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Learning Environments Are About Space(s) and Time

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Having a panel discussion with the topic of “learning spaces” being one of the topics (check out some awesome spaces on the #LearningSpaces hashtag on Twitter),  one of the ideas that jumped in my mind was the importance of both the “space” and “time.”  What I mean by that is you can develop the coolest “learning spaces” ever, but if the time is not there to really go deep with our learning, how useful is the space?

Here is what I mean…imagine you develop the best space ever, with flexible seating and it started to look more like a “Starbucks” than a traditional classroom, yet the bell rings every 40 minutes or hour for students to go on to the next class.  What does the space matter if you do not have the time to utilize it?  Imagine being in the state of “flow” in these rooms, and moving from one amazing learning space to another, five or six times in the day; does the space really matter if we are in the cattle herding mentality of school?

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Education

Does learning in your school take place more by design or chance?

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This notion of careful curriculum design and planning is something that I believe is vital to improving student learning in a school. This is particularly true given teacher differences with a school and between schools.

In the context of this post, learning by ‘chance’ is to mean that learning happens completely randomly; it will largely depend on the student’s teacher and what they do and do not do in the classroom.

I have seen it from both sides now. I have seen parents and students come and see me to request that they avoid a particular teacher or be placed in a particular teacher’s classroom. As a relatively new parent myself, I have thought about the chances that this year will be a good or not so good learning year for my son.

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Education

Keeping long-term English learners from getting stuck

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Q: What is LTEL and how do English-language learners fall into the category?

Schools countrywide are working to help long-term English learners who are struggling to learn the language. LTEL is a newer term pinpointing a problem that has become common among English learners. LTEL refers to a student who does not make adequate yearly progress in the acquisition of English.

Under normal circumstances, students typically transition from a beginning English learner to a reclassified English learner within 5 years. This means, if a kindergartner begins school as a beginning English learner, by the time they reach fifth-grade they should be reclassified as a fluent English speaker. Unfortunately, many English learners who were beginners in kindergarten leave elementary school unprepared for reclassification. This puts them at a disadvantage as they prepare for college readiness in middle school.

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Education

Innovation Is Not a One Time Event

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Image created by @SylviaDuckworth

One of the things that have to really see is that innovation in school is not about a day, a week, or a class.  Although creating those experiences are great, if you look at these characteristics above, how can we promote them through what we do everyday in school?

Empathetic – Have students write from the perspective of a character and understand how they would communicate within the modern time frame or in their community.

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Education

5 Ways to Lay the Foundation for Innovation #InnovatorsMindset

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In my new book, “The Innovator’s Mindset“, one of the things that I discuss is understanding that we are not able to change others, but are able to create the conditions where change is more likely to happen.  Instead of  pointing fingers at others, it is important to recognize what we have the ability to do, and develop conditions where innovation is more likely to happen.

Below are five focuses I share in the book on how to “Unleash Talent”, with a quick synopsis and some questions.

1.Powerful Learning First, Technology Second

Although the words “innovation” and “technology” are not synonymous, we do have to understand that technology can be transformational in our learning. When we immerse ourselves in learning experiences with technology, it helps us to make better decisions on what type of learning can truly happen in our schools. For example, if a student wanted to play violin, and there was no one in your organization that knew how to play, where would they go? YouTube most likely, yet if it is blocked, what opportunities have we cut off from our students?  When purchasing technology in our schools, these should be informed decisions on what is best for learning, not on what technology is cheapest or what people are most used to.

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Education

3 Tips on Student Self-Reported Grade

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Last week a teacher told me how excited she was to see the seemingly endless strategies teachers can use in helping students grow (see previous post).
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As we talked about John Hattie’s list together, I began to think about how helpful it may be to focus on some of his specific strategies for more clarification.

Let’s start at the top of the list: The first strategy from Hattie’s list is “self-reported grades”, so here are three takeaways I wanted to pass along—one from a Hattie summary, one from my own experience, and a third from teachers at my school:

Tip #1: Have Students Set Expectations For Performance

On the website, Visible Learners, you can find a helpful summary of Hattie’s first strategy:

Self reported grades comes out at the top of all influences. Children are the most accurate when predicting how they will perform. In a video Hattie explains that if he could write his book Visible Learning for Teachers again, he would re-name this learning strategy “Student Expectations” to express more clearly that this strategy involves the teacher finding out what are the student’s expectations and pushing the learner to exceed these expectations. Once a student has performed at a level that is beyond their own expectations, he or she gains confidence in his or her learning ability.
Example for Self-reported grades: Before an exam, ask your class to write down what mark the student expects to achieve. Use this information to engage the student to try to perform even better.

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