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

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Welcome to a very magical entry for 2017… 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 throughout the year. I would like to share with all of you a very special letter I found under my Christmas Tree  many Christmas Eves ago. I have made it a practice to put it away, until just a few weeks before Christmas each year, with the idea of sharing it with educators across the world! Please take a moment to read this very special letter from Santa! He takes a moment to describe the magic that you as an educator make happen every day! While you are at it, I would appreciate that you take a moment to subscribe to this Blog  and follow me at on Twitter at (mjgormans).  Also, please take just a moment to share this letter by providing a retweet, and feel to copy and distribute (please give the 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/)

Special Note and Discount For FETC – Think about joining me at FETC this January in sunny Orlando, Florida. I am excited to be a featured speaker at this very  special conference.  Perhaps you might even attend my session or workshops. Follow this link for more information and a discount code. Hope to see you there! My sessions are below.

Workshop: Beyond the Device: Technology to Support Standards and Authentic Learning
Workshop Making Makers Mainstream: Connecting A Maker Culture to Curriculum Standards
Workshop: Making Project Based Learning Happen in Your District or Classroom
Featured Session: PBL Splash … Project Based Learning Done Right
Workshop: The Verbs of PBL, STEM and STEAM: Dewey Meets Technology

Also, think about having me come to your school or conference event in 2018. Dates are filling fast. Think about a keynote, workshop, or even a multiple day workshop on a subject such as PBL. Check out my Booking Site.

A Special Letter From Santa … Why Teachers Must Be Magic! …. by  Michael Gorman (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com) ….Twitter (mjgormans)

Dear Teachers,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for all the magic,

Santa

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

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Makerspace, Standards, and a Look at Computational Thinking

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As I travel the nation’s schools I see wonderful experiences provided to students as educators provide opportunities for thinking and doing. This leads to some amazing learning, if our process is both intentional and aligned with standards. With this thought of being intentional in mind, I thought I would take a moment to bring Makerspace, Computational Thinking, and Content Standards all together. Before reading, please take a moment to subscribe by email or RSS, and give me a follow-on Twitter at  mjgormans. I promise you will find some wonderful information coming your way in the posts that follow…So sign up now and please pass this on with a retweet. Also, remember you can book me for a conference or your school district with workshops that are informative, engaging, and practical. Check out my Booking Page and as always… thanks so much!  I am taking dates for spring, summer, and fall of 2018…  Mike Gorman (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/)

Special Note and Discount – Think about joining me at FETC this January in sunny Orlando, Florida. I am excited to be a featured speaker at this very  special conference.  Perhaps you might even attend my session or workshops. Follow this link for more information and a discount code. Hope to see you there!

Makerspace, Standards and a Look at Computational Thinking – 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 incorporated not present in the activity.

The idea behind the Makers Movement includes allowing students to imagine, envision, create, innovate, play, formatively learn, experiment, collaborate, share, and most of all dream of possibilities. The idea of making is not a new concept. In fact, the art of making is at the root and mixed into to the very fabric of our culture. I believe that the amazing innovation we have seen in this country is due to a Maker mentality. We have long been a culture set on dreaming up possibilities, and then taking the action to make it happen. The initial growth of technology has somewhat taken some of our creativity and produced consumption based thinking. We are now past the initial way of thinking, and the Makers movement allows people to finally use the technology to create and make. As we reflect on this… how are you using the Makerspace idea to engage students in content standards while facilitating and assessing process skills?

As you set, up or evaluate, the Maker movement in your school or district I ask you to think about how you are bringing this movement to the entire school and curriculum. I call it creating a Maker Culture. After-all the concept behind making is not a space… but instead a way of thinking.

For this reason, I think it is important to discuss one of the thinking processes often involved in making. It is the idea of computational thinking. 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.

So, what is this skill set? 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. While 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, 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 knew you were wondering when I would bring the Makerspace idea back into the conversation.  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 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
  2. Facilitate and assess the 4C’s… assessment by teacher, peers, students
  3. Encourage metacognition and the “Habits of the Mind”
  4. Promote collaboration as it expands and enriches the understanding of all involved
  5. Embrace, demand, and facilitate inquiry
  6. Think Webb’s DOK and upper Blooms
  7. Remind…. algorithms are steps that anyone can follow, not as many can write one
  8. Support students making and using computational thinking to expand standards
  9. Support standards that are aligned and assessed through making and thinking
  10. Provide content with thinking,,,  plus doing and making

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 . Its also not to early to begin thinking of spring, summer, and fall of 2018! Please take a look at my Booking Page to see how I could be part of your school PD or Conference plans. Thanks so much.  Michael Gorman (mjgormans@gmail.com)

 

 

 

 

 

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G is for Grounded in Standards: The ABC’s of PBL … Building Blocks, Elements, & Compounds of Deeper Learning

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Welcome to this seventh post in a series that promotes PBL and 21st Century Learning through the examination of Seven Building Blocks. In this post, I want to emphasize why grounding the standards in PBL is so important. Aligning and emphasizing standards is what makes PBL so effective in providing students real understanding to the curriculum. Before reading, please take a moment to subscribe by email or RSS, and also give me a follow-on Twitter at mjgormans. I promise you will find some wonderful information coming your way in the posts that follow…So sign up now and please pass this on with a retweet. Also, remember you can book me for a conference or your school district with workshops that are informative, engaging, and practical. Check out my Booking Page and as always… thanks so much!  I am taking dates for spring, summer, and fall of 2018…  Mike Gorman (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/)

Special Note and Discount – Think about joining me at FETC this January in sunny Orlando, Florida. I am excited to be a featured speaker at this very  special conference.  Perhaps you might even attend my session or workshops. Follow this link for more information and a discount code. Hope to see you there!

G is for Grounded in Assessment: The ABC’s of PBL … Building Blocks, Elements, & Compounds of Deeper Learning by Michael Gorman at https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/

Project Based Learning provides students with a wonderful experience to take part in a culture focused on rich activities and experiences. It promotes those important 21st century skills while balancing this acquisition with content knowledge. The activities are intentional and aligned with important standards. The standards and skills are constantly assessed in a variety of ways involving numerous stake holders. 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.
1. Curricular Content
2. 21st Century Skills
3. Formative and Summative Assessment
4. Intentional ,Aligned, Varied, and Constant Assessment
Curricular Content – Students do have the need to learn base curriculums that will focus on those content standards educational agencies have determined are important. 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. The PBL Unit of
Study must focus on these along with deeper learning and 21st century skill acquisition. It is this combination that allows for quality and rigor while helping students see the connection of content to real world, college and career, and other disciplines. A PBL unit must embrace the curricular standards that a class is built on.
21st Century Skills – The 21st Century Skills come in different sizes, flavors, and colors. Typically they will represent the 4 C’s that include Critical Thinking, Communication, Collaboration, and Creativity. These four areas can be broken down into supporting indicators. Since collaboration is at the heart of PBL it should always be included, facilitated, and assessed. One or more of the other C’s should be intentionally included and assessed. Unpacking the standards can allow a teacher to take note of the verbs in a standard. Many times these verbs entail those important 21st century skills. Last, there are a few other C’s to mention such as Citizenship (including digital), Character, and Cyber (Technology).
Formative and Summative Assessment–Obtaining progress data is imperative and typical summative assessment can be employed. After-all this will help students prepare for many of those high stake tests that continue to prevail. Also, keep in mind that a summative form of assessment can go far beyond a written test. Also, consider ideas of performance, product, and demonstration of knowledge. Just as important, if not more so, is formative assessment. While this might be graded, the emphasis should be on the learning and improving. These formative pieces could be activities, discussions, check offs, conferences, organic discussions, conversations, benchmarks, games, practice,  and group metacognition. Equally important is a formative assessment that allows for critique from teacher. All of this should  focus on review and reflection by peers and the individual. Through these processes students will become aware of “how to learn” and will discover and practice the flow, cycle, and iterations that are the essence of learning.
Intentional , Aligned, Varied, and Constant Assessment –  In PBL the content standards, skills, and assessment are intentionally planned to assure that the project and process provide a high quality and rigorous learning experience. The project components and scaffolding are aligned to the standards. This ensures that the entire project including entry, questions, student inquiry, lessons, activities, rubric, assessment, and products are in sync. This intentional planning and alignment allows curricular content and 21st century skills to be activated, assessed, and in balance. Most of all assessment must be constant. While the idea of formative implies this, I think it is important to keep in mind that this also means ongoing and constant. Keep in mind that assessment must be varied to meet all students needs. Most of all, final assessment must lead to the student as owner of the assessment. There are a variety of individuls that can provide feedback along the way including teacher, mentor, parent, and peer… but self assessment might be the most important.

Reflection on Grounded in Standards

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 important content providing that needed foundation. In a world
that is seeing content multiply at an expositional rate, it is also important to help students become seekers of knowledge and lifetime self-learners. Along with those additional 21t century skills, PBL provides the avenue to both build the content
foundation while activating the natural ability to learn that is inherent in all humans.

Resources For Ground in Assessment

  • OER Commons – A great place for open and free content aligned to the standards.
  • The Padagogy Wheel – A wonderful wheel full of great verbs for doing, aligned activities, and amazing tech apps. Best of all it aligns with SAMR and Blooms.
  • P21 – Become familiar with the amazing site that focuses on the 4C’s. You will find research, rubrics, and some wonderful ideas.
  • Webb’s Depth of Kowledge – Take a read through this ASCD artcle entitled, “What EXACTLY Is Depth of Knowledge? (Hint: It’s NOT a Wheel!)”. It really is a great read and emphasizes the need to take standards to their highest level of learning.
  • Standards, Content, Alignment in PBL Series – Be sure to check out my four part series that wil help you with grounding and aligning content standards in PBL. Read the first post… and the keep reading those that follow.
  • BIE Rubrics – Check out these 21st century skill rubric listed at the BUCK Institute. Make it part of your formative assessment.
  • Resources for Assessment in PBL – Looking for tools and strategies for effective assessment in project-based learning? To support you, Edutopia has assembled this guide to helpful resources.
  • Performance Task PD – Ready to go beyond traditional assessment? Check out this seven part blog series on performance tasks by Jay McTighe.
  • Follett Challenge – Take a look at these videos of contest entry videos providing a wonderful look at projects that provide connections in multiple ways.
  • Gold Standard PBL: Align to Standards –  John Larmer at BIE begins by asking the question, why aligning a project to standards deserves to be called out on the list of best PBL practices.

Did you enjoy this series? Take some time take another look at all of the seven block that so important to student learning. I have listings to all of the posts below. Also, consider contacting me at  (mjgormans@gmail.com) for your next professional development. I look forward to being a part of your school’s  or organization’s inservice!

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 . Its also not to early to begin thinking of spring, summer, and fall of 2018! Please take a look at my Booking Page to see how I could be part of your school PD or Conference plans. Thanks so much.  Michael Gorman (mjgormans@gmail.com).

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F is for Focused on Connections: The ABC’s of PBL … Building Blocks to Transform Learning

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Welcome to this sixth post in a series that promotes PBL and 21st Century Learning through the examination of Seven Building Blocks. In this sixth post, I feel it is important to point out the importance of connecting learning both inside and outside of the curriculum. When we connect the dots with students a new level of real understanding is possible. Before reading, please take a moment to subscribe by email or RSS, and also give me a follow… on Twitter at mjgormans. I promise you will find some wonderful information coming your way in the posts that follow…So sign up now and please pass this on with a retweet. Also, remember you can book me for a conference or your school district with workshops that are informative, engaging, and practical. Check out my Booking Page and as always… thanks so much!  I am taking dates for 2018 with 2017  full… in fact 2018 dates are going fast!  Mike Gorman (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/)

Note: I am honored to be a featured speaker at FETC in Orlando, FL this January 2018. I will be conducting workshops and sessions. please click here to learn more about FETC and my sessions. I really do hope to see you there.

F is for Focused on Connections: The ABC’s of PBL … Building Blocks to Transform Learning by Michael Gorman at https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/

Knowledge does not thrive in isolation. In fact, content knowledge is only useful to students when applied to concepts found outside the classroom. For students, PBL allows for connections that provide important links from their knowledge acquisition to their real world experiences.  Sometimes these connections allow student to use areas of past knowledge to understand and construct new knowledge… many times the role of a PBL Launch or Entry Event. Equally important are connections to future career and college possibilities. While interdisciplinary planning is not a prerequisite for effective PBL, such design and planning can show students that subjects are connected and intertwined. This can be difficult in many school settings and it is recommended that a teacher’s very first project possibly be initiated in their subject area without a team approach. Even in this way a teacher could show connections by bringing in other subject standards, career/ college possibilities, and connections to community. As teachers become more
proficient they may branch out and begin to design multidiscipline projects with other teachers. Perhaps the most exciting possibilities in education come with a questions that brings in all the disciplines as can be found in Transdisciplinary Learning. While this maynot be a starting place it could be a long term vision. As we travel this journey remeber the statement by John Dewey, “Method means that arrangement of subject matter which makes it most effective in use. Never is method something outside of the material.”
1. One or More Career and College Concepts
2. At least One Community Focus (school… local… world)
3. One or More Standards from Another Discipline(s)
4.Transdisciplinary (connections by question)
One or More Career and College Concepts – While students become exposed to content standards they may begin to find areas of interests, strengths, and passion. A PBL project might allow a student to discover such future possibilities while addressing the pathways
needed to seek out their interests. It might even be the final project reflection that causes students to take a future course. Other concepts could be career related skills that employers so much want to see in their future workforce. PBL can allow students to experience, practice, and perfect such skills. Note the emphasis of career first… college is really just one pathway.
At least One Community Focus (school… local… world) – Connecting to the community outside of the classroom is essential to PBL. It is often the motivating factor in creating quality work. It is always rewarding to perform work, obtain skills, and learn
content that makes a real difference to the world. The community might extend to a classroom down the hall, another school in the district, the local community, or the world. Best of all technology provides new and amazing ways to create new possibilities in this connection.
One or More Standards from Another Discipline – Students need to see how the disciplines they study in school do not stand in isolation, but are integrated. Teachers do not have to team teach to make this a possibility. Through collaboration and planning
they can share a few of those important power standards. Imagine the power of students seeing the same concepts in more than one subject. PBL can make this a possibility allowing schools to focus on some of those more difficult standards through multiple disciplines.
Transdisciplinary – The idea of merging multiple classes together for a time period could be powerful and allow student to see new connections which may help support understanding. This type of team teaching is not always possible in every schedule,
but teachers can share the same students through different class periods. In either case, there must be some deliberate attempt to create a master schedule that allows for sharing of students and teacher planning time. A Transdisciplinary approach demands that the project be designed with an over-arcrching question that is answered through the connected disciplines. There is a real authenticity because the question realy does drive the standards regardless of the discipline. This is one of the ultimate goals as educators advance in the PBL process.

Reflection on Focused on Connections

Allowing students to see connections outside of the content standards is an important theme found in PBL. There are multitudes of ways to facilitate connections as highlighted in these indicators. It only when connections are made that learning becomes meaningful and students become engaged to the purpose of deeper learning. As the culture of PBL permeates the classroom it is exciting to watch the excitement in students as they begin to make their own connections.

Resources For Focused on Connections

  • iEarn – Join interactive curriculum-based groups where students are creating, researching, sharing opinions and becoming global citizens.
  • Finland Research Article – Read how Finland is pushing to ditch single class subjects.
  • Roots and Shoots – Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots is the Jane Goodall Institute’s (JGI) global youth-led community action program, comprised of thousands of young people as they connect knowledge and service with the real world.
  • Transdisciplinary Learning – How does Transdisciplinary learning really differ from Interdisciplinary learning.  Read this from the IB Schools.
  • College and Career Ready from Achieve – Created in 1996 by a bipartisan group of governors and business leaders, Achieve is a nonprofit education organization that has spent two decades leading the effort to help states make college and career readiness a priority for all students.
  • Edutopia Resources for Building Community Partnerships – Learn how schools can benefit from the support and expertise of local businesses, organizations, and individuals, and discover strategies for fostering successful business and community partnerships
  • Entry Events for PBL – An entry event or project launch can help make connections between what students already know and what they are going to learn. Learn more about how to make this connection even more powerful.
  • ePals – Another wonderful stite allowing students to collaborate across the globe. Check out the amazing possibilities.
  • Taking it Global –  Visit one of the world’s leading networks of young people learning about, engaging with, and working towards tackling global challenges.
  • The Globe Program –  Take a look at this organization that inspires to promote the teaching and learning of science, enhance environmental literacy and stewardship, and promote scientific discovery.

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. I am booked through the rest of the 2017.   I suggest looking at your spring, summer, and fall 2018 calendars as dates are going fast! Please take a look at my Booking Page to see how I could be part of your school PD or Conference plans. Thanks so much.  Michael Gorman (mjgormans@gmail.com).

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E is for Endless Inquiry: The ABC’s of PBL … Building Blocks to Transform Learning

 

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Welcome to this fifth post in a series that promotes PBL and 21st Century Learning through the examination of Seven Building Blocks. In this post, I would like to provide thoughts involving the importance of supporting inquiry in the classroom. Student owned inquiry is at the heart of powerful learning opportunities. It is my intent to provide some answers and instill some new questions.  Before reading, please take a moment to subscribe by email or RSS, and also give me a follow… on Twitter at mjgormans. I promise you will find some wonderful information coming your way in the posts that follow…So sign up now and please pass this on with a retweet. Also, remember you can book me for a conference or your school district with workshops that are informative, engaging, and practical. Check out my Booking Page and as always… thanks so much!  I am taking dates for 2018 with 2017 now full…  Mike Gorman (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/)

Note: Join me at FETC for some very special workshops and session. I am proud to be a featured speaker and do I hope I see you there. Best of all it is in sunny Orlando, Florida January 23-26, 2018….  Learn more at: http://www.fetc.org

E is for Endless Inquiry: The ABC’s of PBL … Building Blocks to Transform Learning by Michael Gorman at https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/

Project Based Learning supports a child’s natural tendency to acquire and learn more about the world they are a part of. The very hook that engages the student the very sense of inquiry of the world of which they are a part of.  As in many Inquiry Based Models, PBL begins with an Investigative Question. This question could be called the open question, focus question, driving question, essential question, or probing question. The investigative nature of the question cannot be answered in a yes or no, but instead must call for student investigation. It will require students  to uncover their need to know. As students find answers, they discover new questions of a more sophisticated in nature. This begins an upward spiral allowing for deeper learning and understanding. This is often seen as a repeated convergent to divergent process that becomes more complex with each cycle.. Students need to learn how to ask questions, understand various ways to investigate, and become familiar with research techniques whether it is through metacognition, collaboration, traditional fact finding, or digital literacy.

1. The Investigative Question
2. Student Inquiry
3. Spiraling Questions and Answers
4. Skill Based

Investigative Question (IQ) – Project Based Learning relies on a question that is open and allows for student investigation and inquiry. This simple inquiry and investigation will help guide the project. If an answer is qualified by just a yes or no reply, there
is no project. The questions can be one that is formulated by the teacher or worked out by the students. It may have a final answer that is completely open-ended, or possibly could have a prescribed answer in which case it may align more with PrBL
(Problem Based Learning). In all cases, it must connect and be aligned with the curriculum standards. The more engaging and open the question, the more it allows for an investigation that spirals.
Student Owned Inquiry – In PBL students should begin to list their own questions (need to know) after becoming acquainted with the Investigative Question. This initial investigation is a brainstorming session. As new questions are asked, the teacher does
not answer any of them, but instead accepts all possibility inquiry. Looking for answers will be a task for the students as they begin their journey into further inquiry, employing different investigation and research techniques. Some answer will be provided through
teacher facilitated learning opportunities and activities. Best of all, the inquiry is student owned and generated and leads to further investigation and engagement.
Spiraling Questions and Answers – As students answer question through the PBL process they will also think of new questions. This is a process of converging and later diverging ideas as new knowledge (content standards) are uncovered. This is one
way a teacher facilitates students into uncovering, while not covering the curriculum. In PBL this is much more than an inquiry cycle because the inquiry becomes deeper with ongoing iterations. It is for this reason that the question investigation is an ongoing process that ultimately can be described as an inquiry spiral. This spiral not only amplifies the inquiry but also deepens the learning.
Skill Based – The inquiry process in PBL is deliberate and planned out by the teacher. It must have the opening investigative question, student investigation beginning with need to know, lesson and activity mapping, product outcome, plus final and ongoing assessment that is aligned to the content standards and skills. Students learn how to investigate research, collaborate, self-learn, analyze, evaluate, and even derive information from traditional lectures, readings, and resources along with the vast amount of possibilities that can be found online. The skills demand not only the ability to find answers, but the skill search for information, evaluate the resources, and ask new questions.

Reflection on Endless Inquiry
Project Based Learning facilitates and activates that essential human desire to learn, investigate, and inquire. It fosters the ability to ask good questions while seeking possible answers and solutions. It is often stated that the only thing better then great answers, are great questions. A PBL Unit facilitates the student process of inquiry while seeking knowledge, along with high level skills that will serve a lifetime of learning.

Resources For Blended with Technology

  • The Right Question Institute – Inquiry is the foundation for great thinking and metacognition. Here you will learn how to not just find answers, but also how to construct great questions. This is an amazing process that will scaffold your students to “genuine  learning’ with life long possibilities.
  • Google Advanced Search – Stop sending your students to just the Basic Search… instead show them how to use the Google Advanced Search. I have an article to get you started.
  • Genius Hour – This site might just help you get started in providing students the opportunity to learn how to learn, while practicing self-regulation. Best of all, it supports that important voice and choice along with spiraling inquiry!  It really encourages that important Maker’s Culture that so many schools are employing.
  •  Wonder Wall Edutopia article  – Read this article on how creating a Wonder Wall provides ways to incorporate the inquiry in the classroom.  It really can help build a culture of wonder.
  • Smithsonian Learning Lab – Explore this amazing resource to create wonder and excitement in the classroom.
  • Google Search Education – With the materials on this site, you can help your students become skilled searchers, whether they’re just starting out with search, or ready for more advanced training
  • SearchResearch -Discover this blog about search, search skills, teaching search, learning how to search, learning how to use Google effectively,  and learning how to do research. It also covers a good deal of making sense of research and information foraging.
  • Driving Question Series – Learn all about Driving Questions in this two-part series hosted at my blog, 21centuryedtech.
  • Education Resources for Web Literacy – In a world of information overload, it is vital for students to be able to find information on the Web, as well as to determine its validity and appropriateness. Alan November’s web literacy materials demystify the process on the web so you can impart the vital skills students need to be safe, competent, and successful 21st century learners.
  • Facilitating Inquiry in the Classroom – Check out my series of posts that provide multiple ways to facilitate inquiry. This link leads to the first post… be sure to check the posts that follow for a goldmine of information.

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. I am now almost booked through the rest of the 2017 and the 2018 calendar is filling fast.  It’s also not to early to begin thinking of spring, summer, and autumn PD for 2018! Please take a look at my Booking Page to see how I could be part of your school PD or Conference plans. Thanks so much.  Michael Gorman (mjgormans@gmail.com).

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D is for Developmental and Formative: The ABC’s of PBL … Building Blocks to Transform Learning

d_pbl

Welcome to the fourth post in a series that promotes PBL and 21st Century Learning through the examination of Seven Building Blocks. In this fourth post, I would like to examine how education must be both developmentally appropriate fir students while providing formative learning experiences and assessments. These two concepts allow the education experience to proceed in a powerful and natual progression that is neccessary if true learning  is to take place.  Before reading, please take a moment to subscribe by email or RSS, and also give me a follow… on Twitter at mjgormans. I promise you will find some wonderful information coming your way in the posts that follow…So sign up now and please pass this on with a retweet. Also, remember you can book me for a conference or your school district with workshops that are informative, engaging, and practical. Check out my Booking Page and as always… thanks so much!  I am taking dates for 2018 with 2017 now full…  start thinking of next spring, summer, and autumn….  Mike Gorman (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/)

Note: Join me at FETC for some very special workshops and session. I am proud to be a featured speaker and do I hope I see uou there. Best of all it is in sunny Orlandoi Florida January 23-26, 2018….  Learn more at: http://www.fetc.org

D is for Developmental and Formative: The ABC’s of PBL … Building Blocks to Transform Learning…  by Michael Gorman at https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/

Project Based Learning is so much more then covering content though lecture and reading followed by doing a project to show what one has learned. The project is the vehicle and journey that allows the students to get to a final destination with new learning as a reward. That final destination is a project that has been built along a highway filled with on and off ramps allowing for experiences filled with individual and collaborative investigation, research, experimentation, inquiry, metacognition, and authentic learning, These ramps have been built intentionally by the teachers to provide that important metacognition, process, cycles, and map that will allow the project to be so much more than a noun, but  also a verb built on action and process. John Dewey probably said it best in the following statement.

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

Let’s take a look at the following ideas that re prt of this developmwntal and formative process. Be sure to also enjoy  the provided resources. They will allow you to really dig deeper into the process.

1. Metacognition (Thinking about Thinking)
2. Emphasis on Process over Product  (Doing)
3. Cycles of Formative Learning (Iterative Learning Process)
4. Map for Learning
Metacognition (Thinking about Thinking) – Often  two terms metacognition and thinking are used together to demonstrate the need for students to be aware and reflective in their learning. It allows for a deeper learning by asking students to think, critique, and apply learning. So many times, in a rush to get to the next content objective, education fails to allow students to focus on their learning. In PBL this happens at the entry event, through out cycle of lerning, and at toward the close of the project. Perhaps one of the most important post reflections might be… what can I now do with my learning?  It is important that students have that opportunity to think about thinking.
Emphasis on Process over Product (Doing) – PBL emphasizes the importance of the journey and not so much the destination. While the final product can be a wonderful and exciting occurrence, the journey is filled with important contents standards, skills,
experiences, and intellectual growth. As John Dewey reminds educators, it really is the doing. There is an emphasis on the verbs found in the standards highlighting Bloom’s higher orders of process. It not just what one learned in school today… it is what one did!
Cycles of Formative Learning – Note that this indicator is a reminder, stating the importance of reflecting on the concept of formative learning. It is through a process of formative assessment that a teacher guides and activates student learning in a
formative manner. As a student goes through setbacks and successes there is a growth, much like arriving at the next level of a video game. Students learn to produce quality  products by working through cycles of teacher, peer, and self-critique. This cycle of learning turns into a flow while promoting and facilitating perseverance. It is at this point that formative assessment really becomes fomative learning with the individual learner perhaps being the best judge. Students conquer higher level content, while building on skills that will serve them in future schooling and the job place.
Map for Learning – By looking at unpacked standards and student learning targets, educators design lessons and activities that allow learning to take place throughout a project. This may include using past lessons teachers may have always had, along with
new lessons that might incorporate 21st century skills and digital technology. These activities are then placed in an intentional order along a unit timeline, culminating in a final product. The activities and opportunities are differentiated, providing an opportunity for all learnerning styles. Students can even provide input to this map or scaffold.  This map allows the project to be so much more than a destination, it allows it to be a learning process.

Reflection

As one can see Project Based Learning is very intentional. The teacher truly is a designer, facilitator, and activator. There is a constant formative process allowing for student progress through metacognition, iterative cycles, and learning experiences. It is an exciting journey for both teachers and students, one where each side trip adds to the entire process. The destination is bound to be filled with a celebration of learning and new possibilities!

Resources For Developmental and Formative

  • Students Reflect On a 21century Competency Rubric – Be sure to visit the BUCK Institute (BIE) and check out their rubrics. The link will take you there. Have students reflect on one portion of the rubric. It can be an exit ticket or a journal exercise.
  • GoFormative – A great digital tool to get real time feedback in a multitude of ways on any device. Very easy to use.
  • Habits of the Mind Institute – Take a moment to become familiar with these important “Habits of the Mind”  concepts that will encourage the important thinking and metacognition to support “genuine learning”.
  • BIE Student Learning Guide – Take a look at this amazing map for learning at the BUCK instutute. Be sure to check out the examples and download the form to create your own PBL map or scaffold.
  • Going Beyond Group Assessment for Learning – This could hacve been an assessment resource but instead I decided to put it with formative and developmental learning. The author, John McCarthy has also written a wonderful book filled with ideas and reflection… So All Can Learn
  • Beautiful Work – Check out this free article by Ron Berger, an amazing educators. When finished you just might want to check out his book, An Ethic of Excellence.
  • 5E Learning Cycle – Chck out some links to one of my favorite cycles for learning from thses selctions compiled at Wayne RESA.
  • Metacognition – Get familiar with the idea along with some great applications from Vanderbilt University.
  • Formative Teaching and Learning – Check out this article from the Teaching Channel.
  • Activities for Metacognition – You will find some great activities to get your students to think about thinking from the DePaul Teaching Commons.

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. I am now booked through the rest of the 2017 calendar.  It’s  not to early to begin thinking of 2018! Please take a look at my Booking Page to see how I could be part of your school PD or Conference plans. Thanks so much.  Michael Gorman (mjgormans@gmail.com).

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C is for Centered on Students: The ABC’s of PBL … Building Blocks to Transform Learning

 

c_pbl

Welcome to this third post in a series that promotes PBL and 21st Century Learning through the examination of Seven Building Blocks. In this third post, I feel it is important to stress the importance of a student centered classroom.  It is only when we get our students to own the learning, that really great things can happen. Before reading, please take a moment to subscribe by email or RSS, and also give me a follow… on Twitter at mjgormans. I promise you will find some wonderful information coming your way in the posts that follow…So sign up now and please pass this on with a retweet. Also, remember you can book me for a conference or your school district with workshops that are informative, engaging, and practical. Check out my Booking Page and as always… thanks so much!  I am taking dates for 2018 with 2017 just about full…  Mike Gorman (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/)

Note: Join me at FETC for some very special workshops and session. I am proud to be a featured speaker and do I hope I see uou there. Best of all it is in sunny Orlandoi Florida January 23-26, 2018….  Learn more at: http://www.fetc.org/

C is for Centered on Students: The ABC’s of PBL … Building Blocks to Transform Learning by Michael Gorman at https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/

One of the most powerful attributes of Project Based Learning is that it is both student centered and driven. The student autonomy may come in varying degrees depending on student age, student experience with PBL, and teacher experience and comfort in both facilitating and activating a PBL learning experience. PBL at its most powerful stage is a deep learning experience allowing students to self-regulate and gain insight into their own learning process. PBL employs student ownership, voice and choice, personalized and relevant experiences, and a culture of learning that can drive
engagement, rigor, and student success.
1. Engagement (Activation)
2. Ownership (Self-Regulated)
3. Personalized (Student Voice)
4. Student Driven Culture
Engagement and Activation – A project engages and activates student learning through its authenticity and inquiry. This produces a learning culture where students are in a flow. The project begins with a staging activity event that provides an age
appropriate and high interest hook. This activity activates student inquiry that should be aligned with curricular content and skill based outcomes. This is the very first step at getting each student to own their learning.  This engagement is powerful because it often relies on past knowledge and nuild new knowledge from prior learning. This connection helps in both activating the learning and engaging students.
Ownership (Self Regulated) – A goal of PBL is for the student to gain ownership of the learning and the process associated with learning. In a true PBL environment the teachers is a partner that not just facilitates, but activates this process. The goal is
learning that becomes self-regulated by the student. The amount of ownership will depend on student maturity, comfort, and past experience with PBL. The teacher must also have a comfort level built on experience in the PBL classroom. The steps from
teacher controlled to student autonomy may come in increments,, and teachers should feel free to begin at the bottom of the stairs when they first implement. As students begin to own the learning a new classroom synergy becomes evident.
Personalized (Student Voice) – A student centered learning environment allows student to choose how to learn, within given parameters, that can support essential content and skills. This personalized ownership begins with giving students voice and choice in certain areas, eventually growing to a large part of the process as comfort levels and experience rises. When students have a voice and choice there is an exciting empowerment which leads to wonderful engagement. This voice and choice may be a say in classroom operations, creation of contracts, choosing tools to demonstrate learning, and even deciding on an interest within the boundaries of the standards. The teacher in a PBL classroom provides differentiation using grouping, roles, one on one conversations during group work time, and tasks in the scaffold. At the highest levels of PBL students become familiar with their strength and strategies in learning. Having the ability to personalize the learning experience students can often see relevance of the why and what they are learning. They are able to take with them an important skill of lifelong learning which will serve them beyond their formal schooling.
Student Driven Culture – A student centered PBL classroom and related project portrays a unique and powerful culture that embraces and fosters learning. Students learn what it means to be a member of a Personal Learning Community. The classroom
is a place of opportunity, wonder, expression, excitement, and knowledge. Critique and revision by individuals and peers are a common place and performed in a kind, caring, and effective manner. Norms are established and protocols are honored. The idea of process and formative learning trumps content acquisition, although content is still rich and becomes more vibrant. Learning is student regulated. The students in a true PBL classroom genuinely display an understanding that they really do own their learning.

Reflection

Learning will always be most powerful when the student is in the center of the experience. Putting the student in the center provides a motivation and engagement that will serve well beyond the formal education years. Perhaps the most learning a child ever does is in those years before school. These are years when a child is in the center asking observing, questioning, and trying. There is no formal instruction, and perhaps that is for the best. PBL allows students to go back to that amazing time period of wonder and excitement while the teacher carefully crafts experiences and activates possibilities while keeping in mind that the student must be in the center.

Resources For Centered on the Student

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. I am now almost booked through the rest of the 2017 and my 2018 calendar is filling fast.  Its also not to early to begin thinking of  the spring summer, and autumn of 2018! Please take a look at my Booking Page to see how I could be part of your school PD or Conference plans. Thanks so much.  Michael Gorman (mjgormans@gmail.com).

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