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Showing posts from 2016

Time For These Seven Edu Funerals

Only in education, do we continue to try to breathe life into things that may never have been successful - and most certainly are not now. These things are so embedded in the culture, frameworks, policies, practice and mindsets of our schools and educational organizations, that many educators just blindly accept them, implement them and perpetuate them…..all regardless of their lack of success. Indeed, there is often overwhelming data or evidence that these things are not only unsuccessful, but often counterproductive.
     So, let’s have the funeral. Let’s start the fire. Let’s bury these SEVEN forever. They are:

Homework As We Know It. The idea of independent practice as a means of increasing skill mastery sounds appealing and necessary. But homework, as it’s become known, does not do this. Indeed, homework has become mundane and repetitive work not grounded in increasing skill development, but rather compliance. It’s time to re-think the whole thing. Let’s come up with not only…

Want Real Ed Reform? 5 Ways Students Should Be Included

As a graduate journalism student over 20 years ago, I worked on a thesis project centered on education reform news reporting. I was analyzing how often education reporters included students in their stories about education. Probably no surprise….it was almost non-existent.
     Traditionally, no entity has ignored their primary customer, consumer or constituent more than education with students. I was fortunate enough early on as a beginning teacher to discover the power of student voice and student-generated ideas. Throughout my career, I have always benefited from asking my students what they thought, what they are interested in and where would they like things to go.
     If we are serious about providing each and every student a truly transformational 21st century education, then we may want to consider the following five areas for asking our students what they think should be done:
Learning Feedback      Having our students reflect on their learning and learning experiences ar…

Four Ways For Educators To Stay Young (Will Work For Non-Educators Too)

Most of us (if you are over 40) are inundated with emails, messages, posts and more related to maintaining what is left of our youth. Almost all of these focus on diet, exercise, supplements or other physiological manipulation.
     However, if you are in education, you may be missing the most powerful method of staying young overall - staying connected to young people. Regardless of your job as an educator, of even if you are not an educator at all, here are some easy tips that could make a big difference.
     Ask Students What They Think. Seems simple right? But do we realize how little we do this? Students have great ideas about everything, but we rarely consult them. My dominant complaint ever since I became a teacher was how we don’t ask the students what they think. Students have great ideas about everything, but we rarely consult them. This includes about their own learning and education. But regardless of the subject, ask students for their opinion. If you haven’t done th…

21st Century Education Certification Checklist

Ever since the the Partnership for 21st Century Schools (P21) was created, as well as the transition into the new millennium, many schools, districts and educators have bandied about the term “21st Century School” or “21st Century Skills.”
     This is done to brand or identify one’s school, district or program as being relevant, current, progressive, future-oriented and more. I know because I’ve done the same thing. I was part of opening a new project-based, high tech high school in 2008 (Minarets HS/Minarets Charter HS) and we used the moniker “A 21st Century School” from day one. Naturally, we believed we were accurate and still do.
     I can see the attraction. After all, most of our schools are still living in the 20th century attempting to perfect a 19th century model. However, “21st Century” has become cliched and now requires some sort of verification and certification. Who better than me to do that? That’s right, I’ve declared myself the one to create the list to use to …

The New Education Power Standard: BADASS

Our educational system seems to have an obsession with both standards and assessment. And while it is understandable that we try to systematize ways to establish what we learn and how we we evaluate if we learn it, it also seems that our obsession here may also impedes true creativity, innovation and success. It’s with this in mind, that I’d like to establish a new 21st century standard: BADASS.
     If we look outside of education, it seems that quality, or even success, are more obvious and accepted on some basic badass qualities. What are they and how can we use them to evaluate the success of our learning and educational endeavors?
     Here are five indicators of what one is doing is BADASS? I think if we can agree it’s badass, it’s probably exceeding many standards and regular assessments?

Here you go:
Media Coverage: if an idea, a product or piece of work gets media coverage - whether local, regional, national or international - it seems to have some credibility. One of my col…

5 Things Education Can Learn From The Food Truck Phenomenon

(Inspired by a Voxer Discussion with Jon Corippo) 
     Unless you have been hiding out in the remote hills of the Appalachians or something, you have probably noticed the onslaught and popularity of food trucks over the last several years. Food Trucks and Mobile Food are some of the hottest things in dining. Although street food is anything but new, almost every suburban and metropolitan area now has a plethora of food trucks serving everything from fusion to comfort food - and everything in between.
      In my own town, we have several special events based on food trucks as well as several new bars or pubs that allow food trucks to serve as their mobile kitchen. And even though they are using a familiar idea, why have food trucks become so popular? And better yet, what could schools and educators learn from the phenomenon?
Simplicity: Since Food Trucks are not large, they tend to simplify their menus. They can’t be one of those food vendors (like too many restaurants) that try to pre…

20 Ways To Showcase, Exhibit Student Work

One of the tenets of project-based learning, as well as preparing students to work in 21st century environments, is that student work is public. Students need to have their work assessed, critiqued, evaluated, appreciated and experienced by others beyond their teacher. Student work needs to be seen by as many people as possible including, but not limited to teachers, peers, school leaders, parents, business partners, community members, specific career professionals and experts. This is predicated on core concepts related to relevance, engagement, skill development and student ownership. The more we showcase and exhibit student work, the more students care about producing high quality work. If one is wondering about all of the ways to get student work to be public, here is an attempt to create a list:
School can host a public student showcase or exhibition focused on student work.

A teacher can host a public student showcase or exhibition focused on student work for his or her cla…

Face-to-Face Learning Has Value, But Needs To Offer What Online Cannot

I have begun to ask school leaders and edu officianados this questions: Since all students K-12 could theoretically choose to go to online school tomorrow, what are you doing at your school today/and or tomorrow that would make them still want to come to a Face-to-Face learning environment?
     In other words, what are any schools doing that cannot easily be replicated online? Naturally, things like direct instruction, assessments, readings, activities can be easily conducted online. Heck, even collaboration and projects can be done digitally right?
      However, we may want to acknowledge that FTF environments could offer some advantages to students in terms of their skill development, experiences and real world preparation. Here are a few things that schools may want to consider maximizing if they hope to keep students coming and attending their FTF environments:

Pro Gear / Equipment / Technology / Resources: Consider things that would not probably be available at home. Althou…

Celebrating The Best Should Challenge Us On The Rest

Recently, I attended a high school award ceremony for about 60 seniors for academic recognition. It was a cavalcade of success. Being in CA, it was one student after another that will be attending Stanford, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara and many other prestigious universities. Their career goals were heavily focused on things like Engineering, Medicine, Computer Science and others. These students had similar experiences of multiple AP classes, academic awards, scholarships and loads of co-curricular experiences. They were the top 10% of their 500+ student class. They are our academic successes.
     However, during the entire evening, I had a hard time not thinking about what are the other 450 graduate peers of theirs doing following graduation? What is their success, their path and their future look like?
     Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to take anything away from the the aforementioned group above. They deserve the accolades and the success. They bought into an est…