Saturday, October 30, 2010

Feed-Up, Feedback, and Feed-Forward (#ascdfc)

Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey

Notes from ASCD Fall 2010 Conference

What formative assessment looks like beyond "formative assessment in a box."

Quality instruction is important but it's not enough if the teacher never knows where her students are during the course of instruction.

Teachers need to...
  • Establish learning goals
  • Check for understanding
  • Provide feedback
  • Align future instruction with student performance
Feed up:  Where am I going? This establishes purpose
Check for understanding: daily monitoring of learning

"There are teachers who do not want to check for understanding because they taught it the only way they know how."

Feed back:  providing students with information about their success and needs. If teacher and learner don't share the same definition of quality, feedback is useless. Feedback with no future direction leads to frustration, confusion, giving up

Feed forward: using student performance for "next steps" instruction and feeding this into an instructional model

Shared model for gradual release of responsibility: Gradually transferring responsibility for learning to the student.

Homework: Practice doesn't make perfect but it does make permanent!

Feed Up:  Why are we doing this anyway?

"If instruction doesn't have a purpose, student doesn't know what to pay attention to & teacher doesn't know what to assess."

Purpose always has a content component and a language component.

Check for understanding: How am I doing?

How not to check for understanding (how often do you do this?):
  • Everybody got that?
  • Any questions?
  • Does that make sense?
  • Ok?
  • Oral to oral
  • Oral to written
  • Oral to video
  • Reading to oral
  • Reading to written
  • Reading to video
  • Viewing to oral
  • Viewing to written
  • Viewing to video
Use digital retelling such as "trailers" for books.

Questioning habits of teachers: 
  • Dominated by initiate-response-evaluate cycles; no exploration beyond what the student is able to recall
  • 85% of novice teachers' questions are recognition and recall (Tienken, Goldberg, & DiRocco, 2009)
6 types of formative assessment questioning:
  • Elicitation - draws on information
  • Elaboration - solicits reasoning
  • Clarifying - extends thinking
  • Inventive - stimulates imaginative thought
  • Divergent - requires use of previously taught and new information
  • Heuristic - engages in informal problem solving
Feed back: how am I doing?

Typically teachers are caught in a mismatch between feedback and core beliefs.

Making feedback useful:  Timely, specific, understandable, actionable

When to provide feedback:
  • Feedback about the task
  • Feedback about the processing of the task
  • Feedback about self-regulation
  • Feedback about the self as a person
Feedback must be structured for effectiveness: Improving student performance.

Feed forward: where to next?
  • Error analysis
  • Error coding

Follow me on Twitter:

Friday, October 29, 2010

Fair and Meaningful Grades for Exceptional Learners (#ascdfc)

Lee Ann Jung and Thomas R. Guskey
University of Kentucky
ASCD Fall 2010 Conference

Before we can apply grading practices to exceptional learners, we have to have a good, solid grading system in place for all learners.

Perplexing question as to fair grading of special population of learners in this age of standards-based one-size-fits-all learning.

Subjectivity in grading by teachers has always been a problem. Easily shows up in written compositions.

3 Reflection Questions:

1.  What are the major reasons we use report cards and assign grades to students' work?

2.  Ideally, what purposes should report cards or grades serve?

3.  What elements should teachers use in determining students' grades?

Guskey: Purposes of Grading

Most single reporting devices do not serve the above purposes equally well. Print the purpose of your report card at the top.

Many elements typically go into a student's grade, many of which have little to do with whether or not student has learned material.

Grading & reporting should always be done in reference to learning criteria. NEVER grade on a curve. It doesn't tell you if anyone has learned anything.

The word "valedictorian" has nothing to do with achievement; it means "farewell."

Grading Criteria:

1.  Product criteria - don't worry about how they get there; worry about what they can do when they get there.

2.  Process criteria - focuses on how they got there, not what they know when they get there.

3.  Progress criteria - improvement grading, value-added grading; how far have they come when they get there.

What about exceptional learners? (20% of learners are exceptional; 100% of teachers experience exceptional learners)

What's a fair grade for exceptional learner who doesn't master math standards but achieves IEP goals?

What current practices or policies exist in your school regarding the grading of exceptional learners?

90% of general education teachers make adaptations for exceptional learner grades having little to do with learning standards.  Why?:  Common myths that higher grades = higher motivation and adapted grades are seen as fair.  You can't "adapt" grades in standards-based reporting.

Exceptional learners usually receive adapted grades that ultimately lower motivation. 

Decide WHAT to measure in the beginning, instead of HOW to measure in the end.

Jung's Model for Grading Exceptional Learners

Follow me on Twitter:

ASCD Fall 2010 Keynote: A Bolder Approach to Reform (#ascdfc)

Pedro A. Noguera - Understanding and Responding to the Achievement Gap
ASCD Fall 2010 Conference

This session was livestreamed at

Despite all the challenges this country is facing, education continues to surface as a priority issue.

Amazing that so many people out there, just because they once went to school, think they are the experts.

Waiting for Superman:  Solutions of charters and blaming unions are obstructing attention on the real problems.

Social issues affecting education and schools are being ignored.

Many people do not understand why they are not making progress in schools and thus will pursue the same strategies that haven't worked (NCLB, etc).

The failure of past reforms:

1.  High dropout rates and low achievement patterns are symptoms of deeper systemic problems (multi-dimensional).

2.  Many school reforms have not been implemented with a clear focus on how they will solve the problems schools face.

3.  Raising standards is unlikely to lead to better outcomes unless we improve learning conditions and respond more effectively to student needs.

There are examples of turnaround schools.  How can you create success in environments with high crime and poverty.  Not by test prep.  Expose to rich curriculum, reading good books, writing regularly, cultivating a love of learning.  Educators with the same vision can make this happen.

Why do we assign the least experienced teachers to work with the most difficult classrooms without support?

Gates Foundation:  Spent $2 billion on small schools initiative and it didn't work.

We need to change how schools respond to students:

1.  Challenge assumptions within schools about why certain students are likely to fail.

2.  Provide schools with accurate information on student needs and guidance on how to respond.

3.  Develop greater clarity among policy makers about what might be done to change to improve struggling schools and districts.  Need a strategy for developing the capacity of schools.

Being an educator today is a commitment to life-long learning.

Too many examples of surface level reform.  We put a coat of paint on the wall but don't check to see if the drywall is rotting.

"Seeing is believing." If your school is not getting the results you want, send teachers to observe schools that are.

Part of the problem is policies disconnected from the realities of school. NCLB 2014 goal has no strategies, just a date.

Build capacity for schools to be successful:

Have faith in parents; vast majority want their kids to succeed.  They must be our partners.

Focus on extending after-school programs with not only remediation but with quality, accelerated opportunities.

Schools need community partners.

Give parents explicit advice through respectful conversations and they will more likely do their part at home.

Can't just teach to the test.  What about history, science, music, and art?  We need a well-rounded education.

Break stereotypes by exposing students to new learning opportunities (robotics, etc)

Bolder Approach: Our theory of change:

Data driven instruction and university support for school reform.
  • Classroom based coaching
  • Personalized systems for students
  • Development of new schools and lab schools through partnerships with universities
  • Student engagement strategies focused on youth development, mentoring and internships

Follow me on Twitter:

What Data Do We Use and How Do We Use Them?

Presentation by Thomas Hoerr (
New City School, St. Louis, MO

Facilitated dialogue format.

Question:  If you weren't here, what would you be doing back at your home setting right now? (8 am on a Friday)
  • Dealing with school bus issues
  • Answering emails
  • In meeting talking to a faculty member
  • Doing something with students
  • Dealing with upset parent
  • Teaching
Showed picture of tombstone:  Here lies Frederick Jones - verbal 680 - math 720

Question:  Which students are successful at your school, and how do you know it?
  • Demonstrated college readiness (ACT?)
  • Portfolios
  • Definitely not course grades (at least not by themselves and not if they are disconnected from learning standards)
  • Completion of first year of college
  • State assessments
  • Formative assessment
  • School attendance and participation in activities and events
  • Smile quotient
  • School climate says to you, "This is the place you want to be."
Need to measure student success more widely than we do now.

Question:  Are there differences between success in school and success in life?
  • Can students apply in life what they learn in school?
  • Can students solve problems and learn without teacher involvement?
  • School and real life are very different
  • Some students figure out the "system" of schooling but don't necessarily figure out the system of life
  • Becoming independent in thinking and learning
  • Kids need to hear more about real life from outsiders while in school
  • Technology restrictions in schools don't mirror real life
  • Students not given opportunity to provide input in how schools are run
  • Tom Hoerr: Too often success in school is considered the 'ceiling' instead of the 'floor.'"
  • Not enough schools are having this conversation in staff meetings or even in the teachers' lounge
  • Tom Hoerr: Schools are not assessing student growth for success in real life. Stuck on standardized tests.
Question:  What formal mechanisms exist - besides standardized tests, besides anything with a % - to assess student growth?  How is it reported?  What other assessment mechanisms could be used? What are the obstacles to this?
  • Student surveys and focus groups
  • ePortfolios
  • Demonstration in outside activities such as internships, community service, mentorships, leadership programs, etc
Great "wake-up" discussion this morning.  I sat at a table with a wonderfully diverse group of building administrators and teachers.

Follow me on Twitter:

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Reporting from ASCD Fall Conference on Teaching and Learning (#ascdfc)

I'm attending the fall conference in Chicago this weekend and will not only be Tweeting the key points made by the many excellent presenters, but will be writing real-time summaries of the sessions I attend so that folks back home or around the world can connect from a distance. If you are following on Twitter, I'll be including the official conference hashtag of #ascdfc.

The session summaries will be posted here on my Posterous blog as each concludes.

Here is the lineup of sessions I'm planning on attending:

Friday, October 29 -

What Data Do We Use and How Do We Use Them? By Thomas Hoerr, New City School, St. Louis, Mo.

A Bolder Approach to Reform: Understanding and Responding to the Achievement Gap by Pedro A. Noguera, Ph.D. Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education, New York University, N.Y. (opening general session)

Action Research That Closes the Achievement Gap by Patricia Reynolds, Intermediate School 73, New York, N.Y

Fair and Meaningful Grades for Exceptional Learners by Thomas Guskey and Lee Ann Jung, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Ky.

Saturday, October 30 -

Overcoming Roadblocks to Data Use by Jennifer Morrison, Educational Consultant, White Rock, S.C.

ESL WISE! Closing the Achievement Gap for English Learners by Virginia Rojas, Educational Consultant, Brunswick, N.J.

Feed-Up, Feedback, and Feed-Forward by Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey, San Diego State University, Calif.

Sunday, October 31 -

The Power of Data Teams by Jennifer Morrison, Educational Consultant, White Rock, S.C.

Effective Instructional Leadership for Closing the Achievement Gap Within Your School and School District by Baruti Kafele, Newark Tech High School, Jersey City, N.J.

A Broader Approach to Accountability by Richard Rothstein, Economic Policy Institute, Washington, D.C. (closing general session)

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter:

Friday, October 22, 2010

Keeping the Pressure Up

Educational folks just have to step up to the challenge and stop making excuses as to why they're not using technology, both as a professional learning as well as an instructional tool. Heard it all. Seen enough. Time to move forward. It's what the profession expects. It's what our kids deserve.

"We can't let educators off the hook" (Dangerously Irrelevant)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

140 Character Conference

Had a wonderful opportunity to participate in a small panel of educators during the recent 140 Character Conference in Detroit.  I joined Linda Clinton (@linda704) and Nicholas Provenzano (@thenerdyteacher) on the stage for 15 minute panel discussion on the use of real time communications in education.

<p>140 Conference Detroit Education Panel from Shelly Terrell on Vimeo.</p>

Thank you Shelly Terrell (@ShellTerrell) and Jeff Pulver for the invitation!

Why I'm Supporting Justin Amash for Congress

Justin Amash, currenly my state representative in Lansing, is running as a Republican for the 3rd Michigan Congressional District.  I met Justin personally this past spring when I invited him to meet with me on my concerns regarding state funding for education and some of the innovative strides we are taking to address student achievement.  Afterwards, we took a brief look at the work being done on the Lee building and the new 6th Grade Campus.  I found Justin more than willing listen and we both shared the same concerns regarding big government and the need to improve our schools.

Justin has a leadership style I personally believe is sorely needed in all of our public officials, elected and appointed, including our school administrators.  He is transparent, using real time communications to keep us informed on the progress - or lack of progress - in the legislative process.  Just is honest about his stance on issues, unwilling to sell his soul simply to support a political party or special interest stance.  He studies the bills and refuses to support any legislation he has not read, doesn't understand, or goes against his personal beliefs.  I don't necessarily agree with every decision he makes, but I am always confident that Justin has done his homework and will stand on principle when it comes time to cast his vote.

Justin and I agree that the Federal government has for too long overextended itself in the area of education.  During last evening's debate at Davenport University, while not necessarily advocating completely eliminating the U.S. Department of Education as I do, he does agree that Washington takes far too much out of Michigan and doesn't provide a fair return: "'The problem I have with the current structure is that we are sending all the money to Washington and not getting our fair share back,' he said. Amash said he advocates a "federalist" system in which states would compete with each other instead of being forced to use a "one size fits all" system." (The Grand Rapids Press)  I believe that if the only solution is to eliminate the Department of Education to solve this problem, Justin will come down on that side of the issue.

Justin is often criticized for his lone "no" votes in the Michigan House. As one who often finds myself on the "lonely side of an issue or position," I commend him for standing with the people or the interests of our state, not the special interests or deal-makers in Lansing.  While I'm pretty sure that the increased pressure in Washington will no doubt soften his lone-ranger approach, I know that his willingness to overlook the criticism to maintain his principles will make him an outstanding congressman and will help to strengthen our federalist system.

On November 2, I will be casting my vote for Justin Amash.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Standing Vigilant for 87 Years

As part of our effort to upgrade the facade of Lee Middle & High School, and recreate what once was considered the gem of the Godfrey-Lee Public School district, the two black iron lanterns alongside the main front entrances were removed this past summer, completely reconditioned and reinstalled, now ready for new glass and re-lighting.  

These "lamps of learning" have stood vigilant since the very first students set foot in a "new" Lee Street School on a cold, wet November day in 1923.  While their usefulness as the sole exterior lighting diminished with time, they continued for decades to be identified with the image of this great institution. Each year they welcomed a new group of freshmen and bade farewell to the graduating class of seniors. Through good times as well as times of strife, through depression and times of war, the tirelessly beckoned the inhabitants of the school to always do their best so they could go out and make something of themselves.  

But sometime toward the end of the '60's, the two lanterns were extinguished, coinciding with the start of several decades of decline throughout the Godfrey-Lee community, a condition that often found its way into the halls of Lee school. You might say it was a period symbolized by the cold, dark blank stares of the lanterns themselves.  Now more than four decades later the lanterns have been given new life and will once again light the way for generations of students to come.  So too has the old Lee Street School been given "new life" with its changing outlook on preparing every student, regardless of background and means, for unequivocal success in college and career.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

When did America decide to follow instead of lead?

There's a troubling reality in today's push (in the wrong direction) for education reform. 


There's something happening here

What it is ain't exactly clear...


When did America decide that in educating millions of our children, it's better to follow instead of lead? We have always, at least until now, prided ourselves as a unique experiment in democracy and human spirit. While the social fabric of older European and Asian nations settled into a static sense of “living for the now,” Americans forged on exploring new lands and pioneering new technologies for the future. Our educational system, born out of the one room schoolhouse not too far removed from “Little House on the Prairie,” evolved to equip and encourage our curiosity and entrepreneurial sense of adventure. A.S. Draper, then commissioner of education in New York, summed it up by declaring, “The educational purpose of America is sharply distinguished from that of other lands. The essential difference comes through our democracy.” (American Education, 1909) Several years earlier, a commission of distinguished educators from Great Britain had descended on our schools and declared that, “The types of men that the educational methods of America have developed appear to me to be entirely different from what we produce at home.” (Reports of the Mosely Educational Commission to the United States, 1904)


There's battle lines being drawn

Nobody's right if everybody's wrong...


Then came Sputnik. Then A Nation at Risk. Then NCLB. Then Race to the Top. For the first one-hundred-and-fifty years of our nation's existence, we provided the educational system everyone else coveted. Focused on developing a culture centered on personal accomplishment, pioneering, and fierce independence, we demonstrated through the development of a manufacturing system second to none, victory in two world wars, great medical advances, birth of the computer age, and landing a man on the moon that our educational system, void of the incessant need for national or even state-wide testing, was capable of producing great leaders, thinkers, scientists, business adventurists, and a nation whose strength rested with the growth in the middle class. Until that point in our short history, America didn't look to other cultures and say, “We need to be more like them.” Instead, for centuries people have been coming to our shores trying to escape the very things many in the past fifty years, especially those who are not in the education profession, now want us to emulate in our public schools: A nationalized educational system, built on the belief that annual testing of every student in reading and math in place of developing the skills and individual abilities that made our nation great. This is precisely what many other countries are trying to get away from! But meanwhile we ignore the warnings and march on, dragging our public schools through the mud, firing teachers, narrowing our curriculum to only what will be tested, and essentially creating factory-like schools filled with children who can regurgitate what they learn only by filling in a bubble answer sheet, in the quest for what other nations such as China no longer want:


Through No Child Left Behind and now Race to the Top, the US has been working on increasing the power and frequency of testing, standardizing and narrowing the curriculum, simplifying teacher and school evaluation, centralizing education decision making, and reducing the definition of achievement and success to test scores.


"In essence, what China wants is what the U.S. has and is eager to throw away, while what the US wants is what has and is eager to cast away." Yong Zhao, Who Will Invent the Next Google or Apple?, 2010


What a field-day for the heat

A thousand people in the street...


Education Nation and Waiting for Superman. We came to this fork in the road, not through common sense or learned decisions but rather through political power struggles, boy-billionaires seeking to create a legacy for themselves, and media sensationalists spurred on by panic sustained through twenty-four hour cable news cycles. Couple this with inappropriate use of data from international tests and “cherry-picking” comparisons of educational systems around the world, and you've created the perfect storm for unrest in the streets. Actually, we don't even bother much to look beyond our shores anymore for the comparisons; we've created a hodge-podge of charter schools and school systems – some successful, many not – and we use them for our favorite sport of comparing apples-to-oranges in the compulsive quest for uncovering failures in our public school system. The elite politicians, media personalities, and business leaders, most of which got to where they are because of our public school system and not in spite of it, incite the general public with one-sided views and control of the traditional media outlets. If you agree with them, you are invited onto the national stage. If you do not go along with their point of view, you are marginalized, often brutalized, and mostly shut out. Even if you agree that we need to make changes in our public education system, a point of view many professionals in the education arena agree with, but you disagree that it can only be accomplished by firing the teachers and providing more choice through charters, you are forced to sit in the corner and portrayed as the classroom dunce.


Paranoia strikes deep

Into your life it will creep...


The state of our current economy, arguably in worse shape since possibly the economic disasters of the 1870's and promising to get worse before it gets better, isn't helping educators attempting to get out their message that while changes are needed, destruction of the system that played a central role in the building of our nation is not necessary. Nor is it wise! There's a growing concern that the chasm between rich and poor is growing ever wider and the middle class is disappearing, in large part due to the decline in our manufacturing base and loss of millions of jobs during the first decade of this century. While in the past, industry leaders and capitalists have born the brunt of the blame for economic predicaments, a new pattern appears to be emerging: the capitalists and the industry leaders are using their tremendous wealth to stir up paranoia and point the finger of blame at public schools. They have spent the past ten years trying to convince the American public that the loss of our traditional industries and the lack of job opportunities is due in large part to our so-called failing school system. It's as if they are trying to convince Joe-citizen that if we just had better schools, you'd have more jobs. It's the school's fault, not ours. Never mind that we are the ones who moved our manufacturing plants to Mexico and China. That's not important! What is important is that we fire all the public school teachers, destroy the teacher's unions, and send all of our kids to charter schools. Period. Only then will America be great again and only then will you avoid foreclosure on your house and enjoy the security of a good job.


It's time we stop, hey, what's that sound

Everybody look what's going down...


It's all about giving up our leadership role and following others such as communist China or socialist Finland. If we were just more like them – nationalized and centralized control over everything, including public education which has been one of the bedrocks of our republican form of government centered on local control and diffusion of political power – we'd solve all our problems. As far back as 1909, Commissioner A.S. Draper was naïve enough to believe that power rested with the states and local governments, including school boards, when he made the statement, “The United States is powerless to control and does not assume to manage the educational interests of the people; the states have full authority to do so.” (American Education, emphasis in original). Now we are on the verge of a nationalized curriculum in the guise of the Common Core, designed purposely by using a back-door that avoids conflict with federal law precluding the establishment of national curriculum standards. Through Race to the Top, we are also nearing the imposition of standardized evaluation systems for teachers and principals, merit pay to replace traditional salary systems, the end of tenure, and pointing all of the blame for failing students on individual teachers by tracking achievement test results and pinning it on them. But the reality is that nothing in this paragraph has anything to do with improving student achievement. Simply changing the structure, or even the rules by which a structure such as a public education operates, is not proven to produce better results. We've already tried this with charter schools and the results are mixed at best. So while we spend all of our waking hours and resources on changing the institution, we waste valuable time and opportunity to band together to improve teaching and learning.


For better or worse, here are my recommendations for doing just that:


  • Completely eliminate the federal role in education and restore the responsibility back to the states. There is no evidence to suggest that since the establishment of the original Department of Health, Education and Welfare at the federal level in the early 1950's, our educational system has improved as a result. In fact, one could make the argument that the increase in federal meddling has actually helped with any perceived decline. To lessen the impact of a sudden loss of revenue which has led to a socialistic dependency in states and local districts, federal funding could be phased out over a pre-set time period.


  • State governments should limit their roles to establishing learning standards (aka, graduation requirements and teacher certification standards) coupled with providing fair and equitable funding for all schools, including accessibility to the latest technology, provision of Internet access for all students, and the ability of local school systems to provide every student with an education in World Languages. Curriculum selection, instructional methods, assessment of learning, and evaluation of teaching are to be left to local school boards with monitoring and assistance from county or regional-level, intermediate districts. Put the responsibility of operating public schools back in the hands of the local public and help by reducing the overwhelming burden of needless regulation.


  • Local, regional and state colleges and universities should be compelled to completely revamp their teacher preparation programs and be required to partner with local school districts in providing for a more robust internship and mentorship period for new teachers. In addition, higher education institutions should be required to create panels of instructors and deans who meet regularly with K-12 teachers and administrators to establish K-16 curriculum alignment, reviewing and revising as necessary.


These are just a start on the road to restoring America's desire to lead in public education. Enough has been said regarding the concerns and it's high time we end this senseless hype. Start by bringing the educational professionals onto the stage, enabling them to participate fully in identifying the real problems and solutions, and then provide them with the backing necessary to implement changes that serve the needs of kids.


But most of all, let's stop looking to be like everyone else. That's not what America was built on and that won't serve our future generations well.


Ours is a purposeful nation. It has always faced the east. It has always planned for the future.” A.S. Draper




Lyrics: For What It's Worth, by Buffalo Springfield, 1967

Written by Stephen Stills

Friday, October 15, 2010

Transforming Education in 140 Characters or Less

I'll be participating on a panel discussion along with three distinguished educators next week: Nick Provenzano (@thenerdyteacher), LaRon Carter (@laroncarter), and Linda Clinton (@Linda704). The occasion is the Detroit edition of the 140 Character Conference (#140conf) scheduled for Wednesday, October 20, where we'll be presenting our views and experiences regarding "real time communication" (RTC) and its impact on education.

One question I plan on addressing is, "How can we harness RTC tools and technologies such as Twitter to engage all stakeholders in transforming education?" This is a difficult question given that education is mired in tradition and a culture that resists transformation, especially if it involves the use of technology tools. I'd certainly like to hear from others what your opinion is on this question. If you choose to opine, please provide your response in the comment box below.

If you're going to be in the area and would like to attend the day-long conference in Detroit, you can register at:  Use the code 140disc to get a discount on your ticket.

¡Fútbol Rebelde de Viva!

There was a time, not too long ago, that old traditions bumped up to the new realization that there is more than one "football" culture in the Godfrey-Lee Public Schools community. Resistance to adding a soccer program eventually gave way to the realization that America is a diverse nation and our own community mirrors that change. We have come to embrace our soccer program and the boys have not let us down - two conference championships in just four years of interscholastic competition.  

Congratulations Coach Jaime Ramirez and the 2010 Varsity Boys Soccer Team! ¡Viva Lee fútbol!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Transforming Education in 140 Characters or Less

I'll be participating on a panel discussion along with three distinguished educators next week: Nick Provenzano (@thenerdyteacher), LaRon Carter (@laroncarter), and Linda Clinton (@Linda704). The occasion is the Detroit edition of the 140 Character Conference (#140conf) scheduled for Wednesday, October 20, where we'll be presenting our views and experiences regarding "real time communication" (RTC) and its impact on education.

One question I plan on addressing is, "How can we harness RTC tools and technologies such as Twitter to engage all stakeholders in transforming education?" This is a difficult question given that education is mired in tradition and a culture that resists transformation, especially if it involves the use of technology tools. I'd certainly like to hear from others what your opinion is on this question. If you choose to opine, please provide your response in the comment box below.

If you're going to be in the area and would like to attend the day-long conference in Detroit, you can register at:  Use the code 140disc to get a discount on your ticket.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Engaging Learning

Technology helps even the youngest students engage in classroom learning activities. These students, born in the 21st Century, know little about life without digital technology.  Classrooms can no longer afford to be museums from the 1980's. If we fail to take advantage of the iGen's interest in mobile digital technology, we render ourselves irrelevant.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The More Things Stay the Same

Change is often slow and incremental. And sometimes it's just plain non-existent. Such is the case with public education reform, as illustrated by Andrew Draper's lament in his 1909 tome on American Education (p. 279):

We've been discussing the overloaded classroom curriculum and its negative impact on learning for more than 100 years - five generations, and all we've managed to accomplish is to load up our public schools with even more requirements!  Instead of resolving this complex problem once and for all, we choose to be distracted by the so-called reformers who want to blame our system's faults on the teachers.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Real Super Hero's

With apologies to the late Senator Lloyd Bentsen of Texas for paraphrasing his infamous retort to Vice President Dan Quayle, "I knew Superman, Superman was a friend of mine. Secretary Duncan, Mr. Guggenheim, Mr. Gates, Ms. Winfrey, and all the folks at NBC's Education Nation, you're no Superman." The real super heroes are in the trenches of our nation's public school classrooms every day. They are the teachers and they're not waiting for some mythical Superman to appear. They don't seek the publicity and limelight as you do, they're not on a power trip to control or destroy public education, and they're not wasting one single minute of the day looking for scapegoats to blame for society's shortcomings. Instead they're busy from morning until dusk tending to their students' needs, constantly assessing their learning, planning prescriptive lessons and interventions, fending off bureaucratic meddling, listening to parent complaints and excuses, and doing the very best they can to teach an overflowing classroom full of students, most of which do little reading or writing outside of school, barely speak the same language, come to school hungry and inadequately clothed, and are bombarded all day long by news accounts that their school is failing and a continuing cacophony of noise about how their teachers are not doing a very good job.  (continue to full posting)