Posts Tagged vision

TEDxAAS – My first one…

The students in charge of this did a fabulous job!!

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Another look at the future…

I remember a similar video from Microsoft that takes a look at the future – not too distant – to conjecture on the state of the world associated with products already in the pipeline.  I like to think of it as the nexus between StarTrek and reality.  We’ve seen many crossover and successful products emerge this way. On the backs of Roddenberry style imagination, the future is crafted.  Science fiction brought us cell phones and iPads.  This video suggests what is next in interactive environments.

So the question that emerges is what do we do about preparing students for a future like this? If they only used today’s computers, will they be ready to demonstrate proficiency in a world of this level of interactive demand?

Leadership requires that we move education closer to the leading edge of this kind of development. I have to prepare students for this in school, so that they can go on to dream the next level of accomplishment. The people that are crafting these new ideas were enabled at some point in their education to see beyond the limitations. Can we create another generation of unimagined innovation?

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Leadership and Learning

Jay McTighe, one of the gurus behind Understanding by Design, has posted this video on his recent encounter with failure.  It speaks to the issue of leaders who are often marked by age that is associated with their experience. Even Jay is showing his age despite the fact that he is only 7 years my senior. (This fact caused me to go peak in my mirror.  Yikes!)

At the AAIE conference, this was apparent as I looked across a “wise” crowd of international school leaders.  The focus of the weekend was technology and the overall content of the conference fell short of accessing the robust technology available today.  That doesn’t mean it was a bad conference – just bereft of the tools we were discussing.  I would suggest that it drove home the point of the separation between digital natives, digital immigrants, and digital dinosaurs.  While Jay is talking mostly about learning (and learners), I’m suggesting that his insights also provide a unique focus on leaders who are desperate to remain open to innovation, but are challenged by their own fear of failure when addressing a complex and constantly changing context.

Marc Prensky helped us to understand through his keynote that our issue is about the difference between nouns and verbs.  We need to be less focused on the nouns which constitute the latest fads of technology tools (e.g. – Facebook, Twitter, Email, etc.) and focus instead on the skills (verbs) of the 21st century.  While we need to embrace the nouns as they emerge and are adopted, the process skills of problem solving, collaboration, and communication remain static and highly adaptive to the new context.  A powerful connection when considering Jay’s insight into how we address our fear of failure.  As Jay notes:

  • Don’t give in to negative self-talk
  • Don’t let an initial failure keep you from trying again
  • Be strategic – practice, details, visualize success

Surfing at 60 is possible for even our most experienced leaders.  And I’m not talking about the ocean kind of surfing.

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Happy First Day Everyone!!

I love the first day of school each year. This year, with dissertation work continuing, I again ushered my own two kids into school, but did not take the reins of a classroom or building. I miss it.

I love the rain beating down on my umbrella while watching buses safely deliver kids to my building.  I love the calls on the hand-held letting me know that Johnny isn’t sure to which classroom he is assigned.  I relish the parent handshakes, the unloading of supplies.  The wide-eyed enthusiasm is part of my biological clock and it refreshes me with each iteration of the cycle.  Like the children in this video, I’m floating toward the heavens in awe of the mystery that is yet to emerge.

May you all have a wonderful “blast off” whether you have started or will soon do so.  May this year be an exciting one where you accomplish all that you seek for yourself and for the children in your charge.

Dr. Kirpal Singh (Singapore Management University) laments in a movie featured at 21Foundation that we are focusing on preparing kids for today or yesterday, but that very few of us are preparing kids for tomorrow.  That needs to be our focus and we should recommit to reaching out further than we can comprehend to address the needs of these citizens of a new millennium.

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241 Teachers Lose Jobs

Michelle Rhee announced this week the firing of 241 teachers as part of the ongoing implementation of a broad based reform movement (IMPACT) that she undertook just a short time ago. This program is not new content and is ultimately based on work by Marzano and Waters (2009 and prior) that connects the essence of reform to the concept of “value added.” They also equate this term with words like “growth” and “knowledge gains” to give context to the meaning.

Interestingly, the media has attached this value added concept to student test scores when discussing the evaluation that took place while screening for failing or ineffective teachers. I think this may be over-simplification of the concept of accountability for formative assessment gains over time that was originally proposed by Marzano and Waters. In fact, there should be a plan in place to address both curriculum and assessment tied to these plans and accountability measures.

If she is looking only at achievement test scores, then this plan is flawed and should be addressed immediately. I doubt that based on the material I have reviewed on the IMPACT website and the foundational literature upon which it is based. I suggest that this may be the best of the recent spate of firings because it has strong pedagogy behind it.

731 additional teachers are on notice to improve. This group will be the ones to watch. If these reforms truly meet the demands of eliciting greater achievement in the classroom, then these teachers will be the test of the efficacy of accountability. Under increase scrutiny, do you think these teachers will get better? Will supports be provided consistent with the pressure as leading researchers have confirmed is critical?

The union fight is inevitable and unlikely to draw too much attention. We all know that the union works for these fired teachers are required by their policies as a representative of the teachers to pursue accordingly. It is unlikely, however, that any of these teachers will find their way back to DC classrooms because the leadership cannot afford to be undercut in their search of excellence and in the shadow of an election year for Fenty. For this number of people to move through the appeal and/or arbitration process will likely take years. I think Michelle’s staff is counting on that.

About the only thing they need to worry about is finding enough teachers to take the open positions. The salary incentives installed as part of this measure will require a decade before new teachers will be encouraged to join the ranks and fill the empty spots. This is a nationwide barrier to the kind of turnover many expect. Thus, the dance of the lemons continues unabated until we find instrumental ways to renew and inspire teachers who have been disenfranchised by incompetent leaders for decades. The underlying story of these firings has to include the question – How did these teachers remain in their posts for so long without scrutiny? What was wrong with the administration that allowed this to continue for so long? And, finally – Where do you think these teachers will ultimately land?

References

Marzano, R. J., & Waters, T. (2009). District Leadership That Works: Striking the Right Balance. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

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Time Travel – Kids Explaining it – Can you see the motivation?

In this video, kids talk about time travel and use various resources to explain their concept.  Since I was recently in an 8th grade classroom talking about black holes, this was especially interesting and, thus, I’m sharing it with you.  This is consistent with the previous message about reaching higher in our expectations than we might otherwise consider.

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Motivation – Again!?!?

Seems like the week to discuss motivation and as I consider various links and tracebacks, I’m found bringing together some ideas into a new framework of understanding many things I have written before and will likely ponder in the future.  This video brings this thinking to specific relief.

We have discussed previously how setting our sights on common denominators (e.g. high stakes tests, common core curriculum, etc.) seems somehow counter-intuitive.  Additionally, many others have offered insight into the dangers of these practices.  Any other approach seems just too challenging to discuss in the midst of political wrangling, decaying facilities, and budgetary degradation.  We seek the average because we have lost the incentive to reach for something that often seems beyond our grasp.  We have lost the pioneering spirit.

In this video from 1972, legendary psychiatrist Viktor Frankl offers an important message about our motivations and our expectations for each other.

Whether we are talking about advances in science, travels to Mars, or the development of new curriculum, this simple video may be the piece that helps us all get past our limitations and our struggle with mediocrity.

We must find a way to seek for children more than our perceptions of their limitations.  We have to provide for the true and honest development of their pioneering spirit.  As the video declares, we must seek point far “north” of mediocrity and find our destination somewhere between average and eminently closer to excellent.

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Granularity

While deeply involved in Marzanno and Waters (2009), I had the opportunity recently to attend a recent high school orchestra concert. It is, thus, logical to reflect on instructional leadership as similar to the experience of developing a musical harmony that mingles concepts from Marzanno and others such that we have a cohesive, but responsive approach to student achievement. While many would assume that a musical composition is static in nature, it is in fact a highly dynamic endeavor that yields different results when factors of acoustics, instruments, expertise, and the emotions behind the score spread and mix upon the stage. In this most recent concert, graduating seniors and year-end farewells set the stage for an once-in-a-lifetime version of a particularly complicated flute solo that was masterfully presented as a farewell tribute to the conductor and teacher.  Much like an orchestral piece of music, the notes and staff only told a very course version of the story behind the music. The instrumental process that yields note dynamics, breath control, posture, precision (or lack thereof), and a weaving of expertise results in a performance – an experience.

In much the same way, our current approach to achievement is more about looking at the music rather than reflecting on the elements of the performance. This emerges from an issue of granularity. When we look at a large boulder, we see the surface and get general information regarding the face of the boulder and maybe some insight into the color, texture, and weight of the object. Summative testing is akin to this global view where we derive scores and assess program by examining the accomplishment of large groups of students. What we don’t see, and teachers often reflect on this, is the material just below the surface. If we begin by breaking the boulder into smaller and smaller pieces, we reveal the details of the musical composition – the subtleties, the nuances, the complexity.  Ultimately, when we arrive at grains of sand, we have a very complete picture of the boulder – even though it is a boulder no longer.

Formative testing is largely about breaking the boulder of education into grains of accomplishment and by looking with this level of scrutiny, we greatly improve our chance of impacting performance in a positive way. The key is achieving a high degree of granularity while not distracting from our primary task of achieving broad spectrum learning goals. Formative assessment meets this criterion and provides an instructional strategy that not only focuses teachers on viable instructional objectives, but also informs both students and teachers about their progress toward accomplishing the same.  The musical score transcends the subtleties of the dynamic factors of performance by forming the foundation of the presentation. In this way, we have a metaphor for the core structures that Marzano and Waters (2009) propose in the form of nonnegotiable goals. Their reflections on the inadequacy of NCLB and other summative high stakes measures gives way to a formative system of measures aimed at developing a “value added” approach. This is consistent with multiple recent research endeavors including Hatie’s (2009), where formative feedback to teachers regarding their efforts with students yielded the 3rd highest effect rating on overall achievement – approximately d=0.90.

The challenge is not about curriculum, while it is valuable to continue curricular development processes as we currently do. The issue is the creation of common formative assessments that match the curriculum and provide for close scrutiny of granular accomplishment. With Marzano and Waters (2009), we find a proposal for a “value added” approach to education that calls for both horizontal and vertical alignment with a common scale of measurement for formative assessment tools used along the way. Arranged according to topic areas and grade levels, this proposal leads to a comprehensive look at how a curriculum should emerge in the classroom, the way in which we test pre-operationally for its introduction, and the way in which we report developmental progress along a scale toward achievement of that curriculum.

But they may not be going quite far enough in addressing the thousands of small bits that constitute a comprehensive child-centered approach to personal development that also addresses the development of character and emotional intelligence.  Education continues to stare at the boulder and misses this aspect under the surface.  A value added approach may also miss many of the grains of sand by sifting and looking only for the specs of interest.

If we really want to form sand castles, we need to address how all of the sand can be cemented together into the complex structure that is a whole “person.”  While I value assessment as important, it does little to address the complex nature of a child and the nuances of how the the score becomes a performance.


References

Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. New York: Routledge.

Marzano, R. J., & Waters, T. (2009). District leadership that works: Striking the right balance. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

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Instructional Core

Richard Elmore, in this video clip and with the associated graphic, defines the best measure of how we should judge innovation and change in an organization.  The data that we collect must come from the core if we are to determine with any degree of certainty that these changes have been implemented and whether or not they are sustainable.

High stakes testing does not accomplish this.  Many have now written about test scores and continue to miss the point.  The scores do not inform instruction and lack the “granularity” needed to affect real change.  Teachers do not change based on either initiative nor incentive based reward.  They change, in Daniel Pink’s words, because they want to master their craft, because they have always been an autonomous lot, and because they have a special purpose that stands them apart from other professions – nurturing the progeny of others.  The talents that will change schools are those with unyielding drive that infects these other dimensions powerfully and without hesitation, as in Geoffrey Canada’s work in Harlem.  These efforts will often come from the teachers themselves when they are effectively empowered to be leaders in their own organizations.

But, ultimately, systemic change will only happen when we keep our “eye on the ball” and that means the instructional core.

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New Horizons 2010

Under a grant from HP, the New Media Consortium and the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) has released the latest New Horizon Report for K-12 education. Not surprisingly, the two critical trends to take center stage are Cloud Computing and Collaborative Environments.

The critical issues surrounding the trends that this collaboration brings to the forefront is the degree to which we have failed to link student achievement to the technology that we are adopting and, further, the degree to which schools have been forced to miss the boat on one initiative after another due to lack of financial resources or insufficient political resolve. The Horizon Report lists five critical trends that are not disappearing any time soon:

  • Technology is increasingly a means for empowering students, a method for communication and socializing, and a ubiquitous, transparent part of their lives.
  • Technology continues to profoundly affect the way we work, collaborate, communicate, and succeed.
  • The perceived value of innovation and creativity is increasing.
  • There is increasing interest in just-in-time, alternate, or non-formal avenues of education, such as online learning, mentoring, and independent study.
  • The way we think of learning environments is changing.

With new devices (e.g. iPad), and new technologies descending upon us on a daily basis, we need to consider how to best approach the challenges that we now face since our prior efforts have been so stilted and restrained.  While we see pockets of excellence throughout the world, the systemic and sustainable changes to educational systems still evade us.

I understand why.  While we all recognize the import of technology on daily life, we continue to be circumspect because the research proving its efficacy lacks so far behind the intervention that new technologies have already replaced those originally reviewed.  Our system of reflection and review is insufficient in its capacity to truly address the actual effects of these trends.

A recent presentation by adjunct professors at Pacific Lutheran University is a perfect example.  Their research on purported unintended consequences of technology heaped upon young unsuspecting children was, in most cases, 10 years old.  Can anyone remember what kind of computers we were using 10 years ago? Can you remember which devices didn’t exist a decade ago?

In Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement by John Hattie (2009), computer assisted instruction was considered using 81 meta-analyses that included 4,875 studies involving 3.9 million subjects.  The effect size was approximately d=0.37, something just more than developmental effects – in other words an effect that was about equivalent to just normal growth and development.  Despite my argument above, there was little change in effect size when broken down by year of study which Hattie believes counters the belief in increasing effect with increased sophistication.  Like many, the only correlation was between the use of computers and increased student engagement. Hattie concludes that there is no necessary relation between having computers, using computers, and learning outcomes.

But, hold the phone – Hattie throws us a bone when he does further analysis of the data and proposes that the following conditions must be met.

Computers are used effectively…

  1. when there is a diversity of teaching strategies
  2. when there is a pre-training in the use of computers as a teaching and learning tool (min. of 10 hours)
  3. when there are multiple opportunities for learning (e.g. deliberative practice, increasing time on task, etc.)
  4. when the student, not teacher, is in “control” of learning
  5. when peer learning is optimized
  6. when feedback is optimized

These two pieces of literature coupled with our own sound judgment form a new approach to prudent thinking on deployment of technology resources.  A formula based approach of developing infrastructure, providing training, and prudently purchasing equipment may lead to a best practices scenario for technology’s next horizon.

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Learning 2.010 has launched!!

Jeff Utecht is being a bit pessimistic with his description of the recently launched third iteration of the Learning 2.0  conference series. Despite his apprehension, there is every reason to believe that this conference will again inspire and direct individuals along the path of creating the next generation of learning practices. Inspired by a collaboration of like-minded individuals in 2008, this conference continues to elicit strong gains in applying technology based practices in real learning environments. We have changed practices through our efforts, and yet we are still struggling with the degree to which that change continues to be hampered by politics and outdated pedagogy.

Thus, we offer the latest iteration of 21st-century thinking and give you the new and improved Learning 2.x. The focus this time will be on research-based practices in providing for sustainability through development of long-term relationships in cohorts of like-minded individuals. Of particular excitement to me is the opportunity to coordinate the leadership strand. Applying theory and leading-edge concepts on school change with a cohort of individuals responsible for implementing that change is an exciting and energizing venture. If everything comes together as planned,  there will be opportunity prior to the conference to build an essential common framework upon which our conversations will emerge. These personal learning networks (PLN) will continue through and beyond the conference and provide a significant foundation for future collaboration and support.

How can you not get excited about something like this?!

Take a look at the website and consider joining us in what ever cohort strikes your fancy. Personally, I hope you will consider the leadership strand. ;-)

http://www.learning2.asia/

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Update to Microsoft Surface…

I stand corrected. It looks like Smart Tech (www.smarttech.com) has got one in the works. Would love to know how implementation is going. Anyone?

Click here – The SMART Table

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Microsoft Surface – When?

So, it’s been out for a year or so and the educational implications are just starting to take shape.

surface

Here’s one in a UK Primary School

http://www.microsoft.com/surface/Pages/Experience/Videos.aspx?video=193f800f-5268-491f-9bc7-d2857080ef21

Here’s the link on educational development of this device:

http://www.rm.com/generic.asp?cref=GP1365987&SrcURL=/surface/

Microsoft Surface details:  http://www.microsoft.com/surface

Tech-savvy educational leaders will be watching this development with interest because it constitutes the first viable initiative that can effectively address the dynamic early learning environment.  If we can put these in ECE classrooms with all of the collaborative tools that are demonstrated here, we are on the road to a true revolution of the educational pathway.

Pay close attention to the details here.  Students login by placing a nametag on the table.  Content is tailored to their needs and level – even within the context of collaborative play.  In general, this resolves our discomfort with having young students in front of computers.  Let’s take it one step further and imagine walls that literally open to a child’s fingertips and allows them to interact with inexhaustible content.  Consider the live collaboration and then think of the virtual collaboration that is also possible.  This whole concept just screams for creativity and innovation.

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Student learning and the new era of professional development…

I’ve been impressed with my re-introduction to educational reform in Washington through my Superintendent Leadership Seminar (first in a year long series).  The concept here is personalizing student learning and this is far beyond earlier concepts of differentiation or individualization.  Personalizing has more to do with the involvement of the student in understanding the process of their learning through learning targets and meaningful, relevant learning episodes.

In this professional development series, there are 6 elements of positive impact on student learning:

  1. Student learning is structured for understanding
  2. Student learning experiences are designed to engage and support all students in learning
  3. Student assessment is used to direct learning
  4. Students participate in maintaining effective environments for learning
  5. Students prepare to live and work in a multi-cultural world
  6. Teachers develop the art and science of a professional educator and are active in the profession to positively impact student learning.

No rocket science here.  Just foundational look at the continued development of best practice.

Source:  Dr. Marilyn L. Simpson, OSPI, Washington State

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Early Learning – Fighting Fade Out

One of the things on every educational leaders “to-do” list should be addressing early learning.  Similar to what Jeffrey Canada has taught us in the Harlem projects (see previous post), this project in South Shore School District is addressing this challenge.  Consistent with this is a need to look at Birth to 3 programs that address the community and daycare component in addressing the key to the future of education – a comprehensive plan for kids from womb to 3rd Grade.  This is all fully researched and connected to the latest work on brain research. Leaders must address this challenge as critical to sustainable change that has not yet been achieved.

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In reflection on Jeffrey Canada…

After discussing the Harlem Children’s Zone…

What would you rather have, a blanket of mediocrity, or a quilt of excellence?

This American Life Podcast – Interview of Jeffrey Canada

Baby College – where it really starts.

Bringing the best of understanding childhood to the parents of Harlem.

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Amazing song – We need teachers to learn…

A wonderful song for reflection as vision and mission statements are reviewed and re-thought.

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at Drop.io

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