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Showing posts from March, 2014

Digital Badges for Teacher Professional Development

Increasingly, digital badges are becoming a topic of discussion for educators. A digital badge is a digitized token of recognition for acquiring a skill, demonstrating a competency, or for sharing knowledge gained from the completion of an activity or project. As more of our learning comes by way of digital connections and contributions, badges are becoming a more prominent method of acknowledging skills and accomplishments. Many teachers readily acknowledge the importance of personalization of learning for students. Shouldn't professional development experiences offer the same promise? Ask a typical teacher to describe their PD experiences in a single word and you will likely get responses such as irrelevant or  boring . Besides personalization and relevance, digital badges provide opportunities for teachers to discuss the skills and knowledge that support educational best practice, and professional growth. These conversations support the form and function of profession

Is Education Wasted on the Young?

Personally and professionally speaking, I am reborn as a result of finding purpose and focus with my informal learning. Interactions with my personal learning network (PLN) made me realize that my informal learning time was more relevant and authentic than what I had experienced in the classroom, or through forced professional development offerings. My interest and research in heutagogy and life-wide learning clarified two important revelations.   First, I have been associated with schools and education nearly my entire life, yet I don’t recall anyone taking extended time to help me learn how to learn .   Second, this graphic provided by the US Department of Education alerted me to the fact that we spend two-thirds of our life, and sometimes more, learning informally. These two revelations combined with my own recently found informal learning experiences made me take pause and ask... “OMG! If we aren’t feeding our students with the passions and the skills needed to

When It Comes to Grading, Some of Us Have it Backwards

"Imagine a classroom where students operated under an additive system of point earning rather than a subtractive system of losing points."   - Rob Steller Backwards grading, also called reverse grading, is a strategy where students start with zero points, or an F, then earn their advancement through demonstrated mastery of skills and learning standards. "Grades are communication, not compensation"   - Rick Wormeli The typical classroom grading system has students starting with a 100 percent average, or an "A" letter grade. Ordinarily, this average gets chiseled away with every assignment or assessment. Unless sustained perfection is realized, this is a grading system that doesn't measure or communicate student progress. This is a subtractive system that punishes the learner with ever-decreasing average scores.  Do students actually know less at the end of the grading term than at the beginning?   Daniel Pink would argue that ext

For Life-long Impact, Embrace Informal Learning

Informal learning is the primary source of knowledge for every single one of us. To clarify, for most people, approximately two-thirds of our lifetime is spent learning informally, or outside formal education environments. As you can see from this graphic provided by the U.S. Department of Education , the percentage of our waking hours spent learning in formal educational environments increases at the onset of elementary school, but then decreases dramatically following high school graduation. Learning supported through Internet connections and social networks is impacting the time spent in formal learning environments as more people choose opportunities other than college to continue their education. Knowing this information, educators that want to make a life-long impact on their students' learning should consider embracing the characteristics that feed informal learning. This can be accomplished by emphasizing a growth mindset, a love of learning, and an entrepreneurial spirit  

What I No Longer Need to Know

With technology changing so rapidly, there is always something new to learn. We are bombarded with stimuli radiating from our mobile devices. How much of this we actually attend to is uncertain. We do know, thanks to the research of  Dr. Gary Small and others, that web based information is changing the development and functioning of our brains. Since our clocks and calendars are remaining constant while the amount of information we are exposed to keeps doubling every twelve months , something has got to give. Either double the number of hours in a day, or allow us to scrape some obsolete scraps from our learning plates. In order to make additional room for modern learning, here are some things that I would like to remove from my personal learning platter. Cursive handwriting - I took a drafting class in junior high school, that was almost forty years ago. That also marked the end of my days writing in cursive. As my family will attest, my ability to write using pen and pap

Melt Their Faces With These 10 Recommended Presentation Strategies

"Seriously, I'm having fun!" Last Friday afternoon, I was sitting in the Mega Center at Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, Illinois. The ICE (Illinois Computing Educators) Conference was just wrapping up, tables were being folded, boxes packed, and a few hundred vendors were getting ready to depart for their next show. I was sitting with my colleague, Keith Sorensen , and my new PLN friend Brendan Murphy . We were charging our mobile electronics on a shared surge strip while checking email and discussing some of the interesting presentations we had experienced during the previous few days. " What strategies constitute a great presentation?"  became the focus of our reflective discussion. We were critically reviewing our own presentations, as well as, criticizing and admiring techniques that we had seen at this conference. After comparing notes, and bringing a few others into our conversation, here are the results of our impromptu list of best present