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PBL and Content … 15 Ideas To Make Sure Project Based Learning Supports The Curricular Standards

Welcome to 2022 and the start of some Project Based Learning posts I wish to bring your way. I believe that as we work on helping students understand the content standards, PBL provides teachers with the how. I do hope you enjoy this content driven article. 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 I can come to your conference or school district and provide engaging authentic, practical, and purposeful professional development . See booking info and please contact me anytime at (mjgormans@gmail.com). Thanks so much.  Michael Gorman (21centuryedtech).

Booking Info… Yes… I do come to schools and conferences to share over 40 years of education experiences from my classroom and district office experience to working with hundreds of schools across the nation. I also teach a PBL Masters Class online at Wilkes University. When not providing Services for BIE (PBLWorks), Discovery Education, Wilkes, FETC, Alan November Consulting, and Tech and Learning Magazine… I provide independent consultation and professional development across the country. Check out my Booking Page and email me at mjgormans@gmail.com

15 Ideas To Ensure That Project Based Learning Is Grounded In Content And Standards

It is important that Project Based Learning provides students with wonderful opportunities that allow them to take part in a culture focused on rich activities and experiences. It promotes those important 21st-century skills while balancing this acquisition with important content knowledge and standards. The lessons and activities are intentional, aligned, and mapped to curricular standards. The standards and skills are constantly assessed in a variety of ways involving numerous stakeholders.  Most of all, there is an alignment between standards, skills, and assessment. By incorporating these indicators teachers are ensured that they have provided a project process that is built on standards and proper skill acquisition. The four areas that serve as indicators for grounding PBL  in standards are below.

1. Curricular Content
2. 21st Century Skills
3. Formative and Summative Learning Opportunities
4. Intentional, Aligned, Varied, and Constant Assessment

In this post, I would like to focus on the curricular content and standards that are one of the foundations of PBL. As I travel the country I will often hear teachers state that there is not the time for PBL because of the demands of the curricular content and standards. I understand this concern and the sincere desire that amazing teachers have in trying to prepare students for a successful future.  I do wonder about the difference between knowing standards and understanding standards, but I will save that for a future post.

First, I do agree that students do have the need to learn and understand base curriculum that focuses on important content standards. These are also those same skills that are many times tested on the standardized test, end of course assessment, and other high stake tests such as ACT, SAT, and AP. PBL, when done right, allows teachers to focus on and facilitate important content and standards. So what is PBL done right? Let’s take a moment to investigate and reflect.

I have heard many interpretations of Project Based Learning. Often I hear a description that suggests that the teacher delivers the content and students follow up with an inspiring and engaging cumulative project. While this involves student doing a project, it really is not PBL. I call this teaching and then having students do a project.  Resources from BIE/BUCK (now PBLWorks) describe this as a “dessert project”. This comes from the idea that first there is the teaching… and then a sweet project for dessert. While this can be useful and  can reinforce some learning, it is not truly Project Based Learning. In fact, I would like to give this practice its own acronym,  LBP (Learning Before Projects). I can understand how we as educators might not have time for this encore or dessert style or approach. PBL, however, is not an afterthought!

In true Project Based Learning the project uncovers and facilitates the learning of significant content. In PBL, there is a balance of learning that occurs throughout the project’s duration. It is this combination that allows for quality and rigor while helping students see the connection of content to the real world. It is important to understand that the ongoing project itself, through careful teacher planning,  must facilitate the learning.  Furthermore, it is  essential that a PBL unit is designed with proper scaffolding or mapping that includes both learning activities and effective ongoing assessment. In fact, some of these activities might actually be existing lessons that a teacher has always used. It is even possible and probable that part of the scaffold will include readings, lectures, and even a worksheet, although it is important to keep a balance using all of Bloom’s levels. While assessment is varied, there is nothing wrong with including a summative test. After all, our students will be facing these for awhile as they continue their educational careers. It is important to note that because the project is used as a base and point of reference throughout the learning, the element of time becomes much more productive than what might occur in LBP (Learning Before Projects). Through this process, the  learning, understanding, and application of  significant content  standards will become an important outcome. PBL provides the rigor of learning new content along with the engagement apparent in a student-centered program based on deeper learning. The content becomes the “what” while PBL is the “how”.  Below you will find twelve ideas to keep in mind in order to ensure that a PBL unit contains those important content standards.

  1. The entry event or launch should show a relationship to the Driving/Investigative Question promoting a “need to know” of the standards and content.
  2. The entry event serves as a link between student prior knowledge and what students are about to learn.
  3. The Driving/Investigative Question should allow students to uncover the curriculum standards in a student friendly and understandable manner.
  4. Student inquiry in the project allows for motivation, engagement and ownership of the learning and the standards. The inquiry allows for the cycle of learning in the project.
  5. PBL shoud get students beyond the nouns in the standards allowing real life practice of those verbs that are also in the standards.
  6. Any PBL planning sheets and activities for students should line up with the standards and content in the curricular area being studied and assessed.
  7. The project should be ongoing and made up of activities and lessons that facilitate the learning of significant content.
  8. Formative learning activities and assessments that teach and reinforce the significant content should be mapped and occur throughout the timeline of the project.
  9. While innovative and student-centered learning is encouraged,  the scaffolding of the project can still include traditional lecture, tests, and textbook readings that promote significant content. Yes… rich engaging lectures can be used!
  10. The PBL map should include a wide range of Bloom’s levels and deeper learning opportunities. While digital technology can amplify the experience, it is not always necessary. This map should see alignment in standards, driving question, lessons and assessments, and most important… final product.
  11. There should be rubrics developed that evaluate student learning outcomes and rubrics should be aligned with the significant content and student performance. Students and their peers should also be part of the evaluation process.
  12. The final project should not only emphasize the content standard verbs (21st century skills) but should show the learning and understanding of significant content at he highest levels.
  13. The final project should demonstrate student understanding and learning of the standards and content. At the same time it should provide an answer to the Driving /Investigative Question providing students the “why”.
  14. Since learning is embedded throughout the project, consider the number of standards when determining the length of the project. There should be a balance and productivity in the learning experience.
  15.  Remind students the importance of learning about and understanding the content standards throughout the project. This can be facilitated by providing important formative and summative assessment that ensures accountability while connecting the learning to real life.

The acquisition of content knowledge that has been deemed important by society is one of the key functions of education. Project Based Learning honors this by immersing students in the important content standards while providing that needed foundation. In a world that is seeing content multiply at an exponential rate, it is also important to help students become seekers of knowledge and lifetime self-learners. Along with those additional 21st century skills, PBL provides the avenue to both build the content foundation while activating the natural ability to learn.

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.  Please contact me soon if you have an interest. My 2019 calendar is filling fast. In fact, it might be time to begin thinking about next January and 2020! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

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Authentic Project Based Learning, Santa Believes in PBL… How about You?

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.  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 holiday be filled with magic! – Mike Gorman (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/)

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 winter, spring and summer… or even fall planning for 2022. You can also contact me at mjgormans@gmail.com. Happy holidays!

Note – If you missed my Santa believes in teachers article… check it out here and share it!

Authentic 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 database 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 for our trip?”

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 allow 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 assess 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.

Public and Authentic 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 looked 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 metacognition. 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 throughout 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 –  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 2022. You can also contact me at mjgormans@gmail.com. Happy holidays!

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Ten Reasons Why Teachers Must Be Magic… A Very Special Letter From Santa in 2021!

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. This past year the magic has really come alive. It has been unbievable what teachers have done for theri students!. Keep in mind Santa does believe.

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 – 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. Email me and we can talk about a powerful interactive online workshop for educators that models blended learning best practices. Thanks so much.  Michael Gorman (mjgormans@gmail.com).

Ten Reasons Why Teachers Must Be Magic… A Very Special 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. Please take the time to provide others this magival message from Santa. 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)

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. Eamil we and we can talk about a powerful interactive online workshop for educators that models blended learning best practices. Thanks so much.  Michael Gorman (mjgormans@gmail.com).

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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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