrators, I am doing the normal things, delivering PD, talking about 21st Century Learning…all the usual ways we try to impart new ideas on teachers. Then, I began thinking more deeply about the process. How could I really get them to “want” to change. I thought about my business friends and how they are always talking about Dale Carnegie. So, while I was doing research I found “How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age.” This was perfect because as a connected educator this book appeared to be more in my own personal wheel-house. Here is what I learned: 1. Bury Your Boomerangs – which means that you have to inspire change by staying away from insults. I learned that in dealing with others it is best not to criticize, condemn, or complain. This was big lesson for me – because as an Apple aficionado I often have a hard time hiding my disdain for windows platforms in education. Ah-ha moment – you don’t need to put down anyone or anything to highlight the advantages of a new way of thinking or a product.  Focus the value in the change or product and you will get more bang for your buck and hopefully inspire those around you. 2. Affirm What’s Good – We all have an innate desire to know we are valued. Flattery is often seen as a nice gesture but insincere and lacking true concern. Instead affirm what people do that is good. Affirming requires knowing what really matters to a person and then highlighting that thing or event. This video is how I wish I started each day. Ah-ha moment: Teachers are in education because they love what they do. Affirm that they are really doing a good job and that by upgrading and modernizing instruction they can continue to be difference makers and truly learn to engage digital learners and prepare them for their future! 3. Connect with Core Desires: “To influence others to act, you must first connect to the core desire within them.” Wow – dealing with educators makes this strategy easy. They all want to help children learn at their core. Changing instruction will make them stars, game-changers and every child will want to take their class. We just need to find...

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Four Books to Help You Innovate Your Instruction
Sep23

Four Books to Help You Innovate Your Instruction

We all have limited time and money for Professional Developement, making Twitter the most powerful tool in my PD arsenal. However, this year I read four books that have changed the way I think about education in the 21st century. Together they have allowed me to be an innovative educator and inspire creativity and an entrepreneurial spirit in my students. The descriptions come from amazon.com and are not my own – I am simply the curator. I have added great videos that actually explain the concepts in the books for those short on time and visual learners. Please comment with your favorite books so we can all learn together. Drive:  The Surprising Truth About What Motivates You by Daniel Pink Most people believe that the best way to motivate is with rewards like money—the carrot-and-stick approach. That’s a mistake, says Daniel H. Pink in Drive. In this provocative and persuasive new book, he asserts that the secret to high performance and satisfaction-at work, at school, and at home—is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world. Visual Learners: Click here for video World Class Learners:Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students   by Yong Zhao To succeed in the global economy, students need to think like entrepreneurs. Zhao unlocks secrets to cultivating independent thinkers who can create jobs and contribute positively to the globalized society.   Visual Learners: Click here for video Linchpin  by Seth Godin There used to be two teams in every workplace: management and labor. Now there’s a third team, the linchpins. These people figure out what to do when there’s no rule book. They delight and challenge their customers and peers. They love their work, pour their best selves into it, and turn each day into a kind of art. Linchpins are the essential building blocks of great organizations. They may not be famous but they’re indispensable. And in today’s world, they get the best jobs and the most freedom. Visual Learners: Click here for Video Out of Our Minds Learning to be Creative by Sir Ken Robinson “It is often said that education and training are the keys to the future. They are, but a key can be turned in two directions. Turn it one way and you lock resources away, even from those they belong to. Turn it the other way and you release resources and give people back to themselves. To realize our true creative potential—in our organizations, in our schools and in our communities—we need to think differently about ourselves and to act differently towards each other. We must learn to be creative.” Visual...

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Teachers Have to Be Innovators in the Classroom – Lessons from Finland
Sep18

Teachers Have to Be Innovators in the Classroom – Lessons from Finland

All of the information below is taken directly from The Finland Phenomenon which can be watched here on YouTube.   None of these thoughts are my own, but rather a curation of ideas presented in the documentary. Finland is ranked #1 in education by the United Nations and PISA tests. On these same highly competitive international tests – the United States has consistently ranked below average. Background information: Children of Finland begin school at around age 7. School is relaxed and casual and students call teachers by their first names. Younger students stay with their teachers for several years so they can better understand their learning patterns.Their population is 5.4 million and there are over 45 different languages spoken. There are approximately 850k school aged children. At 3.5% of GDP, Finland spends more on research and development than all but Sweden and Israel. Finland has more researchers per capita than any other country. Teaching Being a teacher is tantamount to being a doctor or lawyer and only about 10% of those who apply to be a teacher get accepted into teaching programs. All teachers must have masters degree. The process to become a teacher requires a lot of reflection and coaching. Student teachers watch master instructors often and then critique and reflect on what they have seen and learned. The idea that teachers are there to teach students how to think is at the core of their training. There is a clear understanding of what in fact makes up a good teaching before they even enter the classroom. Teachers spend about 40% of the time on instruction as compared to 85% in American schools Teachers spend about ½ the time of their American counterparts actually teaching in the classroom. They spend more time on professional development. The entire country views the  brain and education as their most important natural resource Students Finland sees the value in smaller class size and a closer relationship between teacher and student Students have more choices on projects and the arts are integrated into the classroom curriculum Little time is spent on homework for kids under grade 10 At about grade 10 they are asked to make a choice between university type schools and vocational schools though these two can be combined. They must attend one – so they will leave school with the needed raining to be employed. Instruction The entire country views the  brain and education as their most important natural resource. Less is more – little to no standards based curriculum guidelines. The business  of school is learning. Trust – the schools trust students to use the internet  (YouTube, Facebook and they...

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Just Say No to Cursive and Yes to Digital Literacy Skills
Aug27

Just Say No to Cursive and Yes to Digital Literacy Skills

The fact that we are still teaching cursvie says so much about what is wrong with education today. Why are we are still teaching cursive to 2nd graders?When will they use cursive?  Shouldn’t we be teaching them how to be  informtion super-heros? My first question is – when will these students use cursive in their adult lives?  They will use the internet, they will send emails, they will have to curate information but somehow there is no time to teach these skills . Maybe if we gave up some time in 2nd grade – time alloted to learning cursive- we could make a difference. Here is the problem. We are not teaching kids basic digital literacy. How to form a subject line of an email, conduct an effective search in google. We leave them alone to figure out the internet on their own. Little to no lessons on how to validate information they find on the web, but we have time for cursive??? Really?  Why not teach them how to choose a decent font, or complementary color scheme for a presentation.  What about the concept of not giving a powerpoint that is too heavy in text and lacking in proper visuals? Please, as tech savvy educators can’t we tweet, text and blog to other educators that its time for a change!!!! If we can do away with cursive – the world is our oyster. We can accomplish anything. We can start to change the worst practices like kids sitting in rows reading textbooks and if we dream really big we could do away with worksheets and turn the education world upside down. It starts with saying “No to cursive.” Share...

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