Monday, December 24, 2012

Best of 2012

As we wind down 2012, I thought it would be a good time to repost some of my favorite creations over the course of the last year. There’s a lot of new stuff coming for Digigogy in 2013, including my new book with Janet Hale, Upgrade Your Curriculum: Practical Ways to Transform Units and Engage Students. Those of you who follow me regularly have already had some sneak peeks!

Here’s a few things that I thought represented the best of Digigogy in 2012:

  • Best Common Core Resources on Pinterest - A collection of the best resources I’m coming across related to the Common Core. Note that these are not “curated” resources (see Curation blog post below) as there has not been a lot of conversation around the inclusion of the resources. Perhaps that is something we could collaboratively engage in next year: discussions around the usefulness of a particular resource!

  • Annotexting - Annotexting is a process that involves the collection of thoughts, observations and reactions to reading that show evidence of critical thought. These annotations, rather than being on paper, can be collected with different web tools so that students can collaborate, both locally and globally, around the conclusions that they will ultimately draw from their reading.

  • Collection or Curation? - Curating is different. It’s the Critical Thinker’s collection, and involves several nuances that separate it as an independent and classroom-worthy task.

  • Text Complexity Resources - A collection of resources around text complexity on Multiple resources including rubrics for determining qualitative measures, unit planning around text complexity, and many examples from different state education agencies.

  • Virtual Summer Camp for Teachers - Here you will find multiple opportunities for Professional Development over the summer: learn new web tools, investigate the Common Core, explore essential applications and more!

  • Snapshot of a Modern Learner - Santos knows where to find information. He does not necessarily discern what information is relevant, and he doesn’t necessarily know what he needs to learn from the information. But he knows where it lives: everywhere.

  • Cure for the Common Core eBook - Cure for the Common Core is a collection of blog posts from the last two years of preparing for and implementing the Common Core Standards. Collected here together for the first time, this book offers insights and actionable strategies for teachers aligning their curriculum to the new standards.

I’d like to add that 2012 has been a fabulous year working with schools and teachers around the shift to more rigorous standards, the design of new performance tasks in the wake of the standards and the intersection of it all with ubiquitous technology infusion.

May your 2013 be a celebration of dynamic and Digigogical learning!

-Mike Fisher

PS. Those of you that have asked if blogs could be a viable tool for student just read one.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Talking to Kids About Traumatic Events

Much love, concern, and prayers go out to all of those associated with Sandy Hook Elementary. As parents and teachers around the country help their children cope with understanding what happened and having discussions that will be effective in healing, I'm sharing the following resources:

From PBS Parents: Strategies for Talking to Kids about the News
Talking about the news with kids happens in everyday moments. Children ask questions in the car on the way to school, in between pushes on the swings, and just when you're trying to rush out the door. In one breath, they'll ask about a range of topics — from the weather to the president to the latest war. And when difficult questions come up, parents wonder how to respond.

From the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: Tips for Talking With and Helping Children and Youth Cope After a Disaster or Traumatic Event

From the Child Mind Institute: Talking to Kids about Traumatic Experiences

From the NYU Child Study Center: Talking to Children Immediately After Traumatic Events

From Military One Source: Helping Children Manage Fears After a Traumatic Event

If you know of other resources, please add them to the comment area below.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

3 Curriculum Decisions to Make Right Now!

Decision paralysis is a real thing. Faced with making too many decisions at once and you’re likely to not make any decision at all. The mountain grows larger, the journey grows longer. Dan and Chip Heath talk about decision paralysis in their book, Switch. (2011) They describe scenarios where, rational or not, humans that are faced with too many choices can’t make a decision at all.

Lately, decision paralysis has become the modus operandi in education. We have become habitually overwhelmed to the point of non-action. We lament the good old days while our students, with their smart phones and modern environments and yearnings to move on, sit in front of us waiting to be prepared for colleges or careers.
So what do you do? Where do you start?
You only have to do three things. That’s right, just three things. Consider invigorating your curriculum with the following:

  • Choices
  • Thinking
  • Vocabulary

While there may be mountains of considerations with the new standards, their associated new assessments, and the tie-in to new teacher evaluations, these three things are really the core of your curriculum conversations and actions, no pun intended.

I’ve highlighted a few considerations in each of the three categories in the visual though there are a myriad strategies to engage in.
I would suggest research based / peer reviewed strategies versus textbook driven decisions, however. In a lot of schools, much emphasis is placed on the textbook as the driver of the curriculum and then there is shock and disappointment when the students don’t perform. Modernizing our work means that there must be a focus on the essential learning needs of students and truly preparing them for college and/or careers, and not on what a salesman would like for us to believe.
These three things are the learning essentials. They are the roots of good instruction and attending to them in specific and purposeful ways will help you align to new standards, prepare for new assessments, and prepare students for the world they will graduate into.
Heath, C., & Heath, D. (2011). Switch, how to change things when change is hard. (1st ed.). New York: Crown Business.
Mike on Twitter: @fisher1000
Upgrade Your Curriculum: Practical Ways to Transform Units and Engage Students - coming in Feb. 2013 from ASCD
Cure for the Common Core - eBook available now from Amazon


Monday, December 3, 2012

Put the Kibosh on Bloom's APPortunities

I read yet another blog post this morning about sorting and parsing APPs and Web 2.0 tools according to Bloom’s Levels. Back in 2009, I created a Bloom’s Pyramid of Web 2.0 tools and did the same sorting and parsing. Almost immediately, it was apparent that I did this wrong. (Which I discovered as I conversed and thought this through with my Digital PLN!) However, it sparked a conversation, a REALLY good conversation, about the thinking that goes into how a tool is being used as well as the importance of the TASK behind it. The wiki is still open that I collaboratively created with @paulawhite if you’d like to visit.

Since 2009, the images have been copied, remixed, recreated, added to, expanded, and more. However, the same flaw still exists:

Putting a web tool or APP somewhere on the hierarchy is useless. It does not represent the intention of critical thinking levels in any form, whether it’s Bloom’s or Webb’s DOK levels, or Costa’s Thinking Levels. Whatever is being used, is being used in the wrong way.

The real critical thinking revolves around understanding how to use a Web tool or APP at ALL OF THE LEVELS. All the charts and images are cute, but they don’t represent a real transfer of thinking at the applied level.

Let’s start a new conversation, perhaps by adding comments to the CONTRIBUTE area of the Visual Bloom’s Wiki, or by commenting here. I can start importing those suggestions into WIX and expanding the interactivity of the Digital Visual Bloom’s.  If the web tool or APP is not on the CONTRIBUTE list already, you can add it yourself and we can crowdsource this larger conversation.

Leveling web tools and APPs is past-thinking. Understanding how the tools and APPs live on multiple levels is future-thinking. What we did back then was good, and now that we know better, let’s make it happen!

Mike on Twitter: @fisher1000

Upgrade Your Curriculum: Practical Ways to Transform Units and Engage Students - coming in Feb. 2013 from ASCD
Cure for the Common Core - eBook available now from Amazon