21st Century, Change

Are You A Modern Teacher?

Thanks to Twitter (#pypchat) and my COETAIL course (#coetail) I came across this graphic from fellow Coetailer, Reid Wilson.

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I love it. I think it embodies everything I believe in when it comes to 21st learning. A quick look through Reid’s classroom blog (he teaches fourth grade at my old school, NIST, in Bangkok) shows that he is an avid user of technology in an integrated way to add value to his students’ learning.

Read this list.

Slowly.

Let in sink in and ask yourself if you are nodding along.  Or are you realizing that there are things on this list that you could embed in your own professional goals in the year to come? How could your mindset impact that you teach?

Grant Wiggins asked himself what it was like to be a student and this stunning, must-read description of ‘a day in the life’ and the changes he, a veteran teacher, would immediately make to his teaching, is a must-read for every teacher. If someone like Grant Wiggins (half of the Understanding by Design guys) is able to make thoughtful reflections on and modifications to his teaching practice, isn’t there room for all of us to make a change?

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Innovation

You Already Have Permission

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The more reading I have been doing about technology integration and information literacy, the more I am realizing that we need to start redefining what we mean by “teaching”.  That sounds simple and obvious, but hopefully, it also sound necessary.

Most of us have an idea in our heads about what it means when someone says to us “I am a teacher”. We instantly picture (more than likely) our own teachers from years ago.  But is that the teacher of today?

What if someone said to you, “I like to go mountain biking”.  What comes to mind.  Take a look at this amazing video and see if that is what you pictured:

Danny MacAskill is redefining mountain biking.  Of course there are elements of what most of us know about mountain biking but he certainly challenges the perception of what can and can not be done on a bicycle (and I love the way he deals with fences in his way too!).

How can we be more like Danny as teachers?  How can we challenge the boundaries of teaching?  How can we find new ways to approach (and conquer) the ‘fences’ in our jobs?

I would hazard to guess that we can do much the same as Danny more than likely did:

1. Set audacious goals for ourselves.

2. Enlist the support of those who believe in our ideas.

3. Try, Try, Try.

Danny didn’t wait for some politician, board member, motivational speaker, or author to redefine the possibilities of mountain biking.  He just used his gut instincts, his passion, determination, and drive to elevate the thing he cares deeply about.

Will you do the same? You already have permission. 

Postscript:  While writing this, I couldn’t help but think of one of my mentors, Will Northrop of What-if-Concepts.  Will does amazing work with empowering people who inspire by connecting remarkable ideas.  His blog is a great source of daily encouragement, motivation, and thought-provoking ideas. Check it out! 

Innovation

Starting small…

This morning I was up early(ish) and saw this cartoon from GapingVoid:

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I haven’t posted here in quite a while.  In my defense, I have been a little busy having a baby, moving countries, and preparing to start a new job.  All a little time consuming to say the least. 

When I read Hugh’s cartoon, I was reminded that we all have to start somewhere and often, instead of trying to re-write the book, we just need to find one little thing to start with – one thing that can make a big impact.  For me, that means just getting started and brushing the cobwebs off this blog.  But it is also a philosophy I want to employ in the coming school year. 

What can we do as teachers to make the biggest impact?  Where is our time best spent in the classroom?  What tools can I use that will save me time but also help me know my kids better and meet their needs in a more timely fashion?

In terms of math: Khan Academy

In terms of reading: The Book Whisperer

In terms of everything else, it is a matter of two things: finding the way to connect a student to their passion and finding a way to always choose to be kinder than necessary.  In the interest of “starting with the end in mind”, read the following graduation speech (thanks Marty!) to inspire you as you begin a new school year in which you will make a difference. 

 

21st Century, Inspiration

Write Your Story – Change History

All the great things that haven’t happened yet, are history waiting to happen.

Brad Meltzer presents this idea and more in his passionate, inspired TED talk: Write Your Story, Change History

His three main points:

Dream Big

Martin Luther King Jr. was 26, Amelia Earhart was 25 and Steve Jobs was 21 when they all made their mark on the world. If you dream big, no matter how old you are, you can change history.

Work Hard

The hardest work of all is being resilient in the face of failure. Every time the Wright brothers went out to fly their aircraft, they took extra materials for all the crashes.  They knew they were going to fail and they kept trying anyway.

Stay Humble

No one likes a jerk and the world needs fewer loudmouths – so stay humble.

All history is is stories. To change history, all you have to do is write your story. You will change history – in big ways or in small ways – and both are equally important.  History is changed when you write your story.  You will have moments when you will doubt, wonder if you will succeed, or wonder if you should give up.  The good news?  You don’t have to create a multi-million dollar change overnight. You can start by being kind to one person. And you will change the world if you do something beyond yourself.

Every life makes history and every life is a story. What is yours?

What makes your heros important to you?

How have you ever changed history?

Do you agree with Meltzer that simple things done by ordinary people can help change history forever?

Inspiration, PYP, Reflection

Be The Change-Maker

I was continuing to reflect on the learning that occurred yesterday and in doing so, I had my kids line up in a human continuum.  I know these are used for lots of things but I wanted to use them as a reflective tool and a tool for self-regulated action.  Once the kids were lined up on the continuum from “I must have the manuals for the lego kits and a friend to do it with and I am still freaking out somewhat” to “Just throw the manuals out and unleash the kit on me – I want to create!” I had them take a good look around the room.  I then asked them to consider the following questions:

  • How could you help someone else?
  • Where do you plan on being on this continuum in two weeks time?
  • What will you do when you need help?
  • How will you move forward from where you are at?

My purpose in doing this?  To empower the kids in the class to choose to act.  Making explicit the notion of action is one of the five essential elements of the PYP.

Stated quite simply, the action cycle asks students to reflect, choose and act. As they stood and looked around the room, my aim was:

  • To help them see that there are options within our room to offer help and to be helped and to seek help.
  • To provide them with like-minded colleagues to work with and also give them the opportunity to see who was out there that they could improve their understanding by working with.
  • To provide an opportunity for those with greater experience to be gracious in the sharing of that knowledge in order to move the whole group forward.
  • To remind them that choosing NOT to act was also taking action – the ball is in their court.

Now, I do know that these sound like lofty goals.  BUT….there are times when it is good to be reminded that to experience change, you can wait for circumstances to be different, the season to turn, or the wind to blow, OR you can be a change maker in yourself. Will it work? Will I see an immediate, overnight transformation of 10 and 11 year olds choosing to “Be the Change”? Maybe not.  Doesn’t stop me hammering that option home every chance I can get though!

Brain Research, Inspiration

Care More. Even through Change. Care MORE.

Care More. 

If you do nothing else, click on the link above and read Seth’s post.  What could be more simple? In a world where “the economy” has become a scapegoat for callous disregard for humanity, it is a good reminder to us all that people matter more than money.  When change occurs, this can be hard to remember.  People matter. Sure, money matters too, but people should always, always matter more. Think of your classroom and your kids – if you could add something to your day: more grading, more math, more technology or more caring, what would you pick? How would you choose to help “your people” bloom?  If you were to ask “the brain guy”, John Medina, what the single most important thing the brain requires to learn, he would tell you a feeling of safety. How to do this?  By building  a safe, stable and caring environment to nurture growth and development.

Change, however, is inevitable.  What then?  Disillusionment or this?  As we approach the end of the school year, this message would be one worth putting out there as a way of honoring all the great and amazing things that have happened as we move on toward the next chapter. Change is never going to be easy. Make sure that during times of change more than ever, you care more.