Unearthing HumorAs a parent and educator, you always hope that your children and students find their purpose and passion and then live it. My daughter, Sara Zimmerman, is living her passion better than many people I know. She's an artist, web designer, musician, climber, mom, wife, daughter, sister, and now author. Check out "Unearthed Comics" where she just launched her book "Un-earthing the Universe, One Comic at a Time" and I'm a sponsor. What a great idea! Everyday is exciting for Sara, her husband, Rob, and her 5 year old daughter, Cali. I am learning from them that you can play while you work and work while you play. They have a band where Sara plays her drums and Cali has her own set to follow along. Rob and Sara are a real team with the web designing, their band, and climbing. Check out "Unearthed Comics" and get yourself the book and a decal. You can even take the decal with you when you travel and share where in the world you and the Marilyn decal are visiting on her blog. And for anyone wanting some great marketing advice, download her free eBook on Making Smart Marketing Decisions.
Reflecting on ReflectionReflection is a powerful tool. Today I woke up and wondered why I haven't written a post in so long. I paused, thought about it, and realized my life has been spinning the last two months. Usually the words just come to me, but these past months have me working every minute. I am a co-founder of Personalize Learning, LLC with Kathleen McClaskey. We are being written into many Race to the Top applications around the country. My eCoach has been approached to support different groups Communities of Practice, so that is growing at the same time. It's very exciting, but I need to write about ideas that may not be about the work I do. I love to write. These ideas come to me, and I need to put them down. Even if I am working 20 hours a day, I need to stop, pause, and reflect. So reflecting on reflection came to me. Actually reflecting means capturing the moment when it happens. Today is the day for me to capture the moment. First a quote:
Reflection is what allows us to learn from our experiences: it is an assessment of where we have been and where we want to go next. ~ Kenneth Wolf
For the last two months, Kathleen and I have been writing every day supporting different RTT-D applications. The last week, we have been bombarded with calls from districts and consortiums of districts wanting our support. We are getting requests from schools and organizations from other countries. Today I need to stop and breathe and reflect. I use Gibb's Model of Reflection:
Kathleen and I developed a model for personalizing learning over a four year period that meets the requirements of the Race to the Top application. We defined the differences between personalization vs differentiation vs individualization and ended up having Porvir in Brazil create an infographic in Portuguese around our chart that we translated in English. We were hired by Grant Wood AEA in Iowa to talk to their superintendents and now are doing a webinar overview, offering an eCourse and webinar series, and setting up a Community of Practice across the state. That was just the beginning. We are getting requests from all around the country and Mumbai, Singapore, and more.
What am a I thinking and feeling?
I am excited about the interest we are getting. Now about my feelings. I haven't had time to reflect on everything that is happening so fast. This is good. Pausing. Reflecting. I think I got too excited about the interest and stopped thinking about me and what I love to do --- write. This also made me think about kids today and all that is on their plates in school -- especially middle and high school kids running from class to class in schools with crazy bell schedules. I need time to reflect. I don't know how kids do it -- starting and stopping thinking-- thinking in one subject and then jumping into another subject.
Personalizing learning means creating time to reflect, pause, and have flexible schedules that allow for risk-taking and reflection. There is no time for risk-taking or reflection when you are preparing for a test or writing an application.
What's good and bad about the experience?
Kathleen and I are revisiting and refining our model and process. It is getting better every day. I am excited about what we are coming up with and know there is still lots more to do. Every school, district, teacher, and learner is unique -- there is no cookie-cutter answer to meet the needs of everyone involved.
My feelings are that I'm overwhelmed. Guess that's the way kids feel daily. I get it. That's why we are doing what we are doing. School does this same thing to kids that is happening to me right now. Overwhelmed. No time to think about thinking. I say that reflection is very important and needs to be part of every day. Pause. Think. Reflect. Write.
What sense can I make of the situation?
Kathleen and I complement each other. We both bring a lot to the table. I live in California where the education bubble burst some time ago. Professional development budgets crumbled and professional developers fight over the same dollar. I thought this was happening everywhere in the US. Kathleen, who lives in New Hampshire, opened my eyes to what is happening in New Hampshire: competency-based learning in all the high schools and 1:1 iPad schools in the Northeast. We interviewed leaders and transformational teachers and found CESA #1 in Southeastern Wisconsin where Jim Rickabaugh shared how there is co-teaching, learning plans, and learning changing. British Columbia is transforming learning across the province where Dave Truss shared about the Inquiry Hub. So much is happening in other places around the world. Why couldn't it happen here in my backyard?
It can. It is but in pockets, but not the way I was hoping. Some large corporations are coming in and spouting that they can personalize learning by adapting the curriculum and blending learning with learning labs and algorithms. They can "Personalize" the learning for students. Sorry -- but personalizing learning means starting with the learner -- changing teacher and learner roles. That's why we made our chart and had to do what we are doing. We see the importance of knowing how learners learn best using Universal Design for Learning principles which then changes teaching and learning. Motivation -- Engagement -- Voice. That's what works. Technology can support this but not be the only thing that personalizes learning. Whew!! Pause. Reflect.
What else could I have done?
Take time off every day and pause. I need to stop and reflect every day somehow. When I write, it seems to put everything in perspective for me. I still write my column for CUE, but this site is for me to share my thoughts and findings. I will never go months again without writing something even if it is another reflection about my reflections.
If it arose again, what would I do?
Write on the calendar in big letters: Pause. Reflect today.
It is important to capture and treasure every moment. This is my learning environment that is personal to me. I forgot that every day I am learning something new. How cool is that?
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. 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 by Barbara Bray and Kathleen McClaskey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. .
Curated Ecosystem of Live DJsSeth Godin latest article, entitled "the trap of social media noise", touches on one of the hot issues about the Internet. I curated this article from Seth which was reviewed eloquently from Robin Good who asked:
Are we creating and leveraging these tools to regurgitate and spit out more noise, or are we working to build tools and to help others understand the value of distilling and making sense of the information wave surrounding us?
Curation can also be an easy way to repost someone else's information without doing much work yourself. You can share to multiple social networks and RSS feeds. This creates even more noise and confusion. Who was the original author and what is the intention of the curator?
Seth writes that "...either be better at pump and dump than anyone else, get your numbers into the millions, outmass those that choose to use mass and always dance at the edge of spam (in which the number of those you offend or turn off forever keep increasing)... or Relentlessly focus.
Prune your message and your list and build a reputation that's worth owning and an audience that cares. Only one of these strategies builds an asset of value."
Howard Reingold interviewed Robin Good about Curation in the video below. I have been following Robin on Scoopit and am learning how to be a curator from him. People can be gateways to the information we need instead of relying on digital robots using algorhythms that produce millions of resources in a search -- millions that are not relevant.
I am enjoying building my Scoopits and gathering resources that will help me write and learn. But I do have some concerns similar to what Seth was writing about and Robin was talking about. Just getting your numbers up with followers, hits, comments, and others rescooping your scoops isn't enough. The Internet is like drinking from a firehose. We need humans to filter now -- not just put up lists to links and more links. Building a curated ecosystem means that each curator is customizing the flow of information for their audience. I am learning as I go. I'm following people with similar interests and finding and collecting sources that I would have missed in a basic search.
I am just dipping my toes in this new world and anxious to see where it ends up. Robin mentioned one thing that stuck out to me: "Are you a Mixed Tape or a Live DJ?" A live DJ finds information and distributes it the way his/her audience would enjoy it. A live DJ will talk about the music and personalize it. That's what a curator can do with the resources they find.
Skills and Values Employers WantWhen you do a search for “What Employers Want” you do not see high test scores anywhere on any job descriptions. We are training our kids for the types of jobs that are not there anymore. If you look at the world now, everything is changing: business, government, banking, and education. We are in a transitional period with many of us kicking and screaming afraid to go where we have to go. The world is going to change if we like it or not.
I still hear “if it was good for me, it’s good for my kid.”This is unbelievable! That kid is going to be living on that parent’s couch when they are in their 30’s because there will not be any jobs for them. Wait a minute! That’s happening now. Read this article "Is there a doctor in the house?" So what are the skills employers are looking for? Skills most sought after by employers according to Randall Hansen, Ph.D and Katherine Hansen, Ph.D are:
- Communications Skills (listening, verbal, written)
- Analytical/Research Skills
- Computer/Technical Literacy
- Flexibility/Adaptability/Managing Multiple Priorities
- Interpersonal Abilities
- Leadership/Management Skills
- Multicultural Sensitivity/Awareness
No test scores here!Kelly Services listed the same skills. Everywhere I looked the same skills. Check out the 12 Hot buttons from Salary.com
- Results - they are less concerned with your past experience and responsibilities. What did you accomplish?
- Figures and numbers - did you increase revenue at your last job? did you underpromise and overdeliver even if you worked at a non-profit or volunteered?
- Awards and accolades - share if you have received any awards or been recognized for excellence.
- Blog or website - this shows you have good communication skills, but make sure your website looks professional.
- Staying Power - be careful of changing jobs that don’t last two years or less.
- Up-to-date skills and education - be on top of all the latest technology and innovations in your field.
- Ideas and initiative - Be ready to hit the ground running and solve problems without waiting for someone to tell you what to do.
- Attitude - be enthusiastic, flexible, and postitive.
- Leadership skills - be willing to take on more responsibility to improve a product or process.
- Growth potential - go beyond the job description.
- Creativity - ability to think outside the box and solve problems.
- Hobbies - be passionate about something outside of work.
No test scores here!I’m still looking. If universities base their admissions on high test scores, then maybe we need to rethink higher ed. Uh oh! I’m touching on something here that could get very messy.
How do you teach creativity and passion?Found an article on Ambition: The Fire in the Belly Employers Want by Jane Genova.
"Those hiring and promoting learned from the downturn and intense economic volatility that's it's no longer enough to do 'just a job,'" says Michael Francoeur, Dale Carnegie Training instructor and executive coach. "Employers now know that what kept their business growing or even saved it were the employees who saw beyond their job description. They pushed to do whatever was needed at the time. Often their most important contribution is persistence. The ambitious stay with a project, no matter how bad things seem. That's usually because they have the confidence to believe in themselves. The less ambitious would have become discouraged."I see that ambition similar to finding someone’s passion. When you are passionate about something, you fight for it. There are no punching time clocks. I’ve watched game designers work way into the night so excited about this or that. Maybe there is that passion about finding a cure for a terrible disease or a new type of transportation that is economical and safe for the environment. Maybe we need this type of passion to come up with strategies to fix our economy or climate change. So I decided to look for top personal values employers look for in employees:
- Strong work ethics
- Dependability and responsibility
- Possessing a positive attitude
- Honesty and integrity
- Motivated to grow and learn
- Strong self-confidence
No test scores again!I’m putting this out there to you -- teachers, parents, professors, administrators, students. Maybe our whole system needs shaking up. Are we teaching these skills and values? Students will need to graduate with these skills:
- The ability to act independently and solve problems on their own.
- Strong interpersonal written, oral, and social skills to collaborate with colleagues.
- Strong global literacy to understand people around the world.
- The ability to acquire the information they need to do the job.
- The ability to learn new skills as corporations change strategies to stay competitive.