Future

We can’t predict what will happen this year or next. However, everything we do today will make a difference. The words we say and actions we take will lead to what happens next, like making hundreds of tiny bets on the future. What are your bets?

What Personalized Learning Is Not – EdSurge News

A great summary of Personalized Learning that helps to reclaim the term from those trying to use it for anything other than empowering kids and teachers

Misinterpreting the Growth Mindset: Why We’re Doing Students a Disservice

Growth mindset is a powerful idea to help students stretch themselves and learn more than they ever thought possible. However, this is only if the idea is fully understood and utilized.

Don’t Sell Your Soul or Students to an Edtech Brand

A strong educator reflection about how we think critically about the tools we utilize and promote in our classrooms and schools.

Ownership

Just questions today: Who “owns” the learning in your school? And, how do you know? Is it those doing the most work? Is it those that are learning the fastest or with the most depth? Is it those who write the lessons/assessments or those who take them.

‘Where We Went Wrong’ Atlanta Educators Reflect on ‘Failed’ Tech Implementation – EdSurge News

Some great thinking here about how teachers have moved from believing Personalized Learning is a tech initiative to one about student ownership of learning. This transition took 5 years in Atlanta!

Flipgrid and HyperDocs: Amplifying student voice in purposeful digital lesson design.

I love tools that let us listen better to learners. Their needs are on display in our classrooms, but only if we are looking for and listening to them.

Learning In Houston

I was in Houston for a school visit 3 weeks ago. That school is closed, along with hundreds of others. But, the kids of Houston are still learning a lot this week, about themselves and each other. I will be thinking of and supporting them any way I can.

Google and 826 Valencia invite you to a ‘planet ruled by love’

A great story for how writing, technology, and equity can work together to create deeper learning.

How Pineapple Charts Revolutionize Professional Development

This is a great overview for Pineapple charts, the practice of publicly sharing what you are doing within you classrooms to allow for informal observations by peers.

Create

I am happiest when I create. But, only when that creation is in the service of solving for an identified need or answering authentic questions. Creating things that no one asked for brings no satisfaction. Are we listening to needs or creating to create?

Using Technology Doesn’t Make You Innovative

Is the technology in your school helping you do things you couldn’t do before, or is it replacing paper and pencil to do the same tasks? This post helps us consider this question and a few other important ones too.

3 Chrome Extensions that Make Google Classroom Even More Awesome!

Google classroom already does so much to support student learning, but here are three important ways of making that process easier and more effective.

My Classroom Charts Blog: How to make your own

Never underestimate the power of sharing your classroom with others. The simple act of taking pictures of your chart paper and making them available online can inspire fellow teachers and engage your students. Here is a great example of doing just that!

Water

There are many drinks you can use to hydrate. Some are better at it than others. But, no one will question the need for water as the core component of each. So it is with learning. Many ways, but no one questions the role of student engagement and agency.

Not The Only Way: Authentic Vs. Compliant Learning

A couple of innovative middle school leaders discuss the importance of authentic learning and making connections to students in the classroom.

Digital Note Taking Strategies That Deepen Student Thinking

Are you worried that asking your students to take notes on devices is going to less learning? Fear not, as here are some great strategies to ensure that the devices are accelerating understanding and not impeding it.

Choose

“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost is often interpreted that you should choose a path others don’t. But, the poem states both paths were worn “really about the same.” The moral is to actively choose your path, not to belabor forks in the road.

Why Late Adopters Are Skeptical of Edtech (and How to Get Them on Board) – EdSurge News

One 28-year veteran of teaching tells his story for how technology became an essential tool for learning in his classroom, even as a “late adopter.” I aspire to his expertise and deep commitment to kids.

#BathroomPD InStallment #1, #2 Soon!

I don’t recommend PD in a bathroom stall to everyone, but I do recognize that we need to look for innovative ways of finding professional learning that is relevant for us. What are the unique spaces you are learning within?

Generations Will Not Be Destroyed by Smartphones

A great educator response to the (by now) famous Atlantic article about how cell phones are having a negative effect on our kids. I love the community, educator, and parental responsibility she advocates for here.

Finite

Our time with kids is finite, but their learning is not. They learn from every moment they are in Schools, and every moment they are away. They continue to learn what you taught hem yesterday and last year. What infinite learning will you create for them?

8 Things to Look For in a Student-Centered Learning Environment

I’m a huge fan of tools that let you look at your classroom (or any classroom for that matter) in a new light or through a new lens. This set of “Look Fors” for Student-centeredness is a great opportunity to do just that. How many of these things are present in your classroom or school?

Introducing the TT Educator Grants Program

Are you looking for some money to help implement an Equity project you are working on in your classroom or across your school? Tolerance.org is providing grants between $500 and $5000 for educators interested in creating anti-bias cultures. Go for it!

8 tips to help you keep up in Google Keep

As you are looking to be as productive as possible, so you can spend more time with your students and teachers, it is helpful to use the right tools. Google Keep has become invaluable to our team, and we highly recommend giving it a try this school year.

Because

Because you support a student or teacher today, they will succeed. Not if, but BECAUSE.

Cognitive bias cheat sheet

I keep working on my biases in an effort to create more equitable classrooms and schools, but I never knew that so many were at play! Which ones do you experience?

Mooresville School District, a Laptop Success Story

Many other districts have implemented 1:1 programs, some successful and others incredibly not. We should try to learn from all of them!

The space you inhabit.

I don’t make my bed. I never really have, either. Growing up, I lived in the basement or in a lofted bed. No one was looking st those spaces, so I never bothered. I don’t make my bed now because there are more important spaces to look after. Picking up the car bin from my 3 year old for the hundredth time is more pressing than the silly bit of rumpled blankets hnging off my bed. The dishes waiting in the sink are more valuable to spend time with, as my time has become extrememely scarce.

And yet, when I don’t pay any attention to the space where I lay my head, I miss a huge oppotunity to make my life just a bit better. By not laying those sheets flat daily, I let the other things go more easily too. I leave the trash by the bedside. I leave my shoes out on the floor. I don’t do anything with the pile of clothes I meant to get to yesterday.

It isn’t about not making the bed. Rather, it is about everything else it absolves me of. I don’t make he bed, so that I can choose to not care about the rest of the stuff cluttering up my space. And it works.

But, I don’t know that this is helping. In my bedroom or in my working life.

By not getting to those daily tasks that show a structure and a discipline for details, I can ignore the far bigger matters that I don’t want to face. By not working through any regular calendar management, I can choose not to schedule difficult meetings. By not triaging emails every day, I can leave the hardest ones unanswered for weeks.

It is the daily habit that allows for progress. Not because of the task itself, but rather because it makes the rest of the space that I inhabit feel like it should. I am going to try to make my bed more.

What is your “bed making” task that determines how healthy your space is?

#ReclaimPL

I was sitting in the Cultures of Thinking workshop yesterday, and I heard a lot of things that resonated with me personally as well as with our work as a whole. None more so than the statement that engaging and powerful learning experiences should have a “low floor and high ceiling”. I took this to mean that all students should be able to enter in to the experience because there is a low barrier to entry. It also means that students should be able to continue to find challenge as they progress, experiencing ever more persistent inquiry to whatever level they need.

I looked in the book, and this is how the idea it is represented:

The key phrase there (for me, at least) is “as far as they wish.” Students should be both allowed and encouraged to think things through as far as they want. To put it another way, they should be able to “personalize” their learning because their teachers have planned for them to do so within a culture of thinking.

I sent that annotated screenshot out on Twitter with the hashtag #ReclaimPL.

I did this for two reasons.

First, I am really tired of software companies claiming that they have a silver bullet for Personalized Learning. I’m tired of adaptive assessment being touted as a panacea, making huge gains for personalized learning when the students are not making any of the choices, the algorithm is. In two articles (here and here)  that were shared with me just last week, these software solutions were touted as both inevitable and essential, and I don’t buy it.

Second, Personalized Learning can be seen in lots of different methods, pedagogies and ideas. It is not new, and it is not exclusive. It is found in the Cultures of Thinking research just as surely as it is found in Montessori practices. It is found in the Marzano research from more than a decade ago and it is found in the “what works” findings from McREL.

And when we see Personalized Learning, both what it is and isn’t, we should say so. We should “reclaim” it so that others aren’t defining it as software making decisions for kids or as something that doesn’t have its roots is great teaching practice.

Anyway, I started a hashtag yesterday as a result of being with my peers and grappling with important cultural forces in classrooms.