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The Information Diet

All of us have used the term “Information Overload”, but is it really that? This book, The Information Diet by Clay Johnson, has a different take on how we use information.

The Information Diet

The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption

The author shares that humans spend upwards of 11 hours out of every 24 hours in a state of constant consumption. Not eating, but gorging on information ceaselessly spewed from the screens and speakers we hold dear. Just as we have grown morbidly obese on sugar, fat, and flour—so, too, have we become gluttons for texts, instant messages, emails, RSS feeds, downloads, videos, status updates, and tweets. As part of the technological revolution, many of us are addicted. We wake up and have to check our social media to see who did what when and comment on this here and there.

We’re all battling a storm of distractions, hit with notifications and tempted by tasty tidbits of information. This is just like  too much junk food can lead to obesity, too much junk information can lead to cluelessness according to the author. We are taking multitasking to extreme limits. So here is a book that opened my eyes. The Information Diet shows you how to thrive in this information glut—what to look for, what to avoid, and how to be selective. In the process, author Clay Johnson explains the role information has played throughout history, and why following his prescribed diet is essential for everyone who strives to be smart, productive, and sane.

In The Information Diet, you will:

  • Discover why eminent scholars are worried about our state of attention and general intelligence
  • Examine how today’s media—Big Info—give us exactly what we want: content that confirms our beliefs
  • Learn to take steps to develop data literacy, attention fitness, and a healthy sense of humor
  • Become engaged in the economics of information by learning how to reward good information providers
  • Just like a normal, healthy food diet, The Information Diet is not about consuming less—it’s about finding a healthy balance that works for you

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Personal Journeys in Kindergarten

Transforming classrooms where learning is more personalized takes time. After Kathleen McClaskey and I created the chart “Personalization vs Differentiation vs Individualization” we have been receiving comments and stories from around the world about personalizing learning for their students. The personal journeys many of these teachers and students are traveling are exciting. So I decided to start sharing some of these journeys with you.

Lisa Welch’s and Wanda Richardson’s Personal Journeys

Their team email: rwteam@kmsd.edu
Wales Elementary School, Wales, Wisconsin,
Kettle Morain School District

Lisa shared their story here:
We team teach in a classroom with 43 kindergarten students. We have two classrooms that have been opened up using an 8 ft. doorway. This year, as part of the Kettle Moraine School District initiative along with NxGL and CESA 1, we were given the opportunity to facilitate a transformation in education via Personalized Learning.<

Our goal is to help personalized learning become scalable throughout our district. Our classroom is a 1 to 1 environment through the use of netbooks. We have spent a good chunk of the year trying new things and finding new ways to engage the kids while at the same time making sure that we are meeting the kids’ needs both academically as well as socially/emotionally. It has been quite a journey!

We started the year with a learning plan where there were approximately 8-9 activities that fit into a specific theme and used the multiple intelligences as the basis of each activity. The students’ task was to complete each activity on the plan, but they could decide in which order they worked. After trying this model for approximately 4 weeks, we found that we weren’t getting the engagement that we had hoped. We were also finding that the kids weren’t as independent as we had hoped.

Upon reflection, we found that really, we were “missing the boat” when it came to truly personalizing learning.

We went back to square one and really started putting our thinking caps on. Some of the questions we were grappling with were:

  • How can you personalize learning for students who are not yet able to read?
  • How can you help student’s become independent learners at this young age?
  • How can the 4 c’s of 21st Century Learning make their way into everything we do?
  • How can we impart that core knowledge that is vital at this age?

We don’t have all the answers by any means, but we are certainly finding that we are on an exciting path at this time! Currently, every child in our classroom has a PERSONALIZED Learning Plan. These plans are created according to the child’s interests in learning styles as well as in subject areas. For example, one child is studying the subway and is interested in creating on the computer, math and music/dancing.

His learning plan includes researching various books for different examples of the subway, after looking through the books, he will use Post-It notes to mark and take notes on these pages. His next task is to use Microsoft Word to access clipart that he can transfer to another program (Promethean ActivInspire) and create a story using the pictures. Finally he will listen to different sound waves of a subway passing that we embedded into a computer program for him and drew and wrote what the sound inspired from him.

My Learning Plan
Each child’s plan has my voice recording the words (this is possible through ActivInspire) so that while the kids still cannot read, they can be independent in working with the plan. When all the activities are completed, they can choose to extend their earning on the same subject. For example, this particular child who is learning about subways went home and made a subway using recyclables. This prompted us to talk with the kids about Anytime/Anywhere learning. We explained to the kids that learning can happen everywhere they go; in the store, at dinner, right before bed, on trips, etc. They are starting to extend all of their learning and parents are becoming more involved in this process.

We even have some kids (three as of now) who are interested and started creating some of their own learning plans with our coaching. Right now, along with following certain district goals, we are using the Common Core Standards to assess and frame our student’s learning. It is working quite nicely. Also, we have been using DreamBox math and RAZ-Kids to supplement our math and reading work.

Finally, we have changed our classroom environment so that we have more areas where smaller learning communities can take place. We have replaced many of our tables with coffee tables, pub tables, and comfortable, chairs. I have attached pictures of this environment. Since creating this type of environment, we have seen more opportunity for communication and collaboration.

Wales Elementary Kindergarten tables

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wales Elementary Kindergarten

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As previously stated, we have much to learn, but we are on our way to creating a truly personalized experience for those who count the most; our students!”

_______________________

Thank you Lisa and Wanda! I see some resemblance to the Reggio Emilia approach and will definitely keep following your journey.

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Notability App - An App You Will Love

Notability App

 

Notability powerfully integrates handwriting, PDF annotation, typing, recording, and organizing so you can take notes your way!

This week you can get Notability for 80% off – for 99¢

 

 

Ginger Labs

I am starting to use Notability instead of Pages or Word. I highly recommend it and at this price, it’s an app that everyone should try. If you miss the special deal, it is still a special deal.

Notability is the perfect note-taking companion for iTunes U! Liberate yourself from piles of paper and books by keeping this data in Notability. Our full-featured and easy to use tool set enables all types of annotating and data capture. So what does it do?

 

Full-featured Handwriting

  • Capturing ideas easy and awesome with smooth ink.
  • Use the zoom window to quickly draw every detail.
  • Check out the palm rest to protect your notes from unwanted marks.
  • Copy, move and even re-style the color and width of any ink.
  • Drag-and-drop thumbnails to reorder notes while adding or removing pages as needed.
  • Choose a paper to fit your style and use a variety of pen colors and widths to create beautiful notes.

 

PDF Annotation

  • Annotate PDFs.
  • Record, type or handwrite on anything.
  • Share your annotations with anyone using email or Dropbox and more.

 

Advanced Word-Processing

  • Try the features like styling, outlining, and spell check as the perfect tools to get the job done quickly and accurately.
  • Use bullets, bold, italic, underline, font presets, cursor controls, and more, seamlessly to help you create rich notes.

 

Linked Audio Recording

  • Link audio recordings automatically to your notes.
  • Review your notes, then tap a word to hear what was said at that moment.
  • Use advanced audio processing features to create brilliant recordings in any setting.
  • Use the recording feature to capture your own voice for memos, presentations, or speech practice.

 

Auto-Sync

  • Auto-sync your notes to back up in the cloud.
  • Easily collaborate at work or school sharing ideas and notes on the fly.

 

Media Insertion

  • Enhance your notes by adding pictures from your photo library or from the iPad camera.
  • Insert web clips, figures, and drawings to compliment your notes.
  • Crop, resize, and draw on images to make them perfect. Your text will automatically flow around them.

 

Library Organization

  • Organize, protect and share your ideas and notes.
  • Drag and drop notes into a subject and use a password to keep notes secure.
  • Auto-sync your notes to automatically upload to Dropbox, iDisk or WebDAV.
  • Import notes, PDFs, and RTFs from the cloud or web.
  • Share notes via Email, Dropbox, iTunes File Sharing, and AirPrint.

 

When I review apps, I want to find apps that meet multiple needs. Notability does everything students will need to keep notes and share with their teacher and peers.

So if you get a chance, download Notability to try while it’s at a great price. Go here to download: Ginger Labs

Ginger Labs

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It's all about Apps: One That's Free Today!!

Since I am being asked to recommend apps for schools and districts, I thought it would be a good idea to put together some reviews of interesting apps. I also am finding that some apps are free for a short time. Here’s a fun app: Dr. Seuss Band that is free just for one day: Today at Oceanhouse Media

Dr. Seuss Band

Oceanhouse Media

Anyone any age will love this. You can build your own wacky Dr. Seuss-like instrument and then play it by pressing the appropriate buttons. This is the Dr. Seuss equivalent of the Rock Band/Guitar Hero games combining hand-eye coordination with musical fun and it works very well, although it might be tough for younger kids.

There are in-app purchases with Dr. Seuss songs. Get this app today and then see if you want to purchase anymore apps. I’m thinking that they can all be unlocked just by completing certain accomplishments in the app.

From iTunes:

Experience the excitement as Dr. Seuss Band transforms your device into a vibrant, energetic musical instrument that all ages will enjoy! Jam along with playful Seussian melodies or create your own whimsical masterpiece. As you play, you’ll unlock new instruments, silly effects and catchy songs. Contains over 120 combinations of sounds, so you’ll always have something new to discover!

 

Features:

  • 2 Ways to Play – Go for high scores in the Music Game or use Free Play to compose your own tunes.
  • 10 Original Songs – Play along with the soundtrack from The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, Dr. Seuss’s ABCs, Hop on Pop and more!
  • 5 Unique Horn Instruments – Play Seussian versions of the Trumpet, French Horn, Clarinet, Trombone and Flute.
  • 10 Crazy Horn Effects – Customize the sound of your horn by adding fun effects like a Fish Bowl, Train Whistle, Reverb and more!
  • Mix and Match Horns – Swap parts of the horn while playing to create over 120 Horn Combinations!
  • 3 Difficulty Levels – Choose Easy for beginners, Medium for experienced players and Hard for experts.
  • 26 Unlockables – Achieve high scores to unlock Songs, Horns and Effects.
  • Gamecenter Leaderboards – Compare your high scores with the competition.

 

Additional features:

  • Beautiful 3D artwork inspired by Dr. Seuss
  • Whimsical music and sound effects
  • Suitable for all ages

 

Some of the criteria I use for reviewing apps:

  • age levels
  • age appropriateness
  • skill and reading levels
  • skills attained
  • independent learning
  • content or standards met

 

My Dr. Seuss Band review:

  • children of all ages who love Dr. Seuss
  • visually intuitive
  • increases music abilities
  • encourages independent learning and collaborative play
  • meets NETS for students on creativity, collaboration, and independent exploration

 

I encourage you to try this and download it today. If you get it for free, you own it forever. How cool is that? Get it here: Oceanhouse Media

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Reboot to Encourage Wonder

“Where there is an open mind, there will always be a frontier.” Charles Kettering

 

Professor Michael Wesch reboots after hearing advice that his teaching isn’t working. This article in the Chronicle of Higher Ed speaks to me and not only for higher ed.

Michael Wesch teaching students

How many of us reboot what we are doing when we realize we are going down the wrong road? We are all guilty of continuing down the same road because it is easier than changing. Educators in all grades have worked for years developing lessons that we believe teach the concepts they want their students to learn. If one lesson didn’t work, then another did. It takes a lot of work to start over — reboot.

Caution for the futureWhat that means for many teachers is to change the way they teach. This means letting go and using technology. Both of these concepts are scary for many teachers. Some are almost ready for retirement and just don’t want to reboot now. Some are resistant because they don’t want to believe that what they are teaching isn’t working. Let’s rethink why we went into the teaching profession. It’s really not about us. It’s all about the learners. If we continue to teach like we did years ago, we not only leave many of our learners behind, we do them a disservice. They won’t be prepared for their future.

In the article, Professor Wesch realizes that students can use technology to search for wonder.

“At its best, Mr. Wesch believes that interactive technology—and other methods to create more active experiences in the classroom—can be used to forge that kind of relationship between teachers and students where professors nurture rather than talk down to students.

In one of his courses, he teamed up with students to produce an ethnography of YouTube users. The project helped the students feel more like collaborators because the technology allowed them to immediately publish their work online.”

 What does that mean? Talk down to students? I don’t think teachers think they are talking down to students if they are lecturing, giving feedback or grading papers. When you teach something you love, you think that your enthusiasm will be enough to excite your students. Times are different. You’ve heard “times are a changing.” Well, the future is here now.  If you give control to your students to drive their learning, that doesn’t mean you are not teaching effectively. Lectures and direct instruction is one way to present information, but are you losing your students?

Lecture and chalkboard

I remember sitting for hours and hours staring at my teachers’ backs. I zoned out. I doodled. I knew there had to be a better way for students like me. I learn best by doing. Now more students are like me and have gone way beyond me. They are tweeting, texting, and googling while in class. Mr. Wesch writes about using these tools to engage students.

What if you set up a backchannel chat or Twitter group to give you instant feedback? Ask a student to help you do this? If you ask students to blog, don’t correct their spelling. This is a great space to journal and publish their thoughts. You can learn from their posts. This is still scary for some teachers. Are these teachers resistant or just obstinate? What if they really believe what they are doing is making a difference?

See Think WonderAsk your students! Give them a survey or ask for feedback on how you teach and how they learn. It’s not just about you or the content anymore. It’s about learners being prepared for a career, the type of job that they love or pays them enough so they can live comfortably, or gives them the opportunity to be an entrepreneur. There are some learners who just want to learn because they are excited about something — passionate and interested to learn. They may want to take amazing photographs or understand astronomy because they always wanted to know about the stars.

What do you wonder about?

Just imagine a day in your class that you encouraged wonder! Take 20% of your time to let go and reboot your teaching so students wonder about something they are passionate about. Encourage students to use technology and teach you. I wonder what will happen to your students. Let me know.

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It's not Personal. It's Business.

Anyone and any company can say the words “Personalized Learning” even if it isn’t personalizing learning. It’s how you frame it. It’s about business. It’s not personal. I think I’ve heard this before. Yes – it’s a quote from the first Godfather movie 1972.

Michael Corleone:Where does it say that you can’t kill a cop?
Tom Hagen: Come on, Mikey…
Michael Corleone: Tom, wait a minute. I’m talking about a cop that’s mixed up in drugs. I’m talking about a – a – a dishonest cop – a crooked cop who got mixed up in the rackets and got what was coming to him. That’s a terrific story. And we have newspaper people on the payroll, don’t we, Tom?
[Tom nods]
Michael Corleone: And they might like a story like that.
Tom Hagen: They might, they just might.
Michael Corleone: [to Sonny] It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business.

Quote from IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0068646/quotes?qt=qt0361860

So why am I talking about this now? Okay – I’m not saying that companies that are using the term “Personalized Learning” are like the Godfather. I used this because this quote talked about stories and taking something personal. It’s all about the stories we tell and how we frame things. If you frame “Personalized Learning” that it is all about demonstrating success by increasing test scores, the story you are telling is not about the learner.  It is not Personalized Learning. Personalized learning is all about the learner,  how they learn best, taking what they know and using their talents to guide them along their learning path. Adaptive instruction is about using data and designing lessons that ultimately increase student achievement and test scores. Personalized learning is about learners setting their own goals to direct their learning.

Adaptive, individualized, and differentiated instruction is teacher-directed instruction. I am not saying that we don’t need the teacher or direct instruction. Teachers need to understand the learners so they develop effective instruction for all learners. Personalized learning means that learners understand how they learn best. It also means that teachers use whatever means and data they can to understand how each of their learners learn best. Then they can develop better instruction for each and every learner in their class.

Kathleen McClaskey has shared with me how Universal Design of Learning (UDL) based on neuroscience can be used to design lessons that are intentional and informed to reach the maximum amount of learners in the classroom. Teachers who use UDL understand how they can engage students and  provide access to the content in addition to understanding how students can express what they know. This becomes personal from the learners’ perspective. With this type of understanding of each student in the class, a teacher then can be an advisor, guide, and co-learner to help the learner guide their learning path.

Kathleen and I are asking educators to be critical reviewers and curators of the information that they read on personalized learning. Both of us have been curating the topic for some time. We started Scoopits on Personalized Learning that you can follow:

 

I trademarked “Making Learning Personal” over ten years ago before the standardized movement became so big.  Then education moved away from what I believed learners needed and the emphasis became teaching to the masses with standardized tests using “one size fits all” instruction. This became big business for textbook companies who created curriculum that needed to be approved by each state; it was more about being proficient at grade level and less about the learner. Teaching moved to direct instruction and mostly recall of information. That’s where the standardized test movement grew. My focus on personalizing learning moved from project-based learning to direct instruction and creating lesson plans that taught to the test. It became about the tools, the tests, and the data. It didn’t start with the learner or how they learned best.

“I took it personal. Now I know it was just business.”


I just want to encourage businesses and educators to frame the term “Personalized Learning” correctly. If you adapt the curriculum, you are not personalizing it. The stories Kathleen and I will be telling in our book, on our blogs, sharing in Scoopit, and on social media will be about personalized learning models and how learners can personalize their own learning. Teachers ARE a critical component in personalizing the learning for each learner. We will share research how Finland, British Columbia, models in the US, and around the world are personalizing learning. I ask you as you research personalized learning that you:

  • are a critical reviewer of information on personalized learning.
  • investigate who is writing the material about personalized learning.
  • ask what their purpose is in using the term “Personalized Learning.”
  • develop appropriate goals in personalizing learning for your school based around the learner first.
  • share how you are personalizing learning with Kathleen and I so we can tell your story.
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Wrapping Personalized Learning

Personalized Learning is about the learner — starts with the learner. It empowers the learner by giving them ownership to their learning. It is not about using tools for the wrong reasons — to increase test scores.

What I see is that teachers are the hardest working people in the classroom. I still see direct instruction where teachers are spending much of their time after school grading papers, spending their own money on materials, or designing lessons plans. I see teachers reinventing the wheel over and over again. Some schools tell me this is “personalized learning.” No, this is direct instruction! Maybe some differentiation thrown in, but not personalization. There are exceptions and software companies are seeing opportunities to fill in the gaps.

Adaptive courseware can help some students understand concepts especially math concepts. The courseware uses algorythms that help progress the student’s understanding of a concept or skill. If they get an answer right, they move to the next level. If they put in the wrong answer, they are sent to review the concept to ensure understanding. Sounds like a game — right? Kids love games. So maybe you can throw adaptive courseware in a flipped classroom. I’m just concerned about using valuable time in school to plug a student into earphones in front of a computer. Now you’re probably saying — Barbara, this works. This is not personalized learning where students own their learning.


I saw this before. In the 80s, what was then called an LMS. You hire a paraprofessional, open the lab, and have students spend an hour putting on headphones taking different courseware based on their scores and skill level. The system tracks them and the data is used to drive instruction. Personalized Learning? No.

Personalizing learning means you are starting with the learner and how they learn best. Plopping students in front of a computer to play a game that teaches skills could be misconstrued as personalizing learning. If you provide a device to students or allow them to use any device at home then they can use this technique on their time to review concepts and build understanding.

Flipping the classroom means the teacher is providing materials, lectures, videos, content in multiple forms in an online venue that students can access at any time, usually at home. Then when the student comes to the classroom, they can explore, discuss and create content about what they learned the night before. No lecturing in the classroom. No sitting in front of a computer with earphones on. That’s direct instruction. Call it what it is. If this is part of your plan and goals for your students, use the correct terms. Wrap it right!

Personalizing learning is when a student knows how they learn best and chooses the way they are going to learn. The teacher is the guide on the side. Games grab students attention. Yes, you can use these techniques but why does it always seem to be with high poverty schools with students that don’t have a voice or choice in their learning?

I believe all children are smart, in their own way. We just don’t look for how they are smart. We assume because the test poorly that they need to learn a certain way. We don’t take the time to figure out how they learn best or give them opportunities to be partners in the design of their learning. That’s Personalized Learning. I’ve seen children in high poverty schools choose how they want to learn different concepts. It is possible! I’ve seen them motivated and engaged in learning. They love technology. They love to create things. Now with tools like Google Sketchup, they can design buildings and cities. Have them create their own game! Have them connect with other students around the world. The technology is changing daily. Mobile devices open doors. Students are even creating their own apps.

I just had to talk about my dream (I mean nightmare) where students were plugged into computers and teachers weren’t needed anymore. That scared me. Teachers are valuable and students need them as their guides to help them along their learning path. Finland figured it out. Prepare teachers well. Give them the support and resources they need. Bring creativity and curiosity back. Students can do anything if you give them the opportunities and challenge them.

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10 Steps to Encourage Student Voice and Choice

To transform a classroom to a personalized learning environment is challenging. First, you need to know what personalized learning means. Last night I was fortunate to be part of a panel on personalized learning for the Future of Education hosted by Steve Hargadon with Kathleen McClaskey, Lisa Nielsen, and Shannon Miller. All of us are in agreement that it is all about the learner and that student voice and choice is necessary to personalize learning. Personalized learning is all about the learner, starts with the learner, and means the student drives their learning.

What does Student Voice and Choice mean?

Student voice is difficult to hear in a traditional classroom where the teacher provides direct instruction and curriculum that is either provided for the teacher, adapted by the teacher, or designed by the teacher. Student choice means students choose how they learn something and, possibly, what they learn. This chart (Personalization vs Differentiation vs Individualization) shows how personalized learning is different than differentiated and individualized instruction. In the latter two approaches, the teacher adapts or customizes the instruction to meet the needs of either a group of students (differentiation) or for an individual student (individualization).

In these situations, there is little or no student voice. These are mostly teacher-directed. Students may participate in projects and take responsibility for specific roles within a project, but, in most cases, the teacher determines the topics, roles, and responsibilities. Project-based learning (PBL) has students collaborate and produce an end product together. However, to personalize PBL, the student has a voice in the design of the project and possibly, the process.

Student Voice and Choice
What if you take one topic that you love to teach but you just cannot get your students motivated to learn about it? What if they just don’t seem to understand the topic no matter how many times you’ve taught it? Some get it. Some don’t. So what can you do to motivate students so they are engaged in learning and want to explore the topic?

The answer: Student Voice and Choice

Ten Steps to Encourage Student Voice and Choice

  1. Introduce the topic and share the standards that are normally met with typical instruction.
  2. Determine prior knowledge by using a poll, then having students share what they know in small groups, and then sharing out to the whole group one thing they learned about the topic they didn’t know before.
  3. Show a video or other type of media presentation about the topic. If you know a personal story that might hook your students, share it.
  4. Share how you normally taught that topic and invite them to help you redesign how you teach the topic. Tell them you want them to have a say in redesigning how they learn, what the classroom will look like, and your role as a teacher. Let them know that for this topic, your going to need their help in coming up with the questions, that they will be able have a place in the class and online to ask questions, ask for help, give feedback, and maybe help others in the classroom.
  5. Brainstorm questions about the topic with the whole group. You can project your computer and use programs like Google Docs or a mindmapping tool like Inspiration or Mindmeister. The more questions, the better. Encourage students to use “how” and “why” questions. If they come up with one big question like “why is there war?”, ask them to be more specific and come up with 2 to 5 more questions that take that big question deeper. Be sure to tell them that there are no stupid questions.
  6. Ask students to work in pairs or small groups to select a big question about the topic they want to explore. Students can choose a group based on the question they want to investigate.
  7. Ask groups to design how they want to answer the question(s) and demonstrate understanding of the topic and question they chose. Have them choose up to five supporting questions that they will also explore to learn more about their topic.
  8. Invite each group to write a proposal on how they plan to demonstrate understanding, what resources they will use, how they will present what they learned, and how they will measure if they are successful. Each group can design a rubric to assess teamwork, research, presentation, and other criteria they determine necessary for success.
  9. Ask groups to share their proposals with another group who can give them feedback. Then ask another group for feedback and approval. Your job is as guide and facilitator.
  10. Give them enough time and resources to do the work they need to do. Watch the excitement of students immersed in the topic.

Watching students take responsibility by giving them their own voice so they are able to choose how they learn can be scary for teachers. But if you take a chance and try it, you will be amazed what happens. Just be open to some things not working the way you think they will work. You are giving up some control and letting students have more responsibility for their learning. Just watch and enjoy!

0

The Artist within Builds the New GroupThink

GroupThinkCollaboration is in, but it may not be conducive to creativity according to this opinion piece on the New York Times. The author, Susan Cain, states that solitude produces innovation and brainstorming sessions are the worst possible ways to stimulate creativity.

The “evidence from science suggests that business people must be insane to use brainstorming groups,” wrote the organizational psychologist Adrian Furnham. “If you have talented and motivated people, they should be encouraged to work alone when creativity or efficiency is the highest priority.”

The reason why this author states that brainstorming fials is that people in groups tend to sit back and let others do the work; they instinctively mimic others’ opinions and lose sight of their own; and, often succumb to peer pressure.

Then the author talks about electronic brainstorming and communication. Marcel Proust called reading a “miracle of communication in the midst of solitude,” and that’s what the Internet is, too. It’s a place where we can be alone together — and this is precisely what gives it power.

So the new GroupThink takes individual artists and thinkers to share what they know and are learning. This is a good point but I believe that being in a room collaborating on an idea is not all bad.

You need a good facilitator for group work be it with teachers or learners. I also see how easy it is to turn a point with electronic brainstorming. There are individuals who alone can be very loud on the Internet. Cain ends her article with “Our offices should encourage casual, cafe-style interactions, but allow people to disappear into personalized, private spaces when they want to be alone. Our schools should teach children to work with others, but also to work on their own for sustained periods of time.”

Cain’s opinion made me think about personalized learning and why the world is moving to individuals on the other side of laptops and mobile devices are making a difference in how we learn now. Some of the loudest individuals on the Internet sit in their living rooms or at Starbucks all by themselves tweeting, blogging, curating, and doing so-called collaborating online. It’s whoever has the loudest voice, the most Twitter followers, the most hits on a post that makes a difference now.

I see that each person can be an artist, inventor, and “out of box” thinker if they are given opportunities to work alone, brainstorm with others, and connect with the world online. Personalized learning is all about the learner — starting with the learner — and designing an environment that is conducive to them becoming the artist, the inventor, the writer, or whatever they are so they blossom and grow into who they are supposed to be.

Image by Andy Rementer from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/15/opinion/sunday/the-rise-of-the-new-groupthink.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2

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Personalization vs Differentiation vs Individualization (Chart)

This chart is cross-posted on our new site at Personalize Learning. Please use that site for all information on personalized learning.

After writing the post “Personalization is NOT Differentiating Instruction,” I received some very interesting feedback and more hits than any other of my posts. I think I hit a nerve. :o

So Kathleen McClaskey and I did some research on what personalization is and the differences between differentiation and individualization. We found very little information on the differences. And what we did find, we disagreed with many of the points. That lead us to create this chart:

Personalized Learning Chart version 3

Download the chart here: http://eepurl.com/fLJZM

Creative Commons License
Personalized Learning Chart by Barbara Bray and Kathleen McClaskey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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