Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Leader in Me -- Stephen Covey

Trained in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I've read Stephen Covey's thinking and watched him on several videos, never imagining that I'd ever be in the same room. Thursday night at the Galileo Teacher Leadership  (Ning site) sponsored event, I had the experience of seeing and listening to Stephen Covey in person. Of course there were about 400 other people in the room living the same dream, which did not lose any of the impact.

Much of what Dr. Covey discussed revolved around Habit 5: Seek to Understand Before Being Understood. A part of his current work seems to be about teaching world leaders and business executives about how to be an effective listener. He uses a Talking Stick, from Native American tradition, where whoever has the stick gets to communicate until they feel understood. Only then is the stick passed on to another person to focus on their needs. Reminds me much from 7 Norms for Collaboration from the Center for Adaptive Schools (Model), which fits with the work of Cognitive Coaching.

Up to this point, I felt affirmed in the approaches I take in the work that I do. The transformational moment began when the focus turned to The Leader in Me (Sample Chapter). In over 300 schools, the Covey team is helping implement 7 Habits as part of school culture and academic curriculum. 7 Habits is so important in the adult world that it is surprising that it's taken until now that a serious effort is being made to empower children with a similar understanding and way of living. The people in Decatur Public Schools say it well for themselves:

This 3 part process begins with the staff.

  1. Train them on the Habits and how to implement in their school and classroom.
  2. Teach children the Habits and how to implement it in their school life.
  3. The children bring the Habits home, and through their actions teach their parents.
Some of the Habits exist in many of the schools I work with in an informal way. Embedding them as a visible part of thinking and empathic decision making could be transformational. I am inspired to explore more deeply the work of The Leader in Me.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

PBL and Differentiated Instruction

Question from a Teacher:
Can you differentiate Project-Based Instruction (PBL)? Could I see some tangible examples?

Project-Based Learning is a great instructional vehicle, within which differentiated instruction can be effective. The core of PBL planning is:
  1. Identify the learning targets
  2.  Develop the supporting assessment
  3.  Lesson planning
a.       What supports are needed for struggling learners?
b.      What supports are needed for advanced learners?

Standards-Focused PBL incorporates 21st Century skills, such as collaboration, communication, research, problem-solving, independent, and technology literate. There are many ways to incorporate these skills in learning, and support of learners.

How do I observe My world

Here are some resources to review:
These 3 books are an excellent resource for examples of high quality units that incorporate Differentiated Instruction effectively. It includes valuable teacher reflections about why and how the units were developed, and the effectiveness of the units. Each unit includes a unit outline, the lessons, and related materials needed to implement. The books are best used by teachers who have a basic understanding of Differentiated Instruction and/or quality unit design.