Tag Archives: technology

Review, revisit, recommit to norms – our hopes and dreams

Strong teams regularly self-assess how well they function within their norms – the hopes and dreams for how they are when together. As we learn and grow together, we pause to reflect, revise, and recommit to strengthen our teams by reviewing our community norms.

norms2017

  • We commit to collaboratively design the agenda for each team meeting and that the agendas are shared ahead of the meetings. (ALT)
  • We commit to fostering a growth mindset with our learners and ourselves. We embrace the power of yet. (Carol Dweck)
  • We commit to use technology as a tool for learning and not as a barrier between us. (ALT)
  • We commit to speaking about our learners as if they are in the room with us. (Katherine Boles, Harvard)
  • We learn, i.e., we have permission to change our minds. (Elizabeth Statmore)
  • We agree to ask for and offer the umbrella of mercy. (Tim Kanold)
  • We serve all learners. Teams committee to take responsibility, together, to differentiate to help all learners learn and grow.
  • We resist labeling students – all learners.  We agree to design for the edges to dramatically expand our talent pool. (Todd Rose)

How might we strengthen our team? What if we review, reflect, and recommit to our hopes and dreams of how we are?

community, Community, COMMUNITY? (TBT Remix)

To which level of community are you and your learners connected:  community, Community, or COMMUNITY?  How connected are you and your learners to a community, any community?

This week I attended the Trinity School 60th Anniversary Speaker Series featuring Dr. Heidi Hayes Jacobs since I am invited and included in this learning community.  Dr. Jacobs asked

“Who owns the learning?”

How do we use technology to broaden the learning community for the children in our care so that they own their learning?  How do we use technology to broaden our own learning community so that we continue to learn and grow?

I’ve been thinking about the literal meaning of being a member of a community which has inspired me to ask:

  • Do the learners that assemble in my classroom form a community?
  • Do the learners in my school form a community?
  • Do the faculty in my school form a community?
  • Are our learners’ parents part of our learning community?
  • Are our learners’ parents part of their child’s learning community?
  • What about the authors, teachers, learners, etc. outside my school – are they part of our community?
  • Are the teachers that learn with me at conferences part of a community of learners that contribute to the success of my learners?

I have to ask myself if my learners are in a community that is restricted only to the 26 people that assemble during Xnd period.  Are my colleagues or the parents of my learners invited to be in our Xnd period learning community, creating Community?  Are our national and international colleagues, friends, and experts invited to join our Xnd period community, creating COMMUNITY?

How will learners own their learning, and how will they encounter opportunities to question, to reason, to express themselves, to discover and pursue a passion?  With whom will our learners question, reason, express themselves, discover and pursue a passion?

How open are we, really, to these ideas?  What actions do we take?  How are we modeling learning and owning our learning?

To which do we belong: community, Community, COMMUNITY?

To which should we belong: community, Community, COMMUNITY?


community, Community, COMMUNITY? was originally posted on September 30, 2011.

Water instead of Soda #PBLidea #AskDon’tTell

Is there PBL potential and academic content in this commercial from Nestlé?

By replacing one sugared beverage a day with [a bottle of water], you can cut 50,000 calories a year from [your] diet.

The fine print in the ad says that this is based on replacing one 12 oz 140 calorie sugared beverage daily with water for a year.

Where could a discussion of this ad take us in class? What questions will learners ask? What questions will we ask our learners?  What questions might be asked to challenge learners apply what they know?  What questions might be asked to promote problem-finding, problem-solving, communication, leadership, initiative, action, service, and other critical competencies?

Ask; don’t tell.  Listen and learn.  Just ask a question…see where it takes us.

Empathy: Testing and being tested

We regularly test our learners’ progress. How might we “walk in our learners’ shoes?”

On our last professional development day, our faculty participated in  the WayFind Teacher Assessment for Effective 21st Century Teachers, designed by learning.com.  It was a great lesson in empathy.  There were varied reactions (as you can imagine) from my friends and colleagues about the test and being tested.  I wonder how many of our student-learners feel the same when tested in class.

While clearly described as a diagnostic assessment by our co-Deans of IT, several of us experienced angst and stress about being tested.  I wonder how our students deal with this stress from 7 courses each requiring 4-7 tests per semester that are summative rather than diagnostic.  How often have I dismissed the nervousness of a student when they seek reassurance from me before a test?  (Shame on me!)

The WayFind Assessment was given on the computer.  How many of us wanted and expected immediate feedback?  It was given on the computer; why didn’t I get my results when I pressed submit?  I remember how irritated I have been with the children when they have circled back after lunch and asked if I have graded their papers.  Really?  I just gave the test before lunch.  When would I have had time to grade them?  We wanted to know our results because we were interested in the outcome.  We wanted to verify and see the results of our success.  Isn’t that what every learner wants?

Perhaps the most important of all the questions asked by faculty:  Can I have a second chance to take the assessment?  It was said to me at least a half a dozen times.  As soon as I turned it in, I knew more answers! I would do better the next time.

It is tough to walk in our learners’ shoes. So, what should be learned?

I have the results from my WayFind assessment.  I know where I stand according to the WayFind results.  What other lessons are to be learned from this experience?

I wonder if I (we) will learn the additional and perhaps more important lessons from the experience.

________________________

Following Quantum Progress‘s good example, I’m including my WayFind Assessment results below.

Gapminder: Teachnology for Integrated Studies

Have you explored Gapminder: for a fact-based world?  Check out GapMinder for Teachers.

Have you seen/heard Hans Rosling use multiple representations to visualize problems and trends?

Here’s a 4 minute start:  Hans Rosling’s 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes – The Joy of Stats – BBC Four

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In Curriculum 21, Heidi Hayes Jacobs says:

Geography should be cut as a snapshot unit with an integrated approach continuously woven into the academic year. Rather than the token “let’s start off the school year with our classic unit on geography,” the curriculum should include an ongoing injection and use of geography and a full range of maps. When schools do not use maps of all kinds with regularity in a range of classes (English, science, art), our students do not get to apply geography in a meaningful way.  [p. 36]

If you are teaching about Asia, Africa, Indonesia, etc., can you integrate math into your lessons using this resource?  Likewise, if you are teaching math – from plotting points on the Cartesian plane to graph interpretation – can you use this resource to help your students have a global view of our world?

If you are teaching about the environment, can you use this resource?

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And my favorite, Hans Rosling and the magic washing machine, for teaching women’s studies, the environment, and/or the industrial revolution:

Aren’t all of these talks connected?

What questions will our learners have?  Can we make graphing more engaging by using real data connected to the economy, health, education, etc.?  Can we teach writing, geography, history, science by interpreting and analyzing these graphs?

Who will join forces to form our learning team so that we confidently integrate and mashup content?

_________________________

Jacobs, Heidi Hayes. Curriculum 21: Essential Education for a Changing World. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2010. Print.

community, Community, COMMUNITY?

To which level of community are you and your learners connected:  community, Community, or COMMUNITY?  How connected are you and your learners to a community, any community?

This week I attended the Trinity School 60th Anniversary Speaker Series featuring Dr. Heidi Hayes Jacobs since I am invited and included in this learning community.  Dr. Jacobs asked

“Who owns the learning?”

How do we use technology to broaden the learning community for the children in our care so that they own their learning?  How do we use technology to broaden our own learning community so that we continue to learn and grow?

I’ve been thinking about the literal meaning of being a member of a community which has inspired me to ask:

  • Do the learners that assemble in my classroom form a community?
  • Do the learners in my school form a community?
  • Do the faculty in my school form a community?
  • Are our learners’ parents part of our learning community?
  • Are our learners’ parents part of their child’s learning community?
  • What about the authors, teachers, learners, etc. outside my school – are they part of our community?
  • Are the teachers that learn with me at conferences part of a community of learners that contribute to the success of my learners?

We talk at length about community.  Being a community member is highlighted in our Best Practices Statement, our Vision Statement, and our Mission Statement.

In our faculty’s Best Practices Statement we say:

“As members of our school community and the wider community, [our] faculty strive, individually and collectively, to be teachers that model lifelong learning, joy, professionalism, and integrity.”

From our Learning for Life Vision Statement:

“We begin knowing we must model and promote lifelong learning in a global community.  We commit to use technology and research to help us learn these essential skills.

From our Mission Statement:

[We are] a Christian, independent day school for boys and girls, which seeks to develop the whole person for college and for life through excellent education.”

From our Philosophy:

“Throughout their school experience, young people encounter opportunities to question, to reason, to express themselves, to discover and pursue a passion, to risk, and sometimes even to fail and to learn from that failure.”

I have to ask myself if my learners are in a community that is restricted only to the 26 people that assemble during Xnd period.  Are my colleagues or the parents of my learners invited to be in our Xnd period learning community, creating Community?  Are our national and international colleagues, friends, and experts invited to join our Xnd period community, creating COMMUNITY?

How will learners own their learning, and how will they encounter opportunities to question, to reason, to express themselves, to discover and pursue a passion?  With whom will our learners question, reason, express themselves, discover and pursue a passion?

How open are we, really, to these ideas?  What actions do we take?  How are we modeling learning and owning our learning?

To which do we belong: community, Community, COMMUNITY?

To which should we belong: community, Community, COMMUNITY?

Age Estimation – Day One Lesson & Community Building

We want to try something different this year for the first day of Algebra I.  (We are hoping that other’s will join us too!)  Our learners will arrive with their new MacBooks. We want to use them immediately.  We think we are going to try the age estimation activity

The email request is shown below:

Hi…
     We need you in pictures!  (and we need your permission to divulge your age to our students, if you’re game!)
     We are planning a multi-disciplinary/multi-grade lesson on graphing and numeracy that would help our students to start the year off using their new MacBooks.  We need volunteers who would be willing to tell us your true ages (as of August 11, 2011), knowing the students will discover these ages during implementation of the project. We will also be showing your picture; if you have a picture of yourself that you would like us to use, please email it to us.  If not, we will just use a photo on file.  We appreciate so much your willingness to participate, and we also appreciate your right to “pass on this one”.
     We usually use celebrities but thought it would be good community building to use our faces.  Jill piloted this activity with her 8th graders in May, and it was a big hit!  The kids suggested that we use faculty faces in August and the celebrities in May.  Think how great it would be for the kids to guess who we are (and how old we are – if they are smart, they will underestimate! – if not, what a teaching opportunity.)
     So, if you are game, please send us a photo and your age/date of birth.  Please?
     Thanks…

Here is the presentation that we usually use:

In about 24 hours, we received 12 responses!  Enough to build the first lesson.  At the end of the week, 40% of the faculty responded to participate. Enough to build three lessons – one for 6th grade, one for 7th grade, and one for 8th grade.

Some of the GREAT replies include:

  • “I love the people I get to work with.”
  • “I will be 55 just like the speed limit!  If some kids says, “is that all??!!” feel free to smack ’em.”
  • “Well…a lady never tells…but I liked Gloria Steinum’s comment when she turned 60, “This is what 60 looks like.”  So, you can tell the kiddies that I am (almost) XX,  if you don’t think you will scare them to death.  :-)”
  • “I guess we cannot use that picture of Darlene if it is for student use, huh?!?!  I will send a picture for sure!  How much time do I have to go to glamor shots????”

And the pictures are great.  Can you image the face of a JH student when they see their principal like this?  How fun!

So, what’s the activity?

We are going to show you a series of photos, and you are to estimate each person’s age.  We want to know “Who is the best estimator (and who is the worst)?”   All you have to do is estimate the age of each person and enter it in the spreadsheet.  The learners guess the age of each person in the slideshow.

We think that we will use our teachers instead of the celebrities.  My 8th graders reported that they did not always know all of their teachers on the first day of school.  We hope that this lesson will help our learners connect with their teachers and build our community.

What about the math?

How will we determine the best estimator? the worst?  We will decide as a class.  Let the learners collaboratively develop their criteria to determine the best and the worst.

Usually, the first comment is to find the difference in the estimate and the actual age and sum the differences us – a great first thought.  The sign of the difference has meaning.

Did you over estimate or under estimate?  How does the sign of the difference help you decide if you over or under estimated? If your sum is the closest to zero, are you the best estimator?

How can we find how far off the estimates are but eliminate the direction of “off-ness?”   If we find the absolute value of the difference in the estimate and the actual age, will we find the best and worst estimators?

What would a graph of this data look like?  Which variable would be acceptable for the independent variable? Does it matter?

Why is there a positive correlation in the plot of the data?  What would be the line of best fit?  How do you know?

Can you determine from the graph if you over or under estimated?

What else can be learned?

There are several spreadsheet skills to introduce with this lesson.  The learners will generate a scatter plot and graph a function.  Mental math will be used.

From experience, this lesson creates a loud conversational classroom.  Shock and awe at some of the ages and estimates!  Lots of laughter mixed with learning.  In May, the entire activity took approximately 30 minutes.  We hope that we can use the first 55 minute class period to learn and laugh together as we discuss our community while doing a little math.

CAS vs. Numeric: TI-Nspire Summer Learning

As many of you know, we are going 1:1 with MacBooks for our 6th-8th grade learners in the fall.  For the last seven years, we have required our 8th graders to purchase a handheld graphing device.  For the 2011-2012 school year, we have decided to use the TI-Nspire CAS software on our learners’ MacBooks.

This decision is slightly controversial in our department.  From the informal polling done by the PLC facilitators, the high school PLC members seems split down the middle about CAS (computer algebra system), while the junior high math/science PLC members seemed to be open to a CAS experiment.  We have decided to try CAS with our junior high learners – a little action research, if you will.

Since our junior high learners will have laptops, we thought we would try TI-Nspire CAS; they can always get to WolframAlpha, so why not try the CAS?  The TI-Nspire CAS will “do” algebra that the TI-Nspire will not.

TI-Nspire

TI-Nspire CAS

   

I much prefer the CAS for the results of solve.  The TI-Nspire must use nSolve (numeric solve) and simply returns a number.  Some of my learners do this too!  The TI-Nspire CAS uses solve and returns x=2.  This is what I want from my learners.

But, there is more to the story… We want learners to develop an understanding of variables and units.  Using interactive notes, our learners can explore computational thinking  with variables.  The TI-Nspire CAS returns a much different result than the TI-Nspire.

TI-Nspire

TI-Nspire CAS

   

TI-Nspire

TI-Nspire CAS

The above example may seem silly, but those variables are active.  Our learners can go back up in the notes and change the value of the variables and see the output change immediately.  And, isn’t it great that the variables can be included in the calculations?

One other interesting piece of data:  We have 180 teacher-learners coming on July 19 for 3 days of TI-Nspire learning and work.  These teacher-learners could choose between the TI-Nspire and TI-Nspire CAS.  Here is the breakdown per course offered:

It appears that CAS is of interest to many teacher-learners.  How will we teach, facilitate learning, and assess differently based on the new tools available to all learners?  It will be an experiment in learning by doing.

Handicap Ramps: Connecting Ideas and Experiences to PBL – apply what you learn

I don’t often have the question “When are we going to use this?” launched at me.  Sometimes I wonder why?  Why aren’t my learners asking this question?  I often ask myself “When are they ever going to use this really?” when teaching Algebra I.  How can I better show our learners that algebra is used for many real purposes, not just on a test?

On September 14, 2010, I had the privilege of attending TEDxAtl where I heard Logan Smalley talk about creating a movement with Movement Turned Movie.  Logan introduced us to Darius Weems and his story Darius Goes West.  In the spring, Darius joined our 8th graders for their retreat – an amazing experience for all.

On July 19, we will host approximately 170 teachers from nine different states for a summer learning experience.  We’ve done this summer camp for teachers for several years.  Each year there is a teacher or two who will struggle to navigate our campus.  There are stairs everywhere.  We do have elevators, but they are not always in the most convenient places.

In Synergy, we problem-find and attempt to problem-solve based on observations of our environment and community.  Logan’s advocacy for wheelchair accessible spaces combined with accommodating teacher-learners with mobility problems has caused me to want to learn more about our campus and the ease of access to our spaces.

Where are our ramps and elevators?  What are the requirements and specifications for these ramps?  Are the requirements based on the angle of elevation or the ratio of the length of the ramp to the height of the ramp?  Is the angle of elevation connected to the ratio of length to height?  Isn’t this rise over run?

What can be learned by investigating the ramps on our campus? Does our learning have to be restricted to our campus?

  • Algebra?  (I think there must be slope, geometry, and right triangle trig at a minimum.)
  • Science? (I think mechanical advantage might come in to play here.)
  • Writing workshop?  (Do we need more ramps? Are there areas where a ramp is needed? How can we advocate for others?)
  • History?  (When and why did the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) become law?)
Here is a photo we took today at the entrance to Pressley where most of us enter to go to the dining hall.  If you look closely, you will see a meter stick on the ground near AS’s feet.  
 
In the latest version of the TI-Nspire CX operating system you can analyze a digital photograph.  It is a great way to use ratios and proportions along with unit conversion.  Can you predict how tall AS is based on the measurements and the scale?  (I was less than an inch off.)  Does our ramp fall within the ADA’s specifications?  
 
Let’s make sure the variables and measurements are defined clearly.  m=3.83 cm is the measurement of the meter stick on the screen of the Nspire.  rl=23.3 cm and rh=1.91 cm are the screen measurements for the ramp length and the ramp height, respectively.  ah=4.64 cm corresponds to AS’s height on the screen. 
 
 
Can you think of ways to use your environment to teach?  We should not be restricting learning to the four walls of our classrooms.  Can we find ways to show our young learners how their learning connects to their community and beyond?

Reflecting from aFAAR

In the Junior High, tis the season of conducting Student Course Feedback and, for some, it seems, completing Peer Visits – two of the five components of our Faculty Assessment and Annual Review (FAAR) process. Additionally, a third component of our formative assessment plan – Admin Observation – has been occurring all year. After seeing the note “re-review and process Synergy 8 SCF” on our respective to-do lists for months, Bo Adams and I have finally spent five meetings of second period reviewing and reflecting on our Synergy 8 student course feedback (SCF). Not only did we re-review the feedback to reconsider how things went during the first-semester course, but we also revisited the data in May so that we could pre-plan more effectively for the next iteration of Synergy 8. As we returned to the SCF and discussed the results, we remembered connections in the data that linked to things we read in our peer visit summaries and admin observation notes. We were reminded that student course feedback does not exist by itself. The components of our FAAR process are not intended to be isolated, siloed pieces of professional learning. They can be wonderfully integrated and whole. Also, they are not intended to be summative or evaluative – they are not judgmental pieces of professional evaluation. They are meant to be formative…lenses through which we can view our teaching and learning so as to grow and develop as educators…so that we can adjust our course.

What’s more, by reviewing and reflecting together, we enhanced our field of view and gained richer understanding from the blend of each other’s varied perspectives and reactions. During each of the five periods that we engaged in this collaborative work, we would independently review the data and write to the prompts on the narrative summary tool (“option #2”) for reflecting on one’s SCF – one reflective prompt at a time. Then, we would read and discuss each other’s responses. While this took more time than working through the reflection alone, we both believe we benefitted immensely from the writing, sharing, and dialoguing. We missed things in our individual reflections, but very little fell through any cracks by canvassing the feedback as a team of critical friends.

To share our system of feedback, we decided to use an online, cloud-storage, sharing tool called “Box.” By using Box, we could design some simple webdocs that literally show and archive the connections among the feedback and reflections. Box has a number of great features, including the ability to tag documents and post comments. To view our Box-stored system of feedback, please visit the “Synergy 8 – FAAR” folder.

Soon, our next collective endeavor will be to prepare our 2011-12 Goals and Self-Assessment (a fourth component of FAAR). Because we co-facilitate Synergy 8, we intend to employ the critical friends process again as we continue to prepare for our next team of Synergy learners. The manner in which we reviewed and reflected on our system of feedback has set up and primed our ability and enthusiasm to enhance the Synergy experience for the upcoming school year.

In addition to our course-specific questions, we are also engaged in thinking about some critical learning questions for ourselves and our FAAR process (and they may be good questions for you, too):

  • Can you learn more deeply reviewing feedback with a colleague? How can we assist each other in learning more deeply?
  • How can we build a common understanding of the needs of our learners? How can we find a richer understanding of ourselves as teammates and co-facilitators?
  • Do you have a team of critical friends? What feedback are you collecting and considering so that you can grow?
  • Would you learn more by sharing the results of your feedback with another for reflection and co-interpretation? How will we grow and learn together if we are not sharing our struggles and our successes?
  • What have we learned from this process that we can facilitate for our younger learners next semester? How can we model and implement a richer reflection and critical friends system as part of the course?
Note: This post is cross-posted at Bo Adams’s It’s About Learning.