Wednesday, January 22, 2014

MLK Every Day

On Monday, Dr. Martin Luther King was celebrated nation wide for his contributions and sacrifice, as well as the contributions by others in the civil rights movement.

The ideas of what Dr. King strove for are important every day. Monday is a reminder of how we should treat others, and defend the His dream, through us, lives on...

Full Speech: "I have a dream"

Short version: "I have a dream"

Full Version "I have been to the Mountain Top"

Shortened Version: "I have been to the Mountain Top"

Friday, January 3, 2014

Owning our success and failures - What do we aspire to become?

There are paradoxes in education that needs courageous reflection. Some include:

Want students to take ownership of their education, yet student voice in class and school level decision-making is generally limited or is not allowed.

In school and district mission statement there is a statement about developing lifelong learners. Yet structures tend to impedes opportunities for students to retake the work for a better grade which indicates their current level of learning.

During some hall sweeps in one school, any students caught not in their scheduled class (late) gets suspended for the rest of the day, and sometimes for additional days. Instead of being tardy to class, students lose days of instructional time.

Teachers are credited with recognition at awards ceremonies for schools that have demonstrated excellence in student achievement. When schools are low achieving, the burden of responsibility is usually placed on students and parents.

If we build a collegial and collaborative culture involving students and adults...

Everyone gets credited for school success in academics and other areas. When there is low achievement, everyone reflects and collectively explore the problems and develop and design solutions, which everyone owns.

When focus is on keeping students in school to learn, interventions are put in place so that students make up for lost instructional time due to tardies and absences, and they are interviewed to learn the reasons for their habits of lateness so as to improve attendance (professional practices).

A culture of learning is most important, students retake assessments when they have demonstrated understanding or completed a study plan. This results in students truly able to learn at the rate or pace that is appropriate to each learner.

Understanding that students are an educational partner for achievement, their voice in decision making carries significant weight in classroom and building decisions. Where there is voice there is buy-in. Such students build confidence that will carry them beyond their quality experiences in that school...

Monday, December 30, 2013

Returning to roots

It's amazing how quickly a year can go. In my travels in and outside of the US I've seen some great student learning experiences...and some not so cool. Both are good lessons learned to be better at meeting learner needs by considering What's Best 4 All...

Stay tuned...

Saturday, February 23, 2013

PBL World 2013

PBL World is coming out for it's sophomore conference on June 17-21, 2013.

Once again it will be held in Napa California, and it's expected to be another big hit. There will be the standard PBL 101, an introduction to PBL where participants will leave with a project design to implement in their classrooms.What makes this year special is that there will be more offerings for all things project based learning (PBL). These include:
These are the challenging areas that teachers want to know who to address or incorporate when doing PBL with their students. I'm excited to facilitate the session on Differentiated Instruction, a personal passion of mine. The presenters of all of the sessions are the best in the industry, nationally experienced in helping staffs successfully bring positive change for student success.

PBL World is a great conference to get deep learning, and walk away with immediate usage for your schools. Registration is literally limited and filling up. Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Differentiated Instruction through the 8 Elements of Project Based Learning

Project Based Learning (PBL) is an efficient structure for Differentiated Instruction (DI). Here is a breakdown of suggested means to differentiate within the 8 elements of PBL. Additional references are at the end of this document.

1.     Significant Content
Scaffolding content and skills based on students’ readiness is important when differentiating content. The Project Teaching and Learning Guide is a necessary tool for breaking down the concepts and skills learners must acquire. Based on this analysis, teachers design scaffolded lessons for supporting learning in case students do not succeed with the 1st or 2nd attempt.
Suggested strategies:
Tiered activities, Think Dots, Graphic Organizers, media that represents content differently, RAFTs, Homogenous study groups, Guided Reading, Mini-Workshops, Multiple Intelligences (such as Robert Sternberg), Readers Apprenticeship

2.     21st Century Skills
Skills such as Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, and Innovation are important learning tools as well as global skills. Effective teams help each other grasp content and think critically in a thoughtful manner. Assessment should be a varied mix of approaches such as written, oral, and media-based. Evaluations should include feedback from the students about themselves and each other. These practices support development of 21st Century Skills, learning content, and foster more accurate outcomes.
Suggested strategies:
Teaming heterogeneously and homogeneously  jigsaw, fishbowl, tiered activities, learning contracts, learning profile cards, Critique groups, Writer’s Workshop

3.     Driving Question
The DQ is a focus for the PBL unit. Students must answer the question by the end of the project to demonstrate understanding of the key concepts. Students find content purposeful when a DQ is targeted for an audience beyond the classroom or building. Often generated by teachers, students can generate their own so as to focus on their interests within the unit. DQs can be framed to address different levels of content complexity.
Suggested strategies:
Tiered composition, RAFTs, Self-generated, Mentors

4.     In-Depth Inquiry
Deep research and understanding of content is essential to critical thinking and analysis. We coach students, sometimes with scaffolds, to help them practice thinking tools. Metacognitive skills help learners make sense of targeted outcomes.
Suggested strategies:
Mini-workshops, Tiered activities, RAFTs, Fishbowl, Socratic Seminars, Graphic Organizers, Jigsaws, Multiple Intelligences (such as Robert Sternberg)

5.     Need to Know
Relevance and purpose are critical factors to learn something. How we connect the concepts and skills to students’ schema for what is important or related to them leads to deeper roots of comprehension. Entry events and entry documents when combined help build the initial buzz for a unit when strong relevance is made apparent. Relating the DQ to daily lessons helps students to understand how what is work today connect to the final product or presentation at the end of the unit.
Suggested strategies:
Multi-media, Field Trips, Guest speaker, simulation, team-based activity, on-going connections to contemporary world of students, multiple intelligence (such as Robert Sternberg)

6.     Voice and Choice
Students build interest when they have choices. They have buy-in when they have voice in their learning. The “Need to Know” activity fosters buy-in because students determine when content is sufficiently addressed. Having an open-ended product, aligned to clear criteria, encourages students to express themselves in whatever medium that allows them to best demonstrate understanding. Choices are good when teachers need to maintain a narrow scope for student responses. Voice promotes deeper understanding, driven by the curiosity and interest of the learner.
Suggested strategies:
Frayer Model, Think Dots, RAFTs, multiple intelligence (such as Robert Sternberg)

7.     Revision and Reflection
Learning how to review, reflect, and revise work and thinking helps students to make deeper connections with content. Coaching students on how to have constructive conversations ties neatly with developing 21st Century Skills and In-Depth Inquiry. These PBL elements work together seamlessly.
Suggested strategies:
Critique groups, Writer’s Workshop, Reading Circle, fishbowl, Socratic Seminar, gallery walks

8.     Public Audience
Having an authentic audience builds meaning and context for learning. Sharing their understanding helps students more deeply root the content and critical thinking. As with 21st Century Skills, students communicating their learning in an engaged session with others is an effective way for them to get what they need in achieving academic goals.
Suggested strategies:
Multiple intelligence (such as Robert Sternberg), multi-media, mentors, gallery walks, mentors

Carol AnnTomlinson. Fulfilling the Promise of the Differentiated Classroom: Strategies and Tools for Responsive Teaching. ASCD (2003)

John McCarthy. The Learning Classrooms.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Driving Questions for Space Travel

It's amazing what NASA does that as individuals we get to experience so little.
Touted as an experience like that of traveling on a space ship, it may be the view we'd get. I'm not convinced that it's the full experience. Yet what an impression this leaves for why space travel would be soooo cool.

So how might space travel become a reality?
Is the expense of Space Programs worth it in the long term?

This video is priceless.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

PBL World: June 18-22, 2012

I get asked a lot about where to learn about Project Based Learning. There are the usual learning sites like BIE and Leading PBL. Now there is an incredible opportunity coming soon: PBL World.
Join the Adventure @