Sunday, December 20, 2015


I just read a fabulous (and short) post from George Couros - The Culture You Create.   I typically read posts, but rarely reply - this one I had no choice but to respond, and it read:

Thank you for this post. I have seen signs throughout my district and they are similar to the image you posted. I agree with your statements regarding trust and perception. I think the bigger question is how do we educate the “ignorant?” How does the culture shift if many are not taking the time to realize the power of mobile / personal devices have and how the devices can level the playing field? I have found that it is often the leadership that is resistant to the change more than the teaching staff. The fixed mindsets kill me! I once saw a quote that read, “The biggest risk is the one you don’t take.” We learn by doing – by succeeding AND by FAILING. There is no perfect lesson. But technology is a game changer and helps level the playing field – used correctly, it transforms teaching and learning in ways once inconceivable.

Why are educators (generally) so afraid to take risks?  I do understand that the thresholds of NCLB are challenging to reach, but if what is taking place at schools is so effective, why are we still in Program Improvement?  Why have we not met and exceeded federal (and our own) expectations?

I remember attending a California League of Schools conference a few years ago.  The keynote speaker cited how the gaming company Nintendo spends more money on Research and Development than the entire US Department of Education.  Crazy.  Where is the money going?  (I know, we can all answer that one.)

We have the ability to create a culture that is receptive of device use, yet doesn't lose the space for collaboration and communication.  The concepts behind the 4 C's of the common core make sense - I fear that the implementation doesn't.  Remember the "Don't smile until Christmas" concept?  I have never agreed with it, but think about the power an effective teacher has to create an environment of trust and respect, where new ideas are shared, learning is reciprocal, and everybody (students and teacher) is engaged.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Not Sure If I Agree...

I just read this article from NPR Education titled Mark Zuckerberg is Betting Tech Can Address Educational Equity.  Is it that Simple?  

The author asserts that "Personalized learning is a buzzword for software programs that act like automatic tutors:  giving feedback, allowing students to go at their own pace, and recommending lessons based on student's previous work."   What a terribly incorrect statement.  Personalized learning can (and should) point students to resources that spark their interest based on their past work, but aren't necessarily automated or self-paced.

What the author is missing, as well as the folks her contributed comments based on their own studies, is that it is NOT about the technology.  It is about how the tool is used to enhance the teaching and learning environment.  Technology can break down walls and open opportunities that were not possible before.  Take a look at Google's app "Street View" or Google Earth.  Students can virtually go to places they are studying about - almost equivalent to a primary source.

Within the article I do agree with Michael Feldstein who argues that "successfully pulling off personalized learning in schools requires major changes, like grouping students by ability and making class schedules more flexible."

So what is the key ingredient?  Thinking outside the box!  Is the status quo really working?  With the resources now available in most schools, the sky is truly the limit.  School boards and leadership teams need to understand the power that can be leveraged now, be willing to take risks, model best practices, and provide sound and meaningful (and ongoing) professional development.  It is not easy, but some schools have been successful.  There are still a lot of humps to get over.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

I Like John's Viewpoint

Today marks the 35th anniversary of the death of John Lennon.  I was only nine when he was murdered and at the time, did not understand the impact his music, his views, and his overall character had on our world.

I remember my mom was really upset.  I also remember thinking to myself, "Who is John Lennon?  A beatle?  Insect?  What?"

The more I've learned about John Lennon, the more I realize that he just "got it."  Yeah, plenty of people thought he was a weird hippy, but he had a down to earth point of view; he was a pacifist who truly wanted to "Give Peace a Chance."

John knew what it meant to express yourself without regret; live each day to its fullest and impact the world through positive action and contributions to the arts.  I think back to Apple's "Think Different" campaign and the individuals that Steve Jobs chose as "the crazy ones, the misfits, the outcasts."  John was one of them - his ideas were big enough to change the world and he did just that.

There will never be another John Lennon.  There will never be another band (in my opinion) that has an impact on the world like the Beatles.  But in our attempt to understand life, we have to take peace in knowing that John died a happy man, he made an impact, and above all, he understood life.  In the crazy madness of our everyday lives, we need to take the time to find happiness and our own understandings.

Don't be afraid to think different.  More often than not, the status quo SUCKS.