Tuesday, April 12, 2016

What does the SBAC data actually tell us?

As schools in Vermont wade through the SBAC test for 11th graders...

I'm still waiting for any compelling evidence on what these tests really show. How do they inform practice in some meaningful way?

Take the test. Get the results a year later and view results that... ?

Evaluate the content of the test related to instructional goals of the school / district, perhaps, and... ?

Use the test as a baseline to... ?

My thanks again to the Vermont Secretary of Education, Rebecca Holcombe,  for clarifying Vermont's role.  My hope is that other States will be so lucky.

The SBAC test has certainly interrupted a lot of creative and innovative work. My hope is that we'll all look at the data and check it's value... and determine if the test should continue or just simply be abandoned.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Dig deeper on calls for 'grit' in education...


Grit isn't about just about 'doing more' or 'enduring' more work, more homework, more rigor, and at a faster pace...

We send messages like buckle down, work harder, faster... at the expense of higher level conversations.

Defining more clarity of purpose and exploring quality is, um, sort of left out sometimes.

Grit can be ignited best by passion and purpose.

It's important to ask...

Is 'grit' a call for some students and not others? aka is your call to 'have more grit' elitist?

Are schools just asking students to get grit so they can work harder to fit into their system? What if the system doesn't ring true?

Sometimes, yes, grit is about survival and enduring hardship. It doesn't have to be in education.

Focus on building grit as a noun (descriptor 2, in the pic above) instead of a verb (descriptor 1).

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Introducing Admins, Teachers and Students to Twitter

I jumped into the #satchat discussion this am and the question popped up again:

"How can I get new teachers and admins using Twitter?"

Here's a few tricks I've used for that group, and for students too.

It's not about 'getting them into the club' so to speak. It's about showing them value. Without showing them value it'll be another thing to do and people will lose interest. It's about community building, connections, awareness... and learning.

Start slow, create meaning, build curiosity.

Inquiry teaching, right? Create questions to get them curious about what's out there.


School / district hashtags

School hashtags are about finding another way to connect with your audience and to share great stories. Of course it can also be used for announcements... but I've found it's best when creative stories are shared. It can help combat that "wow, I had no idea that was going on' factor compartmentalized schools often face. If you don't have a school or district hashtag... create one ; ) Post tweets with your State Ed hashtag and the State tag as well to help spread the word.

Example: Announcement, link, school hashtag, State hashtag, and State Ed hashtag

Right... State Ed hashtags!
Most States now have hashtags dedicated for Ed news. In Vermont it's #vted. Moving out of facilitation mode in school administration and teaching and into storytelling, innovation sharing, and community building, both local and State is a good thing. It's a 'building a PLN' thing, an age old acronym, from a couple years back ; )

Relevant connections with 'their' peers
Share local admins on Twitter with your admins. Share innovative local teachers with teachers in the same subject in your school / district. I've found students are pretty curious what other schools are tweeting out.

Town Hashtags or Town Government
Many towns are posting events and important discussions via Twitter these days. Try to find one in your town.

Community Building
It's pretty cool how many schools have built connections with their local (and State!) community. There's great power in being informed, right? ; )

Bigger discussions on important social issues
There are incredible conversations going on via hashtags. #educolor is one of my favorites. There are many people doing great work here to build a conversation. "A movement, not a moment."

Connect them with innovators making great Ed shifts
There are a ton of folks out there who are posting inspirational material and who are making positive changes.

Find some of those innovators and seeing who they are following always helps too.

Connect them with subject learning via Search
Use Twitter to search for #hashtags in education. Here's a lengthy list of Ed hashtags from teachthought.com

Use search to find other groups discussing subjects. Take a topic in culture, news, tech, history, literature, science, math, business... and give it a try.

Admins, Teachers and Kids as Publishers
Taking the challenge to share your work, build connections, and do so within Twitter limitations is a great learning experience. Encouraging students, admins and teachers to share innovative ideas is a win!

Sounding Board
I've hear many people say that they fear publishing on Twitter. Shift them into the idea that they can ask questions too! Post a question to an Ed or subject hashtag and you'll likely get plenty of responses with great resources or opinions.

Digital Citizenship...
I write often about how schools usually handle this 'digital citizenship' thing poorly. I still find many struggle with one and done conversations - usually over 'good passwords' and predators and then it's back to the regular 'academic' flow. Many are still stepped in reactionary policy and procedure to problems. And... social media restrictions, outright denial of service approaches, still do seem to dominate all too much in the Ed realm.

Getting kids and adults involved in the potential, power, and social activism is a higher goal.

So, Promote...

  • meaningful connections and things will take off
    • peers, community engagement, local and State
    • social activism and awareness
  • a place to publish, search for, and ask questions
  • a place to learn. Find great resources and participate in the conversation when and if you're ready

Twitter has been a great source of PD for me. It's helped me make and maintain some incredible connections locally, Nationally and Internationally... and hey, even in the same building sometimes ; )

Of course... learning to manage information flow is a good lesson we all learn on Twitter too ; )