Headed to MACUL18 this week? Me too! And you're cordially invited to any one (or all) of my three great sessions!
Thursday from 3-430 take a deeper dive into Google mapping tools; Earth, Tour Builder, My Maps & Lit Trips, at my What a Wonderful World session. Follow this link to a one page handout with session description and resources.
Friday I'll be presenting Formative Assessment by Design. This talk highlights the role of formative assessment and some of tech tools you can use to support empowering learners and create lessons targeted to the individual needs of each student. Follow this link for complete session description and handout.
Friday afternoon I'm back at it from 1-2 co-presenting with physics teacher extraordinaire, Elizabeth Maitner from Catholic Central high school. Elizabeth is sharing a project she did with students in which they applied for a grant and used the funds to build a drone! Not trained in project-based learning, this project developed organically when she told the kids, "if you want to do this, we need funding and I can't do it alone!" Learn from us the what, why and how of connecting with community to make it happen.
So I'm one of those who grew up mildly to mostly uncomfortable with math. As a high school student. I excelled at linguistics, and intellectual though processes. But math just didn't add up (haha) I loved the proofs of geometry. The built in meta-cognition worked for me. But algebra? in the traditional manner of do all the odd (or even) problems, show all your work, one right answer? Not so much. Sound familiar?
Now that I'm a part time field supervisor, coaching student teachers in all content areas, I've been brushing up on content specific methods and strategies. Enter Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler. This book has been life-changing. And it aligns with the design thinking work I've been doing the last couple of years. Whether you're a math teacher or not, this book is for you. Boaler provides excellent examples of how to create a collaborative classroom where students learn that there really is no such thing as a mistake. Instead, they are encouraged to share and debate ideas based on the familiar, claim, evidence, reasoning technique we see in science and language arts. Armed with the basics of number sense, students discover math facts for themselves in a constructivist style of learning. We are reminded that while there may be a right answer, there is no one right way to arrive at that answer and the power of allowing students to explore and explain their thinking.
Boaler provides tons of great examples of simple 'games' aka activities to encourage this thinking including one of my new favorite apps kenken puzzles along with a variety of resources from youcubed.org that will start you on the way to understanding the benefit of a growth mindset in mathematics.
She touches on a variety of related topics as well, such as the benefits of heterogeneous vs. homogeneous grouping in math classes. Her position on the role of homework is particularly relevant to any content area. She espouses the value of reflection as opposed to repetition, advocating for a sort of flipped classroom model in which the practice and discover is done in class with students engaging in self-assessment as homework.
As I visit schools and have sat in on curriculum committee work, I routinely hear how math is 'special' that there is such a broad range of abilities teachers require special consideration in designing programs that essentially track students and impose upon them a fixed mindset related to math ability, setting them up continued struggle, failure and lowered self-esteem. Jo Boaler offers practical methods that can be implemented without a complete curriculum re-write that will ease the tension and frustration for students and teachers alike. Add this book to your summer reading list!
(reading time 4 minutes) Author: Carol Glanville
I love the dictionary tool in Google. As an arm-chair linguist, I’m fascinated by the etymology of even simple words. Take the term distract. The archaic use is to perplex & bewilder. And today it still carries a negative connotation in actual meaning. ‘Bother, disturb, divert, side-track’ There’s definitely something subversive about a distraction. Current research shows that recovering from a distraction can take 20-30 minutes. That’s a lot of lost time. And especially soul-crushing when you (or your students) would way rather be enjoying the warm evenings and lake-worthy weekends that late May / early June bring our way.
So, allow me to share a post from last year at just about this time. With a few updates.
Finish Strong (May 13, 2016)
There’s always tomorrow…until there isn’t. It’s the end of the school year folks and that means crunch time; for students and teachers. Unfortunately, as the days get warmer and sunnier, it becomes that much harder to stay motivated and focused. And as the seniors dance out the door a month earlier than the rest…it’s even worse!
So this week I’m offering a couple of tried and true tech tips that to help you stay focused, on task, and true to your priorities. That means increased productivity, which doesn’t mean more time working, rather more work done in the same time (or less!)
*”A Life of Productivity – Practical ways to get more done.” 2014. 13 May. 2016 <http://alifeofproductivity.com/
Notifications: If you’re like me, your device(s) buzz, ding and blink incessantly! And although I may not feel compelled to read or respond to every notification that appears, the mere knowledge that it’s there or the glance away to read the lead text can cost up to 25 minutes of focused work.
So, whenever you’re working on a priority task, silence all notifications. There’s really no need to know about something until you can act on it anyway, and you can’t get to it any sooner if you’re losing 25 minutes every time you get tapped. Another benefit? You’ll feel more in control; no longer at the beck and call of every email, ‘like’, tweet and text.
*2017 update: Love it!! But it does take some re-training. It’s hard to resist tools that are so well-designed to disturb. I also felt guilty at first, which has weakened to mildly guilty at times over the last year. But what I’ve gained makes it worth the effort. I’m more respectful and attentive to those around me, I engage more purposefully in even the most mundane tasks. (I actually taste food when I eat without scrolling through FB or the latest news headlines!) Also? As soon as I recognize that I’m letting distraction set in, I recognize what’s really going on, that it’s time for a break. I bring myself to a stopping point and intentionally switch things up. So I no longer spend hours watching TV or on the computer, but really doing nothing.
Reminders: Disruptive notifications don’t just appear on your device. Many times they’re hiding in your own head, way down deep and silently work their way to the surface. Ever find yourself relaxing with a book, bingeing on netflix, or grading projects and suddenly you have no idea what happened to the last 10 minutes? Or a student name abruptly reminds you of a forgotten email? It’s nice to know your subconscious has got your back, but don’t let it derail you.
Start a list in your reminder app. As soon as you notice your mind wandering, make a note of what’s there. This allows you to let go of whatever it is without worrying it will be forgotten or buried and to focus on the original activity.
I have two lists. I check my work list every morning to prioritize my day. And I check my personal list before I head home so I can stop for milk and plan my evening.
*2017 Update: I like this one too, but have to admit this one didn’t stick as well. I”m really not much of a list maker so it wasn’t a natural inclination. However, whenever I feel like things are getting overwhelming, I head back to it.
Implement: These tips are equally valuable for students. At this age,their pre-frontal cortex (which controls impulsive activity) is somewhat under-developed. Invite them to a shared experience of testing these tips out. Take 5 minutes to explain each one, then check in each day to see if it’s working and what suggestions they have. They may not all try it at first, but the repetition and discussion will draw them in.
*2017 Update: I have shared these ideas with many people. It seems the biggest obstacle is, as usual, ourselves. It’s your time. However, it is a static, finite asset. Honor those around you (and yourself!) by making the most of every moment. Even your distractions can be planned to the point that you welcome them!
(reading time approx 3 minutes)
We wrapped up our 1st year of implementing Design Thinking (aka Human Centered Design) last week with an amazing showcase hosted by Aquinas College. 200+ community members came out to see the innovative work spanning grades k-12 in our schools this year. Below are some comments and a photo gallery for those who couldn’t make it. You can access this Google doc for more details on each individual project. Feel free to contact any of our teachers or the Office of Catholic Schools if you have any questions about the project. See my previous posts on this topic for the background. A Time to Dance | Innovate with Empathy
Response to the event:
“How exciting to see all your culminating work at the showcase! You are all humble Catholic school teachers, and it sometimes doesn’t feel natural to “show off” what you’ve done. I heard many positive responses from those who attended — parents, future parents, other educators, administrators — as your work has helped them to see innovation in our classrooms and your leadership in teaching others about what you’ve learned. Thank you for your continued commitment to our year of learning.” Assistant Supt Jill Annable
It [design thinking] has completely transformed the way they teach. They are so excited and energized about using this process. Teachers have requested mixed grade level classes because they see so much potential. ~Suzi Furtwangler, Principal St Thomas
“Thank you for inviting us! It was a wonderful collection of Design Thinking in action, and I loved the conversations that I had with Sara Olson about how she changed the direction of her Art 4 class utilizing Design Thinking (going to try some of this out myself with my art students next year).” Tricia Erickson, Art Teacher Northview High School
“This year I learned that failing is a good thing because you have the opportunity to really grow! If you don’t fail sometimes that means you aren’t really doing anything new or hard. God created us to DO things!” ~anonymous student
(reading time 2.5 min.) Author: Carol Glanville
About a dozen Diocesan educators attended MACUL17 in Detroit last week. As we wrap up the year, Everyday Tech will be one platform for sharing their learning across the Diocese. Today’s topic comes from Angela Critchett, West Catholic tech teacher.
They say a picture is worth 1000 words? Well, with Gone Google Story Builder a few words draws a vivid picture!
This interesting little tool that allows you to create a short story on the fly. You can have up to 10 characters and add background music from stock music choices. Of unconventional story-builder note does not incorporate images. It’s 100% dialogue-driven. When you watch a story on Gone Google Story Builder, you’re actually watching the typing unfold and essentially read along. Check out this short sample to get the idea:
Potential classroom uses:
Things to be aware of:
(reading time 4 minutes)
Thomas Edison has been credited with once saying, “I have not failed 10,000 times—I’ve successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.” (Erica Hendry, Smithsonian.com, 2013) But we rarely hear or teach about those 10,000 times. In schools, we tend to focus on the final outcome of ideas that have shaped the world, and then expect students to go through the process of discovery on their own. They do research, work problems, and perform experiments all with a very clearly expected outcome, but rarely any examples of how to do that work. And typically when they miss the mark, they are penalized in the form of a number or letter that places them on a fairly limited scale of success and failure.
There is great pressure on students to just get the right answer, with no reward for the process of learning. And equally, there is great pressure on teachers to produce students who can get the right answers.
I recently came across the concept of the Biography of an idea in the book LAUNCH. And as I work with our Human Centered Design cohort (aka the innovatED team) it’s come to light that students generally stop being naturally inquisitive around middle school. And by high school, really struggle with inquiry and research. They’ve become so acclimated to the ‘game’ of school, they’re afraid to break the rules.
In a panel discussion the innovatED team had this week with area experts from Steelcase, Spectrum, Kendall and WMCAT, we learned that among soft skills employers are looking for, demonstrated curiosity and acceptance of ambiguity rank pretty high. A popular interview question is “Tell me about the best vacation you ever took.” That story tells prospective employers more about the type of person sitting in front of them than anything else; including, their risk-aversion level, if they are planners or jumpers, and how easily they roll with the punches. Each panel member also talked about marathon sessions of brainstorming and idea generation the regularly happen in their work. The ability to perform those tasks with humility, work as a team, and be genuinely collaborative were also touted. They fully supported teaching the design thinking process and were excited to hear that we’re moving in that direction here at the Diocese. Indeed, they lauded us as leaders of the pack in this area and are excited to continue working with us.
So, how might we create a culture in our classrooms where the process is as important as the outcome; a culture that supports risk-taking and discovery on the road to the right answer?
While there are many possibilities, the following three apps are tools that have been used in our classrooms and are accessible across platforms; including iPads, Chromebooks, laptops, and a variety of mobile devices. Each tool plays a unique role in recording every step of a great or, in the spirit of Mr. Edison, maybe not so great idea.
Start with Padlet. (YT video Overview) Padlet has many potential uses, but at the simplest level, it’s a place to generate ideas. It’s essentially an electronic version of sticky note brainstorming. Students post their ideas on a padlet wall and can then manipulate them to sort ideas into clusters. This can be done as a group on a shared wall, or individually. It would be a great tool just for getting unstuck in an assignment. A student could just throw out the options they think might work, and then work them through without forgetting what else they thought might work. I think I’ll start using it to collect my blog ideas!
Once ideas have been sorted and students choose a couple to work out, move to Mindmeister. (YT Channel) A powerful mapping tool, Mindmeister works to really organize and add detail to ideas. Students can add the type and order of tasks to get them started inquiring and researching their proposed process. They can record notes, questions, and observations as they move through the ideation process.
Once organized in Mindmeister, students move on to heavier lifting including observation, research and creating a draft. This may or may not be electronic as students sketch, draw, model, experiment, write, or attempt steps in a problem. During this work phase, students test their ideas and come to a conclusion that works, or doesn’t.
Remember if their answer isn’t ‘right’ (aka doesn’t work) that doesn’t mean they failed. The ultimate goal is always that they have learned. So success is in the learning, not in getting the right answer. But of course, you (and they) need to be able to evaluate their work and what they did learn.
Enter Explain Everything (YT Channel) This tool supports the evaluation phase. With Explain Everything students can record what they did, include screenshots from Padlet and Mindmeister, talk through the draft phase and explain why it did or didn’t work, what they might have done differently where they went wrong. If they are unable to articulate that, you know they haven’t mastered the topic.
I encourage you to take a look at these three tools. If you’re a student, investigate how they might support you in completing class work. If you’re a teacher consider how you might teach students to utilize these tools in their processing. Even if you aren’t doing a full-blown project, these tools can be incredibly useful for many daily classroom activities as students work to make sense of their world. And who knows, you may be helping invent the lightbulb of tomorrow!
Want to learn more about Edison’s path of learning? Check out this Forbes article on “How Failure Taught Edison to Repeatedly Innovate.”
Psst… wanna know the secret to engagement?
Carol Glanville, M.Ed.
educator, presenter, strategist, coach, design thinker