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
#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:
- Use headings and subheadings. Ensure they look more important, and are more visible, than normal text so users may distinguish them quickly.
- 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.
- Visually group small amounts of related content — for instance, by surrounding them with a border or using a different background.
- Bold important words and phrases.
- 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.
- Use bullets and numbers to call out items in a list or process.
- 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!
- Survey123 by ArcGis can help students collect geo-tagged data and analyze the data to help answer research questions.