Act your way . . .

“It’s easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than to think your way into a new way of acting.” – Millard Fuller

This was a quote I heard on a recent podcast of the Tim Ferris Show with A.J. Jacobs (someone I haven’t heard of before) and it struck me the first time it was said in the show and at the end when it was repeated.

The last time I heard it I was shovelling the snow off the driveway and it had me wondering how does the quote relate to education.  Is it a way to challenge one’s paradigms and reflect on practice?  For example, if someone doesn’t use formative assessment in their classroom because they believe their current way is much better – can they be challenged to act like they are doing formative assessment to see what happens? Would their beliefs about formative assessment change?    Maybe this example is a bad one, or too broad, perhaps a simpler task – act like you want to get to know your students better by greeting them at the door to be more welcoming.  Does this make a difference for your relationships with kids and kids learning in your class?  Would they change?

Is act your way into a new way of thinking the same as fake it to you make it? Not sure; however, the quote hit and stuck with me for some reason.


The Active Ice Breaker

We met some great friends and their kids yesterday for a rainy afternoon of sledding and time at their house catching up.  The kids hadn’t seen each other since the summer, and while they get along fantastically, the first chunk of time can be a little slow in re-connecting.

Yesterday’s sled activity was a great way to do the re-connecting – being active and having fun let them have easy conversations to get the visit going.

Can these active conversations and opening ice-breakers be transferred to the classroom?  Will have to think about how I can incorporate a strategy like this in my math classroom for Semester 2 – is there a different spin I can take on the opening week of community building activities?


Recent Reads

Winter break always provides some extra time for reading and so far I have finished two books.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline was a book that AJ Juliani  mentioned in his blog post The Best Books of 2016 for Teachers (And Learners).  Always interested in reading a fiction book over the break I looked to see if this was available at our local library, it was and I grabbed it.  Once I started it was hard to put down and I finished it in few days.  Set in 2045 and has lots of 80s references – Atari 2600, TRS-80 and tons of songs and movies – the story is a good one!

I have recently started listening to the The Tim Ferris Show Podcast and on one podcast with Peter Diamandis  he talked about his book Bold and what he had written about.  Although the book was more business focused and entrepreneurship I was intrigued.  I checked the book out of the library and it was another one I couldn’t put down.  Some of the take aways from the book:

  • Exponential technology and the five that are going to change the world
  • the secrets of skunk and how this could relate to education – is this a “design” process that could be used to help us in what schools could like?  Is this even doable in a school or district?
  • the 10x strategy – if you are going to change go for 10x better not 10% better than the status quo.  Again, how would this relate to education and how we look at solving our issues?
  • Google’s 8 Innovation principles – some great principles here and again leaves me to think how would these principles be applied to education?
  •  The billionaire wisdom chapter that gave me a glimpse into Elon Musk (Tesla), Richard Branson (Virgin), Larry Page (Google) and Jeff Bezos (Amazon) – all names I have heard of but didn’t know much about other than the companies they are most connected with.
  • Crowd sourcing, crowd funding, building community – some great info and step by step stuff

I can’t help but think – how could some of these principles and ideas be used in education?  Some of the mindsets on change and disruption are intriguing to me and I wonder how this might transfer to our problem solving that we need to do in education.  If you get a chance to read the book – I encourage you do that – I would love to hear your thoughts on what you learned!

From Out There Somewhere – 16.12.2016

Here are some things that I have been reading and/or watching lately.

10 Ideas for Google’s 2016 Education on Air Conference

How will I use these next semester in my math class?

6 Videos to Spark Creative Thinking

some ideas for design thinking projects

8 “rules of the road” for better mental health

a good analogy to share with staff, students and others

5 Simple Ways to Give Students Feedback During During Project Based Learning #HackPBL

use of conferencing, written feedback and mini-lessons

How To Manage Obstacles That Keep You From Achieving Your Personal Goals

10 Things to think about and a “try this” for each one

Use Winter Break to Renew Your Spirits and Sense of Purpose

Some techniques to ease stress and recharge

10 Learnings From 10 Years of Brain Pickings (animated)

Read and liked the original post but enjoyed the animated version – worth the 7 minutes


Conversation Pieces

Over the past few days it has been great to stumble into a variety of exciting conversations at Bloom.  A quick snapshot of the conversations:

#1 – two teachers discussing a 6 point rubric versus the 100 point scale.  The discussion about how to use the 6 point rubric and the impact on kids was great.  Even better, it was teachers from different curricular areas discussing how to use it in their classrooms

#2 – what is a student data notebook and my discussion of what this was and could look like in an English class or in a math class

#3 – two science teachers collaborating about exciting (usually meaning fire or loud noises) demonstrations and linking it to their course.  Even better, the teachers’ willingness to go into each other’s classrooms to demonstrate

#4 – how do we build reading interventions for our middle years students AND what data are we using to help us guide this decision.  Further, how do we build this into our weekly schedule

#5 – a teacher finishing Myron Dueck’s Grading Smarter, Not Harder book and discussing strategies

Great conversations for sure.  How do we amplify this to all staff?  Looking forward to what I stumble into next week . . .

Day 3 of @SolutionTree #atplc Institute

The final day of institute had us do one breakout session followed by a closing keynote address.  I was intrigued by both of the sessions because of their titles but also because of who was speaking.

Today’s first session  with Tim Brown (@ctimbrown) was entitled Student Data Notebooks: Developing Ownership, Motivation and a Growth Mindset.  Lots about this title had me intrigued and Tim is a very engaging speaker so I was looking forward to this one.  Here are my learning and/or takeways from the session:

  • Students’ self-efficacy has a 1.44 score for Hattie’s Visible Learning (2009) – this equates to over 2 to 3 years of growth – we need to look at this
  • To improve student self-efficacy and help develop a growth mindset students should be tracking and studying their performance (analyzing their personal data) and receiving more verbal feedback
  • We need to normalize and determine the cycle (ie every 2 weeks; 6 weeks, …) of students analyzing their personal assessment data
  • Give students the essential outcomes for the unit at the beginning of the unit
  • Can we create classroom data walls (with no student names) to show how we are doing as a class
  • Many examples of student data gradebooks were shared.  Everything from reflection on term progress sheets, to chemistry unit essential outcome tracking sheets.  The idea of student data tracking was also presented by Myron Dueck (@myrondueck) at our district day at Fulton a few weeks ago.  While Myron called it something different the setup of unit overview sheets with student friendly outcome on it for kids to self-report on was very similar.
  • While it is good to have students create these data notebooks – the key is to then revisit the sheets and check on the progress of the goal they set.  Teachers need to build into their lesson/unit planning a couple of minutes per kid to have these conversations.

This workshop was a great follow-up to the common assessment workshop I did yesterday.

Luis Cruz (@lcruzconsulting) did the closing keynote entitled Because All Means All! Embracing Change as a Means to Ensure Learning for All Students.  I really enjoyed the break out session led by Luis that I attended so I was looking forward to the closing keynote.  Luis did a great job of story telling and really hooking folks in with his “3rd base kids” analogy.  My learning and takeaways from this session:

  • Ending the cycle of poverty for kids is the “why” behind our work.  Follow this up with: we are in the business of saving lives of every kid that walks in the building.  A powerful statement to help frame where he was going to take us in his talk.
  • Choose a “healthy” culture over a “smart” culture.  The work is harder if you do this but absolutely necessary.
  • When you are a healthy culture you’re not looking out the window for solutions, you’re looking in the mirror for solutions.
  • Leadership is influence to increase learning for our school and he describes leadership (from Marzano’s work) is most effective when carried out by a small team of educators with the principal functions as a strong cohesive force.  This leadership team should also develop a purpose that is focused on student learning.
  • To understand change people must understand the why, who and the how of the change.
  • We need to work to create encores.

Culture, change and leadership and what to do when you get back to your site were the themes for this one.  The presentation was motivational and emotional – and it must say something when the audience gives you standing ovation when you are done!

3 days of fantastic information and things to think to about.  If you get a chance to attend a PLC institute – go for it.