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Tag: Change

4

Your PLN helps your PLC become a CoP

Learning can happen anywhere at anytime from anyone and anything. Your connections and any information you use are learning experiences that can help you grow personally and professionally. I wrote this article for CUE in 2009 and felt it was appropriate to update it for the ISTE 2011 Conference in 2011.  I’ll be there — very busy but learning so much from the people in my PLN.

Personal Learning Network (PLN)

There is nothing new about PLNs. They are the people and information sources that help you meet your learning goals. Building your PLN means that you not only seek to learn from others but you also help others in the network learn. Anyone can make a contribution. Your PLN can be your most powerful learning tool no matter what the subject. My PLN used to be the people I met face-to-face: the people I worked with, classes I took or taught, friends and family, organizations I joined and the information was what I googled on the Internet, in books, textbooks, or periodicals at the library. Remember how long it used to take to find what you were looking for?

Now my PLN connects me to others and to information in ways I never thought possible a few years ago. I still use Google to search for information but now I can find trends, maps, and even literature reviews. Social networks connect me to friends, work contacts, and friends of friends. I can see what they are doing in Twitter, updates on their conversations and links to new information. Facebook not only updates the status of each of my connections, I can join groups set up by friends and learn from wall posts. Here’s a diagram of some of my PLN:

Personal Learning Network

Use a mindmapping program such as Inspiration or Mindmeister to diagram your own PLN.

So how can your PLN help you build your Professional Learning Community (PLC)?

Your PLN can help you meet your personal and/or professional learning goals. A PLC is where you focus on student learning. Your PLC focuses on a specific problem area of the students in your school. Richard DuFour shares three critical questions that drive the work of the PLC:

  • What do we want each student to learn?
  • How will we know when each student has learned it?
  • How will we respond when a student experiences difficulty in learning?

We know a teacher can make a difference to the children in their classroom. However, a school may find many of the children in the entire school are falling through the cracks. The teachers in the school as a PLC can collaborate to improve or restructure how they reach at-risk students. They can analyze student data reviewing patterns and trends. Each teacher can use their PLN to research background information about specific issues brought to light from the data analysis, to ask questions of others in similar situations, to connect with other classrooms for global collaborations, and to share the findings from their PLC.

The PLC becomes a Community of Practice (CoP)

The CoP is where you take what you learned in the PLC and transfer it to practice where teachers can work together to do action research and/or lesson study. The teacher can ask “What does it take for me to change my practice to include this new learning?” This is deep, thoughtful work involving modeling new methodologies, observations from another teacher or coach, reflections on the results and process by asking what worked, what didn’t work.

Your PLN connects you to other professionals and to the information that will help you with your work in your PLC and CoP. Not only will the PLN help you, you can use your PLN to share best practices, blog reflections, and post examples of student work.

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Changing Teaching and Learning

Sections from column in OnCUE Summer 2011

Change means something different to different people. It depends on each person’s prior knowledge, experience, values, and attitude about what it is they are changing. Teachers may only know what they have been taught. They don’t know what they don’t know. Some people resist change because what they learned at their home, school, or university is what they believe is the right and only way to teach and learn. The world is changing and many of our K-20 institutions are not ready or understand how they fit in the picture to change. Some parents and school boards resist change. At board meetings you may here “If it was good for me than it is good for my child.” Teaching and learning is changing even if educators, parents, and students resist it.

In facilitating change for yourself or as the professional developer for your staff, it would be beneficial to know what concerns individuals have about the change you may be initiating. Here is one chart designed to help schools identify what a student-centered environment looks like.

These are the stages of concern that each of us go through when we are learning a new skill. Consider the people at your school. When it comes to project-based learning, I was surprised to find some younger teachers resistant to taking the time to plan and implement projects. It appears they were not exposed to projects in their teacher education programs. Projects take time and energy that many teachers don’t think they have. Every project is different and not all of them work. However, a project that engages students and has them “think” is good. All of this is a process.

Working through the stages helps me. I hope they help you.

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Project-Based Learning: Replicating Success

This Edutopia article by Grace Rubinstein gives you tips and strategies how to do project-based learning from a rural school district in Georgia that transformed the way its students learn using the inspiration and mentorship provided by San Diego’s High Tech High. Check out the tips and examples from Whitfield Career Academy, in Dalton, Georgia, where they are in their second year of shifting to High Tech High-style project-based learning.

Teachers going through this transformation don’t expect their schools to emerge from it looking exactly like High Tech High. Each school has its own unique teachers, students, culture, history, and setting, and its path to change must uniquely match those. Read more

1

Learn More. Teach Less.

There is a lot of controversy about professional development especially now when budgets are tight. I haven’t blogged for some time because I have been steaming about what is happening in our schools — for our children. This is their future we are messing with. Okay so here I go. I’m going to rant a little. Are you ready?

I’m a coach. I go into the schools and watch what teachers have to do now. In most states, it’s testing time. Some schools are off this week. For the past 5-6 weeks, teachers have been teaching to the test. I don’t know about you, but to stop everything and teach to the test is outrageous. Is this really for our kids or to keep the school open? Or to really leave every poor child behind? Forget projects. Forget engagement. I know. I know. Accountability. Student data. If the data takes in account more than standardized tests. How about authentic assessment? A collection of evidence of learning.

What do our children need for their future? I can tell you it is not about knowing FACTS and how to answer a multiple choice test. That is unless they want to play Jeopardy or Trivial Pursuit. The jobs they will need expect them to know how to be creative, innovative, and be able to discern what they find is a fact or an opinion. News is bombarding us on the Internet and TV. Most children have cell phones but they are not allowed to use them in most schools. Why? Why are we so afraid of them. Cell phones are great tools and will become more of a factor in our lives. Just watch! There are more cell phones than landlines now. Students use their cell phone even more than the TV or computer. They rarely read newspapers anymore unless it’s on their phone. How do they know if the information they read online is biased, propaganda, or a big fat lie? We used to teach life skills and connect to real-world activities. We need to change the focus on facts and show students how to use information effectively, find it, evaluate it, and then even publish. I bet the majority of your students use some form of social media like Facebook and Twitter. I bet if you had students use their cell phones in school, they would be able to read, write, and publish using them. Ask them to text each other notes and brainstorm ideas with a mindmap.

Today the focus is on basic skills: math and reading. In some countries, children don’t start school until they are seven. We expect our children to start reading in Kindergarten. I remember when Kindergarten was where kids learned how to socialize. A good friend of mine retired when she was spending more time teaching the kids how to bubble in a bubble for the test then having them sing or dance.

This is a tough time because of the economy. We are focusing on building “High Quality Teachers,” but we take away what teachers need to become effective.  The problem for me is the definition of a “High Quality Teacher.” It is different depending on your bias about testing. Is a “High Quality Teacher” an expert in their content field but have no skills on how to do group kids for teamwork. One of the main characteristics needed in many high paying jobs is teamwork and collaboration.

If we really want our students to understand the concepts in the standards, then let them teach each other — co-design with your students projects that make sense. Students want to make a difference. I bet if we asked our kids to come up with questions about climate change, they would come up with hundreds of questions. Let them take one question and brainstorm more. Then design a public service 30 second movie to broadcast on YouTube. Just imagine how many standards they would meet and understand after a project like this.

Think about a project you did in school as a child, if you did. Then think about what you learned from a standardized test. What do you remember? I know we need some background information, but let’s be more creative about it. I remember making a paper maché relief map in third grade. I don’t remember much of anything else that year.

I cannot sit in a lecture anymore myself. I cannot even imagine children today sitting still for five minutes. Teachers are teaching more and students are learning less. They may get it for the test, but do they retain it?

I’d like to challenge a school or district to try a pilot with several groups of students. Follow them over several years. With one group (your control group), everything is like it is now. Then another group, have them make a movie with their Smart phone, do projects, teach each other. Test the groups the same. I wonder who will retain the information more. I’d love to be part of it. Let me know if you want to try this.

1

Defining Quality Education

President Obama seeks to end the ‘status quo’ of education law. He got it right that schools are struggling to meet the requirements of the act and Duncan said “under the current law, it’s one size fits all. We need to fix this law now so we can close the achievement gap.” We are talking about designing a quality education that measures how students are improving. I’d like to propose a new movement that defines what quality education means. One size does not fit everybody so how do you define one type of education?

Not only do we have to call for more flexibility but be real about where students are. Not every child is ready or right for college. If we compare our students to students in China, India, and Brazil, then maybe we need to look at those students and where they really are based on achievement, prior knowledge, and goals. The students in these countries and others are tracked. We are comparing all of our children on their college bound students: the best of the best.

We measure all of our students…that is… the ones that don’t drop out. We base the tests on standards. The problem with the way state standards and Common Core standards are designed is that they are separate skills that don’t connect to the real world. Tests teach to each standard. This type of assessment is confusing for the test-taker and difficult to design.

Instead of focusing on each standard and how to teach to that standard, I suggest designing real-world projects or activities that meet those standards. You can map your curriculum and standards and even design collaborative projects with other teachers.

The Obama Administration has invested $350 million to support states in their efforts to create more sophisticated assessment systems that measure problem solving and other 21st century skills and that will provide teachers will timely information to help them improve instruction.

So in defining quality education, problem solving and 21st century skills, let’s look at authentic assessment i.e. portfolios. The portfolio is a collection of evidence of learning. Some of the evidence includes tests, essays, presentations, pictures, and reflections.

Questions to reflect on:

How do you measure improvement? How do you design this new type of learning environment that measures success of each student? This is not going to be easy but I’m up to the task. Are you?

3

The Educated Unemployable

Thomas Friedman’s article China, Twitter and 20-year-olds vs the Pyramids wrote:

“Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, Tunisia today are overflowing with the most frustrated cohort in the world — “the educated unemployables.” They have college degrees on paper but really don’t have the skills to make them globally competitive. I was just in Singapore. Its government is obsessed with things as small as how to better teach fractions to third graders.”

This issue is not the middle East’s problem alone. The world is changing and education is not looking at the bigger picture. We are in a global crises everywhere. Young people 15-29 are realizing that their education or lack of it is impacting their ability to get the type of jobs they need to live. They are finding they have a voice: on the Internet. People making sure they are heard: on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media. Friedman writes:

“The Arab world has 100 million young people today between the ages of 15 and 29, many of them males who do not have the education to get a good job, buy an apartment and get married. That is trouble. Add in rising food prices, and the diffusion of Twitter, Facebook and texting, which finally gives them a voice to talk back to their leaders and directly to each other, and you have a very powerful change engine.”

What if oil prices rise? They will. It’s inevitable. Then food prices. Yes, they will rise too especially if more countries have government turnovers and the people of the country revolt. It is now happening in Algeria. What about developed countries like the United States, the UK, Australia, and Europe. If the unemployment rate does not go down in the US to 8%, the US is going to make some changes maybe not to where we need to go. Also are the numbers correct? What about the 99ers who have been unemployed for over 13 months?

We have educated people who have been looking for work for months. Work has changed. Businesses are running slimmer and cutting costs because of the uncertain economy and less cash flow. So things have to change all over. If people 15-29 are educated, use social media, then maybe we need to teach them how to use social media to create businesses and entrepreneurial skills. For those in under-developed countries, this will be a very big challenge. How to create enough jobs or businesses for 100 million people? Oh my!!

There just are not enough jobs for everyone. When I look at organizations like Kiva that provide small loans for people around the world who want to start their own businesses, I see hope. Everyone of us has a dream somewhere down deep. We were born as unique individuals who have interests and passions. If we continue to teach the same way we have for hundreds of years, we will continue to get the same products. People looking for work that is not there.

It is time to review all this emphasis on testing and standards and question “are we preparing our children for their future?” Our competition is not the school next door. It is China and India. Our children are part of the global marketplace. As long as they believe school as we know it today may prepare them for their future, they are caught in a system that could lead them down a road of failure. Some jobs are definitely needed: doctors, lawyers, engineers. But even if you become a teacher, it does not mean you will be assured there will be a job for you where you want to work.

How about teaching how to do projects, create projects, and market your projects? People who have critical thinking skills and are creative how they find solutions will get projects. Jobs where you received benefits and a pension may not be the same anymore. Just having a job now does not give anyone security anymore. We are in a revolution. Education is the key but what it looks like today is not what we need for the world’s economy. It is not all about jobs anymore. It is about how we are preparing people for their own survival and how it benefits society or the people in your area. If we start children very young asking questions and being curious about the world, they will come up with solutions.

Why not create a project about the climate, the creeks in your area, housing market, or another major issue that impacts your community? Except ask the students to create the project, ask the questions, and own the process. Any project can match standards. Students own the learning when it is relevant and real to them.

0

Building a Learning Village

First posted in the Winter OnCUE Journal 2011

“Many of our schools are good schools, if only this were 1965.”-Louise Stoll & Dean Fink

The world is changing. Today everyone is connected to each other with information instantly at your fingertips. Everything is changing, that is, except schools. Teachers and administrators are integrating technology by adding interactive whiteboards, instant response clickers, and even 1:1 laptop programs. However, one glance into most classrooms, you would find very little has changed over the past 30 or more years. Education still mainly involves teachers feeding information to students to cover the curriculum in preparation for a standardized test. 21st Century teachers involve everyone in the community in their children’s learning.

Changing the learning environment takes more than adding technology to the mix. It means bringing in the real world, involving the school community, and changing the learning environment so our children have the skills they need to compete in the global economy. Some of the resources we had in our homes 30-40 years ago include:

  • Television without remotes
  • Landline phones
  • Records and maybe 8 track cassettes
  • First personal computers with less than 128K owned by very few
  • No Internet or maybe a select few had email

Today, most children, even those who may be at-risk, have cell phones. Many of these cell phones are Smartphones with the ability to connect to the Internet, text messages, listen to music, and even watch TV and movies. The power of these Smartphones is thousands of times more powerful than what we had with multiple devices 30 years ago.

Culture influences student learning more than even formal learning with easy access to cable television, music, video games, cell phones, movies, and other technology. Before and after school students connect to each other and virtual places that transform them into worlds we have no control over. The classroom can no longer be separated from the real world. Educators need to find ways to make learning relevant and applicable to students’ real world so that they are influenced by intellectual information rather than simply the pop culture of today, which has changed drastically over the past 30 years. [Johnson, B and McElroy, T. 2010]

Authentic Relationships with the Community

Teachers have been and many still prefer working in an isolated environment. The classroom is their domain. The teacher who prefers working in this situation may lack the confidence they need to engage in authentic conversations with parents and others from the community. The classroom door is literally closed to the world. The 21st Century teacher involves everyone in the community that believe in their children and want the best for them. This open and inviting teacher welcomes dialogue, builds authentic relationships with all key members involved, and sees this as an opportunity to develop classroom support for their students and themselves. Authentic relationships are built upon respect between all the members of the school community. Each member has responsibilities in developing and nurturing these relationships. All key individuals are important because of the experiences and abilities they bring to the educational community. It takes everyone in the educational community (the village) to produce an intentional relationship.

Opening up the classroom and inviting the community to be involved with what is happening in the classroom is new for many of our teachers. Even our newest teachers may not have learned these strategies in their teacher education programs. Change is scary. This administrator can build the relationships with the community first by promoting their school and its goals. The administrator can reach out to teachers, leaders, businesses, parents, and other stakeholders to encourage their involvement in designing a shared vision for the school.  Everyone needs to voice their hopes and fears in a risk-free environment. A shared vision gives all stakeholders a sense of ownership and feeling of pride in the outcomes. Asking a business or organization to participate in students’ learning activities may open doors that lead to new doors.

You never know what could present itself if members of the community realize they could help their school. Some ways might include:

  • a plot for a community garden
  • mentors and tutors for the after-school program
  • career day
  • author book talks
  • technology support
  • offering prizes and rewards for events

In turn, students could participate in community service learning projects:

  • reading to young children
  • maintaining the garden
  • teaching technology to seniors
  • being a docent for an exhibit

Bringing Parents on Board

Today’s families have also greatly changed compared to 30-40 years ago. There are extreme pressures on families with the economic concerns and other demands of today’s culture. The number of working moms has doubled from 30 percent in the 1970’s to almost 60 percent today. Just to keep the family together means that Americans work 160 hours more per year than they did 20 years ago. With the economic conditions, some parents are out of work and having difficult times paying their bills.  On top of that, many students live with one parent, a guardian, or two working parents.  Parenting is even more difficult when you consider the gap between parents and their tech savvy children.

The 21st century teacher can initiate new types of relationships with their students’ parents. This teacher contacts each students parents or guardian to learn more about their child, their hopes and dreams for their child, and how they can work together to guide their child to success. They become a team that is a collaborative support system that keeps a close eye on the progress of their child. The school can have an online portal that parents can access to check on homework, grades, and projects. Since face-to-face meetings may not be possible with parents busy schedules, teachers can forge a connection with parents in a virtual environment. Teachers can connect using a variety of tools such as setting up a website or wiki, a newsletter, a contact form, chat, email, IM, Twitter, blogs, and even providing their cell phone number. In this instantly connectability world, parents and teachers do not have to be strangers.

Reference

Johnson, B. and McElroy, T. The Changing Role of the Teacher in the 21st September 2010. Vol. 7. No 9. Teachers.net. Online. Retrieved September 20, 2010. http://teachers.net/gazette/wordpress/dr-brad-johnson-tammy-maxson-mcelroy/changing-role-of-the-teacher/” target=”_blank”>http://teachers.net/gazette/wordpress/dr-brad-johnson-tammy-maxson-mcelroy/changing-role-of-the-teacher/

0

That Fine Line

There is a fine line between…

  • recklessness and courage
  • perfectionism and feeling unworthy
  • love and obsession
  • taking care of yourself and narcissism

When do you cross it? The holidays are a good time to reflect on you and your life. The direction you take. Which door do you choose? What road did you go down?

Some of you may not even be aware of the road you took because you are too involved in your issues and that’s the only normal you know. After all, you were born and raised in a family that was your normal and recklessness might be the normal. It is all about being responsible for your actions and behavior. If you are a teacher and love a particular topic that all you do is talk about it and your students are bored and lose interest in the subject, then is it love or an obsession?

There are students who are such perfectionists that they don’t start a project because they know they will fail. It has to be perfect. They use every excuse in the book before starting any project or they procrastinate until it’s too late. They drive themselves nuts and prove to themselves that they are a failure even though they are capable. They proved to themselves and the world that they are unworthy. This is the person everyone tries to help but there’s nothing you can do for them until they change themselves.

You also know those people that take risks and look like they are putting themselves in danger. If they succeed, they are courageous. If they fail or get hurt, they are reckless.

How do we support or help people that are walking that fine line? Do we? Or is it our job to point out there is a fine line?

0

What I Remember

I read Chris Lehman’s post on “What we should remember” about why we teach. It’s all about our kids. That’s it! Thank you Chris for a thought-provoking post! I am in awe of what your students are able to do at the Science Leadership Academy and hope more people get involved in Educon 2.3 end of January.

I work mostly with middle school students. Remember what it was like to be in middle school or junior high. This was my toughest time in school. I remember falling in love with a boy who didn’t even know my name. I remember loving Paul McCartney because I knew he would see me in the audience and want to date me. I remember almost everything but my teachers’ names or even what happened in the classrooms. I remember embarrassing times and scary times. It was an awkward time where friendships meant more than my own family. I remember not feeling smart because I don’t remember anyone telling me I was smart.

What I wore, how I looked meant more than what I learned. So are middle school students different today than I was then? Most of the schools I work with are Title I schools with high percentages of free and reduced lunches. This was the target for NCLB. I’m sorry to say there are more poor children left behind now than ever before. I grew up in a safe environment where we didn’t have to worry about life and death decisions. I love Glee and believe all children are smart and talented. I grew up in a house with artists who never new there was a box to be in or lines to color in. However, Glee represents a middle class school. I’m white and grew up in middle class neighborhoods. I had no idea what children from high poverty schools go through. Yesterday I read “I am” poems and autobiographies from some of the children from one of the middle schools I work with. I cried. I really cried. I was sitting in the faculty room of one school and couldn’t even imagine what many of these students endure.

I don’t want to share their personal stories here but imagine most children in this school had a family member shot; knew someone in prison probably a father or brother; come from a broken home; do not have enough money for breakfast; don’t have a warm coat; may lose their home; some are homeless. When you realize that some of these students sleep in their bathtubs because that is the only safe place from bullets, you wonder if they’ll stay in school. I read about 12 year old girls who believe their only goal is to get pregnant. That way they have someone who will love them. Oh my! I heard this before, when I started with the Technology Challenge Grant in Oakland in 1998. We were working with 4th-8th grade students. I just thought it was getting better. It seems much much worse now.

The dropout rate is higher than being reported because we lose kids in middle school. The numbers reported are only high school dropout rates. Middle school is where we need to focus our energy. If we really want to make a difference, we need to change middle schools around the country.  Teachers only know what they were taught or how they have been teaching or what is asked of them by the administration. Teachers cannot do this without the support of their administration and the district office. My next post will be some ideas for them. Chris writes some great questions in his post for teachers and principals. So here’s my ideas for middle school teachers to reach their students:

  • greet your children when they arrive to your classroom by name and shake their hands.
  • have compassion and empathy for your students perception and positions.
  • realize that all children are smart — find out how they are smart and celebrate it.
  • create opportunities for success in every classroom.
  • design engaging learning environments where students own their learning.
  • be an advisor to several children if there is no counseling program.
  • get to know your students’ families and invite them to your classroom or visit their home.
  • have students keep a journal for their eyes only — unless they want to share it with you and others.
  • bring in content experts either to your classroom or virtually.
  • connect your classroom to other classrooms around the world.
  • connect your curriculum to real-world applications that make sense to your students and their lives.
  • create replacement units that engage your students of some content areas in the pacing guide.
  • ask students to ask three other students before asking you.
  • encourage questions – lots of questions and post them around the room.
  • be more of a co-learner and facilitator of learning.
  • take some risks and be okay about failing some of the time.
  • if you cannot take risks, then rethink your job there. Go where your core beliefs are the same.
  • and if there are no other jobs and you feel lucky to have this job, then use some of the ideas here with your students.

Learning in middle schools of the past for today’s children is an oxymoron. 11-13 year olds have different perspectives on life and what they need to know than adults no matter their situation. Add poverty and crime and hopelessnes and it is an almost impossible thing to ask of these students and teachers. Our current school system is broken especially for these kids at these ages. I am only one person and realize the challenge to make this kind of change is enormous. We cannot lose any more children. They are all precious and special and gifted and smart. They are our future. I will do whatever I can to support teachers as they do what they can to help students reach their fullest potential.

1

Making a Difference

Teachers go into teaching to make a difference. Then reality hits. This time in history is hitting everybody. 60% of Americans feel the country is in decline. State education budgets are devastated. Teachers want to make their lessons engaging but there are so many reasons or excuses that they find to go back to what is safe and easy. Actually, I’m starting to understand their position.

I’m a coach who comes into their classrooms and shares with them strategies to engage students and then I leave. I set up a way to virtually support them. What I see is a different teacher than when I worked with teachers 20 years ago. The world is different. Their training is different. The curriculum is different. The pressures they have today are overwhelming. Teachers are told to follow the pacing guide. Why are you not on page 262 on Thursday? This is impossible if you want to engage students in the learning process. Reading from a script is boring for the students and the teacher. It creates a power struggle between the teachers and the students. Teachers become more isolated in their classrooms instead of where we were going – a more collaborative network of professionals learning from each other. When you read from a script, you don’t need collaboration.

Changing the learning environment depends on the school, the administrator, and the willingness for the school community to take risks. Risk-taking and being okay with failing is the way we learn. There cannot be one right answer if we want to solve global issues.

What if we stop and rethink what school is all about. It’s all about the kids. Their future is at stake. It’s a moral issue. It needs to be about learning not teaching. Our children are not prepared for their future. Pacing guides, meeting the standards, teaching to the test, are just not enough anymore. So if you are a teacher who wants to make a difference in kid’s lives and are in a situation where you and your students talents and creativity may be stifled, there are several things you can do before you give in or give up.

  • Start your digital footprint by following people who believe in the same things as you and follow them.
  • Build your personal learning network (PLN) using social media i.e. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Classroom 2.0 on Ning, and more.
  • Join My eCoach and voice your challenges and successes in the Conversation Corner. Look for projects or lessons in the eLibrary and clone and adapt any of them.
  • Write a blog or comment on people’s posts so there are trackbacks to you. Quote and link to those people who write and talk the way you want to write and talk. I welcome your comments and invite you to follow me.
  • Attend conferences virtually if you cannot go to the conferences in person. Some conferences include: K12 Online Conference, Connecting Online Conference (CO11), Global Education Conference, and Educon 2.3. If the conferences are over, then watch the archives.
  • Check out collaborative global projects like iEARN, Global Schoolhouse, and ePals. Your students want to make a difference too and need a way to connect the curriculum to the real world.
  • Find, clone, or create and implement one lesson that infuses some creativity as a replacement unit. You can use the Universal builder — it’s easy. Or use Google Sites or Wikispaces. Just take a risk to publish online.
  • Capture moments using digital media of students working on a unit without creativity and comparing it with the replacement unit. If you don’t have a camera, ask your coach to capture it for you.

Start small. Change takes time. Learning is all about change. Learning never ends. It means that your students as  learners want to grow and add skills or knowledge to what they know and do to reach their learning goals. You are their co-learner, guide, coach, mentor… facilitating the process. They may not have goals so you may be guiding them to learn how to question, be a critical thinker and problem solver. Your learning never ends either. That’s why you are reading this.

To be an agent of change (that’s what this type of teacher is), you cannot do it alone. Ask for help. Find a coach or mentor to work with you on the backend. A coach is there to guide you to success. It only takes starting with one project. It may not be an overwhelming success where you see gigantic breakthroughs, but take into account the tone in your classroom– where it is and where you want it to go. You still may need to do direct instruction. The forces and atmosphere are still traditional teaching and direct instruction but this is where you can make a difference.

One teacher at a time — One classroom at a time — One PLN at a time –All of us sharing why we need to change so we have evidence — real evidence that this works.

So what does success look like to you? How are you making a difference in a child’s life? How can we help you?

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