This week's topic is brought to you by the Letter Q and the Number 7 for those who still get to catch the occasional Sesame Street. The topic is all about making connections beyond your own classroom. We all have dreams and aspirations to make the world a better place, to create an engaging classroom with meaningful activities. We are also faced with the demands of Common Core, Standardized Testing, Educator Effectiveness or Evaluation system that can make education seem more rigid. We have pressure to show growth in our students, make them masters of our content and so many other expectations. These are all part of the reality of the life of an educator. We can allow them to bog us down, to keep us in a state of stagnation or we can lift ourselves out of the quagmire of mediocrity.
With the challenges we face to raise the bar in education, tonight we are talking about how we can break free from the status quo. One of the biggest challenges we face is student buy in. When students don't see the value in what we ask them to do, they don't fully engage in the learning activity. This could be they refuse to do the assignment, participate in the activity, or give minimal effort. Yes many students will do anything we ask them to, but if they don't value it, they don't really care about the results. Even some of our best students ask "Will this be on the test?" Why do we need to know this?" We need to provide meaningful answers to the last question. Students deserve to know why they are expected to learn the material. What will your answer be? Why are you expecting students to do and learn what you require?
Our conversation this week will be about developing opportunities to make meaningful connections between content and the world beyond our classroom. Our first step is creating tasks that go beyond the purpose of grades. Learning tasks should be for a higher purpose than grades. They should be for an audience greater than the teacher. I have found that when you introduce a larger audience and a greater purpose to a task students elevate their efforts and the final product exceeds expectations.
Questions for our chat 8 CST Thursday are below
Q1 Collaboration - In what ways have you/can you connect your Ss to another classroom? #sstlap
Q2 Bring in the subject experts- What activities or how can you connect to community members or experts to create relevant, engaging activities #sstlap
Q3 Let's create multi-content lessons- In what ways can you connect to other subject areas to create cross curricular activities? #sstlap
Q4 Public Relations can change our world! What do you do to inform parents community and world about what happens in your classroom?
Q5 Creating authentic audiences - How can you create experiences for Ss to create for audiences beyond T and purposes beyond grade? #sstlap
Q6 Celebrate! How do you showcase Ss work for the world to see? #sstlap
Q7 Create a Movement: How can you create opportunities with the colleagues in your school to showcase Ss work? #sstlap
Challenge create opportunities in your school to showcase Ss work from all subject areas! #sstlap
Next Week- Sharapalooza! Bring best examples from first semester or 2014 to the party! Let's connects and inspire!
This weeks topic came from a combination of two television shows that drew me in to the power of human connection. One was a news program that I happened to catch as I was flipping through channels so I can't give credit to the program, or the individual the story was centered around. The second was a Police Drama, that revolves around a family involved in law enforcement - "Blue Bloods."
I watched an episode of "Blue Bloods" where two police officers came upon a runaway. In attempting to figure out what should be done with this pre-teen young man, one officer warned her partner, something to the effect- You can't save them all, you can't get too invested personally. This statement struck me that I felt horrified by that advice and also saw the reality in the words. I felt like we can never give up on a child- that we can't dismiss them due to a behavior we dislike. It is our responsibility to find a way to help all students find a connection in our schools. We may not be the person they go to for advice or to share the struggles of their lives, but we can be compassionate. We can assist them in finding someone who can fill that role for them. School is so much more than Common Core Curriculum, Standards Based Grading, Initiatives, and TESTING! School is about making interpersonal connections. The Officer in the show went out of his way to be a positive influence in the young man's life, and by his simple gestures showed this child that he was valued, and his life mattered. You won't find that in our job description, but it is with out a doubt one of the most important aspects of our profession.
In the other episode, I saw a man who was a custodian at a school. He was taking on responsibilities above and beyond his job title. He had developed a more impactful role- connecting to students, guiding them, challenging them to walk the path to a brighter future. He went out of his way to talk to young people give them advice and truly listen to them. The potential impact these relationships have on these students is immeasurable. It also got me thinking that every person in a school has the potential to build or destroy relationships. It also made me think we're these students connecting to their teachers and admins or was this man an anomaly? Hopefully there was a culture where all adults in the building were making similar efforts to connect and foster these positive relationships.
When students leave our charge, it is unlikely they will truly grasp all the complex content we attempt to get them to master but they will undoubtedly remember the relationships built on trust compassion and true understanding.
Q1 Why did you go into the profession of education? What was it about education/teaching that drew you in?
Q2 What were your dreams and aspirations for yourself when you began your career? what were the things you envisioned doing as an educator?
Q3 What has gotten in the way of those aspirations/dreams? What goals did you fall short? (It is okay to admit you didn't get there-we must first ID our failures and shortcomings before we can make a plan for growth)
Q4 Why do you continue to stay in edu with the addition of more testing more demands on time less financial rewards?
Q5 You have set the stage for why you entered the field of education and your aspirations and areas in need of work. What goals will you establish to get you inline with your original aspirations?
Q6 What actions will you undertake for the next year, months, weeks and daily that will allow you to rekindle your fire and achieve those goals?
Q7 How will you demonstrate to the students that they matter and are valuable to you? How will you show them you are in their corner, their support system and will be there for them?
Create and share a visual (could be a meme, sign, poster, short video) that outlines your Goal(s) for achieving the idealized version of yourself as an educator.
I hope you will revisit this at the end of the year, and reflect on what you accomplished and make revisions of your action plan to continue your journey.
Coming up short is possible- FAILING to improve is not an option!
Hope you are ready for a great chat this Thursday at 8 CST. I unfortunately have an appointment and will for sure be late to the party, or potential miss the amazing hour of learning. I am thrilled to announce that Brad Currie @BradCurrie has volunteer to guest host. Brad is a former social studies teacher and current VP at Black River Middle School, and has been a force to be reckoned with in creating opportunities for educator professional development.
I hope to peak into the chat, if not I am excited to look through the archives from the conversation. I also created a doc that you can use to share out your learning tools.
Q1: How are you pairing technology with pedagogically sound teaching? #sstlap
Q2: Is it critical that you have support from your school and district in order to take risks with technology? #sstlap
Q3: What types of web tools and devices are you using to hook students into a lesson? #sstlap
Q4: How are you using web tools and devices to chunk various learning activities? #sstlap
Q5: What tools of the trade are you utilizing to activate stakeholder engagement? #sstlap
Q6: Please share best practice apps, resources, websites , etc that make learning social studies fun and exciting. #sstlap
Share you ideas here- Social Studies 3.0
Shortened URL - http://goo.gl/edto40 #sstlap
Enduring Understandings- Student Engagement and Lesson Planning!
Questions for January 8, 2015
Many of us have made New Year's Resolutions, some of us are holding steady in our steadfast determination to meet or exceed those goals, and others have witnessed those goals fade away like the dreams of the Detroit Lions to win a Superbowl this year. My apologies to all the Lions fans-- SUH sorry!
Okay so my attempts at humor are over - at least for now.
With the coming of a new year, arrives limitless potential for us to grow as people and professionals. It opens the door to discuss so many different topics and engage in conversations that can change the reality of education for the better.
Keeping the mindset of influencing change, I wanted to discuss some ideas that have helped shape my teaching practices over my career. Some of these ideas come from the work of Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe who wrote "Understanding by Design." Other ideas obviously resound from the work of Dave Burgess the author of "Teach Like a Pirate," and "P is for Pirate." If you haven't read "P is for Pirate," it is a great read and the pirate contributor "L" page is something special. And finally, a book I just started reading, "Authentic Learning in the Digital Age- Engaging Students Through Inquiry," by Larissa Pahomov.
Q1 Make a List- What is the essential knowledge 0r Enduring Understandings students need to master in your class? The ideas that you think students should know long after they leave your classroom? #sstlap
Q2 D is for Ditch - Examine your curriculum- What are nonessential content that could be made optional, or removed from your course? Think about the historical era, event, activity that you find fascinating - or that is mandated in your curriculum- that might bore students or they might find irrelevant. #sstlap
Q3 I is for Iceberg- We teach a multitude of things along with the content. Are the things that are most important for students to know and understand- Content based or Skills based? What is the difference in how students learn in each classroom environment? What would each look like? #sstlap
Q4 O is for Oxygen- Get students moving and doing! - Focusing on the Essential Content and creating lasting understanding- How can you create experiences for your students to engage with these concepts? Lesson planning right now- pick one or two concepts and discuss what you could do to create an experience for your students. #sstlap
Q5 Choice- What are the different ways students could display an enduring understanding of those essential pieces of knowledge? How do you assess these Enduring Understandings? Objective tests? Projects? Essays? Other? And What role does Homework play in assessing student understanding?
Q6a Technology allows learning to be personalized- it allows for infinite possibilities for learning inside a single classroom- In what ways can you utilize technology in the instruction process of your Enduring Understandings?
Q6b With the Enduring Understandings you identified before - How do you use it to help students obtain information?
Q6c How do you allow students to use technology in the process of learning and demonstrating their mastery?
Q6d How do you use technology to assess student understanding?
What if in History - Look at the link below and think about how you could use this WHAT IF statement in your curriculum. Share ideas and make it happen for your students! Let them be critical thinkers of history not memorizers of names and dates! LIVE HISTORY!
Tonight's visual questions format are inspired/stolen from my friends at #edbean @mrmatera and @usdrama - As they say imitation is the best form of flattery. I say- you did good son and I am stealing your idea!