EDWORDS: Latest Blog Posts

  • Power of Our Words

    The Power of Encouragement vs. Praise in Teaching and Learning

      Over the years I’ve conducted multiple interviews and written multiple pieces on the topic of praising kids. Or, more precisely, the perils of praising kids. Many experts and a great deal of research point to the pitfalls of offering children too much praise (“Good job!”), empty praise (“Good job!”), or false praise (“Good job!”). Still, the practice persists. It appears that offering praise – regardless of the specific words used – is a tough habit to break. The problem, I believe, is ...

    0
    by Rae Pica
    Monday, 24 August 2015
  • Anxiety Doesn't Bleed

    He arrived at my school a disheveled first grader. Severely disabled with mental illness, devoid of emotion or affect, like an automaton, and lacking any semblance of a moral compass. If you are an educator, you undoubtedly have taught one or two students at some point in your career who were difficult to reach, but who profoundly touched you. Jonathan was that student for me.  I recently learned that Jonathan had taken his own life at the age of 16. Hearing of his passing, I immediately th ...

    0
    by Jim Detwiler
    Sunday, 23 August 2015
  • A Response to Professors Banning Laptops

    Banning Laptops in The Lecture Hall I've been hearing about big changes in education since I started teaching nearly 20 years ago. In recent years, I've actually been seeing some real innovation that has challenged teachers to move beyond the same model of instruction that we have been using for centuries.  My optimism faded a bit, however, after reading an article from The Globe and Mail, "Professors Push Back Against Laptops in the Lecture Hall."  The article provides another exampl ...

    by Nick LaFave
    Saturday, 22 August 2015
  • relationships

    Creating Trust and Personal Connection with Students

    More and more research indicates that relationships matter in classrooms. Relationships between you and the students and among the students themselves. They foster more academic success and can change the way kids feel about coming to school every day – for the better. I hope you’ll listen to the wonderful discussion I had with Dawn Casey-Rowe, Mike Anderson, and Dan Brown on this topic. It’s chock-full of ideas for how you can create trust and personal connection with students at the beginni ...

    by Rae Pica
    Friday, 21 August 2015
  • Student Autonomy in Assessment for Learning

    Education is no longer a practice that happens to a student, but one that happens with a student (Bayse, 2014). Promoting student autonomy continues to be an important aspect of preparing students for the future. Previously, I have investigated the benefits of student autonomy in project-based learning, digital tool selection, and the troubleshooting of technology. With a lense on ISTE Teaching Standard 2, I am once again investigating student autonomy; this time as an important aspect of assess ...

    0
    by Annie Tremonte
    Wednesday, 19 August 2015
View more blog entries
  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Categories
    Categories Displays a list of categories from this blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Archives
    Archives Contains a list of blog posts that were created previously.
  • Login
    Login Login form
Recent blog posts

Posted by on in Education Leadership

He arrived at my school a disheveled first grader. Severely disabled with mental illness, devoid of emotion or affect, like an automaton, and lacking any semblance of a moral compass. If you are an educator, you undoubtedly have taught one or two students at some point in your career who were difficult to reach, but who profoundly touched you. Jonathan was that student for me.  I recently learned that Jonathan had taken his own life at the age of 16. Hearing of his passing, I immediately thought of the unpublished blog post below.  I started writing it just under a year ago, but didn't finish it and decided to bury it.  At the time, I wondered if it was too honest, too vulnerable.  I am posting it now, because I'm fed up. Enough is enough...

 

677...678...679...
Glancing at the flight attendant... for the 50th time...
Does she look worried?
700...701...702...
Maybe a little...

Several years ago while on a flight with my wife from Pittsburgh to St. Kitts, I experienced a major panic attack.  As the plane bounced about through a bad storm and turbulence, my facility to perceive threats misfired: We are surely going down...God help us. White-knuckled and paralyzed with fear, I looked to my left for some re-assurance from my wife.  I remember feeling irritated that, in dramatic contrast to my terror, my wife could not have appeared less concerned, comfy-cozy in the seat next to me, a beautiful peaceful smile betraying her deep dreamy sleep.

 
845...846...847…
Counting as slowly as possible for the last hour, just trying to hold on to whatever shred of machismo I can muster…
Sweating…terrified…
848...849…850
God, just land this thing already...

We landed somewhere around number 1,207 in my silent counting.  On two subsequent occasions, overwhelmed with irrational thoughts and concern, I dramatically refused at the last minute to get on flights that had been booked for months.  

Abnormal anxiety was my nemesis when I was a boy. I had become so afraid of sitting in a dentist’s chair at age 8, that I was routinely given a strong sedative hours before each dental appointment.  The drug had little to no effect on me, and in fact, seemed to boost my adrenaline and anxiety to such high levels that I once physically attacked the dental hygienist and had to be restrained. My parents, mortified by my outburst of disrespect and clueless about abnormal anxiety, grounded me for two weeks as a consequence for my behavior.  

...
Last modified on

Posted by on in Education And Training

Banning Laptops in The Lecture Hall

I've been hearing about big changes in education since I started teaching nearly 20 years ago. In recent years, I've actually been seeing some real innovation that has challenged teachers to move beyond the same model of instruction that we have been using for centuries.  My optimism faded a bit, however, after reading an article from The Globe and Mail, "Professors Push Back Against Laptops in the Lecture Hall."  The article provides another example of educators trying to force students to conform to our outdated models of instruction rather than adapting instructional methods to the needs of students and the changing world around us.  

 

If 85% of Your Students are Off Task...

Change the system to fit students.If I found out that 85 percent of my students chose to focus on something other than my lesson, I'd have to take a hard look at my lessons and ask why students weren't engaged. The Globe and Mail article tells the story of a professor who assigned a graduate student to sit in the back of the lecture hall to see what was on the screens of students during class. When he found out that 85 percent of his students were using their computers for something unrelated to his class his reaction was to ban laptops.  A professor friend of mine once told me, "The problem with universities is that they think they are the universe." Perhaps this is nowhere better exemplified than in the persistent resistance to change.

 

The Teaching Equals Learning Illusion

When we find out that students are engaging "in 'high-tech ‘doodling’  – sending e-mails, exchanging instant messages, surfing the Web" many professors react by banning laptops.  I'm glad that professors didn't ban pencils back when I was low-tech doodling in college.  Are we confusing compliance (copying notes and looking attentive) with learning?  Maybe it's time to look at why students are doodling -- whether it is with a pencil or a laptop.  
 
For those who would rather force students to conform to outdated ideas of what instruction is supposed to be, maybe we should look to Harvard's Eric Mazur who described his success as a teacher as "a complete illusion, a house of cards."  When Dr. Mazur became frustrated by a lack of basic understanding by physics students, he didn't blame the students, instead he looked at what wasn't working with the delivery of instruction.  Quoted in Harvard Magazine, Dr. Mazur explains,  “The students did well on textbook-style problems. They had a bag of tricks, formulas to apply. But that was solving problems by rote. They floundered on the simple word problems, which demanded a real understanding of the concepts behind the formulas.”  More interested in learning than teaching, Mazur shifted to an interactive pedagogy.  With active learning, students don't simply make note of new information, they are required to apply that information.  
 

Remove Distractions or Provide a More Engaging Experience? 

It's often easier to find a scapegoat than to adapt to a rapidly changing world, but we are doing a disservice to our students with such an inflexible way of thinking.  You can remove laptops from the classroom, but the doodling will continue, it just might not be as easy to see from the lectern.  In fact, I can personally attest that the doodling and off task behaviors were present long before laptops came on the scene.  Before laptops, it just wasn't as obvious to professors that their students weren't actively engaged in learning.  
 

b2ap3_thumbnail_Any-teacher-who-can-be-replaced-by-computer.jpgIn the time of Google and YouTube the educator who views their primary role as the dispenser of knowledge, has been replaced. They've been replaced by the very machines they are banning.  Back when teachers were the primary source of information for students a teacher-centered classroom may have made sense, but with virtually unlimited access to information at their fingertips, it's time to rethink the way we approach teaching today's learners. Technology will never replace great teachers but as David Thornburg, building on the words of Arthur C. Clarke, said "Any teacher who can be replaced by a computer should (and deserves to) be." 

 
Some have cited studies that tout the advantages of taking notes by hand, and I am in no way discounting that.  I'll also acknowledge that laptops may not be beneficial in all settings.  So I understand the desire to ban laptops, but please don't ban laptops without first looking at why students are tuning out your lectures first. 
 

Featured image courtesy of Greg Pearson

"The System" comic courtesy of Unearthed Comics

Last modified on
Hits: 504 0 Comments

Posted by on in What If?

relationshipsMore and more research indicates that relationships matter in classrooms. Relationships between you and the students and among the students themselves. They foster more academic success and can change the way kids feel about coming to school every day – for the better.

I hope you’ll listen to the wonderful discussion I had with Dawn Casey-Rowe, Mike Anderson, and Dan Brown on this topic. It’s chock-full of ideas for how you can create trust and personal connection with students at the beginning of and throughout the school year.

Here’s what Dawn had to add:

Building relationships with students is the thing that makes them want to learn.  

...
Last modified on

Posted by on in Education Leadership

Education is no longer a practice that happens to a student, but one that happens with a student (Bayse, 2014). Promoting student autonomy continues to be an important aspect of preparing students for the future. Previously, I have investigated the benefits of student autonomy in project-based learning, digital tool selection, and the troubleshooting of technology. With a lense on ISTE Teaching Standard 2, I am once again investigating student autonomy; this time as an important aspect of assessment for learning. Assessment for learning describes using assessment results to inform instructional practices, and it is often broken into two categories: summative and formative. Summative assessment refers to the evaluation of student learning at the end of a unit of study. Formative assessment refers to the monitoring of student learning during a unit of study allowing both teachers and students alike to identify areas of strengths and weaknesses, modifying instruction as necessary. It is intended to be ongoing and not embodied in a high stake final grade.

Personalizing Assessment for Learning

Assessment for learning strategies are most impactful when assessment is personalized, allowing students to be involved in their own growth. Basye (2014) claimed that “in addition to responding to students’ needs and interests, [personalization] teaches them to manage their own learning — to take control and ownership of it” (para. 14). Technology is useful in the self-monitoring process, in that online grade books like EnGrade and learning management systems such as Blackboard or Edmodo can allow students to play an active role in tracking and monitoring their progress. Stiggins and Chappius (2005) wrote in “Using Student-Involved Classroom Assessment to Close Achievement Gaps” that students are no longer shocked at the end of a grading period by their grade when formative assessments are implemented, and, as a result, trust and confidence are established between teacher and student.

Building a Rubric Together

The next step is to involve students in the selection of standards and subsequent formation of rubrics. Used at the beginning of a unit, clear guidelines and requirements can direct students in their learning. We know that students are most effective and actively engaged in their learning when they are fully aware of the end goal, instead of when they are forced to blindly follow a potentially unknown direction of a teacher (Stiggins & Chappuis, 2005). Students become active participants in setting their own personalized learning goals, and thus maintain responsibility for the path to get there. Teacher and student can work together to have a shared objective (Stiggins & Chappuis, 2005). According to Boud (1995) students should not only be involved in determining the criteria for an assignment, but also in the actual assessment and evaluation of their work. Students become partners in the learning process and the evaluation of their achievement (Stiggins & Chappuis, 2005). They can keep track of their performance and change their performance as needed (Stiggins & Chappuis, 2005). This results in the formation of the lifelong skill of making judgements about performance according to criteria (Boud, 1995). Student autonomy is also established by making it possible to practice this skill against other students’ work (Boud, 1995). Moroder (n.d.) noted that young adults already give feedback daily to one another in social settings. They critique one another, ask each other questions and share information; students also practice this online with their use of social media and collaborative video games. So, why not harness this in the classroom? Wiliam (date) claimed that peer assessment benefits both the assessed and the assessor, as students learn what meeting criteria looks like by evaluating both the successful and unsuccessful work of peers.

Using Technology

How do can educators use technology to support the implementation of formative self and peer assessments?

For All Rubrics

My exploration of digital tools first led me to a website and app called ForAllRubrics.com. It is a free resource that can be used holistically to integrate many aspects of assessment for learning. Class rosters are easily uploaded, navigation of the site is simple, and the digital tool includes an online grade book, access to a rubric library, and the ability to analyze the collected data. Students can create their own log-ins, without a required email address, to track personal progress. They can also communicate with teachers about their achievement by reviewing received rubric scores and making comments back to the teacher. With this tool, the grading process is not a mystery, and it is open to continued commentary between the teacher and student. Badges are another layer of this tool that can be implemented to encourage student achievement and allow students to monitor their own growth. ForAllRubrics can even be used in a portable fashion on an iPad, iPhone or even offline in order to encourage a mobile classroom. While all aspects of this site support assessment for learning, it is its ability to create rubrics in a partnership with students that could then be used to self or peer assess. Once students are logged in, they can use a laptop or tablet to self or peer assess with the click of a mouse or the touch a finger. Teachers can then log and analyze all of the data.

Theme Spark

The biggest setback to ForAllRubrics is the inability to translate Common Core State Standards into rubric criterion. ThemeSpark.net aligns Common Core State Standards with rubric design. It is simple in design and navigation. As a result, working with students to select appropriate standards and design a rubric would be a seemingly straightforward process. Students need to be taught how to be metacognitive in their learning; rubric creation, self assessment and peer assessment can all assists in this endeavor.

...
Last modified on

Posted by on in Early Childhood

 

What IS a philosophy? It is a set of beliefs and personal understandings about something in which a person holds a deep interest.

Because you are committed to your work with young children, the Council wants to know about your philosophy of caring for and educating them.

Based on your experience and your education, you have the elements of a philosophy in your mind already, but they are yet to be organized and written down.

For your Portfolio, you will base what you write on four questions posed by the Council. But trying to start there may be difficult. It is sort of like putting the horse before the cart, so to speak!

...
Last modified on