A week ago I had the privilege of attending a full-day presentation by Bill Daggett. If you ever have the opportunity to work with him, do it! Highly recommended! Prior to the presentation I had heard so much about his ability to engage an audience. So, I was as interested in watching a world-class presenter do his thing as I was in the content that he would bring to the table. In both regards, he did not disappoint.
Within the past month or so I have attended three local conferences: NJPAECET2, Edcamp Long Island, and Edscape. As I reflect upon these experiences (and the other events of which I have been a part), I find a handful of common denominators in regards to what I personally look for in a conference. With these ideas in mind…
Here are my four “looks fors” in an education conference:
This past Monday I facilitated an introduction to Writing Pathways professional development with two of my district’s Reading Specialists.
A handful of years ago I was teaching fourth grade when the whole idea of the flipped classroom entered my radar. The Educause definition of the topic states:
The flipped classroom is a pedagogical model in which the typical lecture and homework elements of a course are reversed. Short video lectures are viewed by students at home before the class session, while in-class time is devoted to exercises, projects, or discussions.
In short, get the direct instruction out of the way so class time can be dedicated to problem solving.
Front-loading direct instruction goes against everything that I believe in as an educator, and therefore, so does the way in which most classrooms are flipped.
In the last post we explored three ways in which educational books can be used (or misused) during professional development to impede our progress. One of these points touches upon making professional development more focused by (1) starting with the end in mind (or with what enduring understandings you want participants to walk away), and then (2) focusing only on the parts of the book that pertain to these understandings.
In Instructional Coaching, Jim Knight talks about the “art form” of instructional coaches being able to take a book and present/teach its contents in a simplistic fashion. He explains that ideas “will catch on much quicker if they are (a) powerful and (b) easy to use.” As implementers of professional development, I believe that we must own the process of making our resources and books as absorbable as possible (and not be so quick to blame teachers who may not “get it” the first time around). As Knight declares, “Teachers do not resist change so much as they resist poorly designed change initiatives.”
With my thoughts and Knight’s research in mind, here are the steps that I generally follow in order to “transform” a book into professional development:
A few months ago I was consulting with a principal who was planning to roll out differentiated instruction professional development in her school. A great deal of this planning time was dedicated to researching/deciding what book should serve as the basis for the learning.
After some conversation we started to ask ourselves if it was truly necessary to distribute a book to the teachers.
In the previous post (part 1 of 2), we explored the fact that student response apps (Socrative, Kahoot!, Plickers, etc.) are often mislabeled as “formative assessment tools.” What makes them formative depends on the context in which they are used. Formative assessment is a process, and in order for a tool to play a part in this process the results/data it produces must be leveraged to differentiate instruction or learning.
Now, let’s explore a second problem with these apps, which is the belief that they are not generally associated with higher-order thinking.
It started with generally clunky and overpriced “student clickers” by such brands as SMART Technologies and Einstruction, and over the past few years it has transitioned into slick apps like Socrative, Kahoot!, and Plickers. Time and time again we have seen these apps demoed during professional development sessions and written about on websites and blogs. Nevertheless, we need to be careful that we do not prioritize technology over pedagogy by referring to these apps as “formative assessment tools” when they are anything but.
From Broad to Narrow
This blog started as a digital portfolio that I created as one of the requirements for earning my K-12 Principal Certification. Up until now, pretty much all of the content has dealt with education, but the topics of the blog posts have been a bit scattered. For any given post, I have more or less “thrown a dart at a dartboard” and written about whatever has come to mind. To reflect this broad approach, the site title and tagline have read “Ross Cooper: thoughts from a k-12 curriculum supervisor.”
Now it is time to narrow my focus.