Teaching Above the Line

My friend Brian recently posted his reflections on Technology Leadership.  One of his points regarded the use of the SAMR model which is an evaluative tool that helps teachers ‘push their teaching above the line’ from enhancement to transformation. This tool is, as Brian points out, very well known in tech circles.  But what about non-tech circles?

SAMR Model

There are three Learning Technology teachers at my school and we all agree that technology should be used to transform student learning in a way that would not be possible without technology.  But what about the teachers we work with?  Do they all share our philosophy? Do they know the SAMR model? Do they care to?

Take a look at this intro to SAMR in 120 seconds or a 4 minute version via Commonsense Media 

So, are we all committed to “teaching above the line”?  I watched this video and still wanted more.  More ideas about how to share this model with teachers in a way that would help them begin to integrate technology in a ‘teach above the line’ kind of way.  A quick search led to the following resources, including one that is really interesting to me on transforming classroom learning blogs:
  NOTE: I like this chart (above) but I am hesitant to label or box apps into one category.  A lot of it depends not only on the app you are using but the way in which you are using it and WHY you are using it.  I’m not saying the above mash-ups are wrong, I am just saying to use this graphic as a guide and think about what you are really doing when you start using technology to transform your teaching and learning. 

Screen Shot 2014-08-31 at 18.24.42

Part of a four step model for lesson planning from Edudemic. Click image for website.

   

I still think there is a long way to go in working toward school ‘above the line’.  I still have conversations in which people don’t see the difference between Khan Academy and a worksheet.  Really? A website that delivers levelled problems that increase or decrease in complexity given the speed and accuracy of your response with the option of seeing a step-by-step play of how to solve the problem and an embedded, world-class explanation of the problem via video if you are still stuck, and instant feedback on your progress, versus a piece of paper that offers no feedback or differentiation until it has been turned in to a teacher, graded, and returned?

This graphic, while to the point, asks and important question:

Credit: Bill Ferriter @plugusin

I like the ideas in this graphic and the sentiment behind it as described by the author and by another blogger. For me, in addition to this it is a matter of thinking about Starting With Why – what is your why?

Why technology?

Why are you using technology in your classroom?

Making Thinking Visible

I love the visible thinking routines from Project Zero. They are stunning and give amazing insights into the things children know. If you have not used them before to help your students express themselves, now is a good time to start!

Need more encouragement than that? Check out this post by MYP teacher Rebekah Madrid. Ironically, Rebekah used to teacher at Munich International School (where I am now) and now teaches at Yokohama International School (where I used to teach).  She was inspired by the elementary teachers at YIS school who were successfully using thinking routines to draw out student learning, and she explains what happens in her class as a result of her bringing thinking routines to her classroom.

Our colleague, Frank Curkovic, (who has since left YIS for Singapore) created these stunning guides to both the Making Thinking Visible routines and the Artful Thinking routines.  Check them out:

 

Click for link to Issuu

Artful Thinking

 

 

 

 

If you are at all interested in tech integration, transformational learning, the future of learning, design thinking, and visible thinking, get comfy with a cup of tea and Rebekah’s blog and you won’t be disappointed.

Make Your Mark!

Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 23.10.39

It’s coming soon!  International Dot Day is on September 15, 2014.  It is a day to celebrate “making your mark”. I have posted about Dot Day before:  Dot Day 2012 and Dot Day 2013.  Both posts will give you lots of ideas for Dot Day and some thoughts on how we as educators, can help students connect rather than simply collect the dots on their learning journey.

This year, FableVision Studios have come up with a song for Dot Day.  If you are familiar with “The Dot” you will see the connection between the book and the song and be inspired to make, make, make your mark! How can you encourage your students to use their talents to make their mark?

 

The Dot Song from FableVision on Vimeo.

Here are the lyrics (download the PDF)

Dot Day Lyrics

 

Are you interested in joining the Dot Day celebration? Sign up today! Discover more creative ways to celebrate Dot Day
on the FableVision blog and Pinterest pages.

The Success Series

Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 21.53.54

SoulPancake is awesome. If you don’t know it, check it out.  As their tag line says, their objective is to open your mind, challenge your friends, and feel damn good.

Currently on their YouTube channel, is a Success Series of four videos.  All of them are worth watching.  Two of them are remarkable.

The first, One More Thing, One More Time is from Josh Sundquist.  Josh talks about just that: being successful by doing one more thing than you were planning on doing , and doing it one more time than you thought you could do. Josh is a son, brother, cancer survivor, author, Paralympic ski racer, motivational speaker, YouTuber, mediocre rapper, and a member of the US Amputee World Cup Soccer team. His motto is “1MT1MT” and he is a believer in hope, possibility, having a sense of humor, and overcoming adversity.

 

 

The second is titled, The Steps to Success.  It starts by asking people to think about someone who has helped them on their journey to being successful. Once they have a person in mind, they are asked to write that person a letter to tell them how thankful they are for their influence and their support in their life.  They are then put on the spot and asked to phone the person and read them the letter.


Who has helped you become successful?

What would you say to them?

I spent a long time thinking about this.  The more I thought about it, the more grateful I became for all of the people who could be a recipient of my letter.  It also made me question the idea of success: a successful friend? wife? mother? teacher? person? There are multiple people to thank for the many facets that make up the success of the whole person.

Again, who is on your list? What will you say to them?

What Do You Make?

I Make A Difference

Last year we had Taylor Mali visit our school and share his poetry with our faculty, staff, and students. I never got the chance to speak with him personally but I wish I had.  If you have seen or heard his poem about teachers, you might have some questions for him – I know I did.

I was told by a great friend to always give the benefit of the doubt to someone – to always believe something good, rather than something bad, when you have the possibility of doing either.  My friend would tell me that everyone operates from the best of intentions, and I try to believe that this is true.  When working in a school that offers a values laden curriculum, I would hope this to be true.

So, with that said, listen to Taylor’s poem with the benefit of the doubt. Some people say he is too strict, too controlling, too self-centred.  I say that he is trying to make a point and is using poetic license to do so.  Don’t dwell on the fact that he makes kids sit in silence or not use the bathroom, dwell on the good in his poem.

 

“I make a difference” – this is the crux of the poem.  

How will you make a difference in the life of your students this year?

Dear World….

Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 23.30.23

For the past three years, I have ended the school year with a “Dear World” inspired photo shoot. This is a chance for my kids to express who they are and the message that they would like to leave as they depart our classroom and head on to new things.

This past June, I did it again with my gorgeous kids.  Their quotes were original and heartfelt and their photos make me cry! They are strong, determined, passionate kids with so much to offer and they possess the determination to see them through anything.

Here are our messages of love and hope from us to you….enjoy!

 

Dear World….xoxo MIS 4D 2013/14 from Munich International School on Vimeo.

Note To Self

Three things I need reminding of today…

1. Be not a slave of the ordinary.

2. Shun the non-believers (thanks, Patty!)

3. I love what I do. 

What do you need reminding of today?  What reminders could your kids set themselves to keep them focused on their learning journey?  Who inspires them?  Who inspires you? 

 

Note to SelfShun the Non-BelieversI love what I do