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Showing posts from May, 2016

What a Preschooler Can Teach Us About Homework

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I was buzzing around the kitchen getting ready to leave for work. My husband was making lunches for our daughters before he would bring them to the bus stop. The girls were sitting at the kitchen table completing their respective packets of worksheets to be turned in that day at school. Then our 4 year old (yes, FOUR year old) dropped a bomb.

"Homework is pretty boring, Daddy, isn't it?"

I stopped. My husband and I glanced at one another and he raised an eyebrow. I looked at her for a moment thinking, "She's only in preschool."

We also have a daughter who is 7 and in first grade. (She inspired my previous post about grading.) Our first grader actually kind of likes homework. She sees each assignment as a challenge, like a puzzle to be solved. As a result, all of the discussions and activities around homework in our house during our preschooler's little life have been positive. Despite that she came up with her own opinion of homework: Boring.

I used m…

Guest Post: A District Goes Digital with Online Professional Learning

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By Dr. Will Deyamport, III

Professional development is the means for improving one’s professional knowledge-base, skill-set, and/or practice. It is an ongoing process. That said, just like Video killed the radio star, a reference to an eighties pop song from the The Buggles, school districts have killed professional development with mandates and a one-size fits all approach to meeting the instructional needs of teachers.

Identifying the Problem and the Opportunity
As someone whose job it is to help teachers utilize technology and reimagine the learning experiences of their students, I have to balance the wishes of the district with the personal learning goals of teachers. Throw in the time crunch of having to deliver professional development during a 45 minute time frame (teachers’ planning periods) and sessions become driven by an agenda, not designed by the teachers. That’s where blending online modules into professional development comes into play.

Before, I would email teachers a…

Pedagogy (and Privacy) First

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It is the cry of teachers everywhere: Pedagogy first, technology second!

While there is a strong truth in that education mantra, there is a missing element: Privacy.

A month ago I co-authored a piece for EdSurge with Ross Cooper titled Should I Download That App? A Ten-Question Checklist for Choosing Tools Worth Your—and Your Students'—Time. The ten questions in the article are meant to help classroom teachers and school and district leaders stay focused on pedagogy and district goals ahead of flashy apps and tools.


The initial reactions from educators and tech experts were both positive and critical. Some hailed the post as a great list to ensure that learning was the primary goal of any technology use in school. Others were critical that we left out the omnipresent issue of privacy. (Perhaps they only skimmed the ten bolded questions rather than reading the entire article. Time is precious. We understand.)
We didn't leave privacy out.
Although privacy was not mentioned in th…

Can the #EdData Discussion Bring Balance to American Politics?

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When the founders discussed the freedoms and limitations that come with our rights to speech in the First Amendment, they considered both sides of the debate. Revolutionaries pushed for total freedom of speech, but colonists who were hesitant to leave the security of the British Empire warned against the anarchy that kind of freedom might bring.
Similarly, the revolution of education technology has brought about a debate. EdTech advocates want the freedom to find out what technology, and the data it creates, make possible for students and teachers. Parents and concerned analysts warn against gathering and keeping this kind of personal data. What are the long term consequences?

Appling Our History of Balancing Freedoms to Data
This week the National Association of State Boards of Education released it's latest issue of The Standard, a triannual journal that brings expert advice to state education policymakers at the state level. They called it "The Power of Data" and wis…

Guest Post: The Power of Connections to Help Our Students Reach Their Aspirations

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By Dr. Henry Turner


When Mark Zuckerberg started his book club in 2015 he kicked the year off with Moises Naim'sThe End of Power: from boardrooms to battlefields and churches and states, why being in charge isn't what it used to be. Naim's general argument is that traditional power systems--such as political, structural, corporate, cultural and even academic--are being challenged by the distribution of power towards smaller and more agile players. Where Clayton Christensen talks about disruption of society, Naim discusses the flattening of power.

One area in Naim's argument that is relevant for us in education is the increase in human connection in our modern world. Naim argues that people are connecting more face to face than ever before and therefore more of them are empowered. An excellent example of the increase connection of teachers is through the development of teacher Professional Learning Networks (PLNs), where educators share and learn with each other to he…

Teaching Can Be Lonely. Let's Fix That.

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My Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook feeds are full of sweet little graphics that say "Thank You Teachers!!!" (so many exclamation points) thanks to Teacher Appreciation Week. Snapchat even has it's own filter. The outpouring of thoughtful emails, hand-written notes, and parent-hosted lunches are welcomed and energizing at this point in the school year.

But teachers should remember to thank one another, too. As a teacher, try co-planning, co-teaching, co-writing, or co-presenting. We all have colleagues, either from the classroom next door or from a school across the country, who have strengths or talents we have learned from. Perhaps the best way to demonstrate gratitude is to offer to collaborate. There are many ways to do this, and everyone will benefit from the effort. Even students.

Co-Plan1. Get Introduced to New Techniques and Tools
You and a colleague teach the same course offering, but not in the same classroom at the same time. Why not inject some new approache…