Top 10 Takeaways from ICE 2018

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.

SOURCE: Filip Warwick

Here are some resources to help teachers create tech (text) sets for your curriculum:

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?

Extra Credit

Formative Assessment

Homework

Late Work Penalty

Points

Redos/Revisions

Reflection

Rubrics

Standards

Summative Assessment

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.

giphy

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!

Book Suggestions: Never Send a Human to do a Machine’s Job and Make it Stick

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:

    1. 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.
    2. Question Formulation Technique (@rightquestion). To learn more check out A More Beautiful Question and Make Just One Change
    3. 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
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. Universal Questions: Commit to memory and make a poster with these questions:
      • How might we….
      • What if….
      • What else…
      • Yes and…
    7. 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?”
    8. 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.
    9. Shrug More Often: Create a habit where students and teachers seek answers to questions on their own. Don’t answer everything for them!
    10. 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?
    11. 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.

Sarah has created a Google Form that guides students through the design process which creates a slick Google Doc to help students prototype & set intermediate deadlines.

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.

(Due: ___________________)

Step Eight: Make Model/Prototype

Try your idea on a small scale.

(Due: ___________________)

Step Nine: Test & Evaluate

Run your prototype! What worked well/what didn’t?

(Due: ___________________)

Step Ten: Refine/Improve

Figure out how you can tweak your model or idea to make it work.

(Due: ___________________)

Step Eleven: Create and Implement Model/Project

Go for the gold!

(Due: ___________________)

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.

3 Takeaways from the 2017 SIOP National Conference

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to attend and present at the SIOP National Conference at the end of June. Although I gained a lot of ideas & strategies I can bring to my class, here are 3 things I hope to apply to my classroom this year:

1) Prepare students for a broader range of academic discourse

Most people believe there are two distinct modes of communication—how we talk with our friends & family and how we read and write at school & work. Conversational language (popularly known as BICS or Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills) versus academic language are false dichotomies. In schools, workplaces, and daily life, there are a range of settings that require some use of academic language.

As teachers, we must be aware of the academic language demands on our students and strive to prepare them from a wide variety of language needs. We can do this by not just assigning strictly academic papers by writing, reading, and speaking for a wider variety of authentic contexts.

2) Give students significantly more meaningful interaction with new words

Dr. Deborah Short shared research that shows that students need 12-15 meaningful exposures to a word before it becomes a part of their lexicon.

How can we create word-rich schools?

  • Create word walls so students can easily review and use new words
  • Collaborate with teachers across subject areas to coordinate which words are taught and deliberately design assignments that elicit the use of new vocabulary
  • Teach root words! Teaching a short list of root words (and reviewing them throughout the year!) can help students understand thousands of words that are unfamiliar to them.

3) Read aloud to students more often

In the book In Defense of Read Aloud Prof. Steven Layne argues that teachers should skillfully use their diction, volume, pace, tone and pitch to bring texts to life. Reading aloud helps students see and hear the narrative and appreciate stories in ways silent reading never could. Reading out loud for students has clear benefits:

  • Students can access texts that contain vocabulary, text structures, etc, more than 2 grade levels above their current reading level
  • Fosters positive attitudes toward books & texts
  • Exercises students’ imagination
  • Builds background knowledge
  • Reinforces & improves reading skills
  • Provides a model of prosody and fluency
  • Broader interests in genres
  • Increases cultural sensitivity (if the appropriate texts are selected)
  • Improves listening skills

 

Rethinking the DBQ

Offering students productive diversity creates memorable learning experiences because they are tailored to students interests & needs. Productive diversity encourages learning activities in which students:

  • are designers of knowledge
  • work collaboratively to offer feedback
  • differentiate the process & pace of learning
  • reach similar but high goals

I recently tried to offer English Language Learners productive diversity while they studied the transatlantic slave trade. Instead of asking all students to analyze the same documents/primary sources and write the same Document Based Question (DBQ) essay, students worked in pairs to create first-person video stories about an African’s journey from Africa .  Students used a free online video editing tool (WeVideo), primary sources, and this rubric to create their videos.

For the most part, the project demonstrated productive diversity because

  • Students developed their own understanding of the slave trade by analyzing documents in order to come to their own conclusions.
  • They worked in peers to offer feedback on the storyline and historical details.
  • There was some differentiation of the pace but all students created a video.
  • There were different degrees of imagination, historical detail and audio & video editing students could tackle but they were assessed with the same flexible rubric.

Here is a sample video of the final product:

Strategies for Teaching Social Studies to ELLs

As we near the beginning of the school year, I thought it would be helpful for me to brush up on some strategies and develop a few more tools for the teaching toolbox this year. Below are some guides that I found helpful, see links below. 

  • ELLs and Social Studies (NYU) 
    • Analyzes difficulties with multiple meanings of common social studies words
    • Provides strategies to deepen students comprehension of challenging texts with examples of application: T-Notes, analogies, cause-effect chains, concept circles
    • How to brainstorm to activate prior knowledge 
    • Previewing content vocabulary 
    • When, if ever, to use multiple choice questions 
    • Teaching students to self-assess
SOURCE: http://steinhardt.nyu.edu/

 

    • Making Social Studies Meaningful for ELL Students (Long Island University: Szpara & Ahmad) 
      • An academic paper but contains a number of research-based specific suggestions for teaching ELLs: 
        • Develop a Socially Supportive Classroom Environment: 
          • Learn students’ given/ethnic names 
          • Learn basic greetings in various languages 
          • Explicitly voice high expectations for all students 
        • Explicitly teach Cognitive Academic Language 
          • Give instruction in literacy skills
          • Teach how to decode new terms 
          • Teach how to skim & scan 
        • Reduce Cognitive Load and Increase Accessibility of Complex Content Knowledge: 
          • Translate key words in English instructions for DBQs 
          • Utilize visual supports 
          • Use graphic organizers—write down all important information 
 
      • Visualizing Social Studies Literacy 
        • Excellent specific examples of how to incorporate visuals that will increase accessibility for ELLS: 
          • Picture Dictionaries & Picture Books 
          • Historical Photographs 
          • Paintings & Illustrations 
          • Propaganda Posters 
          • Charts & Graphs 
          • Realia 
          • Timelines 
          • Graphic Organizers