As I end this week and look back at some of the projects I have been working on, I am noticing a trend - they all depend on technology for community, collaboration, and engagement. Whether its building out middle and high school curriculum for a new digital learning lab at a local museum, curating a summer’s worth of professional learning opportunities for teachers (yes, I am thinking ahead), or planning and facilitating conversations with K12 educators around student engagement, project-based learning and STEM - all of this work depends on selecting and using the best technology available for the project.
Like other folks, I am craving a time when the pendulum can swing back to a better balance of in-person-contact accompanied by the intentional use of technology. However, thanks to two pieces of technology news this week, I don’t need to wait for that to happen in order to do better work.
So, here’s the news…
I recently came across this version of Benjamin Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning from The Derek Bok Center for Teaching & Learning at Harvard University. I have always found Bloom's Taxonomy to be a great reminder to balance the instructional and assessment activities offered to students - especially when student engagement is at a low point. Although, as an educator, you have seen Benjamin Bloom's taxonomy many times over...it is now more important than ever before to audit what your students are doing on a daily basis. If you are finding they have spent a good portion of the school year on learning activities that have them remembering and understanding, it might be time to provide students with opportunities to apply what they have learned, create something new, think critically through analyzation, or make judgement calls via examination and evaluation.
In a PD session a few years ago, participants were asked to consider the profile of a graduate from their school or district. Since then, this idea has surfaced at least three more times in my professional world. Most recently, I was on a Zoom call with authors and education change-agents, Ted Dintersmith and Tony Wagner, when this idea came up again - what content, skills, and habits of mind are important for our kids to know and learn prior to high school graduation? I love this question...and the focus on the 'profile of a graduate' because it really helps all of us to narrow down what's really important for kids to know before we send them out into the world. In thinking about this (a lot), I have started to incorporate this question/idea into my own work. For those of you reading this, I would challenge you to think about what is important for your own kids to know and learn before high school graduation - whether you are a parent, grandparent, care-giver, community member, teacher, or administrator.
Right now - I am partnering with a friend to collect data. Data is everywhere...whether we 'get it', like it, or not. While data isn't always accurate, it does have the potential to tell a story. And, in a way - your observations can become art.
1. Grab pieces of scrap paper and markers/colored pencils/crayons.
2. Decide what you want to track - the number of times your dog barks, the number of times you say thank you...or you hear thank you, the intensity of the noises you hear and the amount of silence in your life.
3. Make a key - use circles, lines, shapes, and colors to represent certain things.
4. Collect your data for a week. You will end up with a story...and something that resembles art.
5. Make inferences and draw conclusions - analyze your data and let it tell you a story. Then ask yourself: what is missing from this data? Are there outliers? Could this data be manipulated? What themes exist?
Some of my own blackout poetry I found in a journal from 2018...
In 2016, I sat in a room with Dan Pink at TED Summit in Banff (Alberta, Canada). Below is a question I wrote down in my journal. I don’t think I ever had an opportunity to ask Dan this question (or maybe I just ‘chickened-out’), but it’s worth noting that his book, Drive, very likely answers the question. Regardless, I think this is something we are all still working out?
Here it is:
"As an educator, your writing about motivation is obviously of great interest, as I see our work as the work of inspiring learning inside and outside of the classroom. My fear is that the structure (complete task → get grade) gives kids the impression that learning is a task and not an authentic, ongoing part of life inside and outside of the classroom. What major shifts do you think need to happen in education that might change how our students see learning in their lives?"
The start to a new year always brings reflections of the past year...and even years before that.
Over the past few weeks, I have been going through my journals from the past 5 years. So much of what has guided my thinking - personally and professionally - is written on those pages. Thoughts inspired by books I have read, talks and presentations I have watched, and the interactions of those closest to me.
So, in an effort to find inspiration and strength for the coming year, and (maybe) to let my guard down a bit, I will be sharing some (imperfect) snippets here.
Anyway, here it is:
Join me on Friday, May 1st in my online community, Fishbowl Hub, as I host a quick 20-minute conversation for K12 teachers with Lisa LaBracio, Animation Director, Filmmaker, and Educator as she discusses ways for students to create animation for storytelling, and as a way for students to show what they know about any topic using everyday materials found at home or in nature.
Fishbowl Hub is an online community for the K12 crowd that hosts a space for conversations, the sharing of ideas and resources, and bite-size PD events (20 minutes or less) for K12 teachers. Are you connected to K12 education? Join this free educator community at community.fishbowlhub.com.
About the Author
Love all things related to learning. All classroom content is being 'played out' - in real life - every day in our communities. How might we harness that reality? This year...2021...sharing snippets from my journal entries over the past 5 years, as well as projects I am working on now.
-Jen Hesseltine (@jenhesseltine)