As I sit here at 6:30 on a Sunday morning reading through Eric Sheninger's book on Digital Leadership and participating in a Voxer Book chat, I became inspired by Allison Petersen's comments related to taking action during times of change.In particular this quote from Eric's book "A vision begins with talk, but it will only become reality with action" really struck a chord. What actions have I been apart of over the past few years at Black River Middle School that have moved all school stakeholders forward in the digital era? Here is the list.......
I am sure there are a number of things I am leaving out. All in all though, it's a pretty thorough list. When school stakeholders work together in an environment that embraces autonomy and innovation anything is possible. Taking action is a must in today's educational world. Relying on what has worked in the past is no longer an option. Realizing that it's not about what we as educators are comfortable with. Rather, it's what the kids know in the present day and are comfortable with in their own learning environment. Please share ways in which you have taken action in the digital era by leaving a comment below. Keep fighting the good fight!
NJ is the Place to Be for PD
July ~ Summer of Learning Edmodo Book Discussion on Eric Sheninger' book Digital Leadership. Sign up here: https://edmo.do/j/4xswd
NJEA Professional Learning Institute: http://m.njea.org/news/2014-05-14/~/link.aspx?_id=9B1B9B9703504A7C822F3BD1E185DA7E&_z=z
Wednesday, July 9 ~ Social Media Boot Camp. Register Here: http://buff.ly/1hSeBE4
Thursday, July 10 ~ New Teacher Boot Camp. Register Here: http://njascd-north.ticketleap.com/new-teacher-book-camp/
Wednesday, July 16 ~ TechStock. Register Here: http://www.njea.org/news/2014-02-28/power-to-the-people
Monday, July 21 ~ Chromebooks and the Common Core. Register here: https://www.smore.com/bgf1y-chromebooks-and-the-common-core
Tuesday, July 29 ~ Developing Digital Literacies. Register Here: http://digitalliteraciescollaborative.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/developing-digital-literacies-flyer-july-29-2014.pdf
Monday, August 4 ~ EdCamp Leadership. Register Here:http://www.edcampleadership.org/
Tuesday, August 5 ~ EdCamp STEAM. Register here: http://www.edcampsteam.org/
Thursday, August 7 ~ PadCamp. Register Here:http://www.padcamp.org/
Monday, August 18 ~ TeachMeetNJ. Register Here: http://www.teachmeetnj.com/
Saturday, October 18 ~ 5th Annual Edscape Conference at New Milford High School in New Milford, NJ
EdCamp NJ ~ Saturday, November 22 at North Brunswick Middle School on North Brunswick, NJ
Bring Your Own Network
Recently I have been thinking about the impact of BYON or Bring Your Own Network in the school setting. What is preventing schools from doing this? We would be pretty shocked to find that many students, particularly middle school on up, already do it to begin with. Why not take advantage of the proliferation of mobile devices to engage learners in the classroom? I often hear educators, including myself, preaching communication and collaboration as a way to comprehend the topic at hand. There could be an unbelievable opportunity right in front if our faces with BYON. We also must keep in mind though that there is another side to this innovative concept. So let's take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of #BYON........
As you can see there is a strong case for and against bringing your own network to school. Ultimately though, we need to start having the conversation. As time goes on, people will have accessTo networks in ways once thought unimaginable. So do we just discount this trend? Or do we take advantage of an opportunity that could transcend education? As always your commentary is appreciated.
I Almost Fell For It
Recently, I received an email from my son's school district via PowerSchool that his CogAT (Cognitive Abilities Test) score had been posted. A sudden urge hit me to quickly open up the PDF file to see how he scored. I went through the data line by line eager to see how he matched up against his peers nationally. I was quite impressed with the results and soon found myself smiling as any proud father would. For now, I know that he will bode well with his education in the years to come because he works his tail off in school and at home to expand his skills and knowledge.
But then it hit me. I soon realized that I fell into the "standardized testing" trap. What was I thinking? Don't get me I wrong. I am a firm believer in using assessment data to impact student success. Stakeholders must realize though that it's only one piece to the puzzle. The excitement generated from awaiting the results of these types of tests is not worth the price of admission. If anything, as parents we must be using our enthusiasm to ask questions pertaining to the data and how it will be used to guide instruction.
So what comes of all of this? Parents, including myself, must under-react when they receive their child's test scores. The urge to compare needs not to happen. The focus instead should be on the whole picture pertaining to things like grades, social and emotional growth, character development, and extracurricular participation to name a few. Add in the test scores and then you are able to truly see the progress your child is making. Getting caught up in the "your school's test scores are worse than my school's test scores" doesn't help anyone.
How will I react when I receive my son's PARCC results next school year? Not sure. I hope with a more subdued reaction that takes into account all the other tools of measurement that keep track of his progress. Honestly, I will be more concerned with the impact PARCC might have on the day to day operations of my son's school. I will also be keeping an eye on how his school will make sure they budget for extra equipment and infrastructure upgrades to ensure that innovative classroom instruction is not disrupted while others are testing. I also want to be very open with the fact that I am more interested in my son's teacher making a connection with him on a personal level and how they will expose him to meaningful learning experiences.
The state of education is in a tricky place right now. Make no mistake about it, it's great to see students being challenged more and data being used in creative ways to impact student success. But we must make sure that the whole child is addressed and resources are being utilized appropriately. As children become older we must be aware of over testing, particularly in the Spring months with Final Exams, PARCC, SATs, and possibly NAEP. So what are your thoughts and hopes moving forward? Please share in the comment section.