So I'm one of those who grew up mildly to mostly uncomfortable with math. As a high school student. I excelled at linguistics, and intellectual though processes. But math just didn't add up (haha) I loved the proofs of geometry. The built in meta-cognition worked for me. But algebra? in the traditional manner of do all the odd (or even) problems, show all your work, one right answer? Not so much. Sound familiar?
Now that I'm a part time field supervisor, coaching student teachers in all content areas, I've been brushing up on content specific methods and strategies. Enter Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler. This book has been life-changing. And it aligns with the design thinking work I've been doing the last couple of years. Whether you're a math teacher or not, this book is for you. Boaler provides excellent examples of how to create a collaborative classroom where students learn that there really is no such thing as a mistake. Instead, they are encouraged to share and debate ideas based on the familiar, claim, evidence, reasoning technique we see in science and language arts. Armed with the basics of number sense, students discover math facts for themselves in a constructivist style of learning. We are reminded that while there may be a right answer, there is no one right way to arrive at that answer and the power of allowing students to explore and explain their thinking.
Boaler provides tons of great examples of simple 'games' aka activities to encourage this thinking including one of my new favorite apps kenken puzzles along with a variety of resources from youcubed.org that will start you on the way to understanding the benefit of a growth mindset in mathematics.
She touches on a variety of related topics as well, such as the benefits of heterogeneous vs. homogeneous grouping in math classes. Her position on the role of homework is particularly relevant to any content area. She espouses the value of reflection as opposed to repetition, advocating for a sort of flipped classroom model in which the practice and discover is done in class with students engaging in self-assessment as homework.
As I visit schools and have sat in on curriculum committee work, I routinely hear how math is 'special' that there is such a broad range of abilities teachers require special consideration in designing programs that essentially track students and impose upon them a fixed mindset related to math ability, setting them up continued struggle, failure and lowered self-esteem. Jo Boaler offers practical methods that can be implemented without a complete curriculum re-write that will ease the tension and frustration for students and teachers alike. Add this book to your summer reading list!
approx read time: 2 min.
So much happened in the second half of 2017, I thought I'd catch up in this first post of 2018 and let you all know what I've been up to. It's been a busy fall as I settle into my new role as an an independent consultant. Getting a business up and running is something new for me and I'm happy to report that things are falling into place. So... what have I been up to you may ask? Well the real question is, what haven't I been up to?
First, training and presentations! I had the pleasure of working with John Sowash of Sowash Ventures to provide Google training for a few schools to start the year. I tagged along with him to Chandler Park Academy to get the middle school staff up to speed on Chromebooks. Then it was off to Rochester, NY for a day with the elementary staff at Manchester-Shortsville.
I also presented at Bay Arenac ISD's back to school PD on Google mapping tools (check out my maps in g-drive!), VR in the classroom, non-boring lectures and formative assessment tools. Mi Google was my next stop, with a session targeted to ELA teachers. Their favorites? symbaloo.edu, newsela, and read&write; all great resources for any content area. Finally keynoting the MANS second annual tech gathering with a great session on empathy and tech integration.
Second, Internet safety and digital citizenship. I've been working with the team at Protect Young Eyes visiting schools and churches from Grand Rapids, MI to Dallas, TX sharing an their incredible Internet safety message to kids k-12 and parents. It's been amazing! I'm also pleased to have been the lead curriculum designer for PYE's newest project, Virtue in Media, a faith-based k-8 digital citizenship curriculum.
Last but not least, Aquinas College, College of Ed Field Supervisor. I'm just starting my second semester as a student teacher field supervisor. It's such a privilege to work so closely with pre-service teachers. It's so valuable to see teaching through their eyes and to visit so many classrooms and schools throughout the Grand Rapids area. Not sure who's learning more, them or me! I've also been invited to present in their seminars on design thinking, tech integration, and Understanding by Design.
To top it all off, I've got a couple of proposals out for work this spring and next fall. I'm getting ready to present at the GVSU Math in Action Conference as well as MACUL and I've moved a few books from the 'to read' to the 'read that' list. The one that's made the biggest impression on me is Mathematical Mindsets. Look for a complete review in my next post.
So... here we go 2018 seatbelts fastened! It's going to be a wild ride... :)
Gearing up for the school year, I've been working on a number of presentations and a common theme seems to be popping up: Empathy. I'll be revisiting this topic with some concrete examples of how empathy effects our work in the classroom, but wanted to share a few general thoughts as you all get ready to step up to the podium next week.
Empathy is most often defined as the ability to 'walk a mile in another person's shoes'. And many of us (esp. educators!) think we have this pretty locked up. It's a wonderful characteristic to have and we often pride ourselves on this ability. But be careful, empathy is a thin line; just believing you are empathetic puts you at risk of not being so. It is something we have to consciously practice. It's a mindset by which we live our lives aware that what we assume or presume may very well not be accurate, and allowing space for the perspective of others.
This is incredibly important in the classroom from building relationships, to supporting personalized learning, and engaging in meaningful formative assessment. So...let's get started! First and foremost, let's get back to being a kid. Let's get back to a time when even an ant crossing the sidewalk with a crumb was something to that would cause you to stop, point, squeal and fill you with such excitement and wonder that you just had to share it with everyone around you. Remember what it was like to feel emotions with such totality? To have a complete melt-down; to jump, squeal and laugh uncontrollably; to tug at your neighbor's sleeve until they joined in your wonder? It's probably been a while for most of you. So, before you continue with this post. Watch this wonderful video from Jason DaSilva at Shots of Awe (2 minutes) . I'll wait...
Wasn't that refreshing? So let's reflect on what this means in the classroom. Take the next 5 minutes and consider this: If you approach everything in your practice, (i.e. lesson planning, classroom management, communication with parents) remembering that this is how kids experience the world:
What might you do to tap into your childlike sense of wonder, to walk a mile in your students' shoes? And by extension, what might you do differently to ignite that sense of curiosity and wonder in them when faced with learning standards & objectives? What might you do differently to engage those excitable (or not-so-excitable) students?
Post your ideas and reactions below.
5 Steps for Redesigning Your Learning Environment
reading time: approx 3 min
Summer’s here! That time of year when teachers take a breath and reflect on what they want to do differently in the coming year. What better time to envision how you can tweak your classroom to better accommodate collaborative, personalized, project-based learning. I recently read The Third Teacher; 79 Ways You Can Use Design to Transform Teaching & Learning. (website link) Turns out, the three teachers are 1. adults, 2. peers, and 3. educational environment. And while a complete reno may be the ideal way to go, there’s no need to wait for a donor, bond approval or major grant to get started. From cafeteria services and custodial products to daylight, seating, student voice and community involvement simple school environment hacks can add measurable value to the learning process. Use the following 5 steps as you reflect on 16-17 and get ready to make 17-18 the start of something new.
Thanks for visiting. I'm just getting things started here at Contemporary Education Solutions. I'm in the process of transferring my previous Word Press content. In the meantime, visit grlearners2leaders for my archive.
(reading time 4 minutes) Author: Carol Glanville
I love the dictionary tool in Google. As an arm-chair linguist, I’m fascinated by the etymology of even simple words. Take the term distract. The archaic use is to perplex & bewilder. And today it still carries a negative connotation in actual meaning. ‘Bother, disturb, divert, side-track’ There’s definitely something subversive about a distraction. Current research shows that recovering from a distraction can take 20-30 minutes. That’s a lot of lost time. And especially soul-crushing when you (or your students) would way rather be enjoying the warm evenings and lake-worthy weekends that late May / early June bring our way.
So, allow me to share a post from last year at just about this time. With a few updates.
Finish Strong (May 13, 2016)
There’s always tomorrow…until there isn’t. It’s the end of the school year folks and that means crunch time; for students and teachers. Unfortunately, as the days get warmer and sunnier, it becomes that much harder to stay motivated and focused. And as the seniors dance out the door a month earlier than the rest…it’s even worse!
So this week I’m offering a couple of tried and true tech tips that to help you stay focused, on task, and true to your priorities. That means increased productivity, which doesn’t mean more time working, rather more work done in the same time (or less!)
*”A Life of Productivity – Practical ways to get more done.” 2014. 13 May. 2016 <http://alifeofproductivity.com/
Notifications: If you’re like me, your device(s) buzz, ding and blink incessantly! And although I may not feel compelled to read or respond to every notification that appears, the mere knowledge that it’s there or the glance away to read the lead text can cost up to 25 minutes of focused work.
So, whenever you’re working on a priority task, silence all notifications. There’s really no need to know about something until you can act on it anyway, and you can’t get to it any sooner if you’re losing 25 minutes every time you get tapped. Another benefit? You’ll feel more in control; no longer at the beck and call of every email, ‘like’, tweet and text.
*2017 update: Love it!! But it does take some re-training. It’s hard to resist tools that are so well-designed to disturb. I also felt guilty at first, which has weakened to mildly guilty at times over the last year. But what I’ve gained makes it worth the effort. I’m more respectful and attentive to those around me, I engage more purposefully in even the most mundane tasks. (I actually taste food when I eat without scrolling through FB or the latest news headlines!) Also? As soon as I recognize that I’m letting distraction set in, I recognize what’s really going on, that it’s time for a break. I bring myself to a stopping point and intentionally switch things up. So I no longer spend hours watching TV or on the computer, but really doing nothing.
Reminders: Disruptive notifications don’t just appear on your device. Many times they’re hiding in your own head, way down deep and silently work their way to the surface. Ever find yourself relaxing with a book, bingeing on netflix, or grading projects and suddenly you have no idea what happened to the last 10 minutes? Or a student name abruptly reminds you of a forgotten email? It’s nice to know your subconscious has got your back, but don’t let it derail you.
Start a list in your reminder app. As soon as you notice your mind wandering, make a note of what’s there. This allows you to let go of whatever it is without worrying it will be forgotten or buried and to focus on the original activity.
I have two lists. I check my work list every morning to prioritize my day. And I check my personal list before I head home so I can stop for milk and plan my evening.
*2017 Update: I like this one too, but have to admit this one didn’t stick as well. I”m really not much of a list maker so it wasn’t a natural inclination. However, whenever I feel like things are getting overwhelming, I head back to it.
Implement: These tips are equally valuable for students. At this age,their pre-frontal cortex (which controls impulsive activity) is somewhat under-developed. Invite them to a shared experience of testing these tips out. Take 5 minutes to explain each one, then check in each day to see if it’s working and what suggestions they have. They may not all try it at first, but the repetition and discussion will draw them in.
*2017 Update: I have shared these ideas with many people. It seems the biggest obstacle is, as usual, ourselves. It’s your time. However, it is a static, finite asset. Honor those around you (and yourself!) by making the most of every moment. Even your distractions can be planned to the point that you welcome them!
(reading time 3.3 minutes) Author: Carol Glanville
Regardless of which camp you live in (Apple, Google, Windows) one has to admit, Google has done a fantastic job of making technology accessible across the various ‘digital divides’; particularly the socioeconomic. Via Google and all its component parts, students, teachers, and even school districts have access to a plethora of tools that support creative, collaborative learning, increased productivity and budget constraints. And they’re responsive. Google updates happen so regularly, you hardly even notice it. And they don’t kowtow to the faint of heart. There are plenty of ways to stay up-to-date on Google happenings, but there’s no build-up of anticipation or fear-mongering around changes. Google respects all users. Google doesn’t treat you as helpless. They treat you as a relatively intelligent person capable of taking the next step without the ‘tech guy’ pushing the buttons for you after hours.
Of course, with all the tools at your disposal and constant updates in response to user feedback, knowing how you can get the most out of Google can be daunting. Never fear, the Internet knows all and tells all. So, here are a few go-tos to help you get the most out of the Google tool(s) of your choice.
Google Teacher Tribe (aka GTT) Podcast, @gteachertribe or Google Plus community. GTT has all the answers. Join the community to get real-time answers to your real-time questions.
Alice Keeler | @alicekeeler: Veteran classroom teacher, Ms. Keeler has been helping educators get the most out of Google for years. But she’s not just about listing tricks & tips. The support she provides comes from a ‘how to enhance learning’ perspective. So when she posts something, it’s about the how and the why.
Google Classroom | Classroom Disrupt: Are you a hand’s on learner who benefits learns best from a live teacher? Then we have the perfect opportunity for you. The Diocese of Grand Rapids will host a session of John Sowash’s Classroom Disrupt this summer. This two-day workshop takes place July 24-5 at Cathedral Square. Follow this link for complete details & registration.
Google Certification Academy: Another hand’s on session hosted by St Stephen’s June 26-7. This is an update of a perennial favorite the diocese hosted in 2014. Both trainings are appropriate for any educator using Google tools on any platform (iPad, Chromebook, Windows)
(reading time approx 3 minutes)
We wrapped up our 1st year of implementing Design Thinking (aka Human Centered Design) last week with an amazing showcase hosted by Aquinas College. 200+ community members came out to see the innovative work spanning grades k-12 in our schools this year. Below are some comments and a photo gallery for those who couldn’t make it. You can access this Google doc for more details on each individual project. Feel free to contact any of our teachers or the Office of Catholic Schools if you have any questions about the project. See my previous posts on this topic for the background. A Time to Dance | Innovate with Empathy
Response to the event:
“How exciting to see all your culminating work at the showcase! You are all humble Catholic school teachers, and it sometimes doesn’t feel natural to “show off” what you’ve done. I heard many positive responses from those who attended — parents, future parents, other educators, administrators — as your work has helped them to see innovation in our classrooms and your leadership in teaching others about what you’ve learned. Thank you for your continued commitment to our year of learning.” Assistant Supt Jill Annable
It [design thinking] has completely transformed the way they teach. They are so excited and energized about using this process. Teachers have requested mixed grade level classes because they see so much potential. ~Suzi Furtwangler, Principal St Thomas
“Thank you for inviting us! It was a wonderful collection of Design Thinking in action, and I loved the conversations that I had with Sara Olson about how she changed the direction of her Art 4 class utilizing Design Thinking (going to try some of this out myself with my art students next year).” Tricia Erickson, Art Teacher Northview High School
“This year I learned that failing is a good thing because you have the opportunity to really grow! If you don’t fail sometimes that means you aren’t really doing anything new or hard. God created us to DO things!” ~anonymous student
(reading time 2.5 min.) Author: Carol Glanville
This week has been a flurry of activity as we put the finishing touches on our inaugural spring student showcase. This year, we’re showcasing work from the 1st year of our design thinking in the classroom initiative, aka. innovatED.
A bit of history. Last spring we started exploring how we might bring the design thinking (aka human-centered design process) to our schools. We discovered that Xavier University in Cincinnati has an undergrad degree program in exactly that. So, we connected with them and created a customized 4-day workshop where staff from five or our schools, St Thomas, All Saints Academy, St Pat’s Parnell, West Catholic and Catholic Central participated as teams of teachers to learn all about it. We also explored coding, computational thinking, simple design software, 3-d printing and much more. We all left excited about the possibilities and many of us, without any experience in such things, were emboldened to discover how simple it really was! For more information on that program check out this posting from my blog archive: Innovate with Empathy.
Over the course of this year, we’ve continued to support each other, sharing our successes, failures and learnings along the way. The culmination of that work will be on display this coming Thursday, April 27 at Aquinas College. Teachers, students and administrators will be on hand to demonstrate and discuss how we’ve implemented this process and how it is related to future curriculum planning.
We’ve also made some exciting new connections throughout this experience. We’ve been invited to host sessions related to this work at the annual MACUL (Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning) conference, the iie (Institute for Innovation in Education) gathering at U of M, and Aquinas College School of Education. We’ve also made some valuable new connections partnering with local industry experts to demonstrate the connection from school to life; Kendall College of Art & Design, IDEO/Steelcase, Spectrum Hospitals Architecture and West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology, and the design team at Mercy Health Innovation Hub In addition, by participating in West Michigan Design Week events, we’ve connected with Wolverine World Wide and a local Stanford d.school consultant.
This exciting work has helped us broaden our reach and stands to benefit our schools not only in terms of the skills we teach our students but in ever-growing access to real-world application of learning and partnerships that can enhance our educational programming.
Please join us at the showcase to explore and celebrate the innovative teaching, learning and administrative practices of our journey thus far. As an added benefit, you’ll also have the opportunity to see the Documentary Screenagers; Growing up in the Digital Age. We showed this film last fall to a sell-out crowd of 300. It was very well-received and this showcase event provides the perfect venue for screening it again for those who missed the first go-round.
The event is free. The showcase is open-house style with no ticket needed. However, you do need to reserve seat(s) for the film. Follow this link for complete event details.
You think tech is overwhelming in your position? Try being a tech director! One of the things I love most about my job is the constant renewal, learning, moving forward. But it makes it very difficult to remember all the cool little things. The annual MACUL conference is one way I not only learn lots of cool new things, but it also gives me a chance to revisit the cool old things I heard about in the past. Much of this comes from chatting with staff who attend. When I ask them about their sessions, they excitedly tell me about a few neat tips/tricks they picked up. Having been around this block a few times, those sharing moments usually result in an ‘Oh yeah’ moment for me as I’m reminded of a neat tip or trick that has fallen by the wayside for me. So, this week I’m sharing a few of my ‘Oh Yeah’s’ with a little spring break twist. Enjoy!
If This Then That: A fantastic tool is full of little apps (aka Applets — get it?) that help you live your life better. Get a notification when the International Space Station passes over your home. Or a reminder to bring your umbrella if the forecast calls for rain. Send a text to someone when you leave work. Sync SoundCloud or YouTube likes with Spotify. Sync Instagram photos to auto-post on Twitter. Ok, some of those are just fun. But there are a million applets on IFTTT that consolidate lots of the little things you do every day, or remind you to do the little things every day (hourly reminder to drink a glass of water!) Can’t find what you want? Dip your toe in the programming waters by creating your own applet. For spring break, I’m going to set up all my staycation photos to save to DropBox.
Voice texting. I actually use this simple walkie-talkie app fairly regularly, but I keep hearing about new ways to put it to use. Create an account, get your friends/family to join and goodbye annoying group texts! As communication happens, everyone in your pre-determined group is guaranteed to get the message. And if there’s a flurry of activity, nothing gets lost, you know exactly who said what when. I especially like the voice memo. It’s just easier lots of times than typing. For spring break: Set up your family and keep track of what everyone’s up to in one convenient place.
And last, but not least; .gif (Please, don’t call me Jiff!)
When a standard image doesn’t quite fit the bill, go for the animated version! You can easily copy/paste .gif images into any doc, presentation, blog post, etc. Head on over to Google images and under tools, select animated. Spend an unnecessary amount of time picking just the right one, and away you go!
Carol Glanville, M.Ed.
educator, presenter, strategist, coach, design thinker
Virtue In Media is a faith-based k-8 digital citizenship curriculum aligned to the ISTE standards. Click the image above for more information.