Assessment For Learning

What if we could empower our teachers to turn assessment into a process of learning instead of a focus on measurement?  Further, what if this mindset change led to an increase in student achievement on tests? That’s exactly what is happening at Trailside Middle School in Loudoun County, Virginia, at high schools in Gaston County Schools, North Carolina and a few other pioneering classrooms around the country where I have had the opportunity to work with innovative educators. Depending on how you view the purpose and management of tests this innovative process may seem counterintuitive at first—but it has led […]

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Digital Citizenship Lessons From A 9-Year-Old With 18,000 Twitter Followers

Olivia Van Ledtje might only be nine years old, but already she has a global following. She loves to read, and she records a video blog called LivBits in which she shares information about the books she has read and her observations about life in general. Her vlog is so popular that she just launched a Twitter account, @thelivbits, last July—and already she has more than 18,000 followers! I think there are two key lessons about digital citizenship that educators at all levels can learn from Liv.

1. Social media is a great way to connect with subject matter experts, extend […]

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Inviting Global Perspectives into the Classroom

Article Produced in Partnership with Cisco Education .

As our schools and universities prepare students to make a contribution to the world, it is important to benchmark the emerging critical skills they will need to solve increasingly complex problems.  As we accelerate the speed of moving data and communications around the world, one strategic skill emerges that we traditionally have not taught: global empathy.

Come join Alan and colleagues from around the world in Boston this July at BLC17 Education Conference 2017

My own introduction to how valued this skill is came from an interview I had […]

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How Making Thinking Visible Helps Teachers and Students

Article Produced in Partnership with Cisco Education .

One category of digital tools, making thinking visible, can give students a higher level of confidence to ask questions when they need help, or share their opinions and ideas with the rest of the class — leading to more thoughtful discussions. These same tools inform educators about how to plan for much more meaningful lessons.

In the 1980s coming of age movie, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, one of the funniest scenes I remember (perhaps because I was a social studies teacher at the time) is the high school economics class with Ben […]

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Write for My Teacher, or Publish to The World?

When students participate in out-of-class learning, teachers should recognize that potential

Fifteen years ago, a student I never taught forever changed my perspective on how students perceive authentic teaching and learning. The circumstances of how this happened was one of the more auspicious turning points of my career, and the experience continues to challenge and inspire my thinking to this day.

My daughter Jessy, who was 11, (1998) at the time, was enamored with a phenomenon called “fan fiction.” Fan fiction is just as its name suggests: young fans of various genres of literature are encouraged to write chapters […]

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Networks for Lifelong Learning: A Tale of Two Students

Article produced in partnership with Cisco Education

We are in the midst of a historic transition in education, in which we are providing more options and flexibility in creating learning cultures that significantly raise the expectations of what our students can accomplish. We now can effectively support students who traditionally have not succeeded. You have heard it before; learning can be available anywhere, securely on any device, in any format, and potentially connected to anybody 24×7.

Join us at BLC17 to share strategies to teach critical thinking on the web […]

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Crafting a Vision for Empowered Learning and Teaching: Beyond the $1,000 Pencil

Article produced in partnership with Cisco Education

High-speed networks, digital devices, and creative applications are revolutionizing education.  Students can be empowered to take their learning to deeper and deeper levels while developing essential skills that will prepare them for success in the 21st century.

For example, our once-isolated classrooms now can connect students to authentic audiences around the world, leading to a deeper understanding of global issues.  Powerful yet easy-to-use software tools can empower educators and students alike to create top-quality digital tutorials to contribute and build much more support for all learners.   Our students now have access to […]

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Mission Critical: How Educators Can Help Save Democracy

“At present, we worry that democracy is threatened by the ease at which disinformation about civic issues is allowed to spread and flourish. …If the children are the future, the future might be very ill-informed.” —Stanford History Education Group, 2016.

How would you feel if you discovered that 70% of middle school students could not distinguish between fake news and authentic news on the web? According to a year-long study by the Stanford School of Education, that is exactly where we are as a country. Across 12 states and 7,800 student responses, the overwhelming majority of our students — from […]

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Middle School Science Fairs to the Ivory Tower: Lessons from Harvard Professor David J. Malan

Sometimes, I “borrow” lessons from higher ed that can be adapted for a powerful return in k12. For example, past higher ed inventions such as clickers and flip learning (both developed by physics professor Dr. Eric Mazur) have shown enormous promise in K-12. I would like to introduce you to Harvard Professor David J. Malan and his special approach to creating a highly rigorous and successful learning environment.

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Why Schools Must Move Beyond One-to-One Computing

As many schools and districts are now rushing to buy every student a digital device, I’m concerned that most one-to-one implementation strategies are based on the new tool as the focus of the program. Unless we break out of this limited vision that one-to-one computing is about the device, we are doomed to waste our resources.

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Drill the Teachers, Educate the Kids

There is a famous story that describes what needs to be done when you want to hang a picture on the wall. You go the hardware store to buy a drill bit to make the hole for the hook. You don’t really need the drill, you need a hole, but the hardware store doesn’t carry holes, only drill bits. While the drill bit is important, it is two steps removed from what really needs to be done, hanging the picture.

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Students as Contributors: The Digital Learning Farm

Years ago, when farms dominated our landscape, children were responsible for performing meaningful jobs that were vital to each family’s success. Depending on their age, children would care for animals, repair farm equipment, prepare food to sell at local markets and more. Children were essential to the very survival of the family. At the same time, these jobs taught children the value of hard work, leading them to become more productive citizens within their communities as adults.

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Designing Libraries: Learning for a Lifetime

Pat Kyle, librarian at the Washington International School (WIS) was presented with a rare opportunity. A private PreK-12 institution in northwest Washington, DC, WIS had launched a five-year redesign of the school in which she would take an active role, helping build a brand new media center.

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Creating a New Culture of Teaching and Learning

I want to tell you a story about something that happened to me a few days ago. I had been sanding and painting a Pine Derby racing car for several weeks with my son Danny, who is seven years old. The car looked really good. Unfortunately, I had to do a workshop on the day of the race so I couldn’t be there. When I called Danny later, I found he had lost all four heats.

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Teaching Zack to Think

Is your high school teaching students to access the Internet for research? Then it is essential that students also learn how to validate the information. The Internet is a place where you can find “proof” of essentially any belief system that you can imagine. And, for too many students, “If it is on the Internet, it is true.””

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Beyond Technology: The End of the Job and the Beginning of Digital Work

The real revolution that technology brings to society extends well beyond how to use computers, or in school terms, computer literacy. It is more complex than integrating computers across the curriculum or learning about multimedia or even using the Internet. The profound impact is that information communications technology is completely reorganizing how, where, when, with whom, and even why people work.

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Banning Student Containers

When my 17-year-old son, Dan, comes home from school, he shouts hello, heads right to his laptop, and logs on to IM. His buddy list is maxed out. His syntax and grammar would make most English teachers recoil in horror. While he’s sending quick notes to his friends he adds photos to his blog, checks the comments from his global audience, and snaps mini earphones into his iPod.

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