Showing up. Because it matters.

Showing up. Because it matters.

In the last few days of the school year, it’s easy to become relaxed and to “loosen up.”  It’s also tough to engage our students in new content and new lessons when they, themselves, are ready for a break.  Students might feel like “it doesn’t count.”  And, technically, it might not for the grade book.  However, we need to model that it always counts.  If we aren’t engaged with our students, in reflection, in helping them set goals for the next year, in team building – if we don’t model that it matters, if we don’t show up, how can we set those expectations for life and career for our students?  It’s an opportunity for making learning personal, for team and relationship building, and for students to explore something of interest.  Try something new.  Show up.  Because our students matter.

The Iceberg Model

The Iceberg Model is an awesome visual and analogy that helps you visualize and uncover the underlying causes of the events we see (the portion of the iceberg above the surface).

The analogy works because there is always an unseen portion of an iceberg that lies below the surface and with events, there are values, structures, and patterns that lead to the event.

Once you uncover the underlying structures, you can start to leverage those to transform and design outcomes or prevent unwanted outcomes.  You can use high value and high leverage concepts like the beliefs and values of your organization to create desired and positive outcomes.

 

Design Thinking

Design thinking has become a bit of a buzzword in education over the past few years.   In our classes I do not want it to become (and have no intent in it becoming) reduced to a buzzword.  

Design thinking is a process and a mindset.  It cannot be reduced to a simple checklist.  Lessons and projects for students should include empathy, experimentation, prototyping, reflection, and redesign.  

Abandon prescriptive scenarios.  Facilitate activities that let students “problem find,” practice empathy, interpret issues and find meaning leading to the generation of new ideas, experiments, and iterations.

Students can learn these valuable skills centered on empathy, collaboration, prototyping, and iteration if we set out to create opportunities to include these mindsets in our instruction.

The interesting thing about design thinking is that teachers are inherently designers of instruction, beginning with empathy for their students’ needs.  Ultimately, we need to support our teachers with time to create projects that allow the students to practice design thinking.  

 

Here are some great books to introduce kids to these mindsets:

What Do You Do With an Idea?

 

What Do You Do With a Problem?

 

The Most Magnificent Thing

 

Here’s a good resource to get started:

Design Thinking for Educators

 

 

Pear Deck

pear-deck-logo

Our teachers love Pear Deck!  

Along with being a really easy to use (it integrates with G Suite for Education), and a great engagement and formative assessment tool, below are some of the specific features of Pear Deck that our teachers like.  In another blog post, I’ll dive deeper into our systems processes for choosing educational technology.

Check in with students

Self-paced mode

  • Present lesson through Gradual Release of Responsibility
  • Allocate time for students to work independently on a portion of Pear Deck slide deck
  • Utilize multiple Pear Deck slide decks as differentiated “Station” Activities
  • Utilize differentiated Pear Deck slide decks in small group instruction
  • Pear Deck Student-Paced Overview

Take-Aways – turn the slide deck into a Google Doc for each student

  • Students can receive their individual responses on a slide deck
  • Google Doc can be used for studying and to continue the learning
  • Teacher can use comment feature of Google Docs to provide feedback on a student’s response to a question
  • How to Publish a Pear Deck Takeaway

Google Docs & Forms to Differentiate

I recently presented at the EdTechTeam GAFE Summit held in my school district, Marlboro Township Public Schools.

It was a great event! I learned valuable new instructional strategies and ways to use emerging instructional technologies.  As we approach the start of the school year, I’m sharing and have attached my presentation slideshow on differentiating with Google Docs and Google Forms.

It’s a simple concept in that the teacher can share a Google Doc with a student and set him/her off on an individualized project and learning paths or provide specific links to differentiated content or activities.  Additionally, if you’re using adaptive learning programs like Study Island, ST Math, or others, you can link directly to those websites and sign-in pages.

Below is a skills checklist to get yourself started and a link to my slideshow and resources.

  • Understand basics of Google Docs and Forms
  • Understand Sharing Settings of Docs and Forms
  • Can insert hyperlinks into a Google Doc
    • Understand concept of linking Docs to Docs
    • Insert Link Shortcut Keys (Ctrl + K)
  • Can utilize Google Search to find resources, texts, videos, etc. to curate information
  • Can insert YouTube Videos
  • Understand how to add Sections in Google Forms
  • Understand new Forms Quizzes feature

Google Docs & Forms to Differentiate NJ GAFE Summit16 Slideshow