Is Your Technology Integration Rigorous and Relevant Enough? #BCSLearns

I have posted in the past about technology integration and leveraging it powerfully to maximize student learning, and when I came across the article by   and   entitled How to Implement Google Apps with the Rigor Relevance Framework, I thought this may be another resource for us as we work to get the most out of our technology use with students as it relates to their learning.  In the article, the authors as the questions, “Are we using technology in our classroom merely to say we’re using technology in our classroom? Or are we using it to advance learning goals and arm our students with technology skills necessary to thrive in the 21st century? When planning Google Apps for Education lessons, the Rigor/Relevance Framework is the most comprehensive tool educators can use to ensure technology implementation is of real-world, skill-enhancing value to students.” Below is an image for the Rigor Relavance Framework with a description of each quadrant in term of moving up the rigor relevance scale from A to D.

  • Quadrant A — Acquisition:  Student tasks require simple recall and basic understanding of knowledge.
  • Quadrant B — Application:  Students use acquired knowledge to solve problems, design solutions and complete work.
  • Quadrant C — Assimilation:  Students extend and refine acquired knowledge to automatically and routinely analyze information, solve problems and create unique solutions.
  • Quadrant D — Adaptation:  Students think with complexity and apply knowledge and skills to unpredictable situations.

To be sure, each of these quadrants have their place in the learning process, though the point of this framework is to help us understand the learning benefits that students gain from the time spent in each of the quadrants based on the active verbs listed.  That said, quadrants B and C illustrated much higher levels of application and knowledge respectively (than A) while quadrant D illustrates the most rigorous and relevant levels of learning – not the active verbs there and even compare this framework to the SAMR model.

Check out the 9-minute video below of Dr. Willard Daggett (President of the International Center for Leadership and Education) and his take on “teaching 21st century learners.”

Learning Resonates Deeply #BCSLearns

I attended the National Forum this weekend in Washington D.C. and I want to highlight the two keynote speakers and the powerful thoughts with which I left.

In the opening keynote, Bringing Learning to Life, Cathryn Berger Kaye (President of CBK Associates and an award-winning author) shared with us “how to invigorate the learning process with a dose of excitement and purpose. She began her keynote displaying a slide that simply stated, “Bringing learning to life!” This became the theme of her session with us while making us consider how we would finish the following sentence…”Learning is ________.  Take a look at the pictures below that display quite well, albeit differently, what learning ought to be for ALL of us, students and adults alike.

In short, “learning and life go together”.  They should not be separated and our efforts at BCS to infuse service learning into our classrooms is spot on.  In Kaye’s session she references, in talking about the importance of service learning, UN Goals for Sustainable Development, a post from this blog but a few weeks ago. Learning is life, or in the words of Albert Einstein, “Once you stop learning, you start dying.”

In a follow-up session with Kaye, she became more specific around implementing service learning in your classroom. She shared her Five Stages of Service Learning: A Dynamic Process.   

  • Investigation
  • Preparation
  • Action
  • Reflection
  • Demonstration

Check out Kaye’s list of resources for articles and tools and the 1-minute video below where she emphasizes the importance of service learning for students – “echoes of learning reverberates through service.” (In fact, check out my tweets from the conference at #BCSLearns.)

Promoting Civil Discourse in an Uncivil Day-and-Age #BCSLearns

With the election season upon us and the relative hostility revolving around the Presidential Election in particular, we may think about avoiding bringing conversations about this election into our classrooms.  But, would we be missing a golden opportunity for authentic learning?  In the article entitled Civics in Uncivil Times from the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Leah Shafer, the author suggests just that.  “But as the school year takes off and the election draws nearer, rejecting political conversations in the classroom will likely be impossible — and unwise, according to educators we interviewed. ‘No matter what students grow up to do with their lives, they all have civic rights and responsibilities, so they need to be prepared,’ says political philosopher Meira Levinson, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Educators have a responsibility to discuss these current events so that their students can become informed and active citizens.” Shafer asks teachers to consider “a student’s point of view:

  • Students may be more invested in this election than they usually are in politics.
  • But that interest doesn’t necessarily mean that students are well-informed about the candidates.
  • Students may have very strong emotional reactions to what the candidates are saying and doing.
  • This campaign’s rhetoric may be especially difficult to confront in a school setting.”

As we consider the students’ points of view, we, as educators, can facilitate classroom discourse the encourages students to think critically.  The article suggest encouraging dialogue with our students around the following:

  • “How should we live together?
  • Clear descriptions of how different political parties view the role of government.
  • Helping students reach their own conclusions by perusing and analyzing both candidates’ websites.
  • Distinguish the candidates from their supporters.
  • Analyze why certain people in certain areas of the country or with certain backgrounds feel compelled to speak out on behalf of those candidates.
  • Allow space for students to express their reactions.
  • Adjusting assignments based on the needs and particular makeup of their classes.
  • How presidential elections can have a profound impact on students’ lives, instilling the importance of remaining informed and engaged.
  • An important lesson in the power of words.”

All of these factors can be integrated into our conversations among students in our classroom – all while keeping our BCS Moral Compass in the center of our dialogue together – even though our politicians may not be valuing the 3Es nor living into the skills embedded within it.

  • Positive Attitude
  • Honesty & Integrity
  • Respect & Kindness
  • Responsibility & Accountability

While our politicians may be having difficulty keeping a positive attitude, displaying honesty and integrity, demonstrating respect and kindness, and holding themselves responsible and accountable, this election season affords us the perfect opportunity to reemphasize with our students why living into our Moral Compass each day matters NO MATTER WHAT!  If you’re so inclined, take a look at the video (6:26) “Explaining the ‘scandals, lies and incivility’ of the 2016 election to teens” and see how these teachers’ approach to the election. This video will even give students non-examples of our Moral Compass.  Check it out, as well as the other links to resources…

Other resources:

Hey Leaders – Be Comfortable with Ambiguity #BCSLearns

As a leader (and a parent) I want to be careful that I don’t solve problems for the educators I serve (or the children I “parent”).  Rather, I want to pose questions to them so that they can think through their problems and come up with alternate solutions.  It’s a collaborative model, not an expert model; whether I am a principal or a parent.  Imagine allowing those we lead to face “highly ambiguous challenges [so they] develop a set of tools that prepare them for the uncertainties they will increasingly encounter” in the this exceedingly complex world of ours. This is where creativity and innovation lie!  In the article from Harvard Business Review called Grooming Leaders to Handle Ambiguity, Scott Anthony proposes just that – “Shifting from size-matters to ambiguity-matters development for those we serve.  Furthermore, in a book called Simple Habits for Complex Times: Powerful Practices for Leaders the authors suggest that leaders should learn to love ambiguity.  I think back to, a mentor of mine, Dr. Bob Maxfield’s advice to me as he appointed me to my first “principalship”, “Be comfortable with ambiguity.” Advice I have always remembered and for which I am enormously thankful.

Let me close with yet another notion out there that is used to describe our world that supports the importance of us being comfortable with ambiguity – VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous).  The video called “Neuroscience for Leaders in a VUCA World” shares “the future hallmarks of effective and engaging leadership”…

  • Building cognitive strength
  • Improving emotional res
  • Understanding how to release insight and creativity
  • Sense-making
  • Patience
  • Active social network
  • Insatiable curiosity

Check out the 2-minute video as we learn to lead our own lives as individuals, each other and our students in this VUCA world.

Here Are Some “Things” Worth Studying! #BCSLearns “is a community for news, stories and leadership on innovations in learning and teaching.” A blog post from May 2016 by CEO Tom Vander Ark shares Earth Owner’s Manual: 17 Things Young Adults Should be StudyingThese 17 things are from the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals AKA the 17 Goals to Transform our World…

  1. No Poverty
  2. Zero Hunger
  3. Good Health and Wellbeing
  4. Quality Education
  5. Gender Equity
  6. Clean Water and Sanitation
  7. Affordable & Clean Energy
  8. Decent Work & Economic Growth
  9. Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure
  10. Reduce Inequality
  11. Sustainable Cities & Habitats
  12. Climate Action
  13. Life Below Water
  14. Life On Land
  15. Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions
  16. Smart and Safe Technology
  17. Partnerships For the Goals

As we think of authentic, inquiry-based driving questions to peak our students’ interest in learning, keep these 17 things in mind when crafting driving questions for your units.  And, yes, this is happening at BCS! Just this week, visiting a science class, the teacher shared the following statement as a driver for their upcoming unit on water: “Some scientists believe the next World War will be fought over water.” These types of driving questions (or statements) align with more than a few of the Sustainable Development Goals and can also drive project/problem/challenge-based learning.

Check out the “to-do list” and a video that may be a great one to motivate your students…


Are Today’s Students Ready for the World? #BCSLearns

A team of us at BCS are about to embark on a series of training this school year focusing on social emotional learning and emotional intelligence through Yale University with Marc Brackett.  Brackett, in the article Today’s Students May Be Emotionally Unprepared contends that “The problem — and the solution — is not intellectual. It’s emotional.” I’ve posted about the importance of empathy and emotional intelligence in the past, both of which align with Brackett’s notion of the problem-solution. His research on emotional literacy includes five critical components best remembered by the acronym, RULER:

  1. Recognizing emotions in self and others
  2. Understanding the causes and consequences of emotions
  3. Labeling emotions accurately
  4. Expressing emotions appropriately
  5. Regulating emotions effectively

Do you believe? “Emotions drive learning, decision-making, creativity, relationships and health. Mastering the skills of emotional intelligence paves the way for greater well-being, better relationships and overall effectiveness — for college students, for students from kindergarten through high school and for the adults who surround them, including educators and parents.”

If so, are our students today prepared for the world ahead of them?  They are at BCS because we know the importance of emotional intelligence and we work to infuse social emotional learning with our Moral Compass daily into our intellectual learning with students.

Want more?

Take a look at the 17 minute video with Marc Bracket giving us an introduction to emotional literacy and its importance.

Positive Attitude-Is it Really that Important? #BCSLearns

Positive attitude was an overarching theme at our Town Hall meetings with students and staff on the first day of school, and I have included positivity, happiness and gratitude as themes in past posts to be sure.  The three below come to mind…

A recent article I came across called 7 Tips to Encourage a Positive Attitude in Students leads with a famous quote by Norman Vincent Peale, “Change your thoughts and you change your world.” Positivity matters! Tips included below and detailed in the article are great reminders for teachers AND parents (except for #7 I have to disagree with).

  1. Be an example. Model a positive, encouraging attitude in all that you say, do, and believe.
  2. Create a positive learning space for your student(s).
  3. Help your student(s) visualize a positive outcome from every scenario before starting.
  4. Eliminate negative verbiage from your student’s dialogue.
  5. Help your student(s) change negative thinking patterns.
  6. Play the role of your student’s biggest fan.
  7. Incorporate a rewards system to encourage positivity at all times.

Now, regarding #7, I’m not a big fan of rewards and extrinsic motivators as a way to encourage positivity or self-discipline.  Check out a post from last year, Students Are Totally Motivated, Indeed! #BCSLearns, where I share some resources about building intrinsic motivation – rewards are not part of it.  How about rephrasing #7 to “Build instrinsic motivation through authentic feedback to your student(s) helping them see the power their positive attitude has on their lives.”?

And finally, check out these two, very short, videos of Alfie Kohn on rewards and the other regarding punishment – both linked to intrinsic motivation and are thought-provoking.  You may even find yourself chuckling!