Session Materials: C4 Ignite Conference

On Monday, I’ll be joining together with participants at the Greater Clark County Connected conference in Clarksville, Indiana to talk about the importance of reimagining learning spaces for today’s students.  It’s bound to be an amazing day of learning.  Heck, anytime 900 educators come together to revel in learning for a day, great things happen!  Here are the materials for the sessions that I’ll be presenting:

 

Keynote: Your Students CAN Do Work That Matters

In Why School (2012), technology expert Will Richardson maintains that today’s classrooms are failing students.  “We focus on the easiest parts of the learning interaction… accomplishments that can be easily identified and scored,” he writes. “Learning is relegated to the quantifiable” (Kindle location 227).  To create highly engaged learning spaces, Will believes, classrooms must be reimagined as places where students do work that matters together, a process introduced by sixth grade classroom teacher Bill Ferriter in this keynote presentation.

Keynote Slides

Keynote Handouts

Keynote Student Samples

For more information on using causes to create highly engaged learning spaces, check out Bill’s latest book, Creating Purpose-Driven Learning Experiences.

 

Our Students CAN Assess Themselves

In the spring of 2012, Canadian educational change expert Dean Shareski issued a simple challenge on his blog when he wrote, “So I’m wondering if you’re ready to let your students assess themselves. Not as some experiment where you end up grading them apart but where you really give the reigns over to them?”

Dean’s challenge resonated with Solution Tree author and sixth grade teacher Bill Ferriter, who had always been dissatisfied with the grade-driven work being done in his classroom. This session will introduce participants to the tangible steps that Bill has taken to integrate opportunities for self-assessment into his classroom as a result of Dean’s challenge.

Session Slides

Session Handouts

Make Copies of All of Bill’s Student Involved Assessment Handouts in Google Drive

Nicole Ricca has developed a unit overview sheet for Kindergarteners that she is giving away for free on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Read more about Ms. Ricca’s work with unit overview sheets here on her blog.

Download Ms. Ricca’s unit overview template here on her Teachers Pay Teachers page.

 

We’re Meeting.  Now What?

For many teachers, team meetings can be nothing short of overwhelming!  Not used to making collective decisions, teams struggle to organize their work together and begin to question the benefit of a school’s decision to push for more collaboration between colleagues.  In this session, participants explore the kinds of tangible structures that learning teams must have in place in order to make their meetings successful.

Session Slides

Session Handouts

For more information on structuring high functioning Professional Learning Communities, check out Bill’s books — Building a Professional Learning Community at Work – A Guide to the First Year and Making Teamwork Meaningful.

 

 

*Note:  If you are a participant looking to earn professional development credit for attending any of Bill’s sessions, you can find directions posted online here and group codes for every C4 Ignite session posted online here.


Related Radical Reads:

The Power of PLCs

Five Resources for School Leaders Starting PLCs from Scratch

My Kids, a Cause and Our Classroom Blog

 

Session Materials – Solution Tree PLC Institute

Over the next few days, I’ll be working alongside the super motivated educators at Solution Tree’s PLC Institute in Atlanta.  The goal for most of the participants will be to find ways to polish their collaborative practices in order to help kids learn.  Together, teams from individual schools will study everything from the core beliefs that support learning communities to the nuts and bolts of making collaboration more efficient and effective.

I’ll be delivering four different breakout sessions at the Institutes.  Here are the materials for each session.  Hope you find them useful:

How to Use Digital Tools to Support Teachers in a PLC

For professional learning teams, collaboration can be nothing short of demanding.  Developing – and then organizing – collections of shared materials, making important decisions, and communicating with colleagues across grade levels and departments often requires additional time that classroom teachers just don’t have.

As a result, many teachers question whether or not the costs of coordination outweigh the benefits of collaboration in Professional Learning Communities.  In this session, full-time classroom teacher and Solution Tree author Bill Ferriter introduces participants to a range of free digital tools that 21st Century learning teams are using to make their collective work more efficient – and therefore, more rewarding.  Participants will also discuss ways that tools that facilitate collaboration can be used to make differentiated instruction doable.

Session Slides

Session Handouts

Student Wiki Sample

Edpuzzle Tutorial Sample

Using Digital Tools Quick Guide – A series of tools for facilitating collaboration between teachers.

BYOD Quick Guide – A series of tools for facilitiating learning in a BYOD classroom.

Teaching the iGeneration Quick Guide – A series of tools for facilitating learning with technology.

#kinderchat and @mattBgomez – Oftentimes, participants in this session want to see examples of digital tools being used in primary classrooms.  The best source for those examples is the #kinderchat hashtag and Texas Educator Matt Gomez.

For more information on using digital tools to facilitate collaboration or classroom instruction, check out Bill’s newest books —How to Use Digital Tools to Support Teachers in a PLC and Teaching the iGeneration (2nd Edition).

 

Small Schools and Singletons:  Structuring Meaningful Professional Learning Teams for Every Teacher

The PLC concept resonates with most educators, but making collaborative learning work in small schools or for singleton teachers can be challenging.

In this session, participants will explore four different models for creating meaningful professional learning teams for singletons and teachers in small schools:  The creation of vertical teams studying skills that cross content areas, designing class loads that allow teachers to teach the same subjects, using electronic tools to pair teachers with peers working in the same subject area, and using student work behaviors as an area of focus for nontraditional learning teams.

Session Slides

Session Handouts

Sample of a Student Survey as Common Assessment

 

Our Students CAN Assess Themselves

In the spring of 2012, Canadian educational change expert Dean Shareski issued a simple challenge on his blog when he wrote, “So I’m wondering if you’re ready to let your students assess themselves. Not as some experiment where you end up grading them apart but where you really give the reigns over to them?”

Dean’s challenge resonated with Solution Tree author and sixth grade teacher Bill Ferriter, who had always been dissatisfied with the grade-driven work being done in his classroom.  This session will introduce participants to the tangible steps that Bill has taken to integrate opportunities for self-assessment into his classroom as a result of Dean’s challenge.

Session Slides

Session Handouts

Make Copies of All of Bill’s Student Involved Assessment Handouts in Google Drive

Nicole Ricca has developed a unit overview sheet for Kindergarteners that she is giving away for free on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Read more about Ms. Ricca’s work with unit overview sheets here on her blog.

Download Ms. Ricca’s unit overview template here on her Teachers Pay Teachers page.

 

We’re Meeting.  Now What?!

For many teachers, professional learning team meetings can be nothing short of overwhelming!  Not used to making collective decisions, teams struggle to organize their work together and begin to question the benefit of a school’s decision to restructure as a professional learning community.  In this session, participants explore the kinds of tangible structures that learning teams must have in place in order to make their meetings successful.

Session Slides

Session Handouts

For more information on structuring high functioning Professional Learning Communities, check out Bill’s books — Building a Professional Learning Community at Work – A Guide to the First Year and Making Teamwork Meaningful.

 

And don’t forget:  You can read all of my PLC related posts on the Radical by clicking on this link.  

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Related Radical Reads:

The Power of PLCs

Five Resources for School Leaders Starting PLCs from Scratch

These are OUR Kids

 

Goodbye Zaption. Hello Edpuzzle

One of the most important lessons for teachers living in a digital world to learn is how to be digitally resilient — or persistent in the face of the kinds of glitches and hiccups that happen when you are working with old technology, unreliable infrastructure, or free tools.  If you can’t persist despite challenges, you may as well stop using technology in the classroom because those challenges are inevitable.

I had a first hand experience with the need to be digitally resilient today when I learned that Zaption — one of my favorite tools for creating differentiated learning experiences for students — had been sold and will be shutting down in early September.  Given that I’ve got about 30 different Zaption videos about content across my curriculum that I use for initial reteaching when students struggle to master standards and for providing enrichment to students who master content early in my class, I was more than a little devastated!

But here’s the thing:  I knew that there had to be other tools LIKE Zaption that I could turn to and start rebuilding my collection of tutorials.  

And ten minutes after finding out that Zaption was closing up shop, I stumbled across Edpuzzle — which offers the same feature set as Zaption — the ability to create annotated video tutorials, the ability to ask students questions and automatically grade their answers, the ability to see how many times students watched a tutorial.  Better yet, Edpuzzle offers seamless two-way integration with Google Classroom — a Google Apps for Education product that has become the primary hub for all of the online work that I’m sharing with students on my learning team.

I signed up, created a tutorial that is almost identical to a tutorial that I had already made in Zaption, imported my class rosters from Google Classroom, and pushed out the new tutorial to my students in no time.

Now don’t get me wrong:  I’m bummed that Zaption is gone.  I invested a ton of time in creating tutorials for my kids and I’ll have to go back and do that work all over again.  

But I’m not giving up because (1). there are plenty of other tools available to me and (2). the core behavior that I care about — providing quick reteaching and enrichment opportunities to students that are self-directed and created in advance — still matters.

That’s digital resilience in action.

_________________

Related Radical Reads:

Zaption Makes Differentiation Doable

Being Digitally Resilient

In Celebration of Teaching Geeks

Session Materials: #EVSCREV16

Over the next two days, I’ll be working with educators at #evscrev16 — the annual eRevolution conference hosted by the Evansville School Corporation in Evansville, Indiana.  I’m super jazzed to have the opportunity to learn alongside some of my favorite people in the Midwest.  Below, you can find descriptions and links to the materials that I’ll be sharing in each session:

Our Students CAN Assess Themselves

(50 minute breakouts – Offered Tuesday at 9:40 and Wednesday at 9:10)

In the spring of 2012, Canadian educational change expert Dean Shareski issued a simple challenge on his blog when he wrote, “So I’m wondering if you’re ready to let your students assess themselves. Not as some experiment where you end up grading them apart but where you really give the reigns over to them?”  Dean’s challenge resonated with Solution Tree author and sixth grade teacher Bill Ferriter, who had always been dissatisfied with the grade-driven work being done in his classroom.  This session will introduce participants to the tangible steps that Bill has taken to integrate opportunities for self assessment into his classroom as a result of Dean’s challenge.

 

Creating Purpose Driven Learning Experiences

(Three hour workshop.  Offered Tuesday at 12:30)

In his 2012 Kindle Single Why School, technology expert and educational change agent Will Richardson argues that classrooms as they are currently structured are failing our students. “We focus on the easiest parts of the learning interaction — information acquisition, basic skills, a bit of critical thinking, analysis — accomplishments that can be easily identified and scored,” he writes. “Learning is relegated to the quantifiable” (Kindle location 227). To create highly engaged learning spaces, Will believes, classrooms must instead be reimagined as places where students do work that matters with others — a process introduced by sixth grade classroom teacher Bill Ferriter in this July, 2016 presentation to the participants of Evansville’s eRevolution conference.

 

Digital Tools Can Make Differentiation Doable

(50 minute breakout.  Offered Wednesday at 10:10)

If schools are truly working to ensure success for every student, learning experiences need to be customized and aligned to student interests, needs, and unique learning styles. The challenge, however, rests in making differentiation manageable. While few teachers doubt the importance of differentiating, many struggle to make customized learning spaces a reality.  In this presentation, Solution Tree author and full-time classroom teacher Bill Ferriter will introduce participants to a range of digital tools that can be used to (1). provide structure for differentiated classrooms and (2). differentiate learning experiences by student interest.

 

 

After __________, What’s Our Role in Promoting Peace?

Having spent the better part of the day yesterday glued to the television set and poking through news feeds reading about the mass shooting of police officers in Dallas — one man’s twisted response to the videotaped deaths of both Alton Sterling and Philando Castile — I thought about titling this piece, “After Dallas, What’s Our Role in Promoting Peace?”

But Dallas is just the latest in a long line of violent events in an America where income inequality, divisiveness and injustice have become the new normal — and just like the equally troubling stories of Trayvon Martin and Tamir Rice and #ferguson and Freddie Gray, Dallas and Alton Sterling and Philando Castile will slide from our collective consciousness just as soon as another tragedy happens.

Need proof?  Then consider the fact that the one-year anniversary of the Charleston Church Massacre happened just a few weeks back.  Remember that?  Seems like forever ago, doesn’t it?  Who am I kidding: The Pulse Nightclub Shooting happened less than a MONTH ago, but as a nation, we’ve moved on with one big collective yawn.

What frightens me most is that we’ve become so desensitized to the endless cycle of violence against marginalized groups that we barely even acknowledge events that DON’T involve shootings anymore — think School Resource Officer Ben Fields tossing an African American student all around her high school classroom for being disruptive or police officer David Casebolt turning into Kung-Fu Panda to break up a pool party that had grown too large in McKinney, Texas.

So filling in the blank in my blog post’s title seems kind of pointless.  After all, we are BOUND to have a new tragedy on our hands next week, right?

#sheeshchat

What’s NOT pointless is thinking about the role that educators can play in promoting peace in our country.  Here are three suggestions:

Facilitate Classroom Conversations about Injustice in America:  One of the things that drives me nuts about teachers and schools is that in the name of “protecting our kids,” we avoid conversations about the turmoil surrounding them.  That’s flawed thinking, y’all.  Instead, we should be helping our students to process what they are seeing and feeling in structured classroom conversations.

Doing so gives students an outlet to express their feelings, exposure to multiple viewpoints, and opportunities to better understand the role that tolerance plays in a healthy society.  More importantly, doing so gives students chances to develop the kind of critical thinking and reasoning skills necessary to work through conflict and disagreement productively.

Teach Your Students to Spot Bias in the News Sources:  In our click-first/ask questions later world, bias is easily amplified by cable news outlets who know that controversy sells, by fringe websites catering to either the extreme left or extreme right and by crazy relatives posting hateful memes in our Facebook streams.  Instant access to MORE information — something that we often celebrate in #edtech conversations — doesn’t always mean access to BETTER information.

For educators interested in teaching students to think critically, though, every example of bias in new media sources that is amplified has real value.

So the next time you see popular news sources turning conversations about race and class in America into never-ending streams of angry shouting matches or fringe websites that lean far to the right or far to the left, turn them into teachable moments.  Challenge your students to identify the bias in the source you have selected and respond to it.  Can they spot the loaded words and phrases that give away the speaker’s point of view?  Can they articulate the points that the speaker is choosing to ignore?

The simple truth is that the “news sources” that surround us must be questioned carefully.  Do your students know how to do that?

Call Out Intolerance Over and Over Again:  I think what troubles me the most about the America that we currently live in is that elected officials — and people running for elected office — regularly spew intolerant thoughts and spread intolerant ideas.  Tapping into fears about people who are different, they push notions that immigrants or refugees or people with different sexual identities or preferences are threats to our safety. Light on evidence and heavy on hyperbole, Mexicans become criminals and rapists,  Muslims become radical Islamic terrorists, and transgender citizens become perverts who want to shower with our daughters.

Can we really be surprised that we live in a divided nation when the people who we have chosen to represent us have very limited definitions of who “us” really is and stand ready to denigrate or demean or insult anyone who doesn’t fit neatly into those definitions?

What does that mean for classroom teachers?  It means we need to use the intolerant statements made by people running for elected office as teachable moments, too.  Ask the kids in your classroom to examine those kinds of blanket statements to determine whether they are true or false, to question the evidence used to support intolerant claims and to think about the impact that narrow-minded words have on members of targeted groups.  Equality suffers when intolerance goes unquestioned — particularly when that intolerance is being spread by the people who want to represent us.

Long story short:  Promoting peace in America isn’t going to be easy.  Until our elected officials are willing to recognize that our economic and social policies have created an entire country of haves and have nots, we are bound to have more moments of senseless violence that rips us apart.

But teachers can play an active and important role in strengthening our fractured nation by engaging kids in conversations about justice, teaching students to question their news sources, and calling out intolerance in the comments made by elected officials.  Doing so might just help to ensure that tomorrow’s citizens are better prepared to participate in a diverse, democratic society than today’s appear to be.

#truth

______________________

Related Radical Reads:

#charlestonchurchshooting

#ferguson

Are Our Schools Safe Places for Kids Who Are Different?

Are You Standing Up for Tolerance?