The national ICE Conference (February 26-28, 2018) was an incredible opportunity learn from incredible teachers, instructional coaches, and administrators from around the U.S. Although the focus was on educational technology I was especially interested in sessions that addressed practical considerations for pedagogy.
Here are my Top 10 Takeaways from ICE 2018:
1. Teach Digital Literacy by Modeling how to See, Think, Wonder and Create
Kristin Ziemeke (@kristin_ziemeke) made a compelling case for the evolution of literacy (just think of all the different media you consumed during the past week!) Then, she offered a few ideas on how to improve digital literacy instruction.
First, we must continue to improve students’ underlying literacy skills and love for reading by offering:
- Choice: Students can often read a text that is to 2 grade levels higher than their current reading level when they get to choose the text they read.
- Volume: Provide many opportunities to read; libraries are more important than ever in this digital age.
- Authentic Response: Encourage students to respond to reading in authentic ways– informal discussions, journals, etc.
Second, while teaching digital literacy can seem daunting, we can model what we already do as expert readers for our students: see, think, and wonder. For example, we could project an image like the one below and model for students how we observe various details, then show what those details make us think about, and finally share the questions that arise in our minds.
Here are some resources to help teachers create tech (text) sets for your curriculum:
- Images: NYT Learning Network, Photos for Class, Wonderopolis, Unsplash ; Wordless News
- Videos: The Kid Should See This (short videos that work across subject areas)
Finally, Kristin argued that students need to spend more time creating media, not just consuming it. Currently, approximately 65% of the time teens are using digital technology they consume content but spend only 3% of their time creating it.
We should strive to design more assignments that allow students to create infographics, videos, blog posts, etc. The process of changing ideas from text to visual (or vice versa) leads to increased activity in both halves of the brain and deeper learning.
2. You Build or Break a Culture During Every Interaction
Joe Sanfelippo (@Joe_Sanfelippo ) reminded us that every interaction, whether it’s with a student, colleague or parent can build or break a school’s culture. It doesn’t take long! In 30 seconds we can promote great work of a colleague, thank someone, get to know a student, and more. Make every interaction count!
3. Reassess your Gradebook
Joy Kirr (@joykirr) pushed us to re-examine what, how, and why we grade in our classroom. A large body of evidence shows that feedback without a grade leads to the largest student growth.
There’s no one right way to do grades; but, we shouldn’t continue grading the way we’ve always done it because…that’s how it’s always been done. We have to stop being the monkey trying to grade everything and push students across the finish line (end of the quarter, semester, etc.):
The activity below can help re-examine our views on grading. For additional resources on feedback & grading, check out her impressive collection in her livebinder.
Sort the terms on the right into the categories on the left:
|What needs to be included in the gradebook?|
Late Work Penalty
0s for Missing Work
4. The 3 Keys to Successful PD: Learning, Experimenting and Reflecting
Kristi Sutter (@kristi_sutter) and her team at The Feast showed why all professional development must include time for teachers to experiment in a supported environment and, most importantly, reflect on what they learned so new tools & practices are integrated thoughtfully.
If you’re bold enough, practice radical transparency during extended professional development by asking participants to complete a feedback form multiple times. Then, read the feedback out loud and share what changes you will make as a result of their feedback.
5a. Affluent Students Need Grit
Dr. Kenneth Hoover argued that we’re mistaken if we believe the main purpose of teaching “grit” is to motivate students from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Students from less fortunate families often have had to learn how to overcome struggles their entire life while affluent students have experienced few major obstacles in life. Therefore, when affluent students face truly challenging academic curriculum they often don’t know what to do. Affluent students probably need to learn how to be gritty more than their less privileged peers.
For their entire lives many affluent students have had parents trying to brush away any obstacles along their path like curlers during the Olympics. It’s difficult for parents to let their son or daughter struggle because we always want to give our children more than what we had growing up. However, if we want to raise a resilient generation we must let them face hardships and persist.
5b) Practice should be Interwoven, Varied and Distributed
Using the above chart, Dr. Hoover also argued that we need to quiz/assess students more often; not for a grade but to improve long-term retention. True mastery is when students can apply a concept or skill to unfamiliar contexts. To prepare for this they must have varied and interwoven practice.
For example, hitters who just practice hitting curveballs do worse then those that focus on curve balls but mix in a variety of pitches during practice—that’s what they’ll see in a game!
6. Stop Assigning Fake Work
Kristine Ziemke (@KristinZiemke) challenged us to stop assigning “fake work” and strive to create opportunities for real work that is authentic, important, and relevant. When was the last time you made a diorama? Elementary school?
Have your students do work they will actually do outside of school. We no longer have to wait for the annual science fair to give students a broader audience; use technology to create authentic audiences and address real challenges that are relevant to students.
7. Address Teachers’ Mindsets before you deliver Professional Development
Cindy Crannell (@ccrannell) and Annmarie Clasky (@AClasky) shared why it’s important to introduce the concept of a growth mindset before presenting a new tool or strategy during PD. Too often teachers believe that learning how to use new technology is too hard; they’ll never get it, etc.
Teaching the growth mindset can help teachers self-monitor when they slip into the fixed mindset and try to move back into a growth mindset. This video can help introduce the concept of a growth mindset:
8. 11 Protocols for Creating a Culture of Questioning in your School
Kim Darche (@kimdarche) gave powerful yet practical suggestions for creating a questioning culture among students and adults in your building. While project based learning, genius hour, design thinking, etc are important trends in education, a critical prerequisite to any of them being successful is students’ ability to ask powerful questions. Unfortunately, this isn’t happening in most classrooms.
Research shows that on average teachers ask 200-300 questions/day while students ask only 2 questions/day. In an age where Alexa, Siri & Google are available at our fingertips there’s a greater need for problem finders than problem solvers.
11 tips for creating a culture of questioning:
- Only Questions Allowed: Get brains primed for questioning by asking pairs of students to have a conversation but only using questions. Once someone makes a statement instead of a question, they “lose” and rotate to a new partner.
- Question Formulation Technique (@rightquestion). To learn more check out A More Beautiful Question and Make Just One Change
- Dice Game: Post a topic for students (e.g. theme in a book, imperialism, climate change, right triangle, etc.). Then, in pairs or small groups students take turns rolling a dice. Based on the number they roll they have to:
- 1-Define it
- 2-Support it
- 3-Flip it
- 4-What is your stake in the ground about it?
- 5-Innovate it
- 6-Question it
- Rule of 5 (Inspired by Toyota): Ask Why 5 Times in a Row
- Start with any problem (e.g. There isn’t enough social & emotional support for students)
- Why isn’t there support? Lack of Resources
- Why aren’t there resources? They misallocate resources.
- Why aren’t priorities aligned with resources? The School Board doesn’t understand the problem.
- Why doesn’t the school board understand the problem? They don’t spend enough time in classrooms.
- These series of questions helps us get to the root cause of a problem.
- Start with any problem (e.g. There isn’t enough social & emotional support for students)
- Notecard: Write a problem on a notecard and ask someone else to solve it, this will give you valuable new perspectives. Too often we’re biased and don’t even realize it.
- Universal Questions: Commit to memory and make a poster with these questions:
- How might we….
- What if….
- What else…
- Yes and…
- Ask What, Not Why
- Asking someone ‘Why’ makes them defensive, ask ‘What’ instead
- E.g. Why didn’t you pay the bill? Makes us defensive. Instead ask “What happened to the bills this month?”
- Point of View:
- Present an issue then ask students to list 5-20 characters who might be involved in the situation and discuss what each of them would do. For example, for bullying students might list parents, teachers, counselors, school bus drivers, etc.
- Shrug More Often: Create a habit where students and teachers seek answers to questions on their own. Don’t answer everything for them!
- Follow every statement with a question: Help colleagues & students find the root cause of an issue by insisting that all statements be followed by a question (Source: Action Learning in Action). Without such a protocol it would be easy for discussions to devolve into a pity party. Here’s an example of the protocol:
- Statement: We have a large issue with physical aggression at our school.
- Q: How large of an issue is it?
- A: It happens every week.
- Q: Is it the same group of students?
- A: Yes …
- Q: Why is it those group of students?
- Use Deborah Meier’s Habits of Mind: Create a poster with these statements for your classroom —they can be used in nearly every subject area. Deborah Meir created an entire school centered on these 5 questions!
- Evidence: How do you know what’s true or false?
- Viewpoint: How might this look if we stepped into other shoes?
- Connections: Have we seen this before?
- Conjecture: What if it were different?
- Relevance: Why does this matter?
9. Portfolios Facilitate Student Ownership, Continuous Feedback and Learning Without Grades
Although I wasn’t able to attend their session, the materials Ana Thompson (@AnaAnamta15 ) & Lisa Berghoff (@LisaBerghoff ) shared demonstrated how portfolios create opportunities for frequent feedback and student ownership of learning—especially for ELs!
10. Students can apply Design Thinking in 12 (Fairly Easy) Steps
Sarah Thomas (@sarahdateechur) used her final project from the Google Innovator Academy to show how students can use design thinking to pursue their passions. She also shared the site Rock Your World (@rockyourworld70) which helps students address true global problems like human rights, discrimination, education, homelessness, human trafficking, food insecurity, women’s rights, and access to water.
Design Thinking Steps
|Step One: Define the Problem
What is your big idea?
|Step Two: Brainstorm Possible Solutions
What can you create or make to address the need identified in Step One?
|Step Three: Research Ideas/Explore Possibilities
Do a search, or draw upon your background knowledge to answer the following questions: What similar projects may be out there? How have they addressed this need? Where is there room for improvement?
|Step Four: Specify Constraints
What obstacles may be in your way to achieving your goal?
|Step Five: Consider Alternatives
How can you overcome these obstacles? Figure out as many possibilities as you can.
|Step Six: Select an Approach
Given the information from the first steps, which approach would be the best, and why?
|Step Seven: Develop Written Proposal
Come up with a brief plan, highlighting action steps that you plan to use.
|Step Eight: Make Model/Prototype
Try your idea on a small scale.
|Step Nine: Test & Evaluate
Run your prototype! What worked well/what didn’t?
|Step Ten: Refine/Improve
Figure out how you can tweak your model or idea to make it work.
|Step Eleven: Create and Implement Model/Project
Go for the gold!
|Step Twelve: Communicate Results
Use social media to speak about your experiences, and generate more buzz. This guide from The Sullivan Foundation gives some good advice, especially if you are involving students.