Sunday, December 30, 2018

Top Posts of 2018

Get up and write!  Well, this isn’t the saying that I abide by, but making the time to reflect and hammer away at the keyboard is something that I still consistently commit to doing.  There are many reasons I continue to blog regularly, but the biggest is trying to add a practical lens to many of the ideas we either see or hear about on social media. During the past year, I attempted to connect more research to either further validate my thoughts or illustrate how educators were implementing proven strategies with an innovative angle into practice.  An increase in the amount of job-embedded coaching work I did in schools over an extended period of time also influenced my thinking.  There is nothing better in my opinion than to see either growth or success in schools where real challenges were overcome. 

In my opinion, you don’t have to be a great writer to blog. Begin with a focus on your work and that of others you spend your days with as a starting point.  Remember, the act of blogging is first and foremost you and the impact that it has on your growth and development. Another outcome is the impact that it has on readers near and far. Never discount how your ideas and experiences might positively influence the work of others.  Back to the whole writing thing. If you ever doubt your ability fall back on a proofreader (thanks mom) on Grammarly as I do. 

Here are my top posts of 2018.

Preparing Learners for the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Change isn’t coming. It’s already on our doorstep.  You can’t run or hide from it. The revolution, or evolution depending on your respective lens, of our world, will transform everything as we know it. We must adapt, but more importantly, prepare our learners for a bold new world that is unpredictable.  Welcome to the Fourth Industrial Revolution.  It is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres marked by emerging technology breakthroughs in a number of fields, including robotics, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, quantum computing, biotechnology, the Internet of Things, 3D printing, and fully autonomous vehicles. Education remains the key to the future. Don’t prepare students for something. Prepare them for anything!

Scaffolding Questions to Develop Deeper Understanding

The key to future-proofing school and learning is to empower all kids to think regardless of label or zip code. By using the Rigor Relevance Framework as a guide, we can begin by asking learners better questions with the goal being that they start to formulate questions on their own. With and without technology, it is crucial to create a thinking culture. Scaffolding questions enhance learning and aids in the mastery of concepts by systematically building on knowledge and relevance. The ultimate goal is to develop competent thinkers and doers who can not only use knowledge in new ways but also construct their own.

The Pivotal Role Movement Plays in Learning

Research has shown that movement in the form of brain breaks, recess, and physical education positively impacts learning. Don’t look at kids moving in class as a break or poor use of instructional time. Schools need to do more to ensure that movement is being integrated into all classes. The brain needs regular stimulation to properly function and this can come in the form of exercise or movement. Based on what is now known about the brain, this has been shown to be an effective cognitive strategy to improve memory and retrieval, strengthen learning, and enhance motivation among all learners. As research has shown, movement is an essential component of learning. If the goal is to help kids be better learners, then we have to be better at getting them up and moving in school. 

Five Components of Good Feedback

Feedback is essential to improvement and growth. There is nothing more vital to our professional roles than a good discussion around evidence-based practice that paints a picture not only of what we are doing well but areas where we can either become much better or outright improve. However, for it to be effective, it must be delivered positively, timely, practical and specific, consistent, and delivered using the right medium.  

To Improve Outcomes, We Need to Take a Critical Lens to Instructional Design

There is no perfection in education; thus there is always room for improvement.  To get to where we want, and our learners need us to be, a routine audit of pedagogical practice is necessary.  In this post, I identify five areas to look at when implementing any digital tool or innovative idea to determine whether or not improvements to pedagogy are changing. These include the level of questioning, authentic and/or interdisciplinary contexts, rigorous performance tasks, innovative assessment, and improved feedback.  A question or two as a means to help self-assess where you are and if improvements can be made follows each of these areas. 

Thanks to everyone who has made the time to visit my blog, read posts, and provide comments.  Here’s to a fantastic 2019!  

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