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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in 21st century learning

Posted by on in Teens and Tweens

As I continue working with more and more teachers I'm often surprised at how many I still see "page turning" to plan instruction. "Page turning" is a form of lesson planning that a teacher uses, that is simply opening a textbook and continuing where they left off during the last lesson. Now don't get me wrong, textbooks have their place in education (I guess), but when teachers rely on them too heavily instruction can suffer greatly, and more importantly, learning does too.

Here are a few reasons you should get textbooks out of your lesson planning and start forging your own instructional path, outside the edges of those pages.

Textbooks Fail To Engage Students

I don't care how many pictures or fun activities exist in the realm of the book you are using, I will almost guarantee that it is not engaging all your students. The simple reason is that the writers of that book don't know your students, YOU DO. I have never (and will never) heard a student mutter "Wow! Chapter 7 was surprisingly fun and exciting! I can't wait to continue working to Chapter 8!" I would bet that you haven't either. That's because textbooks are designed as a curriculum TOOL to be used in lesson planning, not a curriculum in themselves. Students must interact, play with, and experience concepts, not just read about them. (or hear about them during your lectures...which don't work either by the way.)

Textbooks Are NOT Universally Designed

Textbooks are generally written at or above the grade level you are teaching. The pictures, diagrams, and experiences presented in them are also created at that level. I don't know about you, but most of my students, or at least some of them, were below grade level or still achieving their current grade level. I would also like to suggest that the context, circumstances, and lens in which most textbooks view your curriculum are not going to engage or allow for much adjustment or modification if they are your primary lesson planning tool.

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Posted by on in Flipped Classroom

Confession. I am a YouTuber. ( www.youtube.com/hiphughes) Now before you stop reading, I should tell you I also am a teacher with 19 years of experience, although I prefer being called a FOLE. (Facilitator Of Learning Experiences -which of course I have a video on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmJ-_G5VR-A )

The story of how I became a YouTuber is a story of teaching. To summarize, it was 2007 and I had a YouTube account and I taught at a school in Buffalo where attendance was killing me, mostly students missing an average of 20% of classr. So I figured I should at least record my lectures so they can watch them to review for the exam. I call these early videos, my "hostage videos".  By the end of the year, my room was a DVD burning factory and I was handing discs out like it was nobodies business. As the years progressed and the digital divide began to slowly close, the shift became less about using the videos for review and more as a way of freeing up time in my class.

I should tell you something. I love kids making videos as much as I love making them. In 2002, I was fortunate by being one of the first people in a program called, City Voices, City Visions which was run out of the Graduate School of Education at the University of Buffalo. CVCV was a digital video boot camp for teachers. We learned how to make videos. Not lecture videos but Public Service Announcements, Commercials, News Broadcasts and other genres which we believed could be used to facilitate our learning objectives in the classroom.  We made videos to learn how so we could teach kids how to "write" with multimodal literacies. Wow! That sounded fancy! But my 3rd year in the classroom, my students were producing videos, videos about Govenrment and US History. And as they made those videos they were reading, researching, writing, storyboarding, filming, editing, screening and most importantly being engaged in their own learning! My problem was always time, how could I make sure I still "covered" enough of my course and gave kids the time to create?

Perhaps you have figured it out. By flipping my class and pushing my lectures out of the class (and trust me I still did review lectures) I was allowed the time to become a facilitator of learning rather than just a content explainer. I was now not the stage on the sage but the conductor of learning. Now, you may be asking, how do I find the time to make videos? And my answer is you don't have to, unless you want to. There are thousands of teachers on YouTube already doing this; so go google, "Best (insert your content area) Teachers on YouTube" and go steal; steal like a gangster and see if you can free up some time in your classroom so your kids can become creators of meaning and not just consumers of content.

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Posted by on in Teens and Tweens

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… but learning isn’t.

I wrote my first book, Crush School: Every Student’s Guide To Killing It In The Classroom after realizing that most interesting education books are written for adults, and the ones students are forced to use in class mostly suck.

They’re not just uninteresting. They are dull and written in some weird code no one can, or wants to understand. And, they make your backpack look like you’re about to set off on a two week long hike in the wilderness, which would be cool if you’re into that sort of thing, except for the fact that you’re surrounded by concrete, glass, and steel. You’re not a horse either, so what’s the deal? I mean really…

And here’s one more unpopular opinion coming from this teacher. Most of the stuff in those books is useless. Most of the so-called knowledge can be googled. Some of this information will be outdated before you hit work. A lot of it is irrelevant right now.

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Posted by on in Teaching Strategies

I have a confession to make. I've become obsessed with Design Thinking. It's gotten to the point where I "Design Thinking" everything. How do I Design Thinking my lunch? How do I Design Thinking my classroom phone policy? How do I Design Thinking teaching?

Teaching? Yep. Let's do that.

What I love about Design Thinking is that it's flexible. There are teaching approaches out there that tell us what to do, but it makes more sense for every teacher to teach differently every year, because we each get different students.

Think about it. We don't treat all our friends and family the same. Our interactions with them are largely based on our experience of who they are and what makes them tick. Teaching is the same way. One size fits all approaches do not work.

The challenge is that, in the grand scheme of things, we only know our students for a short time. However, personalization of education is not a fad; it's a thing. So. let's use the Design Thinking Cycle (Empathy, Definition, Ideation, Prototyping, Testing) to improve Teaching, shall we?

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Posted by on in Project-Based Learning

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When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It’s to enjoy each step along the way. — Wayne Dyer

I think we got it all wrong in education.

Consider this. We always talk about connecting the classroom (the instruction, the subject area, the concepts etc.) to the real world. But, doesn't it make more sense to take what's happening in the real world and just teach that? The whole idea of having to connect school to the real world came from the fact that most subjects are taught in isolation from it.

Why can't we change that?

Take Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). You can use this very relevant and controversial issue and teach about it from multiple perspectives.

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