We keep hearing about how everyone needs to learn how to code. Do they? I've been seeing a lot of headlines about how computers and AI will be talking over all the jobs in the very near future. I recently saw a couple of interesting videos online and went back to read a bit more about where they came from. This one called The Future of Work: Will Our Children Be Prepared? comes from What School Could Be and basically shows computers taking over all sorts of jobs from milking cows to flipping burgers.
So, I went looking for more information and found a recent Edsurge article , interviewing Ted Dintersmith, a businessman who is now on an education "crusade" (my term). In 2015, he funded and produced “Most Likely to Succeed. My first inclination was that he was yet another Bill Gates sort of guy who thinks he knows more about education than those who are actually working in the field. However, I think he is spending his time investigating and has some good points. One quote from the article resonated with me. "To me, it’s not computer science. It’s computer literacy. It’s understanding and making yourself far more productive with the tools and resources that are out there. That’s what we need to teach—to encourage kids to learn and be confident that they can figure things out, whether they’re a philosophy professor, journalist, scientist or engineer."
On the other hand, but perhaps related- we keep hearing about resilience, grit, perseverance, and a growth mindset as the key components of success. This video has been making the social media rounds of late. Jay Shetty tells us that the real test is life, asking "when were you were taught perseverance, determination, or persistence even for one day? And tells us that "The real challenges we will face are being empathetic understanding people's challenges."
So, I need computer literacy, perseverance and empathy... and then I read this; "We’re Teaching Grit the Wrong Way" from The Chronicle of Higher Education. The author tells us that "grit alone simply isn’t enough. It matters what path people use. As one example, grit combined with gratitude is a strong predictor of resilience."
But... Nigel Coutts thinks that we are wrapping kids in the equivalent of cognitive cotton wool. And, once again, pieces of his argument resonated with me. " We are so keen to make learning easy and accessible that at times we completely remove the challenge."... " We provide endless scaffolding of processes with pro-formas and checklists until the task is reduced to a set of simple steps, manageable with no real mental effort. We then applaud the success achieved and yet wonder why our learners are unable to apply their learning to new situations or transfer their skills from one discipline to another. " Coutts quotes a lot of Jo Boaler's work, which also makes so much sense to me.
Need to learn to code? Need to be more resilient? Need to have more empathy? Which is the key to the future for our students?
Looking for ideas? Google has an online course on Digital Literacy, which actually does help with some of the soft skills that employers are looking for, like collaboration. It's called Applied Digital Skills. You can find out more in the video below, or check the website or YouTube channel.
Back to Ted Dintersmith on innovative schools: "They’re helping each kid in a different, very specific way to discover their strengths, learn more about their interest, and begin to gain the skills and confidence that they can use their life to make their world better."
Hmmm...so maybe I need to add personalized learning to my list... innovative, personalized, resilient, empathetic, creative, collaborative and digitally literate.
I saw a meme in a twitter chat a few months back, which I had never seen/heard before. It referred to professional development as "#SeaGull PD". Interesting outlook on required PD. I do not have all the answers. Here are some resources that you may find useful.
It's Spring- which means that Edcamp season is upon us. I spent the day at EdCampBoston on Saturday. What I came away with, as usual, was a day of learning, making my own choices. If I couldn't find someone to learn from in the group of 200 educators who gave up a Saturday to share and learn, it was my problem. However, many times PD selection is not something I feel like I have any control over. One of the sessions at #edcampBos was led by Dan Callahan, entitled: Meetings Don't Have to Suck. Here's thelink to the collaborative notes. If you're wondering what else went on- Here's thelink to the spreadsheet with all the notes taken.
With the recent ESSA requirements taking effect over the last year or so, I thought that perhaps this was the time. A quote from EdSurge a year ago: "The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) establishes a new, more rigorous definition of PD that incorporates many of the ideas above. High quality sustained PD as defined in this recent report should “take place over an extended period; longer than one day or a one-time workshop.” It should also incorporate data on both teacher and student needs—that is, it should be data-driven. I haven't seen any real changes, but perhaps I am impatient; these things take time.
Steve Dembo delivered a session about PD called "Fear the Sitting Dead"
Luckily was shared on YouTube. Dembo served for ten years as Discovery Education’s Director of Learning Communities and led their Innovation and Strategy team. To learn more about Steve and his work, click here.
Vicki Davis recently did a nice podcast about rethinking PD. You can listen to it here, or check out the post on her site. Vicki interviewed Jarod Bormann, author of Professionally Driven: Empower Every Educator To Redefine PD who talked about designing PD that works and interests teachers.
MOOCs and Books
Will Richardson, author of Why School?, has teamed up with Bruce Dixon to create Change School. Here's the blurb: "An inquiry-driven, interactive experience that will push your thinking and your practice, and leave you with a unique plan to move your school forward." You can spend 8 weeks learning with your cohort and come out with your own personal playbook of how you can effect change in your school.
EdCamps are generally my PD of choice. Here in New England we are lucky to have a lot of Edcamps to choose from, all within a few hours drive.
Sat, 03/24/2018 - Edcamp BPS Boston Massachusetts
Thu, 03/29/2018 - JPS Edcamp Johnston Rhode Island
Sat, 04/14/2018 - Edcamp Vermont Winooski, VT
Sat, 04/28/2018 - EdcampWMASS Huntington Massachusetts GATEWAY!
Sat 05/05/2018- Edcamp Access, Burlington, MA
Sat 08/10/2018- Edcamp CT, Simsbury, CT
Sat, 09/29/2018 - Edcamp Grafton Grafton Massachusetts
There will be an Edcamp down on Cape Cod, one in Malden, MA, as well as Southern NH and more...
Regardless of the professional development choices you make as an educator, they should be choices that you have some control over, that enhance your teaching. There's a reason it's called "professional" development. Teachers need more autonomy and more engaging choices.
Alice Keeler-Infographics Tips
Alice Keeler has an excellent post with easy to follow tips to help you or your students make great infographics with Google Slides or Drawings. Check it out here.
Screenshot of Alice Keeler's tips.
Please visit her site for more info and to download the pdf.
Tips to Organize Google Drive: Miguel and friends
Once again our Texas friend, Miguel, has posted useful, practical information! I think I first tried to organize my Google Drive when I read a post a while back from Jenn Judkins and learned about "Shift-Z". Check out Jenn's easy to follow tutorial here. Miguel Guhlin takes Google Drive organization and breaks it down into 3 pieces : Tip #1 – Create File Shortcuts Tip #2 – Copy Folders in Drive Tip #3 – Backup & Sync Read all about it on the TCEA blog, here.
Still looking for more ideas to organize your Google Drive? Richard Byrne has a great little gif to show you how to use emojis and icons to organize... check it out here.
The topic of digital distraction in the classroom has circled around, yet again.
Is it getting worse? Is it a problem of tech or of classroom management? Have we collected new research that says screens are making us dumber? Are we losing touch with one another, lacking empathy? Yes, depends on who you ask; yes, but it depends on which research you look at; yes, but... One article that many have seen and chimed in on- on both sides, is the WAPO article about putting all devices into little protective pockets while in school.
Business Insider has Stanford University computer science students protesting at Apple around cell phone addiction issues. Need to read more... Here's a few to get you started-
One article: Hechinger Report Another: WAPO- to ban or not WAPO: Screens are not evil
So, are we all talking about the same thing? Distraction in the classroom=screen time=cellphone addiction... Nope, I think that there are various threads to the discussion that kind of blend together, depending on age group or student/parent/teacher and this ends up clouding our discussion. In school- they can be used as learning tools. If they are not being used as learning tools- put them away. In social situations- talk to the real people you are with. When you see beautiful scenes in nature, at concerts, walking down the street- look and enjoy with your eyes and your other senses, instead of always holding up a phone and looking through a lens.
I liked this tweet from a Canadian friend, Alec Couros. He is a professor at the University of Regina and has spoken on and written about The Age of Distraction for about a decade.
As usual, one of my personal go-to sources is CommonSense Media. You can read a lot more about Digital Distraction here... and check out the video below.