Part 2: A Goldmine For Computational Thinking: Over 50 Resources To Teach CT Across The Curriculum

Welcome to Part Two on this series based on Computation Thinking. This second post provides a goldmine of resources to get you started with your students. In the prior post I provided 10 ideas to promote Computational Thinking across the curriculum. You will not want to miss it!  Also, please take a moment to subscribe to this blog by RSS or email and  join me on twitter at mjgormans . I have some great posts coming your way involving PBL, STEM, tech integration, and Deeper Learning.  Most of all, thanks for being one of those over 30,000 visitors a month and over 14,000 subscribers. Also, remember that I can come to your conference or school district and provide engaging authentic, practical, and purposeful professional development . Please note I will be at  FETC21 Orlando (January) supporting teachers in PBL and more. See booking info and please contact me anytime at (mjgormans@gmail.com). Thanks so much.  Michael Gorman (21centuryedtech).

Part 2: A Goldmine For Computational Thinking: Over 50 Resources To Teach CT Across The Curriculum

The goal of computational thinking is really about getting students to use computer type thinking to solve real world problems. So often we are the users of algorithms, but rarely are we creating them. Facilitating this skill for our students will allow them to innovate,  understand, and find purpose. Most of all they will be equiped to fast a world which is constatnly changing.  It is from the book The power of Computational Thinking by Paul Curzon and Peter W McOwan we find the following quote:

“The beauty of Algorithms is that steps can be followed without those involved having any idea of what they are doing and why”

I can personally relate with this quote. I found myself many times in school following algorithms of which I had no idea for their meaning. I did pass the ACT because I had answers for which I had no understanding of. We as educators must go that next step, providing students a way to problem sovle and come up with algoritms that provide the solutions.

For this reason, I provide to you some resources I hope you will find valuable. Keep in mind that Computational Thinking can use devices, robots, and computers to support learning. It also is valuable to do some “unplugged” activities that allow students to dive deep into their own thinking leaving the digital object to the side. I have tried to provide resources that support both. Last, the ability to understand the workings of a computer is only half of the algorithm. Keep in mind that human element. How do we find a way to use the power and speed of the computer along with the comprehension and metacognitive ability of the human mind? Enjoy the quote and resources that follow.

“The computer is incredibly fast, accurate, and stupid. Man is incredibily slow, inaccurate, and brilliant. The marriage of the two is a force beyond calculations” – Leo Cherne

Main Site Computational Thinking Resources:

Puzzles for Computational Thinking

Articles, Inormation, Ideas

Thank you for joining me and I hope you found this information something you can use in your school and useful to share with other educators.  As always, I invite you to follow me on twitter (mjgormans). Please give this post a retweet and pass it on to someone who will benefit. To ensure you do not miss a future valuable post or other resource covering PBL, Digital Curriculum, STEM, 21st-century learning, and technology integration please sign up for 21centuryedtech by email or RSS. Have a great week! – Mike (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/

Booking Info – It is time to think about your school or conference needs.  Are you looking for a practical and affordable professional development workshop for your school or conference? I have traveled the country delivering PD relating to technology integration, PBL, STEM, Digital Literacy, and the 4 C’s. I have delivered hundreds of workshops and presentations. Check out my Booking Page.  Please contact me soon if you have an interest. ook for contact information at the Booking Site.

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Part 1: Computational Thinking: 10 Ways To Promote

Welcome to part one on this series based on Computation Thinking. This first post will provide the “what” along with some steps to promote this important practice. The second post will provide a goldmine of resources to get you started with your students. You will not want to miss it!  Also, please take a moment to subscribe to this blog by RSS or email and  join me on twitter at mjgormans . I have some great posts coming your way involving PBL, STEM, tech integration, and a continuing series on Professional Learning Communities!  Most of all, thanks for being one of those over 30,000 visitors a month and over 14,000 subscribers. Also, remember that you can contact me for professional development at your school or conference. I have traveled the country bring affordable and practical PD to educators. You can contact me at (mjgormans@gmail.com). Thanks so much.  Michael Gorman (21centuryedtech).

Part 1: Computational Thinking: 10 Ways To Promote – Michael Gorman

As you might know, I believe all transformative practices must be based in the standards. These standards must include both content and process standards (4C’s). Too often, I see wonderful activities that engages students… but also see important standards that could have been made authentic to students through deliberate metacognition engaging the mind and the heart.

In this post, I would like to review a thinking processes that can be applied across the curriculum providing a process for authentic understanding of standards.  The cognitive process I am referring to is Computational Thinking (CT). This type of thinking is important not just in high stake testing, but also success in that world after school. Perhaps you have come across the idea of computational thinking in education.  The best way to describe computational thinking is to look at the way a computer thinks… or at least runs a program. This is actually the most important concept a student learns through coding and developing computer programs. We must keep in mind that it is not the coding that is important… but the thinking process. After all… one can use a computer, but not actually use computational thinking skills. This is the primary reason for learning a computer language, after-all the specific languages will transform and change. The thought process will not.

So, what is this skill set found in Computational Thinking? They are best described as the important steps taken to solve a problem and come up with a solution. As you read these steps think about your own curriculum. Where do you want your students to use computational thinking skills?

  • Decomposition – This involves the ability for students to look at a problem. and through careful observation students break down a problem or system into smaller, more manageable parts.
  • Pattern recognition – Now that the problem is broken down students must look for similarities among and within the problem. What patterns can be seen and what does this mean?
  • Abstraction – At this stage students begin focusing on the valuable information only, ignoring irrelevant detail. It really is time to look at the specific trees while blurring the forest. While determining what is important… how does this relate to a possible solution?
  • Algorithms – At this point students should be able to develop a step-by-step solution to the problem. They maybe able to also identify rules and procedures to solve the problem

As you can see these abilities are an important part of critical thinking. They allow us to use our human ability to go beyond the computer program. We have long used subroutines of thinking in class such as determining reasons for a civilization’s decline, the twists in a story, the answer to a math story problem, or the use of a dichotomous key. In past practice, we as the teacher often provide the steps necessary to find the answer. What would happen if our students created the algorithm itself, at least part of the time? How might we assess them in this style of thinking that provides deeper understanding. What if our hour of code turned into solving a real problem? What if we brought a Makers Culture into the classroom and facilitated and assessed computational thinking while emphasizing authentic and real understanding of the standards?

“We can have facts without thinking but we cannot have thinking without facts” – John Dewey

I believe John Dewey said it best with the above quote. We must provide our students opportunities to critically think. We must assess them, and they must assess themselves.  We must go beyond engaging activities for the sake of engagement. We must engage the mind!  As Dewy reminds us, providing students the opportunity to think about and do something with content is what real learning is all about. Best of all, a new and real understanding will be achieved that no standardized test can stand in the way of.

Ten Ideas to Expand Computational Thinking in your Classroom

  1. Take time to embrace the verbs in the standards… doing is learning.
  2. Facilitate and assess the 4C’s… assessment should be by teacher, peers, self, and mentors.
  3. Encourage metacognition and the “Habits of Mind”. We must have moments that we think about thinking.
  4. Promote and assess collaboration as it expands and enriches the understanding of all involved. Realize that this is a foundation for critical thinking.
  5. Embrace, demand, and facilitate rigorous and continuous inquiry.
  6. Think Webb’s DOK and upper Blooms and make sure it is a part of a high percentage of lessons.
  7. Remind students…. algorithms are steps that anyone can follow, not as many understand them and even fewer could write one. They must become the creators of algorithms.
  8. Support students making and using computational thinking to expand standards while connecting to real world and other disciplines.
  9. Support standards by aligning and assessing through student making and thinking.
  10. Provide students important content connected with thinking,,,  plus doing and making. With the doing comes computational thinking!

In the next post, I will provide you with a Gold Mine of resources to further investigate Computational Thinking. Please take the time to visit and learn.

Booking Info – Are you looking for a practical and affordable professional development workshop for your school or conference? I have traveled the country delivering PD relating to technology integration, PBL, STEM, Digital Literacy, and the 4 C’s. I have delivered hundreds of workshops and presentations. Check out my Booking Page .  I have some powerful online interactive workshops and webinars that can be used to engage learning in this new environment. Thanks so much.  Michael Gorman (mjgormans@gmail.com).

Thank you for joining me and I hope you found this information something you can use in your school and useful to share with other educators.  As always, I invite you to follow me on twitter (mjgormans). Please give this post a retweet and pass it on to someone who will benefit. To ensure you do not miss a future valuable post or other resource covering PBL, Digital Curriculum, STEM, 21st-century learning, and technology integration please sign up for 21centuryedtech by email or RSS. Have a great week! – Mike (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/

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Back To School 2021: Ten Inspiring Lessons from an almost Analog Native in an Era of Blended and E-Learning.

It is back to school time 2021 for many of us in the United States and beyond… welcome to the future! I dedicate this post to all of you wonderful educators . This is an another especially challenging year as we face virus uncertainty. Take a moment to reflect on a story I wish to share. I hope it can provide some inspiration and remind all of us why we became educators. Reflecting back might be especially important as we all dive deeper into e-learning and the blended classroom. Keep in mind the importance of what good learning is all about. I wish all of you the very best as you enter a new school year! I hope you enjoy this timeless lesson… one that really does have a place in 21st century education. It is a reminder that teaching truly is an amazing art. Let’s all keep up the wonderful painting.  Please take a moment to subscribe by email or RSS and also give me a follow on Twitter at mjgormans.  I promise you will find some great information coming your way this school year…So Sign Up Now and please pass this on with a retweet! It means a lot to me. – Mike Gorman (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/)

 Booking Info – Are you looking for a practical and affordable professional development workshop for your school or conference? I have traveled the country delivering PD relating to technology integration, PBL, STEM, Digital Literacy, and the 4 C’s. I have delivered hundreds of workshops and presentations. Check out my Booking Page .  I have some powerful online interactive workshops and webinars that can be used to engage learning in this new environment. Thanks so much.  Michael Gorman (mjgormans@gmail.com).

Back To School 2021: Ten Inspiring Lessons from an almost Analog Native in an Era of E-Learning and Blended Classrooms.– Mike Gorman ((https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/)

It was a normal first day back to school. The building was still quiet and still. I could sense there was an air of extreme excitement and anticipation in the air. I sat at my desk and pondered the reality of a new year wondering about the new faces I would greet.  I already knew that all too soon I would be waving good bye to another group I had come to know so well. It is amazing what the short period of a school year brings to both educators and students.  Suddenly awakened from what was either my deep reflection or possibly a type of relaxing nap that only the whisperings of being another year older can bring, a panicked voice was heard at my classroom door.

He was a brand new teacher dressed as one who just might enlighten the downtown business club, yet he stood with the glazed eyes of a student still waiting for that moment of enlightenment. I had seen it all before, perhaps even in the reflection of a distant mirror over thirty-seven years ago. He was summoning me to his room, not that I regarded it as his room… at least not yet. You see, I had great respect for the educator who had been a part of the four walls that this soon to be teacher was leading me to. As he led me through the doorway of his new headquarters for dissemination of information I couldn’t help but notice a peculiar feeling of past warmth that was missing. There was a indescribable void, covering a large aura which had been in place for nearly fifty years.

As he motioned for me to look at the archaic blackboard behind the new, still packaged, and not yet plugged in interactive whiteboard I couldn’t help but smile. There, still written with chalk that  had the smell of fresh dust, were the words “A Message from an Almost Analog Native”.  Then I heard the young teacher’s voice asking how he might  get rid of the words. He pleaded that, after all, he saw no button to push to dissolve the print. I smiled and walked to the board and picked up the eraser. I cleverly planned to display to this obviously digital native, one of this school’s first such inductees, the magic of an eraser. I even had my strategy for providing a professional development moment on the use of chalk. After all, improper use of chalk can lead to an annoying screech that will send most students diving under their desks. As I held up the eraser I walked to the board and began to perform the ancient teacher ritual of erasing a black… not green,board. Amazingly, it did not work out the way I had planned. As I observed the pupils of this brand new teacher’e eyes grow large, I turned to the board and took a step back in awe. Not only were the words not disappearing… but new words were beginning to appear underneath. It was now quite obvious that we were both extremely engaged in the lesson that was about to begin. I have recorded for you the amazing script that came before my eyes that very day.

The Ten Lessons

Welcome to your new classroom. I am sure you are going to explain and teach in a way that I might never understand. You see, I come from a day of filmstrip projectors that beeped, ditto paper that left my fingers blue and the students enjoying the scent, bells that really did ring out a mechanical melody, 16 millimeter films that, if in color, amazed the kids. In fact, if these films were shown backwards it provided bonus entertainment. In recent years I have heard words that are so strange to me. These words include foreign terms such as twitter, blog, wiki, Skype, web 2.0, clickers, and interactive whiteboards. I have heard all this talk about 21st century skills and I am not even sure if I can tell you what they are. So there you have it. I am not one of those digital natives, nor am I a digital immigrant! I may not even be an analog native or immigrant. So, even though I do not know all the new terms, I thought that I might give you a list of ten items I feel just might ensure success no matter what century it is.

  1.  You come to school to serve your students. Put them at the center of their learning. Find great books, integrate fascinating projects, and include engaging resources.  As you do this, always remember that students must be at the center of their learning.
  2.  As you teach you will come upon some amazing tools. My very first full sized erasable blackboard was wonderful and I was amazed by the pull down map. I remember the very first time I used colored chalk and our very first classroom set of encyclopedias. Imagine having almost all the knowledge of the world in your classroom. Please remember that tools are only as effective as those who use them. You will be introduced to amazing new tools. Make sure these tools become the servants and not the masters of your teaching.
  3. Realize that every student is truly gifted. It may be that your job is to find that special gift and make the student aware of it. Each gift is different and will ultimately lead that student to an interest and vocation that they find great pleasure in while contributing to society. They may even come back some day and thank you for revealing that gift to them.
  4. Learning does not just happen in the classroom. Open your students to the world by introducing them to experts, authors, cultures, and multiple disciplines. Teach them to become lifetime learners who will embrace learning beyond the classroom and beyond their school experience. It seems this world is ever changing and, in order to keep up with things, they may need to someday be their own teacher.
  5. Allow your students the experience of searching for success. This involves allowing multiple attempts, occasional failure, and eventual triumph. Learning does not always need to be graded, but must always be guided. Remember, it is not always the destination, but in most instances… the journey. Allow your students those journeys with multiple opportunities and outcomes.
  6. Encourage cooperation, teamwork, and healthy competition. Teach your students that the thoughts and contributions of many can be so much more powerful than just the contribution of one. Emphasize true discussion and listening, and allow for discourse. The ability to work, plan, and play together has been, and always will be, an important skill.
  7. Promote thinking that is outside what many might consider the box. Allow your students to have their own ideas, play with possibilities, and invent what doesn’t exist. Not everything in life can come from your textbook. Remember, what we believe as facts today could change in twenty-five to fifty years. It seems that information probably doubles every hundred years. I suppose that might even speed up a bit as time goes on.
  8. It seems that all of us learn best by doing. Allow your students to not just hear it or read about it. Provide them with real life experiences and allow then to do it. Guide them as they are doing so they are learning relevant content and gaining new skills. Give them some say in what they are doing.
  9. Remember your humanness. Always have a sense of humor and be yourself. Remember that teaching is a people business. Enjoy the laughter, the stories, the victories, the accomplishment, and the small (but really big) moments that can only happen in a real live classroom. Some say that someday robots or some kind of two way wireless radio will take over education. I truly think this will never happen because teachers will always show that the human element is essential. A smile from a real person sure beats that of a  robot or a distant person on a wireless radio covered in distant sounds of static.
  10. Always remember that you teach children… not subjects such as science, history, arithmetic, ciphering, citizenship, reading, English, and shop. You see, it is the teaching of children that convinced me to get into this amazing business… and it is the reason that most great teachers have a hard time giving up a classroom like this.

Please take good care of this classroom. It never was mine, only one that I was allowed not just to educate children in, but so much more. It was a classroom in which I was allowed to perpetuate a culture of learning for almost fifty years. You see, not all of these ideas were mine. I found them on an old slate lying in a back closet when I first entered this room. I was so happy I had a pencil in hand, because no faster had I made my copy than the words on the slate disappeared. I think I may have made a few changes. I know I will have a chance in my retirement to read about some of these new tools and even learn about these 21st century skills. It will probably give me a chance to think about what I might have done to make learning in my classroom even better. When I find out… I might even send you a message. Until then, please take care of this old classroom and, more importantly, take even more care with those children who will enter tomorrow and thereafter. I know you will perpetuate the culture of learning that has permeated these four walls for more years than even those I taught.

You know… there wasn’t much to say. I looked at the new kid who seemed even more ready to teach. His eyes appeared already a few years older. As we both stood there we saw the old blackboard magically erase and turn a clean dark shade of black. I picked up the eraser that I had dropped during this unusual encounter and handed it over to the new guy. He opened the closet door and threw it in. I heard a gentle thump as it landed on something that may have been a slate. Together, we both unpacked and plugged in his new interactive whiteboard. He carefully positioned it so he could still see a portion of that old blackboard from his desk. We both knew why. As I walked out of the room that day I couldn’t help but think about the history that just might occur in that old classroom in the next fifty years. But, I had plans to make and students to get ready for as I was incorporating many of those new 21st century skills I had been reading about all summer. I was so excited about providing so many new opportunities for my students. After all, this is a new era for new techniques and strategies and yes… some that have always been a [art of learning.

Thanks for joining me on this wonderful journey of 21st century (and even before that) learning. Join me in future weeks as together we continue to explore several more posts devoted to the Flipped Classrooms, Project Based Learning, Assessing 21st century skills, PBL, STEM, technology integration, web resources, and digital literacy.  I enjoy learning from all of you. Also remember to subscribe to this blog by RSS or email and follow me on twitter at mjgormans. I also appreciate your sharing of this post and any retweets. Keep up the amazing work,  have a great week, and a enjoy this wonderful new school year. Welcome to the Future! – Mike Gorman

Booking Info – Are you looking for a practical and affordable professional development workshop for your school or conference? I have traveled the country delivering PD relating to technology integration, PBL, STEM, Digital Literacy, and the 4 C’s. I have delivered hundreds of workshops and presentations. Check out my Booking Page .  I have some powerful online interactive workshops and webinars that can be used to engage learning in this new environment. Thanks so much.  Michael Gorman (mjgormans@gmail.com).

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15 Questions to Ask when Creating a STEM Culture in Education

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As you might know, I am very excited about STEM education! In fact, get ready even more STEM posts. For consultations and presentations at schools across the country I have developed these 15 questions you may want to ask as you develop or assess STEM possibilities for students. Also, please take a moment to subscribe to this blog by RSS or email, and  join me on twitter at mjgormans . I have some great posts coming your way involving PBL and STEM. Most of all, thanks for being one of those 30,000+ visitors a month and over 14,000 subscribers. Also, remember that I can come to your conference or school district in person or virtually and provide engaging, authentic, practical, and purposeful professional development . I have presented across the country for BIE (BUCK Institute), PBLWorks, Discovery Education, Alan November BLC… and so many more. I bring practicality, common sense, and techniques that allow educators to start the next day in their classroom. My expertise is PBL, STEM, Makers, and technology integration. See booking info and please contact me anytime at (mjgormans@gmail.com). Last… please pass this on with a retweet or other social media. You will find buttons at the bottom… it really encourages and supports me in my writing! Thanks so much.  Michael Gorman (21centuryedtech).

15 Questions to Ask when Creating a STEM Culture in Education – Michael Gorman

Let me get straight to the 15 questions I consider essential. If you are a new to, or planning for a STEM school, take a look as you plan. Already a STEM school… then use these questions to assess and determine your next journey along an amazing path!

  1. What does STEM mean to the education process and culture of a school for students and educators? So many schools have jumped onto the idea of STEM education involving Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.  The integration of these four areas is very important, but what does it mean for a building or district? We must be careful not to amplify these areas of study, while putting less emphasis on other areas of the curriculum. It is important to emphasize the idea of “Why STEM?” as your school or district takes the steps toward  STEM education.  People must understand that STEM will be a way to engage students in all content areas.
  2. Are there any unintended results as we emphasize this idea of STEM? The elements of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math are wonderful areas of study and really embrace the idea of future job growth and good salaries. Schools have addressed this idea by extending the STEM acronym with extra letters. We now find STEAM (include the Arts), STREAM (include reading), STREAMIE (include everyone.. I am still waiting to see STREAMIER (more STREAMIE) and STREAMIEST (most STREAMIE)! How big can we make the acronym as we try to embrace the entire curriculum? Does this amplification really serve a purpose or is it all glitter? I think it might be how we define STEM to begin with, which leads to our next question.
  3. How does your building, district, and community define STEM? Before bringing in a STEM program, collectively decide on a definition for STEM. I like to think of STEM as a verb and not just four nouns. It is the process of students doing, thinking and connecting throughout the entire curriculum. This is the subject of a future Blog… so be sure to subscribe! Please note that I stated “a building, district, and community definition of STEM”. Everyone should be able to provide a consensus definition. While this might seem obvious, it is not always the case!
  4. What does a lesson or unit look like when STEM is infused? Is there a process that the school or district is ready to embrace and provide training on? This should involve some type of inquiry method that allows for student exploration while constraining them to mandated curriculum standards. This might include the 5E’s, a Design Method, Deeper Thinking Processes, Project Based Learning, or Problem Based Learning. It must start at the basic lesson level… before expanding to units of study. In many places, it is a classroom transformation.
  5. What does a STEM Classroom look like? I mean this in both a physical and pedagogical way. This does not take a remodel of the school, although large classrooms are nice. How does this physical classroom integrate with the pedagogy? Remember that STEM builds a culture of connected and authentic learning. Before implementation, all educators should visit some STEM classrooms and schools.  If there are not any available, take a look at PBL, Montessori, or Reggio Emilia classrooms. When visiting, spend more time observing students than teachers. Also keep in mind that some technology is needed. Take some time in determining what it is. Order the technology based on lesson needs and standards. Avoid the toys that shine until that need is determined. You will notice your technology dollars being spent much more efficiently!
  6. What modification(s) may be needed to the daily schedule? While in the beginning a school may have dedicated STEM time, a goal is to bring a STEM culture to every classroom… everyday!  That schedule change could be a long term goal and may vary among schools. How can classes and students be shared to allow for trans-disciplinary learning? What subjects can be paired together and allow for team teaching? There maybe a need for longer periods of learning. Perhaps teachers can find some ways to connect even in a traditional schedule. It all takes time, so remember … small steps.
  7. How do we get ready for assessment in STEM? I like to say that STEM assessment goes beyond the standardized test. As we use an inquiry and collaborative approach it is important to make sure all students are learning content. How do we assess not just the nouns, but also the verbs in our standards? Do we have rubrics that incorporate the 4C’s and other soft skills? I see what I call “STEMie” lessons that are based on few standards and with no assessment. How do we go beyond this? When we are intentional with standards and assessment, the standardized test will be satisfied.
  8. What qualities do STEM students have upon graduation at the different levels in education? I often say that we are not preparing students for the specific skills of a career, but rather the universal skills needed to work in any career. We need to determine these skills and qualities as as we build our STEM programs. How do we build these attributes into lessons and units and also into assessment, where the appropriate tools must be determined? As we think of careers, a STEM program must help students determine a career pathway and find passions that engage them.
  9. What are a building or district’s community connections for STEM?  Keep in mind that every community is different. The community outside the school’s walls is important for authentic learning. A STEM school must look for connections  that make learning relevant for students. Databases can be created to identify professionals, institutions, business, industry, and government entities that can be partners for real world learning. These partnerships should be a two way street. The real benefactors will be your students!
  10. How does a school or district sustain the STEM momentum?  All initiatives start out with a lot of energy. Many times this begins with particular groups and individuals. How do we place this ownership with the entire institution? There may need to be some ongoing in-service along with a retelling of the story. Keep in mind that the goal is to build a STEM culture!
  11. What does STEM look like in every classroom? We must think of STEM as not a subject but a process. How does it fit into Social Studies as we study culture and society. Is there a design process in the teaching of writing in the Language Arts Classroom? STEM really connects to Bloom’s upper levels of thinking. This happens in every subject.
  12. How are we developing thinking in both the right and left brain? So much of STEM is thought of in the left brain. It is the right brain that allows for thinking that engages innovation found in the arts. Music is a type of code just waiting for the influence of that right brain. Daniel Pink has often said we need to develop a whole new mind!
  13. How can we be certain that college/career readiness is part of the STEM program? Once again note the word “readiness”. This implies our students are ready with both the skills and the passion. How does one industry have multiple occupations that rely on STEM thinking? We must be persistent at integrating these ideas into every lesson.
  14. How do we make our STEM process… not just another initiative? As we all know education has a way of adopting new initiatives in a hyper intensive way. There must be ways to think how STEM thinking fits into programs already in place. It could be PBL, Deeper Learning, SEL, or skills needed for that 21st Century graduate. Spend time on doing those important cross-walks between current district programs. Make it one program, I call it… do what is best for students!
  15. How do we celebrate our STEM successes? This should be part of the action plan. It should be on the timeline and include important benchmarks along the way that have been accomplished. Start celebrating early and keep it going. Take time to honor educators, students, mentors, parents, and community agencies. Make it part of a STEM night, webpage, news release, student project, campaign, multimedia event, and remember to make sure it happens in individual classrooms along with the entire building/district. This goes along way in building an sustainable STEM culture. Enjoy the ride!

Thank you for joining me and I hope you found this information something you can use in your school and useful to share with other educators.  As always, I invite you to follow me on twitter (mjgormans). Please give this post a retweet and pass it on to someone who will benefit. To ensure you do not miss a future valuable post or other resource covering PBL, Digital Curriculum, STEM, 21st-century learning, and technology integration please sign up for 21centuryedtech by email or RSS. Have a great week… enjoy the Websites! – Mike (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/

Booking Info – It is time to think about your school or conference needs.  Are you looking for a practical and affordable professional development workshop for your school or conference? I have traveled the country delivering PD relating to technology integration, PBL, STEM, Digital Literacy, and the 4 C’s. I have delivered hundreds of workshops and presentations. Check out my Booking Page. I also have some great ways to make amazing PD happen virtually. Please contact me (mjgormans@gmail.com) soon if you have an interest. My 202 calendar is filling fast. In fact, it might be time to begin thinking about next January and 2022! Look for contact information at the Booking Site. Last… please pass this on with a retweet or other social media. You will find buttons at the bottom… it really encourages and supports me in my writing! Thanks so much.  Michael Gorman (21centuryedtech)

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Part Two… Transforming STEM Education from Noun to Verb… 15 Steps

Read about my 15 ways you can turn STEM from a noun to a verb!

Welcome to the second of two articles as I relate the importance of making sure STEM is considered a verb. The first post involved the “why”, and this second post provides 15 ideas for the “how”. There are a lot of definitions that relate to STEM education usually in regards to the nouns including Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.. As I reflect on my observation of STEM practice in my travels across the country I have become more convinced that STEM is a verb, and not just a set of nouns. In fact, STEM action is something all content areas can embrace as they engage students in authentic learning. I have some great posts coming your way involving PBL and STEM. Most of all, thanks for being one of those 30,000+ visitors a month and over 14,000 subscribers.

Also, remember that I can come to your conference or school district and provide engaging, authentic, practical, and purposeful professional development . I can also make it happen online! See booking info and please contact me anytime at (mjgormans@gmail.com).  Last, please take a moment to subscribe by email or RSS and also give me a follow on Twitter at mjgormans.  I promise you will find some great information coming your way this school year…So Sign Up Now and please pass this on with a retweet!   – Mike Gorman (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/)

Booking Info –  Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

Part Two… Transforming STEM Education from a Noun to a Verb… 15 Steps

I do hope you enjoyed that first post which I related the reasons “why” I believe that STEM must be considered a verb. I also included the necessary idea that STEM really is a part of all content areas. Please feel free to take a look if you missed it. Now that we understand the “why” it is important to look at the next steps that allow us to implement the “how” as we build a stem school culture. I suggest taking a look at these steps (ideas) and use them as you either build and/or vet your STEM culture of learning.  I hope you notice each one even starts with a verb. Perhaps that will help you as you complete an action plan. Please  feel free to share with others…  and enjoy your STEM journey!

  1. Think of STEM as a verb, not a noun. What are the skills that make up that STEM-based occupation? It can be seen that these skills not only include the Four C’s, but also components of each C.
  2. Create a clear vision and mission for STEM in the school or district. Make sure this definition is understood by everyone including those educators that may not think of themselves as STEM.
  3. Incorporate STEM thinking into lessons in all content areas. This STEM thinking includes the ability to problem solve, authentically learn, think in critical ways, invent, produce, persevere, collaborate, empathize, and design.
  4. Emphasize the skills that are needed in those future careers, not the career itself. While it is beneficial to learn about different careers, it is important to note that these will change and students may go through multiple careers. Many of the important skills will remain the same.
  5. Integrate digital technology in STEM when appropriate, and it is able to amplify the standard. An example might be to teach with real protractors before using a digital protractor.
  6. Incorporate PBL (Project Based Learning) and 5E lessons into  STEM instructional experiences.  These methods can provide the process for student ownership, engagement, and authenticity.
  7. Look outside of the classroom to incorporate STEM as an authentic learning experience. Use the community, country, and world to allow students to contribute  while allowing them to see  real world connections to content and skills being taught.
  8. Facilitate and assess (intentionally) not just content, but also the STEM (21st century and beyond) skills. Find, or build rubrics, that address the 21st-century skills which include the 4 C’s of Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking, and Creativity. Understand that each of these C’s includes indicators and subsets that can be assessed. An example might be that  empathy is a part of collaboration or active listening is part of communication.
  9. Practice a STEM culture of learning… make sure that students are doing. This doing must include not only hands-on activities but also important metacognition. Students must not only do, but also think about what they are doing (which should be connected to the standards). Find ways to make this thinking visible. It is only when students do… and then think, that real learning takes place.
  10. Step beyond STEM one time activities and making. Build a STEM culture that builds inquiry, is supported by authenticity, promotes rigor, and allows for student self-regulation and  ownership of learning. Always keep the necessary curricular standards and skills at the forefront of STEM.
  11. Allow for student ownership while promoting real inquiry. Provide ways for students questions and inquiry, while intentionally building specific habits and literacy skills to find answers.
  12. Promote a culture of focused and engaging rigor allowing for student to face hurdles and eventually achieve satisfaction and success.
  13. Look outside your school day and find programs that students are excited about at home and after-school. Develop ways to bring these into the instructional day while mapping to curricular standards.
  14. Amplify with digital devices when appropriate, plan first before purchasing STEM technology equipment, and embrace those non-technology items that allow students to make.
  15. Allow for student voice and choice that align with both 21century skills and curricular standards in order to provide student engagement, inquiry, and purpose.

Thank you for joining me and I hope you found this information something you can use in your school and useful to share with other educators.  As always, I invite you to follow me on twitter (mjgormans). Please give this post a retweet and pass it on to someone who will benefit. To ensure you do not miss a future valuable post or other resource covering PBL, Digital Curriculum, STEM, 21st-century learning, and technology integration please sign up for 21centuryedtech by email or RSS. Have a great week! – Mike (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/

Booking Info – It is time to think about your school or conference needs.   Are you looking for a practical and affordable professional development workshop for your school or conference? Perhaps you would like to set up a virtual online PD? In fact, I have a STEM is a Verb Session and Workshop I can bring to your location or online. I have traveled the country delivering PD relating to technology integration, PBL, STEM, Digital Literacy, and the 4 C’s. I have delivered hundreds of workshops and presentations. Check out my Booking Page.  Please contact me soon if you have an interest. I do have some dates still open in 2021! Email me at mjgormans@gmail.com or look for contact information at the Booking Site.

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Part One… Transforming STEM Education from Noun to Verb… STEM in all Areas

Putting important action and engagement in STEM across the curriculum!

Welcome to the first of two articles as I relate the importance of making sure STEM is considered a verb. The first post involves the “why”, and the second post provides 15 ideas for the “how”. There are a lot of definitions in regards to STEM education usually in regards to the nouns including Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.. As I reflect on my observation of STEM practice in my travels across the country I have become more convinced that STEM is a verb, and not just a set of nouns. In fact, STEM action is something all content areas can embrace as they engage students in authentic learning. I have some great posts coming your way involving PBL and STEM. Most of all, thanks for being one of those 30,000+ visitors a month and over 14,000 subscribers.

Also, remember that I can come to your conference or school district and provide engaging, authentic, practical, and purposeful professional development . Perhap you would like some engaging and teacher centered online PD instead… I can make that happen. See booking info and please contact me anytime at (mjgormans@gmail.com).  Last, please take a moment to subscribe by email or RSS and also give me a follow on Twitter at mjgormans.  I promise you will find some great information! Sign Up Now and please pass this on with a retweet!   – Mike Gorman (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/)

Booking Info –  Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

Part One… Transforming STEM Education from a Noun to a Verb… STEM in all Areas

“We can have facts without thinking but we cannot have thinking without facts.”  – John Dewey

Let’s take a moment and investigate the STEM acronym, after-all it is being used quite a bit across the United States and the world. Often we hear the content areas; Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math as being the basis of STEM. While this is a wonderful collection of nouns that can be used to put together a cross-curricular, transdisciplinary, or project based learning unit of study; it seems to leave out many of the other disciplines through this content definition. By focusing just on these four areas we are losing the powerful and authentic learning opportunities that STEM thinking can bring to the classroom.  In fact, we are also leaving some of the most important teachers from other subject areas  out of the equation, or the limited definition does not make them feel a part of an exciting possibility!  Perhaps that is why we see schools and districts adopting STEAM (infuse the arts), and STREAM (add on some Reading. As we see these new models perhaps we should turn it into STREAMIE (include everyone), from there we can go to STREAMIER and STREAMIEST! Better yet, how about STREAMING… wow… it’s a verb! While the idea could make everyone smile, let’s take a look at what STEM might and could actually look like if we facilitated and promoted and all-inclusive subject area model. Getting the entire school to embrace STEM means we need to go outside the traditional STEM content and look at important verbs that are a part of all subjects.

I have often stated that one could look at STEM as the content and PBL as the process, but even in this mode of thinking, it seems to leave out important content. Perhaps it is important to think of STEM as a verb and not a noun. What if all disciplines viewed STEM as a thinking process?  This is what many true STEM leaders have been promoting. Yet many programs and initiatives focus on STEM as a noun. It could be due to the many logos we see promoting the four disciplines. John Dewey stated:

“We can have facts without thinking but we cannot have thinking without facts.”  

Think for a second of not the stated STEM disciplines, but the skills and thought process it takes to work within a STEM content area. Consider the skills that must be learned for an eventual career, or multiple careers. The action found in the STEM process allows students to practice and develop the ability to problem solve, authentically learn, think in critical ways, invent, produce, persevere, collaborate, empathize, and design.  In doing so, the nouns of STEM work with the important acts of doing and thought. This STEM style thinking opens up a whole new world of possibilities to facts! The facts in the curriculum become real and understandable, opening up a world of real learning to students.

With this mind, it is possible to include all subject areas including language arts, social studies, the fine arts, the practical arts, foreign language, business, plus so much more! Every subject should own STEM thinking! In fact, this style of metacognition becomes even more important as teachers begin to infuse grit and rigor into their lesson plans. Activities that incorporate such thinking build a strong and necessary foundation for project-based learning and transdisciplinary opportunities. In fact, I ran across a Discovery Education statement that suggested STEM as “Students and Teachers Energizing Minds”.  Wow, verbs that allow students to do can be powerful! All of us have to step out of the STEM nouns and find a way to bring the verbs of STEM to every student!

Join me in the next post as I provide 15 Ideas to Transform STEM Thinking from Nouns To Verbs

Thank you for joining me and I hope you found this information something you can use in your school and useful to share with other educators.  As always, I invite you to follow me on twitter (mjgormans). Please give this post a retweet and pass it on to someone who will benefit. To ensure you do not miss a future valuable post or other resource covering PBL, Digital Curriculum, STEM, 21st-century learning, and technology integration please sign up for 21centuryedtech by email or RSS. Have a great week! – Mike (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/

Booking Info – It is time to think about your school or conference needs.   Are you looking for a practical and affordable professional development workshop for your school or conference? In fact, I have a STEM is a Verb Session and Workshop I can bring to your location. It can also be done in a virtual setting! I have traveled the country delivering PD relating to technology integration, PBL, STEM, Digital Literacy, and the 4 C’s. I have delivered hundreds of workshops and presentations. Check out my Booking Page.  Please contact me soon if you have an interest.  I do have some dates open for 2021. Email me at mjgormans@gmail.com or check out the contact information at the Booking Site.

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Part 8… Public Product: Free Blended and eLearning PBL Gold Standards Resources

Welcome to the seventh in a series of posts regarding Blending the PBL Gold Standards. I am very excited to share ideas relating to PBL and Blended/eLearning as it relates to this Blog’s topic of the PBL Public Product. As I reflect, PBL has always been blended. Our challenge is… how to break down the classroom walls even more with the technology we have today. In this series, I am investigating each of the PBLWorks Gold Standards. I have been providing a short explanation and some free resources examples for each of the Gold Standards! Keep in mind that you may want to start small. That might include looking at a past project, or even a large multi-step lesson through the lens of the Gold Standards and free Blended/eLearning resources. The Gold Standards from PBLWorks are posted in the picture above. Enjoy this wonderful journey of learning. Before continuing, I would appreciate having you take a moment to subscribe to this Blog by RSS or email and follow me at (mjgormans). Taking that moment ensures that we can continue to network, something that is very important to me. Also, please share this post with others and even provide a re-tweet with tools at bottom.  Last, please check my Booking Page to see how I could be part of your school PD or Conference plans.  Enjoy your PBL Journey! – Mike Gorman (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/)\

Part 8… Public Product: Free Blended and eLearning PBL Gold Standards Resources

The Public Product must be authentic and meaningful in order to provide real engagement to students. PBL provides students that opportunity to create a public product that that allows for real world applications, purpose, student relevance, and an audience beyond their classroom walls. In the world of blended learning there are so many possibilities to bring the community and public into the making and presenting of that final product. With this in mind it is important to look at the Public Product as a creation from an authentic learning experience. It is not just the product that is public. Let’s take a closer look:

1. The Product Must Be True to the World – Learning must have meaning which extends to the real world, outside the walls of the brick and mortar classroom. Today’s technology and blended learning possibilities allow students to interact with the larger community, visit another continent, and even travel across the solar system. Curricular concepts and standards can become real and filled with meaning. How public can you make the learning experience? How can that final product make a difference to the students’ world?


2. The Product Must be Purposeful – PBL provides students a reason, allowing students to work on purposeful products that can make a difference to others. The purpose is amplified by seeing a real world difference because of the product. The final public product is the process and the final results. It not only provides a reason and purpose because of its impact on the world outside the classroom walls. This impact might be a physical improvement, an innovation, a piece of culture and beauty, an awareness campaign, or something that just makes community life more enjoyable. It does not always have to solve a problem. Students begin to see why they are doing and learning, and are provided the opportunity to contribute to a greater community. As students envision the product and its results… it must really answer the… So What?


3. The Product Must Be Relevant to the Here and Now – A common question from students is often, “Why do we need to learn this?” The typical answer is often, “Because you will need it someday. A public product might put them in the middle of saving a building, helping the less fortunate, communicating with a culture across the world, creating a museum, writing books for younger children, or authoring an article for Wikipedia. I am sure you can see how the blended experience makes this all the more possible. When students can see that their product will make a difference, a whole new deeper learning results. They may actually be able to tell their parents what they learned in school today, and more importantly describe what they did! Best of all, they might be able to pull it up on their computer screen and show a relative or friend over a thousand miles away.

4. The Product Must Include Real Audience and Mentors – A classroom is filled with students and a teacher and their interaction can be powerful. PBL goes beyond this and promotes the idea of the classroom being the entire world. Creating the product should provide students an authentic audience beyond their classroom as part of the process. This type of product promotes rigor and quality work because students realize their work is to be on display and will be viewed by more than their teacher and peers. It could be another classroom or better yet the world… whether it is real or virtual. Audience should also be an ongoing part of creating the product by using mentors and experts. This capability can exist in the classroom, or even online in a blended experience using proper procedures and protocols found in the school AUP.

Possible Public Products: As you can see the Product must be public, but also the process of its creation must transcend the classroom walls. Let me provide some ideas for making that final product public. I will look at this using a filter for blended learning. Realize that the final public product does not have to be a student presentation for some kind of panel. It can be a website, online newsletter, virtual magazine, video, 3D prototype, interactive map, nonlinear presentation, campaign, Zoom conference, makers invention, infographic, online gallery, and so much more. I am sure your students will have ideas. Give them ownership!

Resources for Public Product in PBL  

I am including just a small set of resources that might help you develop that public product in PBL as you blend the possibilities. Keep in mind that it really does work well with student voice and choice. There are only five, and as you read them, think of ways you can take these ideas and blend them with technology. These resources provide possibilities that might be an entire PBL, or just a learning activity inside a PBL. My primary focus was to find a few resources that might allow for some public product possibilities across a wide range of subjects. I realize there are so much more… but that will be for a later Blog or Book!

iEARN: Explore this global site crossing all disciplines promoting authentic class to class collaboration throughout the world. It also provides connection to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Not only will you have a public product, but the whole process will be public. Remember to also use your Learning Management System for its capabilities and always check you school AUP before putting students online.

PBLWorks: – Discover a wonderful article from one of the best, John Larmer, all about what a final PBL public project might look like to show a demonstration of learning. As you read this think of ways that you might blend these possibilities.

Journey North – Explore some wonderful collaborative PBL possibilities based on seasons and nature. Students will publish results and look to see what other classes have contributed. There are numerous projects that are engaging and content filled. This will also be a great opportunity to teach some of those digital citizenship skills and also look over your school AUP.

Common Sense Education Best Tech Creation Tools – Encourage your students to publish in the format that excites them. Keep in mind that you do not need to know how to use the tools… let your students own that. You will want to explore ways to make the student productions public. These are all peer reviewed. Remember to also use your Learning Management System for its capabilities and always check you school AUP before putting students online.

Thoughtful Learning – Take a look at these 38 digital product ideas and the tools with links for may of them. You will find out how creative your students can really be. Be sure to click on some of the links. You might even want to give your students this list. It will also be important to ask them how they will make that project public. Remember to also use your Learning Management System for its capabilities and always check you school AUP before putting students online.

Reflection on Public Product

As you can see, a public product based on an authentic learning experience is of prime importance when designing and planning Project Based Learning for students at any level. Through this practice students can see real world application that provides meaning. They are involved in a purpose that facilitates engagement and passion. They interact with an audience and mentors providing a gateway that employs rigor and quality work. Students are also able to see connections between disciplines allowing them to see importance of all content and disciplines. Best of all, they have the opportunity to see their work in public making some kind of difference for others. It really allows learning to come alive!

Booking Info –  Look for contact information at the Booking Site. I have a distance learning workshop and session entitled “STEM is a Verb”. In fact… the Workshop is also a Verb! I also have a new 1 hour workshop “Preparing for  PBL”. It really promotes that 4C Classroom. Perhaps you wish to investigate PBL in the eLearning and Blended Classroom in another practical workshop. All of these and more can also be built into a 1/2 day or full day session, and are very interactive! Schools have loved it! Talk with me about your spring and summer… or even fall planning for 2021

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Teacher Appreciation Week 2021…It’s True…  I Teach Because I Can’t Do Anything Else

“To find out what one is fitted to do, and to secure an opportunity to do it, is the key to happiness.” ― John Dewey

it is especially important this years to say… Happy 2021 Teacher Appreciation Week!  The amazing work that teachers have been doing at meeting student needs has really been apparent during this past year. Keep in mind that educators have been doing this all along! As I extend my best wishes to all educators I wish to share with you one of my favorite annual  postings. I hope you find this reflection, one that you will continue to enjoy and share with others!   Also, please take a moment to subscribe to this blog by RSS or email and  join me on twitter at mjgormans . I have some great posts coming your way involving PBL, STEM, tech integration. Most of all, thanks for being one of those over 30,000 visitors a month and over 14,000 subscribers.  I would appreciate it if you pass this special post on to others through email , your blog, school newsletter, or a retweet!  Help me honor all of those amazing educators!

Sign up and retweet… – Mike Gorman (21centuryedtech)

Booking Info –  Look for contact information at the Booking Site. I have a distance learning workshop and session entitled “STEM is a Verb”. In fact… the Workshop is also a Verb! i also have a new 1 hour workshop “Preparing for  PBL”. It really promotes that 4C Classroom. Perhaps you wish to investigate PBL in the eLearning and Blended Classroom. These can also be builts into a 1/2 day or full day session and are very interactive! Schools have loved it! Talk with me about your winter,spring and summer… or even fall planning for 2021. You can also contact me at mjgormans@gmail.com. Happy holidays!

Teacher Appreciation Week 2021…It’s True…  I Teach Because I Can’t Do Anything Else! (21centuryedtech.wordpress.com)

OK, so it’s true! I have spent  over 42 years in education because I cannot do anything else! Today, I travel around the country providing professional development involving all sorts of exciting educational possibilities. In those school districts I do my best to provide learning experiences for students and educators just as I have always done in the classroom. The idea of not being able to do anything else actually is something I have learned in the last ten years,  something I did not know  when I  presented my very first classroom lesson! I actually  began my undergraduate career in the College of Business with an eye on marketing. In the early stages of my teaching career, I became licensed to sell securities with the idea of becoming rich!  Little did I know that because I could only teach, I would find richness beyond monetary wealth! I dedicate this list of reasons to all of those great educators who teach because they cannot do anything else! Again, please retweet and share with all of our colleagues that really can’t do anything else! I would really appreciate you taking the time to share!  Most of all enjoy the week and know that you are appreciated! – Mike Gorman

“To find out what one is fitted to do, and to secure an opportunity to do it, is the key to happiness.” ― John Dewey

The List

  1. I can’t be a banker or work in the financial business because while I might enjoy counting money and financial growth, I would rather count and measure the success of my students.
  2. I can’t be a doctor or dentist because  while I enjoy seeing people smile as they leave and are healed, I get even more satisfaction if I see a smile when they first sit down.
  3. I can’t be a professional athlete because while I do enjoy competition, I get even more satisfaction coaching young people to play each game with honor, integrity, and respect.
  4. I can’t be a computer programmer because while creating new digital applications is exciting, finding ways to integrate technology to inspire real learning is rewarding.
  5. I can’t work in agriculture or landscaping because while supplying food and natural beauty is appreciated by all, I enjoy planting seeds of life-long learning knowing that it will nourish one’s life.
  6. I can’t work as a cook or chef because while I appreciate the art in a great meal, I enjoy even more finding just the right ingredients that allow for a child’s success.
  7. I can’t work in sales or marketing because even though I have learned from their great people skills, I would rather sell students on their abilities and possibilities.
  8. I can’t be a pilot even though I appreciate them as I travel to new places, as I would rather facilitate young people as they climb in altitude and arrive at new destinations.
  9. I can’t be an artist despite my appreciation for the beauty they bring, as I have found that my art is the ability to inspire and nurture children as they discover their innate abilities.
  10. I can’t be a scientist or inventor because, while I am aware of the great advances they bring, I wish to create  innovative learning experiences that always end in success.

I could go on and on! As you can see, I really do appreciate all of the other professions and realize there are so many I can’t do. After all, as teachers, we really are preparing students for what they will do best in the world. Possibly in the future, those we teach will not be able to do anything else, because we have assisted them  in becoming the very best at what they do!  As I continue my journey I have expanded my teaching horizon and understand that a genuine educator, whether being a teacher, administrator, or educational leader, continue to teach and inspire others because they really can’t do anything else.

Historical Look – Both Political and Educational leaders started discussions for a day to honor our teachers in 1944.  Finally in 1953, Eleanor Roosevelt persuaded the 81st Congress to proclaim National Teachers’ Day. Remember this is a day to not just recognize teachers of today… but all of those teachers that made such an impact in all of our educations.

Quick Notes – Opportunities and resources you may want to be aware of for Teacher Appreciation Week. Teacher Appreciation Week is May 3 – 7, 2021

PTO Teacher Appreciation Resources – Popular ideas, printables, clip art, and planning tools to help you celebrate your teachers in May (and all throughout the year).

7 Meaningful Ways to to Celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week – Take a look at these ideas and take a moment to recognize those special teachers.

National PTA  – Join National PTA  in saying “Thank You” during Teacher Appreciation Week, .

Google Teacher Appreciation Page – A great page filled with new resources for 2020!

Donors Choose – Check out these donation possibilities that will help teachers as they help students.

Booking Info –  Look for contact information at the Booking Site. I have a distance learning workshop and session entitled “STEM is a Verb”. In fact… the Workshop is also a Verb! i also have a new 1 hour workshop “Preparing for  PBL”. It really promotes that 4C Classroom. Perhaps you wish to investigate PBL in the eLearning and Blended Classroom. These can also be builts into a 1/2 day or full day session and are very interactive! Schools have loved it! Talk with me about your winter,spring and summer… or even fall planning for 2021. You can also contact me at mjgormans@gmail.com. Happy holidays!

A  big shout out to all  educators on a very special week!  Thanks for joining me on another journey dedicated to learning in the 21st Century! As always I invite you to follow me on Twitter (@mjgormans), I will return the favor and we can teach each other! I also encourage you to sign up for this blog by email or RSS.  I invite you to share this posts with others through email or a retweet!  Thanks for your visit and know that I will keep  sharing, teaching, and facilitating all learners, after all, I can’t do anything else! – Michael Gorman (21centuryedtech)

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Part 7… Critique and Revision: Free Blended and eLearning PBL Gold Standards Resources

Welcome to the seventh in a series of posts regarding Blending the PBL Gold Standards. I am very excited to share ideas relating to PBL and Blended/eLearning as it relates to this Blog’s topic of Student Critique and Revision. As I reflect, PBL has always been blended. Our challenge is… how to break down the classroom walls even more with the technology we have today. In this series, I am investigating each of the PBLWorks Gold Standards. I have been providing a short explanation and some free resources examples for each of the Gold Standards! Keep in mind that you may want to start small. That might include looking at a past project, or even a large multi-step lesson through the lens of the Gold Standards and free Blended/eLearning resources. The Gold Standards from PBLWorks are posted in the picture above. Enjoy this wonderful journey of learning. Before continuing, I would appreciate having you take a moment to subscribe to this Blog by RSS or email and follow me at (mjgormans). Taking that moment ensures that we can continue to network, something that is very important to me. Also, please share this post with others and even provide a re-tweet with tools at bottom.  Last, please check my Booking Page to see how I could be part of your school PD or Conference plans.  Enjoy your PBL Journey! – Mike Gorman (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/)\

Part 7… Critique and Revision: Free Blended and eLearning PBL Gold Standards Resources

It is often said that a cycle of authentic learning demands that students reflect, critique, and revise. In the last last blog I presented the important idea of reflection and how it is integral to the learning process. This is a step that so many time educators run out of time to do because they have to get to the next standard. We must remember that John Dewey Quote:

“We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.”

We must remember that reflection is an important element, but learning does not stop at this point. It is important to complete the cycle and continue with a critique of our learning and follow that with revising our thoughts. In this way, new understanding of the content is created. Let’s take a closer look.

Critique: It is important that students learn about, and have, the opportunity to critique. This can be a critique of a learning experience, project, lesson, concept, proposal, publication, etc. This critique involves a reflection and thorough inspection of the experience. Critique must be ongoing through out the project. It must involve peers, mentors, and teacher. Most important, it must involve the individual student. A part of this critique is a flow of constant inquiry, answers, and new questions. It should also include students in a collaborative setting. In the is way, they can see and understand learning experience from other’s perspectives. At the same time, it builds a culture of providing and accepting kind and meaningful feedback. This deepens the learning opportunity and builds out those important 4 C’s and the related success and career skills. It also allows for students to recognize and accept those hurdles that come up in their educational journey, while also providing an opportunity for celebration when success is found. Most of all, it opens the door to the next segment of this important cycle of learning.

Revision: Educators often ponder the idea of instilling rigor in the learning experience. How do they ensure that student experience deep and understandable learning while producing high quality work? The important act of reflecting and critiquing must be followed by revision. As students question, they must come up with answers that they act upon. These answers provide an opportunity to improve their understanding, or a product they are working on. Once again, this revision must be owned by the students and promoted through both individual persistence and group interaction. The classroom learning and production becomes more then a “do it… hand it in… and done”, but embraces the idea that learning and doing are an iterative process. This iteration includes reflection, critique, and revision and promotes the idea of life long learning.

Ways to Promote Critique and Revision in the Classroom

  1. Promote a culture of rigor by showing the importance of reflecting, critiquing, and revising. Provide modeling and bring in examples found in real life.
  2. Teach students that hurdles along the way are learning opportunities and help create better products and understanding.
  3. Set benchmarks and promote formative assessment that involves individual, peers, mentors, and teacher.
  4. Support kind yet specific and meaningful feedback along with an openness to critique. This must be modeled and students must be provided expectations which means rubrics are provided throughout the project and may even allow student input. Rubrics should be both content and skill driven.
  5. Provide protocols that include opportunities to reflect, critique, and revise learning and work. This might be a student gallery walk or a making thinking visible session such as Think Pair Share. How might some of these be done online?

Resources for Critique and Revision in PBL with Blended Opportunities  

I am including just a small set of resources that might help you develop critique and revision resources in PBL as you blend the possibilities. There are only five, and as you read them, think of ways you can take these ideas and blend them with technology. These resources provide possibilities that might be an entire PBL, just a learning activity inside a PBL, or possibly an online resource to help you better facilitate this gold standard. My primary focus was to find a few resources that might allow for some real student critique and revision across a wide range of subjects. Check out the links within the links… along with the sub links I provided. I realize there are so much more… but that will be for a later Blog or Book!

Better Lesson: – This article provides information on the Gallery Walk protocol including ways to promote it in the Blended Learning environment. Do you want more ideas on using the Gallery Walk Protocol in the classroom? Check out this video for some great possibilities.


New Tech CF: Discover a protocol that provides students a ways to critique their work and projects with an emphasis on reflection, critique, and revision
provided by the amazing New Tech School Network. You can learn more about the Critical Friends (Tuning Protocol) from this video at PBLWorks.

National School Reform Website – Discover a rich collection of learning protocols that can be used with teachers and with students. Remember that protocols must be strictly followed in order to work best. There are a lot to pick from. As you explore, think of how these might be used in an online environment. How might a Zoom Breakout Room, Google Slides, or Learning Management System Discussion Board work in?

Making Think Visible from Project Zero (Links to an external site.) – These are a group of metacognitive group protocols and activities that promote critical thinking through reflection, revision, and critique. They are powerful and will lead to student ownership of education with deeper learning and understanding. As you explore consider ways these could be brought into the online environment. I especially like this virtual look at Making Thinking Visible by John Spencer. You may want to spend more then a moment at these wonderful sites.

Common Sense Media Collaborative Tools – One of my favorite places to find peer reviewed education tools. With this link you will land on some tools that promote student collaboration and have possibilities to focus on reflection, critique, and revision. It is all about how the teacher sets it up. You can see an example for the free applications, Padlet and Google Slides from the article The Art of Education Digital Critique . Also, consider your LMS and always check your school Acceptable Use Policy before using with students.

Reflection on Critique and Revision

As you can see, the cycle of reflection, critique, and revision are an important part of the learning experience and critical to the PBL Classroom. It involves a formative process with constant assessment from peers, teachers, mentors, and the individual. As a student goes through setbacks and successes there is a growth, learning. quality work, engagement, rigor, and excitement, much like arriving at the next level of a video game. Students learn to produce quality products by working through cycles of teacher, peer, and self-critique. This iteration of learning turns into a flow while promoting and facilitating perseverance. Best of all, students conquer higher level content, while building on skills that will serve them in future schooling, the job place, and a wonderful future of life-long learning.

Next Post: Critique and Revision, PBL and the Blended Classroom… Sign Up Now!

Booking Info –  Look for contact information at the Booking Site. I have a distance learning workshop and session entitled “STEM is a Verb”. In fact… the Workshop is also a Verb! I also have a new 1 hour workshop “Preparing for  PBL”. It really promotes that 4C Classroom. Perhaps you wish to investigate PBL in the eLearning and Blended Classroom in another practical workshop. All of these and more can also be built into a 1/2 day or full day session, and are very interactive! Schools have loved it! Talk with me about your spring and summer… or even fall planning for 2021

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Part 6… Reflection and Metacognition: Free Blended and eLearning PBL Gold Standards Resources

Welcome to the sixth in a series of posts regarding Blending the PBL Gold Standards. I am very excited to share ideas relating to PBL and Blended/eLearning as it relates to this Blog’s topic of Student Reflection and Metacognition. As I reflect, PBL has always been blended. Our challenge is… how to break down the classroom walls even more with the technology we have today. In this series, I am investigating each of the PBLWorks Gold Standards. I have been providing a short explanation and some free resources examples for each of the Gold Standards! Keep in mind that you may want to start small. That might include looking at a past project, or even a large multi-step lesson through the lens of the Gold Standards and free Blended/eLearning resources. The Gold Standards from PBLWorks are posted in the picture above. Enjoy this wonderful journey of learning. Before continuing, I would appreciate having you take a moment to subscribe to this Blog by RSS or email and follow me at (mjgormans). Taking that moment ensures that we can continue to network, something that is very important to me. Also, please share this post with others and even provide a re-tweet with tools at bottom.  Last, please check my Booking Page to see how I could be part of your school PD or Conference plans.  Enjoy your PBL Journey! – Mike Gorman (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/)\

Part 6… Reflection and Metacognition: Free Blended and eLearning PBL Gold Standards Resources

You may have noticed that I have added Metacognition to Reflection. I feel these two concepts go together. Reflection must be meaningful and intentional providing students the opportunity top think about their thinking in relationship to the content and success skills that are part of the learning experience. John Dewey said it best in the following quote:

“We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.”

Project Based Learning is so much more then covering content though lecture and reading, followed by doing a project to show what one has learned. The project is the vehicle of reflection and metacognition allowing the students to get to a final destination with new and deeper learning as a reward. That final destination is a project that has been built along a highway filled with on and off ramps allowing for experiences filled with individual and collaborative investigation, reflection, research, experimentation, inquiry, metacognition, and authentic learning, These ramps have been built intentionally by the teachers to provide that important reflection and metacognition that will allow the project to be so much more than a noun, but  also a verb built on action and process. Learning really is a process. Let’s take a closer look at Reflection and Metacognition in PBL.

Reflection and Metacognition (Thinking about Thinking) – Often  the two terms metacognition and thinking are used together to demonstrate the need for students to be aware and reflective in their learning. Together these concepts allow for a deeper learning by asking students to reflect, think, critique, and apply learning. So many times, in a rush to get to the next content objective, education fails to allow students to focus on their learning. In PBL this happens at the entry event, through out middle project cycle of learning, and at the close of the project. Perhaps one of the most important post reflections might be… what can I now do with my learning?  It is important that students have that opportunity to think about thinking. Through this… learning is not the end product, but an important process, one that will last a lifetime. I will take a moment to dig a little deeper.


Emphasis on Process over Product (Doing) – PBL emphasizes the importance of the journey and not so much the destination. While the final product can be a wonderful and exciting occurrence, the journey is filled with important contents standards, skills, experiences, and intellectual growth. As John Dewey reminds educators, it really is the doing. There is an emphasis on the verbs found in the standards highlighting Bloom’s higher orders of process. It not just what one learned in school today… it is what one did and reflected on while building a type of internal self knowledge. Before looking at resources let me share one more Dewey quote. Please take a moment to reflect on it.

“Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results.”

Resources for Reflection and Metacognition in PBL with Blended Opportunities  

I am including just a small set of resources that might help you develop reflection and metacognition in PBL as you blend the possibilities. There are only five, and as you read them, think of ways you can take these ideas and blend them with technology. These resources provide possibilities that might be an entire PBL, just a learning activity inside a PBL, or possibly an online resource to help you better facilitate this gold standard. My primary focus was to find a few resources that might allow for some real student reflection and metacognition across a wide range of subjects. Check out the links within the links… along with the sub links I provided. I realize there are so much more… but that will be for a later Blog or Book!

Making Thinking Visible: – This is a site from Harvard’s Project Zero that provides routines to promote thinking and understanding. These concepts can be expanded into the Blended environment. You may want to visit this site that provides some of these routines in a virtual kind of way. You may want to look at this site that provides tech apps that work with different routines, or this other site that provides a look at Google Slides and Routines. After looking at all of this, I am sure you will see your thinking into some great possibilities.

Institute for Habits of the Mind: – This is a resource filled with multiple ideas that promote student cognition to promote deeper understanding. Check out their many resources including one of my favorite rubrics, be sure to take a look! How might this rubric be incorporated as virtual exits tickets, online self assessment, and classroom online discussions?

Kidblog:  – Explore this student blogging tool made just for students. Primary students may start with one class blog that the teacher oversees and uploads information to. There are many other blogging sites, make sure you do get school and parent approval if needed. Again, respect privacy and check your school AUP (Acceptable Use Policy)

SRI – Protocols:  – Protocols are powerful and when applied to learning and collaboration deeper learning becomes possible. Explore all the possibilities in this website, and think about ways to blend them online. How might you use ZOOM, Hangouts, Google Docs, Padlet, and discussions to bring these protocols into the virtual world? Be sure to start with just a few. I am providing this wonderful article from Edutopia to provide an example in this unique style of blended thinking. Do you want something simple like just using a Chat Room? Check out this Edutopia article? What might you come up with?

Virtual Discussion Modules: – Take your discussion and discover ways to blend it online to make it both powerful and archived for further learning. This reading might give you new ways to use the discussion feature in your LMS and provide students reflection and metacognition time.

Reflection on Student Reflection and Metacognition

I heard someone once state that learning does not happen until we think and reflect on our learning. Providing the student with the time to do this might be the most important part of their education. As one can see Project Based Learning is very intentional in providing the student with time for reflection and metacognition.. The teacher truly is a designer, facilitator, and activator allowing students to see their thinking, along with the thinking of others. There is a constant formative process allowing students to progress through metacognition, iterative cycles, and deeper and deeper learning experiences. It is an exciting journey for both teachers and students, one where each side trip adds to the entire process. The destination is bound to be filled with a celebration of learning and new possibilities!

Next Post: Critique and Revision, PBL and the Blended Classroom… Sign Up Now!

Booking Info –  Look for contact information at the Booking Site. I have a distance learning workshop and session entitled “STEM is a Verb”. In fact… the Workshop is also a Verb! I also have a new 1 hour workshop “Preparing for  PBL”. It really promotes that 4C Classroom. Perhaps you wish to investigate PBL in the eLearning and Blended Classroom in another practical workshop. All of these and more can also be built into a 1/2 day or full day session, and are very interactive! Schools have loved it! Talk with me about your spring and summer… or even fall planning for 2021

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized