Encienda-lite or Ignite-lite talks for learners

One of the essential learning gears of Synergy is Communication and Collaboration.  The three rays of light for this gear are

  • I can communicate in writing, graphics, and conversation.
  • I can collaborate for sustainable enhancement.
  • I can plan and present effectively.

We are trying a new strategy for working on persuasive presentations this semester based on what we learned at Educon in January. At Educon 2.4, Bo and I attended the Saturday Encienda Educon.  Encienda or Ignite was new concept in presenting to me in January at Educon.  The Ignite website says “enlighten us, but make it quick.”  The basics of an Ignite or Encienda presentation are that a presenter has 5 minutes to share an idea using 20 slides which automatically advance every 15 seconds.

In both of the previous semesters of Synergy, we introduced the teams to the work of Garr Reynolds, Presentation Zen, and Nancy Duarte, Slide:ology.  The sub-teams had the opportunity to make one or two big presentations.  As coaches, we could see the need for additional practice.  This semester, inspired by what we learned at Educon, we have just completed our 2nd Ingite-lite challenge with our Synergy 8 Crusade for Campus Cleanliness sub-teams.  For these young learners, we issued the challenge of communicating your team’s work, issue, or progress in 2 minutes using 4 slides which automatically advance every 30 seconds.  We call it Ignite-lite.  It is only week 8 of our 18 weeks together, and our teams have already designed and presented  twice.  Coaching is still needed, but the progress is incredible.

To be clear, we are modifying the Encienda or Ignite presentation to a “lite” version for our young learners.

One purpose of Synergy is to offer learners the opportunity to have real-world work and learning experiences.  As we work on improving our skills to communicate in writing, graphics, and conversation and to plan and present effectively, we are building assets and products.  We are practicing to prepare for the day when we present to a larger authentic audience.

How to be a boring, bad writer…and other ideas

I hadn’t thought about it this way:

So, if you want to be a boring, bad writer:

  1. Never ever learn new words.
  2. Be afraid to say interesting things.
  3. Read as little as possible.
  4. Always play on your laptops.
  5. Never touch a dictionary.
  6. Copyright.
  7. Never make [the reader] see the action.
  8. Never revise your writing.
  9. Definitely take the easy way.

Since I want to be a better writer, I should practice 1) using new words, 2) saying interesting things, 3) reading as much as possible, 4) leveraging technology to enhance learning, 5) using available resources, 6) striving to be unique and citing my sources, 7) presenting a good story, 8) repeating a revision cycle several times, and 9) understanding to “embrace the struggle.”

I wonder if the same set of ideas can be applied to PBL.  How to avoid PBL:

  1. Never ever learn new applications and strategies.
  2. Be afraid to try interesting, complex problems.  It might take too long.
  3. Read and research as little as possible. Don’t read and watch Edutopia, Apple’s Challenge Based Learning, or It’s About Learning resources or ideas from 12k12.
  4. Always use technology for one-way communication.  Just tell them what to do.  Don’t offer students the opportunity to have voice and choice in learning.
  5. If you try PBL, and it doesn’t work; just give up.  Never seek additional support and resources.
  6. Never collaborate with others on projects and problems that integrate ideas and/or concentrate on community-issues.
  7. Avoid applications and real-world experiences.  Never offer the opportunity to present to an authentic audience.
  8. Never say “I don’t know,” or “let’s find out together.” Answer every question asked in class, or better yet, don’t allow questions.
  9. Definitely do the very same thing you did this time last year.  It’s easy.  Take the easy way. Remember…the E-Z-way!

How about applying these ideas to balanced assessment?  How to be single-minded about assessment:

  1. Never ever try new techniques, methods, and strategies.
  2. Be afraid to try alternate forms of assessment: performance based assessment, portfolios, etc.
  3. Read and research as little as possible. Don’t read anything by Tom Guskey, Jan Chapuis, Bob Marzanno, Dylan Wiliam etc.
  4. Always use assessment to generate grades.  Never try non-graded assessment to make adjustments to learning that improve achievement.
  5. If you use rubrics or standards-based grading, and students don’t respond; just give up.  Don’t allow students to revise their understanding and assess again.  Let them learn it next year or in summer school.
  6. Rely on results from standardized tests to compare students.  Just follow the model set by adults that have not met you and your learners.
  7. Never assess for learning and reteach prior to a summative assessment.  Think that you are teaching a lesson if failure occurs with no chance to revise.
  8. Never offer 2nd chance test or other opportunities to demonstrate learning has occurred.
  9. Definitely use the very same assessment you did this time last year.  It’s easy.  Take the easy way. Remember… E-Z-way!

I find this approach connected the anti-innovation ideas from Kelly Green in her 2/21/2012 ForbesWoman article I found by reading Bob Ryshke’s post, What schools can do to encourage innovation.  It also reminds me of Heidi Hayes Jacob’s style in her TEDxNYED talk I found by reading Bo Adam’s What year are you preparing your students for?” Heidi Hayes Jacobs #TEDxNYED post.

I like the provocation of the video and the anti-ideas.  I appreciate the challenge of rephrasing these ideas as statements of what I could do to get better.  I wonder how we should practice to become better at PBL, balanced assessment, innovation and creativity, etc.  In the comment field below, will you share how would you answer this prompt?

Since I want to be a better ___________, I should practice 1)  _____, 2)  _____, 3)  _____, 4)  _____, 5)  _____, 6)  _____, 7)  _____, 8)  _____, and 9)  _____.

Feedback & Learning from “What do you know about your current digital footprint?” lesson

On February 12, I posted What do you know about your digital footprint? to overview one lesson for our community on establishing and maintaining a positive digital footprint.  I had the privilege of participating in the lesson several way and multiple times.  The results have been interesting and positive.

A note from a participant:

When I googled [my name], I didn’t find anything on Google images. On the web part of Google, I found a picture of me from [camp], my name associated with [school], and some information about some [sports] things that I do. When I was about to google [my name], I hoped to not find anything very personal, and I didn’t. I only found things associations with what I did. I was not surprised because I had googled [my name] before. I don’t have a problem with what I found about myself.

Another note to a facilitator from a participant:

From: [an advisee]
Date: Tue, 14 Feb 2012
To:  [an advisor]
Subject: [Thank you!!!!]

Thank you for what you did today because I actually found [a] picture that I did not like. I’m not the one who posted them; it was [someone else]. What do I do? Thank you again for a great day.

A note from a parent:

Thanks for the link.  Wanted to tell you that I googled my name and cell last night and was shocked with what I found.  I do Google my name regularly, but never accompanied by my cell number.  What I found was an “editgrid” that our [community] shuttle uses, complete with every child’s name, their sport/arts participation schedule, times of pick-ups/drop-offs, plus all drivers’ names and cell numbers.  Wow!  We use this grid when the seasonal sports change so we can easily update our child’s information for the shuttle chair to plan for drivers.  Never even thought about this not being a private spreadsheet.  I have emailed the owner of the grid to ask him to please privatize it and offered to help type in all of the emails to give them invitations to it.

Just wanted to say thanks for the reminder to add in cell phones!

A request from a participant

I really didn’t find anything on me. The only things that I found were my times from [sports]. I was hoping that there wouldn’t be a lot on me especially not pictures because I think that someone could find me if I there were pictures and a lot of information. I’m really glad that there wasn’t a lot of stuff about me on Google or any other sites. I think that it would be helpful to have a lesson on how to keep things from going on the internet and having things so public. I think that would really help benefit a lot of people.

One more note from a participant:

When I googled my name, I found a bunch of [sports] things. Things like the [events] I had been in, [sports] recruiting websites, and things I had said from today’s meet in [class] this year. I was surprised that it had things from my classes there.

I am okay with what is posted of me online. I am glad that I never got a buzz so pictures of me aren’t all over the web. I wish something interesting or cool that has been accomplished by me would be up there, instead of just things like [sports] and school.

It is too bad that you cannot read what our learners wrote in more detail.  Their thinking about what they strive to be known for is beautiful, elegant, and inspiring.

Part II in our digital citizenship series should be geared toward understanding privacy settings.  Our community members regularly use Google docs, blogs, and other social media.  Are they aware of their privacy settings, or do they just rely on the default settings?  It is important to understand, know, and confirm how public you have allowed your information to be shared.

Checking on your digital footprint – important.
Learning to be an advocate for yourself and others – priceless.

What do you know about your digital footprint?

PLCs, Westminster JH, Randolph, and Learning Together

On Friday, February 17, Jill Gough and Bo Adams worked with The Randolph School faculty to share the story of PLC (Professional Learning Community) development at The Westminster Schools’ Junior High, as well as to facilitate a small piece of Randolph’s continuing, multi-year efforts to transform their school with the PLC ethos. Below, Bo and Jill have embedded the slide deck that they used during the Friday morning keynote. As usual, though, a slide deck cannot capture the rich conversations and invaluable discussions that surround and permeate professional work based on shared experience.

Randolph has been piloting PLCs for two years, and they are making formidable steps to enhance their teacher teaming and learner strategizing. Westminster and Randolph are imagining different ways to stretch time and embed regular teaming. There is no one-size-fits-all structural approach to PLCs, but there are universal ideas and questions that must guide our work:

3 Big Ideas:

  1. Learning is the focus.
  2. Collaboration is the culture.
  3. Results guide our decisions.

4 Key Questions:

  1. What should be learned?
  2. How will we know if “they” have learned?
  3. What will we do if “they” already know it?
  4. What will we do if “they” aren’t learning?

What a privilege and bright spot it is to collaborate among schools and learn with and from each other. Could our institutions and organizations actually stretch the PLC ethos to include more such collaboration among our schools? Could we model being PLCs among schools, like we model forming PLCs among our adult learners?

PLC Randolph Slidedeck 2-2012.

[Cross-posted at It’s About Learning]

FAAR – No longer a single story…

From Chimamanda Adichie: The danger of a single story

“It is impossible to talk about the single story without talking about power.”  

“Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person.”

How do we celebrate the strengths and contributions of each individual?  How do we show that we are not a single story, but a collection of stories that create the anthology of who we are now?  How do we convey that the story is not complete, that it is a work in progress?  That there are many choices and crossroads ahead? That we have control of the choices and pace?

Our Faculty Assessment and Annual Review (FAAR) plan offers us the opportunity to collect informing feedback from different points of view.  This is an opportunity to have our work, leading, and learning represented by multiple perspectives.  It decreases the danger of a single story.

I, the assessed, have the opportunity to garner feedback from my peers, my students, my “managers,” and myself.  I have the responsibility and the opportunity to process and summarize this data for myself and share with my team of critical friends and my admin.  I am challenged and empowered to ask questions about my work, thinking, and learning.  I am offered opportunities to calibrate my understanding and view of my work with others who witness and experience it.  I contribute to my story as do my students, my colleagues, and other community members.

I wonder how we can translate this into a formative assessment plan for our young learners.  Where do they have a voice in the assessment of their learning and growth?  Do we offer opportunities to reflect and revise?…to problem-find and problem-solve?  Do I offer my learners the opportunity to have a voice in their feedback and assessment? Do I offer choice in their assessment? Having my voice and choice represented is a critically important component of my professional learning plan.  If it is good and important for me, wouldn’t it be good and important for my learners?

Chimamanda Adichie concludes her talk with:

“I would like to end with this thought: That when we reject the single story, when we realize that there is never a single story about any place, we regain a kind of paradise.”

We strive for learners to have multiple representations of ideas and concepts.  Do we also help ourselves and others have multiple representations of who we are and can become?

Graph Interpretation – Social Media Infographic

Looking for graphs to interpret? Interested in integrated studies and creativity?  Try infographics.  Create, teach, explore.

The Growth of Social Media: An Infographic
Source: The Growth of Social Media: An Infographic

Growing learners who serve and lead…bright spot thinking

At Westminster we grow lifelong learners
who serve and lead in a changing world.
~Learning for Life vision statement

When do students have to opportunity to serve and lead?  When do we actively provide opportunities for our students to genuinely be in charge?  How often do we have to opportunity to mix grade levels and get to know each other?

Today was such a day.  Learning occurred everywhere…real learning…the messy, complicated, beautiful kind of learning and leading that we should embrace and celebrate!

I had the opportunity to watch and learn with a mix of 8th and 12th graders.  Can you imagine anything more fun for a group of 8th graders than to get to spend time learning with seniors?  The point of the session was simply to learn each others name and to get to know each other a little bit.  We will have another opportunity to work and learn together in March, and we do not want to be strangers for our time of service and learning.

The bright spots that I witnessed included a team effort to guarantee that all 25 students had a voice and an opportunity to participate.  Regularly, the two senior facilitators checked with each other to reflect and revise to make the learning experience flow.  They did not “take turns;” they co-facilitated.  How great would it have been to have the experience of co-facilitating prior to your first job or committee?

Our facilitators also provided leadership and scaffolding to make the experience warm and inviting for all involved.  When “tested,” students were reassured that it was okay if they still missed a name or two.  Success was applauded; struggle was supported.  Most impressive was the thoughtfulness with which our facilitators guaranteed that everyone had a turn to be in the “spotlight.” Every student had an opportunity to be known and recognized during the activities.  No one was left out.  Our 8th graders were encouraged and included and contributed.  Bravo to all!

I wonder about bright spots in other groups.  What should we celebrate? What was done that we should do more of in the future?