Unlimited Vacation!

As you may know, I’ve been looking for a new gig.

In my search, a friend of mine recommended that I check out this company. I was incredibly intrigued by one of the “Perks” that they claim: Unlimited vacation (with a 2 week minimum.) While I’m still not sure how that would work exactly, it made me think a lot about the culture of a place that would advertise this.

How could we trust one another more that this could be our culture too? I wonder…

Thank you from TodaysMeet, and goodbye

TodaysMeet was one of the very first tools I ever used with kids to create a backchannel, a living conversation that was in direct opposition to having a single voice of authority in the classroom. As of June 16th, TodaysMeet will no longer exist. It makes sense why it is going away. It never had a business model and never gained much more traction than those first years of early adopters. And yet, I look at its destruction as yet another sign that we are in a different era of modern learning. When an old generation of tools die, what are the tools that will replace them?

50 questions for 2018

Although we are in May now, I still can’t quit asking questions about 2018. How did we get here and how do we move forward? These are 50 more questions worth asking about the current state of things, both in education and elsewhere. The very first of which is worth spending some time on: “Is being online compatible with being awake?”

Bad PD is Sometimes Your Own Fault

Dean Shareski speaks some truth about our personal responsibility for making Professional Learning work. It resonated with me because I speak often about our need to Trust Teachers and allow for them to take ownership over their own growth. And yet, this requires a significant amount of work from each educator, and without models for doing so, it is incredibly hard for many. We should be gracious with one another, and know that our best way forward is to be learners alongside other learners. We are responsible for ourselves, and in many ways, it is a truly awesome responsibility.

An Image for Further Inquiry:

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Are You Inspired Yet?

It isn’t often that I get truly excited by email, but with the new updates to the Gmail interface and the inclusion of a standalone Tasks app I am no longer dreading my inbox. And, for someone who spends a decent amount of the day there, that isn’t nothing.

Whether I get any more done as a result… Well, that remains to be seen.

Remainders

Although this is only a partial idea from Dan Meyer and David Coffey, I was so completely taken with it. What would happen if we took inspiration from the “Song Exploder” podcast and we created a “Lesson Exploder” podcast/vlog? What would happen if we looked at the art of a great lesson plan or learning experience from all of the angles and tried to understand it the same way that we might try to understand and appreciate music?

We Need Diverse Books

I’ve been reading a lot of young adult literature of late, and I ran across this organization that aims to provide more books to everyone that are “Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors.” I really like the approach here, as more students deserve to see themselves in the books they read in school. And we could all use some more experience in empathizing with others! (I try to do exactly that in my reading of The Hate U Give, here.)

Googlink: Creating Interactive Posters with Google Drawings

There are few people that I respect more than Eric Curts for their forward thinking and creative use of technology. In this exploration of Google Drawings, Eric makes the case for creating hyperlinked and interactive images as a way to explore topics and demonstrate understanding with students.

An Image for Further Inquiry:Dabbing at The Spelling Bee

Empathy Wins

Digital Literacy from Teaching Tolerance

I really like the stance that this resource takes on Digital Literacy: A place for teachable moments and actively creating tolerant online communities. The lesson plans here (Grades 3-12) seem as much about creating engaged digital citizens as they are about setting up a framework for understanding the modern world.

Textbooks, OER, and the Need for Open Pedagogy

The politics (and economics) of textbooks have always been complex. Do we have a moral or social obligation to make our textbooks and very way we teach students more open? This is yet one more well researched article that says pretty unequivocally, “Yes!”

Agency and High Quality PBL

The recently released “Framework for High Quality Project-Based Learning” is helping many students and adult learners to have more agency in the work they choose to engage in. This article goes into that relationship, and it digs into the ways that we might help kids solve important problems, answer urgent questions, or simply address pressing issues that will have real-world impact.

An Image for Further Inquiry:

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Said vs. Heard

What we say is not always what is heard, and the difference between those things provides for a lot of conflict and consternation. It is also a huge opportunity to ask questions and to strive for understanding. We should lean into that opportunity.

The Case Against Automated Student Data Dashboards

In a season that is seemingly filled with assessments and data, it may be important to remember who’s data it is. It doesn’t belong to the software or the assessment or even the teacher. It belongs to the students.

Adobe Launches Spark With Premium Features for Every Student, Free of Charge

This is an amazing creative resource, and I am so glad that Adobe has now made the features more accessible to our students without compromising their data privacy.

Five Ways to Sustain School Change Through Pushback, Struggle and Fatigue

Change is hard. Really hard.

What We Know

We know we are alive. We know we are creative and collaborative thinkers and doers. We know we are courageous and curious. We know we are both fighters and learners. Let us embrace what we know and lean into what we do not.

You know more than you think.

Personalized Learning Isn’t About Tech

It is pretty obvious that some believe Personalized Learning is about technology, and so this article needed to be written. Those who have been doing it for years and understand that it isn’t about tech, sometimes need reminders. This is a good one.

A Quick Note On The Perils of Teacher Leadership – Jose Vilson

What a great reflection on how Teachers can embrace leadership, but the inherent issues with doing so within a broader leadership context.

Padlet’s Price Update Riles Teachers and Raises Questions About Sustainability of ‘Freemium’ Models | EdSurge News

For many who have been encouraging collaboration and creation in their classrooms, the news of Padlet’s price/service changes have been a huge surprise. How will you change your use of digital tools when they can change at any moment?

A Little Help From My Friends

In case you are just skimming this blog post: Ben Wilkoff is looking for a new job!
 
If that got your attention and you would like to read further, let me tell you a little story. Two years ago I signed on to lead the Blended and Personalized Learning work in Aurora Public Schools. With no team or budget to speak of, I started working to build opportunities for students to take ownership of their learning, ensuring modern and equitable classrooms across the city. Based upon early successes, in the 2017-18 school year I had the privilege to lead a newly developed Personalized Learning team, made up of the 5 best (formerly EdTech) coaches I have ever met. It was a dream job.
 
But as the district leadership has changed, so too have the priorities for investing in the type of support we live every day in our schools. At this time, the Division of Equity in Learning in APS has decided to eliminate the Personalized Learning program (and EdTech along with it) for the 2018-19 school year. This means that I, along with the 5 amazing educators on my team, will be pursuing other opportunities both within district and without.
 
This is where you come in…
 
I am writing this post to you in the hopes that you or someone you know will lead to my next learning and leadership opportunity. I don’t imagine that (m)any of you have a role that will fit perfectly or one just waiting on your job board for which I can apply, but I am posting this with the hopes that you will think about both your current and future vacancies and where my skills may be most valuable.
To help in this effort, here is a current resume. Please feel free to share it (or this message) with anyone you like. I have chosen to post this because I trust that my network will provide the way forward as it has done so many times in the past. If you are reading this, you are a powerful part of that network, and I am so glad to have made the connection with you.
 
Thank you for your time and consideration.

Also: If you have need for a full Personalized Learning team with a proven history of results for both students and teachers, I’ve got the folks for you! Just ask, and I’d be happy to share their resumes as well.

Ready or Not

The end of the school year is fast approaching, whether we are ready or not. Will we be able to say we have done everything we can to support our kids this year? Will we be able to say we succeeded, that we are where we said we would be?

Ready or not?

OK Go makes some noise in the classroom

OK Go is not only a great band who makes incredible music videos, they are also engineers, scientists, and mathematicians. They now have curriculum that allows teachers and students to unpack their videos through those lenses, especially math application!

Reflecting on Maker Experiences with Reflection Cards

I really love the questions raised for reflection here! Whether you have a makerspace in your classroom/school or not, encouraging students to reflect upon their learning experiences is one of the surest ways to show growth and the application of skills.

You Think You Want Media Literacy… Do You? – Data & Society: Points

As one of the Keynotes from SXSWedu, danah boyd tackles the deep responsibilities that educators have for understanding media and how our children interact with it in a modern society.

I Write Words

We tend to do what we value, working ever more on things that are meaningful to us as individuals. But, it is also true that we tend to value what we do, ensuring that our work is prized and known to others. Is this a virtuous cycle? I’m not sure…

A Project-Based Learning Spectrum: 25 Questions To Guide Your PBL Planning

A question is always a great place to start learning. I really like how these questions are placed on a spectrum from simple to complex too.

How to Ungrade

A thought provocative piece on how we might look at grading and assessing student work differently. Definitely one to consider as we are in the season of testing.

Students Learn More When THEY Do the Work

It is often asked, ‘Who is doing more of the work in the classroom?’ The idea is that whomever is doing more of the work is doing more of the learning and thinking. Let’s hope and plan for it to be the kids!

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OMG Becky. PD is Getting So Much Better!!

Professional Development can be better. Actually, it must be better. We deserve it as educators, and our kids deserve highly developed teachers and leaders in our schools. Here are some amazing examples of how PD can change for the better.

Learn what you can do #withClassroom

Google Classroom is a great tool for Personalized Learning on its own, but it can work even better when combined with other tools. Check out a few of them which are highlighted on the Google blog: The Keyword.

Disrupt Implicit Bias by Personalizing Your District

Equity conversations are everyone’s job. In this well researched article, Keara Duggan discusses how we can take specific actions to support more equitable classrooms, schools, and districts.

Making Things Work

Very often we are given tools that don’t do exactly what we want them to. So, we modify those tools for our given purpose. I sometimes use a cordless drill as a hammer. I sometimes use a spreadsheet to send personalized emails. What have you repurposed?

Code that book – in VR

Technology initially allows us to do old things in new ways, but occasionally it allows us to do truly new things in new ways. The creation of virtual literacy experiences is one. Check it out!

Revision History (Hidden) – New Google Sites

As it turns out, there is a hidden feature in the New Google Sites that lets you find deleted pages and see all of the revisions made to a given page. It may be a little nerdy, but it is super useful!

How to manage Google Classroom like a boss with notifications

The notifications from Google Classroom can be rather intense sometimes. Here are some guidelines for managing them all.