Sunday, January 31, 2010

MI ASCD Differentiated Instruction Conference

Michigan ASCD is a great organization with a vision for bringing quality support to the region, matching the quality level of the national organization. ASCD national brings in the big names in just about every educational area there is to explore. That kind of expertise is difficult to match. What MI ASCD does, and I'm sure other states do but I only know the work of the MI chapter, is bring philosophical pedagogy into practice.

Differentiated Instruction is a great example. On February 1 and 2, some of the top educators in Michigan who do DI are coming together to show, model, and facilitate the work of teachers and administrators to improve practice for the support of student learning. A similar conference was done in August of 2009. Many of the resources are posted, for a limited time, on the MI ASCD website. Well worth exploring.

Also, check MI ASCD on Facebook.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

21st Century Skills in Action

I read an article that illustrated how 21st Century Skills with current technology skills are important to hone by our students.
Warcraft Helps Catch a Crook tells a tale of detective work that went beyond just calling Blizzard and getting account information. All the tools needed were in one paragraph of the article. I've linked the relevant tools.
"Blizzard [WoW] played ball, giving up Hightower's account history, IP address [Lookup], screen name, billing address and preferred game server. One Google Earth search later, and Canadian authorities had apprehended Hightower in Ottowa, Ontario."

Deductive reasoning, among other critical thinking skills, combined with using such tools make for valuable experiences that students can apply to their lives. This article shows a great job-embedded example of 21st Century Skills.

Route 21
A good resource and reference on 21st Century Skills. It's part of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills.

One valuable format for this type of instruction is Project-Based Learning. It addresses critical thinking, across curriculum areas, embedding 21st century skills, and student directed learning.
  • Leading Project-Based Learning
    Online tutorial that educators are using to learn about and develop their own projects.
    Check out their resource library.

  • Buck Institute (BIE)
    This non-profit organization is having a tremendous influence on how PBL is approached. Many successful educational organizations such as High Tech High and New Tech Network have their PBL roots through BIE. The organization works with educational institutions at state and local levels. Their influence is being felt in the business world and internationally.
    Youtube Site | Tools
Videos are great learning tools. This sampling may help further explain and support 21st Century Skills.


Sunday, January 3, 2010

Relationships Matter: Next Steps...

The previous 3 posts attempted to look at the powerful impact of getting to know our students. It's important, and perhaps, I've beaten that point into a deep hole. I could go further by referencing the impact of a study by William Sanders (Sanders 101 by Jeff Archer in Education Week, May 5, 1999 -View as PDF or Word) -- --but I will not over indulge.

A better use of time would be to suggest tools for how we can learn more about the students who we are charged with their learning. One useful tool is a learning/perceptual survey. We make assumptions about the people who enter our classrooms. Students do the same. In many cases their assumptions were made long before they entered your classroom, based on their experiences, positive and negative, regarding school, subjects, and their capabilities. Having some sense of students' perceptions could go a long way in knowing how best to support them achieving.

Here is a list of potential questions you might ask at the beginning of school, when a new student enters the class, or--as this post occurs in the middle of a school year-- tomorrow. It's never too late to learn more about students.

Pick and choose the questions that best meet your needs. Rewrite and add your own. I'm thinking 4 to 5 questions might be the right balance so as not to overwhelm with tons of writing, and still get depth regarding who they are... plus or minus 2.

Would love to know your stories on your use of surveys, and questions you've used or developed that were helpful.

Sample Student Survey
  1. 3 traits, others would describe me as:
  2. 3 traits I would describe myself as:
  3. 2 or 3 things I like to do outside of school are:
  4. 2 or 3 things I like to do in school are:
  5. My favorite subject is:_______________.
    • What I like most to do in this subject is:
    • What I don't like to do in this subject is:
  6. My least favorite subject is: ____________. My reason(s) is: (include example)
  7. This subject is easy/hard because:
  8. Draw a picture of what:
    • class is like to you
    • school means to you
  9. If you were teacher for a day, what subject would you enjoy teaching
  10. The best thing about school/home is
  11. The worse thing about school/home is
  12. 3 people I know and trust are (name & relationship):
  13. The staff person(s) at school who best understands me is: (list 1 or 2 people if possible)
  14. The character from a movie/tv show/book that I want to be like is:
  15. The character from a movie/tv show/book that best describes my life:
  16. What are 2-3 ways a teacher can be a good teacher to you?
  17. What are 2-3 things a teacher should avoid doing as your teacher?

Another type of feedback to have is how students learn best. There are many approaches to learning styles. Howard Gardner and Eric Jensen are widely known. I like to mix in Sternberg's Triarchic Theory on Multiple Intelligence and a few others, but that is for another post.

This movie clip shows the value of utilizing a varitey of learning experiences that incorporate learning styles for something as simple(?) as keeping a beat. Also consider the Zen conversation that Mr. Holland has with his Chess buddy. You need only watch for 6 minutes to get the point, although it's a great clip.

Mr. Hollands Opus -
Differentiating based on Understanding a student, and his needs

Here are a list of resources that you may find far more useful than the list of sample questions I've provided. I've explored some more deeply than others, finding some great resources. This is to say as a disclaimer, please review a resource deeply and make your own decision about its value :)

Bon Appetit!

Survey resources

Learning Profile Surveys
Printable Paper Resources/Links