JustinHaney.org

books, tech, lessons from a librarian

The Future is Now. Librarians are Ready.

the future is now. sci-fi graphic with librarians

“Information is king” and “Knowledge is power” are how the sayings go. Though Sir Francis Bacon’s knowledge quote still rings true, the first would seem to be a 20th Century adage that should be retired. In the 1900s information was siloed and access was somewhat by caste. There are still remnants of the tiers of access in today’s education society. Unequal school funding and geographical economic differences result in imbalanced access to information, with factors such as reliable high-speed internet and the need for functioning technology playing a role. Even with those roadblocks, the arrival of the Internet and open access to networked information has begun to shift the balance of power to where the new saying is closer to “Information navigators are king”. Merely having access to information is now not enough, rather the desired skill set is knowing how to weed through massive amounts of information in varying forms to figure out what really matters. The mere act of knowing how to navigate helps to prevent failure due to information overload.

My final blog post of this quarter explores ISTE Coaching Standard 4:

Professional Development and Program Evaluation

Performance Indicator B

  • Design, develop, and implement technology rich professional learning programs that model principles of adult learning and promote digital age best practices in teaching, learning, and assessment.

Guiding questions:

  • What role does administration play when designing professional development for adult learning?
  • How should we advocate for necessary professional learning opportunities when administrators pursue new educational technology initiatives?

Which led me to this triggering question:

  • What role should teacher librarians play in planning and in support of professional development, both at a building level and district-wide?

With the goal of proficient information navigation skills for our students, our thinking must then shift to professional learning for educators. How can we expect to help our students to develop these skills if we haven’t experienced the learning process for ourselves? 21st Century learning should look different as it’s focusing on a different outcome. Unfortunately, most professional development offerings bear little resemblance to the teaching we’re hoping to successfully implement with our students. Gaining 21st Century skills requires different emphases. Educator Greg Miller shares thoughts on this idea in a 2014 blog post: “Understanding Networked Learning is an essential part of contemporary pedagogy. Connecting through networks in a digital world is when a learner accesses information through a number of connections and uses that information to construct knowledge, often through those same networks. Whether it is Big Data or Linked Data as Tim Berness-Lee (founder of World Wide Web) refers to it in ‘The next Web of open’, linked data teachers need to be clear about how data, information and digital technology knowledge are interrelated and the opportunities that come with knowledge building.” (Miller 2014)

So how do we make the shift? Librarians. The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) states: “The mission of the school library program is to ensure that students and staff are effective users of ideas and information; students are empowered to be critical thinkers, enthusiastic readers, skillful researchers, and ethical users of information.” (AASL) The central focus is on developing effective “users of information” and not “responders to information” or “consumers of information”. There is a central difference in that “using” means going beyond a passive role into a position of active learning. Librarians are in a unique position and we must utilize our positioning to integrate 21st Century Skills with learning for staff and students alike.  

In 2015, the Alliance for Excellent Education created the Future Ready Schools (FRS) program to “help school districts develop comprehensive plans to achieve successful student learning outcomes by (1) transforming instructional pedagogy and practice while (2) simultaneously leveraging technology to personalize learning in the classroom.” (Future Ready Schools) The Future Ready Librarians (FRL) movement expands on the work of the FRS initiative. Here’s Mark Ray, former Washington State Teacher of the Year and librarian, and current Chief Digital Officer for Vancouver Public Schools, in Vancouver, WA, in a TED Talk about how librarians can and should shift our role:

This shift is not an instantaneous one, nor is it always painless, but it is necessary. “Librarians have traditionally served an important role in school systems as teachers, particularly in teaching students how to access information. Now, in Vancouver and elsewhere, librarians’ roles are evolving, as districts count on them to help teachers use technology to improve instruction, and to troubleshoot problems with digital systems as they emerge.” (Brzozowski 2015) and “Utilizing the ‘whole school’ view, the librarian is in a key position to contribute to the development of strong professional learning communities through professional development and technology integration.” (Dees, Mayer, Morin, and Willis 2010)

Future Ready Librarians frameworkFuture Ready Librarians graphic from http://futureready.org/about-the-effort/librarians/

As you can see in the FRL framework above, collaboratively developing professional learning opportunities for staff is right in the future ready librarian’s wheelhouse: Collaborative Leadership; Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment; and Personalized Professional Learning. With that in mind, one has to wonder why so many districts in recent years have made cuts to library programs? One consideration: in many cases, were those librarians working to make themselves indispensable when it came to working collaboratively with staff, students, and community alike. Were they focused on personalized student learning as an end goal? On the other hand, were the relevant administrators providing the funding and supports necessary for the librarians to achieve those lofty 21st Century goals? And if not, why not? If ever there was a group of educators with the desired skillset for this initiative, it’s librarians. “ISTE recently convened a small group of distinguished leaders to share the success they were having with PD models that integrate context, collaboration, and technology. In analyzing their success, three essential concepts emerged. The most effective PD was: 1. Technology-rich, 2. Delivered through a coaching model, and 3. Enhanced by the power of community and social learning.” (Beglau, M., & et al. 2011)

This video from FRS showcases some of the work being done to develop teacher leaders to strengthen professional learning:

Finally, created by the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, this video is certainly applicable to education and professional learning in the U.S. as well:

Future Ready Schools need Future Ready Librarians. Future Ready Librarians are uniquely equipped to lead the way and should actively advocate for the opportunity to lead professional learning for their colleagues. Returning to the AASL’s guiding statement: “The mission of the school library program is to ensure that students and staff are effective users of ideas and information.” We need to provide opportunities for staff to experience information overload, to provide opportunities for creativity by asking open-ended questions and allowing the learners (and teachers) to explore solutions that are authentic and applicable to their world. We need to provide guidance to ensure equitable and open access to information and resources. Calling these 21st Century Skills does them a disservice, as it makes it seem as if they’re skills for the learners of the future. The future is now and librarians are needed more than ever before.

References

Abilock, D., Harada, V., & Fontichiaro, K. (2013, October). Growing schools: Effective professional development. Teacher Librarian, 41(1), 8-13.

Alabi, J., & Weare, Jr., W. (2013, August 23). The power of observation: How librarians can benefit from the peer review of teaching even without a formal PROT program” [PDF document]. Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.georgiasouthern.edu/gaintlit/2013/2013/1

Alliance for Excellent Education. (2017, February 14). Future Ready Librarians: What’s not to love? [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2rPnjx_5yM

Beglau, M., & et al. (2011). Technology, coaching and community: Power partners for improved professional development in primary and secondary education. Retrieved from International Society for Technology in Education website: https://www.ri-iste.org/Resources/Documents/Coaching_Whitepaper_digital.pdf

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. (n.d.). Teachers know best – K-12 education. Retrieved March 1, 2017, from http://k12education.gatesfoundation.org/2015/05/teachers-know-best-2/

Brzozowski, C. (2015, April 13). K-12 librarians’ roles shift to meet digital demands – Education Week. Retrieved from http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2015/04/15/k-12-librarians-roles-shift-to-meet-digital.html

Dees, D., Mayer, A., Morin, H., & Willis, E. (2010). Librarians as leaders in professional learning communities through technology, literacy, and collaboration. Library Media Connection, 29(2), 10.

Farkas, M. (2015, January 6). Peer learning in library instruction [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://meredith.wolfwater.com/wordpress/2015/01/06/peer-learning-in-library-instruction/

Future Ready Schools. (2017). Future Ready Librarians. Retrieved from http://futureready.org/librarians

International Society for Technology in Education. (2017). Standards for coaches. Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/standards/standards/standards-for-coaches

LaGuardia, C. (2014, March 20). Professional development: What’s it to you? Retrieved from http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2014/03/opinion/not-dead-yet/professional-development-whats-it-to-you-not-dead-yet/#_

Miller, G. (2014, May 31). Teacher professional learning in a digital world [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://gregmiller68.com/2014/05/31/teacher-professional-learning-in-a-digital-world/

Moreillon, Judi. “Building Your Personal Learning Network (PLN): 21st-Century School Librarians Seek Self- Regulated Professional Development Online.” Knowledge Quest, vol. 44, no. 3, 2016, p. 64.

Murray, T. C. (2017, March/April). Seven gears principals can leverage to enhance technology use. Principal, 96(4), 8-11. Retrieved from http://www.naesp.org/principal-marchapril-2017-technology-all/principal-marchapril-2017-technology-all

Ray, M. & Trettin, S. (2016). Librarians connected to National Future Ready Initiative. Teacher Librarian, 44(1), 8-11.

Wolf, M. A., Jones, R., & Gilbert, D. (2014). Leading in and beyond the library. Retrieved from Alliance for Excellent Education website: http://all4ed.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/BeyondTheLibrary.pdf

Connecting the Dots: Is there room for creativity in professional development?

connect the dots header image


Dot-to-dot puzzles. My kid loves them. Always has. Now in sixth grade, his favorites still start off 1-2-3, but now they’re cranked up to 11. Extreme puzzles like this one:   extreme dot to dot of a giraffe
This giraffe puzzle (sorry to spoil the surprise… it’s a giraffe) has over 1300 dots to connect, but the concept is still the same as the first puzzles he completed as a toddler. Find the beginning dot, and then follow the pre-determined path until the image becomes more clear and complete. Reach the final dot and you’re done. Move onto the next puzzle.

Dot-to-dot puzzles are the antithesis of the creative process. Worse than coloring books even… it’s not even about staying inside the lines, you’re literally drawing the line. Nothing in life is as simple as connecting the dots. Nothing in education that prepares our students for life as a grown-up is as simple as finding the starting spot, drawing a straight line from one prescribed dot to the next, and continuing until you reach the end.

In reading and researching the final ISTE Coaching Standard in EDTC 6106 at Seattle Pacific University, I was given this guiding question to explore: What does the ideal technology rich professional learning program look like? During my exploration the question & answers I decided on were:


Q: How can we integrate creativity into a technology rich professional learning program?

A: Have teachers follow the LAUNCH design process in their learning. Celebrate innovation. Allow for reflection and open communication. Make the collaborative process necessary for success.


So why focus specifically on creativity? Returning to the original analogy, in my 15+ years in education much of what I’ve seen in professional development programs has been a dot-to-dot puzzle. It’s been a prescribed process, with a predetermined product expected. Straying from the order will result in more than a few raised eyebrows and even redirection. Engagement is driven not by innovation but by strict adherence to connecting dots, one after another. The problem is we’re tasked with helping our students to develop the learning and innovation skills that by consensus have been agreed to be critical to success in the 21st Century: Creativity and Innovation; Critical Thinking and Problem Solving; Communication and Collaboration (http://www.p21.org/about-us/p21-framework). How can we hope to achieve success in developing those skills if our own professional learning doesn’t reflect the same values?

I was recently reading a book and came across this quote by educator Bo Adams (It’s About Learning https://itsaboutlearning.org/bo-adams/):bo adams quote

LAUNCH book coverThe book is LAUNCH: Using design thinking to boost creativity and bring out the maker in every student by John Spencer and A.J. Juliani. Spencer and Juliani have created a design framework that is applicable and incredibly useful for today’s education, for students and teachers alike. The LAUNCH acronym stands for:

Look, Listen, Learn
Ask Tons of Questions
Understand the Process or Problem
Navigate Ideas
Create a Prototype
Highlight and Fix
& launch your work to an audience.

Here’s a video introduction to the LAUNCH design thinking framework:

What I especially love is how the focus is on design and creativity, rather than specific technology “stuff” that may or may not be available to all educators or their students. Allowing for personalization in the learning and design process means that the there is considerable freedom in taking a different approach to find solutions. Juliani and Spencer’s Launch website is filled with great ideas, as are both individual author’s blogs and Twitter feeds.

Related Resources
John Spencer: http://www.spencerauthor.com/
A.J. Juliani: http://ajjuliani.com/
The LAUNCH Cycle: http://thelaunchcycle.com/
The Global Day of Design: http://globaldayofdesign.com/ (coming up soon! — 5/2/2017)

In my opinion “creativity” is the key to success for 21st Century citizens for at least 3 of the 4-Cs in the P21 Framework (http://www.p21.org/about-us/p21-framework). [1] Critical Thinking — higher level skills inherently require creative approaches; [2] Collaboration — going beyond mere collegiality requires creative thinking. Creative thinkers find new ways to collaborate and new partners to collaborate with; and [3] Creativity.

By injecting a requirement of creativity into a technology rich professional learning program, it keeps the focus not on consumption but on creation. It is easy to be distracted by shiny new apps and flashy tech doo-dads, but requiring creativity in the learning means that higher level thinking skills are essential to success. A lot of adults have forgotten what it means to innovate and create for fear of failure. Allowing for failure in the process would be great practice for educators as they begin the process of bringing project-based learning into their classrooms.

The TPACK framework is largely the work of Professors Koehler and Mishra and the Deep-Play Research Group at Michigan State University. This infographic by Mark Anderson (Twitter @ICTEvangelist) provides a great overview on the subject:

TPACK framework(Anderson 2013)

Related Resources:
Punya Mishra, Ph.D.: http://www.punyamishra.com/
Example of Mishra’s work: Mehta, R., & Mishra, P. (2016). Downtime as a Key to Novelty Generation: Understanding the Neuroscience of Creativity with Dr. Rex Jung. TechTrends, 60(6), 528-531. doi:10.1007/s11528-016-0119-3. Retrieved from http://www.punyamishra.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Jung-Interview-Mehta-Mishra-techtrends.pdf
The Deep-Play Research Group at Michigan State University: http://deep-play.com/

So returning to the question, how can we integrate creativity into a technology rich professional learning program? I think the key is understanding that creativity must be a part of the planning, implementation, and product of the educational process, but it shouldn’t be the only focus. TPACK centers on this idea of a balanced approach. When all of the circles (Technology, Content, and Pedagogy) are intersecting, and when creativity is called upon, there you’ll find the sweet spot of learning. The TPACK model reminds me of an early dot-filled infographic from the 1971 Ted Williams book The Science of Hitting. In his mind, arguably the greatest hitter in Major League Baseball history imagined this graphic in each at bat:

Ted Williams batting zone infographic

“My first rule of hitting was to get a good ball to hit. I learned down to percentage points where those good balls were. The box shows my particular preferences, from what I considered my “happy zone” – where I could hit .400 or better – to the low outside corner – where the most I could hope to bat was .230. Only when the situation demands it should a hitter go for the low-percentage pitch.” (Ted Williams)

Williams’s “happy zone” was at the intersection of vision, reach, muscle memory, training, bat angle and speed, and knowing himself as a hitter. His innovation as a baseball player made him a Hall of Famer, and yet his quote acknowledges that there are times to shift your approach “when the situation demands”. One of TPACK’s strength is that it can help educators from losing focus. The targeted learning should be at the intersection of how you teach, what you teach, and what you use. Focus on only one or two of the three and you’ll miss out on the “happy zone”.

The Dot book cover by Peter H. ReynoldsFinally, I couldn’t wrap up this dot-focused post without mentioning one of my all-time favorite picture books. The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds is profoundly simple. Vashti is convinced she is not an artist, that she’s not creative. “I just CAN’T draw!” A simple art project (“draw a dot”) transforms Vashti’s life when she realizes there is room for exploration and her spirit and voice. The fear of failure is replaced with pride and ownership, and the book’s ending finds Vashti empowered to pass on her learning to others. Vashti’s development and success was aided by a teacher who provided the necessary tools, a framework that allowed for exploration, and the chance to share her learning with others. My hope is that someday soon it will be more common to find technology rich professional learning that allows for creative growth and innovation. Are we ready to LAUNCH? 3.2.1…

Resources

Anderson, M. (2013, May 28). Technological, pedagogical and content knowledge [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://ictevangelist.com/technological-pedagogical-and-content-knowledge/

Fryer, W. (2009, June 13). Moving at the speed of creativity | Blending professional development to focus on content, technology and pedagogy [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2009/06/13/blending-professional-development-to-focus-on-content-technology-and-pedagogy/

Juliani, A. J., & Spencer, J. (2016). The Launch Cycle – Bring out the maker in every student. Retrieved from http://thelaunchcycle.com/

Kay, K. (2011, September 29). Becoming a 21st Century school or district: Use the 4Cs to build professional capacity (Step 4 of 7) | Edutopia [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/21st-century-professional-development-key-kay

Mehta, R., & Mishra, P. (2016). Downtime as a Key to Novelty Generation: Understanding the Neuroscience of Creativity with Dr. Rex Jung. TechTrends, 60(6), 528-531. doi:10.1007/s11528-016-0119-3. Retrieved from http://www.punyamishra.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Jung-Interview-Mehta-Mishra-techtrends.pdf

Mishra, P. (n.d.). Punya Mishra’s Web – Living at the junction of education, creativity, design & technology. Retrieved March 5, 2017, from http://www.punyamishra.com/

Mishra, P., & The Deep-Play Research Group. (2012). Rethinking technology & creativity in the 21st Century: Crayons are the future. TechTrends, 56(5), 13-16. doi:10.1007/s11528-012-0594-0. Retrieved from http://www.punyamishra.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Mishra-crayons-techtrends1.pdf

Niess, M., & Gillow-Wiles, H. (2015). Creativity, digitality, and teacher professional development: Unifying theory, research, and practice. In Handbook of research on teacher education in the digital age (pp. 691-721). Retrieved from http://www.punyamishra.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Creativity-Digitality-and-Teacher-Professional-Development-Unifying-Theory-Research-and-Practice.pdf

Pearman, D. (2016, April 9). Are we putting the cart before the horse? | Innovative pedagogy [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://innovativepedagogy.wordpress.com/2016/04/09/are-we-putting-the-cart-before-the-horse/

Spencer, J. (2016, February 15). Curious about design thinking? Here’s a framework you can use in any classroom with any age group [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.spencerauthor.com/2016/02/curious-about-design-thinking-heres.html/

What in the World is Game-Based Education? The Good, the Bad, the Dysentery

Oregon Trail game

I grew up in the golden age of educational gaming. I don’t know that any games have matched the cultural and educational impact of the 8-bit majesty of The Oregon Trail (play the 1990 version here: https://archive.org/details/msdos_Oregon_Trail_The_1990) or the full-color wonder of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? (play the 1985 version here: https://archive.org/details/msdos_Where_in_the_World_is_Carmen_Sandiego_1985) on my Commodore 64. As a student, I felt like I was getting away with something by playing video games during the school day. Sure, the monochromatic splendor of the Apple IIe is laughable today, but for me and many of my generation the effect was magical. I learned more about life on the Oregon Trail in those primarily text-based games than I ever did by reading about it in our social studies textbook. Carmen Sandiego shipped with a World Almanac… a librarian’s dream! I search for more facts about countries throughout the world by chasing that mysterious red-hatted fiend than I would have without the game’s prodding.

These early educational software games are still some of the best examples of game-based learning. Many flashy apps and online games have tried to fill the niche, but too often they get bogged down in graphics and cutscenes and microtransactions and they lose sight of the vital elements of good game design.

Games vs. Game-based learning vs. Gamification

This infographic from upsidelearning.com helps to explain the differences:

Games vs Game-based Learning vs Gamification

Games vs Game-based Learning vs Gamification
Click to view the complete infographic.  |  Infographic by Upside Learning

Reasons to Be Scared

Unfortunately, there’s a troubling trend that emerges when reading about gamification in the classroom in its current state… it’s rarely proved itself to be a sustainable model. Where it’s successful at the elementary school level, it’s almost always the result of a relative few innovators who are taking a risk.

Ananth Pai

Ananth Pai was a businessman who became an elementary classroom teacher in Minnesota. His 3rd grade class soon became an attractive stopping place for elected officials, business leaders, and tech founders alike. They were all drawn to his classroom because they wanted to see his approach to reaching kids at their level primarily through the use of games. Students participated in numerous electronic gaming activities throughout the day, including competing in games online with peers around the world, playing math games on Nintendo DS, and more. All of this is written about Mr. Pai in the past tense, as his online presence has vanished. His Twitter handle is inactive. I can’t find record of him presenting at conferences. News stories haven’t been posted in years. It appears that Mr. Pai is now teaching 3rd grade at an International Baccalaureate school outside of Minneapolis, but his gamification stardom has quickly faded. This KQED article hints darkly at the frustration of an educator trying to innovate in the face of mandated testing and curriculum. 

https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/06/06/how-leadership-can-make-or-break-classroom-innovation/

https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2011/05/09/can-learning-really-be-fun-and-games/

http://library.fora.tv/2011/09/16/Ananth_Pai_Gamifying_the_Classroom

Michele Alvarez

Another meteoric gamification educator… Reading through her blog posts, tweets, and subsequent lack of updates, her story is a cautionary one. Gamifying your classroom is not an easy task, and it’s made all the more difficult when roadblocks emerge: changing grades, changing curriculum, changing standards, lack of support, etc.

https://gamifyingmyclass.com/

Extrinsic Motivation

I’ve referred to Alfie Kohn’s writings in past blog posts. Kohn’s blog post on the dangers of extrinsic motivation should play a role in the discussion for anyone looking at shifting to a completely gamified classroom or curriculum. http://www.alfiekohn.org/article/risks-rewards/ His primary concern is that once the reward is removed from the learning equation, the learner becomes disengaged from the process. This brings to mind the popular idea of badges for learners. For some, the lure of a digital badge fuels them. For others, not so much…

Reasons to Get Excited

I don’t know that the nostalgic magic of Carmen Sandiego and dysentery will ever be topped (now that’s a sentence that’s never been typed before) but there are promising signs for the future of educational gaming and gamification:

Never Alone

An atmospheric platform puzzle game designed and built in collaboration with the Alaska Native community. Tribal elders hoped to pass on their culture to the disinterested youth of their tribe. This gorgeous video game melds great game design and native folklore & language to engage young people in the Alaskan Iñupiat culture.

http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/never-alone-video-game-help-preserve-inuit-culture

http://neveralonegame.com/latest-press/

Leading Change

Gameful Learning banner“Developed in partnership with Microsoft, this education course aims to transform teaching and learning at all levels through explorations of how the features that make video games great learning environments can be used in formal learning environments to increase learner engagement on a local, regional and global scale. By creating classroom learning environments that support learners’ senses of autonomy, competence and relatedness, school leaders are able to promote actively engaged and resilient learning.” This free 8-week course created by Microsoft In Education in collaboration with edX (University of Michigan’s free online education program https://www.edx.org/school/michiganx) is exciting as it represents a commitment (for the time being) by private and public sector to explore digital gamification in the classroom. Enroll for free now at: https://www.edx.org/course/leading-change-go-beyond-gamification-michiganx-microsoft-education-gl101x The course starts on March 6, 2017.

Quest to Learn (Q2L)

Quest To Learn logoTeachers and game designers work together at this public school (grades 8-12) in New York City to create learning opportunities for students, and the results are what you would expect: engagement, creativity, and a spirit of inquiry. What makes this school’s approach so promising is the fact that it’s based on a sustainable school-wide focus, rather than the siloed efforts of individual teachers like Pai and Alvarez.

http://www.q2l.org/

http://www.cnn.com/videos/tech/2012/08/01/natpkg-orig-gr-q2l-education.cnn

https://www.fastcompany.com/3003920/meet-game-designers-who-are-quest-make-nyc-public-school-more-fun

http://hechingerreport.org/content/quest-different-learning-model-playing-games-school_18465/

So What Next?

Step One: Read this resource!

Mind Shift: Guide to Digital Games and Learning coverMind/Shift: Guide to Digital Games + Learning By Jordan Shapiro, et al. http://www.joanganzcooneycenter.org/publication/the-mindshift-guide-to-games-and-learning/

This collection of blog posts by Temple University’s Digital Learning Coordinator is a robust starting-point if you’re at-all interested in exploring the idea of bringing digital gaming into your classroom or school. One of its greatest strengths is that it addresses stumbling blocks with honesty and adherence to strong classroom pedagogy. Here are a couple of passages from Shapiro:

On choosing games: “A great literature curriculum considers the particular students in the class and chooses books that are simultaneously fun to read, academically challenging, and provide important canonical touchstones that can help contextualize future learning. Satisfying any one of these criteria, without the others, is problematic. The same is true for learning games. But for some reason, when it comes to games, many teachers are confused about the difference between ‘cool’ and ‘fun.’

Cool and fun are not the same thing. Cool has to do with a game’s aesthetics: the art, sound design, characters, narrative, et cetera. But a game does not need to be cool in order to be fun. Don’t be seduced by the spectacle. Making coolness a priority is tantamount to choosing to teach literature with People magazine because the students like to read it. Sure, pop culture gossip would satisfy the engagement criteria, but it wouldn’t satisfy any of the other academic criteria.”

On why game mechanics matter: “The best learning games are always fun. Try playing them yourself and see if you enjoy them. No matter how advanced your understanding of the subject matter, a good game should still be fun… All good games offer challenges in intuitive ways. In fact, this is the reason games work so well for learning: Players are intrinsically motivated to identify and succeed at understanding the game’s mechanics.

‘Mechanics’ are what game designers call the collection of rules and structures that produce the actual gameplay. The mechanics organize the game’s components in the way that defines how a player’s actions will have an impact. In good learning games, the subject matter is always embedded into the mechanics themselves. Learning to navigate the game’s mechanics and learning the academic subject matter are one and the same. Bad games sometimes attempt to simply graft a topic onto existing game mechanics. They might add vocabulary words to Angry Birds, or multiplication tables to Temple Run. It never works. The best learning games teach in the same way good teachers teach: They don’t trick students into being interested, they help students find genuine excitement in learning a subject.”  (Shapiro, 2015, 19-20)

Step Two: Start simple.

Educator Mary Beth Hertz in an Edutopia blog post distills the elements of video games that students are drawn to and love. It’s important to note none of Hertz’s ideas require technology. Technology can certainly enhance gaming and gamification, but it shouldn’t be required. Hertz writes:

  1. Mistakes as Part of Mastery

“For one, while watching my students play games I notice that they easily just click ‘retry’ or ‘new game’ or ‘start over’ and keep trying until they master whatever skill that game’s level requires. They don’t worry about making mistakes because they know they will get another chance. They learn more and more each time they have to do a level or game task over. We should be building these kinds of experiences into our classrooms.”

  1. Immediate Feedback

“In addition, games provide immediate feedback. Not just any feedback, but usually feedback that helps a student fix or improve on their previous performance. We should be giving students as many opportunities as possible for useful and timely feedback.”

  1. Manageable Goals

“Games also have a purpose, an underlying goal. Sometimes there are mini-goals that help get you to the final goal, beating the game. Players can focus on the mini-goals rather than be overwhelmed by the ultimate goal of beating the game. There is usually something that indicates how far along they are toward their final goal, which makes them feel like they’re getting somewhere. We should be setting manageable goals for our students that help them move toward mastery while providing timely feedback on their progress.”

Step Three: Begin to explore integrating a gaming culture into professional development.

My guiding question for this blog post was based on ISTE Coaching Standard 4: Professional Development and Program Evaluation. “Is gamification of professional development an achievable and sustainable goal?” I don’t know that I’m any closer to deciding on an answer after exploring the many online resources linked in this post. Digital badges seem like an interesting path to possibly explore, but Jackie Gerstein also highlights some of the issues inherent to the practice with this great blog post. Gamifying an entire PD program would quite possibly fuel greater engagement with some of my librarian colleagues, but what about those who just don’t like games? Would gamification alienate them? And how can I avoid the burnout and frustrations of innovators like Pai and Alvarez, without strong administrative support?

So, is it “game over” or “game on” for gamification? Well…

insert coin to continue 8-bit

References

Baier, M. (2015, February 19). Game Face On: Gamification for Engaging Teachers in PD. Edutopia. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/gamification-engaging-teachers-in-pd-matt-baier

Bell, K. (2015, September 1). Take PD to the next level with badges [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.shakeuplearning.com/blog/take-pd-to-the-next-level-with-badges/

College Ready Ohio. (2016, February 19). Gamification and Badging Professional Development | Entire Professional Development [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9IsZVVXK8l0

Dobo, N. (2014, November 26). Oregon Trail computer game lingers, amid a slew of new educational games – The Hechinger Report. Retrieved from http://hechingerreport.org/content/oregon-trail-computer-game-lingers-amid-slew-new-educational-games_18202/

Education|Evolving. (2012, November 2). A Split Screen Strategy: Creating the Capacity for Teachers to Innovate [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KimG8igaZIA

Edutopia. (2013, July 30). Katie Salen on the power of game-based learning (Big Thinkers Series) [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wk_OfUHpCbM

Extra Credits. (2012, May 13). Extra Credits: Gamifying Education [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MuDLw1zIc94

Extra Credits. (2013, August 22). Extra Credits – Games in Education – How Games Can Improve Our Schools [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1HTS2nxpRqM

Fishman, B., & Niemer, R. (2017, February 16). School is a game: Can we make it a good game? – EdTech Researcher – Education Week [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/edtechresearcher/2017/02/school_is_a_game_can_we_make_it_a_good_game.html?cmp=SOC-SHR-twitter

Gamification Co. (2012, September 27). Tim Vandenberg – Monopoly Academy (GSummit SF 2012) [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iHv3vrW2Lo

Gerstein, J. (2013, March 16). I don’t get digital badges | User Generated Education [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2013/03/16/i-dont-get-digital-badges/

Hawkins, B. (2012, November 13). Teacher Ananth Pai’s do-it-yourself tech effort pays big dividends for students. MinnPost. Retrieved from https://www.minnpost.com/learning-curve/2012/11/teacher-ananth-pais-do-it-yourself-tech-effort-pays-big-dividends-students

Hertz, M. B. (2011, April 19). Using the Video Game Model in the Classroom | Edutopia [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/education-game-gaming-technology-tools-design-project-mary-beth-hertz

International Society for Technology in Education. (2017). ISTE standards for coaches. Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/standards/standards/standards-for-coaches

Juliani, A. J. (2014, March 29). How to Gamify Professional Development in Your School. Retrieved from http://ajjuliani.com/gamify-professional-development-school/

OLTV19. (2010, June 11). Exciting new approach to classroom learning! [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSJ5LwAXxLk

Shapiro, J. (2014, September 28). The MindShift guide to games and learning. Retrieved from http://www.joanganzcooneycenter.org/publication/the-mindshift-guide-to-games-and-learning/

Takeuchi, L. M., & Vaala, S. (2014). Level up learning: A national survey on teaching with digital games. Retrieved from Games and Learning Publishing Council website: http://www.joanganzcooneycenter.org/publication/level-up-learning-a-national-survey-on-teaching-with-digital-games/

Talbot, M. (2015, January 9). A quest for a different learning model: Playing games in school – The Hechinger Report. Retrieved from http://hechingerreport.org/content/quest-different-learning-model-playing-games-school_18465/

TEDx Talks. (2012, September 21). TEDxBerlin – Gabe Zichermann – “Changing the Game in Education” [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Axk5-i8oTIU

TEDx Talks. (2012, April 24). Classroom Game Design: Paul Andersen at TEDxBozeman [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qlYGX0H6Ec

TEDx Talks. (2013, May 31). Press Play — Gaming, Simulation & Achievement in the Classroom: Jonathon Best at TEDxDenverTeachers [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKpo5SeZWns

TEDxYOUTH. (2011, June 9). TEDxKids@Brussels – Gabe Zichermann – Gamification [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2N-5maKZ9Q

University of California Television. (2016, May 13). Power Play: Trends and Opportunities in Gaming for Good with Asi Burak [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6SWidS0wzcA

Waniewski, B. (2012, December 18). Meet the game designers who are on a quest to make NYC Public School more fun | Fastcompany. Retrieved from https://www.fastcompany.com/3003920/meet-game-designers-who-are-quest-make-nyc-public-school-more-fun

What’s a Librarian to Do? A Few Time-Saving Tools For Sharing Information

time travel clock

Back in my college days, every morning I walked through the art studio doors a favorite art professor of mine would start singing the classic Tony Bennett tune “Just in time. I found you just in time…” followed by a friendly greeting: “Justin!” More than 20 years later and I still find myself humming that little refrain when I’m thanked by a colleague or parent for helping them find what they need when they need it. On my finest days, I sometimes find what they need before they even know they need it. To me, that’s the essence of a librarian’s role. Just-in-time, on-demand access. Access to help, to information, to guidance, to solutions, to a partner, to further questions to answer.

Triggering Question: What role can librarians play in providing professional development in the digital age?

I have 26 classroom teachers in my building and 26 librarians in my district. There seems to be not enough time in the day to make the in-person connections that are necessary to support professional development needs as they arise. Much as I’d love to be able to drop everything and help my colleagues whenever the librarian bat-signal is lit, the reality is I’m often tethered to my library unable to provide these needed supports. As a result, I often wonder what is a realistic professional development role for a librarian in the digital age and how can I break through barriers of time and communication?

I have not yet mastered the art of time travel. And, by extension, I guess that admission is proof that I haven’t figured out how to manipulate the space-time continuum in the future either. Faced with the knowledge that time is a fixed resource, how can I as a librarian make the most of it? By using these resources I haven’t defeated time’s relentless onslaught, but I have found ways to minimize waste along the way.

Google Keep
keep.google.com

Google Keep logoOften compared with OneNote or Evernote, Google Keep is a bit of a fringe application in the Google suite of tools (always a scary place to be, as those seem to be the tools that the Mountain View giant usually axes), and it’s a deceptively powerful one. At its most basic level, with a click or tap you can quickly save/bookmark/share/tag websites and other resources. These two brief articles highlight some of the lesser-known and powerful features. Keep could be a great way to deliver resources and content to staff in real-time. Saving resources for later usage (and tagging them for easy reference) could maximise training opportunities, and its G Suite integration could provide for some great opportunities for digital collaboration.

So, how does this resource relate to time? I’ll share an example… Too often when we attend a training, they’re one-and-done affairs. Sit in front of the firehose of information for 50 minutes, then walk away with a vague recollection of the resources shared. What about if the presenter had instead shared a link with all of the resources? It would make it easier to revisit after the fact, make it easier to share with colleagues who weren’t able to be present, make it easier to participate in the conversation rather than focusing on note-taking, make it easier for audience members to add to the list of resources. Is Google Keep the best of these types of applications? Maybe not, but it is definitely one of the more accessible ones. Every time I show Keep to a colleague, no matter how brief and rudimentary my introduction their eyes sparkle as they start to think about how they could use the tool in their work.

Here are a couple resources that explain Keep’s features and functionality better than I can: 

Elgan, M. (2016, November 16). Why you should start using Google Keep right away. Retrieved from http://www.computerworld.com/article/3144450/enterprise-applications/why-you-should-start-using-google-keep-right-away.html

Whitwam, R. (2016, April 25). 5 awesome Google Keep features you aren’t using, but should be. Retrieved from http://www.greenbot.com/article/3058745/android/5-awesome-google-keep-features-you-arent-using-but-should-be.html

NIMBUS Screenshot and Screencast
for Chrome
https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/nimbus-screenshot-and-scr/bpconcjcammlapcogcnnelfmaeghhagj?hl=en-US
also available for Firefox, PC, Android: http://nimbus.everhelper.me/screenshot.php

NIMBUS screencast app screenshot

There are a plethora of screen capture and screencast tools, but NIMBUS is about as barebones and fully-featured as I’ve found, with the added cost bonus… Free! I’ve primarily tried out the Chrome extension. As it’s Chrome-based, there’s no need to install software on the different devices I use throughout the day which means the tool is available no matter where I’m sitting (standing, crouching, crying quietly in a corner while rocking, etc.).

Time savings? Well, countless times I’m asked via email or text or just while passing in the hallway, “How do you…[insert random tech question here]?” A quickly captured screenshot or screencast can answer so many questions more effectively than a text email alone, and the solution can then be passed on to others with similar questions. A picture is supposedly worth a thousand words, but in my years of experience a screenshot transcends that valuation. A clear and basic tutorial that includes screenshots will preemptively address users’ questions and helps to provide for a differentiated approach. Not all of the audience needs them, but for those that do…

Future Ready Librarians
http://futureready.org/about-the-effort/librarians/

Future Ready Librarians infographicFuture Ready Librarian infographic: http://futureready.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/FR_Librarians_graphic.png

I’m cheating. The theme of this blog post is saving time. These resources are supposed to be time savers. This one is not. In fact, I haven’t come across a bigger time sink in recent memory, and it keeps growing! In reality, though, the Future Ready Schools initiative (http://futureready.org/) is amazing resource worth exploring. Their goal: “When high quality teaching is infused with the dynamic use of technology, personalized student learning becomes possible. The Future Ready District Pledge is designed to set out a roadmap to achieve that success and to commit districts to move as quickly as possible towards a shared vision of preparing students for success in college, career, and citizenship.” Even better, the Future Ready Librarians framework follows the same model allowing for embedding librarians into conversations and decision-making at an administrative level.

Though I joke about the time sink, I’m actually very excited about the opportunities that may emerge from Future Ready Librarian program. The focus is on personalized learning. Interestingly, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s 2014 report on professional development, Teachers Know Best: Teachers’ Views on Professional Development highlights the perceived value of time and of an individualized and personalized approach to professional learning. Of the eleven barriers provided in their report, the three top-cited barriers were those that mentioned and focused on time.
Gates Foundation graph

  • Short-term goal… use tools like Google Keep and NIMBUS to share resources and knowledge with colleagues.
  • Long-term goal… utilize the Future Ready Librarian framework to leverage embedding librarians into administrative-level discussions and planning regarding professional development and teaching.
  • Slightly longer-term goal… create a time machine.

“Time saved is life gained.” Isaac Pitman 1813-1897

(Developer of most widely used shorthand method. Also, often credited as the first to provide distance learning in education when he utilized the British mail system to teach his shorthand method by correspondence course https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Pitman)

Resources

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. (2014). Teachers know best: Teachers’ views on professional development. Retrieved from https://s3.amazonaws.com/edtech-production/reports/Gates-PDMarketResearch-Dec5.pdf

Elgan, M. (2016, November 26). Why you should start using Google Keep right away. Computerworld. Retrieved from http://www.computerworld.com/article/3144450/enterprise-applications/why-you-should-start-using-google-keep-right-away.html

Future Ready Schools. (2017). Future Ready Librarians. Retrieved from http://futureready.org/about-the-effort/librarians/

International Society for Technology in Education. (n.d.). ISTE standards for coaches. Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/standards/standards/standards-for-coaches

Johnston, M. P. (n.d.). School librarians as technology integration leaders: Enablers and barriers to leadership enactment. School Library Research, 15(2012). Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/aasl/sites/ala.org.aasl/files/content/aaslpubsandjournals/slr/vol15/SLR_School_Librarians_as_Technology_Integration_Leaders_V15.pdf

Lewis, K. R. (2016, April). The school librarian and leadership: What can be learned? Teacher Librarian, 43(4), 18-21.

Whitwam, R. (2016, April 25). 5 awesome Google Keep features you aren’t using, but should be. Greenbot. Retrieved from http://www.greenbot.com/article/3058745/android/5-awesome-google-keep-features-you-arent-using-but-should-be.html

Tools
Google Keep: keep.google.com

NIMBUS Screenshot and Screencast
for Chrome:
https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/nimbus-screenshot-and-scr/bpconcjcammlapcogcnnelfmaeghhagj?hl=en-US
also available for Firefox, PC, Android: http://nimbus.everhelper.me/screenshot.php

Future Ready Librarians: http://futureready.org/about-the-effort/librarians/

 

Andragogy, Pedagogy, Heutagogy… Holy Goji Berries! My Brain is Full.

exploring “andragogy” and the work of Malcolm S. Knowles
Head map

 

I debate with myself. A lot. At times this seemingly unending stream of thoughts leads to unease and pinch of insomnia. I like to feel at peace with my thoughts, but I’ve really struggled with my latest unit of study. Andragogy, pedagogy, professional development and learning, adult educational theory, and how all of those pieces fit together… Throw them all together in a bowl with an extra dash of fatigue and you’ve got a recipe for confusion. What started out as a relatively simple blog post has morphed into a complex and interrelated tangle of educational theory and experiences. You know when you carefully pack away your Christmas lights at the end of the season and then go to unpack them the next year?

tangled Christmas lights

Yeah. I think that’s roughly what the neurons in my brain currently resemble. With that in mind, literally, I thought I’d open up my journal…

Tuesday, January 17

Andragogyandragogy definition

As opposed to pedagogy, the study of how teaching children. Got it. Google?…

Wikipedia entry on Malcolm S. Knowles

The adult learning theory of Malcolm S. Knowles

I should make an infographic explaining Knowles’ theories. Nevermind, someone else already did a better job than I could have…

Knowles andragogy infographic

Knowles’ Six Principles of Adult Learning

  1. Adult Learners are Motivated and Self-Directed
  2. Adult Learners Bring Life Experience and Knowledge
  3. Adult Learners are Goal Oriented
  4. Adult Learners are Relevancy Oriented
  5. Adult Learners are Practical
  6. Adult Learners Like to be Respected

This blog post is going to be easy…

So, to sum up: Adults learn differently than kids. It can’t be that simple, is it?

Wednesday, January 18

I think I’ve got a triggering event that will work for the topic:

What role do adult learning principles play in planning educational technology professional development?

Vague enough that I can put my own spin on the topic, without having to do too much extra reading this week (I am still trying to catch up from being sick at the beginning of the quarter)…  So how does andragogy fit in with professional development? Edutopia here I come… Holy cow. So many resources. Where to start? Discomfort, Growth, and Innovation Ha! Pretty much sums up how I’m feeling right now. “School leaders and coaches must foster a culture that celebrates the discomfort inevitably resulting from change. And that requires three key strategies: 1) Empathize 2) Model 3) Celebrate.” That represents a massive shift in culture. It’s not an easy fix, especially when thinking of the layers of tradition in professional development.

Thursday, January 19

I haven’t even scratched the surface, but something’s bugging me… Much of what I’m reading about andragogy focuses on differences between adult learners and young learners. And nearly everything leads to Malcolm S. Knowles. Hasn’t anyone taken up his mantle? And have his theories been proven? How? Anytime I come across a theory that’s so closely tied to one individual, I always become a bit of a skeptic. Does andragogy appear in Snopes? Nope.

And what about the fact that our world is very different from that of Knowles? Take a look at this article Malcolm wrote about buying his first computer (I accessed it online at my local library http://www.sno-isle.org/research/). The guy literally wrote a letter to Steve Jobs and the microcomputer industry because he was having a hard time installing and using word processing software. And Apple sent an Apple employee to his home for a day to try and help him through the technical difficulties. Unsuccessfully. Yesterday my kid installed a spelling game app on his iPad. With no help from me. He’s 7. There was no instruction manual. My 9 year old is working on a book report. He started the project at school; everything’s saved in the cloud; his learning is extended from his classroom to our kitchen computer; and now he’s writing an email to his teacher to apologize for the fact that his work will be late because he should have started this project a week ago.

Friday, January 20

So are there other models, related to andragogy? Or principles that don’t lead directly to Knowles’ work? I swear, ANY Google result for “andragogy” is roughly ½ a degree of separation from good ol’ Malcolm. Interesting and slightly related fact: Malcolm Knowles is separated by only four degrees from Kevin Bacon on Wikipedia. Pike’s Five Laws of Learning. I’ve seen that mentioned a few times.  Hmmm, let’s take a look:

Law 1: Adults are Babies with Big Bodies
Law 2: People Don’t Argue with Their Own Data
Law 3: Learning is Directly Proportional to the Amount of Fun You Have
Law 4: Learning has not Taken Place Until Behavior has Changed
Law 5: When You Can Transfer Learning to Someone Else, You’ve Confirmed Competence

Here’s another site on understanding adult learners that blends Knowles and Pike. But really, all of this stuff applies to kids and adults alike. Yeah, learning should be fun, we should keep the learner’s experience in mind, yada yada yada… this is leading nowhere. Are we shortchanging our kids by sticking to pedagogical models of yesteryear? Are they really that different than us grown-ups when it comes to learning?   

Sunday, January 22

Reading the Seattle Times with a cup of coffee (the first of many today). What a great opinion piece on school funding by the 2016 Washington State Teacher of the Year, Nathan Gibbs-Bowling. Co-founder of Teachers United… Let’s take a look… What’s this? “House Bill 1345, which defines professional learning for teachers in the state of Washington, was signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee on March 31, 2016. […] Teachers United worked with our legislators to recommend policy and craft the language of the bill.” We have a House Bill that defines professional learning? And when did “professional development” become “professional learning” and is there even a difference? Great, now I’ve got to go find what the bill actually says. Adopting a definition and standards of professional learning (HB 1345: 2015-16). And why haven’t I heard a thing about this legislation? They all sound like great ideas, but is this just another unfunded mandate from our legislature? And how can I leverage this document to push for more effective professional development for myself and my colleagues?

Monday, January 23

Searched by .pdf filetype on Google. I always forget about trying that. Here’s an interesting resource by Marcia Cross looking at andragogy and pedagogy. Oh my goodness, yes! “Unfortunately, andragogy usually is cited in education texts as the way adults learn. Knowles himself concedes that four of andragogy’s five key assumptions apply equally to adults and children. The sole difference is that children have fewer experiences and pre-established beliefs than adults and thus have less to relate.” I think this is a lot of what’s been throwing me for a loop. On one hand we’re saying adults learn differently, PD needs to be different, even state law says so. And yet, in much of my experience, it’s not changing. Stand and deliver doesn’t work; “one and done” trainings aren’t a sustainable or effective model and yet they persist. Why? And is it really a continuum of learning, from pedagogy to andragogy? I know I’ve seen kids that are more andragogical learners (especially in regards to technology) than some educators I’ve worked with over the past fifteen years…

Tuesday, January 24

What really separates pedagogy and andragogy? Kids from adult learners? Time and experience. So is that it? Seems a bit short for a blog post. Gotta keep reading.

Wednesday, January 25

Youngest kid is sick. I don’t want to get sick again. Wash hands, rinse, repeat. Please don’t get sick.

Thursday, January 26

Now I’m sick. So much nose blowing. Ugh.

Friday, January 27

I thought I’d revisit a book I purchased last year to try and give my brain a vacation from “andragogy”. I grown to appreciate the writing of Alfie Kohn. I greatly respect educators who ask questions. Not questioning just to be difficult or different, but questioning to truly seek out answers to complex issues. So let’s relax with a book…

Alfie Kohn - Feel Bad Education book cover

Well, so much for relaxing. Reading Kohn’s “‘Well, duh!’ — Obvious Truths We Shouldn’t Be Ignoring”, I’m thinking to myself: “Pretty much all of these apply to all learners, not just kids, so what the heck is andragogy?”

  1. Much of the material that students are required to memorize is soon forgotten
  2. Just knowing a lot of facts doesn’t mean that one is smart
  3. If kids have different talents, interests, and ways of learning, it’s probably not ideal to teach all of them the same things — or in the same way
  4. Students are more likely to learn what they find interesting
  5. Students are less interested in whatever they’re forced to do and more enthusiastic when they have some say.
  6. Just because X raises standardized test scores, doesn’t mean X should be done
  7. Students are more likely to succeed in a place where they feel known and cared about
  8. We want children to develop in many ways, not just academically
  9. Just because a lesson (or book, or class, or test) is harder, doesn’t mean it’s better
  10. Kids aren’t just short adults
  11. Education policies that benefit (or appeal to) large corporations aren’t necessarily good for children
  12. Substance matters more than labels

Wait, Alfie Kohn is bad for me? Willingham seems like a great guy, too. Well, crap. Now I don’t know what to think.

Saturday, January 28

Seriously? Ebsco just went down for maintenance… 😐

Okay, why can I not get this blog post started? I agree with nearly all of the andragogical ideas regarding improving professional learning for educators. What’s nagging at me? I think it’s the unease of the efficacy of Knowles’ andragogy model in relation to our student expectations. We’re asking them to do things that they’re not ready for developmentally. Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching, the basis for our Washington State TPEP model of teacher observation and development. In order to step up into the category of “distinguished”, learning must shift into student control and direction. How can these elementary kids possibly be self-directed and motivated when those are the very andragogical skills that develop through experience and age? I understand that scaffolding those experiences can assist with the progression, but are they really ready for that model of freedom at such a young age? Today’s kindergarten work is yesterday’s 1st and 2nd grade curriculum. So has andragogy been pushed into lower grades as well? Creativity and play and social skills have been pushed aside to better prepare for rote skills. There are so many disconnects, I don’t know where to begin…

Sunday, January 29

This blog post is not writing itself. I still have no idea what I’m writing about…

Sometimes I'll start a sentence

Wait, “heutagogy”… I thought I’d already read about all of the -gogies? This article looks at the idea of shifting from the self-directed learning of andragogy and into self-determined and autonomous learning of heutagogy.

progression of learning model(Blaschke 2012, 60)

Is this learning progression a more accurate model for today’s learners?

 

Monday, January 30

I don’t know. All of that reading, all of that thinking, and I still don’t know. In fact, I know I’ve got more unanswered questions now than when I first began this unit.

I’m including a list of references that I’ve explored these past couple of weeks. It’s a ridiculously long list for the trivial blog post that emerged, and it’s not even complete. I especially enjoyed reading many of the magazine articles by Knowles himself (many in Training & Development Journal), to gain a better understanding of his voice and his thinking. I wonder how he would react today to the near canonization of his theory of adult learning, and also how he would view the students of today, especially keeping in mind the changing nature of our technology? Would Knowles agree with Knowles from the 1960s, 70s, and 80s?

I just realized I haven’t even answered my triggering question. One of my deepest struggles during this time of introspection and exploration has been running all of this theory of andragogy through the filter of my own district’s professional development. And knowing that it may get worse before it gets better. We need instructional coaches. We need professional learning based on a foundation of trust built on relationships. We need to escape the culture of learning that is focused squarely on SBA test results rather than the skills and creativity of our staff. Our professional development model needs to shift, as does our teaching, but I just don’t know how to be a change agent for that necessary shift in the face of high-stakes testing. And that is a hard mental pill for me to swallow.

So what can I do? For now, I can take comfort in the simple focus of these words from Knowles in an October 1989 Training & Development Journal column “Learning to Be Authentic”:

knowles quote

I can focus on just being myself, especially when working with colleagues towards professional learning. I think that is truly the key to bringing about change… Realizing that every learner brings their story to the table, and I bring mine. 

(I hope you have enjoyed this journey into my thinking process from these past couple weeks. Please note that I omitted many random thoughts that occurred throughout this time, especially an abnormally large number of Bugs Bunny cartoons that seemed to be on repeat in my head… the operatic “Kill the Wabbit!” was quite popular this week, for some reason. If there are any dream interpreters out there, I don’t want to know what it means.) -JH

References

Australian Catholic University. (2015, December 16). Knowles’ six principles of adult learning. Retrieved from http://www.acu.edu.au/798038

Bretzmann, J. (2015). Personalized PD: Flipping your professional development. New Berlin, WI: The Bretzmann Group.

Benjes-Small, C., & Archer, A. (2014, January 13). Tales of the undead… learning theories: The learning pyramid [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://acrlog.org/2014/01/13/tales-of-the-undead-learning-theories-the-learning-pyramid

Blaschke, L. M. (2012). Heutagogy and lifelong learning: A review of heutagogical practice and self-determined learning. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 13(1), 56-71. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ979639.pdf

Carpenter, J. (2016). Teachers at the wheel. Educational Leadership, 73(8), 30-35. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/may16/vol73/num08/Teachers-at-the-Wheel.aspx

Conner, M. (n.d.). Introduction to andragogy + pedagogy. Retrieved from http://marciaconner.com/resources/andragogy-pedagogy/

Edmunds, C., Lowe, K., Murray, M., & Seymour, A. (2002). Ultimate adult learning. In The ultimate educator: Achieving maximum learning through training and instruction. Retrieved from https://www.ncjrs.gov/ovc_archives/educator/welcome.html

Gardner, H., & Davis, K. (2013). Conclusion: Beyond the app generation. In The app generation: How today’s youth navigate identity, intimacy, and imagination in a digital world (pp. 155-197). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Henschke, J. (2011). Considerations regarding the future of andragogy. Adult Learning, 22(1), 34-37. Retrieved from http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/104515951102200109

Knowles, M. S. (1976). Separating the Amateurs from the Pros in Training. Training & Development Journal, 30(9), 16.

Knowles, M. S. (1983). Malcolm Knowles Finds A Worm in His Apple. Training & Development Journal, 37(5), 12.

Knowles, M. (1989, October). Learning to be authentic. Training & Development Journal, 43(10), 42.

Kohn, A. (1993). Choices for children: Why and how to let students decide. Phi Delta Kappan, 75(1). Retrieved from http://www.alfiekohn.org/article/choices-children/

Kohn, A. (2011). “Well, duh!”: Obvious truths that we shouldn’t be ignoring. In Feel-bad education: And other contrarian essays on children and schooling (pp. 1-17). Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. (n.d.). Massachusetts standards for professional development (HQPD). Retrieved January 28, 2017, from http://www.doe.mass.edu/pd/standards.html

Pappas, C. (2013, May 9). The adult learning theory (andragogy) of Malcolm Knowles – eLearning Industry. Retrieved from https://elearningindustry.com/the-adult-learning-theory-andragogy-of-malcolm-knowles (accompanying infographic: http://elearninginfographics.com/wp-content/uploads/The-Adult-Learning-Theory-Andragogy-Infographic.jpg)

Phillips, P. (2017, January 4). Personalizing professional development for teachers, by teachers. EdSurge News. Retrieved from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2017-01-04-personalizing-professional-development-for-teachers-by-teachers

Pike, R. (2013, June 3). Creative training techniques 101: The basics [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.bobpikegroup.com/blog/78

Siko, J. P., & Hess, A. N. (2014). Win-win professional development: Providing meaningful professional development while meeting the needs of all stakeholders. TechTrends, 58(6), 99-108. doi:10.1007/s11528-014-0809-7

Strickland, C. A. (2009). What is high-quality professional development for differentiating instruction. In Professional development for differentiating instruction: An ASCD action tool. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/109042/chapters/What_Is_High-Quality_Professional_Development_for_Differentiating_Instruction.aspx

Swanson, K. (2014). EdCamp: Teachers take back professional development. Educational Leadership, 71(8), 36-40. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/may14/vol71/num08/Edcamp@-Teachers-Take-Back-Professional-Development.aspx

Washington State Legislature. (2016). Adopting a definition and standards of professional learning (HB 1345: 2015-16). Retrieved from http://app.leg.wa.gov/billsummary?BillNumber=1345&Year=2015

Who will take these notes with me? Combating Little Red Hen Syndrome

Little Red Hen

The Little Red Hen’s “Who will help me make this bread?” familiar refrain can teach us a lot about collaboration with our peers. Let me set the stage…

The dreaded moment has arrived. You’re in a staff meeting. You’re sitting with a few colleagues at Table 2. You’ve been assigned to read and report on a portion of a chapter from a book you’ve never heard of until about 2 minutes ago. “Have someone in your group take notes so you can share out with the whole group when we reconvene.” And now no one in your group wants to make eye contact with each other. Suddenly a stray piece of fuzz on your pants is the most interesting thing in the world, as you think to yourself, “…Please don’t make me write. Please don’t pick me. Please don’t make me write…” After a few awkward moments, some sacrificial lamb of a teacher offers (or more likely, is offered up) to step into the role of “recorder”. The sad reality is that often “recorder” can be translated as “poor soul who got stuck with the unenviable job of listening to a conversation while simultaneously translating/condensing/transcribing”. The cherry on top? “Who’s sharing out from Table 2?” “…[awkward pause]…[pant fuzz has made a repeat appearance]…[slow realization that the “recorder” is the only one who can truly translate the list of ideas and now they need to share out]…I’ll do it,” you say reluctantly while trying to sound enthusiastic even though you’re still a little annoyed that you didn’t even truly take part in the conversation that you’re about to summarize.

The truth is, you likely aren’t mad at your peers for being put on the spot. Your frustration stems from the feeling of disconnect and missed opportunities for conversation and learning. Our students most likely feel the same way when stuck with learning opportunities that limit collaboration with their peers. As we educators continue to enforce these limitations, we’re also limiting opportunities for our students to develop the invaluable 3-Cs of 21st Century learning and information skills: Creativity and Innovation, Critical Thinking and Problem Solving, and Communication and Collaboration. So now what?…

G Suite application iconsG Suite to the rescue! Formerly known as Google Apps For Education (GAFE), G Suite (renamed in Oct. 2016) is the family of Google productivity tools, including Google Docs, Google Drive, Google Classroom, and more. The suite of tools is intact, so why the change in name? When it comes to Google, at times it feels the only constant is change. In 2014 Mark Howe, managing director for agency sales at Google, spoke to the value Google places on change: “We don’t go out to be a disruptive business, but we’re changing the rules all the time because the world is constantly changing… We’re all constantly thinking into the future, rather than thinking incrementally. If you’re only incremental then you’re falling behind immediately.” Howe said that last year Google made 1,100 changes to its search business. “You’ve got to be working fast – if not [the next big thing] will come from someone’s garage and take over. You have to keep running, you can’t slow down and be complacent. Complacency about change will be the death of companies.” (Barnes, 2014)  What can be a frustration for educators is actually a business strategy and way of life for the world of Google.

G Suite app store screen captureOne area where teachers can really struggle with G Suite products is keeping up with the constant churn these changes (frequently made with little or no warning). I recently overheard in a staff lounge: “Just when I get close to figuring out how to use Google Docs, then they go and change it again!” (I didn’t even broach the subject of the GAFE name change for fear of minds being blown!) So how to respond? Professional development is always an important step, though the constant change makes creating tutorials that are meaningful and lasting in their applicability a Herculean task. Luckily for us, earlier this year Google acquired Synergyse (https://portal.synergyse.com/), a company founded by a pair of ex-Google employees. Synergyse’s product consisted of interactive training modules and walkthroughs that were integrated into GAFE applications. Even more luckily for G Suite customers, the same training tools are now available through G Suite Training, a free Chrome add-on available on the Chrome Web Store: G Suite Training  

Watch for this rainbow question mark:  G Suite Training iconBy adding the tool to the Chrome browser, the G Suite Training icon then appears in the Chrome toolbar in all G Suite applications. At any point in any project, you can click on the icon and instantly explore training modules and information — the type of on-demand training and assistance that is necessary in the face of constant change.

The G Suite Training Center is also a great resource for novice users and power users alike: https://gsuite.google.com/learning-center/

G Suite Training Center

These are certainly not the only resources available to help teachers navigate through G Suite tools, but perhaps their greatest value lies in knowing that the training modules and information will adapt and change alongside the tools. There’s no sense in creating step-by-step tutorials that are out-of-date nearly as soon as you share them.

Throughout modern history, top secret development labs (at 3M, Dow/Corning, Lockheed/Martin, Boeing, and the like) have become famous for incubating dynamic and new ideas. Google’s development lab is known as “Google X,” and the pace of change there is staggering. Not only is success not guaranteed, but the failure rate is far higher than many teachers would be comfortable with… “This is the essence of Google X. When the leadership can fail in full view, ‘then it gives everyone permission to be more like that.’ Failure is not precisely the goal at Google X. But in many respects it is the means.” (Gertner, 2014)

So how do we combat the Little Red Hen Syndrome? How do we enable and empower teachers to work together on project development? On collaborative grading and revision? Unlike the beloved folktale, it’s seldom pure laziness on the part of our colleagues that drives our disinterest. Instead, we’ve all been burned too many times by inefficient processes and poor collaborative frameworks. Think back to that initial doomed staff meeting. Why didn’t anyone want to take notes? No one wanted to be stuck in that note-taking role and be removed from the conversation and the learning process. Instead, if the staff had been able to work on a collaborative Google Doc, they each could have recorded their responses, in their own words, in real-time. Just think of the opportunities for going beyond surface level “collaboration” and actually diving into working together collaboratively using G Suite tools. The opportunity to experience learning from the perspective of our students is invaluable. And if things didn’t work perfectly, perfect! We’re following Google’s lead to successfully fail our way towards growth. Though, to be honest, the sentiment sounds a great deal like a poem from 1840…

‘Tis a lesson you should heed,
If at first you don’t succeed,
Try, try again;

Then your courage should appear,
For if you will persevere,
You will conquer, never fear
Try, try again;

Once or twice, though you should fail,
If you would at last prevail,
Try, try again;

If we strive, ’tis no disgrace
Though we do not win the race;
What should you do in the case?
Try, try again

If you find your task is hard,
Time will bring you your reward,
Try, try again

All that other folks can do,
Why, with patience, should not you?
Only keep this rule in view:
Try, try again.

Thomas H. Palmer (1782–1861)
printer, author, and educational reformer

References

Barnes, R. (2014, April 2). Google on disruption and looking over your shoulder to the guy in the garage. Retrieved from http://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/1288538/google-disruption-looking-shoulder-guy-garage

Carey, J. (2014, July 18). 10 things teachers should know to do with Google Docs. Retrieved from http://www.edudemic.com/10-things-every-teacher-know-google-docs/

Foltos, L. (2013). Enhancing learning by integrating technology. In Peer coaching: Unlocking the power of collaboration. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.G Suite on YouTube. (n.d.). Retrieved November 29, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/user/GoogleApps

Gertner, J. (2014, April 15). The truth about Google X: An exclusive look behind the secretive lab’s closed doors | Fast Company. Retrieved from https://www.fastcompany.com/3028156/united-states-of-innovation/the-google-x-factor

Google. (n.d.). G Suite Learning Center – All the training you need, in one place. Retrieved from https://gsuite.google.com/learning-center/

International Society for Technology in Education. (n.d.). Standards for coaches. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/standards/standards-for-coaches

Lardinois, F. (2016, May 2). Google acquires Synergyse, an interactive training service for Google Apps | TechCrunch. Retrieved from https://techcrunch.com/2016/05/02/google-acquires-synergyse-an-interactive-training-service-for-google-apps/

Palmer, T. H. (1840). … The teacher’s manual: being an exposition of an efficient and economical system of education suited to the wants of a free people | Internet Archive. Retrieved from https://archive.org/details/teachersmanualbe00palm

Rochelle, J. (2016, October 4). Introducing G Suite for Education [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://blog.google/topics/education/introducing-g-suite-education/

Teaching Channel. (n.d.). Fostering student collaboration with Google Docs [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/fostering-student-collaboration

The Little Red Hen
photo by: in pastel
https://www.flickr.com/photos/g-dzilla/5198225154 (CC BY 2.0)

 

ISTE Coaching Standards

ISTE-C Standard 1:   Visionary Leadership

  1. Implement strategies for initiating and sustaining technology innovations and manage the change process in schools and classrooms

ISTE-C Standard 2: Teaching, Learning, and Assessment

  1. Coach teachers in and model incorporation of research-based best practices in instructional design when planning technology-enhanced learning experiences

Peer Coaching: Lessons from Business Leaders

Lessons From Business Leaders: What can educators learn from the private sector about a sustainable peer coaching model?

robert louis stevenson quoteThroughout these past three months I’ve been exploring and practicing the peer coaching model. My professor, Les Foltos, literally wrote the book on the topic. His book, Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration (http://amzn.to/2g7WiW7) is a valuable introduction and instruction manual for implementing peer coaching on an individual and school-wide basis. All quarter long I’ve alternated between a sense of overwhelming encouragement and challenge as I’ve worked to implement the peer coaching model into my efforts with teachers and fellow librarians in my district, and I’ve personally struggled with doubts through these initial efforts. Is it worth the effort? Am I truly acting as a peer coach or am I falling into comfortable habits of enabling learned helplessness when it comes to technology integration in my colleagues’ teaching? And can I truly succeed in my efforts and sustain true peer coaching relationships with colleagues? Perhaps more importantly, can I extend and sustain the peer coaching model beyond my classroom walls?

My wife works for an aerospace company as a first line manager and often serves as a sounding board when I’m struggling with a concept or issue at work or when I’m just exploring ideas that are new to me. Her undergraduate degree was in elementary education, though she has spent nearly two decades in the business world so our conversations often bridge between the two worlds. I never cease to be amazed at how similar our worlds are (unfortunate salary disparity withstanding) and we often find answers across the divide of public and private sector. With that in mind, I spent the past few weeks exploring the concepts of peer coaching in the world of business with the hope of discovering practical and sustainable practices for maintaining system-wide peer coaching success. What I found was that strong leadership and shared vision are crucial elements to sustained peer coaching success, in business and in education alike, though the idea of a “strong” leader is often misunderstood and “sustainable” is highly dependent on individuals.

Every year Bill Gates commits to reading roughly one book a week. As a librarian, I can’t speak highly enough about how much I value real-world examples of lifelong readers like the Microsoft co-founder. For the past five years Mr. Gates has put out a twice-yearly “Best Books List” (https://www.gatesnotes.com/Books#All). This year’s list was announced yesterday and I was struck by his words regarding one of the books, The Myth of the Strong Leader by Archie Brown.

bill gates quote on leadershipGates: “Brown’s core argument is exactly what his title suggests: despite a worldwide fixation on strength as a positive quality, strong leaders—those who concentrate power and decision-making in their own hands—are not necessarily good leaders. On the contrary, Brown argues that the leaders who make the biggest difference in office, and change millions of lives for the better, are the ones who collaborate, delegate, and negotiate—the ones who recognize that no one person can or should have all the answers.” (Gates, 2016)  

Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman explored a similar idea in their research and shared their findings in the Harvard Business Review article “People Who Think They’re Great Coaches Often Aren’t”. They looked at nearly 4000 business leaders who self-identified as “coaches” and who were willing to self-assess and be openly assessed by their peers. What they found was 24% of coaches had a blind spot when it came to their coaching abilities. They saw themselves as successful, though their level of coaching success was in the bottom third of the rankings. In summary: “if you think you’re a good coach but you actually aren’t, this data suggests you may be a good deal worse than you imagined.” (Zenger and Folkman, 2016)

perception vs reality business leadership characteristics

The common thread that arose again and again was the idea of servant leadership. A timeless concept through relatively uncommon in leadership circles in the Western world, both in education and business alike. “Servant leadership is both a leadership philosophy and set of leadership practices. Traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the ‘top of the pyramid.’ By comparison, the servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.” Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Servant_leadership

Robert Greenleaf popularized the term “servant leadership” in his 1970 essay, “The Servant as Leader,” and he went on to found what is now the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership https://www.greenleaf.org/. His work was instrumental in bringing the seemingly oxymoronic idea of a servant leader into the world of business management.

servant leadership guiding principles Bill Gates is often cited as an example of a successful servant leader, both in his time as founder and CEO of Microsoft and subsequently his charitable work with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Howard Schultz, Chairman and CEO of Starbucks, has often shared about the value he places in servant leadership (New York Times 2015 Op-Ed). In announcing his upcoming retirement this week, Schultz shared the timing was right because of my confidence in the strategy, my confidence in the team, and my deep deep respect for Kevin Johnson as a servant leader.”

So what does all of this mean for educators? What lessons can we take from the business world? There is no shortcut to a sustained and successful peer coaching system-wide model. It takes great effort. Be patient. Our efforts today may not come to fruition until far down the road. Small steps now set the path for colleagues to follow. It’s a continual process of honest self-reflection and improvement. Open communication can remove many of the roadblocks to successful peer coaching relationships. Remember the coaches who self-assessed themselves as “great”… If you think you have all of the answers, you don’t.  And it requires strong leadership. Foltos writes: “Changing a school’s culture is something that coaches cannot do on their own…  The school needs formal leaders that are committed to defining and implementing a culture of collaboration focused on continuous improvement of teaching and learning.” (Foltos, 2013, pg. 180).  So there is no silver bullet, but the world of business can provide excellent real-world examples of the value of coaching and collaboration.

References

Gates, B. (2016, December 5). What makes a great leader? Retrieved from https://www.gatesnotes.com/Books/The-Myth-of-the-Strong-Leader

Crippen, C. (2010). Serve, teach, and lead: It’s all about relationships. InSight: A Journal of Scholarly Teaching, 5, 27-36. Retrieved from http://insightjournal.park.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/2-Serve-Teach-and-Lead-Its-All-About-Relationships.pdf ERIC Number: EJ902861

Foltos, L. (2015, February). Principals boost coaching’s impact. JSD | The Learning Forward Journal, 36(1), 48-51,61. Retrieved from https://learningforward.org/docs/default-source/jsd-february-2015/principals-boost-coaching’s-impact.pdf

Foltos, L. (2013). Sustaining coaching and building capacity. In Peer coaching: Unlocking the power of collaboration.

Friedman, S. (2010, February 23). Honing your skills as a peer coach | Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2010/02/honing-your-skills-as-a-peer-c

Friedman, S. (2015, March 13). How to get your team to coach each other | Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2015/03/how-to-get-your-team-to-coach-each-other.html

Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership. (n.d.). What is servant leadership? Retrieved from https://www.greenleaf.org/what-is-servant-leadership/#

Heskett, J. (2013, May 1). Why isn’t servant leadership more prevalent? Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/hbsworkingknowledge/2013/05/01/why-isnt-servant-leadership-more-prevalent/#314983f94c36

Jewett, P., & MacPhee, D. (2012). Adding Collaborative Peer Coaching to Our Teaching Identities. The Reading Teacher, 66(2), 105-110. doi:10.1002/trtr.01089

Kanter, R. M. (2009, August 12). Change is hardest in the middle | Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2009/08/change-is-hardest-in-the-middl

Mashihi, S., & Nowack, K. (2012, July 17). Clueless part 1: Three necessary conditions for initiating and sustaining successful behavior change. Retrieved from https://www.td.org/Publications/Blogs/Learning-Executive-Blog/2012/07/Clueless-Part-1

Morgan, H. (n.d.). Howard J. Morgan resources. Retrieved from http://www.howardjmorgan.com/coaching.html

Schultz, H. (2015, August 6). Howard Schultz: America deserves a servant leader – The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/06/opinion/america-deserves-a-servant-leader.html

Spears, L. (n.d.). Ten principles of servant leadership | Butler.edu. Retrieved from https://www.butler.edu/volunteer/resources/ten-principles-servant-leadership

Zenger, J., & Folkman, J. (2016, June 23). People who think they’re great coaches often aren’t | Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2016/06/people-who-think-theyre-great-coaches-often-arent

ISTE-Coaching Standards

http://www.iste.org/standards/standards/standards-for-coaches

Standard 2: Teaching, Learning, and Assessment

  1. Coach teachers in and model incorporation of research-based best practices in instructional design when planning technology-enhanced learning experiences

Standard 6: Content Knowledge and Professional Growth

  1. Engage in continuous learning to deepen professional knowledge, skills, and dispositions in organizational change and leadership, project management, and adult learning to improve professional practice
  2. Regularly evaluate and reflect on their professional practice and dispositions to improve and strengthen their ability to effectively model and facilitate technology-enhanced learning experiences

P21, Peer Coaching & Picture Books

John Wooden quote

Addressing 21st Century Skills and promoting critical thinking in a fifth grade classroom can be a tall order when faced with a deeply scripted curriculum. While project-based learning (PBL) is often seen as a catch-all approach to develop the 4-Cs (Collaboration, Communication, Critical thinking, and Creativity), the harsh reality is that fully implementing PBL is not always feasible. We as teachers are still tasked with developing those vital critical thinking skills in our students, though, so how can we respond? The same way I respond to many complex problems… with picture books!

ISTE-C Standard 1:   Visionary Leadership
Implement strategies for initiating and sustaining technology innovations and manage the change process in schools and classrooms

ISTE-C Standard 2: Teaching, Learning, and Assessment
Coach teachers in and model incorporation of research-based best practices in instructional design when planning technology-enhanced learning experiences

Guiding Question:

What can I do as a peer coach to help a fifth grade teaching team develop critical thinking skills in their students?

library shelves with picture books

Metaphors and other figurative language are great practice for higher order thinking. As an elementary librarian I’m a bit biased, but I think one of the best ways to teach concepts (simple and complex) is through picture books. It can enable students to make complex connections that may otherwise be missed with text-heavy resources only. This 5 minute video from the Teaching Channel website (https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/using-touchstone-texts) explores the idea of using a picture book for just that reason, as a touchstone text (Using a short engaging text to anchor a series of lessons on a tough concept). I feel that this video could be an effective resource to kick off a discussion with the fifth grade team.

As I continue my studies on peer coaching and the ISTE Coaching Standards, I have been reminded of the overwhelming nature of my colleagues’ work. With ISTE-C Standard 2 in mind, I met recently with a peer fifth grade teacher to explore ideas for manageable technology integration into their literacy block. An upcoming lesson is focusing on completing a reading response poster.

reading response poster

While it’s been a highly engaging activity for his students in the past, this project seems like an opportunity ripe for technology integration. One thing that has impressed me in our brief conversations has been how focusing on active listening and the use of clarifying questions shifted the tone of our interaction. I’m often seen as the “tech guy” who knows the answers to all things tech. The reality when it comes to technology is I’m a failure. I fail early and I fail often. Then I troubleshoot and find a way to make things work. And that’s what I want to help my peers to discover: to understand that failure is an option and their peers are available to support them through those inevitable moments. One of the biggest benefits of the peer coaching model is this shift from the default “expert” mode. I don’t know what technology tool(s) we’re going to use or explore, but I do know that my colleague is excited about the idea of exploring options that would allow for technology integration into the final product.

21st Century skills such as critical thinking are best developed within the framework of project based learning, something that is difficult with a primarily scripted and prescribed curriculum seemingly at odds with open-ended learning. I want this to be a meaningful and realistic process for my classroom colleagues, and my fear is that they’ll feel overwhelmed and see these activities as unfeasible add-ons rather than worthwhile additions to their instruction. I also want my peers (and students) to remember Coach Wooden’s words: “Failure is not fatal”, rather, it’s failing to adapt that causes the real problems. The more we revisit that idea and the more we keep the idea simple and digestible in bite-sized chunks (Picture Books!), the more success we’ll see in our work. 

Resources

3-5 Critical Thinking Rubric (non-CCSS) | Project Based Learning | BIE. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.bie.org/object/document/3_5_critical_thinking_rubric_non_ccss

Edutopia. (n.d.). Search results: Critical thinking. Retrieved November 2, 2016, from https://www.edutopia.org/search-results?search=critical%20thinking

Finley, T. (2014, August 19). Critical thinking pathways | Edutopia. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/critical-thinking-pathways-todd-finley

Lange, S. (2014, June 12). Strategies to promote critical thinking in the elementary classroom – P21. Retrieved from http://www.p21.org/news-events/p21blog/1435-strategies-to-promote-critical-thinking-in-the-elementary-classroom

Mastro, V. (2014, May 20). Common core, critical thinking and Aesop’s Fables. Edutopia. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/common-core-critical-thinking-aesop-vincent-mastro

Ripp, P. (2015, October 3). Great Picture Books to Teach Theme. Retrieved from https://pernillesripp.com/2015/10/03/great-picture-books-to-teach-theme/

Schoch, K. (2016). Teach with Picture Books. Retrieved from http://teachwithpicturebooks.blogspot.com/search/label/picture%20books
(http://teachingreadingandla.pbworks.com/f/Picture%20Books%20Across%20the%20Curriculum%202011%20revised.pdf)

Teaching Channel. (2016). Using a touchstone book to introduce tough concepts. Retrieved from https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/using-touchstone-texts

Picture book section by San Jose Library (CC BY-SA 2.0)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/sanjoselibrary/2720236291 

 

 

[bonus resource] I came across this 30 minute documentary about using picture books to teach complex philosophy concepts to second graders. It was just too good not to include it in this resource list…

Big Ideas for Little Kids: Teaching Philosophy through Picture Books  http://wgby.org/bigideas

Generational Intelligence: VIC-20s and iPads and Peer Coaching

Commodore 1530 cassette deckIn 1982, I was seven years old, and I was typing away on a Commodore VIC-20 computer. In order to load programs onto its whopping 5 KB of onboard memory, I would press play on the attached cassette deck and wait. (Here’s an interesting YouTube video if you have an extra 15 minutes to spare and want to learn more about how these tapes worked https://youtu.be/_9SM9lG47Ew)  After a few minutes, I typed “RUN”, and I could start gaming. A couple of years later, we upgraded to a Commodore 64 computer and traded in the cassette deck for a disk drive. ‘LOAD “*” 8,1’ is still etched in my memory 30+ years later — the command line to load a program from the external 5 ¼” floppy drive.

In the 1980s I vividly remember spending every waking moment possible playing video games and experimenting with commands on those same early computers, and I also remember my mom lamenting how much time I was wasting when I could be playing outside with friends. (Of course, the fact we lived a country mile from anyone within a year of my age didn’t help matters, nor did the nonexistence of cell phones and the Internet). I remember the redneck fixes my brother and I schemed up to troubleshoot computer problems, mostly involving lots of stripped wires and aluminum foil. My favorite, though, was our fix for an overheating disk drive. An RV vent fan was rewired and repurposed to blow air through the drive housing. Our pre-MacGyver (he didn’t start until 1985) ingenuity meant that our gaming sessions with disks of games (downloaded by our city cousins from online BBSes and then traded during annual summer visits) could last much longer (further extending the brain rot, according to my mom).

In 2016, my seven year old has at his disposal an iPad, a Nintendo 2DS, a PC and a Mac, an xBox One, a WiiU, and many more electronic toys and tools.  He’s entering complex commands to modify online Minecraft worlds on his personal server, participating in Skype and Xbox Live party chat sessions while gaming with family and friends throughout the state, and all of this with an iPad nearby streaming YouTube videos or customized Pandora music stations.

When I experience the inevitable technology problems that arise each and every day, I find that my patience runs much deeper than my child and many of those around me at work. Using technology has never been “easy” though it has never lost its fun. When the floppy disk drive overheated, often a hour or two into a game (no cloud saves = start over at the beginning), it was frustrating but not paralyzingly so. Instead, it was more about figuring out how to make the new technology work again. There were no online tutorials, no YouTube walkthroughs, no Genius Bar. My parents didn’t offer assistance as they truly had no idea how to help. There was lots of troubleshooting and slight electrical shocks, but little assistance.

When the power goes out now, I scrounge up a few LED lanterns and relish the chance to play a board game or catch up on a long neglected book. When the lights flicker off, my son more closely resembles the title character from Suzanne Collins’ picture book, When Charlie McButton Lost Power, a fun little story about the depths of despair a little boy is dragged into during an extended (all-day-long!!) power outage.Charlie McButton breaks down

My son does not have the same skillset and mindset that I had as a child. I’m a product of my generation and my surroundings, as is he. This is not to say I’m right and he’s wrong. He is merely used to being surrounded by technology that works easily and in high-definition, often with a mere touch or voice command. When he wants to hear a song or watch a show, it’s available on-demand. Wait time is barely a part of his vocabulary. When a device fails, it often means it’s time to throw it out and buy a new one. Few MacGyver fixes will work anymore.

Generational differences are some of the most misunderstood, disbelieved, and underestimated differences in life today. Much is made of economic differences, and racial & political differences are in the forefront of news today, but generational differences are a powerful and deep undercurrent in American culture. Today there are more generations (four) together in the workplace than ever before in human history:

Traditionalists (born before 1945)

Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964)

Generation Xers (born 1965-1980)

Millennials (born 1981-2001)  (some have broken down “Millennials” into separate Gen Y and Gen Z groups, with the 2001 date extended)

* Though the exact beginning/end dates for the generations are often quibbled over, for the sake of simplicity I’m following the dates put forth by Haydn Shaw, author of Sticking Points and Generational IQ.

What this means is that today we have to learn how to work with/collaborate/learn from/teach/etc. with peers from a wider age range than ever before. And while we know that men are from Mars and women are from Venus, and we know that Husky & Cougars are much different creatures, what we often don’t understand is why different generations act so differently. I can’t recommend highly enough two books by Haydn Shaw http://mygenerationalcoach.com : Sticking Points & Generational IQ. Both books go into far more detail on generational intelligence and with far more eloquence than my blogging skills allow.

“Generational intelligence requires us to understand the ideas that shape the other generations. But there’s another part to generational intelligence. Not only do we need to understand other generations’ assumptions, we also need to understand our own… We struggle to love people we don’t appreciate or understand. When we understand other generations, we will quit judging them and start learning from them. Generational intelligence doesn’t make the key teaching of Jesus to ‘love one another’ easy, but it does make it easier.” (Shaw 2015, 19 & 21)

“The easy route is to fall back on stereotypical assumptions about other generations—that Millennials are entitled, or that Boomers can’t change. That’s ageism. It allows us to assume we’re right, which makes us feel good for about a minute, but sets us up for failure in the long run. The solution is generational intelligence, the powerful ability to escape ageism, understand other generations, anticipate their reactions, and to lead and influence across generations.” (Lynch N.D.)

So how do generational differences affect communication and peer coaching relationships? A healthy peer coaching relationship is built on a foundation of honesty and trust. Falling into believing and then acting based primarily on blanket generational stereotypes will snuff out trust before it ever has a chance to germinate. A successful peer coaching model is also dependent upon active and open communication.

In his 2013 book, Shaw lists twelve “sticking points” or places where teams get stuck on generational issues:

  1. Communication
  2. Decision making
  3. Dress code
  4. Feedback
  5. Fun at work
  6. Knowledge transfer
  7. Loyalty
  8. Meetings
  9. Policies
  10. Respect
  11. Training
  12. Work ethic

It should come as no large surprise that the vast majority of these sticking points need to be addressed in a healthy peer coaching model as well, preferably prior to diving into the peer coaching process. Most are ongoing issues, and their impact can be lessened through active listening and open communication, through establishment of healthy and balanced norms, and through maintenance of positive and empathetic attitudes.

By age I’m considered a member of the Gen X population, a smaller population that the generations before and after represented in the workplace today. Much of the generational differences are rooted socially in rural and urban migration patterns since the early 1900s. Growing up in rural small-town America and subsequently moving to the greater Puget Sound region has helped to somewhat uniquely mold my understanding of the generational and societal differences. With Shaw’s words guiding my readings the past weeks, I found myself exploring Gen X and Millennial issues extensively (see the lengthy resource list at the end of this post for more information and resources).  A quick place to start is where many of the articles and books pulled their data from: the Pew Research Group and their extensive and ongoing work. At the risk of oversimplifying generational labels, I felt this resource best functions as a conversation starter when working with colleagues. “Take our 14 item quiz and we’ll tell you how “Millennial” you are, on a scale from 0 to 100, by comparing your answers with those of respondents to a scientific nationwide survey. You can also find out how you stack up against others your age.” http://www.pewresearch.org/quiz/how-millennial-are-you/

TEDx Talks. (2011, June 10). Scott Hess – Millennials: Who they are & why we hate them[Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/P-enHH-r_FM?t=1m27s
An interesting TEDx talk that focuses more on the differences between Gen X and Millennials. I’m particularly interested in his point of view, as I found far more resources regarding Baby Boomers & Millennials, and less on Gen X (my generation).  Many of the TED Talk videos that are centered around generational issues (particularly ones focused on Millennials), in my opinion, seemed to have more of a narcissistic quality to them. Ignoring the exploitive title, I felt like this video represented an honest look at some of the important differences.

Tolbize, A. (2008). Generational differences in the workplace. Retrieved from University of Minnesota website: http://rtc.umn.edu/docs/2_18_Gen_diff_workplace.pdf
Finding resources from reputable sources that were not just rehashing the same research has been a frustrating process during this module research. This report/presentation from the University of Minnesota seems to summarize research well, and also presents some great potential discussion topics (e.g. Attitudes regarding respect and authority; attitudes toward supervision; possible implications for employers)

While there are four separate and distinct generations represented in the business world today, in the educational world we get a bonus fifth generation… the kids. “Generation Z” some have already labeled them, though their label is not yet written in permanent ink. What does their generation look like? How will technology and their world shape them? How will they see us when they enter the workplace? These generational differences are not explored nearly enough in our professional development and teaching, but I’m looking forward to starting conversations with colleagues in the months and years to come. I’ll just have to speak up a bit now and then, now that all of the Plan I folks have retired and the rest of us Plan III folks will be teaching well into our 80s and 90s.

 

ISTE Coaching Standards

ISTE-C Standard 1: Visionary Leadership

  1. Implement strategies for initiating and sustaining technology innovations and manage the change process in schools and classrooms

ISTE-C Standard 2: Teaching, Learning, and Assessment

  1. Coach teachers in and model incorporation of research-based best practices in instructional design when planning technology-enhanced learning experiences

References

The 8-Bit Guy. (2016, June 25). How old school cassette tape drives worked [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/_9SM9lG47Ew

Baer, D. (2016, October 13). Boomers don’t work any harder than Millennials | Science of Us. Retrieved from http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2016/10/boomers-dont-work-any-harder-than-millennials.html

Brack, J., & Kelly, K. (2012). Maximizing Millennials in the workplace. Retrieved from UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School website: https://www.kenan-flagler.unc.edu/executive-development/custom-programs/~/media/DF1C11C056874DDA8097271A1ED48662.ashx

Buckley, P., Viechnicki, P., & Barua, A. (2015, October 16). Understanding Millennials and generational differences | Deloitte University Press. Retrieved from http://dupress.deloitte.com/dup-us-en/economy/issues-by-the-numbers/understanding-millennials-generational-differences.html

Collins, S., & Lester, M. (2005). When Charlie McButton lost power. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

Hymowitz, C. (2015, June 10). Gen X was right: Reality really does bite | Bloomberg. Retrieved from http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-06-10/millennials-think-they-have-it-bad-generation-x-has-it-worse

Johnson, S. A., & Romanello, M. L. (2005). Generational Diversity. Nurse Educator, 30(5), 212-216. doi:10.1097/00006223-200509000-00009

Retrieved from http://www.chw.org/~/media/Files/Medical%20Professionals/Nursing%20Students/Preceptors/generational%20diversity%20teaching%20and%20learning%20approaches.pdf

Lynch, A. (n.d.). 3 new generational realities: And 38 killer strategies you can use to crush gen conflict now. Retrieved from Generational Edge website: http://generationaledge.com/assets/2425/38killerstrategies.pdf

Lynch, A. (n.d.). Managing with generational intelligence: A story [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.generationaledge.com/blog/posts/managing-with-generational-intelligence-a-story

Meister, J. (2013, June 4). The Boomer-Millennial workplace clash: Is it real? Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeannemeister/2013/06/04/the-boomer-millennial-workplace-clash-is-it-real/#38203bf7d895

Pew Research Center. (2010, February 24). How Millennial are you? Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/quiz/how-millennial-are-you/

Shaw, H. (2013). Sticking points: How to get 4 generations working together in the 12 places they come apart. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Shaw, H. (2015). Generational IQ: Christianity isn’t dying, millennials aren’t the problem, and the future is bright. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Sparshott, J. (2015, May 11). Millennials become the biggest generation in the U.S. workforce. Retrieved from http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2015/05/11/millennials-become-the-biggest-generation-in-the-u-s-workforce/

TEDx Talks. (2016, August 31). Why half of what you have heard about Millennials is wrong[Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3p9Ha6MO-0k

TEDx Talks. (2011, June 10). Scott Hess – Millennials: Who they are & why we hate them[Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/P-enHH-r_FM?t=1m27s

Tolbize, A. (2008). Generational differences in the workplace. Retrieved from University of Minnesota website: http://rtc.umn.edu/docs/2_18_Gen_diff_workplace.pdf

Vozza, S. (2014, March 11). 4 steps to bridging the workplace generation gap | Fast Company. Retrieved from https://www.fastcompany.com/3027459/leadership-now/4-steps-to-bridging-the-workplace-divide-between-baby-boomers-and-millenials

West Midland Family Center. (n.d.). Generational differences chart. Retrieved from http://www.wmfc.org/uploads/GenerationalDifferencesChart.pdf

Wiedmer, T. (2015). Generations Do Differ: Best Practices in Leading Traditionalists, Boomers, and Generations X, Y, and Z. Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin, 82(1), 51-58. (pdf saved from Ebsco)

Wikipedia. (2016, October 8). Generation gap. Retrieved October 15, 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generation_gap

Williams, A. (2015, September 18). Move over, Millennials, here comes Generation Z | The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/20/fashion/move-over-millennials-here-comes-generation-z.html?_r=0

It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Fred Rogers late 1960sMister Rogers quoteTriggering Question:
How can I make the peer coaching process a seamless one for my colleague, especially in regards to time and scheduling constraints?

As a specialist with a fixed schedule, I find myself time and again returning the issue of time and its role in the peer coaching process. Time and time-related issues come up often in the findings section at the end of several studies regarding the efficacy of peer coaching in education. A solution often mentioned is to have the librarian cover classes so you can meet with your peer… (I mentioned this possible solution to myself and we agreed that this is not a viable option.)

ISTE-C Standard 1:   Visionary Leadership

b. Contribute to the planning, development, communication, implementation, and evaluation of technology-infused strategic plans at the district and school levels
d. Implement strategies for initiating and sustaining technology innovations and manage the change process in schools and classrooms

peer coaching rolesWith this concept of limited time influencing much of the framework of my peer coaching plan, I feel like working with a job-alike peer at another school within my district may be the most effective model. Dr. David Baker’s March 2013 article “21 Strategies for Teacher-Librarian Professional Development” in Library Media Connection is an amazing resource as it is quite evident the author in grounded in practicality. His ideas are not one-size-fits-all but instead model flexibility and adaptivity, two of the most vital skills present in a productive and sustainable peer coaching relationship. Strategy #3: Allow for scheduling flexibility. “Always be willing and able to make mid-course corrections and allow the PD calendar to be just what it is — a planning document. It should not be viewed as something that is set in stone.” (Utilizing Google Hangouts and other web-conferencing tools seem to be one of the most likely approaches, to eliminate travel and school scheduling issues). Strategy #6: Divide and conquer. “Holding professional development for a specific level allows for more focused professional development without making staff at other levels feel left out or bored.” (Primary and secondary staff have different needs — ignoring our differences does not make them go away. Why struggle to meet the needs of all simultaneously when smaller, targeted PD offerings can make a bigger impact?)

Mother Teresa quoteWith Baker’s strategies in mind, I’m looking forward to developing a peer coaching relationship with a lesser experienced teacher librarian in my district. The peer coaching model lends itself to quality and impactful professional development (PD). As new reports continue to highlight the disconnect in PD needs for educators and PD practices in districts throughout the nation (Gates Foundation 2015; THE Journal 9/26/16), it’s becoming more apparent that waiting for a ready-made solution to fall from the sky is not necessarily a feasible approach. Instead, peer coaching strategies can lead to tailored and impactful PD. Chris Gustafson’s article “Collaborating with Colleagues: None of Us is as Smart as All of Us” (Jan/Feb 2013 Library Media Connection) doesn’t spell out peer coaching as a model approach, but all of the elements of a successful peer coaching relationship are there: mentorship, flexibility, sympathize and strategize, organization, sharing. Her article will act as a wonderful starting point in initial discussions and planning with my colleague.

I’m looking forward to seeing where this partnership leads in the months ahead, and I embark on the journey knowing full well that I lack the capacity to make lasting and impactful changes on my own. With Mister Rogers and Mother Teresa’s words guiding my way, how could I not find success? Every small step is an important one and will help develop trust with my colleague as we seek to enact meaningful change in our cohort’s practices. I don’t believe that this will be an easy process, especially keeping in mind the limited flexibility within my current school schedule. “Doing something that’s hard can help you to grow” but “together we can do something wonderful”. I’m looking forward to it.

Resources

Baker, D. C. (2013). 21 strategies for teacher-librarian professional development. Library Media Connection, 31(5), 38-41.

Beglau, M., Hare, J. C., Foltos, L., Gann, K., James, J., Jobe, H., … & Smith, B. (2011). Technology, coaching, and community. In ISTE, An ISTE White Paper, Special Conference Release. Retrieved from http://www.isteconference.org/uploads/ISTE2013/HANDOUTS/KEY_81724011/Coaching_Whitepaper_digital.pdf

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. (2015). Teachers know best: Teachers’ views on professional development. Retrieved from http://k12education.gatesfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Gates-PDMarketResearch-Dec5.pdf

Foltos, L. (2013). Coaching roles and responsibilities. In Peer coaching: Unlocking the power of collaboration (pp. 1-22). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Gustafson, C. (2013). Collaborating with colleagues: None of us is as smart as all of us. Library Media Connection, 31(4), 26-27.

Hirsch, J. (2015, June 4). Share “feedforward,” not feedback [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/share-feedforward-not-feedback-joe-hirsch

International Society for Technology in Education. (2016). ISTE standards for coaches. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/standards/standards-for-coaches

Jones, L. (2014, July 28). The power of teaching collaboration [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.teachingchannel.org/blog/2014/07/18/power-of-teacher-collaboration-nea/

Schaffhauser, D. (2016, September 26). Report builds case for failure in teacher PD. Retrieved from https://thejournal.com/articles/2016/09/26/report-builds-case-for-failure-in-teacher-pd.aspx

Images

Mister Rogers:  By KUHT [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/36/Fred_Rogers%2C_late_1960s.jpg

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