Category Archives: Education Reform

HAIS Schools of the Future: IAAK presentations

The Fourth Annual Schools of the Future Conference marks an exciting venture in which the Hawaii Association of Independent Schools and the Hawaii Community Foundation will partner with the Hawaii State Department of Education and Hawaii Society for Technology in Education to offer a not-to-be-missed two-day conference, convening October 23-24, 2012 at the Hawaii Convention Center. This is by far, one of our favorite events of the year! Join us for our Like-Minded session on October 23rd, an informative Q&A lunchtime session around Promethean ActivClassrooms and for our featured presentations:

The ActivClassroom: Effective Teaching with Technology for College and Career Readiness
Presenters: Cheryl Estabillo and Candice Frontiera, It’s All About Kids (Oct 23rd, 1:30-3:00 pm)

Learn to leverage the use of the Promethean ActivClassroom to foster communication, collaboration, inquiry and student centered learning in your classroom. Teachers will learn various strategies to plan interactive lessons and implement authentic assessments that meet the new levels of rigor required with Common Core Standards.

Developing 21st Century Skills in Students and Teachers
Presenter: Karen Talbert, (Oct 23rd, 3:30-5:00 pm)

Whether you’re a novice or a tech expert, learn how easy it is to integrate 21st century skill building into your teaching. EasyTech helps students (and teachers!) efficiently learn technology skills, digital literacy, and higher-order thinking as they study and learn in a manner which is exciting, engaging, and cross curricular. Make sure your students and teachers have the tech and 21st century skills they need to prepare them for the coming adoption of the Common Core Standards and Next Generation Assessments.

The Role of Interactive Technologies in Teaching and Learning
Presenter: Mr. Ginno Kelly, Promethean (Oct 23rd, 10:30-12:00 pm)

As interactive technologies become more ubiquitous in classrooms across the US, the need for the successful integration of these tools is imperative. The words “interactive” and “engaging” have become buzzwords that are sometimes hard to understand. In this session, using examples from the classroom, we will explore what to look for when you hear “interactive” and “engaging” within the context of interactive technologies.

Marzano Research Laboratory’s Enhancing the Art and Science of Teaching with Technology
Presenter: Sonny Magaña, M.Ed (Oct 24th, 10:30-12:00 pm)
The Marzano Research Laboratory (MRL) has benefitted educators and leaders across the country by developing practical research-based strategies on how to improve teaching and learning. In this session, Marzano Research Associate Sonny Magaña will discuss new research-based professional development offerings for education systems to effectively wield technologies to measurably improve pedagogy, academic achievement and student engagement. Dr. Marzano’s Enhancing the Art and Science of Teaching with Technology professional development services for teachers and administrators is designed to help school systems harness the potential of their existing technologies to transform their instructional and evaluation models and better prepare their students for the rigors of 21st Century work and life.

Early bird registration is now available.


Curriculum – the secret to educational reform?

This Curriculum Matters’ blog post highlighting a new book called Tyranny of the Textbook:  An Insider Exposes How Educational Materials Undermine Reforms written by Beverlee Jobrack, retired editorial director for McGraw-Hill, raises some thought-provoking ideas.  Here are a couple of ideas shared via the post:

  • School and district committees for curriculum selection filled with teachers and others who lack the appropriate expertise, motivation, and time to make the best choices;
  • State textbook adoptions focused on whether curricular materials meet state standards, line by line, with little or no attention to whether they actually are of high quality and represent a coherent and well-designed instructional approach.

Some very generalized statements – just the type to spark controversy and discussion which usually seems to begin the change process.  Jobrack’s overarching message is “Quality curriculum taught by quality teachers has the most potential to improve student achievement.”

Have a look at the post.  It’s worth the read – especially with today’s priority to implement the Common Core State Standards.  As the Common Core State Standards initiative drives us to think about instructional shifts, let’s be sure to give curriculum the attention it deserves.

The collapse of public education

This blog post from the 21st Century Fluency Project came across my desktop.   The infographic is interesting.  It certainly paints a bleak picture of the state of education these days and provokes some thought.  I thought the section comparing public vs. private school was overly simplistic, generalized, and vague.  It did though spur thinking about what qualities of a school matter and make a difference.  Also, what struck me was that private school graduation rates are much higher (not surprising) but the percentage of kids that continue on to a four-year degree isn’t significantly higher than the percentage of public school graduates.  What do you take away from the infographic?

I want a coach.

A professional friend posted this great article called “Personal Best” in The New Yorker and I had to share.  It’s a wonderful piece that unravels what it means to be an “expert” and achieve your “personal best”.  It’s a must read.  The author is a surgeon who describes his self-reflective journey which results in hiring a coach to improve his abilities.  Here are a few quotes to entice you to read the article:

  • The concept of a coach is slippery. Coaches are not teachers, but they teach. They’re not your boss—in professional tennis, golf, and skating, the athlete hires and fires the coach—but they can be bossy. They don’t even have to be good at the sport.”
  • “Bad coaching can make people worse.”
  • “The greatest difficulty, though, may simply be a profession’s willingness to accept the idea. The prospect of coaching forces awkward questions about how we regard failure.”
  • Coaching done well may be the most effective intervention designed for human performance. Yet the allegiance of coaches is to the people they work with; their success depends on it. And the existence of a coach requires an acknowledgment that even expert practitioners have significant room for improvement.”

I’m convinced.  I want a coach!  You can find the article here.

Ed Tech Conference Reflections

The Principal & Education Technology Conference on Wednesday proved to be an inspiring day filled with thought-provoking presentations and dialogue.  Here are some of my highlights:

  • Channel 1 News Interactive offers an exciting (not to mention easy) way to integrate daily fresh content into the classroom to spark discussion and debate.  I think teachers, particularly elementary teachers, often struggle with bringing current events into the classroom in an age-appropriate way.  Channel 1 News Interactive offers an alternative way to share and discuss current events through multi-media (video, animations, images, etc.) resources.  The fact that the new stories are reported by young people and feature the perspectives of young people makes them even more relevant and meaningful.  And, Channel 1 News Interactive even creates follow up news stories based on students’ responses.  Very cool.
  • Kevin Baird’s keynote reminded us that teaching today should focus on thinking rather than knowing.  It resonates with a key question that I use to gauge the quality of a learning experience – “are you asking a student to think or to remember?”  He tied this to the Common Core State Standards movement, highlighting that the initiative is really about changing our instruction or practices in the classroom – less about changing content.
  •  I thoroughly enjoyed Sara DeWitt’s presentation sharing some of PBS’ interactive learning projects.  First, I appreciated their approach.  The product development process she described was very exploratory and user-centered.  For instance, she highlighted that they are interested in understanding if motion and movement help to further or deepen the learning for young children.  The games she shared (some online, some apps) were great examples of leveraging the affordances of the technology to enrich the user’s experience.  For instance, using the computer’s webcam to capture the user’s movement which triggers action in the game or using the computer’s microphone to capture audio (a clap) to pop and count bubbles on the screen.  And, of course, their commitment to research and evaluation is wonderful.  SRI International studied the impact PBS KIDS Raising Readers media-rich curriculum had on preschoolers and the results are impressive.  Check out some of the new experiments at PBS Kids Lab here.

Thank you to all who attended the conference!

A little policy talk

Education Week’s Politics K-12 blog shared details on a bill to reauthorize the NCLB Act.  The draft legislative language will not be released until next week so many of the details are not firm but here are the general ideas:

  • More flexibility with regards to accountability – no set achievement targets (i.e. all proficient by 20XX).  Schools just need to show “continuous improvement”.
  • Intervention options for the lowest-performing schools would look similar to SIG models.
  • A new category of schools for interventions – those with the largest achievement gaps
  • States would have to adopt college and career ready standards
  • States would have to set English-Language proficiency standards

Schools of the Future Conference Reflections

I think my favorite part of the SOTF conference was connecting with so many passionate and dedicated teachers and administrators.  It was interesting to hear how teachers and administrators from diverse schools think about teaching and learning for the 21st century.  Some of the big ideas I gathered from Alan November’s keynote:

  • Students must own the learning.
  • Teachers need the right information at the right time.  Teachers should study students’ questions to inform lesson planning.
  • Peer teaching is powerful.
  • Add purpose not technology.  With purpose, kids will be more engaged and invested.
  • Leverage the power of social networks and online communities to further the dialogue.

I also attended the panel discussion with leaders from Sacred Hearts Academy, Iolani, and Punahou School.  It was interesting to hear how each leader’s vision for their graduates shape the school.  One story that illustrated the concept of empowering students was shared by Jim Scott of Punahou School.  Punahou has always promoted service – students lead various campaigns and spend at least a semester formally working within the community in a service role.  Dr. Scott shared that a senior asked him why the school was not more involved in service, given that it is such a priority for its students.  He shared that that was when he realized that the school needed to take a more active role in outreach and private-public partnerships.  A powerful message – when we include students in the dialogue and listen to their questions and thoughts, the path for the future becomes much clearer.

Ask the kids!

On my way to work yesterday, I listened to a NPR story about automobile makers turning to kids (elementary kids) for feedback on new car designs. Imagine the ideas a kindergartener would come up! Then, I just read about a multi-year innovation study Children’s Future Requests for Computers and the Internet conducted by Latitude which asked kids around the world to draw their answer to this question: “What would you like your computer or the Internet to do that it can’t do right now?” More than 200 kids, age 12 and under, from across the world responded to the question and came up with some remarkable ideas. (I’m not surprised, are you?) The three main themes that emerged are:

1. The digital vs. physical divide is fading.Kids think of technology as an extension of themselves. The distinction between “online” and “offline” is disappearing. I love this seven year old girl’s idea, “I’d like to touch the things that are in the screen – feel and move them.”

2. Computers becoming more human. Kids shared wanting to interact with robots and virtual friends/companions, relying on more intuitive methods of input and responsiveness. Think about how intuitive an iPad is for young children.

3. Technology can improve and empower us. Children envisioned technology that engaged with them, taught them something, or helped them make something.

Click here to see some of the students’ drawings – they are really great and powerful. And, click here to see an infographic that summarizes the results of the survey. The report also highlights the cultural differences, which are very interesting.

The notion of “too safe”

I read this interesting article “Can a Playground Be Too Safe?” in The New York Times. The article discusses the notion that today’s playgrounds have become too safe (and boring) and may stunt children’s emotional development, leaving them with anxieties and fears. The idea being that on the playground children take risks and experience danger. Children naturally “…approach thrills and risks in a progressive manner, and very few children would try to climb to the highest point for the first time they climb. The best thing is to let children encounter these challenges from an early age, and they will then progressively learn to master them through their play over the years.”

Have you also noticed how playground equipment these days are so structured? It’s almost as if there is a pre-determined path or way to move through the equipment.

I couldn’t help but draw some parallels with the integration of technology tools in the classroom. Has our approach to children using technology become too “safe” and “structured”? Have we already determined how students will use the technology tool, channeling them through a set path? Now, I’m certainly not encouraging a complete swing on the continuum. I do know there are very serious dangers and risks to consider when young folks use technology, especially in a public arena. Rather, I encourage educators to let kids play with technology, let’s see what they come up, let’s see how they would use the tool, let’s keep it a bit more open-ended. After all, the technology tool is going to change tomorrow, it’s the “thinking” that will remain and stay useful.


Summer Learning

It’s been a summer of learning for me – first ISTE and now Punahou’s Summer Technology Lab and Hanahauoli’s Institute of Teaching and Learning.  I’m learning a lot and desperately seeking some down time to process, absorb, explore, and think about how all of it fits into our work with schools.  The potential is exciting.  I’ll share the big themes and poignant thoughts now and details later (after I have my down time):

  • 21st century skills – focus on key fluencies – information fluency, solution fluency, creativity fluency, collaboration fluency, media fluency (Lee Crockett, 21st Century Fluency Project)
  • “Interest precedes learning.”  Let students follow their interests.
  •  Teach students to be thinkers.  “Are you asking students to think or to remember?”  (Dr. Peters, Hanahauoli)
  • “When the content fades, the process stays.”  (Crockett)
  • “Your role as a teacher is to make memories.”  Gary Stager said this at a presentation at ISTE.  This statement is quite powerful.  Think about how relevance and emotion tie into this and the implications for teaching.
  • Students as makers.  The buzz was about kids making 3D models, creating infographics, etc. – all with an emphasis not only on the actual content or information shared but also on the presentation, specifically the visual aesthetic and usability/readability of the information.  Design is in the air!
  • iPads, iPads everywhere… or are they?  Lots of buzz about the use of iPads to differentiate learning, make learning mobile.
    It’s like we’ve all gone app-crazy.

Stay tuned… more to come.