The Problem with Fidget Spinners . . .

The Problem with Fidget Spinners . . . is not the distractions.  It’s not the noise.  It’s not even the obsessive collecting.  It ain’t the disruptions to classmates.  It’s not the who’s-got-the-best-spinner drama either.  It’s definitely not that they annoy some teachers.  And it’s not that they may cost parents a lot of money.

It’s that kids need them.  It’s that our youth – and our society in general – see school as an experience that is so mind-numbingly, torturously boring that we assume that kids need something to fidget with during it.  It’s that learning, in many classrooms, is seen as a passive behavior and that students need something active to do with their hands while it happens.

Make learning experiences that make your students want to put their spinners away.

Comparing & Contrasting College Admissions and the NFL Draft

Every April, executives and coaches from the 32 NFL Teams prepare to select the college football players that they will add to their roster. For months leading up to this event, their scouts pour over every morsel of information that they can find on the hundreds of players available for the picking.  And talking heads at ESPN and other sports media outlets talk about all of it.  Anyhow…. how does this relate to school? Continue reading Comparing & Contrasting College Admissions and the NFL Draft

“Kids These Days . . . “

Adults these days start sentences with “Kids these days . . . “ way too often.  And here’s the thing that I want to point out about that phrase:

Any sentence starting with “Kids these days” is not an excuse.  It is an observation (it’s also a loosey-goosey generalization, but we’ll save that for another post).  However, adults often use it as an excuse.

So?  Isn’t “excuse vs. observation” just syntax?  Well, you may think it is until you see an educator who’s struggling to lead his/her students to mastery shrug their shoulders and say something like “Kids these days want to play on their phones and video games instead of studying.”

Why is it important to draw the line in the sand between excuse and observation on this statement?

Excuse – “Sure, my students aren’t achieving mastery, but it’s not my fault – kids these days would rather play on their phones and video games than study.”

Observation – “Kids these days would rather play on their phones and video games than study . . . ”

What’s up with the “. . .” in that observation?

Any good educator uses observations (a.k.a., informal formative assessments) to make decisions about how to best lead their students to deeper learning.  It’s what you put after the dot dot dot that is what makes a good teacher a great teacher.

Kids these days would rather play on their phones and video games than study . . . so I’ll try using gamification in my course.

Kids these days would rather play on their phones and video games than study . . . so I’ll start integrating more technology into my teaching.

Kids these days would rather play on their phones and video games than study . . . so I’ll look for an app that they can interact with on their mobile devices to continue their learning.

Kids these days would rather play on their phones and video games than study . . . so I’ll learn about the apps, games and sites that they’re using to see what I can learn to support my instruction.”

The most important thing about this . . . 

If you’ve made it this far in this post, and I hope you have, then you get to hear what I consider to be the most important thing about “kids these days”:

We are teachers these days.
It is our responsibility to teach kids these days.
We can’t change them, nor should we want to.
Kids from “back in my day” are gone.
Learn to understand kids these days.
Strive to inspire kids these days.

Trying out FlipGrid

After seeing Amy Roediger‘s post about FlipGrid, I had to try it.

FlipGrid is a platform where (1) teacher poses a prompt or question, (2) students access that “grid” with a code, (3) students record their response, (4) students view each other’s responses and (5) students can comment on or like classmate’s response(s).

Amy’s example of the students showing, describing and explaining Chemistry lab experiments/demonstrations was phenomenal.  On her first attempt out of the gate, she went above and beyond the “record a video response” format.

So, I’m getting in on the action.  At this link, you’ll see a prompt from me.  Hopefully, you’ll also see other professionals’ responses.  And, even more hopefully (if that makes sense), you’ll record you response.  I can’t want to hear what you share!!

STEM Practices

In a training webinar for the PEAR (Partnerships in Education and Resilience) Institute’s DoS (Dimensions of Success) Observation Tool, the facilitators discussed how the 3rd of their 4 domains – STEM Knowledge and Practices – was based on the STEM Practices outlined by the NGSS‘ (Next Generation Science Standards) “A Science Framework for K-12 Science Education.”  I think that these 8 practices are fantastic and that schools should place a focus on integrating into the curriculum maps for all content areas, not just science.  Here they are: Continue reading STEM Practices

Chromebook Management ideas from @MrGrifftastic

In the episode below of The Chromebook Classroom Podcast, John Sowash interviewed Eric Griffith.  Eric had some really great insights for going 1:1 with Chromebooks.  Here are a few of my favorite things that are different from what we currently do at my school . . . but may consider adopting in the future: Continue reading Chromebook Management ideas from @MrGrifftastic

Reflections on “Misconceptions about Progressive Education” Video

I’m not sure where I found this video – at some point I put it into my YouTube Watch Later playlist – but when I sat down with my lunch one day and watched it, I was blown away by how spot on it was.

After researching a bit, I discovered that this video is from Green Acres School in Maryland.  The gentleman in the center with the beard is Neal Brown, who appears to be their Head of School.  To his right, with the dark hair, is Dan Frank from the Francis W. Parker School.  To Brown’s left is Robert Shirley from Charleston Collegiate School.  There is a series of videos from this event that I intend to watch in the future – probably over a turkey sandwich, bowl of cottage cheese and some Doritos – but for now I’d like to reflect on my favorite parts of this one.

Check out the video and then meet me in the space below the video to see some of my thoughts. Continue reading Reflections on “Misconceptions about Progressive Education” Video

My thoughts on #GrowthMindset

I am a believer in the power of Growth Mindset.  While there are other characteristics that lead to success, I think that it is one of the biggest predictors of success, if not the single biggest predictor.

Anyhow, when a colleague of mine at Brady Middle School invited teachers to record messages to her students about our experiences with and beliefs about Growth Mindset, I jumped at the opportunity to share.

My goal was 1-2 minutes, but sometimes, when something is important to you, you have more to say.  Here’s the video that I shared with them:

A New Acronym for PBL

PBL = Prohibited by Logistics

Often, when we are presented with a new, high-quality, research-based way to promote student learning, educators identify the obstacles.  The roadblocks.  The logistics.

My response to those logistical roadblocks?  One of my favorite quotes, which I’ve found credited to Ryan Blair:

“If it is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.”

Continue reading A New Acronym for PBL