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Has the IBO always gone overboard with criteria?

At the Nanjing International School, we use both the IBO curriculum and we are trying to adopt NoTosh’s ideas about Design Thinking.

I might argue that since we are trying to follow both the IB Design Curriculum AND Design Thinking we ask students to choose from at least one strand in each criterion.  In my teaching career with MYP, I have noticed most times every item from the IBO’s level 7-8 criteria does not make sense for students to complete.  They are not realistic and rather than student being informed by the process, they are bored out of their mind.

A case example:
If students would like to make a website, they might only choose:

Criterion A: Inquiring and analysing
The student:
i. explains and justifies the need for a solution to a problem for a client/ target audience
ii. constructs a detailed research plan, which identifies and prioritizes the primary and secondary research needed to develop a solution to the problem independently
iii. analyses a range of existing products that inspire a solution to the problem in detail 
iv. develops a detailed design brief, which summarizes the analysis of relevant research.

Criterion B: Developing ideas
The student:
i. develops detailed design specifications, which explain the success criteria for the design of a solution based on the analysis of the research (in this case, a website layout)
ii. develops a range of feasible design ideas, using an appropriate medium(s) and detailed annotation, which can be correctly interpreted by others
iii. presents the chosen design and justifies fully and critically its selection with detailed reference to the design specification
iv. develops accurate and detailed planning drawings/diagrams and outlines requirements for the creation of the chosen solution.

Criterion C: Creating the solution
The student:
i. constructs a detailed and logical plan, which describes the efficient use of time and resources, sufficient for peers to be able to follow to create the solution
ii. demonstrates excellent technical skills when making the solution. 
iii. follows the plan to create the solution, which functions as intended and is presented appropriately
iv. fully justifies changes made to the chosen design and plan when making the solution.

Criterion D: Evaluating
The student:
i. designs detailed and relevant testing methods, which generate data, to measure the success of the solution
ii. critically evaluates the success of the solution against the design specification based on authentic product testing
iii. explains how the solution could be improved 
iv. explains the impact of the product on the client/target audience. (IBO, 2014)

Following this idea, teachers would still have something to mark for every criterion, but it would be more succinct and we could enable the FUN back into the learning.  I would emphasize that we would want the students to choose and (verbally) justify why they have chosen those criteria.  Along the lines of Design Thinking, we want the kids to: “be immersed, synthesize, ideate, prototype, and then display” (NoTosh, 2015).

I think it is important that we follow the rules, but as educators we need to realize when the rules should be broken if we are ensuring that our students are not enjoying the subject matter.

Thoughts?

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Excellent Song and Music Resources for Parents and Teachers

It has been a while since I posted anything directly to my site.  I thought I would consolidate four of my favourite resources into one post here that are a seemingly endless and FREE collections of excellent online resources for music, singing, dancing, and nursery rhymes.  Without further adieu:

Bus Songs – This one is great for young kids.  It is sortable and searchable.  For example, if I want to find all the songs that are about Transport; of course they have that…and I can see which ones have audio and which have video.

Bus Songs

Cosmic Kids Yoga – Youtube – This channel is neat because the yoga instructor takes you through a story and teaches different moves.  The stories are done with ‘blue screen’ techniques so it seems like she is in far off or imaginary places.

Cosmic Kids Yoga

Just Dance – Youtube – I have seen kids in grade 5 (age 10) who all love the videos from this channel.  This means younger ones will like them too.  The teachers are able to sit back and have the video teach the kids the dance moves.  Forget the square dance.  It is time to doh-see-doh your partner over to these fun, hip videos.

Just Dance

Intellidancing – Youtube – When you have had enough of yoga, hip-hop and pop dancing, and nursery rhymes, it is time for a little modern, conceptual dancing and movement.  This is when these videos are for you.  Enjoy.

Intellidancing

 
 

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From Tech class to Tech integration

A learning common

As a new tech integration specialist, moving to a school where they were changing from the tech class to the tech integration model there were certain things that needed to be understood beforehand.

Some of these key ideas I posted in a post called Technology Integration: a six-pronged approach.  Other ideas, however, had more to do with dealing with the emotions of colleagues and I will touch on this now.  I would liken these Kübler-Ross’ “Five Stages of Grief” to the emotions that many of the teachers went through when learning they were dealing with a new strategy for technology:

Denial: Most home room teachers who have been at the school for sometime, upon hearing that their school will be moving to this model will be in shock, and do not really understand what this means.  Some may decide that they do not have time to meet with or interact with the new ‘tech integrator’ assuming this stance as one where they can keep their heads in the sand as long as possible until they will have to deal with what has been given to them.

As a tech integrator it means you need to explain the process to teachers, knowing full-well that many of the words you say or write are falling on deaf ears.  It is of utmost importance that you have patience knowing that they are dealing with change, and are there to offer reassurance, help and support when they are ready to receive it.

Love

Anger: One of the biggest gripes from teachers is that they “have lost their prep. period”.  They do not see the big picture yet and feel like they have gained nothing, but definitely lost what most teachers treasure most – time.

As a tech integrator, this means that you have to be ready to act as the messenger, fully realizing that some teachers will be ready to shoot you.  Again, patience and understanding are key here.  Note that I am not saying, “push for your right to integrate tech”.  A tech integrators role, especially in the early stages, has more to do with empathizing and supporting than it does with integrating technology.  Be kind, be patient, listen, and support.

Bargaining: At this stage many teachers are still not ready to accept the role of the tech integrator and may decide that they will ‘leave for a coffee for the entire period’ while you teach the class in their classroom.  Although this may need to happen at first to ease into the transition there needs to be bargaining and compromise from both sides.  For instance, the tech integrator eventually needs to explain that his role is to be working with the teachers to integrate technology into the classroom.

The tech integrator eventually wants to work his way out of the job.  Essentially, he should be developing computer skills in all the teachers to such a degree that he can begin focussing his role more as a learning coach than a tech integrator.

Another worry from teachers is about how they will do the tech teaching themselves, how they are going to mark, who is going to mark, etc. These questions should all be explicitly focused upon over time with the tech integrator helping out along the way.  Remember, this is not a journey that will take a year.  In my experience and that of others, it takes between three and five years to fully move to tech integration.

Depression: There may be some hidden or some outright depression along the way.  Teachers may say things like, “I don’t know how to teach technology; I just don’t have the skill set; or Please, can you come and teach my class.”

As a tech integrator, the initial stage will mean getting to know all the teachers needs through regular meetings and setting up classroom visits.  However, upon you understanding the support necessary for different teachers, accommodation takes place at different levels.  For example, some teachers may want a lesson to be taught completely by the tech integrator.  Others, may want to team teach.  Other still, may want you there only as moral support or support when something gets tricky.  And finally, many may want you to teach them individually either for personal or professional purposes.  This is where the acceptance stage has started kicking in.

Acceptance: Not only is there a light at the end of the tunnel, but it is a bright shiny light when everyone reaches the end of that tunnel.  Here are some reasons:

  1. The students have a higher chance they are learning technology through authentic means, and not in a separate class where the end goal is to learn technology.  The computer and it’s peripheries begin to be thought of as a tool to help a student come up with better or altogether new ways to create solutions to genuine problems.  Ideally, the teachers and tech integrators are integrating with the highest levels of the SAMR (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition) model.
  2. Tech integration improves student learning processes and outcomes because teachers who recognize a computer’s capacity move from a Behavioral approach to a constructivist approach as noted in this article.
  3. Technology integration enables total engagement of the class with tools like Google Docs, Microsoft One-Note, Socrative, Edmodo, and one of my new favorites Todaysmeet.  Integration also allows for students to enlist the help of other classes, schools, or even experts in a field to find the answers to the questions that may be posed.  Students or teachers can post in blogs, on social networks, through ePortfolios and through so many other forms.
  4. As a tech integrator, your colleagues can learn from you in so many capacities.  As mentioned above, they can learn while you are teaching, while they are teaching, or by themselves at their own pace.
  5. Finally, another advantage for you, the tech integrator, stepping into so many classes is that you are gleaning best teaching practice.  I like to think of a tech integrator as a bumblebee pollinating flowers, or carrying best practice from one class to the next. This again is teaching teachers, but it has reciprocal advantages.

While the stages are not the same for all teachers, a technology integrator stepping into these shoes in a school where they are changing from tech classes to integration is unwittingly going to stumble across some, if not all, of the teachers in one stage or another.  He needs to mentally prepare himself for the situation and recognize that he won’t be liked by most upon arrival.  He needs to remember to support, support, support.  In two or three years he will be loved even more than the tech teacher who would take the kids off the teachers hands so they could have a break.  Eventually, he will become the most loved teacher through all the school, even more than the gym teacher!!

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2013 in Technology

 

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Books to read…

The following list are recommended by Daniel Pink and his readers in his book, “Drive”.  First, if you haven’t read Pink’s book, put it at the top of your list.  Because I love the insights and strategies Pink submits, I am definitely going to try to read some, if not all, of these books.  If you have any insight about which ones I should read first, I welcome your feedback.

Daniel Pink - PopTech 2007 - Camden, ME

Daniel Pink – PopTech 2007 – Camden, ME (Photo credit: Kris Krug)

Pink’s Reader’s Recommendations:

  1. The Talent Code – Daniel Coyle (This was just recommended to me by a friend)
  2. Encore – Marc Freedman
  3. Rework – Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
  4. Linchpin – Seth Godin (I love this author and blogger – This may top my list)
  5. Just Listen – Mark Goulston
  6. Switch – Chip Heath and Dan Heath
  7. Delivering Happiness – Tony Hsieh
  8. Teach like a Champion – Doug Lemov
  9. Mastery – George Leonard
  10. Employees First, Customers Second – Vineer Nayar
  11. How full is your Bucket? – Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton
  12. Wellbeing – Tom Rath and Jim Harter
  13. Learned Optimisim – Martin E. P. Siligman
  14. Do More Great Work – Michael Bungay Stanier
  15. Start with Why – Simon Sinek
  16. The Motivated Student – Bob Sullo
  17. Good Boss, Bad Boss – Bob Sutton
  18. Intrinsic Motivation at Work – Kenneth W. Tomas
  19. Wooden Leadership – John Wooden and Steve Jamison

Pink’s Recommendations:

The reason I am putting two of the books at the top of my list is because I have heard a few people talking about them.  I suppose this is why I read most of the books that I do-either recommendation, talk around the water cooler, they are on a list for school, and now because they are on a list from an author who I respect and enjoy reading.

Personally, I would add Freakonomics, SuperFreakonomics, Blur, and any books that Malcolm Gladwell or Seth Godin wrote to this list.

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2013 in Education

 

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New ways to cheat at school

Attention:

This is a “head’s up” to teachers [professors, bosses, supervisors, etc].  Writing and bringing cheat sheets, copying off neighbor’s tests, buying essays online, texting answers to one another and plagiarizing are ways students use to cheat.  But now there is a new way to add a procrastination method to the list of cheating

…and it’s not Facebook.

Proof:

Document Corrupter, by Neddy Winter, does just what it says.  It corrupts documents.  Neddy totes it like this:

We have all been in the situation where we have half-finished work due tomorrow. You can upload a unfinished word document and this tool will modify it so that it cannot be opened. You can send the corrupted file instead to buy yourself some extra time.http://neddyy.net/docs/

So if dealing with cheating and plagiarism wasn’t enough, now teachers need to lookout for this awful new method that students are employing.

Strategy:

As a teacher or educator we are thinking to ourselves, “Oh no!  This is not good.  Is there any way that I can combat this new way to cheat?”  Initially, there is not a program or service that can tell you the file has been put through the document corrupter, but you can try some of these solutions:

  • Tell students you are aware of the Document Corrupter
  • Insist that students save their file revisions in DropBox – They can always go back to an earlier saved version
  • Tell students that corrupted files are still counted as late
  • Tell students they must send you two file formats: PDF and DOCx
  • Ask students to give you drafts or compartmentalized pieces of large assignments
  • Employ the use of Google Docs instead
  • If a document shows up corrupted to your email and you have your doubts, ask a student to immediately send you an print-screen image-file of the closing argument from their computer.  Also ask them to look in their Dropbox to get an older version to send you

To help fight against procrastination:

  • Help students to create an “un-schedule”

“a weekly calendar of all of your committed activities. It can help you accomplish your goal in two ways. First, in looking ahead to how much of your time is already committed, you will see the maximum amount of time you have left over to work toward your goal. Secondly, creating an unschedule helps you at the end of your week as you can look back and see where your time has actually gone” (Burka, Jane B, and Lenora M. Yuen. Procrastination. Reading: Addison-Wesley
Publishing Company, 1983.)

To fight plagiarism:

  • Use turnitin.com “The global leader in addressing plagiarism and delivering rich feedback”
  • Have students use this resource before they submit something to you, to see where they may not have realized they were plagiarizing

Good luck to you all.  Don’t come back to me later saying, “What can I do now? Students are sending me corrupted files.  I think they have figured out this method.”

Did you procrastinate yourself in getting them to set up a DropBox account?  I don’t want to get a corrupted file hearing all about it.  🙂

Note: I almost recommend strategies like this.  As a teacher, I like to allow ‘one post it note’ as a cheat-sheet for students.  It means the students are perusing the information they should be studying, making decisions about what is the most important information, and then rewriting the information, which is a good way to study.

 
 

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Technology Integration Specialist – job descriptions

International Conference for the Integration o...

As a technology integration specialist (TIS) my job description is all over the place.  I was in a meeting today where the principal of the school, who has been doing interviews with teachers to find their needs, has come to the conclusion that teachers have very specific needs, and so do their classes.  I agree and am glad he gathered this evidence to support what I was thinking.

What does this mean then for a TIS?

The first thing that it seems to mean is communication is needed on the part of the TIS.  As a TIS, we need to explain:  What is it that we are doing?  Where are we?  How can we be contacted or booked?  What types of things can we bring to the class?  What types of systems are we putting in to place? and the list goes on…

What kinds of strategies can we put into place?

  • Walking from classroom to classroom – trying to drop in to the classrooms that have the computers out with their kids.  And dropping in to the classrooms where SMARTboards are being used…or dropping in to classrooms where no tech is being offered, to get a sense of the units.
  • Being available at certain times in specific locations – this could rotate through the week.  For example, Week 1: Mon – Fri 12:30 – 1:00 in an available room, like a Science room or computer lab, Week 2: Mon – Fri 9:00 – 9:30 in an available room, and so on.
  • Offering as much PD as possible – lunches, after school.
  • Being at everyone’s beck and call – Offering phone numbers to teachers who can call when it is necessary to come down to trouble shoot a problem.
  • Offering kids available times to meet – lunches or after school should suffice.
  • Designing new policies – For example, Facebook and online social policies.
  • Setting up infrastructures.  For example, Google Docs and Dropbox for communication and collaboration, Netvibes for organizing life, booking systems, saving and cloud systems, infrastructures for instruction online and more.
  • Tweeting great sites and strategies.
  • Blogging about what we are doing.
  • Creating websites or resources for teachers who need it.
  • Researching and learning about all the latest trends or immediate tech that is necessary.
  • Being friendly and approachable by everyone.

But is this enough?

As a TIS, this probably means that many hats are to be worn.  For example, TISers might be on committees about websites, or technology in general.  They might be trying to do overarching projects, like developing larger PD or workshops, or building community relations with other schools and their tech and media departments.  They might be inundated with emails every day, but it is their job to set an example, to reply to each and every question, query, statement, request, reply, and quandary.

They should realize they are lucky. This is because they have the opportunity to continually better themselves while they are helping others.  In walking into every classroom, they get to see what other teachers and classes are doing and glean or appropriate (read: steal) ideas from their coworkers and friends.  Because of this, they are continually learning and growing and able to offer more to their fellow workers and student body.

As a TIS, its great to be loved and needed.  It is just too bad there aren’t more ways we can split our time or add more hours to the day.  I am sure as an educator or a human I am not the only one who feels this, but it would be great.  Maybe this is one more system we need to design. 🙂

 
 

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Note-Worthy ideas and Sites

multiple choice

(Photo credit: nchenga)

Here are a few that I think are note-worthy:

  • Socrative.com – This site allows groups to gather information live with a response system that can be projected.  For example, True and False, or Multiple Choice answers can be consolidated on the fly.
  • MyiMaths.com – A good site for students to work at their own pace on Math.  The downside is that it costs money, but it seems worth it.
  • Knewton.com – This Adaptive Learning Platform has a lot of potential.  Personalized learning for everyone.  The company is starting with Math, but looks like it will be working towards lots of neat things.
  • TheSchoolofOne – Keeping with the idea of the two aforementioned sites, this idea revolves around each child learning at their own speed.  Neat.
  • Quest2Learn – Quest is a translation of the underlying form of games into a powerful pedagogical model for 6-12th graders.
 

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