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

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.

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

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

 

The Importance of Being Earnest: Do You Walk Your Talk?

A trivial blog, for serious school leaders

Source: classic-literature.findthedata.org

I am sure, at one time or another, you have come across The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde. Recently, I was reflecting on the play, and wondering how it connected to leadership. An important aspect to the play was Wilde’s attempt to expose the Victorian Aristocracy for all of it’s contradictions.  In essence, I had to ask myself, as a leader, do I really walk my talk?

Argyris and Schon (1974) wrote the seminal piece, Theory in Practice: Increasing Professional Effectiveness. Since then, many researchers and educational leaders have discussed the concept of espoused theories (what I say I would do) and theories-in-use (what I actually do). I return to this time after time because I believe it makes me a better leader. The difficult part is that my theories-in-use (what I actually do) are understood by those who observe me. We all know that everyone has a different perspective. How do I know how I am doing?

When I talk with other leaders, or read their blogs I always wonder how their theories-in-use are observed by those they lead. I am sure they do the same with me! How would we ever really know? Does it really matter?

As leaders we are never going to please everyone. Our decisions impact the lives of students, parents, and teachers, and therefore are delivered with a lot of responsibility. With the ability to make those decisions, we must understand that there will be those who criticize our every move. This is certainly something that they try to teach us in graduate school, but it is only completely understood when you embark on your leadership journey.

Source: austin-williams.com

This year there were times when I struggled with decision making. I am not sure why. Maybe it was because I wanted to please everybody. Fortunately, I had (and have) supportive school leaders who I could turn to for advice. Eventually though, I would hang up the phone or the conversation would end, and I would have to make the decision on my own. I can only hope that my espoused theories and theories-in-use were in sync. Did I make the right decisions? Did I walk my talk? Only time will tell.

As luck would have it, I was recently reading Shifting the Monkey by Todd Whitaker. He has a chapter titled, “Make Decisions Based on Your Best People.” In that chapter, Whitaker (2012) sums up the decision making process with these guiding principles: “1) Treat everyone well. 2) Make decisions based on your best people. 3) Protect your good people first.”

There really is a lot of importance in being earnest!

Resources:

The Importance of Being Earnest:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Importance_of_Being_Earnest

 Espoused theories and Theories in use:

http://www.infed.org/thinkers/argyris.htm

Shifting the Monkey, by Todd Whitaker

http://www.amazon.com/Shifting-Monkey-Protecting-People-Slackers/dp/0982702973

Tell Me Your ZIP Code and I Will Tell You Your Score

This is less a blog post, but rather an open letter looking for help. I am not blaming anyone. I just need an example (s). Please, someone, show me the way. There has to be someone who defied the odds of their ZIP code.

I am the Principal of a recently designated “Focus” School by the State of New Jersey. According to the State’s Department of Education, a Focus School is, “a school that has room for improvement in areas that are specific to the school. As part of the process, focus schools will receive targeted and tailored solutions to meet the school’s unique needs. There are 183 focus schools.

The designation for my particular school is, “Lowest Subgroup Performance: Schools whose two lowest performing sub groups rank among the lowest combined proficiency levels in the state. Schools in this category have an overall proficiency rate for these lowest performing sub groups of 29.2% or lower.”

Ironically, when I found out that we were designated as a Focus School, we were not given specifics. So, I really don’t know (other than lowest performing sub group) why we are designated. In the past, this type of Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) was determined by the students who were enrolled in the school prior to the start of the school year. I have heard, but cannot confirm, that the new designations were based on whoever took the test in the school, no matter how long they have attended. (For instance, my sister school RD Wood, a Priority School,  has had over 200 transfer in/outs this year alone.)

As I looked at the breakdown of the state data, something began to really stick out. It seemed to be correlated with ZIP codes and performance. According to the NJDOE website, District Factor Group (DFG) designations were, “First developed in 1975 for the purpose of comparing students’ performance on statewide assessments across demographically similar school districts. The categories are updated every ten years when the Census Bureau releases the latest Decennial Census data.” The NJDOE explains that there are six variables that further assist in determining a DFG:  “1) Percent of adults with no high school diploma 2) Percent of adults with some college education 3) Occupational status 4) Unemployment rate 5) Percent of individuals in poverty 6) Median family income.”

So, “A” is the lowest designation and B, C, D, E etc. are progressively more affluent districts. You get the point. As I looked over the report, I found some really interesting details.

Of the 75 Priority Schools, 81% were categorized as DFG A, and 100% were designated as Title 1 Schools.

Of the 183 Focus Schools, 54% were categorized as DFG A, and 70% were designated as Title 1 Schools.

Of the 112 Reward Schools, 4% (5 schools) were DFG A, and 32% were designated as Title 1 Schools.

(Please note that the vast majority of schools in NJ will not be found in any of these categories, and at the time of this blog, do not have a designation.)

Still, I’m not blaming anyone, but why so few DFG-A’s that were designated as Reward Schools? Why are so many Priority and Focus Schools?

I am looking for examples of schools who, despite their socio-economic status, achieve high test scores on a regular basis. I have some criteria, though, because I do not want to play the shell game. These schools must fit this criteria:

–          Is not a magnet school

–          Has not recently been “redistricted”

–          Is not a school for the “gifted”

–          Maintains the same type of demographics (sub groups included) from the onset of being identified as low performing (failing to make AYP for multiple years) to achieving a status reflecting success (Reward or not on the Focus or Priority list).

See, I am cautious when presented with examples of schools who overcame insurmountable odds to achieve high levels of success on high stakes testing in their state because there are usually a few asterisks. Under NCLB, schools who were not meeting Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) were designated as such. Some districts, with the best intentions, decided to spread the wealth (or in this case, non-wealth) and re-district. I cannot blame them. Some districts changed the nature of the school and once again, I cannot blame them.  They probably discovered Chicago’s Nettlehorst School, a “national example of a turnaround,” and decided to follow suit. Did you know that the poverty rate at Nettlehorst School went from 83% in 1999 to 34% in 2010? (Read more about this here)

 

What about the teachers? There is a drum beat pertaining to teacher effectiveness sounding in our media, dinner table conversations, and administrative meetings. I am sure that effectiveness can be improved, but I wonder about the vast throngs of teachers who do teach in DFG- A schools. Is it statistically possible that in the number of priority and focus schools in New Jersey that they have the least effective teachers? I can speak for my teachers and tell you that they integrate technology, best practices, and research-based methods, attended the same Universities as their counterparts in wealthier districts, and do all this day after day and year after year because, well, they think they can make a difference. Not to mention, they were “guided” by the State of New Jersey through the now defunct Collaborative Assessment and Planning for Achievement (CAPA).

 

So I ask you, I beg you, and I plead for your assistance. Can somebody please send me examples of schools that have defied the odds and have achieved sustained success on their state’s high stakes assessment? *Please remember, no shell games.

Resources:

Overview of Current Designation: http://education.state.nj.us/broadcasts/2012/APR/11/6423/Memo%20re%20accountability%20and%20Regional%20Achievement%20Centers.pdf

List of Priority, Focus and Reward Schools in NJ:

http://www.nj.gov/education/reform/PFRschools/Priority-Focus-RewardSchools.pdf

Nettlehorst Article:

http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/January-2011/Nettelhorst-Elementary-Schools-Remarkable-Turnaround

Changing demographics at Nettlehorst:

http://iirc.niu.edu/School.aspx?source=About_Students&source2=Educational_Environment&schoolID=150162990252370&level=S

Cymbolic Symbolism

Just minutes before the Spring 2012 Concert

As an Elementary principal I have had the opportunity to play floor hockey, football, kickball, challenge students in math, substitute teach, write essays, and even tried Double Dutch  with the students, and teachers. Up until the other night, one thing I had never done was perform with a School Band.

Growing up I had an appreciation for music, but never had any interest, or patience in playing instruments on my own. A lot of my friends played the guitar, drums, and even the Tuba, but not me. So in order to grow as a professional, I came out of my comfort zone and played the cymbals in our Spring Concert!

I have to admit that during the practices, I felt just like a kid, and I was treated like one! My fellow band members had little patience for me at first. They would say, “Dr. Cook, you are supposed to play on 23 and 29. See its right here!” I had to inform them that I didn’t read music. They laughed at me! Before long I wore them down, and they all chipped in to make sure I met my marks.

As for the actual playing of the cymbals, I needed a lot of practice. All I was required to do was a cymbal roll. I was told to start in the middle and “roll” towards the outside of the cymbal. It was not easy. I played too quiet, I played too loud, and I messed up a lot. One of the kids in the percussion section told me, upon seeing my frustration, that I needed to play with more confidence.

I got a lot better through one word…practice! I attended as many practices as I could leading up to the performance. I thought about my part, I talked about it to other musicians. I felt like I was a part of something.

My main goal for participating in the concert was to show kids that they could achieve something if they set their minds to it, and used their resources. I tried to show them how difficult it was for me, and that I too have challenges in my life.

Mr. Mazza leading the chorus

I also learned a little more about the correlation between playing in a band and leadership. Although the conductor is in charge, everyone has their parts, and with that everyone needs to be on the same page. Each instrument has its purpose, and there are times for solos, playing along with everybody and letting others take the lead. Every0ne has to work together for the music to sound beautiful. You have to trust that everyone else has practiced, and that they are following the script. Mistakes are bound to happen, and sometimes those mistakes are only heard within the band.

Thankfully, it all came together on the night of the concert. I welcomed the parents to the Spring Concert and admitted that I was nervous (but I didn’t tell them why). Once the concert started, I got into the zone. I remained focused on my objective…cymbal roll. I felt such a rush after we finished our first song. Although I probably missed a few of the notes, I was on cloud 9!

RM Bacon kids working to the crescendo

Thanks to everyone who supported me in my first concert, self-titled, “Cymbolic Symbolism.”

A year of firsts!

With only a few days left in the 2011-2012, I would like to reflect on this school year. This was the year of firsts.

Here is a list of my firsts:

– First full year as a principal

– First year on Social Media: facebook, twitter, pintrest, google+, edmodo

– First ASCD conference!

– First school blog!

– First personal blog!

(And I am sure I forgetting some things!)

It is been such a rewarding year being principal here at RM Bacon Elementary. I could not have accomplished this without the symphony of musicians playing the beautiful music that is our learning.

Here are some things we have accomplished as a team:

– Successfully implemented the “Your Image is Our Image” theme

– Started an Edmodo group with a school in Wisconsin

– Redesigned our Basic Skills Instruction to mirror the RTI process

– Raised thousands of dollars for charities

– Implemented a new math series

– Increased teacher and student use of technology

– Hosted ASCD film crew for Classroom Instruction That Works 2nd edition

– Began an “un” professional development model on Fridays focusing on technology integration and application

– Updated our PBIS model

– Received approval for 21st Century Learning Program for next year

(And I am sure I forgetting some things!)

In addition to all of this, I had an amazing year working with parents, teachers and students on the ambitious goal of being the highest performing Elementary School in Millville within 3 years and  in the County within 5 years. We have established a process-centered approach to being world class.

I am already looking forward to next year…when “Impossible is Nothing!”

 

Conversation with a Futurist Part 4

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 4 of 5

Pintrest Logo

Fortunately, Art is back and it begets design. Take for instance Pintrest. Have an idea about a design? Try Pintrest? How about a bulletin board? A garden? Want to create your own art? Try Pintrest. Then, you can print your creation in 3D. Heard of that? 3D printers are a reality. (see video below)

Is life is too short or is life is too long? We are working diligently on improving everything from our medicine, diet, exercise, and general quality of life. We have the beginning of diet based on blood type. We have exercise routines established for any type of workout you would want to do, or not do?

source peoplejam.com

Remember Maslow? Watts asked this question to the audience, “What is more important to us? The anticipation of the event, and remembrance of the event?”  I can remember being a kid and anticipating an upcoming event. I would think and think about the event. Anticipation. Or I can think back to those special events as a child. Memories.

RM Bacon QR Code

Literacy provides us with the ability to read and write. Now you can read and write your own code, your own apps. Why wait for someone else to do it? We are learning to love to learn. Think about inspiration, what inspires you? You can literally explore whatever inspires you.

source: art.com

Watts uses the Cowboy way. When you are out on the ranch there is no time for euphemism. You need to be direct and succinct and you don’t need no fancy words. He spent time as a cowboy on a ranch helping people. Even though he is a world renown Futurist, people only saw him a Cowboy on a ranch. People will treat you like the role you are. Try to be something, and people will treat you as such. Start today by telling people you are a _______. They will treat you as a ________.

Here is a story on 3-D Printers:


Missed parts?

Part 1

Part 2  

Part 3

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? Part 3

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 3 of 5

Einstein theories are now laws. We all grew up hearing about the theories of Einstein because at that time that is what they were… theories. Each of those theories, through the scientific process, has been proven.

There is a dichotomy with the Establishment vs. the Movement. For instance, the current President ran on the platform of hope and change as the movement. Once elected, he became the establishment. Listen carefully in the fall as the new election cycle unfolds. The other side will be talking about… change. The lesson is each side needs to respect the other side. Why? Because sooner or later, the position (establishment or movement) will change.

traxarmstrong.com

Game play has changed. Think about what games were like when you were growing up? What is the object of monopoly? Chess? Checkers? Scrabble? To beat your opponent. Have you watched any of the new games in town? Ever watch someone play Call of Duty? The object is to beat the game not each other. Now major gaming is collaborative. Not just collaborative in the sense of the kids in the neighborhood playing together at someone’s house. It is a worldwide collaboration through technology that pairs up anyone who has a system. X-Box will even provide statistics showing who is playing around the world.

So the kids are playing differently, so shouldn’t we provide them with something different in the classroom? There really should be no more lectures in the classroom, it will be (should be) all collaborative. Learners, with an understanding of their role, can work together to solve a problem. Sound familiar?

 

Missed parts?

Part 1

Part 2  

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

Like Crabs in a Barrel

Have you ever heard the story of crabs in a barrel? Basically, it goes something like this. If you have a bunch of crabs in a barrel they will work to pull each other down as they attempt to climb out of the barrel. Furthermore, it is said, that if they were to work together, then they could all get out of the barrel. If you haven’t, please take the time to read this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crabs_in_a_barrel.

In education, are we much different than crabs in a barrel? Think about your classroom, hallway, grade level, school, or district for a minute. Ponder on those who consistently go above and beyond the call of duty, those that transcend the status quo. Now think about how they are treated by others, even yourself. Are most people saying positive things about them? Or do they develop conspiracy theories on “how they got to where they are?” Others may say that another’s success can be attributed to the clothes they wear, their age, their race, if they play a particular sport, or maybe are involved in a particular social media endeavor.  You have heard it before. There are so many adages at work to pull us farther down into the barrel such as, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Or so and so always gets the opportunity because s/he is in the right crowd.”

Ironically, we often find ourselves telling our students to not “pull each other down into the barrel,” but are we setting the proper example? Kids often fall prey to the crab mentality. Students who make the honor roll, excel at an instrument, or are advanced proficient on a state assessment are often looked at in a negative light. Think about it, kids aren’t much different than we are, are they?

Here are some things to ponder about being a crab in a barrel:

–          Why do we have trouble celebrating others successes?

–          Why do we make up excuses when someone else has a success, as opposed to attributing it to hard work?

–          What will it take to change the crabs in a barrel paradigm?

–          When was the last time you helped to celebrate someone else’s success?

–          Are you building up, rather than tearing down?

–          Do we think another person’s successes will cause you to have to do more work?

bigstockphoto_Key_To_Success_509650-1xkrlsc.jpg

Here are some things that are said, with maybe the best intentions, but still work to pull down, rather than build up:

–          You are working too hard, you are going to burn out!

–          You know, you won’t get paid any extra for all of this extra stuff

–          You are starting to make us look bad!

–          Why do you ask so many questions?  I want to get out of this meeting!

–          Life is a marathon, not a sprint.

–          I didn’t do ______________(insert project) because, well, what are they going to do?

–          No matter what, we are protected by the union.

–          So, how well do you know the ___________(insert leader position) outside of work?

As we strive for world class education for all students, we do not have time to pull each other down into the barrel.  We need to change the paradigm, and turn that story into a fable, not a documentary.

 

 

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

It’s Spring Break, and we are in School

“Greatness and nearsightedness are incompatible. Meaningful achievement depends on lifting one’s sights and pushing toward the horizon.” Daniel Pink

Photo by Dr. Pamm Moore

Even though we were on Spring Break this week, Dr. Pamm Moore and I ventured to school an hour and half away. Our session was facilitated by Lyn Hilt, Principal of Brecknock Elementary School in Eastern Lancaster County.  We arrived for class excited for a day of sharing and expanding our Professional Learning Network (PLN).

Photo by Lyn Hilt

Brecknock Elementary is tucked neatly in the rolling hills of Eastern Lancaster County.  The roads, which must be shared with the occasional horse and buggy, are narrow, and winding, and they take you up and down, over, and around just like my own experiences as a principal this year. In all honesty, Eastern Lancaster County is beautiful farm country.

lynhilt.com

When we arrived, Lyn welcomed us into her office.  We assembled at a conference table and began chatting. We had no agenda other than to learn from one of Twitter’s most famous elementary school principals. Lyn has close to 7,000 world-wide Twitter followers.  When she Tweets, educators listen. Her main blog, Lyn Hilt: The Principal’s Posts have been viewed by over 33,000 visitors. In recognition for her hard work and determination, she has been nominated for multiple Edublogs Awards the past two years.  Her school blog  has been viewed close to 2,000 times.

Photo by Lyn Hilt

Lyn enthusiastically described the 21st Century teaching and learning strategies that are integrated into her school’s daily practices. We talked about her foray into Social Media and its subsequent impact on the district, school, and most importantly, the students. Lyn’s Social Media crusade is specific and measurable; intending to arm her teachers and students with the most up to date applications to continuously advance their learning to new levels. She makes no apologies for this.

After our discussion, we toured the classrooms of Brecknock where the ideas are put into practice. We were able to visit with Kindergarten students who had recently Skyped with a class in Peru. When asked where Peru was, one student quipped,  “South America, of course!” We all laughed.

Next, we visited a 1st grade classroom where the students were enthusiastically sharing their blogs via kidblog.org. One student in particular, Dakota, and I chatted about Social Media, blogging, reading, and life.  I encouraged her to finish her blog, have her Principal send it to me, and I would have my 1st graders do the same.

Photo by Dr. Pamm Moore

In 4th grade, students were using Storybird to write their own stories. This was the first time I had seen Storybird in action. Lyn highly recommended this, and she described how the company uses images from real artists.  One student read their entire story to us. I found it interesting that right next to him another student was working on a traditional story. You know the ones that are photocopied and the students color in and write their own story. I picked it and up looked at Lyn and said, “Basically, this is what Storybird is for the 21st century.” She replied, “You got that right!”

Photo by Dr. Pamm Moore

As we walked from room to room, we felt the embrace of the positive and stimulating learning climate that permeates throughout Brecknock Elementary School. Each classroom had its own decorations and distinct character. Some were of the traditional elementary variety and some classrooms made us feel as if we were in someone’s living room.

Clearly, Lyn resonates with the students, and teachers. As we entered classrooms, everyone was excited to see her. It was also obvious that she was in high demand. There were many students who wanted to eat lunch with her. I am not talking one or two students; there were at least a dozen who wanted to be put on her “lunch list.”

Photo by Breaknock Student

We ended our tour and reviewed some of the resources that she imparted on us. She agreed to send us some additional information that would aid us in our transition to world class. I told her that I would get in touch with some of my teachers and that we could connect with her students through one of the various online learning applications. We had one of her student’s take our picture!

Resembling the enthusiasm of Lyn’s lesson, we ventured back over the Delaware River to finish Spring Break. We talked about what we could immediately integrate into our district, and what would we need to research further. We were extremely thankful to spend time with Lyn because we too want to be put on “the list”. The state of New Jersey recently unveiled a directory of Reward Schools and like Lyn, our goals are specific and measurable; we want to be on that list!

 

Resources:

Her personal Blog – Lynhilt.com

Brecknock Elementary Blog – http://blog.elanco.org/br

Free Blogging for kids – Kidblog.org

Artful storytelling- storybird.com

Pink, D.(2011). Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Riverhead Trade. New York.