“Braver” Teaching: Public Scrutiny

In Rick Wormeli’s Keynote address to the North Carolina Middle School Association conference last week he included 24 “things [he] would do if [he] was really brave and was trying to live up to the mission of our schools.”  I would like to take some of his ideas and run with them. I’m not sure if will go through all 24 of Rick’s ideas, or begin adding my own, but over the next couple of weeks I’d like to examine some of these ideas and get as much feedback from you all as possible. Without further ado…

Brave Idea #1 (out of the order Rick presented them):

Open teacher practices to public scrutiny.  The brave educator must have frequent opportunity to publicly defend his thinking on educational issues, formally and informally, rather than living in a self imposed kingdom, safely behind the closed classroom door.  When we have to articulate what we do, it becomes real and actionable, something we constantly reference, not an abstraction.

I thought this would be an appropriate place to start for a group of blog reading and writing educators.  Will Richardson has discussed the “echo chamber” effect in a couple of posts, most notably in “De-Echoing My Reading Practice…Help Wanted”  I think this echo chamber effect is a part of education at large, not just the tech community.  We naturally gravitate towards those with similar thoughts, ideologies, and practices. They confirm what we do, support our thinking, and make us feel safe, warm and cozy.

By opening up our practices to the scrutiny of others, we step outside of the safe, warm, cozy environment that we build around ourselves.  This may come in the form of discussing grading practices that may be less than fair, pet projects that don’t really expand our students’ knowledge of curriculum, or perhaps, even the use of technology that does nothing more than increase our technology use/budget.

One excellent way to create this transparency for our classroom in through blogging our experiences. Many, if not most of you who read this blog are probably somewhere along this path. Occasional bloggers who discuss their classes, teachers who maintain an updated website with student class information, or maybe even the seasoned blogger who is on his/her way to getting students actively using their own blogs for education.  The time for individual reflection is important. Reflecting on our own practice becomes so much more important when we are presented with challenging ideas.  The best way for that to happen is to have as many people as possible give their thoughts, suggestions, concerns, etc about our classrooms. When we bring down the “four walls” of the classroom and invite the public in to see what we are doing, we may take a few hits to our egos that otherwise could be avoided. Once we step back and lick our wounds however, hopefully we can piece together some positives from the experience and find areas to seek growth.

How open to scrutiny is your classroom?

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Netbook vs. iPod Touch Debate

There is currently a debate bubbling just under the surface comparing the iPod Touch to Netbooks for the future of classroom computing.  Recently at the NCTIES conference, Cool Cat Teacher, Vicki Davis, mentioned she would rather have a classroom set of iPod Touches than laptops.  I want to address a few things I’ve seen floating around these conversations.  First of all, I have my own of each and love them. The amount of free and low cost programs that exist for the Touch far surpass anything available for any other phone/PDA, the quality varies wildly, but there are good versions of nearly everything that is out there.

A few limitations on the Touch:
1) Copy and Paste…although it seems little, you can’t copy something from a webpage and paste it into an email. This is supposed to be fixed with the iPhone firmware upgrade coming out this summer, which will cost $10 for Touch users.

2) Google Docs support…At this point in time you can only read Google Docs created elsewhere on the Touch. You cannot edit Docs or create new ones. This may seem like a minor thing as well, but there is no good alternative text entry method for writing anything slightly longer. Zoho Docs seems to work as a basic text editor, but I have not tried it extensively.

3) Video/Audio recording…While the Touch is great for playing video and audio, it is not capable of recording video. There is no camera as there is with the iPhone. Even if there was, the iPhone firmware currently does not support video recording. Those who have “jailbroken” their iPhones are able to record video and stream it through UStream and Qik, but this is against the Apple EULA (for what it’s worth). Additionally, the Touch does not have a built in microphone. It is possible to purchase an external mic which can be used for rudimentary recording, but the apps available to record are very simplistic at the moment.

4) WiFi only access…If your building is wireless this won’t be a problem. If not, then you won’t have Internet connection. The difference in the iPhone and iPod Touch is the way information is sent to each device. The iPhone can operate on AT&T’s 3G network receiving Internet over cell phone signals or via wifi. The Touch only operates over wifi.  This can be a limitation if your school does not allow personal devices on the wifi network.

5) Flash support…currently the version of Safari that comes on the iPod Touch does not support Flash animations. This severely limits the capabilities of many online sites/educational games, etc.

6) Small size of the screen…while the screen is significantly larger than most PDAs or cell phones, it still is not optimal for some uses. For example, someone mentioned grade entry. Our school uses an online gradebook system which is accessible from the Touch. The problem is, in order to read the numbers that are entered, you have to zoom in so far that you can no longer see the student names. This makes entering more than one or two grades at a time difficult.

Positives
1) Anywhere access…as long as you have a wifi connection you can take you computer with you where ever you go. The power on the iPod touch is very similar to that of many computers just a few years ago.

2) Kindle for iPhone…though the screen is somewhat small for this, you can download books from Amazon’s Kindle Store. This is a HUGE benefit as the free application saves you the $360 it would cost to go out and buy a Kindle. The functionality of the Touch far surpasses the Kindle for student creativity. The Kindle is purely for consumption of content. Having access to the largest ebook retailer in your pocket anywhere you have wifi access is amazing.

3) Calendar and contact syncing…this is improving with the Touch all the time. Though I haven’t ventured too far into this yet, I believe it is possible to integrate Google Calendar with your iPod Touch now and simultaneously update both your online calendar and your Touch calendar from either the Touch or a computer.

4) iTunes University…Fantastic professional development opportunities await for free. Take college level courses via video podcast. Dive into podcasts from major names in education. This is great for students to see as well.

Overall, the cost of an iPod Touch is significantly less than that of a laptop…unless you start looking into netbooks. The functionality of netbooks exceeds what most people require from their portable computers. My recent NCMSA blogging stint was done entirely from my MSI Wind netbook, which was quite the conversation starter in and of itself. The only thing a netbook lacks that the Touch has, is access to the Kindle Store. For the cost, I’m very satisfied with my netbook…at $350 if it lasts me 2 years, I’m looking at a cost of only about $16 per month of use. The Touch is only $10 per month based on the same time frame. The real question to ponder is, are there applications on the computer that you can’t live without, or vice versa are their applications that put the Touch far ahead of the netbook market. At the moment, there’s only one (Kindle) but that may well change in the near future as more folks begin developing iPhone/iPod Touch apps.

Where do you stand on the netbook/Touch debate? Which do you think will be the future of classroom computing? Or do you see something else entirely filling the classroom niche?

NCMSA Conference Reflections

After spending two days having my brain turned to putty by some great sessions at NCMSA, I thought I’d toss out a few thoughts/observations from the conference for your responses.

  • There was a serious lack of technology at this conference. Let me be clear, I’m not talking a lack of technology sessions, I’m talking a lack of technology use. Throughout the two days I could count on my fingers and toes the number of folks I saw walking around with laptops. I was sending out updates from the conference on Twitter, and the only other tweets related to NCMSA were from two other presenters. As Will Richardson pointed out here: “…[I]t’s a shame that the collective experience of the people in this room is about to walk off in two hundred different directions without any way to share and reflect on the thinking they’ve been doing all day.” The things that are going on at technology conferences today really are drawing in folks to the collaborative nature of the Internet as it now stands.  I am infinitely worried about teachers looking at technology as “the magic bullet” but not even knowing how to load the gun, so to speak.  There is no magic bullet folks, technology or not, we need well prepared learning experiences for our students.  However, not understanding how to use technology to accomplish a goal you otherwise could not is a scary thing in the face of today’s hyperconnected teens.
  • I was pleased with my avoidance of vendor sessions. This time around I only attended one session that was presented by a vendor. The Crazy Traits product was a fun one, though much of what we did could be accomplished by another activity I already intend to use. What I did gain was some insight into extension activities that can be used with the lab in question.  Overall, I think my conference attendance was enhanced by not feeling like someone was always attempting to sell me something.
  • Blogging the conference was engaging and FUN! I spent the majority of my sessions typing out my notes here on the blog.  The idea being, as stated previously, that I could pass along that information to a large number of folks through Twitter, and to my coworkers back at school. What I found out along the way, was that blogging the conference was actually more fun for me than just writing down my own notes.  Call it “the authentic audience” effect. Since I knew folks were going to be reading what I wrote, I took better notes, injected my own reflections when I could, and even attended one session entirely because I knew others would be interested in the information.  I had heard lots of the brain research presented in The Adolescent Brain, but knew based on a couple of tweets that were sent my way, that folks were listening when it came to that topic. Direct evidence of that is the fact that my post on that session had the most views of any throughout the day.
  • I should have tried harder to get the word out to folks at the conference. I only had a few people ask me about what I was doing while the sessions were going on. Therefore I had just a few people who wound up with my session notes who actually attended the conference. The audience from Twitter was larger, but I have a feeling there were a couple of hundred others at the actual conference who would have been interested to see the notes. Perhaps that would have even brought them into the realization that we can collectively build knowledge much more effectively than can be done alone.

Please feel free to pass this site/session notes/reflections along to anyone you feel may be interested. I encourage you to add your comments, thoughts, rebuttals, and whatever else you think might get conversation flowing around these topics. We have a LONG way to go at the middle school level if we are to fully take advantage of technology as a learning tool and get best practices into the classroom.  The only place we can start is by getting teachers to invest some time into both of these initiatives for themselves, then lead students down the pathways to what we know works best for learning.

NCMSA Keynote: Rick Wormeli

MY NOTES IN ALL CAPS

JUST GOT CALLED OUT TO START THE SESSION ABOUT BLOGGING THE CONFERENCE…WOW…

-Rick is recounting a story of his first class on his first day teaching, talking about reading the role an attempting to pronounce his students names…one of whom was Phuc Duch…The kids said his first name was pronounced “Foo”…His realization was that he didn’t have to be good, but the kids would keep him from being terrible.

-There are times when teaching is really scary. You find bravery in some corner of yourself and address the day.

-Equillibrium is a system at rest…doesn’t consume anything and doesn’t produce anything…School should be a compelling dis-equillibrium

-“Rock the boat, it won’t sink”

-We should always be out for FAIR, not equal…what is fair for everyone, is what is out for kids success…

-Too many teachers are out for “gotcha”…I caught you making mistakes and now I’ve corrected them in red pen

-“Imagine students only learn what you know…” WHAT A LIMITATION 🙂 Don’t let  your limited imagination, limit your students

-Discussing Ethos, Pathos, Logos…students began by tossing one tennis ball, then two, then juggling three…then juggling each others tennis balls got the rest of the class’ attention. This allowed them to explain that all three ideas are needed for a good argument

-Stop editing students

  • Whoever is editing is doing the learning
  • Put a dot instead, for where they should look and FIND their own mistakes

-Teach the ways students best learn, not the way teacher learns best

  • Social networking
  • Podcasting
  • Text Messaging

-End the Five Paragraph Essay

  • How many paragraphs SHOULD it be? How many does it need?

-Get students to ask more questions that we do

  • Teachers ask 80 questions for every 2 by students
  • The questioner is doing the learning according to cognitive science

-Teach in a way that you persuade kids it was worth their time.

-Ask students to grade you

-Model academic struggle as as greatness…not failure

-Failure is the way to teach…let them fail and let them learn from it

Nils Bohr: An expert in any field is the one who made the most mistakes in that field

-Zeroes and F’s have to be infintely recoverable

-A kid without hope, is a huge problem with your teaching

THIS SHOULD HELP SOME OF THE FOLKS WHO CAN’T UNDERSTAND NO ZEROES

-We have adult level experience…middle schooler, a human in the morphing, doesn’t ahve the emotional where-with-all to be in charge of their own learning…we are commissioned to teach so that students learn…save them from themselves

-Giving them a zero says to a student it’s okay to not do something because it’s too far above them

-It’s not coddling…it’s increasing their likelihood to become competent adults…maybe they learn they need to form oral study groups in college because they found out that was the best way for them to learn

-NCTE: 68% of midde and high school students do notecards after the assignment is complete to satisfy the teacher…English teachers, get over it

-Pacing guides fly in the face of everything we know is good for learning

-Admit mistakes and make restitution when you’re wrong

-We have to negotiate what level of hypocrisy we’ll accept from ourselves daily

-We have to replace the metaphors we’ve operated under for so long

  • Benchmarks
  • Standards
  • FACTORY MODELS
  • LD – learning disabled, every single person in this room is LD in the right situation…LD should mean Learns Differently
  • Grades are communication, not compensation…Earning an A, Earning an F…Grades aren’t validation, or compensation, they are meant to be an ACCURATE undiluted report of learning

Is your classroom set up for teachers or students?

Does our use of technology advance our students understanding beyond what they could do without it?

RICK IS DISCUSSING MORE OF THE BIG QUESTIONS WE NEED TO ASK OURSELVES IN THE CLASSROOM.

Two Dozen brave things

  1. reading as a separate course
  2. adjust master schedule to support good instructional practice
  3. make it easier to let toxic teachers/principals go
  4. Principals who demand lesson plans should give a Principal Plan for what they are doing to those same teachers
  5. Change teacher evals. so that teachers who’ve taught the course are doing the evaluation
  6. teach teh students who nobody else wants
  7. Revamp your county grading system
  8. Stop demonizing failure
  9. Open teacher practices to public scrutiny
  10. Mandate students get outdoor teaching experience at least once a year
  11. Change licensure so that middle school is it’s own area
  12. be sensitive to racism
  13. openly, compassionately, but candidly have conversations about controversial topics with colleagues
  14. end perception that timed writing tests assess writing skill
  15. get parents to the classroom everyday, even if they’ve not scheduled
  16. question shows that say “you’re not worthy”
  17. dedicate to working in affluent and schools of poverty
  18. don’t take them out of PE and Music to put them in reading or remediation
  19. don’t start middle school before 9:15 or 9:30 AM
  20. remove some standards we have to teach
  21. specific steps to end poverty

MISSED THREE IN THERE SOMEWHERE…APOLOGIES

Closed with Sound of Music Differentiation Discussion

THANKS RICK! HOPE EVERYONE CAN BE MORE BRAVE ALONG WITH YOU!

Session Notes: Power Teaching

Power Teaching

Jeff Battle, Canton Middle School…Director of NC Power Teachers

Teachmaster-j@live.com

http://www.powerteachers.net

http://classroompower.com

-Structure to apply work of Dr. Dave Vawter or Dr. Marcia Tate

-Holistic approach to students and brain based learning…started in California by Dr. Chris Biffle

-Addresses lack of engagement

-Would you like to

  • get attention of class with one, consistently
  • solve most discipline problems with help of students
  • make classroom management a game students want to play but you can never lose

REFERS BACK TO BRAIN RESEARCH…SIMILAR TO THE PREVIOUS POST

CLASS YES

-When you want attention…say Class…students say YES…but in the same way Class is said by the teacher…Cllllllllllaassssssssssssssss…Yyyyyyyeessssss, etc

THIS WORKS BECAUSE YOU GIVE KIDS SOMETHING TO DO. FLASHING LIGHTS DON’T GIVE THEM ANYTHING TO DO.

-Gives them something to do, keeps them on their toes, focuses them to make sure you don’t do anything else strange…brings in novelty

-Keep things short, easy to repeat…more often you use info associated with a neuron the more the dendrites grow

-Immerse the kids in information, get the basics through repetition

-BIG SIX of Power Teaching

  • Class-Yes
  • The 5 Rules
  • The Scoreboard Game
  • Hands and Eyes
  • Teach-OK
  • The Switch

-Five Rules

  • Follow Directions Quickly (wiggling hand forward)
  • Raise Your Hand for permission to speak. (Raise hand, make mouth hand)
  • Raise your hand for permission to leave your seat. (Raise hand, make walking motion with two fingers)
  • Make smart choices (point to brain
  • Keep your teacher happy! (frame your face, wag head back and forth smiling)

-Use visual, auditory, and kinesthetic signals to reach them deepest

  • Only 8% of students learning comes from your words
  • 30% from gestures
  • 40% tone of voice

-Dr. Glasser…you remember 95% of what you teach to someone else…use this

-Class-Yes…Rule 2…everyone does it and there’s no power struggle for teachers calling out individual student

-Violation of rule 5 is entirely up to you…you’re a better teacher if you’re happy

-Teach-OK…Clap, clap, clap Teach…clap clap clap Okay…then review with partner…Do not let down your teaching partner…do not stop until I say stop

  • We talk too much
  • Shorten info given
  • Students teach each other
  • Tell at a glance if they’re engaged

-SWITCH…1 and 2 partner…#1 talks first…SWITCH #2 talks first…If first partner stumbles #2 must help them…

-“This is kindegarten stuff…No this started in college, but I think you’re advanced enough to handle it”…”This is the way you learn best”

-Differentiate for all verbal, visual, and kinesthetic learners simultaneously

-Lunch Detention…go through the five rules for 3 minutes…second level is just the rule they broke…

-Comprehand and Understend me…:)

– First day…do class-yes and five rules

Scoreboard Game

  • Engagement tool…not actually a game…teacher is not entirely governed by the rules
  • Teacher vs. Student
  • Students score points when they are doing exactly what is expected
  • Teacher scores points when they are not
  • One second party…”clap, oh yeah”
  • Teacher party…”Mighty Groan…”
  • To prevent jadedness…change content not context…”Clap, Yee Haw”…”Clap, Whoo Hoo”…”Wah wah wah…”
  • If you use the Scoreboard Game for homework, have 10 problems you want them to do, show 20, let them beat you by one point so they only have to do the 10 you wanted in the first place…they feel empowered, but you really are still in power
  • +/- 3 Rule…teacher gets up by 3, choose an individual student and reward the class for their action…
  • Points must be earned…not begged
  • Guff Counter – student who talk back are expecting the silent support of the rest of the class…”I was not talking”…OH that sounds like Guff to me…that’s 4 points for me…before I get my marker and get to the board everyone has to look at the person and say “Please Stop”…teacher is the only one allowed to call Guff…model it so that they aren’t mean or vicious
  • Bullseye Game…5 = perfect class, 4=decent, 3=eh, 2=problem/disruption, 1=probably administrative involvement…I write down where they are…they write down as well…2 points away they get no points…same #, 2 points…have to get 10 points by the end of the week or 8 points, or whatever you decide for some reward they request at the beginning of the week…

Hands and Eyes

  • More important than Class-Yes…Clasp Hands, look at teacher

-Power Vocabulary terms have motions created for them

-Biggest caveat…Don’t try to do everything at once…one or two things at a time…

-SWITCH IDEA…#1 What is science #2 what is science not…switch…generate a table of the two…come up with a definition

-Calibrate Volume-O-Meter…Out of control, loud crowd, formal normal, Low flow, Ninja Talk, Quiet of the Tomb….students know exactly what the volume level should be…don’t do it? Teacher gets a point 🙂

Power Teaching has hundreds of pages of e-books

WOW…WOW WOW WOW…MENTAL OVERLOAD HERE. THIS COULD EASILY BE A WEEK LONG PRESENTATION…AND PERHAPS SHOULD BE. DO YOURSELF A FAVOR AND GO TO SOME OF THE LINKS ABOVE TO LEARN MORE.

Session Notes: The Adolescent Brain

The Adolescent Brain: Reaching and Teaching

Dr. David Vawter (vawterd@winthrop.edu) and his wife Gail Vawter

MY NOTES IN ALL CAPS

-“Non-threatening” pre-test to get interest in topic

  • Weight of adult brain? = 3 pounds
  • 2% of body weight but consumes 20 to 25% of calories consumed
  • Brain is 70% water but consumes 30% of all water we drink FOR MIDDLE SCHOOL BRAIN TO FUNCTION AFTER LUNCH THEY NEED GOOD FOOD AND WATER
  • Unfolded it would measure 2ft x 2ft
  • Composed of a trillion cells and 100 billion neurons

-Brain matures back to front…frontal lobe is the last area to mature.  Students physically mature faster and slower than others…no correlation between physical maturity and brain maturity…may be somewhat opposite

-We’re teaching kids, they may look grown up, but they’re not adults

-A 16 year old is 800x more likely to have an accident than an 18 year old…brain is not yet developed

-Brain research by Dr. Jay Giedd, Neuroscientist

  • Studied living brains of adolescents via MRI
  • Tremendous growth of neurons during birth-2 and 9-10…massive pruning during 2-3 and 11-12
  • During adolescence…fewer but faster connections…grey matter thickens…used connection flourish, but unused die

-CEO of the brain is the frontal lobe

NO WONDER KIDS STRUGGLE…THE LAST PART TO DEVELOP IS THE MOST USED PART…WE HAVE TO MODIFY WHAT WE DO IN THE CLASSROOM TO FIT THIS

-Spencer Kagan -stand up, talk out a situation for 30 to 40 seconds just to get brain reactivated

-Middle schooler listens 10 to 15 minutes max before shutting down mentally…

-Stupid teacher question “Why are you doing that”…they REALLY don’t know, the thought process is not like that of an adult

-teens rely on the amygdala which is associated with emotion and gut reactions…

THIS IS WHY WE GET MIXED MESSAGES FROM WHAT WE SAY TO STUDENTS…WHAT THEY TELL TO PARENTS…AND THE REALITY OF THE SITUATION

-MRI tests: Teens see anger when it is not really there…can be irrational and overly emotional

-Teens need 9 to 11 hours of sleep optimally…biological clock shifts during teen years…melatonin effects body at a later stage, why they can’t go to sleep until later and wake up later

-Cell phone/technology curfew…

-Students need to know these things…not to use as excuse but to understand what is happening to them…helps them recognize adults as a guide, not other peers with deficient brains as well 🙂

-Parents need to know this so they can show patience, stay involved, adapt their parenting, explain decisions, set limits, foster independence

PARENTS CAN SERVE AS EXTERNAL BRAIN FOR ADOLESCENTS WITHOUT FORCING THEM TO FEEL THEY ARE STILL BEING TREATED AS LITTLE KIDS

-Educators need to know this because:

  • Crucial time
  • making mistakes is okay
  • willful pigheadedness
  • provide structure to help them get organized

-Foster brain development

  • Predictability
  • Novelty
  • Challenge
  • Choice
  • Feedback

-Provide Brain Breaks…

Speed teaching…The Six R’s

  • Reflexes – how many things can you do an tie to learning (movement, rhythm, verbal, etc)…Marcia Tate, number line Hustle activity…
  • Reflection – If you want long term retention you must have reflection…*snapping, bobbing head, repeating concept* Even 30 seconds of reflection helps memory…THROWING IN SOME OF MY OWN TYPING FOR REFLECTIVE PURPOSES 🙂 WE NEED TO BUILD IN REFLECTION TIME…GREAT ADVISORY ACTIVITY, BUT NEEDS TO HAPPEN IN CLASS AS WELL
  • Review – Association activity creates multiple firings in the brain…Dehydration leads to headaches…the only brain feeling we get…keep kids hydrated, they’ll perform better…it’s not how long you review, but how many times…instrument practice: Four 15 minute practice sessions better than 1 hour long session
  • GREAT ACTIVITY WITH ASSOCIATION…TAKE WEAK ASSOCIATION, MENTION IT THEN REVIEW…ASSOCIATION NOW MADE STRONGER
  • Reteaching – reteach differently than the first time, if something isn’t learned…find a student who got it and let them reteach, they’re learning as well as others
  • Relevancy – things that are more relevant are better remembered. Stop and explain why you are doing activities…concrete learners AND abstract learners will benefit…EOG is not a reason to learn something
  • Ready for what is next – anticipation is a huge part of teaching…preview…stop at an important point and drive the kids crazy…they’ll probably go find the answer on their own…if that happens WE WIN!!

-All New Learning is coated with a chemical that encourages forgetting it…if too much of the brain fires at a time, you DIE…Epylepsy is too much of the brain firing at one time…Myelin is the chemical that allows the brain cell to fire with less energy/calories and less water

-Elementary kids can only remember 2 to 3 things at a time, middle school 3 to 4, adults 7…repetition increases this

-Middle school brain can’t handle an hour long test…their brain is not developed enough

-Kids around 25 will decide you’re somewhat intelligent.

Session Notes: Homework with Rick Wormeli

Homework: Practica Tips on Its Role and How to Get Students to Do It

Rick Wormeli (rwormeli@cox.net)

MY NOTES IN ALL CAPS

RICK AND I HAVE CORRESPONDED PREVIOUSLY AND HE EVEN JOINED OUR STAFF BOOK CLUB VIA SKYPE FOR A CHAT ABOUT HIS BOOK “FAIR ISN’T ALWAYS EQUAL”.  HE’S A FANTASTIC PRESENTER AND SOMEONE WHO REALLY KNOWS HOW TO PUSH EDUCATOR’S THINKING IN NEW DIRECTIONS.

-This is a 3 hour presentation crammed into an hour…hopes the discussion will continue after folks leave. If it stays here, it’s a major “time suckage”

TALK ABOUT APPROACHABLE. RICK GAVE OUT HIS HOME NUMBER AND JUST REQUESTED YOU NOT CALL BETWEEN 5 AND 9 PM, AS THAT’S THE TIME HE’S A DAD, BAND PARENT, SPORTS PARENT. WHERE ARE THE OTHER PRESENTERS WHO DO THIS KIND OF STUFF?

-How would your day be diff. if you didn’t assign any homework?

  • Hobbies
  • Read for enjoyment
  • Exercise
  • Not chasing kids down hall looking for homework

-How would students lives be different w/o homework?

  • They’d get really good at video games
  • they’ bug their parents
  • Research shows they get involved in other things after a short amount of time and get involved in face to face activities (sports, service, Scouts, etc)

-Homework is not to keep kids busy. NO Homework should be the chronic default. Don’t feel there has to be homework every night.

-Only do homework if it advances kids beyond where they were had they not done it.

-Messy lesson plan books are a good thing. You have to respond to the kids you have in front of you…planning homework weeks in advance is unresponsive teaching.

-Think of coaching: some need batting practice, some need fielding, some running, some weight lifting…why do we give all kids the same homework?

-Homework is called Practice in Rick’s classroom to remove emotional baggage from the term.

-Workload should be Time and Energy to complete the task…not the number of problems.

  • You get better at thinking about different assignments for kids to practice their learning

THIS IS DIFFICULT FOR TEACHERS TO DO…AT FIRST. TAKING THE TIME TO MAKE HOMEWORK LESS “ONE SIZE FITS ALL” IS SOMETHING THAT COMES WITH PRACTICE.

-Five purposes of Homework

  • Practice
  • Interaction
  • Application
  • Extension
  • Preparation

HOMEWORK IS NOT A FINAL DECLARATION OF MASTERY. IT IS ALSO NOT ABOUT LEARNING IT FOR THE FIRST TIME.

-Practice makes PERMANENT. Practicing something wrong all night makes it 10 times harder to undo and relearn.

-Confabulation – the brain makes up stuff to get a full picture…wrong practice leads to confabulation. Double check student understanding before assigning practice.

-Homework should be 100% autonomous…if they need parents help, they weren’t ready for practice.

-Homework is formative…done in route to learning

Inappropriate purposes of homework;

  • Appear vigorous and demanding
  • teach material the first time
  • keep students busy
  • assess student’s final, summative mastery of a topic

THIS IS SOMETHING THAT EVERY TEACHER NEEDS TO HEAR. HOW MUCH OF THIS DISCUSSION IS GOING ON IN TEACHER EDUCATION PROGRAMS?

-Alfie Kohn _ Teachers shouldn’t operate  with the assumption that homework assignments will make up for ineffective lessons.

-Have students sign contract to either:

  • Do every homework assignment for 2 weeks
  • Do none of the homework for 2 weeks
  • Same test
  • Kids who don’t do homework will often be more focused in class so they can “prove they don’t have to do homework”
  • They still learned…just in class rather than at home.

-If a kid is failing a course due to homework, you’ve messed up in your grading methods.  Homework should not be enough of the grade to cause failure.

-How does building a diorama teach students about literary devices, reading, writing, theme, critical analysis, novel structure, or anything else about literacy?

-Assign physical exercise for homework, but don’t grade it 😉 Gets more oxygen into the brain than a worksheet or other assignment

-Learn to practice activities without “stuff” Could you teach the concept in an empty gym? That’s a sign of a creative teacher.

-For all subject areas the max TIME of homework should be the grade level with a zero added to the end…example, 7th graders should have 70 minutes of homework total across all subjects

-Middle school kids do not control their own schedule. They are at the mercy of the schedule imposed on them.

-Assigning homework and giving a zero for not doing it tells the kid it wasn’t worth doing in the first place.

-“If we sat around and deliberately tried to come up with a way to further enlarge the achievement gap, we might just invent homework”

I LOVE THAT ALL OF RICK’S WORK OBVIOUSLY BUILDS ON HIS PREVIOUS WORK. I’M HEARING LOTS OF THINGS THAT CAME FROM “MEET ME IN THE MIDDLE” AND “DAY ONE AND BEYOND”.

-Grade against standards, not the routes and processes students used to get to mastery.  What do they know and what are they able to do? If it’s not in the standards description, it shouldn’t be graded.

-0% is the amount homework should count toward final average in a perfect world…For example, if homework counts 5%, and a student never does it, they can still end up with a 95%, which is an A in most places.

-Group projects should not be summative assessment, since you can’t tell who has the mastery and who does not. Included it in the 5% along with homework and other formative assessments.

THIS ONE IS A BIG NEW ONE FOR ME. ANOTHER OF THOSE THOUGHTS THAT MAKES TOTAL SENSE, I JUST NEVER HAD IT.

– Prime the brain for homework…what will they get out of the experience, what will they encounter as they go through the experience…has an effect size according to Marzano of .80 where not priming has effect size of .31 or less. That’s a huge difference in learning.

-Graphic Organizers – Create a skeleton upon with students build the flesh and blood of knowledge.

-Structure, structure, structure helps the adolescent mind.

-Have everyone turn in a paper, regardless of whether or not they did the assignment…Assignment for those who don’t turn it in: Name, date, assignment, AND Parents Names and Daytime phone number…then you can call or have student call while you’re standing with them. Gives clear documentation during parent meetings.

-When kids get feedback on homework within 1 to 3 days they internalize it.

GREAT SESSION! KEYNOTE TO FOLLOW!