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Guest Post: But What Will We Do With Learning?

learn

Greetings and welcome to a post I am certain will allow you to reflect as you continue your professional journey. Please note that I will continue my Technology and Differentiated Instruction series in the next few weeks. While I write all of my own posts…. I have occasionally yielded my keyboard to others for what I feel is a unique and interesting idea. My guest, Tim Kubik,  has allowed me to experience amazing learning experiences as we worked together on the National Faculty at the Buck Institute (BIE). Tim is a nationally respected educational facilitator and speaker with degrees from Yale and The Johns Hopkins University. He has participated in education innovations with over 100 schools in more than a dozen states and six countries. He has also collaborated with three national networks; Asia Society/International Studies Schools Network, Buck Institute for Education, and World Leadership School–and a local but deeply effective New Mexico Center for School Leadership. In his post, he wishes to introduce several concepts to you that I feel are powerful. Perhaps you will want to get involved in this amazing educational crowd-sourcing experience. I know you will want to reflect on some of the links he has provided. Please take a moment to sent out a retweet so I can help Tim get out the word. Remember to check out my booking page, I still have a few open dates up until mid August 2016. Welcome to the future of education and enjoy! Sincerely, Mike Gorman (21centuryedtech)

But what will we do with learning? – Tim Kubik, Ph.D.

Mike’s been kind enough to allow me to participate in his blog, and for that I’m grateful. We’ve worked together at BIE over the years, and in those conversations we’ve learned three things. We both love learning. We love learning with others even more. We love doing things with our learning most of all.

In that spirit, I’d like to invite you to participate with me as I write a new book: Participation is Preparation. That may seem an odd invitation, but I’m extending the invitation because, in the end, participation is the only thing that will change our schools.

As educators, most of us were taught to think education is about giving learners a model, a plan for implementation, and a system for assessing the impact of that model. What that turned into in the 20th and early 21st century is a system I sometimes jokingly call “Teach it! Test it! Then Trash it!” We’ve initiated a lot of new models over the years, but most of us are tired of that. Now even teachers—not just our students—grow weary of having things done to them. 21st century learners like you seek the tools with which they can do something.

Success stories using personal technologies are part of that answer. Mike does a fantastic job introducing all of us to emerging technologies that help our students grow individually in unique and interesting ways, but it’s a conversation built around a shared love of learning technologies that makes his blog so powerful. If you’re familiar with Sugata Mitra’s work, you may know that he refers to such conversations as self-organized learning environments.

SOLES

The success stories exchanged on Mike’s blog tell us that young learners enjoy the empowerment they get from interacting with digital devices, but the key to a SOLE is not the device and the learner alone – not 1:1 — but the fact that the computer is a focal point for a conversation in which all students are active participants because they are interested in it.

The results of Mitra’s research urge us to embrace the fact that participation is preparation. In our classrooms–and in our hearts–we know that. As educators we love to quote Dewey’s belief that “Education is not preparation for life, but life itself.” Many of us genuinely believe this to be true, but if we’re honest our practice is rarely reflective of that belief. Instead, the “preparatory mindset” dominates our profession at all levels.

The “preparatory mindset” assumes that learners need to be prepared before they can participate and that preparation is — you guessed it — based on giving learners a model, following a plan for implementation, and then assessing the results. For teachers, that means planned and scripted PD and implementation guidelines. For learners that means lesson plans so tightly aligned to standards that our learners will have no choice but to learn.

There are alternatives. One that I find intriguing is Manifesto 15. Sure, it’s last year’s news, but it holds as a core principle that “1.0 schools cannot teach 3.0 kids.” This doesn’t mean that we all have to rush to embrace the latest apps to stay current. It does mean we have to watch, listen, and learn from the conversations our learners are having about the technologies we introduce into their learning ecosystem.  That’s point 9 in Manifesto 15, “The network is the learning.” The book I’m proposing is meant to share conversations about success stories, and create a participatory network. It’s also meant to help us pay attention to the technologies students are introducing into our learning ecosystem as much or more than the technologies we control.

Not sure what a learning ecosystem is, or how to learn from it? Check out these three links:

New Culture of Learning      Student Voice            10 Expectations for Schools

Professional educators don’t need yet another model that prepares us to transform education. We don’t need more implementation guidelines, and we don’t need more tests. Professional educators need a learning experience that focuses our conversations, and then empowers us as a learning network to pursue the results our learning communities need! That’s why I’m inviting you to participate in this book with me, and that’s why I’m urging you to start inviting your students to school by asking: “What will you do with the learning we have to offer?” Empowering learners to participate in our world should be our “end in mind.” 

I hope you’ll agree! Get a draft version of the book, get into the conversation, and get participating! Together we can re-design our “end in mind.”

Thanks for joining me and Tim on this wonderful journey of 21st century possibilities.  Join me in future weeks as together we continue this adventure in differentiated learning through technology. Throughout the year also explore other  posts devoted to the Flipped and Blended Learning, 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 enjoy this wonderful new 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 done 100’s of workshops and presentations.  Check out my Booking Page… Dates are going fast, with a few April and May dates open and March, June, and July just about closed..   It’s not too early to begin thinking about fall! Look for contact information at the Booking Site

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Part 3: Tech Resources and Tools for Differentiated Learning … Writing Process

di3

 

Welcome to the third post in a series designed to support the use of technology for differentiated learning… in and beyond the PBL classroom.  Before reading, 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 in the posts that follow…So sign up now and please pass this on with a retweet.    – Mike Gorman (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. I am now  booked through the end of March, and the 2016 calendar is beginning to fill. In fact, it might be time to begin thinking about next spring, summer, and fall! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

Part 3: Tech Resources and Tools for Differentiated Learning … Writing Process

I do really hope you enjoyed the prior two posts on differentiated instructions tools for reading using technology. I thought in this post it would be interesting to focus on DI writing technology tools. I see this as really multiple concepts. One deals with the actual writing process and the others provides tools and resources for  various writing opportunities  and student engagement  In this post I will deal the first concept and the following posts will explore that wide range of writing and engagement opportunities.

I believe that the DI classroom must provide students some self autonomy when participating in the writing process. At the same time there must be formative assessment and proper guidance  that promotes needed success and growth. Many times when I was in school I would write a paper, the teacher would return it with an appropriate amount of red ink, and I would rewrite to the new specifications given by the teacher. While I may have gained a little in the process, I think the skill most acquired was how to rewrite a teacher’s edit. In these cases I had little ownership, or autonomy, in the the process. If we are to address real learning and skill acquisition, the student must own the process at the level they are at. In this act of self regulation the teacher has the opportunity to help navigate the way. With this in mind, I tried to find five tools that provide students the ability to own the learning while internally processing the skills.  In this type of student-centric classroom the teacher provides the needed and timely facilitation. I really do think that as students use tools like the ones provided below, teachers will use a lot less red ink. This will free up that necessary time to work with individuals, and in small groups, as they students begin to own their writing process.

  • Cast Science Writer – This amazing UDL tool from the people at CAST scaffolds the process of supporting students in writing lab and class reports. This tool is geared toward middle school and high school students. Check out the supports and help available in Science Writer website, or click the “Take a Tour” button on the site to see how Science Writer works. Along with learning about the animated helpers, you will also become more familiar with the  main portions of Cast Science Writer which include the below concepts. 
    • A Report Structure – All parts of a science or lab report are broken into small steps so the author can concentrate on one part of the report at a time.
    • A Writing Process – Science Writer helps students through the process of draft, revise, and edit when writing a science report.
    • Checklists – These are available when a student revises and edits a science report. These checklists will help students check for content and grammar errors while working autonomously.
    • Journal – This is a place in Science Writer where students may write notes, reflect, make comments or questions, or keep track of data.
    • Sentence Starters – The “Help Me Get Started” button has two functions (1) it divides the writing into smaller sections and (2) provides sentence starters when on the draft screens in the writing process. Think of it as a way to help get the writing started.
  • SAS Writing Navigator – This free web tool is part of an amazing collection of educational resources at SAS Curriculum Pathways. The Writing Navigator Tool provides formative assessment to students in regards to their written work. Students are able to revise their writing with the help of this wonderful tool. It allows students to focus on their purpose and audience, essay structure, and use of written language (sentence economy, variety, power, and clarity). They learn to ask questions experienced writers ask automatically. As a result, students can begin to express themselves with greater precision and power.  Best of all, students experience voice and choice as they write. The teacher is able to differentiate the learning experience by providing students varying difficulty levels of writing elements such as; clarity, power, variety, wordiness, passive voice, fragments, prepositional phrases, verbs, pronouns, and modifiers to name a few. It is certainly a tool that all students will find value in, as they learn in a formative and self regulated manner.
  • Hemingway Writer – Many times a student may need help making their writing more bold, clear, and to the point. Think of Hemingway as a  spellchecker, but for style. It makes sure that writers are provided a formative assessment writing session.  This provides an opportunity for the writer to focus on the message, not the prose. This tool allows students to reflect on ambitious thoughts that can be innumerable and disorganized and instead edit to provide a clear statement. After-all, any bit of writing could use some cutting. Students have the opportunity to learn that sometimes, less really is more. The Hemingway editor highlights (in yellow and red) where  writing is too dense. Students are encouraged to remove needless words or splitting the sentence into two. It also provides as score “reading level” that actually gauges the lowest education needed to understand the selected writing. It also provides tools for passive voice, use of adverbs, and identification of complicated words. Perhaps teachers could also use this when editing their writing for a specific student reading activity. The web version is free and their is a desktop app for a fee. Be sure to read the help section for valuable information.
  • Visuwords – This is a great tool that allows students to explore and work with words as they write. Perhaps they wish to look up words to find meanings or associations with other words and concepts. A student can enter any word into the Visuword search box  to look that word up. They are then able to see a visualization that leads to meaning, related synonyms, and parts of speech. Students are able to select different nodes to see the definition of that word group. They can also click and drag individual nodes to move them around to help clarify connections. Keep in mind that Visuwords is….
    • a dictionary!
    • a thesaurus!
    • great for writers, journalists, students, teachers, and artists.
    •  an online dictionary is available wherever there’s an internet connection.
    • free… there is no membership or fee is required.

    Please note that Visuwords™ uses Princeton University’s WordNet which is an opensource database built by University students and language researchers

  • Quill – This unique website provides learning activities that engage students in the writing process through web applications teaching grammar, vocabulary, and especially… writing skills. Using the teacher dashboard, teachers can pick from over 150 activities built from 42 Common Core standards and view the results through a mastery-based system. Best of all, most features are free. Some of the most popular activities include comma usage, capitalization, verb tense agreement, and commonly confused words. Each activity takes 10 minutes in length and students receive instant feedback on their work. The instantaneous grading system allows teachers to provide individualized instruction for students who need the most in-class help, while giving advanced practice to students who are ready for more challenging materials. Quill is a free literacy tool powered by an open source, non-profit community of educators and developers.

*Please keep in mind these tools are web 2.0 tools allowing for 2 way interaction at different levels. Please read your school acceptable use policy and the websites terms and privacy. Get parent permission where needed. 

Readings

Explore these articles that I found through extensive research while reflecting on differentiated instruction in the classroom. You will find ideas from some amazing authors and organizations. Please take a moment to enjoy these articles filled with even more possibilities as you provide tools to differentiate writing in the classroom.

Please keep in mind that my primary focus in this post has been  on self assessment in the writing process. Please remember that peer assessment and collaboration is equally important. The technology available to support and amplify this concept is powerful in the 21st century classroom. This technology along with digital support for student choice and engagement to promote writing will be important ideas in the next few posts of this series.

Thanks for joining me on this wonderful journey of 21st century possibilities.  Join me in future weeks as together we continue this adventure in differentiated learning through technology. Throughout the year also explore other  posts devoted to the Flipped and Blended Learning, 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 enjoy this wonderful new 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 done 100’s of workshops and presentations.  Check out my Booking Page… Dates are going fast, with time up to and including March 2016 now filled.   It’s not too early to begin thing about next spring, summer and fall! Look for contact information at the Booking Site

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Part 2: Tech Resources and Tools for Differentiated Learning … More Reading

 

di2

 

Welcome to the second post in a series designed to support the use of technology for differentiated learning… in and beyond the PBL classroom.  Before reading, 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 in the posts that follow…So Sign up now and please pass this on with a retweet.    – Mike Gorman (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. I am now  booked through the end of March, and the 2016 calendar is beginning to fill. In fact, it might be time to begin thinking about next spring, summer, and fall! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

Part 2: Tech Resources and Tools for Differentiated Learning … More Reading

It was wonderful to see all the people who visited the first post in this series. I have a link here in case you missed it. You will find five wonderful resources to help bring DI to your students’ reading. I thought before going on to some differentiated writing ideas, you may like to see five more reading sites. While there are instructional and management techniques a teacher should use when providing reading at different levels in the classroom, that is not the emphasis of this post. What I am attempting to do is provide the tools and resources for these readings. Once these are found, it is important to follow best practices put forth by the district or school literacy coordinator regarding implementation. Here are five more of my very favorite DI reading sites. I hope you enjoy them also!

  • For The Teacher: Reading – This website was started in 2012 and comes from some amazing teachers in the state of Idaho. It contains outstanding reading  lessons that use content area concepts. One particular concept is provided at different reading levels. This is perfect for bringing every child to the learning activity regardless of their reading skill. The focus begins with a teacher choosing a reading skill they wish to facilitate. The next step is to choose a reading article, which comes in three reading levels. The article is used to teach and reinforce the skill. It is a wonderful site that focuses on important reading skills while providing student an engaging article at their reading level.
  • Front Row – At this website a teacher will find a collection of DI activities in both math and language arts. The website states, “By addressing student weaknesses and building off strengths, Front Row is designed to increase confidence and promote growth in ALL students, regardless of their ability level”. Front Row’s independent math practice program is completely free for teachers. There are also a number of free inquiry based lessons at various grade levels for teachers. Teachers also have access to 5 free ELA articles per month to assign to their students. There is also a paid section of the site you may wish to explore.
  • Books that Grow – Discover this wonderful reading tool that provides leveled reading books for students. The whole class can engage in discussions and activities regardless of their reading level. While it was free at one time, it is now a paid application that is worth a look. It is included here because the cost is quite reasonable for a classroom or school for the year. The “Books That Grow” library contains a mixture of classic fiction, primary source documents, myths and folktales, biographies, original science and history books. The books are even accompanied by Teacher Guides, which give teachers important background and teaching tips for each piece.
  • Readworks – Make sure you take your time when you visit this amazing collection of resources. I am sure you will walk away with countless possibilities for classroom learning. This site provides “Paired Text” possibilities; which is the reading of two or more texts on a related topic, theme, or story element. It is a practice that can help improve a student’s reading comprehension. As you might know, stamina is also critical to becoming a strong reader. The idea of stamina can be built by practicing reading and listening to texts of increasing length. Readworks has created a collection of longer passages at a range of levels to help build your students’ stamina. There are also multi genre novel study units to engage students. Make sure you take note of the leveled reading passages in multiple content areas that even include question sets.
  • Simple English Wikipedia –  You may know about Wikipedia but are you aware of Simple English Wikipedia? This is a wonderful site that includes articles for children and adults who are learning English, or just want the regular Wikipedia article broken down in a more basic structure and vocabulary. At the present time there are 116,769 articles on the Simple English Wikipedia site. All of the pages are free to use. They have all been published under both the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License 3.0 and the GNU Free Documentation License. It may provide your students a new avenue to understand some of those more difficult concepts found in a Wikipedia article.

Readings

Explore these articles that I found through extensive research while reflecting on differentiated instruction in the classroom. You will find ideas from some amazing authors and organizations. Please take a moment to enjoy these articles filled with even more possibilities!

Thanks for joining me on this wonderful journey of 21st century possibilities.  Join me in future weeks as together we continue this adventure in differentiated learning through technology. Throughout the year also explore other  posts devoted to the Flipped and Blended Learning, 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 enjoy this wonderful new 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 done 100’s of workshops and presentations.  Check out my Booking Page… Dates are going fast, with time up to and including March 2016 now filled.   It’s not too early to begin thing about next spring, summer and fall! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

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Part 1: Tech Resources and Tools for Differentiated Learning … Reading

 

di1

Welcome to a series that supports the use of technology in support of differentiated learning in and beyond the PBL classroom.  Before reading, 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 in the posts that follow…So Sign up now and please pass this on with a retweet.    – Mike Gorman (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. I am now just about booked through the end of March and the 2016 calendar is beginning to fill. In fact, it might be time to begin thinking about next spring, summer, and fall! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

Part 1: Tech Resources and Tools for Differentiated Learning … Reading

I was recently asked to provide a workshop that supported Differentiated Learning through the use of educational technology in the Project Based learning Classroom (PBL).  I needed to reflect on what this really meant before going any further. As I explored the idea of technology, PBL, and the differentiated classroom I needed find some common connections and categories. I came up with several categories I thought tools might come fit under.  This included reading and instruction as it connects to content, research in relationship to inquiry, and student production and how it integrates with voice and choice. There are other areas that also come to mind including student grouping, assessment, and interest. For this series, and the emphasis on technology integration, I thought I might focus on the first four categories mentioned. I really do hope you find it helpful and please let me know of additions you might have. For this first post in the series I will focus on the idea of leveled reading. Enjoy the journey and as always please feel free to connect with ideas you might have!

One area of important consideration in the PBL..or any classroom, involves providing reading material for students that they can successfully read and understand. This can be increasingly difficult as students progress through the grade levels. While there are instructional and management techniques a teacher should use when providing reading at different levels in the classroom, that is not the emphasis of this post. What I am attempting to do is provide the tools and resources for these readings. Once these are found, it is important to follow best practices put forth by the district or school literacy coordinator regarding implementation.  I am providing five of my favorite reading resources  that provide multiple reading levels for the same text in this post. Many of these contain current events and news.  Keep in mind that events that happened in the past…  may be current to your content standards today.  In my next post you will discover even more. I have also provided some wonderful links that will allow you to learn more about differentiated learning blended with technology, and of course ….PBL.

Resources

  • Breaking News – Are you looking for a site filled with great news articles? Discover this wonderful resource that allows you to assign a reading that provides same content at different reading levels. It is free and filled with ready-to-use EFL / ESL lesson plans on the latest breaking news -in 7 levels. New lessons are uploaded to the site every 2 days. Best of all, each lesson includes a 26-page PDF containing all-skills activities, a 2-page mini-lesson, 5-speed listening, multi-speed scrolled reading, interactive dictation, 30+ online quizzes… and more.
  • Newsela – This is another amazing site that makes it easy for an entire class to read the same content, but at a level that’s just right for each student. Students can read current events at a level they understand. Keep in mind that a teacher can even find an older article that matches curricular content standards. Imagine allowing an entire class to read and discuss the same content. You will find this is a resource that really will kindle insatiable curiosity in young minds, while equipping students with the skills they need to succeed. Also, check out Newsela for Elementary and note there is a also a comparison of a  free and paid version. Newsela will require educators to create a free account. You will find that a short visit will open up a whole new level of learning for your classroom.
  • Common Lit –  It is the mission of Common Lit to provide a collection of high quality, free instructional materials to support literacy development for students in grades five through twelve. You will find this site filled with leveled fiction and nonfiction articles that are flexible, research based, and aligned to standards. The resources are created for teachers, by teachers. The site has won awards from IMA, Harvard Graduate School of Education, and Teach For America. This Research Report will provide you with even more information on this wonderful program. Take a moment to visit the site, select a theme that aligns with content being studied, find a question, and determine the text you wish to use.
  • Tribune by Smithsonian – What a powerful educational resources for all levels. Click on the appropriate grade level ban at the top and you will find a wide range of education content that is leveled for reading from the Smithsonian. You will be joining more than 200,000 registered teachers who are already putting these free Smithsonian Teacher resources to use in their classrooms. You will find that the site contains twice-daily AP news articles, Lexile® levels for K-12, self-scoring quizzes customized by Lexile® level, critical thinking questions, student commenting, Espanol AP articles, weekly lesson plans, weekly video,  and even a weekend “Monday Morning Ready” newsletter as prep for the week ahead
  • Rewordify_ – I have saved this amazing site for the grand finale of this post. It really is a tool you will wish to visit time and time again! Imagine a resources that allows teachers to create leveled reading from any text they find for their class. How about even the text in a website? This is a program that really does allow for whole class differentiation. Rewordify is best described as a resource that simplifies difficult English. Enter hard sentences, whole chapters, or even a website URL into this powerful resource tool. Next, click on “Rewordify Text” and the teacher or student will instantly see an easier version… allowing for fast understanding. The reworded text is even highlighted, allowing students to click the new word to hear and learn the original harder word. One can even change how the highlighting works in order to match the way one learns! There are even more functions within Rewordify that teachers will discover allowing for increased student understanding of a given text. This is a must have tool for those educators trying to bring differentiated instruction into their classroom.

Readings – Explore these articles that I found through extensive research while reflecting on differentiated instruction in the classroom. You will find ideas from some amazing authors and organizations. Please take a moment to enjoy these articles filled with even more possibilities!

Thanks for joining me on this wonderful journey of 21st century possibilities.  Join me in future weeks as together we continue this adventure in differentiated learning through technology. Throughout the year also explore other  posts devoted to the Flipped and Blended Learning, 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 enjoy this wonderful new 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 done 100’s of workshops and presentations.  Check out my Booking Page… Dates are going fast, with time up to and including March 2016 now filled.   It’s not too early to begin thing about next spring, summer and fall! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

 

 

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Reflecting on 2015… Ten Resources I Found Valuable

hny2016

 

I would like to take a moment to wish all of you the very best New Year in 2016! I have enjoyed sharing with you in the past year, and look forward to new opportunities and educational possibilities as we proceed into the New Year.  In this post I would like to share some of my favorite resource finds of the past year. As you read through them please keep in mind that some were new in 2015. Others were ones that I must have waited until 2015 to discover! There are even a few that I had already known about and discovered a new addition I felt worth sharing. Before reading, 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 new year…So Sign up now and please pass this on with a retweet.   Happy New Year! – Mike Gorman (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. I am now just about booked through the end of February and the 2016 calendar is beginning to fill. In fact, it might be time to begin thinking about next summer!

Upcoming Opportunities:

Reflecting on 2015… Ten Resources I Found Valuable (This is just a small listing of ten…. My past and future posts will reveal even more!) 

Formative – Not all feedback tools are the same. Formative is one that teachers want to know more about once I have them try using it in a workshop. This is a tool that can be part feedback, part game, and part group brainstorming. Students can give feedback on their individual devices which can then be shared with the teacher. It works with just about any device. One of the best features includes the ability to “write out” or “draw up” the feedback. This ability provides one more way to differentiate learning. This is a great formative tool to check understanding and decide the next move for needed instruction.

Quizizz – If you are familiar with and use Kahoot, then you are bound to want to get to know another of the newest in game based quiz programs. Quizizz allows the teacher to bring the whole class into a competitive learning situation. Along with checking for student understanding, this program allows students to also reflect on how they answered a question. It is a great program, allowing teachers to decide on next steps for instruction while providing students the ability to gauge their progress along the journey in their own learning. Your students will actually be excited to take that next Quizizz!

Right Question Institute – Welcome to one of my favorite finds this year, even though this amazing organization has been around for some time. This is the right tool for teachers wanting to get their students deep in the inquiry process. At the Right Question Institute one can find some amazing resources that scaffold the inquiry process, allowing students to take ownership of inquiry.  The steps provided by The Right Question Institute  will help facilitate teachers as they prepare students for tests that go beyond memorization. The resources provided will assist students as they learn that the right questions can be even more powerful then providing answers.  This is a must have tool for educators facilitating that essential pathway along Bloom’s higher order thinking.

Better Lesson – This is a wonderful website that encourages teachers to share what works in a good lesson. As part of the Master Teacher Project, this site is committed to building a body of knowledge around authentic instructional practice. Over 16,000 lessons in the areas of Math, Science, and LA make up part of this wonderful collection. The site contains some wonderful blended learning possibilities including rich, comprehensive lessons and effective strategies contributed by teachers across the globe. Take a moment to discovery high interest inquiry based lessons that will engage students. Keep in mind that a Better Lesson will help bring about even Better Learning!

BIE – Have you discovered the new Project Based Learning Gold Standards introduced in the past year by BIE (The Buck Institute)?  If you have not discovered the authenticity and student driven emphasis that PBL (Project Based Learning) brings to learning, then now is the time to visit BIE. As you explore how BIE has expanded their Eight Essential Elements of PBL with their new Gold Standards, you will want to keep exploring all the other resources at BIE! At the BIE website educators will enjoy exploring video examples of PBL units, hundreds of projects, important research, and some powerful 21st Century Education Rubrics!

Rewordify– Discover an amazing free tool that allows teacher to create leveled text from readings they find for their class. This is a program that really does allow for whole class differentiation. Rewordify is best described as a resource that simplifies difficult English. Enter hard sentences, whole chapters, or even a website URL into this amazing resource tool. Next, click on “Rewordify Text” and the teacher or student will instantly see an easier version… allowing for fast understanding. The reworded text is even highlighted, allowing students to click the new word to hear and learn the original harder word. One can even change how the highlighting works in order to match the way one learns! There are even more functions within Rewordify that teachers will discover allowing for increased student understanding of a given text. This is a must have tool for those educators trying to bring differentiated instruction into their classroom.

Simple English Wikipedia – It seems that during a search, one of the top places that provides information is Wikipedia. While Wikipedia can be a wonderful resource, it is not always written at a level all students can understand. Simple English Wikipedia allows students to enter in search terms that bring up Wikipedia articles that are easier to understand. These articles are also rich with vocabulary that can be used as a keyword search term.  Best of all, Simple Wikipedia provides a wonderful bibliography along with vocabulary links that allow for expanded research. One other important feature found in Simple English Wikipedia allows educators to make their own digital books filled with Simple Wikipedia Articles. A great resource for the digital classroom!

Powtoons – This tool allows for the creation of some wonderful animations that provide opportunities for deeper understanding.  While teachers can create a Powtoon to explain important content, students can even create their own Powtoons. What a wonderful way for students to produce and create content while providing an authentic way to show new understanding. This is a tool that will engage students for hours. Don’t be surprised if your students start making their own homework! Keep in mind that the learning curve is one that allows students to focus on content and not the technical application!

Graphite – This is another site that has been around for a while and continues to get better! The people at Common Sense Media (makers of Graphite) bring a collection of educator vetted apps. These powerful tools will fit into any teacher’s blended lesson plans. While exploring Graphite, be sure to check out the collection of Common Core Apps, rich with possibilities. In fact, another must visit area in Graphite is called Lesson Flows. This tool helps teachers create their own blended lesson using an online graphic organizer. The new Teacher Center provides a link to some of the best Lesson Flows made by teachers, and also some powerful teacher PD.

Prism – Welcome to an outside the box application that measures the wisdom of the crowd in reference to a particular reading. This powerful tools allows the teacher to provide students s selected reading on their device. While reading, and reflecting on the text of the reading, students are able to highlight the text in different colors representing their thoughts and understanding. In this process, teacher and students are able to view the entire groups thinking process in relationship to the reading and their understanding. It is a wonderful tool allowing a teacher to gauge understanding while also facilitating high level discussion. It really has the ability to bring group thinking and collaboration to a whole new level.

Keep in mind to always read the terms of agreement and privacy policies of any web tool before using with students. Also, be aware of your district AUP (Acceptable Use Policy). Check with district administration and get parent permission when needed. Always be certain to facilitate and model proper digital citizenship. Enjoy all the possibilities that web technology can bring to the classroom. Best of learning to all of you in 2016!

Thanks for joining me on this wonderful journey of 21st century digital citizenship resources. Join me throughout 2016 as together we continue to explore posts devoted to the Flipped Classrooms, Project Based Learning, Assessing 21st century skills, 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 wonderful New Year! – 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 done 100’s of workshops and presentations.  Check out my Booking Page… Dates are going fast, with time up to and including February just about filled.   I am taking 2016 dates and it’s not too early to begin thing about next summer.

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Real Project Based Learning… Santa Believes in PBL… Do You?

pbl

Did you know that Santa believes in Project Based Learning? It’s true… in fact I have worked quite hard at finding evidence that supports this conclusion. I decided to use some of the essential elements of PBL from the Buck Institute (BIE)… note that last summer these essentials were updated to the Gold Standards. As you might know, BIE is the premiere organization promoting and providing professional development on PBL for the United States and internationally. Check the provided  BIE link for some great free material on PBL and some awesome PD services offered by BIE … of which I am on the National Faculty. Upon further reflection it occurred to me that not only does Santa believe in PBL, he practices many of its positive attributes at his workshop. By now you are thinking… what is this connection? Let me explain my reasoning by giving you an overview some of the essential elements in PBL.  Of course I will attempt to show you how I believe Santa has put these elements into his practice.  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 magical to me. Also, please share this post with others and even provide a re-tweet. Last please check my Booking Page to see how I could be part of your school PD or Conference plans.  May your holidays be filled with magic! – Mike Gorman (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. Those 2016 months months are beginning to fill. In fact, it might be time to begin thinking about next summer

Real Project Based Learning… Santa Believes in PBL… Do You? – Mike Gorman  https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com

It all started on a recent visit I had the pleasure of taking to the North Pole.  It was actually a once in a lifetime experience, one that I will always remember. While I promised Santa I would not divulge secrets I discovered, he did hand me a manuscript and gave me a wink. I could see the amazing sparkle in his eyes as he waited for me to discover a power he was already aware of. I looked at the cover of this torn and faded, yet delightful looking, old book.  I could tell it had been constantly used due to the lack of North Pole magical dust on its soon to be engaging pages.  I spent the next few hours looking through a wonderful collection of written journals. This manuscript was entitled “The Santa Projects”.  How did he know my yearning to learn more about projects?  I then remembered that, of course, I was sitting in front of Santa. He probably had quite a data base of everything I had ever dreamed of or desired from my very first teddy bear. Here was a compilation of all of the important projects ever done at this amazing place… at the top of the world. Here were the projects that Santa had brought to his entire staff in order to engage, motivate, educate, and provide means of collaboration and communication. The first project caught my eye. I couldn’t help but smile as I read each of Santa’s journal entries. Allow me to share one of his projects with you.

The Santa Projects –

Project Name – Mission Possible…. The Big Delivery

Need To Know – (An outstanding project is based on a student need to know. It is this desire that promotes engagement and excitement in children. It provides the motivation for learning significant content.)  Santa Notes – It will be important to communicate with all of the elves and various staff my desire to travel the world in one night delivering toys to all of the good girls and boys. We will have a meeting, record everything in Santa Docs, based on what we will need to know to make this mission possible. As we answer these important questions I will mark them off our collaborative list. I anticipate a few questions such as: Given that the earth is rotating… how many hours do we really have?

The Driving Question – (The Driving Question is the key to any effective PBL project.  This question must be direct and open a student centric understanding of what is to be eventually accomplished and learned. While giving the students a sense of mission, it is proactive and open-ended.)  Santa Notes – After working with various teams we have decided that a good driving question could be as follows: How can we devise a plan to deliver presents to all the good children in the world in one night? I know this will be exciting for the elves and I am sure the reindeer will be clamoring to get their hoofs into it. I am certain our journey to finding this answer will not only raise more questions, but will also provide the rigor my staff thrives on.

Voice and Choice – (An effective project must allow for all students to have a voice and a choice. This might allow students to pick an area of study, or may give a selection of various final products to demonstrate learning. This voice and choice allows the project to have individual meaning and relevance to each student.) Santa Notes – I must allow all of the workers at the North Pole to participate in a meaningful way while holding them accountable to the Driving Question. Who knows what contribution each group and individual might be able to come up with. In fact, I have already heard that my engineers are drawing a picture of a sleigh. Not sure I know why, but maybe I will learn from them.

21st Century Skills – (Students must be allowed to use skills that are authentic and provide real world opportunities. Teachers must provide learning opportunities and facilitate important skills including collaboration, communication, and critical thinking. It is important to also asses these skills as part of PBL.) Santa Notes – I plan to utilize team building activities to help facilitate project success. At the North Pole we must realize that in order to pull off this miracle it will involve a collective wisdom from the entire crowd. We will use modern North Pole technology including Santa Docs, Twinkler, and Elfmodo to collaborate. In fact, I noticed the elves are already building a new system “The Magic Net”. It is supposed to connect the North Pole with the entire world of children’s desires. I am not sure why, but I am sure I will learn from them.

Inquiry and Innovation – A good PBL study will allow students to not just come up with answers… but also discover new and amazing questions. This will allow students to think outside the box as they remix, create, and innovate. It assures a final product that shows the learning that was acquired from the initial Driving Question.) Santa Notes – Everyone at the workshop is finding out that there is not an easy answer to our Driving Question. It seems we are getting more questions than answers right now. I have encouraged our staff to use Santapedia and NorthPoleOogle but they say it does not always give the answer… again more questions. I have told everyone to tinker… something they have experience with at the toy shop. They did come up with a new gift they called Tinkertoys which could be a hit. I had to get them back on track. Outside, I have noticed the reindeer jumping from the fir trees and one is even playing with a red light bulb. I know it seems very hectic… but I do feel we might be on to something.

Feedback and Revision – (Students must be allowed to obtain feedback through critiques from their teacher, peers, real world mentors, and themselves. Through this, students must learn to reflect and revise to create a better product as they travel a road of formative assessment.) Santa Notes – I am finding myself encouraging all my workers to reflect and critique themselves and others. This is can be more valuable than always using one of my NPARs (North Pole Assessment Rubrics). In fact, I saw the engineer and elves constantly critiquing each other on what they called OBETB (Operation Big Enough Toy Bag). Perhaps if I do a little check with one of my formative assessment rubrics I will find out what that is all about.

Publicly Present The Product – (Providing students with a public and authentic audience is crucial in the design of a good PBL learning unit. It brings meaning and provides motivation for a final product that represents the quality and rigor that should be expected. This audience can be face to face or could be virtual using the World Wide Web.)  Santa Notes – I am so excited for the workers here at the North Pole. Tomorrow night they will be presenting their plan for Mission Possible…. The Big Delivery to a live audience of the North Pole Geographic  Society, Magic Bag Engineers, Animal Aviator Experts, Portable Light Bulb Innovators, The Association of Sleigh Vehicle Workers, and NEXRAD.  It will all be available on Santa Vision. Having all of these experts in the audience will ensure that all involved will take great pride in their work while demonstrating what they have learned and have now made possible.  I am still puzzled as to why we have invited the Animal Aviator Experts and NEXRAD. Sound like a high flying idea!

Significant Content – (A PBL final outcome should provide evidence that students learned the required content set forth by curricular standards. While the 21st century skills are important… they should complement and be used as  tools for learning this content. The project is the process!) Santa Notes – Wow… while everyone has become better communicators, collaborators, and critical thinkers I see that the important concepts needed to make this project a success have become a reality. All of the workers, elves, and animals understand the important North Pole curricular concepts of magical engineering, animal aviation and linguistics, possibility planning, and bottomless bag technology. Most of all, they have discovered the wonderful skill of miracle manicuring. I really do believe in PBL!

As I was sitting in front of Santa there were two more elements that appeared before me like magic. I read the text as fast as it appeared. He look at me as he winked and smiled… as if he was about to go up a chimney. I soon realized he had even been aware of some of the new ideas found in the new Gold Standards. Of course he was aware! I continued to read with delight as I discovered even more amazing magic!

Reflection (It is this process that demands the important skill of meta-cognition. It is not until  a learner thinks about the learning… that real learning takes place. Educators must allow students time to reflect as they build their own understanding of important content and concepts.)  Santa Notes – I have always enjoyed the work of John Dewey… after-all he was always on my good list. I encourage all the workers at the North Pole to reflect on what they learn while as they build and innovate on all the products at the workshop! It is amazing to see all the learning that takes place as we constantly create a wonderful experience for all the boys and girls through out the world!

Authenticity – ( It is important that students have an authentic learning experience that is meaningful. Allowing students to make a difference to their surroundings and the world outside the classroom is essential. Education must be real and provide the students that important… so what… to learning.) Santa Notes – Authenticity might be one of the most important qualities we promote. After-all like PBL… the North Pole experience is about making it real!

As I handed this precious manuscript back to Santa,  I thanked him for confirming my belief in how powerful a project can be. Upon my return I continued to learn more about Project Based Learning and discovered the power it has for providing authentic and powerful learning experiences for students. This knowledge just might be the very best gift I ever received from Santa. I’m still smiling as I recall the other projects I read about in the wonderful book on my very special visit. Projects with names like the ones you find below.

  1. I Can Get Down the Chimney… How Do I Get Up?
  2. The Big Blizzard… Can We Find a Way to Light the Path?
  3. Conquering the 24 Hour Cookies and Milk Dilemma!
  4. Reindeer… Keeping their Minds to the Ground!
  5. Making and Keeping It Real!

I hope you enjoyed this very special message that Santa shared with me. Please take a moment to share this post with other educators across the world.  Please accept my present to you,  which is another year of postings, by subscribing by email or RSS and follow me on Twitter (mjgormans). You will also find a treasure of resources covering 21st century learning, STEM, PBL, and technology integration for the classroom. Again, take a moment to share this blog and even give it a re-tweet so that other educators can experience the magic of PBL. May you find the peace, joy, blessing, and magic of this very special season… and to all a good night! 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 done 100’s of workshops and presentations.  Check out my Booking Page… Dates are going fast, with time up to and including December now filled.   I am taking 2016 dates and it’s not too early to begin thing about next summer.

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Ten Reasons Why Teachers Must Be Magic… A Special Letter From Santa!

santa

Welcome to a very magical entry… one that has been a traditional post each holiday season. It is a time of year that I wish to express my gratitude to those wonderful educators that have welcomed me at their schools, webinars, and conferences and also join me at this blog and on twitter through out the year. I would like to share with all of you a very special letter I found under my Christmas Tree  many Christmas Eves ago. I have made it a practice to put it away, until just a few weeks before Christmas each year, with the idea of sharing it with educators across the world! Please take a moment to read this very special letter from Santa! He takes a moment to describe the magic that you as an educator make happen every day! While you are at it, I would appreciate that you take a moment to subscribe to this Blog  and follow me at on Twitter at (mjgormans).  Also, please take just a moment to share this letter by providing a retweet, and feel to copy and distribute (please give reference).  In this way you can help spread the magic!  My next seasonal post is… PBL at the North Pole.  May your holidays be filled with magic! – Mike Gorman (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. Those 2016 months months are beginning to fill. In fact, it might be time to begin thinking about next summer.

A Letter From Santa…. by  Michael Gorman (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com) ….Twitter (mjgormans)

Dear Teachers,

I have been meaning to write this letter for a long time! It is a letter that I feel is long overdue and with the elves getting all ready for my long ride, I finally found the time! I have been watching teachers for many years and I am amazed at the work they do. I have come to a conclusion that the teaching profession, like my own, must be filled with bits of  magic! Please let me provide ten statements of evidence for my belief.

1.  I travel the world one night of the year visiting all the boys and girls of the world. The teaching profession works with every boy and girl all year long. This equates to each teacher fulfilling educational needs for 30 – 200 children each and every school day. Seems like magic to me!

2. I deliver presents to all the boys and girls. From my Toy Repair Shop statistics I find many of these gifts are broken or no longer garner a child’s interest within months!  Yet teachers find inner gifts in every child. Teachers nurture these inner gifts  until they develop into true presents that will last a lifetime.  These kinds of gifts sure seem like magic to me!

3. I keep my naughty and nice list for every child. Some people believe this job is pretty amazing! Yet when I look at the teaching profession, teachers provide a constant evaluation of all their students! Their list covers all the aspects of developing and learning which they report to children’s parents and to the children themselves! This evaluation is based on a wide variety of observations, data, and student performance.  Teachers will then use this list to help improve each and every student! Wow, keeping track of every student’s ability and prescribing ways to be successful must really be magic!

4. I leave presents to students who are on the nice list and who believe in me. Teachers work with all children because they believe in every student. Teachers continue to do so, even when students stop believing in the educational system’s ability to help them achieve.  That type of persistence has got to be magic!

5. I have operated my workshop using the same technology for hundreds of years and it has worked for me. Then again, I work with children when they are asleep, delivering presents in my own way. Teachers work with children when they are awake and they have spent time learning how to engage children using googles, blogs, phlogs, glogs, prezis, and all these other words I really don’t know! Being able to teach, transform, and accommodate for this new digital generation must really be magic!

6. I have made it a practice to leave coal behind for children who do not make my good list! It seems every year the same children always get the coal. Teachers refuse to leave coal, in fact, they are working hard at leaving no child behind. To work towards a goal of leaving no child behind is a true act of magic!

7. I read the news and I am always so thankful to read all the nice articles about my work. It really does provide me with motivation to keep up my vocation. I read news articles about the education profession and it seems that most articles are unsupportive. Yet, teachers keep working hard at providing success for their students! These teachers must be operating on a little bit of magic!

8. I have thousands of elves, of course the reindeer, and the  community of the entire North Pole to assist me. Teachers work every day, many times by themselves, as they provide new opportunities for their students! Carrying that load alone must be much heavier than my bag of toys. It must really be magic!

9. I receive many a thank you and millions of pictures of happy faces as children open their presents each year. Teachers don’t always get a thank you, or may never see the present get eventually opened. When they do, appreciation may come from decades later!  A thank you that appears after many years must be the result of pure magic!

10. I discovered a light in Rudolph brightens up a dark, foggy, or snowy night so that I can deliver joy to all the children across the world. Teachers provide the light that brightens our world in both the darkest night and brightest day! It is the light of learning and knowledge!  The ability to keep that light burning  bright  must take a quite a bit of magic!

You see, I have found that magic does not come easily! It is made possible only by those who work hard and keep believing, and seek what they know is possible! As you can see, there must be a great deal of magic in the education profession! Please continue to keep this magic alive and know that you are all on my good list! After all, I had to learn all that I do from somewhere! So from across the years I know I have many teachers to thank!   Last, to all teachers across the world… I really do believe in you!

Thanks for all the magic,

Santa

I hope you enjoyed this very special message from Santa. Please take a moment to share this letter with other educators across the world. It will truly help bring out the magic in our profession! Please accept my present to you,  which is another year of postings by subscribing  and following me on Twitter (mjgormans). Think about contacting me (Booking Infoto see how I might fit into your conference or school PD plans. (mjgormans@gmail.com)! Again, take a moment to share this blog and even give it a re-tweet so that other educators can experience the magic.  Next post… PBL at the North Pole  (subscribe now) ! May you find the peace, joy, blessing, and magic of this very special season… and to all a good night! – Mike Gorman  (21centuryedtech.wordpress.com)

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