Tag Archives: positive expectations

REPOST – Fleas and Revolutionaries

Fleas and Revolutionaries by Michael Josephson

Here’s another great post by Michael Josephson that I want to share… with the caveat that I don’t endorse tying the idea of the glass half-full to political revolutionaries. However, there’s no doubt there’s power in positive thinking… and, positive actions! I would tie this concept to the actions of education revolutionaries!!!

Motivation… 1-2-3, P-B-L!

From: Race Walk Pictures at https://www.flickr.com/ photos/97321708@N07/ under CC license https://creativecommons.org/  licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/

From: Race Walk Pictures at https://www.flickr.com/photos/ 97321708@N07/ under CC license https://creativecommons.org/ licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/

We set the bar high and our students are expected to reach or exceed what might be very challenging heights of academic standards. What if they are just not motivated to try to reach those learning goals?

How do we keep our students motivated as they strive to meet increasingly challenging academic standards?

Actually, “Every student is motivated – just not necessarily in the way teachers hope” (Quate and McDermott, Sept. 2014). Two key factors are (1) helping students feel that teachers are committed to their potential AND (2) “making sure students feel intellectually challenged” (Ibid). When students know you support them and believe in them they are more motivated to do the work. Add to that (3) as many of the factors that go hand-in-hand with Project-Based Learning:

  1. Give students more voice and choice (still making it teacher-guided, though);
  2. Localize the project (for added relevance and personal connection);
  3. Keep it real (again, in relation to the student, personally);
  4. Launch the project with an entry event;
  5. Emphasize commitment to the team;
  6. Involve outside collaborators;
  7. Have students present their work to a public audience.

(From: John Larmer. “Boosting the Power of Projects.” Educational Leadership Sep. 2014: 42-46. Print.)

Now (1-2-3, P-B-L), we can sustain an environment of motivated learning! For immediately useful links related to PBL see my previous posts, “Stressed out about projects? Here’s a handy checklist!” and “More PBL Resources!

By incorporating Project-Based Learning into our instructional plans we can engage students to a degree that they may not normally have been, in the past. PBL is recognized ” as a way to boost students’ motivation to learn” (Larmer, Sept. 2014). Ideally, our students will happily choose to strive to meet and/or exceed those high standards and we can continue to support their optimum learning!

Sources:

  • Larmer, John. “Boosting the Power of Projects.” Educational Leadership Sep. 2014: 42-46. Print.
  • Quate, Stevi and John McDermott. “The Just-Right Challenge.” Educational Leadership Sep. 2014: 61-65

 

Engaged Learning? Why? Our future is at stake!

Can anyone seriously argue that potential learners do not need to be engaged, or that engagement is not a contributing factor to learning? Have you ever been in a classroom full of energetic, eager learners who aren’t engaged? It can get pretty hectic. Not a lot of learning going on… at least not the kind that’s typically focused on national, state, district or school learning goals! Contrast that with those same learners, actively engaged in work that they are curious about AND that happens to be relevant and meaningful (in terms of academic preparation for the 21st century).

If we all agree that engagement is more than just a good idea, it’s necessary… why do we find so many dis-engaged potential learners?

Are we making room for questioning? Do students get the opportunity to really benefit from inquiry by ‘going deep’? Is Project-Based Learning a fantasy? I find it interesting (there were so many other words I could have used here!) that many of us (educators) feel confounded by the new generation of ‘instant information’, and complain that kids can not stay engaged in ANYTHING for more than a few minutes. Really!? Let’s look at two, somewhat fictitious, Middle School classrooms:

Mr. Enthusiastic is well known amongst students and parents as a good teacher. He has great rapport with his students, has established a positive climate with clear expectations, rules and disciplinary procedures and he LOVES the current MS History textbook. He also LOVES to lecture. He knows that students have a variety of learning styles so he throws in visuals, graphic organizers and the occasional group activity (answering questions from the text). However, most of class time is spent going through the textbook, answering questions and copying his notes while he tells (somewhat) related stories. Being a Middle School teacher, Mr. Enthusiastic recognizes that he should try to vary activity in the classroom to keep students from losing interest, so, every 20 minutes he has his students stand up, jump in place and rotate seats to keep the blood flowing. He makes sure to have one major group project each semester, usually a PowerPoint presentation that requires each student to do research, write and present. Student assessment results are above average. Yet, whenever another teacher covers his class, students are somewhat disengaged, but usually kept in line by his consistent routines. Sometimes, students complain that class is boring and that Mr. Enthusiastic isn’t as funny as he thinks he is but most students still say that the class is better than many of their other classes.

Ms. Reflective is a quieter teacher. She certainly has the respect and admiration of parents who have had children enrolled in her classes. She also teaches Middle School History. She established the rules and disciplinary procedure, collaboratively, with her students. She has taught the students questioning techniques and she uses them, often, as they do research and read important background information. She also works collaboratively with the other grade level teachers, trying to develop meaningful, relevant cross-curricular projects. This has meant that there are times when she and another teacher co-teach a combined class (twice as large as the 33 students she has in most of her classes) when they share back-to-back instructional periods. She will normally have students work on 4-6 cross-curricular projects per year. Her students also do a lot of writing and peer editing in class and occasional debates. Typically (unless they are writing or doing research), her classroom is much noisier than Mr. Enthusiastic’s, yet, she doesn’t have more discipline issues. In fact, when someone else covers her classes they find that the students are very much self-directed, focused and engaged in their work for extended periods of time. Her students’ assessment results are consistently very high. Students report that they not only learned a lot about history, they also learned a lot about themselves, as learners. Quite a few also complain about the amount of reading and writing they have to do (but… will admit it was probably worth it).

Which teacher do you want for your children?

 

Engaged, meaningful, learning is important. There’s some simple ways to engage and there are more complex (and, initially, work intensive) ways to engage but the fact is… kids are worth it! They are OUR future! Let’s make it a promising one.

Here are some resources that may help engage students, more:

What will you do to make the Earth better?

So, here’s a brief plug to help out Mother Earth! Do SOMETHING to help make a difference AND commit to doing that something regularly. Here’s a list of possibilities… there’s countless more everywhere you turn!

  • Take a Global selfie… (see NASA link  >>)

  • Help your city become more sustainable (visit Green Cities Campaign for more information)
  • Make sure your light bulbs are CFLs so that you are using less electricity.
  • If your heater is electric… set it to come on just a couple degrees warmer than it’s currently set.
  • Use recycled paper.
  • Carpool.
  • Don’t let your car run/idle if you are just sitting in it, waiting for someone.
  • Insulate your home.
  • Bring your own bags to the market…

There’s a much longer list of suggestions at StopGlobalWarming. I’m sure there’s many things on that list you can commit to!

Happy Earth Day!

10 years too late? 21st Century Skill-building!

Wordle_Ed_TechThe time has passed to urge everyone to get ‘up to speed’ and hope that most do!

If you aren’t’ building your technological proficiency AND staying mostly up-to-date with the latest tech trends – especially educational technology, you’re already too far behind. The future is not flipped classrooms, integrating Web 2.0 applications with student learning goals, BYOD and getting the most out of Open Courseware for your students and you – it is the present as in RIGHT NOW! The future is practically impossible to anticipate but if you’re not actively promoting technology integration and digital citizenship then you’re putting our students at a disadvantage in being prepared for that future.

From: Kathy Ishizuka's Flickr - http://www.flickr.com/photos/kathyishizuka/ 6270134103/sizes/l/

From: Kathy Ishizuka’s Flickr – http://www.flickr.com/photos/kathyishizuka/ 6270134103/sizes/l/

The beauty of tech integration is that it does NOT take anything away from building sound critical thinking/reasoning skills and writing skills (many of us would argue that it actually CAN enhance those skills, tap into student interests better and facilitate collaboration… necessary real-world skills).

A recent EdWeek blog by Peter DeWitt highlights the gulf between tech use in our personal lives (fairly advanced) and how well schools use technology.

I look forward to reading, “Digital Leadership – Changing Paradigms for Changing Times” by Eric Sheninger, once it comes out. I have no doubt he does a great job of laying it out very clearly and I hope he also provides something of a ‘blueprint’ for those who haven’t gotten ‘in gear’ yet.

Embrace it or get left behind!

Unchanged from Jeremy Price's ForestForTrees Flickr - http://www.flickr.com/photos/ forestfortrees/5388596974/sizes/l/

Unchanged from Jeremy Price’s ForestForTrees Flickr – http://www.flickr.com/photos/ forestfortrees/5388596974/sizes/l/

Common sense… email etiquette and netiquette (or is it?)

Reply screen shotI really think it’s common sense that email responses should  be given in a timely (24-48 hours) fashion. Am I nuts!? Sometimes, I feel I am when I never get a reply to an email I have sent – especially one with a request or question in it.

So… I turned to the internet! What does ‘prevailing wisdom’ (whatever that is!) say about the proper netiquette on email replies? (By the way, the links below also have other great netiquette tips!)

Even Microsoft has something to say on this! There are wikis about email etiquette, news articles (the Globe and Mail, the New York Times) , business articles (Inc., Business Insider) , etc... Guess what? The prevailing wisdom is that emails should be responded to in anywhere from 24-48 hours! Definitely!

If you are so busy that you cannot respond at all (you’re there but not “away” to require an away message be in place), you are in fact deciding to ignore the Sender — even if for the time being — and that’s exactly what they will assume. You’ve made a decision that their e-mail is not important to you or you would have responded.

There really is no gray area here. Perception is alive and well in regard to how quickly you respond to those who take the time to e-mail you.

~ Net Manners

Other Quotes:

  • Reply promptly. If you need to do some research or some thinking before you respond to an email, or if you’re too busy to write a full response promptly, send a short response letting the sender know that you got the email and advising when you will respond.” ~ wikiHow
  • “The roaring silence. The pause that does not refresh. The world is full of examples of how the anonymity and remove of the Internet cause us to write and post things that we later regret. But what of the way that anonymity and remove sometimes leave us dangling like a cartoon character that has run off a cliff?” ~ NY Times
  • “Respond in a timely fashion. Unless you work in some type of emergency capacity, it’s not necessary to be available the instant an e-mail arrives. Depending on the nature of the e-mail and the sender, responding within 24 to 48 hours is acceptable. —Duncan” ~ Inc.
  • “Reply to your emails — even if the email wasn’t intended for you. It’s difficult to reply to every email message ever sent to you, but you should try to, says Pachter. This includes when the email was accidentally sent to you, especially if the sender is expecting a reply.” ~ Business Insider
  • “Just because someone doesn’t ask for a response doesn’t mean you ignore them. Always acknowledge emails from those you know in a timely manner.” ~ Email Etiquette
  • Answer swiftly. Customers send an e-mail because they wish to receive a quick response. If they did not want a quick response they would send a letter or a fax. Therefore, each e-mail should be replied to within at least 24 hours, and preferably within the same working day. If the email is complicated, just send an email back saying that you have received it and that you will get back to them. This will put the customer’s mind at rest and usually customers will then be very patient!” ~ 32 most important email etiquette tips

So… Go ahead, make my day! Email me!