5 Ideas from ICE & DCSS 2019

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to attend two excellent conferences ICE, which helps teachers learn about edtech, and DCSS which focuses on improving Social Studies instruction.

Here were some a few of my takeaways from both conferences:

#1 Challenge students to ask more questions and solve real problems (via @BusEdCrev , inspired by @joykirr

  • Students need to learn how to learn. Teachers shouldn’t do everything for students (like someone has done for this man his whole life). 
  • The inventor of the Rubik cube reminds us that questions are often more important than answers; when the right person finds the right question, amazing things happen. This video is a great way to kick off Genius Hour, Passion Projects, 20% time, etc). 
  • When we empower students to ask questions and solve problems, they will begin to see themselves in a new light (like this newly empowered cat).
  • This  brainstorming guide can help students identify a powerful question or problem to guide their research. Don’t short change this step! Students have become accustomed to answering our questions so they generally need a lot of help constructing an effective focus that can guide their work for many months.
  • Similar to how consultants, lawyers, etc. track their billable time, ask students to carefully chart how they use class time & set goals at the end of every class.

#2 If a group of student asked you to kneel with them during the national anthem—would you? (via @kevindua

  • Situation: Five of your students come to meet you after class and share, “We’re planning on kneeling during the national anthem at the next pep rally to protest black oppression & police violence, do you think we should do it?  Will you join us?”
    • What would you ask them prior to your response?
    • Do you think they should do it? (Why or why not)
    • Would you join them? (Why or why not)
    • What is your school’s “policy” on the anthem participation?
    • Would you encourage other students/teachers to join?
    • How does your response support or oppose a culture of violence?
  • Instead of just discussing theoretically what we would do in the situation below, Kevin had us actually stand, sit, or kneel.
  • Takeaway: Don’t be afraid of making teachers feel a little uncomfortable during professional development, it empowers them to step out of their comfort zones when they return to their classrooms.
  • Establish norms so that students (and teachers) are willing to take risks:
    • Try to be curious & present
    • Recognize intent vs impact
    • Be an active learner & participant
    • Anticipate different views
    • Share what makes sense to share
    • Respectfulness is earned, not mandatory
    • Nurture/nature shapes our identities, culture & climate

#3 Make your curriculum a mirror of & a window into your students diverse identities (via Carolyn Wahlskog of 360 Youth Services) 

  • Examine your curriculum is it a mirror (which encourages students to reflect on their own social identities) and a mirror (which affirms students’ diverse social identities & experiences)?
  • Caolyn shared a great visual for getting a quick overview of the differences between gender identity, gender expression, biological sex, and attraction
genderbread-person-3.3
SOURCE: itspronouncedmetrosexual

 

#4 Combat the Drop in Reading Comprehension of Digital Texts (via @Stacey0410 & @AmyRolain

  • Research shows that there is a small decline in reading comprehension of digital texts compared to print.
  • Just as we teach reading strategies for textbooks, we need to explicitly show students how to read digital texts which often include more pictures, videos, and (hyper)linked content.
  • We can also format digital texts to increase rates of comprehension. The Nielsen Norman Group offers the following tips:  
  1. Use headings and subheadings. Ensure they look more important, and are more visible, than normal text so users may distinguish them quickly.
  2. Start headings and subheadings with the words carrying most information: if users see only the first 2 words, they should still get the gist of the following section.
  3. Visually group small amounts of related content — for instance, by surrounding them with a border or using a different background.
  4. Bold important words and phrases.
  5. Take advantage of the different formatting of links, and ensure that links include information-bearing words (instead of generic “go”, “click here” or “more”). This technique also improves accessibility for users who hear links read aloud instead of scanning the content visually.
  6. Use bullets and numbers to call out items in a list or process.
  7. Cut unnecessary content.

#5 Show Students What We’ve Done to the Earth in 3 Seconds (via @kimbarbaro & Matt Boyer)

  • See what human’s have done to the Earth in 3 seconds
  • The National Geographic Learning Framework and Educator Guides are great resources for creating hands-on geography projects for K-12 students.
    • Example: Have students geo-tag all the trash in a defined area, analyze the data, and implement a solution for reducing littering. Act locally, think globally!

98a6ae70-e9a7-4863-8b13-4fee04ac793b

  • Survey123 by ArcGis can help students collect geo-tagged data and analyze the data to help answer research questions.
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