Rliberni's Blog – Radical language

July 22, 2010

Is too much emphasis placed on low and high achieving students?


7-20-2010 – 18:00 CET 12 PM EST

Matthias Heil (@MatthiasHeil) is the producer of this week’s mammoth edchat summary! It’s an amazing piece of work and if you were there you know that it was a marathon – one of the most exciting #edchats yet! Matthias’s summary really catches the energy that we all felt during Tuesday’s session and the passion about teaching and learning and the importance of getting it right that came over so strongly is really captured here. (See Matthias’s bio at the end of the piece.)

Yesterday’s first #edchat session (1800 CET, 12PM EDT) turned out to be a much better experience for me than the previous ones – maybe because what we discussed really touches upon the heart of what educators are doing every day, willing or not. The way we deal with our ideals, curricula, prescribed and self-developed forms of assessment, and of course our own power and influence in the classroom, all this significantly determines our professional aim, and our contribution to our learners’ lives and development.

Following the first part of the discussion was especially fascinating for me because – teaching at a German Secondary School – my conception of “low achieving” must differ from the one of those teaching in countries that care not to generally make the first four years of school the basis of a young person’s long-term career chances (i.e. the rest of the world).

Consequently, the controversy over labeling students “low/middle/high achievers” – the first major theme of yesterday’s #edchat – struck a special note as in many contributions political, ethical and anthropological aspects mixed with brief reflections on the (sometimes all-too-careless) ease of seemingly simple and superficial everyday decisions and assessments that serve to establish how “well” students meet their teachers’ (and their own) expectations. All of this comes together in the vision we share of what we are aiming at, and of course in our understanding of ourselves as professional instructors, pedagogues and partners in learning. 

Interestingly, some edchatters seem to show great reservation towards labeling students at all, whereas others state assessment is paramount to finding out how to let learners shine, respectively how to detect and develop their talents as well as possible in the face of other classroom requirements. Both defining terms like “labeling” and “assess” and explaining routines and strategies entailed in flexible and learner-friendly ways helped clearing inevitable misunderstanding in many dialogues and trialogues that ensued in this second major part of our discussion. Many participants feel very strongly about this theme, and, to my mind, especially this part revealed the weakness of the 140 characters conversational format #edchat is currently taking. A Wiki- or Wave-like format may have encouraged a calmer communication atmosphere and an even more satisfying exchange of experiences.

Although classes are more homogenous than elsewhere, even at a German “Gymnasium”, i.e. in a terminally selective educational system there are also “low achieving” students that require much more attention and supervision than others. Therefore, my initial answer to the session’s main question was “Yes, and how could it be otherwise?”. Yesterday’s session, however, also served as a treasure chest of ideas and concepts facilitating ways of teaching to the advantage of all students, not only those easily passing or terribly failing a more or less oblique-angled framework of objectives. To name but a few of those ways that triggered discussion, there are differentiation, “feedforward”, collaboration, portfolios, critical thinking, blogging, ULD and many more (see “Part 3” comments and link sections for more).

All in all, this #edchat provided a perfect mix of everything that makes it so valuable: expertise, criticism, commitment, anger, introspection, idealism, frustration, creativity, dilemma, hope, ideas and a refreshing portion of humour in countless contributions.

 Thanks, PLE!

 Here are some of the main themes from the discussion: 

Are we, by focussing on high and low achieving learners, neglecting those “in the middle”? As mentioned above, instead of producing simple answers to the given question, contributions mainly dealt with three themes:

  •  Is it fair to label students?
  • What is our assessment’s objective?
  • How can we motivate all learners?

Here is a selection of some of the comments: 

There was so much wisdom and wit in this #edchat session!

a) Part 1: Is it fair to label students?

@paulawhite – We’re not neglecting teaching middle children – we’re neglecting teaching ALL children well.
@sguditus – It’s easy to forget that when we teach to a particular niche that usually those techniques are good for ALL learners.
@paulawhite – Our expectations for all children are WAY below what they can do—and DO outside of school pursuing their own interests/passions
@mrdfleming – The question should be “am I giving each student what they need?” Sure low students will require more time, because they need more
@cybraryman1 – We cannot overlook any of the students that we teach. DI should be employed: http://bit.ly/bOWv96
@theprofspage – Middle kids are not failing but not being challenged. Students with Bs or Cs. No discipline problems.
@malcolmbellamy – the minute we talk about “middle” we are labelling
@paulawhite – children have passions – we need to find those and allow ALL students to use their strengths.
@discomfortzone – Is the current curriculum the reason why we put people on a scale from low to high achievers? Who is it we compare the learners to?
@rliberni – Does the drive for tangible results stop us seeing students/children as individuals?
@davidwees – I hate thinking of kids as being “low”, “middle” or “high”. Kids will meet expectations.
@flourishingkids – We need to help kids discover own passions 4 learning & get them out of thinking it only occurs at school.
@davidwees – Would you want the teacher of your kid to tell you that your kid is “just average”? Are they average to you?
@flourishingkids – One problem is that kids often learn at own pace/ timetables. School is rigid. Kids are, flexible and fluid.
@Room5Friends – @4thGrdTeach Exactly my point. No matter how you “rank” them, it’s subjective, so why rank them? Why label them?
@discomfortzone – In Germany we put low achiv. into “Hauptschule”; middle into “Realschule” and high into “Gymnasium” after FOUR yrs of elem. SAD.
@malcolmbellamy – We need to allow children the freedom to learn not the straightjacket of setting by our expectations.
@suedensmore: Why do we have to rank them at all? Shouldn’t properly designed rubrics help prevent ranking?
@gericoats – I don’t think all kids should be sorted, however, when there is a drastic difference in ability between peers it should be addressed
@findingdulcinea – Labeling is convenient for schools/teachers, harmful to kids. RT @EricBurgess Labeling kids is destructive, I think.
@MissCheska – @STEDISub I think labeling leads to self-fulfilling prophecies. If we can instill self-confidence in our stdts, then yes
@web20classroom – Just thinking that kids are all different. Thinking maybe there isn’t really a middle anymore…

 b) Part 2: What is our assessment’s objective?

@davidwees – All students deserve the opportunity to demonstrate what they KNOW, instead of what they do NOT know.
@ColinTGraham – I also feel a great many ‘results’ are normalized, statistically, so 60% always get a B/C, 5% A+ etc. Rather than having absolutes.
@theprofspage – The truth is we need to measure kids based on their individual improvements and achievements.
@davidwees – Grades are not meant to assess what kids know, they are meant to show that they know MORE than someone else.
@sguditus – Grades: should they be a reflection of exceptional output or exceptional growth?
@teachingwthsoul – Communication of progress is key! RT @4thGrdTeach: @gericoats Agreed, all parents deserve to know how their kid is doing truthfully.
@BrandiJClark – We place glass ceilings on grade levels, can’t go beyond them (note sarcasm)
@davidwees – At the end of the day, our education system is premised on the idea that competition between kids is healthy…
@baldy7 – If we individualize and customize, why does it matter whether a student is “low” or “high”?
@davidwees – Let’s grade teachers like we grade students. We’ll call it “performance based pay.” Teachers will love it!
@paulawhite – @sguditus follow the three ps of grading–progress, performance, process http://tzstchr.edublogs.org/2010/01/26/gradefog/
@davidwees – The objective of grading should be to demonstrate kids competencies not their relative weaknesses.
@baldy7 – The problem with this whole discussion is that our labels are based on arbitrary, meaningless assessments.
@theprofspage – @suedensmore How do you measure mastery?
@4thGrdTeach – Grading should be used as a map for future learning not as a map for past failures.
@mrdfleming – @davidwees but doesn’t knowing their weaknesses along with competencies help us to teach?
@davidwees – A number based grading system leads to ranking students, which leads to discussion of ability instead of successes.
@davidwees – @mrdfleming Yeah exactly. Let’s measure students against themselves using rubrics or similar system.
@paulawhite – @gericoats assessment is absolutely crucial to know what a kid needs.
@4thGrdTeach – Grades are just a measure of how much homework was done and whether I liked it or not, not their learning
@discomfortzone – We also need to remember to assess properly! Authentic assessment, not multiple choice exams!! Then we get to know students.
@davidwees – @celfoster We use the MYP grading system for 6-10, which (to me) closely resembles mastery style assessment.

 c) Part 3: How can we motivate all learners?  

@sguditus – We forget that middle kids – in whatever sense – still improve and grow. We need to celebrate mini-benchmarks with all kids.
@discomfortzone – @BrandiJClark Agreed! Open learning, rotations, inquiry, transdisciplinary learning (IBPYP). Developmental scope and seq., too.
@4thGrdTeach – If we set up support in our room and teach students to help each other we will see the labels blur.
@flourishingkids – Cooperative learning & shifting roles in projects helps all learners grow when done right. Kids learn 2 appreciate each other.
@sguditus – We need to individualize student goals to make learning and expectations relevant and authentic.
@4thGrdTeach – To increase student engagement you must know your student, the way they learn and what their strengths are.
@sguditus – Schools today do not systemically provide forums for students to reflect on learning, revamp strategies, and celebrate victories.
@stevebarkley – @averyteach I use this thought: Effort times Ability focused on a Manageable Task equals Success.
@crystalmgrand – @MissCheska I’ve found student blogging is effective b/c they can share their thoughts to the public and receive feedback.
@4thGrdTeach – So is the answer differentiation as always?
@2footgiraffe – It’s been said many times today. It is all about passions. If they can learn by their skills and passion potential is endless.
@sguditus – Should schools reward high-achievers for performance and/or celebrate growth for all? #edchat
@BrandiJClark: Schools are operating with 21st Century tools, 21st century kids, 20th century content in 19th century classrooms.
@averyteach – Differentiation helps with individualization AND can allow students to steer their own learning – doesn’t have to be teacher driven.
@2footgiraffe – How do we blend passion and state curriculum?
@baldy7 – If school is meaningless and irrelevant, why should any kid be a high achieving student?
@MrTRice_Science – ePortfolios are a great way for kids to demonstrate meeting their learning goals.
@4thGrdTeach – @sguditus celebrate growth for all #edchat
@malcolmbellamy – Develop skills of cooperation and collaboration where children can support each other not sit in rigid groupings with walls around
@rliberni – What does ‘gifted’ mean? All kids have talents we just need to find them.
@averyteach – High expectations with differentiation should engage all students-the other key is having strong relationships w/students!
@BrandiJClark – RT @4thGrdTeach: so is the answer differentiation as always? – I think the structure of the day and blended classrooms is also a must
@baldy7 – @rliberni I wrote about “gifted” last week. #edchat http://ow.ly/2e1V1
@STEDISub – What do you think would happen if we treated all students like they were exceptional learners? Would they all become exceptional?
@cybraryman1 – The good teacher makes the poor student good & the good student superior. ~Marva Collins
@suedensmore – We need to double our teaching staffs and half the class sizes. Would likely solve much of the problem. Haha.
@sguditus – @averyteach Some teachers feel that time constraints prevent proper differentiation. Is embedded collaboration/PLCs the answer?
@stangea – @johntspencer Social Voice link http://bit.ly/cL0DwR is good. I’d love more examples of strong student-centered blogging
@suedensmore – Kids tend to rise to the expectations we have for them if we are consistent and positive about them. At least in my experience.
@miltrehberg – @sguditus We need to teach more meta cognition, give students the opportunity to reflect on their learning , try many strategies. 
@4thGrdTeach – Doesn’t differentiation seem to be the buzzword nowadays?
@BrandiJClark – Our job is to make students expert learners through multiple means of representation, expression and engagment #UDL
@discomfortzone – @raysadad @4thGrdTeach: Feedforward and not just feedback, yes, but numbers (grades) don’t provide much info for improvement
@smitha834 – When I’ve had students generate rubrics – THAT’s when I’ve had gifted students differentiate themselves
@flourishingkids – Raising the bar 4 all kids&getting them excited about passions/interests will lead to growth for all. We can do this at earlier age.
@edtechdhh – IEPs for all students. Learning should be individual. Acknowledge and reward ind growth
@mrdfleming – @celfoster I focus more on giving students individual goals for improvement, based on rubrics. Then I share these goals with Ss
@LesLinks – Somtimes if it’s hard to differentiate every day, having a, say, ‘Math Monday’, on which every subject is taught through fun Math activities…
@Room5Friends: But Differentiation can be as easy as asking diff. students diff. questions about the same topic, not as hard as we make it seem…
@sguditus: We need educators to be honest with themselves about what’s working and what isn’t – culture of trust is a necessity.
@Begabungs – Some teachers just teach how to copy and not how to think out of the box
@crystalmgrand – @bf_teach4change Using Web 2.0 tools that students are familiar with may engage them and want to continue learning
@edtechdhh: IEPs for all students. Learning should be individual. Acknowledge and reward ind growth – YES
@smitha834 – @ColinTGraham I see blogs as the portfolios of the 21st century; personal and portable.
@crystalmgrand – @rliberni Keep learning current. Perhaps change learning to digital. Incorporate tools they use everyday in the class
@plnaugle – We labeled students on brink of next achievement level as ‘bumpables” and then worked to bump them up.
@2footgiraffe – @rliberni I hope to do videos, posters, podcasts, sculptures, books, and many other projects this year with that purpose in mind.
@BrandiJClark – We need to see that classrooms have many “little” teachers
@KTVee – learning has to come from questioning, investigation, curiosity, and collaboration; not from textbook chapters
@teachingwthsoul – Such a key ingredient!~>RT @EducateGlobally: Remember: You never stop learning. Especially when you’re teaching.
@onewheeljoe – Rubrics can work if they trend toward descriptive rather than evaluative.
@EducateGlobally – @paulawhite @raysadad @BrandiJClark Let them see the world. Digitally, physically, emotionally.
@2footgiraffe – teacher @ my skool put students into groups of math level and they taught themselves the whole year (with a little guidance)
@MissCheska – @rliberni Choice is very empowering for students!

To follow the complete discussion see here 

For the stats on #edchat participation see here 

 As ever, there were some great links shared:

@paulawhite – 5 levels of giftedness (http://www.educationaloptions.com/resources/GiftedorHighlyGifted.htm) Schools don’t reach the top levels.
@joe_bower – For the love of learning: Slave to the grades: http://bit.ly/9iYqM1
@paulawhite – @DeborahMersino http://www.educationaloptions.com
@paulawhite – @ktenkely Social & Emotional Issues: What Gifted Adults Say About Their Childhoods http://tuinyurl.com/29vjzr8
@paulawhite – @sguditus follow the three ps of grading–progress, performance, process http://tzstchr.edublogs.org/2010/01/26/gradefog/
@markbarnes19 – Powerful blog and excellent Alan November video: Moving Beyond Adequate – Kyle B. Pace http://ow.ly/2e1JL
@paulawhite – TWICE exceptional: http://tinyurl.com
@discomfortzone – The worst kind of sorting: http://bit.ly/8ZdtFV
@DeborahMersino – Has anyone read “Your Child’s Strengths” by @jeniferfox? http://www.strengthsmovement.com/ Powerful approach – all levels.
@baldy7 – @rliberni I wrote about “gifted” last week. #edchat http://ow.ly/2e1V1
@paulawhite – Shows how rewards of all sorts undermine our efforts to teach students, manage workers, and raise children: 
@paulawhite – Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise, and Other Bribes by Alfie Kohn
@ColinTGraham – @4thGrdTeach The CEFR is set out here. aussi en francais. http://www.coe.int/t/dg4/linguistic/cadre_en.asp
@jofrei: Is it a cheetah by Stephanie Tolan http://www.stephanietolan.com/is_it_a_cheetah.htm
@bhsprincipal – I think this post from @baldy7 is spot on in regards to this conversation http://bit.ly/a7ZcMN
@crystalmgrand – Ten Steps to Better Student Engagement via @edutopia http://ht.ly/2e2vH
@Nunavut_Teacher – The Trouble with Rubrics By Alfie Kohn http://bit.ly/18Nkjq
@briankotts – Unwrapping the Gifted – not-so-rosy side of being gifted http://bit.ly/9SLr3c
@jofrei – @sguditus Dive into differentiation http://www.giftedresources.org/gr/files/dive02.ppt
@paulawhite – Read # 4, 9, 19 about middle kids Distinguishing myths from realities: http://tinyurl.com/GTmyths
@Room5Friends – Labels, Be Gone… http://mlkolis.blogspot.com
@min_d_j: #UDL guidelines aren’t a prescription — they’re a framework. http://bit.ly/cA3akJ

@MatthiasHeil, teacher (English and Religious Education) and teacher trainer (Media, Methods) from Fulda, Germany.

Blog: http://www.MatthiasHeil.de, E-Mail: Webmaster@MatthiasHeil.de, CV: http://matthiasheil.de/personliches/curriculum-vitae/


New to Edchat?

If you have never participated in an #Edchat discussion, these take place twice a day every Tuesday on Twitter. Over 400 educators participate in this discussion by just adding #edchat to their tweets. For tips on participating in the discussion, please check out these posts!

More Edchat


If you’re new to hashtag discussions, then just show up on Twitter on any Tuesday and add just a few tweets on the topic with the hashtag #edchat. 

What do you think? Leave a comment!

July 17, 2010

What should be the first two problems addressed in order to begin educational reform?


7-13-2010 – 18:00 CET 12 PM EST


Our thanks go to Colin Graham (@ColinTGraham) for this week’s #edchat summary. It is a very frank and honest resume of his thoughts on both the topic and the progress of the discussion. He invites comment and it will be interesting to see how other edchat participants react to his point of view. Colin is a regular and enthusiastic edchatter and his committment to education is very clear (see his bio at the end of the post). It is a great post and I hope it will spark some further discussion.

I have to say I approach this post with a good deal of trepidation. Although flattered to have been asked to summarize the discussion, I have to start by saying that I was not engaged with the choice of topic – and that was before the discussion started.  I started into the Twitterverse almost exactly 40 days ago, at the time of writing, and seem to be finding a way to keep my head above the flood.  Those who know me or have experienced my style of tweeting, will know that I tend to jump into chats or discussions but for some reason I held back on this one.  In fact, it was almost two-thirds of the way through before I decided to make any comment.  I had to ask myself why.  Having had time to reflect and also having gone through the transcript several times – more than I would otherwise do – I think it was because most of us lost sight of the topic which had been voted on, and went off into our separate rants/hot buttons/sound bites, etc.  There were some valiant attempts made to return, but we failed to reach a conclusion about the what the first two problems are that need to be addressed.  I did not really see any discussion of what was meant by educational reform – most of the comments seemed to be directed towards attacking a local system (the US system is local in relation to the rest of the world!), complaints about lack of funding, sound bytes taken out of context because they were attached to a ‘name’.  Not everything was negative but the topic was basically gone.  People were tweeting about the first step, but with all due respect, the first two problems were never really identified or agreed upon. If you can find them in the transcript, please point it out, I would love to be proved wrong!  My first tweet was totally ignored.  I rephrased it 11 minutes later, it was retweeted twice without comment. About 40% of the discussion was retweeting without any comment or addition.  I really see that as a lost opportunity, unless you were moderating the discussion.  What the first problem is, I don’t know: we never discussed it fully.  Maybe the first step in educational reform, however, begins with a re-assessment of the purpose of the scheduled #edchat discussions and where they are headed in the future.  They should not be seen as an opportunity to be noticed, to act as a place to release stress, or to subvert the discussion towards personal or local issues.  Yes, use #edchat to do that at other times, but not during the scheduled discussions, please!  I would suggest adding comments to RTs, and try to keep in mind that there is a topic for discussion.  The topic at 12:00 EST is always the 2nd choice from the poll.  I know, because I asked how the decision was made during my first #edchat.  You wouldn’t come into a lesson unprepared, and I think we should all try to adopt the same attitude towards participation in the scheduled #edchat discussions, with allowance made towards first-time participants.  If we can’t manage to stay on-course in a one-hour discussion, then our chances of bringing about the reforms we would like to see seem to be less achievable.  I have selected tweets that caught my attention (with no apologies for including my own, either!).  For me, as a discussion of the chosen topic, this was – almost – a failure, you are welcome to disagree…

Here are some of the main themes from the discussion: 

  • localization of response, UK/Europe responding to UK, US responding to US…
  • calls for action to be taken, without any agreement about what needed to be changed
  • funding issues are a general problem, not just in education
  • administration, or resistance from it, is seen as an issue
  • educators need to work as individuals in their own schools and communities if change is to be effected
  • goals need to be clearly defined before any action can or should be initiated
  • any action needs to be clearly directed towards specific goals in order to provide opportunities for success and building on it

Here is a selection of some of the comments: 

 @skipvia:  The first one surely must be “to what end are we educating our students?”

@StarrMatica:  I agree with @johnccarver 1. Vision/Plan 2. Buy In from Staff, Parents and Community. Parental support is critical.

@hshawjr:  We need to know the mission of K-12 education and empower educators (its practictioners) to be active in the direction it goes.

@sguditus:  Problems with education reform: 1. Pace of change 2. [lack of] Buy-in from all members (staff, parents, community, admin, kids!).

@Parentella:  One of the 1st problems we need to deal with is the mindset of the school staff. They have to be prepared to embrace the changes.

@smitha834:   Sir Ken’s point is valid but we still have parents that want blue grammar books & math drills.

@malcolmbellamy I agree with the mindset problem there is a need to breakthrough or go backwards!

@ShellTerrell:  One of the main problems is who leads education reform! Educators need to take the lead vs. politicians.

@21stcenturychem:   We really need to decide what our goal as educators is: to help students learn, or to train complacent worker bees.

@phsprincipal:   We have to get to the point where we have definable and actionable goals.

@PTPIPaige:   Education should focus more on [learning about] world cultures, language proficiency and community service (i.e. citizenship!).

@billgx:   Worker bees are highly valued in our society, but they do not create, invent, etc.

@drtimony:  Education reform will only happ with [money]. Standards for teachers and administrator quality have decreased because of need. This is a bad move. It will be a long recovery from that.
@CrudBasher:   As long as schools are essentially extensions of politics, there is little hope of reform or transformation.

@samchaltain:   In the spirit of educational renewal (not reform), Finland has some useful lessons to offer us.

@mrdfleming:   The subject is overwhelming for one teacher.  It needs to be narrowed.  How can you effect change in your school, or school district?

@L_Hilt:   We need more involvement from actual educators in political roles.  Government influence isn’t disappearing… we need to be in it.
@Parentella:   I hate to suggest this, but perhaps it’s easier to “talk” about changes than actually stepping up and following through.

@briwcarter:   Stop trying to convince people, and move forward with those on board.

@tomwhitby:   In order to change education, we need to change the culture. That cannot be done behind closed doors. Engagement with parents is key!

@RushaSams:   In schools where powerful reform is happening, the changes come from within, by the teachers individually and collectively.

@altucker:   Parents have to start showing some anger about what’s being done to their children – teachers’ voices are not going to be enough!

@teachersnet:  How many teachers believe it is others who need to reform, that they are already doing what students need?

@ColinTGraham:   When we talk about reform, we need to be clear about whether it is a systemic reform or an attitudinal reform which is needed.

 To follow the complete discussion see here 

 For the stats on #edchat participation see here 

 As ever, there were some great links shared:

graingered:  @jorech So totally agree “Tchr centered” =budget crossd w/social engineering. Would apprec UR perspectiv@ http://tinyurl.com/35eox5f #edchat

MatthiasHeil: RT @gpinard: Sir Ken http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/sir_ken_robinson_bring_on_the_revolution.html regarding education revolution #edchat

PTPIPaige: @4thGrdTeach We match classes for international collaboration!! Register today – http://bit.ly/16UQFL 

 @gpinard: i’d highly recommend http://bit.ly/9sIcjY regarding education revolution #edchat

graingered:  @MatthiasHeil Completely disagree- wrong POV–>causes flashpoint emotional wheel spinning. Pls comment @ http://tinyurl.com/267bpcd #edchat

susayoun:  RT @edutek: 5 Ways to Teach Cyber Safety and Digital Responsibility | #ISTE10 #EdTech #EdChat http://ow.ly/2aqox

dallasm12:  Questions to ask leading to quality Instructional Design for online learning #edchat http://post.ly/n1ft 
davidwees:  One way to start ed reform is by signing up for the action you are going take for educational reform. http://is.gd/dqghx #edchat

samchaltain:  In the spirit of ed renewal (not reform), Finland has some useful lessons to offer us. See http://bit.ly/cd2yK6 #edchat

Parentella:  RT @cybraryman1: Yes, I have an Educational Reform page: http://bit.ly/diXT0v #edchat {Of course!}

StephenLazarOtC:   http://bit.ly/9AtAs5  NY seems to have it backwards. They’re talking about changing the assessment, but we don’t have a curriculum.#edchat

graingered:  @kelalford As long as politics funds ed (& it should B) we R prof respons 2 work together@ http://tinyurl.com/3yncsvw #edchat

graingered:  @DrTimony Change is best when incremental in MHO- also like concept of morphic resonance- idea tipping@ http://tinyurl.com/257vvsc

graingered:  @Parentella Systemic change happens best (most efficiently) when its incremental. See morphic resonance @ http://tinyurl.com/257vvsc

markbarnes19:  The Innovative Educator: The Innovative Educator’s Building Learning Communities ( BLC10 ) Picks http://ow.ly/2aJup #edchat

jorech:  What DOESN’T work is having students write for teachers as audience.Solution: http://bit.ly/aJnbVp  #edchat

LHSSchmidt:  RT @samchaltain: My newest blog post: How to Build a School System That Nurtures Creativity – http://bit.ly/cd2yK6 #edreform #learning #education #edchat

Slewth:   [Resource] HEA Research Seminar Series: Access and Success for All. 2009 materials now online at http://bit.ly/dD8h8i #disability #edchat

followtheleague:  Creativity spawns innovation! RT @malcolmbellamy: http://bit.ly/an2WvJ important article on importance of creativity in #education #edchat

GeofferyKehrig:  Success stories lead the way … Let your class be a success story … Ex. PS22 Chorus (public school) http://youtu.be/o0LKRuOLTsQ #edchat

graingered:  @drtimony @ewellburn 100yrs ago arg-silly World hasnt chngd(then&now)-it nevr stops chngin! Shift thinkin http://tinyurl.com/267bpcd #edchat

graingered:  @jgmac1106 I am admin-I embrace change/understand it HAS 2 come fr/within- http://tinyurl.com/368zuvs -aligns/leads 2 systems change #edchat

Colin Graham spent eight years as a statistician and computer programmer before deciding he preferred working with people rather than machines.  After retraining as teacher of Secondary Mathematics (11 -19 years old) in the UK, he taught a wide variety of students across all levels of ability, from basic skills to advanced level statistics, including IT when it was still 1.0 (actually more like 0.5!).  His exposure to ESOL students helped convince him that the language used in teaching is almost as important as the subject being taught, and he diverted his career towards teaching English as a Foreign Language – in Japan, for eleven years!  In Japan, he became involved with teacher development and, in his spare time, participated in missions to developing countries to help with teacher training. Having recently returned to the UK, he is continuing his research into the impact of the use of language on learning, particularly in Mathematics.  He is about to complete an M. Ed. in Applied Linguistics, before moving on to a Masters in Mathematics Education.  He believes strongly that the best student is one that takes responsibility for their own learning. Labelled by his friends and colleagues as a ‘perpetual student’, he takes this as a great compliment.  He adores music and loves singing, composing and arranging.  He’s probably most known by current Tweeps for being (deliberately) provocative, having a quirky sense of humour, being Scottish, poking his nose into #musedchat and kick-starting #mathchat.  He’d also like to think that he’s helped from time to time, too!

New to Edchat?

If you have never participated in an #Edchat discussion, these take place twice a day every Tuesday on Twitter. Over 1,000 educators participate in this discussion by just adding #edchat to their tweets. For tips on participating in the discussion, please check out these posts!

More Edchat


If you’re new to hashtag discussions, then just show up on Twitter on any Tuesday and add just a few tweets on the topic with the hashtag #edchat. 

What do you think? Leave a comment!

July 11, 2010

How do we as leaders promote engagement of teachers, parents students?


7 – 7 – 2010 – 18:00 CET 12 PM EST

Our thanks for this week’s #edchat summary go to Joan Young (@flourishingkids). Her educational background and interests make her an ideal choice for his topic of full integration of all stake-holders into the learning process. I am sure you will agree that such a complex topic is not an easy one to pin down and Joan has done an excellent job. See more about Joan in her bio at the end of the summary.

Engagement is a key issue in education these days as we work to develop school environments that promote learning, critical thinking and teamwork among teachers, parents and students. At a time where budget crises, political agendas and cultural pressures threaten the efficacy of teachers and students, we must work together to mobilize and change the fabric of education.  From the physical structure of a school campus, with its signs, fences and buildings to the reciprocal communication with parents and students, leaders must create a positive experience in a safe enough environment where both teachers and students will take the necessary risks in growing and learning. With new technology, rising awareness, and a greater variety of participating stakeholders like those here on edchat, we have a wonderful opportunity to work on increasing engagement.
Although the topic was engagement of teachers, parents, and students, much of the discussion as highlighted in themes below centered on getting parents more involved. As we realize that parents are critical activists in demanding change from schools, we need to mobilize and utilize their skills, develop understanding and promote involvement for positive change.

Here are some of the main themes from the discussion:

  • We must understand what engagement looks like in our settings. Active, talkative, excited students in class then sharing with parents?
  • Barriers to parent engagement include preconceived notions of school from parents’ own life experiences.
  • Our campus, modes of communication with parents, students, teachers must facilitate, not block open dialogue.
  • Students must lead the way, through student led conferences, guiding parents on school activity, learning nights.
  • Parents have valuable insights and expertise that we need to discover, mobilize. Active parents can engage other reluctant parents.
  • Communication via all tools available must be utilized so that all families are reached. Can’t assume all have tech access.
  • Teachers are reluctant at times to lead due to increase in duties, peer pressure. Admin. can create safer environment for this.
  • We must share our student successes and let students vocalize, publicize them so that others can see the great models of engagement.
  • As we engage students through relevant, meaningful learning experiences, they will share their learning at home.

Here is a selection of some of the comments:

With such a vibrant discussion, it’s almost impossible to do it justice in a summary, but I’ve picked out some of the comments that caught my eye.

@Katiemc827 #edchat fav quote by Comer, “No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship” applies to parents/students/teachers
@pughamy: #edchat people act because they are inspired, not swayed. how do we become leaders that inspire change?
@ShellTerrell: Engagement means we stop assuming each party is apathetic & doesn’t want to be included! Let’s find out why #edchat

@MrMacnology #edchat We have 2 find ways tht tchrs c how “this” will improve lrnng.  They have 2 experience it. Provide time 2 explore 2 prmte engagement

@cybraryman1: Involve all in the decisionmaking process to get each ones point of view. #edchat
@teachingwthsoul: Leaders encompass all stakeholders. Not just admin. Teacher leaders, parent leaders too. Must seek out strenghs of all. #edchat
@L_Hilt #edchat You definitely need to bring the parents into the school as often as possible. Design day & evening activities for learning 2gether!
@21stcenturychem: The best way is to model engagement for them. If you aren’t excited about the lning process, why should they? #edchat
@weemooseus Design activities for parents that involve showcasing students’ learning, have students present #edchat
@whatedsaid If students have responsibility for their learning (not teachers) they are more engaged, then parents are more engaged too. #edchat
@Ron_Peck We have to promote engagement in such a way so that it is ongoing and a part of the school culture. #edchat #EDCHAT
@skipvia Apathy isn’t a natural state – it’s created by dull curricula and poor pedagogy. #edchat
@bhsprincipal: With technology, there are a lot more ways to engage stakeholders – Facebook, blog, twitter, streaming events #edchat
@fiteach I always start the year with a survey asking parents what I should know about their kids.  It sets the tone that they are valued. #edchat
@LesLinks With all the loss of resources, many parents may be happy to help may have surprising skills/talents could contribute, and engaged. #edchat
@tomwhitby: Informed parents may be your best ALLY.Uninformed parents may be your worst Enemy. Engagement #edchat
@averyteach I try to have tchrs present at staff meetings, work in focus groups on school improvement issues, “gently” push them into ldershp #edchat
@irasocol Most school offices lack the welcoming nature needed to put parents at ease #edchat
@Parentella You have to be willing to “go” where your parents/students are, be it FB, Twitter, email, phone, postage mail etc #edchat
@tkraz#edchat takeaway: student lead conf showing what and how they are learning. Focus on process/importance to their learning #edchat

I would ask that the following question is added to the poll next week:
With so many community members with expertise and resources available to us, and the tools of Web 2.0 how are we utlizing them? Are teachers and admin. using our local and global connections to inspire kids to discover their passions, interests through mentor visits, author visits, etc?

To follow the complete discussion see here

For the stats on #edchat participation see here

As ever, there were some great links shared:

cybraryman1:  Parent-Teacher + Teacher-Student Communication is important. PT Commun: http://www.cybraryman.com/ptconferences.html #edchat

 averyteach:   http://www2.ed.gov/admins/comm/parents/parentinvolve/index.html NCLB pub about parent engagement #edchat 

yongclee:  RT @AndreaGenevieve: Around on July 31st? #education #smcedu #edtech #edchat #highered #edcamp come to SMCEDU camp! http://www.smceducamp.com/

Poll Learnitin5:  Which Web 2.0 application would you like to learn? http://ow.ly/27CLO #edchat #web20

aforgrave:  Perhaps @SirKenRobinson ‘s The Element http://amzn.to/LdyNy  has part of the answer? #edchat

averyteach:  http://nationalserviceresources.org/node/17449 website that has good resources for parent involvement #edchat

whatedsaid:  @pughamy Blogged about students taking charge of learning here http://bit.ly/bEtP6x  #edchat

michellek107:  One of my goals this year is to change perception of tchrs, such as those in the comments from this article- http://bit.ly/dwtbgD #edchat

nancyrubin:  Engaging Students with Engaging tools: http://bit.ly/arsQdO #edchat

cybraryman1:  Parental Involvement should be encouraged PI:http://www.cybraryman.com/parenting.html#school

yongclee:  Educators, what do you think of A Teacher’s Guide to Using Facebook: http://scr.bi/bJGMy5 #smcedu #edchat #edtech

ColinTGraham:  @briankotts But is homework necessarily a good thing…?  John Hattie doesnt think so: http://bit.ly/9x4uV9  #edchat

nancyrubin:  Technology-Infused Lesson Plans: http://bit.ly/aTKIqP #edchat

nancyrubin:  Use a class blog to communicate with parents – What Can I Do With a Blog?: http://bit.ly/cBj9kM

onlinespeechtherapy:  @tvanderark We provide speech-language therapy services to students in their school.  http://www.OnlineSpeechTherapy.com #edchat #edtech

tomwhitby: RT @bhsprincipal: A four-year old on ipad with no PD! Go Figure! http://twitpic.com/22yfph #edchat

briankotts:  @colintgraham @jensrantil Interesting. I read Alfie Kohn’s post on Rethinking Homework http://bit.ly/9w9yOM #edchat

evemarfil:  #edchat #teachers @pgsimoes    #edtech Seven Videos All Teachers & Principals Should Watch http://dlvr.it/2MNPT

web20education:  #edtech20  #edchat Put YoLink In Your Blog: Yesterday, I published a post about YoLink. Today, I had the http://url4.eu/5TTA4

web20education:  #edtech20  #edchat Lots of Great Links from ISTE 2010: The ISTE 2010 conference just wrapped-up a couple of hours http://url4.eu/5TTA5

briankotts:  Remember this NYTimes article? Spreading Homework Out So Even Parents Have Some http://nyti.ms/bKsOO1 #edchat 

evemarfil:  A must watch! Creating the schools we need TEDxNY Chris Lehman http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FEMCyHYTyQ  #edchat

ShellTerrell: Twitter for Learning – 55 Articles http://bit.ly/c7EIcl via @tonykarrer #edtech #elearning #edchat 

briankotts:  My personal favourite in the parent-child conflict:  So Young, and So Gadgeted | NYT http://nyti.ms/aEWlcE #edchat

billgx: This teacher uses YouTube to engage parents, family with student learning. Awesome! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tNSvffHX9Sw #edchat

My name is Joan Young aka @flourishingkids on Twitter. I will be teaching 4th grade this year in Menlo Park, California after many years of teaching Kindergarten/1st grade. As a former foster care social worker and clinical therapist, I’ve always been particularly interested in the connections between environment, emotions, relationships, cognitive science and learning. I am passionate about discovering how we can utillize the unique strengths of our students, their parents and our colleagues to facilitate lively, engaging classrooms and exciting, thriving school environments. I enjoy learning and writing about a variety of subjects, particularly how we can garner the power of positive emotions and trusting relationships to facilitate higher cognition and growth among our students.  I believe that as educators we must help kids discover the unique ways that they learn so that they can take on challenges and pursue their interests to the fullest. I am also passionate about joining together with educators around the world who truly want to actively engage in dialogue and actions for meaningful change in schools. You can read more of my reflections at http://allkidscanflourish.blogspot.com and http://365mindfulmoments.blogspot.com .

New to Edchat?

If you have never participated in an #Edchat discussion, these take place twice a day every Tuesday on Twitter. Over 400 educators participate in this discussion by just adding #edchat to their tweets. For tips on participating in the discussion, please check out these posts!

More Edchat


If you’re new to hashtag discussions, then just show up on Twitter on any Tuesday and add just a few tweets on the topic with the hashtag #edchat.

What do you think? Leave a comment!

July 1, 2010

How can K12 & Higher Ed better work together to promote positive change in education?


6-29-2010 – 18:00 CET 12 PM EST

K-12 through Higher Education one big happy Edu family!

Tuesday’s #edchat topic was a difficult one with a very wide scope. It was also a frustrating one with twitter problems causing all twitter clients to freeze and run slow. Despite the numerous problems we kept on with the discussion and our very intrepid guest blogger Tania Ash (@tcash) has produced an amazing summary for us. I think you will agree that it is a magnificent job! Thank you Tania. Tania is a great evangelist for the use of technology in education (you can read her bio at the end of her post).

Though part of one big education system, K12 and Higher Ed are sometimes viewed as two separate entities that may or may not be working hand in hand. For many students, the transition between K12 and Higher Ed is a difficult one. Students entering Higher Ed must deal with new learning environments and approaches, demanding curricula – many factors intersecting that can affect student performance. Though K12 and Higher ed share the common goal to produce competent, confident and productive members of society, there is a definite need for improvement in terms of the ways in which they work together to strive towards positive change.

Though this #edchat conversation was about K12 and Higher Ed working together to promote positive change, there was also related discussion about pedagogical practice in Higher Education. Many edchatters found fault with the more traditional, lecture styles used in Higher Education. Higher Ed teachers were perceived as being very specialized in their domain-specific subject matter, but edchatters called for professional development, collaboration and networking for teachers at all levels (including Higher Ed) to become better pedagogues. In a follow-up blog post, @readywriting, a college professor pointed out that college professors are under pressure to conduct research instead of improving teaching, and that, while university professors may need to work at becoming better teachers, they should also be given credit for being passionate and competent in their field.

As is usually the case for #edchat conversations, the hour ended all too quickly with many new ideas and questions to mull over. Thanks to @ShellTerrell and @rliberni for being outstanding moderators!

Here are some of the main themes from the discussion:

  • General agreement that there is a gap between K-12 and Higher Ed
  • There needs to be more dialogue and collaboration between K-12 and Higher Ed
  • Professional development and knowledge of sound pedagogical practice are necessary at all levels
  • Though it is important for teachers to be well versed in their domain content, they must also understand how to service all learners. This is true for teachers in K-12 as well as in Higher Ed.
  • Transition between K-12 and Higher Ed must be well supported
  • K-12 and Higher Ed are part of a same system working towards student achievement
Here is a selection of some of the comments:
With such a vibrant discussion, it’s almost impossible to do it justice in a summary, but I’ve picked out some of the comments that caught my eye.
@GaryBrannigan:  Communication is key among all levels of Ed.: grade to grade, level to level

@rliberni: I think one end of the progression that is edu should feed the other – it’s a cycle

@Todd_conaway:  Less blaming, more conversation, more integration of  long known K12  practices in Higher ed.
@cybraryman1: Schools need to know from higher ed how to better prepare students for their level of learning
@Parentella:  Perhaps start mtgs with transitional teachers 2 brainstorm ideas on smoothing out the transition
@Todd_conaway: What looks more like a “work” or “life” environment, a K12 classroom or a college classroom?
@Ron_Peck:  Higher ed and k12 need to be on the same page of what the positive change looks like.
@ShellTerrell: In most Higher Ed lecturing is still the main instructional practice! We need more prob solv & discovery

@lindseybp: Experience each other’s daily realities-do regular onsite visits combined w/online community 2 cont conversation. Share curriculum

@mhuskerfan: Higher ed and K-12 both need to shift teaching methodologies to more PBL, real life applications to meet our 21st Century Learners.
@ColinTGraham: Pastoral support is also important, since many Ss will be moving to an unfamiliar environ. at college. Should work w/ HS b4hand…
@cybraryman1: There should be joint meetings, workshops, edcamps to bring educators on all levels together
@zecool: Too many times, focus is on institution (Prim., HS, HE). Ultimately, should be only 1 focus: the student. It’s a learning continuum!
@vickyloras: K-12 should be a smooth transition to higher ed, no discrepancies and lack of connection should show at all
@K12Learn: Both K12 & Higher Ed need 2 explore integrating tech throughout- that is what this generation knows & uses &  it will continue …
@johnsquared1829: Could student teaching be expanded more? Like med school…different ‘levels’, lots more time; more one-on-one w/ pros
@tcash: Working together on joint projects – common objectives – might help open dialogue btwn Higher Ed & K-12
@Dramanique: I think college advisors should visit HS to discuss w/ counselors what stdts should b focusing on for future majors.
@Ron_Peck: Positive reform can happen and begin with better student teaching focus.
@cybraryman1 There should be learning exchanges & opportunities for lower level students with Higher Ed profs. Seen this with Science
@ColinTGraham Maybe the push for reform in Higher Ed needs to come from the students themselves by showing them other ways of learning in K12…

I would ask that the following question is added to the poll next week:

My request is somewhat unrelated to the topic at hand. I am currently working on a research project for a graduate course. My goal is to explore the potential of using Web 2.0 technologies to develop metacognition in learners, via the creation and use of an electronic portfolio and student-led conferences. Any relevant questions would be really great! For example:

  • How do we measure metacognition? Then, how do we help students develop metacognition and assess?
  • Should learning portfolios be lifelong portfolios that students can take with them wherever they go? What kind of tools can be used to create portfolios that are portable and can evolve with the learner?
  • What are the best ways to encourage students to reflect on, and take charge of, their own learning?

To follow the complete discussion see here

For the stats on #edchat participation see here

As ever, there were some great links shared:

Todd_conaway: @cybraryman1 working on it! http://bit.ly/5DYEQw
EdTechEvolution: Using the principles of ANDRAGOGY, not pedagogy, for ALL learners, including kids: http://bit.ly/V2cSv #iste10 #edchat #edtech
davidwees:  6 concrete things you can do to help with #edreform.  Please add to the list and share your ideas. http://bit.ly/c44iPK #edchat #iste10
ColinTGraham: Shameless plug! #mathchat Time: http://bit.ly/b8F4mk Discussion ideas: http://bit.ly/acK52S Twibbon: http://twb.ly/9oWRFo #edchat #ukedchat
wdesoto: #edchat Survey: “What Parents Want from Schools.” http://bit.ly/cGwW0s
edudemic: Brown University Goes Google http://goo.gl/fb/e1ucX #edchat
EdOptionsInc: RT @whatedsaid 10 ways to encourage students to take responsibility for their learning http://bit.ly/bfWxA8 #edchat
europeaantje: RT @edudemic: The Ultimate Guide To Giving Outstanding Presentations http://goo.gl/fb/Ep97P #edchat
ShellTerrell: @graingered many educators have begun projects & collaborating as result of #edchat you can join many here http://edupln.ning.com/
hoprea: Guest” blog post: Are you ready for real conversation?: http://wp.me/pC2OH-2T #education #edchat #tefl #elt
KARISTUBBS: RT @jdthomas7: QUIZ: Tech Savvy Teaching: How Do You Rank? | Edutopia – http://goo.gl/wx5O #edchat #edtech #iste10
Tech_Academy: 8 Social Media Tips for Higher Education According to Students http://budurl.com/sfta #smcedu #edchat #edtech #iste #elearning #education
alexgfrancisco: Teachers Helping Teachers: The PLN Road Map http://goo.gl/2iu5 #edchat #education #teachers #ntchat
jwrezz: RT @TeachPaperless: New Post: “You Have Seen the Future” http://ht.ly/24Sru #ISTE10 #edchat
alexgfrancisco: Dissecting the 21st Century Teacher http://goo.gl/JW91 #edchat #edtech #ntchat #teachers

My name is Tania Ash (@tcash). I am a 5th grade teacher in Rabat, Morocco. I love teaching in an international school because of the built-in diversity and the stimulating challenges inherent in being part of such a transient community. I facilitate a student-led ecoAction group that has successfully undertaken projects such as bringing paper and plastic recycling to our school community. I am also the lucky mom of a fantastic preschooler. In my spare time, I am a graduate student in educational technology, currently doing research on the potential of Web 2.0 tools to improve student learning. I rely on my PLN, especially the Twitter community, for my daily source of inspiration. I am honored to have been asked to create this guest post!

New to Edchat?

If you have never participated in an #Edchat discussion, these take place twice a day every Tuesday on Twitter. Over 1,000 educators participate in this discussion by just adding #edchat to their tweets. For tips on participating in the discussion, please check out these posts!

More Edchat


If you’re new to hashtag discussions, then just show up on Twitter on any Tuesday and add just a few tweets on the topic with the hashtag #edchat.

What do you think? Leave a comment!

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