Read Write Respond #008


flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

I have continued settling into my new job this month, with a particular focus on communities of practice. I was lucky enough to work with Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach for a few days. I have also had the opportunity to visit a few schools. It is always fantastic privilege to see different environments and speak with leaders about their beliefs around learning and leading. I remember reading John Goh talking about the power of school visits, he is not wrong.

In regards to my writing, here was my month in posts:


Here then are some of the thoughts that have also left me thinking …

Learning and Teaching

What do ‘quality teachers’ do? – Deborah Netilicky unpacks what she conceives represents quality teaching. What is useful about the post is that she provides a range of resources for those wishing to go further.

As teachers, schools and systems have conversations around how to improve the learning of students by improving what happens in classrooms, it’s important that we continue to attempt to build a shared understanding of exactly what we mean when we say things like ‘quality teaching’.

7 mental models you should know for smarter decision making – Sean Kim provides a series of mental models to help with the process of making important decisions.

Whether it’s trying to figure out which job you should take, deciding to quit your job to start a business,move to a new city — these decisions are never easy. Yet there are people who we can learn from who make highly impactful decisions on a regular basis, and they’ve developed mental models to help them make smarter decisions.

Word Cloud Tools: Raising the Bar – Eric Sheninger puts the spotlight on word clouds. He shows what they offer in regards to reflection and formative assessment.

Enter Mentimeter and AnswerGarden. Both tools can be used for formative assessment.  Responses to an open-ended question of your choice can be used to create a word cloud.  Each is simple to use and will only take minutes to set up.

Io808 – A virtual TR-808 drum machine that runs in the browser.

Vincent Riemer has made a TR-808 drum machine that runs in the browser, complete with all twiddly controls, the classic turn-of-the-eighties color scheme, and all the cowbell you can handle.

Funklet – A visual guide to various funk drum beats, useful for exploring rhythm.

Funklet is an educational resource. Some of my students learn quicker with Funklet. Some don’t. One doesn’t even like drums, but saw them on TV – where they were much quieter – and dug the look. She’s five.

Name Your Perspective – Tom Barrett shares the strategy of zooming in and zooming out in order to gain different perspectives.

Perhaps the challenge is not just zooming out to think in an abstract way or zooming in to consider the concrete actions, but more precisely how effectively, fluidly and quickly we can move between those perspectives. Another layer to this is of course how synchronised our perspective is with others we are with. 

Amplify Reflection – Silvia Tolisano provides a number of resources to support the act of reflection.

We need to take a closer look at amplifying reflection by sharing our reflection transparently (learning how to articulate and make our thinking visible to others and the learning benefiting ourselves AND others). By sharing our reflection beyond a teacher or a classmate, we acknowledge our voice as learners and the role that it can play in the learning process (our own process or the one of others).

Edtech

In the Clutches of Algorithms – Chris Friend applies a critical lenses to algorithms and the internet of things, warning that we must not loose sight of the human impact involved with all of this.

We must remember that, as Jesse put it, “the Internet is made of people, not things.” We must also remember that the things we use have the ability to control us or connect us. We need to know which is happening with each device we use. As educators, we must help our students learn to question how their devices, tools, technologies, apps, and games help connect them or control them; how those things collect and share their data; how their free apps and services turn them (or their data) into a commodity as a form of payment.

Visitors & Residents: navigate the mapping – Dave White provides a number to resources to support the mapping of how we use the internet. 

Myself, Donna Lanclos and Lawrie Phipps are delighted to release a facilitators guide and slides for running the Visitors and Residents mapping activities (a workshop format for reflecting on, and responding to, various forms of digital engagement). These resources were developed for the Jisc Digital Leaders Programme but can be edited and adapted for different audiences.

The Dwindling Promise of Social Media – Mike Caulfield reflects on some of the changes in regards to social media and the failure of platforms like Facebook, which focus on identify, to foster a culture of connected learning.

What we come up against here is the idea that four years or six years or eight years of education is sufficient to what we do. But unless we graduate our students into a professional learning network that can get the right information to them as our knowledge evolves, tragedies like this will happen time and time again.

Not All Screen Time is Equal: Some Considerations for Schools and Parents – Jose Picardo explores the conundrum of screen time, suggesting that maybe sometimes this is the wrong question.

School clearly have a responsibility to explain more clearly and justify how technology is being used to support great teaching and learning. Are the children reading and writing more? Are the children learning maths more easily? Is it easier to learn a foreign language? Can teachers feedback more effectively? These are the really important questions that need an answer. This is where researchers need to be focusing their research. ‘Are the children spending more time on screens?’ is a valid but much less important question, since it’s what they are doing on those screens that matters.

When it’s Your Googopoly Game, You Can Flip the Board in the Air Anytime – Alan Levine reflects upon the demise of Hangouts-on-Air and unpacks the various changes involved in moving the service into YouTube.

Today Google owns a big game board on the internet where we put our effort, building, hoping for good draws of cards. But it’s totally their board. And who knows if it’s boredom, but they seem to get bored too, and just flip our little plastic buildings and fake deeds in the air. 

I Want My Stager TV – For those with a day to spare, Gary Stager has provided a broad collection of videos unpacking much of his work.

The following videos are a good representation of my work as a conference keynote speaker and educational consultant. The production values vary, but my emphasis on creating more productive contexts for learning remains in focus.

A Domain of One's Own in a Post-Ownership Society – Audrey Watters responds to Maha Bali’s wonderings about ownership in relationship to a Domain of One’s Own.

To own is to possess. To own is to have authority and control. To own is to acknowledge. It implies a responsibility. Ownership is a legal designation; but it’s something more than that too. It’s something more and then, without legal protection, the word also means something less.

Storytelling and Reflection

10 Questions in Pursuit of Learner Agency – Edna Sackson reflects on Clare Amos' post on student agency wondering if we can develop a culture of agency.

Can we create a culture of agency, where decision-making, choice and voice, reflection and metacognition, exploration and inquiry, risk taking and resilience empower our students to live their learning, rather than ‘doing school‘?  Below are some key questions that need to be considered in developing a culture of agency. 

What If High School Were More Like Kindergarten? – Ashley Lamb-Sinclair touches on the difference between learning and being educated. After spending some time in Finland she wonders the place of play and exploration within High-School.

So I will take my experience in Finland and the inspiration I have found in American educators’ classrooms to my own classroom this fall. I will strive to stretch the “Yoda” philosophy and put a little bit more kindergarten into my high-school English class. Hopefully, my students will be a little less educated and much more inspired in the end.

The Land We Play On: Equality Doesn’t Mean Justice – Gregory Phillips and Matthew Klugman unpack some of the complexities associated with indigenous power and place within AFL, making comparisons with the practices of various other sports. It is a lengthy post which asks many pertinent questions.

As a corporation concerned with making money off a national story of sporting prowess, how will the AFL acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stories in a social justice rather than an inclusion narrative? How will they acknowledge that Aboriginal people have shaped and reshaped the way the game is played? How will they acknowledge they stuffed up, and genuinely seek to make things right? How will they acknowledge the land they play on?

Chance Favours the Connected School – Jason Markey reflects on his connected journey and why it is so important that we provide opportunities for our students to clash their hunches with others.

If chance can favor the connected school then we owe it to our students to give them an environment full of opportunity.

This Is What I Have Learnt and Try to Practise About: Admitting My Mistakes Paul Browning continues with his series of reflections on leadership, this time touching upon admitting mistakes.

The reality is that we are all human. We are fallible. Even the very best leader makes mistakes. However, contrary to our rational thought, people won’t think less of us if we acknowledge our errors. They will actually think more of us because humility and honesty are qualities admired far more highly than arrogance. 

Lessons in Leadership: Mind Your Language! – Riss Leung reflects on the power of language in defining the culture within school.

The language of a positive school culture costs nothing to use yet, used over time, can pay big dividends. It’s time to get the megaphones working for you!

Conditions for Innovation – Steve Brophy reflects on the process of working collaboratively to tackle the question of innovation in schools.

We defined innovation as the following: New, exciting and uncharted improvement as a response to need, blocks or crisis. How does that definition sit with you?

What's Worth Learning in School? – David Perkins elaborates on what he means by lifeworthy, a key concept to his book Future Wise.

Instead, we should be moving away from an understanding of something — the information on the test, the list of state capitals — to an understanding with something. With the latter, he says, students are able to then make connections to other things. For example, rather than just learning facts about the French Revolution, students should learn about the French Revolution as a way to understand issues like world conflict or poverty or the struggle between church and state. Without those connections, Perkins says he’s not surprised that so many people have trouble naming things they learned early on that still have meaning today or that disengaged students are raising their hands, asking why they need to know something.

Dear Kathy … – Bec Spink finds cause for celebration in a educational dialogue that is often filled with cynicism and pessimism. This in part reminds me of the debate that brewed up around Will Richardson's post about revolution verses reformation. 

There are schools and educators out there that are pushing the boundaries of the traditional system, that are asking questions, that are making change. Let’s share and celebrate those stories. The more we can do of that, the more others will notice, perceptions will change. If you disagree with the last sentence, then I am so happy you have chosen a different career pathway. The minute I become cynical or pessimistic about the work I do is the minute I will know it is time to move on. I hope it never happens.

Relevance Amplifies Learning – David Truss shares the story associated with a couple of senior students creating a mobile platform as a part of their curriculum.

When learning is relevant, criteria is far less important than when students are doing work to meet the needs of an assignment. I felt that my job was far less to teach, and far more to ‘stay out of the way’ of what was happening.

FOCUS ON … Seymour Papert

The father of educational technology, Seymour Papert, passed away on the 31st July. Here is a collection of posts and resources celebrating his life:


READ WRITE RESPOND #008

So that is August for me, how about you? As always, interested to hear.

Also, feel free to forward this on to others if you found anything of interest or maybe you want to subscribe?

Read Write Respond #007

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flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license

My Month of July

This month I started a new job. Still in education, it involves supporting teachers, rather than teaching students. Entering into project land, I must admit that it is a different pace.

In regards to my writing, here was my month in posts:


Here then are some of the thoughts that have also left me thinking …

Learning and Teaching

Quick Ideas for Creating a Classroom e-Newsletter – Miguel Guhlin unpacks some different options for digitally communicating information.
I’ve always been on the lookout for fresh ways to share classroom content. Here are some quick ways to revamp the classroom, or campus, e-newsletter.
Amplify Your Writing – Silvia Tolisano explores digital writing and outlines some means of having amplifying your writing. She touches on such things as headlines, keywords and hyperlinks.
Digital writing allows a writer to re-think writing and reading experiences, choose from multiple possibilities of communicating and opportunities to to amplify their thoughts, ideas, connections, references, train of thought, and their audience.
A book of short stories for students, by students – wanna contribute? – Bianca Hewes has put out the call for community contributions to a book of short stories that maybe sometimes are overlooked.
I imagine that every teacher has come across ‘that’ story at least once in their careers (and hopefully multiple times) – you know, the one where we read it without thinking about the student who wrote it, without stopping to query a phrase, or the tense, or a character’s decisions… where you just read, and feel, and imagine, and love, love, love. The one where at the end you go, ‘Holy crap, I couldn’t write anything that good. How can I be responsible for teaching this kid?’ You know the one, right? Well, what if we collected a bunch of those stories, and put them together in a book, published via Blurb, that could be downloaded for free as a eBook, or bought as a hard copy, depending on the teacher’s preference.
67 Years of Lego Sets – Joel Carron looks back at the history of Lego. This is not only an interesting reflection, but a great resource associated with data.
As an analyst, I turned to data for answers. I found a dataset on Rebrickable (a site that shows you which Lego sets you can build from the sets and pieces you already own), which contained information on the color, number, and type of pieces in each Lego set for the past 67 years. I used Plotly and Mode Python Notebooks to explore the data.
Reciprocation: The Fine Line Between Remixing and Plagiarism – Kevin Hodgson walks the line between remixing and plagiarising, discussing the difference.
If I use someone else’s words for a remix, am I a writer or remixer? Is it writing if the words are not my own? (I prefer: composer)If I remix, but fail to give credit, does remix become plagiarism?Do I need to ask permission of the writer to remix their work, or does posting writing in digital spaces allow me to assume that work is fair game for remix?If I remix, and then post to public spaces, who is the artist at that point? Me, the remixer, or them, the original writer? A collaboration?If the writer asks the remixer to stop/halt/remove, does the remixer have an obligation to do so? (legal, moral, etc.)
A Glossary of Blogging Terminology – Richard Byrne provides a glossary for making sense of blogs. A useful resource in relation to unpacking blogs with staff and students alike.
Once you've chosen the best blogging tool for you and your students, sometimes the next challenge of running a blog is just knowing the terminology that is used when we talk about blogging.
ScratchMath – One of the challenges with any platform is finding the edge. Jeffrey Gordon provides a range of possibilities which help highlight what is possible.
Teaching computer programming is not like teaching reading or math. Programmers rely on libraries of code they can’t understand, coworkers to write functions they don’t read, and finally a structure that doesn't always require comprehending the whole, but rather understanding of a set of individual parts and their relationships.
Cardboard Challenges: No Tech/Low Cost Maker Education – Jackie Gerstein reminds us that making does not always have to involve coding and electronic kits, sometimes it can be as simple as using cardboard.
The Cardboard Challenges Maker Education Camp utilized no technology (except for projecting images of example projects on the whiteboard) and low/no cost materials. Many of the discussions about and actions related to integrating maker education into educational environments center around the use of new technologies such computer components (Raspberry Pis, Arduinos), interactive robots for kids (Dash and Dot, Ozobots, Spheros), and 3D printers.
Edtech

What is an API? – Ben Werdmuller unpacks the world of APIs. He touches on their purpose and what they mean for the personal user. This conversation is continued in a post on Open Source.

APIs present a pragmatic solution that allows us to build on other software while saving on short-term costs. They’re not a magic wand, but used wisely, they allow us to build entirely new products and services. And maybe — just maybe — they will allow us to take control of our digital lives and build a new kind of internet.

Future Proof – Four Corners provides an investigation of the impact of robotics and automation on of the future of the workforce. With this, they explore the role of education within all of this.

The loss of these jobs will be challenging for the existing workforce as there may simply not be enough jobs to go round. But the greater fear is that we're not preparing our kids for work in this technological age. Schools and universities are churning out students with qualifications for jobs that won't exist, instead of training them for the ones that will be created.

Has Technology Failed Us? – Douglas Rushkoff explores the impact of technology and the life we live today. Rather than despise it's existence, he wonders how it might somehow be different.

The thing that disturbs me most is when people accept the artefacts that have been left for them as the given circumstances of nature. When people look at corporate capitalism, or Facebook, or the religion they have, as if they were given by god and not invented by people. It’s this automatic acceptance of how things are that leads to a sense of helplessness about changing any of them. I am deeply concerned about the environment and the degree to which temperatures are rising, and how the worst expectations of environmentalists have already been surpassed.

Facebook is chipping away at privacy – and my profile has been exposed – Alex Hern unpacks the irony encoded within Facebook's ever evolving privacy settings. Another reminder why we need to be ever so vigilant about Facebook and every social media platform for that matter.

Facebook can truthfully say that it does what it promises, and even offers settings that let people lock-down their own accounts, while designing the site so even internet-savvy users like me will end up exposing information we never intended to make public.

Three steps to become a digitally agile educator – Ian O'Byrne provides a great introduction to being digitally agile, focusing on identity and space.

A 21st century educational system must educate all students in the effective and authentic use of the technologies that permeate society to prepare them for the future. As part of this future, learners need opportunities to not only read, but also write the web. 

Are you being catfished? – Alec Couros and Katia Hildebrandt provide a thorough guide to uncovering catfishing.

Catfishing schemes, or romance scams, continue to plague social networking services. In fact, the issue has become so common that there’s a good chance that one of your recent “friend” requests actually came from a scammer versus someone who is actually interesting in pursuing a genuine friendship

Storytelling and Reflection  

The Future of Work – Touching upon everything from the meaning of work, impact of automation and disruption to past practises, this lengthy post from Oxford University captures a number of topics relating to the future of work.

Technology will make many jobs redundant, others easier, and create at least some new ones along the way. Keynes’ prediction of a fifteen-hour working week may even come true. But while humans are in charge, we can still choose for there to be some work that’s performed by non-robotic hands.

Towards a School Coaching Culture – Chris Munro unpacks the intricacies involved in developing a culture of coaching in schools. Along with his interview on TER Podcast and Paul Browning’s post, they represent a good place to start in regards to coaching.

The pre-conditions for coaching will be different in every school context. Coaching leaders need to be in tune with these and take them into account when considering their approach. Trust is a critical factor here. We know that trust is critical in individual coaching relationships but in terms of establishing a broader coaching culture we need to think about the levels of trust across the full range of conversational contexts in the school.

Critical Questions – David Truss reflects on personalised learning versus adding more choice. Much of the thinking in the post stemmed from the critical conversations had at ISTE. This is an interesting read in light of Jon Andrews post on educational cheese rolling.

We live in a world where people prefer to avoid going to hard places, rather than realizing we are all on a learning journey and that the hard conversations often lead us to better places. But that said, there was nothing hard about my conversation with Sheryl, (or David, or Michelle). They weren’t hard, they were invigorating! We should all invite critical questioning into our practice, in the same way that we encourage our students to do the same. 

#WalkOn – Along with The Beauty of Dreams, Steve Brophy’s provocation is a challenge for everyone to take up. This is linked with CoLearn MeetUp, an exploration of educational alternatives.  

‘Walk on’ was the real message for delegates.  In education, we need more educators to ‘walk on’ and take on new challenges, to rethink pedagogy, reimagine school and to grow our collective voice.  We all battle our inner self when it comes to new opportunities.  Talk ourselves out of going for something, self defeat with our own negative self-talk but why?  Why do we do that to ourselves?  Your value is needed, your voice counts and we need all educators to #WalkOn. 

Memory Machines: Learning, Knowing, and Technological Change – Audrey Watters provides a critique of digital memory and whether archives truly are useful when it comes to supporting memory. This reminded me of Celia Coffa’s keynote from DigiCon15.

We might live in a time of digital abundance, but our digital memories – our personal memories and our collective memories – are incredibly brittle. We might be told we’re living in a time of rapid technological change, but we are also living in a period of rapid digital data decay, of the potential loss of knowledge, the potential loss of personal and collective memory.

Performing Data – Ben Williamson explains that what we choose to measure and count has consequences to how we perform and what we see as possible. This is pertinent when we talk about innovation and transformation, as such changes can be dictated by the measurements that we use. 

Performativity makes the question of what counts as worthwhile activity in education into the question of what can be counted and of what account can be given for it. It reorients institutions and individuals to focus on those things that can be counted and accounted for with evidence of their delivery, results and positive outcomes, and de-emphasises any activities that cannot be easily and effectively measured.

Poor research and ideology: Common attempts used to denigrate inquiry – Richard Olsen digs a bit deeper into some research on discovery learning, uncovering some flaws in the process.

To suggest that individuals playing Texas Hold’em against a computer mirrors inquiry that happens in our schools in complete nonsense. To suggest that this research proves pure discover “widens the achievement gaps” is complete nonsense. To suggest that because learning poker by yourself on a computer playing against a simulation isn’t a good way to learn has anything at all do with student learning and real inquiry is nonsense.

Distractions – Corinne Campbell provides a different take on John Hattie's effect sizes and distractions in education. She questions whether such conversations are a distraction from supporting an equitable education system for all.

A year’s growth for a year of schooling presents an impoverished view of education. For schooling is about more than academic growth. Our education system is how we  maintain a cohesive, civil society. We can’t afford to be distracted from that. 

Together – Aaron Hogan reflects on the nerves of facing the first day. In the end he reminds us that no matter what videos you show or awesome activities you do that it is only by working together that we achieve anything.

The more I think about it, the more I believe that our legacy as educators is built in community over time. That’s easy to say, but tough to do. Still, that’s our job. If you want to be the teacher who leaves an impact, develop a space where students can learn with you and their peers together.

FOCUS ON … designing a technology-rich environment

I have been spending quite a bit of time lately exploring technology-rich environments. This is a collection of posts and resources that I have collected:

  • Trudacot: A protocol developed by Scott McLeod and Julie Graber to help facilitate conversations around deeper learning with technology.

  • A Taxonomy of School Evolutionary Stages: Mal Lee and Roger Broadie provide a thorough discussion of what is required in bring schools into the digital world. This includes a taxonomy covering many elements within a digital environment.

  • SAMR: Devised by Ruben R. Puentedura, the premise behind it is that each layer provides a deeper level of engagement and involvement with technology.

  • High Possibility Classrooms: Student Agency Through Technology-Enhanced Learning: A framework focussing in Teacher knowledge developed by Jane Hunter through her research into exemplary technology teachers.

  • Transformational Learning: Alan November provides six reflective questions to guide the transformational integration of technology. Like Trudacot, these questions help to identify the place of technology associated with learning.

  • Modern Learning Canvas: A tool developed by Richard Olsen that allows you to design and implement innovative learning practices in an agile manner.

  • Return on Instruction: Eric Sheninger provides several suggestions in relation to being more accountable to the integration of digital technologies.

  • Eight Elements of Digital Literacies: A series of eight elements identified by Doug Belshaw that help break down the mindsets and skillsets associated with digital literacies. They provide an interesting set of questions to help guide the use of digital technologies both in planning stage, as well as during the process.

  • Anywhere Anytime Learning: Bruce Dixon and Susan Einhorn collect together their experience in rolling out 1:1 devices around the world to provide some guidelines of things to consider. Rather than a strict list, they provide a series of questions and provocations to support teachers.

  • Resident vs. Visitor: Arguing again the native/immigrant metaphor, David White and Alison Lu Cornu provide a continuum that incorporates the nuances involved in the use of technology. They focus on two aspects, personal vs. institutional and visitor vs. resident. The mapping matrix can be a useful exercise to ascertain where staff and students are at and possibly where they may want to be.

  • Digital Leaders: A scheme designed to allow students in leading the change around technology.

  • Ethics of EdTech: Cameron Hocking provides a range of questions to consider when introducing a new platform. It touches on the challenges of privacy and data.

  • ICT School Planning: The Victorian State Government has created a number of resources to support schools in regards to planning. This includes the planning matrix, digital learning showcase, as well as the updated ePotential survey, which can be used to develop a picture of practice.

  • Questions you need to ask when developing a digital strategy: Allan Crawford-Thomas and Mark Ayton provide a series of questions that are useful as a provocation in regards to developing a vision and specific mission statements.

  • Why We Went Multi-Device, Multi-Platform For Our 1:1 Initiative: AJ Juliani reflects on the steps involved in rolling out a 1:1 initiative in his school.

  • Microsoft Technology Planning Resources: A collection of resources designed to support the transformation. These include a transformational framework, as well as a discussion of quality assurance.

  • ISTE Essential Conditions: ISTE provide a discussion of the critical elements necessary to effectively leverage technology for learning. It is linked with a research-backed framework to guide implementation of the ISTE Standards, tech planning and systemwide change.

  • Understanding Virtual Pedagogies for Contemporary Teaching and Learning: Document produced by Richard Olsen and Ideas Lab around living and learning in a technology-rich world.


READ WRITE RESPOND #007

So that is July for me, how about you? As always, interested to hear. Maybe you have a resource to add to my list.

 

Also, feel free to forward this on to others if you found anything of interest or maybe you want to subscribe?

Read Write Respond #006


flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

My Month of June

I have spent this month being something of a house husband. With my wife heading back to work, I put in for my long service leave to stay at home. I was also lucky enough that my new employer was willing for me have this time. It has definitely been a blessing to have the opportunity to spend so much time as our second daughter grows up. I watched her go from rolling, pulling herself with objects, pushing herself backwards and progressively maneuver around the room. I also got to experience morning drop-offs.

In regards to my writing, here was my month in posts:

  • A Blog for All Seasons: Different blogging platforms enable different possibilities. Here is an account of some examples that I have created over time.

  • REVIEW – Claim Your Domain: The focus is what it means to exist in a digital world and why we need to take more control of our presence. At the heart of this is the question of data.

  • Dr. Stager or; How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Scratch: When it comes to programming, there is a group of people who overlook Scratch as somehow being easy. This sadly misses so much. This is a bit of a reflection on a day I spent with Gary Stager making.

  • The Many Faces of Blogging: Some break blogging down into tasks or unpacking the response. However, we often overlook the purpose and intent behind them. This is some more preparation for my presentation at DigiCon16.

  • Planning with OneNote: OneNote allows users to collaborate without the conflicts created when using applications like Dropbox. Here is a post that shares how.

  • REVIEW – Anywhere Anytime Learning: Bruce Dixon and Susan Einhorn provide an extensive resource to support schools with the integration of technology in order to improve learning.

  • Letter from the Future: Borrowing from Doug Belshaw's letter to his past self, I have used this to wonder what I would change if I had my time again.


Here then are some of the thoughts that have also left me thinking …

Learning and Teaching

Field, tenor and mode – a literacy framework for all subjects – Alice Leung makes the claim for using the framework that focuses on field, tenor and mode to support a student's understanding of grammar and writing across every subject.

Literacy is a focus for every teacher, regardless of whether we are teaching primary school or high school, regardless of what subject we teach. Without strong literacy skills, our students cannot access the curriculum. Reading comprehension and writing are essential to succeed to every aspect of education.

Towards a repository of 'open' Open Badges around employability – Doug Belshaw reflects on badges and their connection with employability. He also links to a burgeoning repository that he and Bryan Mathers are developing on Github. Along with their introduction to open badges, this is a great place to start the badge revolution.

For something like employability or new literacies, having a reference badge system is a great way to get started quickly and easily doing the important work of building capacity. To that end, Bryan and I thought about setting up a GitHub repository that would include everything you need to start issuing a whole range of badges around employability. Our 'payment' (we'd probably do this through weareopen.coop) would be in the form of attribution and lead-generation for future work.
Starting a Patch from Scratch – The team behind the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden program reflect on a collection of stories associated with getting started in regards to creating your own garden. To support this process, they have provided a resource with a range of tips and tricks to getting going with kitchen gardening in and out of school.  

We’ve also put together some free gardening resources to help you start your own patch from scratch. The pack includes tips on how to plan your garden, making a no-dig garden bed, how to plant seeds and seedlings, mulching,  planting charts and recipes for homemade pasta, pesto and a Salad of the Imagination.

Maker Camp Toy Making and Hacking – Jacqui Gerstein provides a series of instructions associated with making your own toys. A useful introduction into the world of making.

For the past two summers, I have gotten the marvelous opportunity to teach maker education camps to elementary level students, aged 5 to 12. Each week has a different theme and each theme meets for one week from 9:00 to 12:00 with a half hour break. Our first week’s theme was on Toy Making and Hacking.

Get a Jump Start on Your Next Web Site with This HTML Cheat Sheet – Alan Henry shares an infographic which provides a fantastic starting point when it comes to HTML.

Whether you’re learning HTML or you’re a practiced hand and need a refresher, this HTML cheat sheet gives you a quick reference for commonly used tags, what they do, how to use them, and examples of how they work.

Sentence Tree – An interesting resource that visualises the grammar construction of any sentence. 

Best of Education (Padlet) – A collection of Padlets associated with education. Not only does it provide a great collection of resources, it is also a great demonstration of what is possible with Padlet.

Edtech

Mathwashing: Facebook and the Zeitgeist of Data Worship – In an interview with Tyler Wood, Fred Benesen explains how and why data is far more subjective than we are often willing to recognise.

The term mathwashing should be more of a warning to fellow technologists: don’t overlook the inherent subjectivity of building things with data just because you’re using math. Algorithm and data driven products will always reflect the design choices of the humans who built them, and it’s irresponsible to assume otherwise. 

How Oracle’s Fanciful History of the Smartphone Failed at Trial – Joe Mullin provides a lengthy reflection on the Oracle vs. Google case. The implications for an open web are serious when we start arguing about the legality of code.

Oracle's argument looked less like a complaint about unfair competition and more like a complaint about the mere existence of competition, complete with Hollywood's trademark complaint about all things Internet-y: you can't compete with free.

How Mark Zuckerberg Led Facebook’s War to Crush Google Plus – Antonio Garcia Martinez provides a tell-all account of Facebook's response to the release of Google Plus. What stands out is the cult-like ethos that exists around some of these companies, one that goes beyond greed.

Facebook is full of true believers who really, really, really are not doing it for the money, and really, really will not stop until every man, woman, and child on earth is staring into a blue-bannered window with a Facebook logo. Which, if you think about it, is much scarier than simple greed. The greedy man can always be bought at some price, and his behavior is predictable. But the true zealot? He can’t be had at any price, and there’s no telling what his mad visions will have him and his followers do. 

Critical questions for big data in education – Ben Williamson continues on his journey down the data rabbit hole, unpacking a range of questions associated with big data.

Some of these questions clearly need more work, but make clear I think the need for more work to critically interrogate big data in education.

Be Careful What You Code For – danah boyd provides a different perspective on coding. Like Quinn Norton, she addresses the problem of poor code, suggesting that moving forward we need more checks and balances.

Technology can be amazingly empowering. But only when it is implemented in a responsible manner. Code doesn’t create magic. Without the right checks and balances, it can easily be misused.

Negotiating the Future – Sylvia Martinez questions smart technology, suggesting that there are some things that are beyond algorithms and machine learning. Some things that we really need to decide for ourselves.

The real dilemmas that will arise from self-driving cars and other “smart” machines will not be the rare life-or-death ones. They will be the smaller, every day, every millisecond decisions. They will be 99.9999% mundane and hardly noticeable — until they aren’t. Since all these machines will be networked, not only will they make decisions, they will communicate, and therefore negotiate with others.

Twitter’s Past, Present and Future — Less Public Square, More Private Rooms – Preston Towers discusses Twitter and what it represents to wider society. This in part reminds me of David Thornburg’s exploration of spaces.

The public square analogy has its greatest potential to work when Twitter is at its most active during events, such as during major tragedies, political events, TV shows, sporting events. It provides a chance for everyone to share a moment online, be in a virtual public square. But it’s still a square where private suites and rooms exist. And it’s during the down times, when the people are busy with their everyday lives, where this becomes exposed.

With a Chromebook I Don't Need a Macbook Anymore – Another reflection on using a Chromebook. I am not sure if they are the answer for everyone and everything, but definitely seem to be finding a place within the market. My only question is the understanding and control that is being sacrificed in using one, but how many people use sites like Github anyway?

The more I use a Chromebook (home brew), the more I realize that I actually don’t need a new Mac. There simply are no tasks or things I need one for. And please note that this is about my own personal user case. I am no developer, graphical designer, musical artist or professional video producer. I am a simple blogger/youtuber, and I use my devices accordingly.

How Robots Will Change the World – Simon Wilson provides a concise account of where things currently stand in regards to AI, robots and the future of jobs. This is a good introduction into the work of Martin Ford.

If we fail to start adapting, it means grim times ahead, and intense socio-political struggles over resources. As Stephen Hawking put it last year: “Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared,  or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution.”

The self-fulfilling prophesy – Luciano Floridi explores how the technology that we use has the tendency to want to control us and take away our privacy. He suggests that more needs to be done to break the model if technology is truly to be transformational.

We should start regu­lating adver­tise­ment for the digital industry now that our infor­ma­tional iden­tity is under threat. An adver­tise­ment-free infos­phere would be a better place and put an end to the strange predica­ment whereby the tech­nolo­gies that can empower us so much to express ourselves are also the tech­nolo­gies that can mummify so effec­tively who we are and can be.

Tech Pedagogy: An Annotated Exploration – Kevin Hodgson provides an excellent summary of a series of posts from Terry Elliot investigating digital pedagogies. Also a great example of use of outliners with Diigo.

My friend, Terry, recently published an entire series of blog posts in which he introduces and explores various technology tools, from an angle of pedagogy. He wonders as much of “the why” as much as the “here it is,” and I like that.

Storytelling and Reflection

Brexit wins. An illusion dies – There have been many great commentaries and reflections on the Brexit debacle, from those including John Tomsett, Jose Picardo, Natalie Scott, Deborah Netolicky, Sue Crowley, Laura Hilliger, Doug Belshaw,  Martin Weller and Cory Doctorow. The best response I have read is from Paul Mason as he talks about the next step. Whereas many look for clauses and means of getting out of the decision, Mason unpacks the result and provides ten suggestions in moving forward with the decision.

The Brexit result makes a radical left government in Britain harder to get — because it’s likely Scotland will leave, and the UK will disintegrate, and the Blairites will go off and found some kind of tribute band to neoliberalism with the Libdems. But if you trace this event to its root cause, it is clear: neoliberalism is broken. 

Who Knows What's Best for Students? – Peter DeWitt unpacks some of the different voices who influence learning, from students, parents, teachers, leaders, consultants and researchers. In the end, he suggests that we need to work collaboratively.

Before you go to a consultant, try to tap into the power of the teachers, students and leaders in your school community first.

Coaching about Teaching Practice: Findings from Emerging Research – In an interview on the Growth Coaching International site, Alex Guedes reflects on his work investigating the effectiveness of coaching as a means of building capacity and improving learning.

Capacity is a complex blend of skills that allows a teacher to make hundreds of decisions daily in their role. Through the coaching conversations, the coaches help to conceptualise teaching practice, the coaching model helps teachers reflect on their work and the role of the coach helps them to gain feedback on their implementation of strategies in the classroom which further drive their professional practice to set new goals and strive for new highs.

Your GPS Is Making You Dumber, and What That Means for Teaching – Dan Meyer uses GPS as metaphor for learning and discusses the limits to step-by-step instructions. It has elicited   quite a response, with a range of comments on both sides of the divide.

So your GPS does an excellent job transporting you efficiently from one point to another, but a poor job helping you acquire the survey knowledge to understand the terrain and adapt to changes.

Why Silicon Valley is Embracing Universal Basic Income – Jathan Sadowski provides an interesting take on all the hype from Silicon Valley at the moment regards a 'universal basic income'. I think the most important point that he makes is that it should only be one step that is a part of a wider welfare solution.

It is cruel to call for regressive measures like dismantling welfare to establish UBI and then demand a piece for yourself – or else stigmatize the assistance. UBI can help give people more stability in their life, the workplace and society. But it should work in tandem with targeted aid motivated by equity over blind equality. The hungry should get a bigger slice of the pie.

Content is a Print Concept – Dave Cormier continues with his thinking around rhizomatic learning, this time questioning content.

I’m starting to believe, more and more, that given THE INTERNETS, content should be something that gets created BY a course not BEFORE it. Our current connectivity allows us to actually engage in discussions at scale… can that replace content? 

Lessons Learned from a Decade of Blogging – Bill Ferriter reflects on ten years blogging, why he started and why he continues. A great insight into the benefits of being a connected educator.

Long story short: The most important lesson that I've learned in a decade worth of writing here on the Radical is that blogging isn't about voice or audience or influence in our profession at all.  Instead, it's about reflection and making contributions and learning through thinking.

Gawker’s Bankruptcy Is How a Free Press Dies, One VC at a Time – Marcus Wohlsen explains how the saga between Peter Thiel and Gawker came about. He also unpacks some of the ramifications for the court case and subsequent bankruptcy of Gawker, as well as what this might mean for the future of journalism.

Now that Thiel has created a template for using money to bring an unruly press to heel, it’s likely to happen again. That presidential candidate (the one Thiel supports) has promised to “open up” libel laws to make suing the press easier. In the old days, billionaires might just buy their own outlets. But now, engaging the press not in argument but in a legal war of attrition is apparently no longer taboo.

The Revolution Won’t Necessarily Be Televised – Dan Haesler reviews ABC’s documentary Revolution School. Personally, I think that it may be better considered Renaissance School, a rebirthing of the past, rather than anything truly revolutionary.

I was left underwhelmed because there was very little in the show that could be seen as being revolutionary. Whilst it might have documented a wide-reaching change in conditions, attitudes or operations at Kambrya, the claim that Revolution School would “serve as a lesson for all schools in Australia,” might be seen as a tad patronising.

FOCUS ON … Getting Connected

Inspired by Richard Olsen, I decided to turn my post I wrote on Becoming a Connected Educator into an infographic:


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So that is June for me, how about you? As always, interested to hear from you.

Also, feel free to forward this on to others if you found anything of interest or maybe you want to subscribe?

Read Write Respond #005

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My Month of May

I got news this month that I was successful in my application for a position as a technology coach. As a part of the negotiations, I was able to keep my long service leave, which means that I will start in July. Subsequently, I have spent this month at home with our newborn while my wife returns to work. It has been a fantastic experience, dropping my older daughter off at school each day and seemingly doing endless chores the rest of the time. Here was me thinking that I would get to watch Days of Our Lives each day.

In regards to my writing, here was my month in posts:

  • Five Ways to Change the World Yesterday – This was a post I started a year ago and only just rediscovered it. The point was that blogging is not necessarily about my own ideas, but rather about being a conduit spreading ideas like a dandelion.
  • What Makes a Comment? – So often people claim that there has been a death of commenting, but instead I tried to explain that the conversation is no longer centralised as it once was.
  • TeachMeet10 – In lieu of the ten year anniversary of the first TeachMeet, Ewan McIntosh put out a request for stories, so I thought that I would share mine.
  • Data, Parents and Education – Building on a post I wrote about the use of Facebook in schools, I elaborated on some of the implications of edtech for parents.
  • What Type of Relationship Do You Have With Learners? – Inspired by a music documentary, I wondered about the relationship between learner and educator, compared with artist and producer.
  • A Guide to Blogging Platforms and their Niches – A summary of some of the different blogging services available, what they enable and where their biases lie.

Here then are some of the thoughts that have also left me thinking …

Learning and Teaching

Providing quality feedback in order to move students forward in their learning – Bianca Hewes elaborates on her use of feedback in the classroom focusing on medals and missions. She provides a range of useful examples to support this.

Being at a BYOD school, and being a recent devotee of Google Apps for Education, I have found that there are lots of ways to use technology to make students’ engagement with their Medals and Missions feedback even more effective.

Digital Portfolios: Moving Beyond the Glorified Scrapbook – Kelli Vogstad and Antonio Vendramin share their inquiry into digital portfolios and the lessons learnt. It provides some useful questions for everyone to consider.

Different parents want different things, but we believe all parents want to know if their children are learning and progressing. They want to know if their children are having difficulty and struggling in their learning. They want to know what the teacher is doing and what they as parents can do at home to help their children be more successful. And mostly, parents want to know that their children are cared for, safe and respected, and liked by others. Through thoughtful digital portfolio collections, parents can be reassured that the teacher really understands and knows their child and is helping them learn and succeed.

Learning (and Assessment) First–  Alex Quigley unpacks the question of assessment and what is needed in order to properly support learning.

Curriculum design, target setting, testing, work scrutiny, moderation, feedback, marking – we need to look again at all of these and ask whether they are actually aiding learning

Digital Citizenship: A Community Approach – Christine Haynes unpacks the challenge of digital citizenship, provides a range of resources to support teachers and parents to be safer online.

When technology was limited to computers in labs or family desktops, the urgency to teach digital citizenship wasn’t there. Now with phones in the hands of toddlers, the practice starts young.

7 ways to assess without testing – In light of the frenzy of testing that is going on at the moment all around the world, Steve Wheeler provides some alternative forms of assessment that do not involve testing. Along with Rachel Wilson’s piece on alternatives to NAPLAN, both posts add to the counter-narrative to the culture of standardised testing.

Children don't learn any more or any better because of standardised testing, unless there is feedback on how they can improve. But SATs seem to be the weapon of choice for many governments across the globe. It seems that little else matters but the metrics by which our political masters judge our schools.

10 Questions For Teacher Reflection – Insightful as always, Edna Sackson provides a list of questions to generate reflection.

We’re not even half way through the school year here, but a request from someone important to me on the other side of the world provokes my thinking… ‘Have you ever written a blog post on strategies, tools or frameworks that a teacher can use to reflect on their past year of teaching?’ My immediate response: ‘Reflection has to happen all the way along. It’s too late at the end of the year.’ But here are some questions to ask yourself, as you look back, look within and look forward…

How to Get Started Using Design Thinking in the Classroom – AJ Juliani provides a range of tips for introducing the use of Design Thinking into your classroom. This is a part of his new book LAUNCH which is his own take on the Design Thinking cycle.

The LAUNCH Cycle is not a formula. It is not a step-by-step guide to being creative. However, we’ve used the LAUNCH Cycle framework to make creativity an authentic experience time and time again in our classrooms.

Edtech

Why Aren't Students Allowed to Blog? – Peter DeWitt questions why we do not make better use of blogs to support learning. He provides a number of possibilities, including curation, media literacy, student voice, assessing learning, collaboration and artistic freedom.

If we want students to learn how to use technology effectively, then we should provide multiple avenues to do it.

Who is Investing in Edtech? – Audrey Watters provides a summary of the venture capitalists investing in educational technology. It is interesting to see how they interconnect within the range of products that make up their portfolio, but also how they connects with other investors.

One of the reasons I started my own startup database is that I was interested in questions beyond “who’s making the most investments” or even “who’s making the biggest investments.” Like, who’s invested regularly in companies that have had “successful exits”? Who hasn’t? Who hasn’t made any education investments at all lately? Which trends do investors seem to cluster around? How has that changed over time? Which education CEOs are investors in their own startups or in others?

Apple Stole My Music, No Seriously – James Pinkstone recounts his story of how in signing up to Apple Music his own personal library was transferred to the cloud and deleted from his hard drive. What was most interesting was that this included his own personal creations. Scarily, this is all covered within the terms and conditions.

Audacious. Egregious. Crazy. These are just some of the adjectives I used in my conversation with Amber.  She actually asked me how I wanted to move forward, putting the onus of a solution back on me. I understand why, too: she’s just as powerless as I am. I would love for Apple to face public backlash and financial ramifications for having taken advantage of its customers in such a brazen and unethical way, but Apple seems beyond reproach at this point. It took three representatives before I could even speak to someone who comprehended what I was saying, and even when she admitted to Apple’s shady practice, she was able to offer no solution besides “don’t use the product.” When our data is finally a full-blown utility, however, “just don’t use the product” will cease to be an option. Apple will be in control, bringing their 1984 commercial full circle into a tragic, oppressive iron.

Getting Started with Podcasts – Ian O’Byrne has been compiling a series of posts addressing everything there is to know to create your own podcast. He has addressed subscribing to a podcast, identifying a purpose, finding your voice, recording and editing.

Over the past year, podcasts have been experiencing a renaissance as an increased number of users tune in. Even more people are looking to join the chorus to create and share their own content online.

The End of Code – Jason Tanz explores the future of machine learning where the logic of the enlightenment is replaced with by a world of entanglement. This touches on the ongoing debate around coding. Interestingly it focuses on programming rather than coding.

In the same way that you don’t need to know HTML to build a website these days, you eventually won’t need a PhD to tap into the insane power of deep learning. Programming won’t be the sole domain of trained coders who have learned a series of arcane languages. It’ll be accessible to anyone who has ever taught a dog to roll over

I know how to program, but I don't know what to program – Nano Dano critiques the common approach when addressing programming that we need to start from scratch, instead it is suggested that we start by tinkering with something that already exists. I think that this is the strength of sites such as Scratch and Github which allow you to easily fork ideas. Dave Winer talks about building on prior art.

In the software community the general attitude is "don't reinvent the wheel." It's almost frowned upon if you rewrite a library when a mature and stable option exists. While it is a good rule in general, novices should not be afraid to reinvent the wheel. When it is done for learning or practice, it's totally OK to make a wheel! It is an important part of learning

66 Question Checklist for Rolling Out Google Apps – Eric Curts provides an extensive list of questions to consider why deciding to deploy Google Apps.

So it is easy to see why so many schools are adopting Google Apps for Education. However, what may not be as easy is the process of deploying Google Apps for your district. There are a lot of questions to consider, options to choose, and steps to take to get from start to finish in a complete roll out.

Artificial intelligence, cognitive systems and biosocial spaces of education – Ben Williamson delves into the world of educational AI. In this lengthy post he investigates different iterations from IBM and Pearson. What is interesting is that AI is very much a self-fulfilling prophecy. For another perspective on AI, check out Graham Brown-Martin’s post What does AI mean for Education?, while danah boyd addresses the challenges associated with bias in her argument that Facebook Must Be Accountable to the Public 

In brief, the biosocial process assumed by Pearson and IBM proceeds something like this:
> Neurotechnologies of brain imaging and simulation lead to new models and understandings of brain functioning and learning processes
> Models of brain functions are encoded in neural network algorithms and other cognitive and neurocomputational techniques
> Neurocomputational techniques are built-in to AIEd and cognitive systems applications for education
> AIEd and cognitive systems are embedded into the social environment of education institutions as ‘brain-targeted’ learning applications
> Educational environments are transformed into neuro-inspired, computer-augmented ‘brainy spaces’
> The brainy space of the educational environment interacts with human actors, getting ‘under the skin’ by becoming encoded in the embodied human learning brain
> Human brain functions are augmented, extended and optimized by machine intelligences

Storytelling and Reflection

Performance pay for teachers will create a culture of fear and isolation – Deborah Netolicky outlines the some of the problems associated with the Australian government's renewed call for performance pay. Along with Jon Andrews, Joel Alexander, Cameron Malcher and Corinne Campbell, they provide a thorough discussion of the topic. Sadly, in Victoria such discussions are not new. I have attempted to elaborate my concerns here and had also had a letter published.

The government wants to improve the quality of teachers and teaching in Australia, in order to improve the learning and achievement of Australian students. This is an admirable goal, but negative drivers of change such as performance pay for teachers, are toxic to education. Education reform needs to move away from a focus on performativity and accountability measures such as those outlined in the budget, and instead focus on trusting and supporting teachers.

Learning that Matters – Robert Schuetz explores the question of relevancy focusing on David Perkins notion of learning being lifeworthy.

Reimagining education means making lifeworthy learning a curricular priority. Perkins recommends keeping the dialogue positive and productive by identifying themes that generate great understandings. Start by asking what is important now and likely to be important in the future. No one can accurately predict the future but identifying trends and educating for the unknown moves learning towards greater relevance. In addition to igniting lifelong learning, we are at least better prepared for the unsolicited, “why do we have to learn this?”

Unlearning and Other Jedi Mind Tricks – Finding the (Creative) Force – Amy Burvall uses a series of gifs from Stars Wars to unpack some of the nuances associated with the creative process. If you have never read any of Burvall’s work, this is a great place to start.

Examine things from all angles, if you can. And most importantly, listen. Never stop listening.

The Five-Minute Dance Party – Emilie Garwitz shares how those activities that we can write-off as fun and frivolous are actually at the heart of the most important lessons we can learn.

Ask any successful person in business about their success and they will tell you that being comfortable with risk is one of the keys to unlocking their full potential. So, the earlier you become comfortable with taking risks, the easier it becomes later in life.

50 Shades of Open – Jeffrey Pomerantz and Robin Peek investigate what exactly is meant by the notion of ‘open’. They unpack ideas around open source, open access, open society, open knowledge, open government and open washing. A journal entry published at First Monday, this is one of those pieces that you can come back again and again.

This essay is probably only the opening gambit in attempts to disambiguate this term. We have merely opened the door on the many uses of the word ”open;“ as the use of the word grows, others must opine.

The Future of Work: Trends and Toolsets – Doug Belshaw shares a summary of a report he wrote exploring the future of work. He breaks this investigation down into four sub-themes: the demise of hierarchies, re-thinking the location of work, the rise of workplace chat and mission-based work. In addition to this, he created a document contiaining a plethora of further readings. I always find such conversations intriguing as to implications for education.

The main trends around the future of work seem to be broadly twofold: empowering individuals and teams to make their own decisions around technology; as well as, democratising the process of deciding what kind of work needs to be done

Panel Beaters – Jon Andrews provides a fantastic summary of the power and importance of coaching in his reflection on ResearchEd.

Coaching, for us, is NOT a cure to be administered or a tool to be manipulated. Rather, it is an offer, a partnership that is rooted in trust, respect and objectivity. It is a great privilege to partner with colleagues to drill down and explore the granularity of practice.

Is ‘pedagogical love’ the secret to Finland’s educational success? – Dr Tom Stehlik unpacks the seemingly mystical term of pedagogical love. This is one of those things I have thought about since I first read The Finnish Way. I wonder if in fact with need Heutagogical Love? That is, a love of learning and a passion for that?

Could we become a nation which is child-centred and in which every family respects the child and considers education the foundation to national prosperity, as well as personal wellbeing? Many Australian parents have a view of schools that has been coloured by their own experiences, often negative, so this would require a massive cultural shift in mindset. Could we ask Australian teachers to accept a lower salary and invest the funding balance into subsidised school meals instead? If we want to learn from the Finns, these are some of the questions that would need to be addressed at a macro level.


In a recent episode of TIDE Podcast, Doug Belshaw and Dai Barnes discussed the use of SAMR. A while back I wrote a post exploring SAMR. As a part of my investigation, I collected together a range of critiques. These are some of them:

I think that Richard Olsen sums the problem up best in a recent post on research when he makes the plea:

I know it is tempting to take notice of bad research and evidence which we agree with, but please don’t do it. We need to throw away all bad research even when we agree with the “evidence.”

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So that is May for me, how about you? As always, interested to hear.

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p dir=”ltr”>Also, feel free to forward this on to others if you found anything of interest or maybe you want to subscribe?

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My Month of April

It has been another exciting month. Started off attending the inaugural Melbourne West GAFE Summit at Manor Lakes. I presented sessions on Slides and Drawings, as well as attended a session by Heather Dowd on Presentation Zen and Suan Yeo on Google Expeditions.

At school, I have been working hard to finish up a few things, such as reports, before I go on long service leave for half a Term Two. Really looking forward to spending some quality time with my children doing the daddy daycare thing.

In regards to my writing, here was my month in posts:


Here then are some of the thoughts that have also left me thinking …

Learning and Teaching

The Hyper Island Toolbox – Along with Laura Hilliger’s resources associated with Participatory Learning Materials, this collection from Hyper Island is full of ideas to support collaborative and creative learning in and out of the classroom.

This is a resource for anyone who wants to do things more creatively and collaboratively in their team or organization. It’s a collection of methods and activities, based on Hyper Island’s methodology, that you can start using today.

Coding a LEGO Maze – A different approach to coding where students make a maze using Lego and then develop the physical code required to complete it.

There are so many baby steps involved in learning how to think like a programmer. Throughout the past several years, I’ve programmed in at least 6 different computer languages (C, C++, Java, Fortran, Matlab, and Python). For a beginner, what’s important is not the specifics of a language (called the syntax). Rather it’s better to understand the commonalities between languages which are the building blocks of any programming language. These LEGO mazes, which can be solved with “code” using paper rather than a computer, illustrate 4 levels of difficulty and include a variety of programming concepts.

Student Engagement: Is It Authentic or Compliant? – Peter DeWitt questions whether students are really engaged? To support this, he provides some strategies to help find the right mix between engagement and compliance.

In order to build a growth mindset in our classrooms and schools we need to find a better balance between expecting compliance and engaging in authentic engagement. We set up a dynamic to truly engage students through strategies like flipping our classrooms, metacognitive activities, using engaging short video clips, setting instructional goals with students, providing time to go through questions with a small group of peers, and providing time where students get to ask questions of us as much as we ask questions of them.

Reading Conferences with Students – Pernille Ripp discusses the challenges of reading conferences within a limited amount of time and provides some thoughts and suggestions.

While the 45 minutes of English class will never be ideal, it will never be enough, it will never feel like I can provide each child with the type of learning experience they deserve, it cannot hold us back.  It cannot hold me back.  And I cannot be the only one that is trying to do this.

The Secret of Effective Feedback – Dylan Wiliam summarises what works best when it comes to feedback. He identifies a range of elements, including self-assessment.

Looking at student work is essentially an assessment process. We give our students tasks, and from their responses we draw conclusions about the students and their learning needs. When we realize that most of the time the focus of feedback should be on changing the student rather than changing the work, we can give much more purposeful feedback. If our feedback doesn’t change the student in some way, it has probably been a waste of time.

21 Digital Tools To Build Vocabulary – Kimberly Tyson unpacks a range of tools to support vocabulary. The list is divided into references, word clouds, games and digital word walls.

In today’s 21st century classrooms, digital tools must coexist alongside more traditional tools. Online tools, compared to their more traditional counterparts, provide a broader array of information about words and word meanings. In addition, some tools allow teachers to easily customize words so that students can practice, review, and play games with content or unit-specific words.

The science of revision: nine ways pupils can revise for exams more effectively – Bradley Busch summarises some of the research behind different revision activities. Interestingly, listening to music is considered detrimental. However, I wonder what the impact would be of listening to the same track on repeat, as Matt Mullenweg does when he codes.

As research into psychology continues to develop, we learn more and more about how best to help students learn. Revision time can be challenging as it often requires students to monitor their own behaviour when working independently at home. Hopefully, by teaching them about what helps improve their memory, mood and concentration, we can better equip them to meet the challenges head on.

Edtech

Third Places & Third Spaces – Bon Stewart explores the idea of the third space, a virtual place that carries across time and physical space. An interesting read regards to connected learning.

The Third Space is a potentially transformative space between the roles of student and teacher, a hybrid space where identities and literacies and practices can actually change on both sides.

In Search of a New Resilience for Learning – Dave Cormier reflects on the need to build resilience in online learning spaces, such as Rhizo14.

We need to acknowledge that learning in a network/community/wild space means that sometimes there will be uncontrollable interactions. You will be confronted by what a colleague today referred to as ‘aggressive academic hectoring’. There is privilege always. How do we maintain the advantages of rhizomatic space and still give people the tools to be resilient?

Beyond Coding – Going beyond coding and algorithms, Steve Collis discusses the future of neural networks and artificial intelligence.

Insight into the power of repeated and branching algorithms doesn’t begin to prepare us for what is essentially distributed extended cognition. Incredibly sophisticated artificial intelligence, including neural network computing, is embedded in our lives and progressing in rapid cascades.

The Minecraft Generation – Clive Thompson provides a thorough explanation of Minecraft and its place within the history of technology,

Where companies like Apple and Microsoft and Google want our computers to be easy to manipulate — designing point-and-click interfaces under the assumption that it’s best to conceal from the average user how the computer works — Minecraft encourages kids to get under the hood, break things, fix them and turn mooshrooms into random-­number generators. It invites them to tinker.

Educators, GitHub and the Future of Open Ed – Greg McVerry ponders on the place of GitHub in education as a space to share and build ideas. Alan Levine also wrote a good post on the subject too. I must admit I have barely touched the surface when it comes to GitHub.

Educators live in easy to use silos. I can not blame them. First and foremost the tools teachers use have to work easily. Yet when they share resources educators are often using proprietary tools and signing away copyrights to their district. Our ideas have value. We should get to decide how these ideas are owned and shared.

Can MakerSpaces Invent the Future? – Brad Gustafson shares a fantastic makerspace project where students have to design a case for a Sphero using a 3d printer.

It is incredible what kids can do when we believe in them, coach them, and get out of their way! Our students recently participated in a robotics competition that was invented from the ground up by staff and students.  We designed and printed 3D “exoskeletons” that fit over our Sphero robotic droids…and SpheroExo was born.  The rest is history.

What If Social Media Becomes 16-Plus? New battles concerning age of consent emerge in Europe – danah boyd discusses the law being proposed by the EU to restrict the internet to 16. This is not only important in regards to understanding the impact of the COPPA laws in the US, but also the ramifications for data and privacy of placing more restrictions on the use of the Internet.

What really bothers me are the consequences to the least-empowered youth. While the EU at least made a carve-out for kids who are accessing counseling services, there’s no consideration of how many LGBTQ kids are accessing sites that might put them in danger if their parents knew. There’s no consideration for kids who are regularly abused and using technology and peer relations to get support. There’s no consideration for kids who are trying to get health information, privately. And so on. The UN Rights of the Child puts vulnerable youth front and center in protections. But somehow they’ve been forgotten by EU policymakers.

The dark side of Guardian comments – Looking back on ten years on comments, a group of writers from the Guardian analyse the data.

Even five years ago, online abuse and harassment were dismissed as no big deal. That is not true now. There is widespread public concern, and more support for anti-harassment proposals. But no one is pretending that this is an easy problem to fix.

The Rise of the Chromebook – Originally published in Educational Technology Solutions magazine, Anthony Speranza provides a clear introduction to Chromebooks and their place in schools.

With reduced overhead costs, Chromebooks are a cost-effective option to deploy technology at scale. Many schools are releasing this as an affordable option for closing the technology-equity gap whilst promoting the kind of rich digital learning that we all believe in.

Terrifyingly Convenient – In a lengthy piece, Will Oremus unpacks the rise of virtual assistants and bots. This is a topic that touches on the topics of trust and convenience, and wonders at what cost.

Like card catalogs and AOL-style portals before it, Web search will begin to fade from prominence, and with it the dominance of browsers and search engines. Mobile apps as we know them—icons on a home screen that you tap to open—will start to do the same. In their place will rise an array of virtual assistants, bots, and software agents that act more and more like people: not only answering our queries, but acting as our proxies, accomplishing tasks for us, and asking questions of us in return. This is already beginning to happen—and it isn’t just Siri or Alexa. As of April, all five of the world’s dominant technology companies are vying to be the Google of the conversation age. Whoever wins has a chance to get to know us more intimately than any company or machine has before—and to exert even more influence over our choices, purchases, and reading habits than they already do.Indie Ed-Tech: Review the Revue – Audrey Watters explores many important points relating to ed-tech in her review of Indie Ed-Tech Data Summit. In particular, she touches on the question of funding and venture capital.

Ed-tech need not be exploitative. Ed-tech need not be extractive. Ed-tech need not be punitive. Ed-tech need not be surveillance. Ed-tech need not assume that the student is a cheat. Ed-tech need not assume that the student has a deficit. Ed-tech need not assume that learning can be measured or managed. Ed-tech need not scale.

Technology is Not Neutral – Counter the usual argument that technology merely amplifies what is already in play. Gary Stager points out that platforms have biases that impact users.

Used well, the computer extends the breadth, depth and complexity of potential projects. This in turn affords kids with the opportunity to, in the words of David Perkins, “play the whole game.” Thanks to the computer, children today have the opportunity to be mathematicians, novelists, engineers, composers, geneticists, composers, filmmakers, etc… But, only if our vision of computing is sufficiently imaginative.

3 Types of EdTech Baggage: Toolsets, Mindsets, Skillsets – Talking about the diffusion of innovation curve, Doug Belshaw goes beyond the usual discussion about laggards and examines some of the baggage that can get in the way of change.

Many of us are acquainted with people for whom the answer to every technology-related question seems to be a Google, a Microsoft, or an Apple tool. I would suggest that these people have as much of a ‘toolset’ problem as the ‘laggard’ on the diffusion of innovation curve. I’d contend that it’s as dangerous and damaging to have baggage that says one vendor’s products are always the best solution as it is to say that no technological solution is best.

Storytelling and Reflection

Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems – George Monbiot gives an explanation to Donald Trump, the Panama Papers and the stock exchange. For a focus on neolibrarlism and education, see David Price’s post on forced freedom. While Will Davies also provides a useful post exploring some of the complexities associated with neoliberalism.

Like communism, neoliberalism is the God that failed. But the zombie doctrine staggers on, and one of the reasons is its anonymity. Or rather, a cluster of anonymities.

Liberia outsources its education system – Graham Martin-Brown responds to the news that Liberia has decided to outsource its education system. Along with a few follow ups, Martin-Brown provides a wide perspective on the topic.

Bridge International’s investors from Bill Gates to Mark Zuckerberg reads like the Knights of Ayn Rand but even the UK’s DFID have made an investment in what would be illegal in the UK

Pathways for Creative Leadership – A reflection from Laura Hilliger on the challenges of being creative and the emotions that this sometimes produces.

Who are creative leaders? They’re the people who have ideas to solve problems. Many times they’re the Consiglieri to a manager. They don’t coordinate people, they coordinate ideas. They’re the people who gain merit inside of an organization, but do not “climb the ladder” in a traditional sense – e.g. they don’t move up the hierarchy.

Better Teachers? Better at what Exactly? – Ned Manning questions the mantra around quality teaching and makes the comparison with Finland in an Op-Ed piece for The Age.

Until we are capable of putting our children’s needs in front of anything else, we will continue to slip down the educational league table. It has nothing to do with better teachers. It’s got everything to do with protecting our children from politicians.

Fighting Student Anxiety and Lack of Engagement with Free Play and Inquiry-Based Learning – AJ Juliani unpacks the connections between anxiety, engagement and inquiry, providing different research to paint a clear picture, as well as solutions as to what we can do to fix some of the problems.

What are we doing to add play back into our schools, and back into our children’s lives as parents, teachers, and leaders? When we look at the research, the studies, the medical community’s recommendation, and the real life stories of schools in the US and abroad–it all shows the importance of free play. Let’s go beyond recognizing the need, and start intentionally providing time and space for play.

The Double-Edged Sword of Reflection / Reflections of a Reluctant Writer – Jon Andrews responds to Naomi Barnes post on caring arguing that reflection is essential, but not always obvious.

Reflection is, in my opinion, a double-edged sword. The process of reflecting is a worthwhile one, but it can bring illumination and affirmation in one breath, disappointment and frustration in another. Either way, our work demands reflection of us. Question is, how best to do it, when do we do it and how do we get the most out of it so all benefit?

FOCUS ON … GIFS

With the recent addition of GIFs to a range of applications, here are a few resources to help make more sense of what all the fuss is about:


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So that is April for me, how about you? As always, interested to hear. Feel free to respond and let me know if you have any thoughts and/or feedforward for the newsletter.

Also, feel free to forward this on to others if you found anything of interest or maybe you want to subscribe?

As always, stay well.

Aaron Davis

@mrkrndvs


flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) licenseMy Month of March

March has been a weird month. Everything just seems to have flown on by at school. We unpacked mindsets as a part of the instructional model. Intervention kept on intervening, with the highlight being the use of TouchCast and the green screen to support recordings. I also had the opportunity to pitch an idea as a part of an (unsuccessful) job application which was interesting. Wonder why more processes aren't like that?

At home, I am learning first hand just how much students in Foundation grow and learn, with my daughter coming on leaps and bounds. Actually both are flying with the youngest considering taking up the act of crawling.

In regards to my writing, here was my month in posts:


Here then are some of the thoughts that have also left me thinking …

Learning and Teaching

10 Practical Ways to Innovate in Your Classroom – AJ Juliani provides a range of ways to innovate your classroom, including everything from Genius Hour to sharing tutorials online.

I’m calling these 10 examples practical because I believe they are doable. They work in most grade levels, in most schools, in most situations. However, as we talked about in a previous post, you and your students are going to have to be the ultimate decision makers on whether or not any of these ideas would work. 

Learner Agency – More than just a buzzword – Claire Amos provides 10 ways you might provide Learner Agency in your classroom or school.

If the world around us wasn't changing so rapidly, we might have got away with sticking our heads in the sand and believing (like certain schools still do) that effective education means little, if any, learner agency and whole lot of control and teacher centred pedagogy.  Don't get me wrong, there is still a place for direct instruction and even rote learning, but if you are limiting yourself to such practice, no matter how awesomely charismatic you might be, you are doing your students a massive disservice.

‘I Don’t Know What To Do With This Child … They Can’t Speak English!’ – Anne Del Conte draws on her experiences working with EAL/D students to provide a collection of classroom strategies.

My plea is that our new language learners are not given ‘busy work’; like colouring-in, or childish toys to play with or books to read that are not age appropriate. Please don’t leave them in a corner to fend for themselves and grow bored while both of you wait until the EAL/D teacher comes to withdraw them for their special lessons. If you need help, just ask someone.

Explainer: how is literacy taught in schools? – Stewart Riddle and Eileen Honan provide an explanation as to how literacy is taught in Australia. 

There is no doubt that Australia is a literacy-dependent society. The demand on young people is growing within the context of international test rankings and competition, an increasingly globalised workforce and a transitioning economy that requires highly sophisticated literacy skills. As such, it is important that literacy teaching in classrooms reflects the very best approaches that research, policy and curriculum design can provide.

Best Way To Learn Any Subject: Curation – Robin Good not only provides a clear explanation of curation, but a grounding for its place within education.

Rather than diligently memorizing the notions written by others inside his textbooks or the theorems presented to him in class lectures, the learner who curates the subject he wants to learn, develops a true understanding of the subject and a personal opinion about it. I would venture to say that he now “owns” the subject, rather than simply “knowing” about it. 

6 Keys to Connecting With the Disconnected – Chris Wejr unpacks a range of solutions for supporting students who have become disconnected. 

Connecting is more important now than ever. According to a 2011 study of youth done by the Public Health Agency of Canada, just over half of our grade 10 students feel that they belong and have a teacher that cares about them in school. It is difficult for me to hear this as I know how hard we work in education. How can almost half of our students not feel cared for and a sense of belonging? The question must me asked… knowing this, now what? We know the links between positive school environment and mental health and we know the impact we CAN have on our students so what are we doing about this as educators, schools and as a society? 

The Day Began Gently – Jon Harper shares a range of ideas as to how we can better start the day off with ourselves, our students and our colleagues.

Tomorrow morning starts tonight. Plan right now how you are going to make it go well for your students, your staff and yourself. I may not get to lie next to my son as he gradually awakes. But I will hug him and kiss him the first chance I get. He may not run to greet me when I am pulling in the driveway. But I can run to him once I open the front door. And he might not tell me over and over again how much he missed me. But I can tell him.

Edtech

The Problem with #edtech Debates – Jose Picardo provides a great post adding to the debate over the importance of edtech and place within education (see postergate). It is an important post for the points made, as well as the links to other posts, including his case study of success. 

Technology isn’t always the solution, but isn’t the problem either. Let’s have an informed debate. Over to you.

Position on Digital Evolutionary Continuum – Mal Lee and Roger Broadie provide a continuum to help with plotting a school's journey to normalisation. 

Before embarking on your school’s digital evolutionary journey you need to know where you are and the likely path ahead.

'I Love My Label': Resisting the Pre-Packaged Sound in Ed-Tech – Continuing to unpack a more personal experience of edtech, Audrey Watters builds on the punk metaphor outlined by Jim Groom and Adam Croom to put forward a vision of the future less dictated by commercial algorithms and more curated by human communities. Jim Groom also provided a thorough summary of his experience at Indie Ed Tech Conference. This is fantastic post not only for Groom’s insights, but the breadth of links attached. 

Indie means we don’t need millions of dollars, but it does mean we need community. We need a space to be unpredictable, for knowledge to be emergent not algorithmically fed to us. We need intellectual curiosity and serendipity – we need it from scholars and from students.

Welcome to the Paradox (and Myth) of “Best Tool for X” – In the search for the best collaborative platform, Alan Levine touches on the paradox of deciding on the best tool for a task. The reality is that we only have a limited time to test and therefore often come to depend on others and our own intuition. 

This, welcome to Paradox. To really compare them, even a demo session won’t cut it. I won’t really know without putting it to use in a real situation, with real people. The time it would take to do this? And so I have to thus make some hunch guesses based on limited skim by, reviews, and what people I might know who have more experience. And while I understand why people want to know when they ask, and despite the endless flow of listicles that people publish, there can never be a simple answer to “What is the best tool for X?” There are a lot of importance differences between X for me and X for you.

The Overselling of Ed Tech – Alfie Kohn adds his thoughts to the debate on edtech, touching on the various promises made and the true impact of technology, to amplify what is already in place.

We can’t answer the question “Is tech useful in schools?” until we’ve grappled with a deeper question: “What kinds of learning should be taking place in those schools?” If we favor an approach by which students actively construct meaning, an interactive process that involves a deep understanding of ideas and emerges from the interests and questions of the learners themselves, well, then we’d be open to the kinds of technology that truly support this kind of inquiry. Show me something that helps kids create, design, produce, construct — and I’m on board. Show me something that helps them make things collaboratively (rather than just on their own), and I’m even more interested — although it’s important to keep in mind that meaningful learning never requires technology, so even here we should object whenever we’re told that software (or a device with a screen) is essential.

The New Digital Divide – Cortney Harding examines the digital divide that is occurring between those who have and those who have not. This is not simply access to technology, but access to resources required to protect themselves and their digital presence.

The great promise of the Internet and the new digital world was that it would create a level playing field and allow everyone to access the same information. Unfortunately, it has also created a world where accessing that information has very different costs depending on how much money you make or the color of your skin.

ClassDojo and the Measurement, Management of Growth Mindsets – Ben Williamson provides a thorough discussion of the connection between growth mindset and Class Dojo. In the same vein as Audrey Watters, Williamson makes the link with fixing the individual and the Silicon Valley ideology.

The emphasis of both is on fixing people, rather than fixing social structures. It prioritizes the design of interventions that seek to modify behaviours to make people perform as optimally as possible according to new behavioural and psychological norms. Within this mix, new technologies of psychological measurement and behaviour management such as ClassDojo have a significant role to play in schools that are under pressure to demonstrate their performance according to such norms.

I’ve Seen the Greatest A.I. Minds of My Generation Destroyed by Twitter – The New Yorker provides a great summary of Microsoft's failed Twitter bot.

Why didn’t Microsoft know better? Plop a consciousness with the verbal ability of a tween and the mental age of a blastocyst into a toxic, troll-rich environment like Twitter and she’s bound to go Nazi.

Storytelling and Reflection

Publishing is dead. This is why – Jon Westerberg provides a summary of the state of newspapers, media and publishing. He questions the institutions that still push students through journalism degrees into professions that no longer exist. 

Will what we see as publishers now — Buzzfeed, Vox — eventually be seen only as advertisers? And will the profession of journalism one day cease to exist?

Why? – Chris Harte reflects on the question why and wonders if reinstating it at the centre of learning may help to develop a deeper inquiry into life's big questions. 

Maybe by engendering a love of the question why? in our children, we can help them to ask the big questions. To disrupt the status quo. To enquire into the depths of the universe and the meaning of life. To question peacefully, truthfully and with the intent of making the world a better place. To stare boldly into the eyes of the heavens and ask why?

#rawthought: What If We…Ditch “Best Practices”? – The ever creative Amy Burvall wonders about the notion of ‘best’ practice and questions whether we instead need to think about what some have termed as next practice. 

What if we… stopped being so sure of ourselves and instead became confident in our uncertainty (like Keats’ “negative capability”?). What if we…felt free to explore a host of options to test what works best in the here and now, and in respect of the context? What if we…embraced the fact that a “best practice” is really flexibility and evolution over time?

True for Us, True for Them – Emily Garwitz reflects on learning and suggests that what works for us as teachers should also apply for the students in our classroom.

Here’s something I know to be true: I learn by trying and failing and then trying again. True for us, true for them. I learn through active, experiential learning rather than passive learning. True for us, true for them. I learn through collaborating with others. True for us, true for them. I learn by moving, thinking out loud, getting personalized feedback…true for us, true for them. 

Trouble Brewing at Snake Mountain High – Jon Andrews provides a satire reflecting on the current state of education, with the battle between autonomy and edu-businesses. This was also the seed for a whole collection of posts, including The index-cardificationof education, A pedagogy of Astro Boy: education and social justice, The Missing Superheroes and Skeletor Loves it When Planning Comes Together. 

I’m not paying you to think. I’m paying you to do. We don’t have time for all this PD guff, collaboration, staff voice and the like. Look, I’ve seen enough. You have your work cut out turning this place around. I want no excuses – from you or the students. I want a return on investment.

How the Tories picked free schools: chaotic, inconsistent and incompetent – It took a three-year legal battle for Laura McInerney to see papers on why some free school applications succeed and others fail. Her story provides an insight into political side of education and the challenges associated with change. 

Scientists have discovered that people make fairer choices when they are being watched, if only by a robot. England needs more schools to cope with increasing pupil numbers and I believe free schools can be a solution, but only if people have faith in the process. To make that happen, someone needs to be the robot. So I will keep on asking for information – even if it lands me in court.

How Does Your School Innovate? – Steve Brophy unpacks change in schools, making the case for the iterative process. 

Traditionally at schools,  the pilot or trial is the go to method to validate the effectiveness of a particular tool, approach or change in practice and I have been a part of many trials and pilots in my career.  Some successful, some total failures.  My issue with the pilot as a methodology is that we determine the course but often we don’t tend to stray from that original determined path.

Stop Innovating in School. Please – Will Richardson makes a plea to focus on what matters most and that is learning not teaching.

To put it simply, innovation in schools today is far too focused on improving teaching, not amplifying learning. The real innovation that we need in schools has little to do with technologies or tools or products designed to improve our teaching. The real innovation, instead, is in relearning why we want kids in schools in the first place. 

Network Leadership – Cameron Paterson investigates leadership in a networked era. He outlines a series of steps needed to move from traditional hierarchical leadership, to one more fluid and agile.

Education is moving from a narrow pipeline metaphor to an incredibly diverse web of outside networks and knowledge is becoming literally inseparable from the network that enables it. Reminiscent of Ivan Illich’s learning webs, knowledge is now distributed across networks of connections, and learning consists of immersing oneself in networks by creating and sharing. The future of learning lies in networks, and networks require a new form of leadership, prioritising peer to peer relationships to build creative capacity.

Playing the Game of School – Edna Sackson shares a great activity to help appreciate what school might mean and how it might feel to be in one.

FOCUS ON … Measuring the Success of Technology


READ WRITE RESPOND #003

So that is March for me, how about you? As always, interested to hear. 

Also, feel free to forward this on to others if you found anything of interest or maybe you want to subscribe?

My Month of February

Thank you for reading. This month my daughter has grappled with the exhaustion with being a Prep student. While school has really kicked into gear. This year I have been put in charge of ‘intervention’. It has included organising groups, liaising with teachers and organising various programs. As a school, we have also continued with our journey in regards to developing a whole school instructional model, with the current focus being effort and mindsets.

In regards to my writing, here was my month in posts:

Inspired by the work of David Culberhouse and Ian O’Bryne, I also started a new blog to develop disparate ideas and wonder ‘what if?

Learning and Teaching

Ways to Use Lego in the Classroom – Mark Warner provides a range of examples about how to use Lego in the classroom. In some ways it reminds me of Lee Hewes’ post exploring the potential of Minecraft, its strength is its breadth of ideas.
When I’m not busy working on our teaching websites, I can usually be found playing Lego with our children! It’s an incredibly creative toy, but it can also be used to support work in a number of different curriculum areas. Here is our HUGE list of ways to use Lego in the classroom.

Learning with Lego – Mark Anderson collects together a range of links and resources associated with the use of Lego in the classroom. Really like the idea of making up small bags of basic blocks for each student. Creativity needs constraint.

I’m often surprised that teachers don’t think to use Lego to help in the classroom as a learning tool.

How Might We the Content?: Applying Design Thinking in a High School English Classroom – Dan Ryder provides some examples for how he has used design thinking in the English classroom. A great exanple of process over product.
The above are just a few ways to tackle English language arts curriculum through the lens of design. Some have been robust explorations I’ve done with students, others one day sprints, and yet others notions and fancies that I’ve just yet to find the time to put into practice.
How to Make Good Lean Startup Hypotheses– In Part Eight of his series unpacking his work around producing a lean startup, Tim Kastelle explores the challenge of creating a clear hypothesis. Although not intended, this has ramifications for inquiry and project-based learning.

We need to start our lean startup process with discovery – and that is harder to hypothesise. But we can’t look for false precision, that will lead us down the wrong path.

How to Talk About Your Project – Seth Godin provides a thorough set of questions to explore when entering into a project. Although aimed at professional projects, there are some really useful questions when engaging in PBL.

Successful project organizers are delighted to engage in a conversation about all of these questions. If you’re hiding from them, it’s time to find out why.

So Assignmenty – Alan Levine discusses the idea of an assignment and wonders about the options.

Is the purpose of an assignment to complete the assignment? When we are Assignmenty, we ask learners to do the minimum to achieve some level of reward. Assignmenty things have fixed fences around their yard. Do we leave holes, gates, doors for learners to go farther? is that crazy (or stupid?)

The Thinkerathon – Doug Belshaw provides an alternative to the usual brainstorming task. Along with Dan Rockwell’s argument that brainstorming needs two sessions, it highlights the importance of time and space when digging deeper.

Creativity isn’t just sticking colourful post-it notes on walls — an important part of it involves discipline and process. That’s why we continually zoomed in and out of ideas, continually moving forward while our ideas morphed and evolved.

Gender and Group Work – Alex Quigley explores the topic of group work. Rather than a clear answer, he provides a excellent series of reflective questions to guide things.

If we accept the notion of the ‘wisdom of crowds‘, then what is the magic number for group size? There is no fixed answer, but research evidence shows that any group size above six is unlikely to be effective. Why is this? Well, successful group work relies on group goals, but alongside individual responsibility. With too many students in a group it is too easy for social loafing (students putting in less effort when they know they can because other group members pick up the slack) to happen. Better to have a smaller groups, such as trios or fours. Of course, even then, they’ll need training.

Three Resources for Learning More about Fair Use and Copyright – Bill Ferriter provides a collection of resources to support the teaching of copyright.

Assuming that everything we do with copyrighted content is legal is lazy and irresponsible.  Worse yet, it sends the wrong message to the kids in our classrooms, who learn to respect and/or disrespect the ownership rights of content creators by watching the important adults in their lives.

What kids *really* want from us when they ask for help Dan Haesler shares a strategy to support teachers when students ask for help with issues around bullying and wellbeing.

I think the LATE model offers any adult – a parent or other family member, teacher, coach – a simple way to better engage with youngsters when they seek our help. Furthermore, it’s pretty good model to use when anyone – young or old, family member or work colleague – needs our assistance.

Edtech

President Obama Discovers Coding – Gary Stager pushes back on the latest hype around coding and technology, identifying some of the historical roadblocks as he sees it.

Computer literacy must mean the ability to do something constructive with a computer, and not merely a gen eral awareness of acts one is told about computers. A computer literate person can read and write a computer program, can select and operate software written by others, and knows from personal experience the possibilities and limitations of the computer.

OEB 15 – What does it take to scale adoption of technology at your school? – Jenny Luca reflects on her journey to scale technology overtime. A useful post, especially in relation to the various nuances associated with context.

Having a coherent strategy around technology platforms to utilise in a school or district system goes some way to meeting the challenge of scaling teaching innovations. When teachers are provided with the tools that allow for collaborative practice, quick and easy insight into student work in progress, ease of providing formative assessment, tools that allow students to become creators of content and the ability for group work to be managed effectively, there lies the potential for teachers to have opportunities to rethink their pedagogical practices.

Why Social Media Education Is Needed In Schools – Jackie Gerstein makes a case for teaching social media, making the comparison with sex education. She also provides a range of links and resources to support the endeavour.

One of the goals for education is to provide students with skills for living their lives safely and productively now and in the future. This is in line with driver’s education, home economics, and other skills based classes where the intent is to teach teens skills for being safer in their everyday life. We know that teens and driving can be dangerous. Instead of banning it in schools, we attempt to teach them proper and safe driving practices . . . and driver’s education isn’t just talking about safe driving practices. The same is true with just being a talking head about social media. It needs to be modeled and used in the classroom so students get to experience “proper” social media uses.

Ethics submission draft – Evangelical? – Ian Guest develops a series of categories for the different types of educational uses you find or Twitter. Not only did this leave me thinking what sort of user am I, but also whether the four terms captures all the nuances.

Based solely on my observations during my time on Twitter, I’ve noticed that people seem to regard the platform in a number of different ways. The following classification then, is purely my own interpretation of the attitudes people appear to exhibit: evangelists, advocates, agnostics and atheiest.

Amazon’s Plans for OER – Audrey Watters responds to Kayne West’s tweet that we need cheaper textbooks by unpacking the news that Amazon is set to develop a platform to support OER.

Textbooks cost too much, and everyone knows it, as the 64,000 retweets of Kanye West perhaps underscore. But that inflated price tag is just one of the problems that OER purports to solve. (See David Wiley’s 5 Rs of open content: the ability to retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute work.) It remains to be seen if Amazon Inspire will support these activities or if the “problem” that Amazon really seeks to solve here is a stronger foothold in the education market.

Why Open Practice – Martin Weller provides a good introduction to the different reasons for going open.

I gave a presentation recently trying to set out the arguments for engaging with open practice in higher education. I’ve shifted from the “because it’s awesome” argument to a more nuanced one. My starting point is that open practice is a smorgasbord of components from which one selects those parts that you feel most comfortable with and will most benefit your current role.

What is the Value of a Bot? – danah boyd unpacks the world of bots, posing a range of questions in the process. In addition to this, she provides links to other posts on the topic.

Who gets to decide the value of a bot? The technically savvy builder of the bot? The people and organizations that encounter or are affected by the bot? Bots are being designed for all sorts of purposes, and most of them are mundane. But even mundane bots can have consequences.

Blockchain for Education: A Research Project – Audrey Watters casts a critical eye over the blockchain. Not only does she provide a range of information and questions to consider, but she also includes a range of links to go further if you would like.

So buzz and bullshit aside, what – if anything – can blockchain offer education technology? And more generally, how does blockchain work? (And then again, specifically how does it work in an educational setting?) What problems does blockchain solve? What are its benefits? What are its drawbacks? Who’s developing and who’s investing in the technology? To what end?

Storytelling and Reflection

The Measure of Success – JL Dutant provides a harrowing reflection on the challenges of success and the need to go beyond the usual measurements used.

It’s taken all the willpower I have to fight back from that and to stay in the profession. I’ve long since stopped looking for the Boson. That way lie only black holes and ‘spooky action at a distance‘. I get that it’s important to measure and to parcel out and to make sense of things out there in the world, but it’s also important to remember that we have an inner world without which the outer world can make no sense.
Algorithms: Are They Giving Students a One-Sided View? – Peter DeWitt makes the connection between digital algorithms and student voice, wondering if we are limiting students perspective through our pedagogical practice.

There is nothing wrong with seeing what you like on Facebook or Google, but we should also be exposed to those things that we didn’t even realize exist, and our students could benefit from that too. When we talk about learning, too many students want to give us the answer they think we want to hear, instead of the answer they may want to say. And that is like an on-line filter bubble or algorithm that only gives us the information it thinks we want. Student voice is about so much more than that. It’s about breaking out of the streamline and having better dialogue to build understanding.

A Minimum Viable Product Is Not a Product, It’s a Process – Yevgeniy (Jim) Brikman provides a different take on the usual perspective of the minimum viable product as being on a single trajectory.

This, in a nutshell, is the MVP process. Whether you’re developing a product design, marketing plan, or writing code, always ask: What is my riskiest assumption? What is the smallest experiment I can do to test this assumption.

Visions of Education Futures – Jackie Gerstein outlines a vision for the future. Although writers like Audrey Waters make me more sceptical about such lists, it does provide a clear idea about what if.

Writing, inventing, creating media, and entrepreneurship for change will drive educational endeavors supporting the belief that all humans want to live a life based on, “I want to do things that will change people’s lives.” Problems will always exist in the world, but the collective whole of the human race, given the advancements specified in this article, will actively and proactively seek their amelioration.

Connecting Disparate Dots (Recombinant Innovation) – David Culberhouse talks about the need to stop looking for the new innovative idea, instead we need to more actively connect the dots around use to remix old ideas.

They are exploiting what already exists, in ways that were never previously visualized.  They are finding fertile ground for innovation not just in the creating, but in the combining.  Combining and cross-pollinating those disparate dots that were yet to be linked or considered.  In many ways, they are creative concept and idea recyclist.

Teacher Problems – Natalie Scott provides an account of education in refugee camps. I remember reading the account of teaching underneath a tree in Malawi via Tom Whitby’s blog, this post also provides a priceless insight into another world so often ignored.

From both perspective of humanities and welfare, this is a powerful read. Important in putting many of our gripes in perspective, but also appreciating the life from which some of our students of come from.

Just Make Stuff – Radical Transparency as the New CV – Amy Burvall puts forward a compelling case for a revisioning of the traditional CV to focus instead around making stuff and sharing it in an open fashion.

One reminder… you can make the coolest “stuff” in the world and still be a jerk. So in this ever-shrinking, uber-connected space that flirts between the “IRL” and the virtual, it is beyond important to play nice. Here are some tips: build up the work of others, and attribute everything; refrain from negativity as much as possible – populate the Web with pleasing things; if you get jealous that someone is better, make more stuff (you will get better too and it distracts); ok, just accept people will be better or their work will be more popular (but realize there is a niche for everyone); share your own work freely (but make it unique enough so people will know it’s yours); encourage remix of your work (remix is the heart of creativity- embrace it).

Our Undereducation – Will Richardson responds to Donald Trump’s statement that he loves the ‘undereducated’. Richardson argues that this is reflection of the education system we have created and what needs to be changed to fix it.

We can’t be ok with what this system has to some extent wrought. We should be working hard to rethink that system to eliminate the “undereducated” as a lovable constituency for those hoping to ascend to the most powerful leadership position in the world.

Email newsletters are the new zines – Simon Owens provides a great discussion of newsletters and how they are different to the average blog.

It’s tempting to merely argue that the recent crop of newsletters are what came to replace the independent blogosphere of the mid-aughts. But I actually think its antecedents stretch back further to the zine culture that thrived in the 70s, 80s, and early 90s.

 

FOCUS ON … Mindsets

The perils of “Growth Mindset” education: Why we’re trying to fix our kids when we should be fixing the system​ – Alfie Kohn provides a critique of ‘growth mindsets’ wondering if the real problem is effort or if it is the quality of the curriculum and pedagogical approach being used.

An awful lot of schooling still consists of making kids cram forgettable facts into short-term memory. And the kids themselves are seldom consulted about what they’re doing, even though genuine excitement about (and proficiency at) learning rises when they’re brought into the process, invited to search for answers to their own questions and to engage in extended projects. Outstanding classrooms and schools — with a rich documentary record of their successes — show that the quality of education itself can be improved. But books, articles, TED talks, and teacher-training sessions devoted to the wonders of adopting a growth mindset rarely bother to ask whether the curriculum is meaningful, whether the pedagogy is thoughtful, or whether the assessment of students’ learning is authentic (as opposed to defining success merely as higher scores on dreadful standardized tests).

The Problem With Having a ‘Growth Mindset’ – Peter DeWitt explains why mindsets has such a low effect size (0.19) and how we can change that by not being so fixed in approaches as teachers.

If we truly want to teach the growth mindset it means that we have to dig a little deeper into the practices that we already have in school. The growth mindset is not just about the student “trying harder” but it’s also about our teaching practices, and whether we change them to meet the needs of the students, or expect students to change in order to meet the needs of the teacher.

Carol Dweck Revisits the Growth Mindset – Carol Dweck reflects on a range of concerns with various interpretations of Mindsets, including going beyond effort, supporting both short and long term goals, as well as closing the achievement gap, rather than using the idea of the fixed mindset to deny it.

How can we help educators adopt a deeper, true growth mindset, one that will show in their classroom practices? You may be surprised by my answer: Let’s legitimize the fixed mindset. Let’s acknowledge that (1) we’re all a mixture of fixed and growth mindsets, (2) we will probably always be, and (3) if we want to move closer to a growth mindset in our thoughts and practices, we need to stay in touch with our fixed-mindset thoughts and deeds. If we “ban” the fixed mindset, we will surely create false growth-mindsets.

The Stanford professor who pioneered praising kids for effort says we’ve totally missed the point – In an interview with Dweck, Jenny Anderson unpacks the ongoing research being conducted around the mindsets and the brain.

The key to instilling a growth mindset is teaching kids that their brains are like muscles that can be strengthened through hard work and persistence. So rather than saying “Not everybody is a good at math. Just do your best,” a teacher or parent should say “When you learn how to do a new math problem, it grows your brain.” Or instead of saying “Maybe math is not one of your strengths,” a better approach is adding “yet” to the end of the sentence: “Maybe math is not one of your strengths yet.”

The Problem with Growth Mindset – Alex Quigley identifies some of the problems and challenges associated with mindsets, especially the tendency to reduce the intervention to a few simple scripts that ignore the various skills required to support it.

Yes – confidence and motivation is crucial, but confidence without competence is simply hot air. Even if we eschew the praising of intelligence, we can just as easily fall prey to empty bombast about hard work and fetishizing failure. We are also in danger of repeating the essential importance of effort for our students, but without providing students with the strategies to apply their efforts with the required degree of skill.

I Did My Best Job Teaching A “Growth Mindset” Today – Here’s The Lesson Plan – Larry Ferlazzo reflects on a lesson he used to introduce growth mindset with his students. The post includes a range of useful links and resources.

Students came in to the class finding the phrase “Growth Mindset” on the overhead. I asked people to raise their hand if they had every heard of it before today. A fair number had, since we have a big focus on Social Emotional Learning at our school. I explained that the class today would be a refresher for them and an introduction to those who didn’t know much about it.

The Educator with a Growth Mindset: A Professional Development Workshop – Jackie Gerstein provides a range of examples and resources to support the unpacking of concept of growth mindset.


READ WRITE RESPOND #002

So that is February for me, how about you? As always, interested to hear.

Also, feel free to forward this on to others if you found anything of interest or maybe you want to subscribe?

I can be contacted at (mrkrndvs@gmail.com) or via Twitter, while you can usually find me at readwriterespond.com.

 

At the end of last year I wrote a post celebrating some of the ideas that inspired me in 2015. It got me thinking that it might be an interesting exercise to go back and reflect on those ideas and inspirations on a more regular basis. So after some guidance from Doug Belshaw and Ian O’Byrne, so here is the first instalment:

My month of January:

As it has been the summer break, I have spent my time with my family. Balancing between cuddles with our newborn and going here and there with my older daughter before she started Prep the other day.

In regards to my writing, here was my month in posts:

Here are some of the ideas that have left me thinking …

Learning and Teaching

Question-Centred Classrooms – A collection of questioning strategies from Cameron Paterson designed the place the student at the heart of the classroom.

It must be pointed out, that question-centred classrooms are unlikely to eventuate for students until we have more question-centred professional learning for educators. Coaching models, collaborative inquiry groups, action inquiry projects, and instructional rounds are the future of adult learning in schools.

Thinking Hard…and Why We Avoid It – Alex Quigley tackles the notion of thinking hard and cognitive load. This is the first post in a series exploring such influences as motivation and memory.

It is quite clear, our brilliant brains, and particularly those of our students, are riddled with flaws that inhibit thinking hard. If you catalogue our evolutionary heritage: the attentional blindness, our lack of focus, our legion of biases, the limitations of our working memory, the dangers of cognitive overload…you recognise the challenges faced by our novice students.

Three Activities to Help Your Team: Generate, Develop and Judge Ideas – Tom Barrett wrote some great posts over Christmas. In this one he provides some activities to support the developing more ideas.

Remember that these three tools are three of many and you should do everything you can to expand the choices you have in your toolset. When you have more choices you can make better combinations of activities such as this trifecta.

The Three Stages of Documentation Of/For/As Learning – Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano explores the different stages of documentation. She splits it up into before where teachers decide focus, during where the work is documented and after where you act on the work captured.

My work is concentrating on making pedagogical documentation visible and shareable to amplify teaching and learning. I believe that using technology, as a tool, to be able to share best practices, to make thinking and learning visible to ourselves and others, is the key to transform teaching and learning.

Participatory Learning Materials – Laura Hilliger provides a collection of resources to support the creation of learning environments focused on participation.

Participatory” means that a workshop invites input from participants. Instead of “presenting” information, the facilitator asks participants to help solve problems. These methods will help you collaborate, teach, learn and produce anything you need to.

Collaboration by Difference – Just as Alma Harris asserts that collaboration needs to be disciplined, so to can it be argued that it also needs to intentionally incorporate difference. Cathy Davidson outlines three guiding principles for fostering difference.

1, Air out differences democratically
2. Let non-experts talk first
3. Ask what you’re missing

Edtech

Why coding is the vanguard for modern learning – Richard Olsen connects coding with pedagogy and learning environments in his argument for its place within modern learning.

If teachers saw themselves as pedagogues rather than soothsayers, they’d stop making predictions of the future, such as “everyone doesn’t need to code,” but instead start to understand how technologies create new pedagogies and change exisiting ones. They’d read Papert’s Mindstorms, and seek to understand constructionism, the learning theory he developed and promoted. They’d also investigate Siemens’ Connectivism, a second learning theory that is inspired by technology… they might even start creating their own (opinionated) tools!

Coalescent Spaces – A post from David White investigating presence in regards to physical and digital learning spaces. 

My response to this in teaching and learning terms is to design pedagogy which coalesces physical and digital spaces. Accept that students can, and will, be present in multiple spaces if they have a screen with them and find ways to create presence overlaps. This is different from simply attempting to manage their attention between room to screen.

Affordances … just one little word! – Ian Guest investigates the notion of affordances in regards to technology and how it can be problematic.

Features are aspects of an object designed to serve a specific purpose. They are hard-wired for that purpose, yet that may be closed, having a single intention, or open and offer multiple possibilities. An affordance however is what the object, property or feature allows you to do. They involve action, are open to interpretation and depend on the user. A single property or feature may provide multiple affordances, whilst a single affordance may require the assembly of several properties or features.

The Future of Blogging is Blogging – Martin Weller reflects on blogging discussing what it was, is and might be in the future.

I know blogging isn’t like it used to be. It isn’t 2005 anymore, and those early years were very exciting, full of possibility and novelty. But just because it isn’t what it was, doesn’t mean it isn’t what it is. And that is interesting in its own way, some of the old flush is still there, plus a new set of possibilities. Blogging is both like it used to be, and a completely different thing.

Five Tips to Twitter – Graham Brown-Martin outlines five strategies to survive the EduTwitterati. An interesting post in regards to online debate.

Here’s my light-hearted guide to what appears to be the standard arsenal of indignant Twitter attack dogs and avenging angels. Feel free to use this in your exchanges like Twitter bingo.

Storytelling and Reflection

State of Innovation 2015 – Grant Lichtman summarises a report into innovation best practises over several posts.

If your school is gearing up for a next round of strategic planning using essentially the same worn-out process you did five, ten, and fifteen years ago, you are missing an incredible opportunity to shift the culture of your school from “it will be OK because it always has been” to  “how might our customers see us as the greatest school for their child?”

On Ideology – Greg Thompson explores the topic of ideology and explains how we are all ideological.

As I read it, everything we believe is already ideological because we are necessarily social (for example, through language). Saying this, however, does not  imply that any position held is necessarily right or wrong, rather that within the ontological and epistemological assumptions of any belief system ideology invariable precedes consciousness. For this reason, I don’t mind being called ideological (of course I am) or suggesting that others are ideological (of course they are).

Twelve Ways I Got My Life Back in Balance as a Teacher – Pernille Ripp discusses different things that she does to find balance in her teaching.

The truth is; being a teacher is a never-ending job.  Your to-do list is never done.  There will always be one more thing that should get done, one more idea to try.  Knowing that, I knew I needed to change a few things, in and out of the classroom in order to save my sanity and have a life.

Alternate Endings – Emilie Garwitz reflected on her use of mobile makerspaces in a literacy session to support students in creating alternate endings to the story of the Gingerbread Man.

“We’re engineering!” one student exclaimed. This was the moment when I started thinking about the possibilities for their future. I was not just teaching a skill, I was imparting on kids a new mindset – an engineering mindset. Building their alternate endings was cross-curricular. During the planning stages, I looked up how many standards connected to this objective and was blown away.

Until next month …

So that is my first newsletter. If you have any thoughts and suggestions, feel free to let me know. As always comments welcome.