Insights Into Learning

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Framework for Success: My Conversation with Ceri Dean

Creating the Environment for Learning (Framework for Instructional Planning fig. A.1 p. XVI)

Spike Cook and Ceri Dean

Setting the Objectives The purpose of this blog post is to share my experience with Ceri Dean, lead author of Classroom Instruction That Works, (CITWs) second edition. She visited my school in May of 2012 as part of the ASCD and McREL film series on the new CITWS which will be launched later this summer. Ceri has been with the Mid- continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) for 20 years. She is currently the Vice President of Field Services. In addition to holding a variety of positions with McREL, her career in education has included being a high school math teacher and an editor. She earned her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Connecticut at Storrs.

My desired outcome of this post is for the reader to understand more about Ceri and to apply the tenets of the new CITWs through our shared conversations and observations during her visit to our school. My overarching goal, through my learning and application, will be to provide the rationale for your learning.

Providing Feedback

Celese Nolan going through sound check

Ceri is such a cool individual. As I observed her during the filming at my school, I was amazed with her ability to help us with our pre-filming jitters. “She was a calming force for us,” remarked Jaime Sutton. Celese Nolan, who was involved in two classroom filming sessions, immediately felt a connection to Ceri. “She is an extremely knowledgeable educator,” Celese noted.

Providing Recognition

Ceri was very busy during the first day of filming. This was her opportunity to show the world what Millville has been learning and to celebrate the stories of the students and teachers who were participating. She made sure to watch both filming sessions, talk with the teachers and the students.

Reinforcing Effort

Ryan Hudson after filming

After Ryan Hudson’s filming session, he walked right by me to get to Ceri. He later said, “No disrespect Spike, but I wanted to hear what Ceri thought!” Ceri took time to talk with Ryan about his lesson. She listened to him as he explained what he was attempting and what he felt he accomplished. Ceri gave him specific feedback that reinforced his objective!

Helping Students Develop Understanding (Framework for Instructional Planning fig. A.1 p. XVI)

Cues and Questions

I asked Ceri to discuss the important aspects of the new book. Here are some of the concepts I wrote down as we talked:

Emphasis of the new book:

  • Clarify the concept around strategies
  • Cooperative learning
  • Positive interdependence
  • Not always focused on social skills
  • Keagan strategies
  • Is this cooperative learning?

What is McREL?

  • McREL is a learning organization
  • Our mission statement is really important to us. “Making a difference in the quality of education and learning for all through excellence in applied research, product development, and service.”
  • We are focused on changing the odds

How can schools improve?

  • If schools are focused on the use of strategies with intentionality and quality and fidelity
  • Using CITW makes you think more deeply about instruction
  • Framework is there for continued improvement  (Success In Sight)
  • School leaders and teachers need to ask and answer questions together
  • Question your data
  • Teachers should be seen as action researchers and learners
  • Everyone must work collaboratively (students, teachers, parents, administration, community)
  • One person can’t do it all
  • Own your projects!

Non-linguistic representation

I showed Ceri my blog to provide her with the context in which I would be writing. We talked about how the image of the school can impact on the learning environment.

Summarizing and Note Taking

Jaime Sutton and Ceri Dean discussing CITWS

As Ceri talked, I was feverishly taking notes. Here was someone with a wealth of knowledge that I wanted to learn from. I asked her about something I have been pondering for some time: the evolution of school administration. As a new principal I see how much the job has changed. She was involved with the National Awards Program for model Professional Development in late 1990s. In order to win this award, schools were required to go through a detailed evaluation process. There were site visits, and teams of evaluators determine how Professional Development really made a difference in the school. What the process revealed was the importance of Principals in action. The administrators were breaking the mold of what was expected at the time. They were the first who were transitioning away from management towards leadership. They were also the ones who developed the patterns in which most administrators are required to accomplish.

Assigning Homework and Providing Practice

Lights, Camera, Action!

Where is the research in schools? Ceri talked about the 10 regional educational labs throughout the country that are sponsored by the Department of Education and provide research opportunities to school districts. They conduct randomized controlled research studies. These labs have produced a substantial amount of research that has assisted the educational community. Recruitment can be difficult because who wants to be in the control group? Not to mention that there are a lot competing priorities in schools and districts such as parent support, time, State Assessments, and resources.

McREL, creating a place where every person needs to be a learner. Ceri spoke very highly of the tool that McREL uses to understand and build their own learning community through using Gallup’s strengthsfinder® survey. Each member takes the survey and there are 34 strengths. Everyone displays a card with their top 5 strengths on their desks. It assists the teams as they work together. Strengthsfinder® helps individuals and teams maximize strengths. Often times, they ask each other, “What is working well? How can we build on what we are already doing?”

Now discover your strengths. Purchase the book and the code will be at the back of the book. http://www.strengthsfinder.com/home.aspx?gclid=CNSF9J-qnrACFak7OgodjBQkWA)

 

Helping Students Extend And Apply Knowledge (Framework for Instructional Planning fig. A.1 p. XVI)

Identifying Similarities and Differences

I am sure I am not alone in wondering how McREL was going to fill the void left by Robert Marzano. Often referred to as “Marzano’s strategies” or simply “Marzano” the first edition of Classroom Instruction That Works (2001) became an effective tool for educators to improve instruction.

Our discussion compared the 2nd addition with the 2001 edition.

2001 Edition

  • Lead authors Marzano, Pickering, and Pollack
  • Best-selling Book
  • Meta-Analysis up to 1998
  • Book was grouped based on 9 strategies

Same

  • Can be used with Power-walkthroughs
  • 9 strategies
  • Focus on best practices
  • Framework for success

2012

  • Lead authors Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, and Stone
  • Update on the research since 1998
  • Chose the conservative results
  • Strategies are grouped within the framework for instructional planning (3 parts)
  • Sought to understand what the updated research looked like
  • Used narrative reviews, qualitative, and theoretical literature
  • Some strategies hadn’t been researched at all since 1998, so they kept the original data
  • The small number of studies for some strategies are a result of more restrictive definitions
  • Technical report on CITWs was not included in the book for easier reading, but can be found on web(http://www.mcrel.org/PDF/Instruction/0121RR_CITW_report.pdf#search=%22technical%20report%20on%20CITW%22)

Generating and Testing Hypothesizes

ASCD Crew and RM Bacon Crew

McREL’s theory is that the school improvement is within everyone’s reach. They have developed a Success in Sight program to help schools turnaround. Through the Success in Sight, McREL assists schools in understanding the change process. Are they dealing with 1st order or second order change? The solution is simple. Schools need to use research based strategies. They must (1) use data to set and monitor goals, (2) use research-based practices to make improvements and increase student achievement, (3) foster and engage in shared leadership for improvement, (4) create and maintain a purposeful community, and (5) apply a comprehensive and systematic continuous improvement process. Understanding how to manage the change process is part of what teams learn through the Success in Sight process.

Conclusion

Spending time with such an incredible educator as Ceri Dean was one of the highlights of this school year. Ceri, as stated prior, is a really cool person. She is funny, intelligent, and insightful. It is clear from my time with her that McREL and the Classroom Instruction That Works series is in good hands.

Resources:

Classroom Instruction That Works (2nd Edition)

Ceri Dean

Success in Sight

 

Conversation with a Futurist? Part 2

During the ASCD12 conference in Philadelphia I attended a session with Futurist, Watts Wacker. He began the discussion by saying that he did not come to answer questions, but rather to ask them. He immediately had my attention. Then he began to speak, and I tried my hardest to keep up. Here is the stream of conscious notes I took. In order to develop deeper understanding I took the notes, and separated them into 5 parts. I also worked with a mind-mapping genius to bring the text, and concepts to another level. I hope it hurts your brain like it did mine.

Part 2 of 5

There is a Renewal of Thought. With that said, is it a renewal or a merely a shift?

sabotagetimes.com

Although some feel that our votes do not matter, we really can vote against anyone. For instance, Joseph Kony’s reputation was taken down with the help of Social Media. How did it happen? Kony 2012 was a film created by Invisible Children that advocated the capture and persecution of the Ugandan Leader Joseph Kony for the alleged atrocities he has committed against children. The campaign began on March 5, 2012 and the goal was to have him arrested by December of 2012. As the video went viral, the world spoke – over 86 million times.

Google is in everything, and they are ahead of everything. Want an answer to a question? Google it. Want directions, web sites, mail, social media, computers, software, and information? You got it, google. In this age of uncertainty, business is competitive, predatory, symbiotic, and parasitic. Yet the goodness business model exists. All we need is do right to do well.  Did you know Panera bread is experimenting with a pay what you can model? The underlying philosophy is that business is an obligation. For example, Toyota has an obligation to providing the most cost effective automobiles, but that is not their mission. Toyota’s mission is to be your car company for life. Simple as that. In addition, me is now a business model.

careforpa.org

It is clear from the age of information that there lies an opportunity to learn anything you want. You can learn more than your doctor about something. That was almost impossible just 25 years ago. We revered doctors. Now they are a means for us to get our own medical treatment. We all have the ability to develop our own algorithm about whatever we want. Authority is no longer a thing. Been in a classroom lately? The students, with their access to hand held devices (calling them a phone is so last age) that can instantly reveal that the teacher doesn’t know everything.  Uh oh, teachers, embrace that or the students will send you packing! Be your own self authority.

 

 

Missed Part 1?

 

 

Resources:

ASCD 12 Virtual Resources: http://ascd.social27.com/ASCD/ASCD_Home

Watts Wacker’s web site:  www.firstmatter.com

Triz-Journal: http://www.triz-journal.com/

Joseph Kony: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Kony

Kony 2012: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kony_2012

Conversation with a Futurist? It hurts your brain, and so will this post

Watts Wacker and Spike Cook

During the ASCD12 conference in Philadelphia I attended a session with Futurist, Watts Wacker. He began the discussion by saying that he did not come to answer questions, but rather to ask them. He immediately had my attention. Then he began to speak, and I tried my hardest to keep up. Here is the stream of conscious notes I took. In order to develop deeper understanding I took the notes, and separated them into 5 parts. I also worked with a mind-mapping genius to bring the text, and concepts to another level. I hope it hurts your brain like it did mine.

Part 1 of 5

Guess what happened? While we were all sleeping Big Brother happened! Have you read the book 1984 by George Orwell? Who would have thought that it actually came into being? And we bought it? No, it was not imposed, we chose it, and pay for it month after month. Did you know the city of London tapes everything? There are cameras throughout the entire city.  No matter where you go a camera has its lenses focused on ….You!

We are in the 5th age as humans. Some people think that we are still in the age of information but according to Watts that has already come and gone.

First, there was the hunter gatherer age. We traveled great distances on foot looking for our food, water, and survival. Then we had the agricultural age. We learned how to plant our food. This lead us into the industrial age where we attempted to maximize our output and products in a way that would keep costs down. Then we did a quantum leap into the information age. Technology boomed during this era, and humans needed to simply understand how this impacted them, but as the technology developed one thing became certain: uncertainty. Which lead us into this new, current age of uncertainty. In this age there is no box. The only thing that is constant is change.

Also, there are 7 generations on the planet at the same time. This has not happened in the history of the world. Is this a good thing? Stay tuned for part 2.

Mind Map for Part 1 (Click to enlarge)

 

Mind Map Resources

12/21/12 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxQsLLOYC7Q&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Planet Earth http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6v2L2UGZJAM&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Big Brother http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJTLL1UjvfU&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Resources:

ASCD 12 Virtual Resources: http://ascd.social27.com/ASCD/ASCD_Home

Watts Wacker’s web site:  www.firstmatter.com

Triz-Journal: http://www.triz-journal.com/

Joseph Kony: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Kony

Kony 2012: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kony_2012

The Open Refrigerator Stare

source: dinnerwithmaxjenke.blogspot.com

Please tell me you know what I am talking about. Prompted by an unsatisfied feeling in your stomach, you wander into the kitchen, open the refrigerator door, and stare deeply into the depths of the cold, giant box. I have been doing this since I was a kid. Sometimes, I even pull a double where I have both the refrigerator and freezer doors open simultaneously. This drives my wife nuts! She says it wastes money, and can affect the contents in the refrigerator. She is actually right on this one. Shouldn’t I have a plan before I look into the refrigerator, freezer, or pantry?  Then I think to myself, is there a lesson here for education?

Many administrators throughout the world are doing the “Open Refrigerator Stare” in their schools.  Here is how it goes. Once we know the curricular shelves are stocked, we wonder curiously down hallways and begin opening doors, classroom doors.

source: sites.google.com

Some of our purchases are front and center. They look as delicious as they did in the store and gulp, we eat it right up. But as we stare longer, we notice numerous items in the back, sometimes piled on top of each other. We may remember buying them, or not. Some of these things have really nice packaging, but when we open them up they spoil quickly. Still others don’t have a very long shelf life, bruise easily, and we just end up staring at them. Often partially satisfied or even unsatisfied, we close the door.

Invariably, someone goes shopping again and announces, “The new packages are in!” Then, we begin the process all over by packing the refrigerator, freezer, and pantry. Sometimes we throw out dated items, sometimes we think maybe we will use them later, and other times we store them somewhere else. Either way, it all gets packed in there.

source: stillwaterpubliclibrary.blogspot.com

So, how do we thwart the Open Refrigerator Stare and subsequent wasteful practices that plague Education? The plan is simple-we need to refine our practices and operationalize a methodical and process-centered system that is focused on results. The results can be anything from saving money, improved student achievement, increased professional development. It really depends on what you want in the refrigerator.

Systems thinking

source: modernanalyst.com

According to Senge (1990) systems thinking is the process that helps leaders perceive how aspects of the organization influence each other. For instance, in schools, there is a system of influences on student performance. In addition to teachers,  there are parents, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, secretaries, Board of Education, administration, technology, laws, mandates, nutrition, etc. that impact students. If everyone understands that they are part of the “system” and understand the mission/vision of the system, then the system is dedicated to student achievement. Seems easy, right? Well, it isn’t.

Process Centered not people centered

Hammer (1996) coined the phrase “process-centered” to describe the importance of organizations’ understanding their own processes. For a school, this is a way to view all purchases, interactions, curriculum, etc. in terms of the mission/vision as opposed to someone with a “bright idea” or “money to spend.” In order for process-centered to work, people have to put aside their positions, personal beliefs, and power struggles to do what is in the best interest of the organization. Under a process-centered school district, the central administration (with a balcony view of the district) becomes more of a “quality control” focusing on the inter-working parts of all the schools, curriculum, etc with the mission/vision driving the way.

Focused on Results

source: one-now.com

W.E. Demmings coined the phrase “We inspect what we expect.” He believed that organizations, if focused on quality, needed to follow a simple mathematical equation: “Quality= Results of work/ Total costs.” In education, we have been accustomed to our “feelings.” Often administrators will say, “I feel our students are not behaving lately!” The first question, in response to that, would be, “How do you know?” Then you would ask, “What data do you have to support that? Is it a trend? Was this an outlier of a month? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?” Asking the right questions can lead us to create the necessary system or processes to achieve our goals, and overcome real (and perceived) problems.

See, it’s not that simple anymore to go on feelings. In fact, I believe the “feelings” of educators have us going in a million different directions. No wonder we are constantly being criticized and vilified in the press. What are really focused on? Do we have the capacity to tell our story, with appropriate data to support? Furthermore, if we want teachers to make data-based decisions, then we as administrators need to lead by example, and open the refrigerator door in a systemic, process-centered way that is focused on results.

Resources:

Hammer, M. (1996). Beyond Reengineering: How the Process Centered Organization is Changing Our work and Lives. HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. New York.

Senge, P. (1990). The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization. Currency Doubleday. New York.

Transforming Schools Through Powerful, Systemic Walkthroughs http://www.wix.com/missdiscepola/ascd12

#ASCD12…12 Giveaways for your next conference!

OK, you can have my pencils, pens, paper, notebooks, program guides and folders because I am not going to need them anymore.  For the most part, I went through ASCD12 on my BlackBerry. I simply tweeted, typed notes, and followed the “back-current” of the conference from the palm of my hand. It was so nice to not have a lot of “baggage.”

I know most people focus on takeaways, but I am going to try something different. Here are my 12 giveaways:

1. Using Social Media is a precious gift, but you still need to chat with people. People like Tom Whitby will hold court with you, make you laugh, and make you THINK!

2. Don’t be afraid to ask for pictures. The pictures, I hear, will last longer than the moment.

3. Don’t try to do lunch at Reading Terminal Market with more than 7 people during the busy lunch time. You won’t be able to find seats together.

4. Be selfish – You control your learning. If you are in a session and it is not what you thought, “punch out” and go to another, or back to the Exhibit Hall. I preferred the Re-Charge station so I could charge up my phone.  Thanks ASCD for all of the options!

5. Flank out and spread your wings.

6. When in the elevator or in line for coffee, ask someone where they are from. Ask them about their experiences at the conference.

7. Wait the extra few minutes after a session and thank the presenter.

8. Ask people about their technology. See a new gadget, ask someone if they can tell you about it. Might help you in future purchases.

9. Fight through a cold. I kick myself that I missed the 8:00 AM session on Sunday.

10. Buy at least one book that a presenter recommends. I bought Brain Rules, by John Medina. So excited to read it.

Who doesn't want to be Simply Better?

11. Convince your highest ranking administrator (Think Superintendent or Assistant Superintendent) to buy a set of books by an ASCD author, and agree to run the book club. Dr. Gentile, fingers crossed, will be purchasing “Simply Better: Doing What Matters Most To Change The Odds For Students Success” for administrators who are interested in motivating our students and teachers. http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/111038.aspx

12. Blog, Google+, facebook, or tweet about your experiences and “give” them to someone.

See you in Tampa, St. Louis, Baltimore, Denver, Dallas or Chicago13?

 

ASCD12 Day 2 Reflections… and takeaways

For me, day 2 started out rough. I woke up with a continued cough that I can only attribute to allergies. I decided to sleep in, and ended up skipping the 8:00 AM sessions. I think the extra sleep helped and it was also important to spend time with my family before I departed for Philly. I ate a little breakfast and 2o minutes later I was parking in the City. It pays to live so close the National Conference site this year.

I attended the general session. Byrne Creek Secondary Schools was awarded because of the work they are doing with students. I was impressed with how  Principal, Mr. Dave Rawnsley told the story of his school, Byrne Creek Secondary Schools, through a poem “I AM” written by the students. I thought it was touching.

After the general session, I went to the recharge station and met up with my superintendent, Dr. Gentile and Joe Mazza, Principal of Knapp Elementary. Please check out Joe’s blog http://efacetoday.blogspot.com. We discussed the power of social media and parent engagement. Joe is doing a lot of research on this issue through his doctoral program. He shared a video with us that we will defiantly be bring back to Millville to help teachers, administrators, parents and students recognize this awesome tool.

Joe Mazza and David Gentile at the Re-Charge Station

We went to a 1:00 PM session, but it didn’t work. Sometimes, what is written on the description is not what it seems in the presentation. No worries. We met up with Dr. Moore and Alicia Discepola and hit the Exhibit Hall. I was able to get a picture with an energetic representative from ADRENNA.

She was dancing to get people to visit

At 3:00 PM I attended Bored to Death: What we know (and Ignore) About Student Motivation by Bryan Goodwin. Bryan did a fantastic job of taking the attendee through the research and practical strategies that both identify and assist students who are unmotivated with their learning. I highly suggest that you purchase his book Simply Better: Doing What Matters to Change The Odds For Student Success. http://www.amazon.com/Simply-Better-Matters-Student-Success/dp/1416612955/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1332715356&sr=8-1

Here is a video Bryan showed at the end of his presentation. Enjoy

All in all the day was filled with learning, connections, and resources that I can use to be a better educator.

ASCD12: Day 1 Reflections

Day 1 Saturday

ASCD12

I arrived at the convention center a little before 8AM. My goal was to get registered quickly and make it to the Marzano session. Registration was so easy and everyone at ASCD was extremely helpful. When I arrived at the Marzano session I quickly began to listen, make connections and, of course, tweet. I was so happy to see that many other attendees were tweeting as well. Bob Marzano’s presentation was enlightening, humorous and, most of all practical. His research has enlightened me to the fact that teaching is both an art and a science.

I went through the exhibit hall. There were so many resources available to increase learning, technology integration, and student achievement. I met up with my Superintendent, Dr. Dave Gentile and another Principal, Dr. Brian Robinson, from the district and we went to the keynote address by Reed Timmer, storm chaser extraordinaire. I have never seen the show, but I will say that the other day as I was doing a walkthrough in my building, a 5th grade teacher was using Reed’s work to illustrate the powerful impact of Tornadoes for a project they were doing. What I liked about Reed was that he modeled effective instruction- he made real world connections, integrated story telling, and utilized technology.

After the Keynote, I went to lunch and had a wonderful conversation about Elementary education from one of my in district mentors, Dr. Brian Robinson. Brian always provides me with with insights into education, and he is a really good sounding board for all of my ideas.

It was all laughs before the presentation

I tried to attend an early afternoon session, but all the early birds got the worms. I attempted 3 sessions but they were closed. So, I helped out the team from Millville who were presenting at 3:00 PM. Their session on Transforming Schools Through Powerful and Systemic Walkthroughs (Dr. Pamm Moore, Dr. David Gentile, Mrs. JoAnne Colacurcio, and Ms. Arlene Jenkins) was the one I was looking most forward to. By 2:45PM the room was packed and the session was closed. My job for this session was to run the twitter feed. I think I sent out 35 tweets during the session. I felt like a court stenographer.

As a celebration to the amazing presentation the team from Millville went to dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe. We laughed and joked while we snacked on a very diverse appetizer tray. As soon as we were finished with dinner, Dr. Pamm Moore and I headed over to tweet up.

@timito4 @web20classroom@NMHS_Principal @betavt @tomwhitby @drpammoore @katrinastevens1

At first I didn’t know what to expect from tweet up. I wasn’t sure what I would do or who I would talk with, or for that matter how long I would stay. Fortunately, Eric Sheninger arrived and we caught up and reflected on the visit to his school. He introduced us to some people. Before we knew it, we had met colleagues from all across the country, with various participation with twitter and blogging. We had so much fun! I thanked Tom Whitby, and Steven Anderson, the innovators of #edchat, for all they did to pave the way for all of us who have followed. And to think, only one day completed!

By the way, I sent out about 100 tweets throughout the whole day and I was able to complete this post before going to bed. I have to say this is very invigorating!