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High-Level Thinking, DOK, and Shifts Needed in Schools

Shifts needed in schools

Scott McLeod wrote a post a few months ago about 3 big shifts schools need to take. I agree with the three shifts; and want to add collaboration as a vehicle to accomplish the shifts, which is a shift in and of itself.

Below is my adaptation from his original three ideas:


Work collaboratively to change routines

What are your daily routines, and what "quick wins" can you add/substitute in those routines to plan for Depth of Knowledge (DOK) 3 and 4 questions and tasks?

I like taking the standards and thinking through questions to ask students to promote deeper thinking, and products that would prove they've truly learned the content (evidence of learning).

When I collaborate with others, not only does it take less time to create these questions and tasks, but it also gives me more ideas to work with, which benefits both my learning and student learning. Therefore, I make it a priority to substitute out other conversations that do not make as …

Striving for Higher-Order Thinking and Depth of Knowledge

A little over a year ago, I read Higher-order thinking is the exception rather than the norm for most classrooms on Scott McLeod's blog, Dangerously Irrelevant, and have been mulling it over, wondering if our school district is any different.

Over the past year, our teachers periodically collect data with their teams on the types of questions/tasks they ask students. One teacher records teacher questions and the other records student responses on a shared Google Doc; then teams sort through their own data, plotting teacher questions by Bloom's Revised Taxonomy, and student responses to those questions/tasks with Webb's Depth of Knowledge (DOK). The 2012-2013 data showed we were not very different from other districts; therefore, our teamsset their own goals for higher-order thinking and depth of knowledge.

The data so far for the 2013-2014 school year shows questions asked of students are up and down the Bloom's ladder, equally distributed (with a little less in the c…

Nominations for the 2013 Edublog Awards

The purpose of the Edublog Awards, or Eddies, is to raise awareness of educational blogging and social media for learning.

Here are my nominations:
Best individual blog -- Mrs. Yollis' Classroom Blog (Linda Yollis)Best group blog -- Cougar News Blog (authored completely by 7th & 8th grade students, with the guidance from Journalism Teacher Jason Davis)Best new blog -- Salsich Team 5 (Jonah Salsich's Class Blog)Best class blog -- Mrs. Hamman's Class Blog (posts are mainly written by the students)Best student blog -- Em's Canvas (2nd grade student)Best ed tech / resource sharing blog -- Langwitches (Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano)Best teacher blog -- EdTech Workshop (Andrea Hernandez)Best library / librarian blog -- Bulldog Reader's Blog (Julie Hembree)Best administrator blog -- This and That (Jon Castelhano)Most influential blog post of the year -- My TEDxDesMoines video: From Fear to Empowerment (Scott McLeod)Best individual tweeter -- Sheri EdwardsBest twitter hashta…

Self Selected Professional Development

Twitter Chats are fabulous self-selected professional development. A Twitter Chat Group is a group of people who come to Twitter to "discuss" a specific topic of interest.

During the Twitter Chat, moderators will ask questions around the topic, and participants will answer. It requires some fast thinking to respond and read other responses. Every Twitter Chat I've been part of has given me new ideas/resources, affirmed other ideas, and/or motivated me to follow through with the next step.

For example, the recent discussion on Connected Principals Twitter Chat, #cpchat, discussed how principals (and administrators in my case) can use Twitter to help connect educators.

How can districts give Professional Development credit for Twitter Chats?

I've grappled with this idea for a few years and believe I've come up with a solution that would work in my school district.

However, before I officially submit it as a new online class for our district's professional devel…

Collaboration and Management in Google Apps

Two heads are better than one.  

October is Connected Educator's Month. Get connected, and move beyond connection to collaboration.

Collaboration is key for this day and age in both face-to-face and virtual environments. One of my favorite collaborative tools include Google Apps for Education.
The presentation below was created for a training I offered regarding collaborating in Google Apps and tips for management with those tools.


What are ways you use Google Apps to collaborate with others?What management tips would you add to this?What thoughts or questions do you have about collaboration and management in Google Apps?

Grading to Support Learning

Grading should support the learner by being meaningful, accurate, consistent, and encouraging. Grades should encourage student success and the learning process by providing a valid measurement of student performance and achievement.

The frustration is, there is nothing consistent with grades. We all grade differently. It's subjective no matter how we look at it because how one teacher would grade something is different than the teacher next door, which is different than the teacher across the district, which is different than the teacher in another district. 

What would happen if teachers forgot how they were graded when they were in school, and instead used a grading system that fostered student learning? What would that look like? 

#1 Academic achievement is separate from learning dispositions and behaviors

Academic grades should measure the student's learning, and be a valid reflection of what the student has mastered according to the state (or district) standards. Learn…

Building a Learning Culture

Professional development manifests itself in many ways online and in person. It takes place through conversations, classes, Twitter chats, workshops, blogging, book studies, challenges, team meetings, etc.

Model what you want to see

Sometimes the best professional development comes informally through the behaviors of others, influencing how I think and what I think about.

I learn so much from my children. We have fabulous conversations about life, they share new perspectives and creative solutions with me. They also teach me how to be a better person through their inquiries and their behaviors.

I do my best to be a good model for them, but some of their behaviors are ones I'd like to see change, but no matter how much we talk about it, they continue with the same behaviors. That's when it dawns on me, they are behaving the way we the parents are behaving. So, if I want their behaviors to change, it means my behaviors have to change.

This same principle of modeling what you wa…

How are We Using Technology in Classrooms?

Technology has changed how we do things in our daily lives such as shopping, banking, communicating, and it has changed how we should do school.

When I was a child, I remember spending so much time going through microfiche to find just the right bit of information to share with the teacher. In those days, finding the right information and recollecting that information was the mark of a good student.

Today, knowledge and information is at our fingertips. In fact, there is so much information that it's tough to know where to start and what's the best source to use. Therefore, accessing the right information at the right time is more important than just finding information.

Focusing on skills rather than knowledge is a shift in how we do school. It changes what students are taught and how they are taught.


What do these shifts look like in the classroom?

This type of learning is easy to capture because there are artifacts as evidence of learning. I could have gone to any number of…

One-to-One Key Ideas: Focus on Learning

One-to-One is a learning initiative, not a technology program. It's not about shiny objects; it's about how the technology is used, and giving all students ubiquitous access to use it.

Task predicts performance

Students can use the same cool tool for lower-level thinking and higher-level thinking. Externally, the product may look the same (such as a presentation made with Prezi), but the learning outcomes would be quite different when they use it for higher-level thinking.

If the student task predicts their learning outcomes and academic performance, then creating a learning task at Webb's Depth of Knowledge Levels 3 or 4 is the goal.

How do you want students to use technology in the classroom?

9 Wrong And 8 Right Ways Students Should Use Technology on Edudemic focuses on technology, a tool, being used for learning outcomes.

Strong ways for students to use technology are:
to create (some examples include an original infographic making sense of data or a message; or putting …

RSS through Feedly

Living in an age with information at our fingertips can be challenging when there's so much of it. That is why it's important to prioritize and focus on the content I want. One tool that helps with that focus is Feedly, a RSS tool.

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. However, when I see "RSS" I think of it as "Read So Simply," because that's what it does -- it takes the blogs and news articles I want to keep an eye on, and collects it for me in one organized place to let me know when it's been updated.

The importance of RSS

RSS is important for several reasons. It saves time on the information highway because the resources I want to learn from come straight to me. While I could ask for it to be emailed to me, let's be honest, I don't want all those emails! With RSS, I can pick and choose when to go visit those resources.

As a member of the blogosphere, reading other people's blogs is an important part of the blogging process of l…

Using Google in Interesting Ways--Learned at ISTE13

One goal at ISTE13 was to learn more about the hidden world of Google -- the scripts, extensions, and apps. I honestly wasn't aware of them until I read Linda Yollis' post after she went to the Google Teacher Academy... which led me to a post by Amy Mayer at friEDTechnology, with her video explanation/tutorial:



After watching the above video, I decided I needed to learn more about what Google offers. At ISTE13, I attended several sessions which added to this quest, including Cool Google Tools for the BYOD Classroom by Tammy Worcester, and Real World Math Lessons with Google Earth by Thomas Petra.

Google tips learned from Tammy Worcester:
Locations and Google Forms: In a Google Form, collect a location and some interesting facts, then place the data in batchgeo to create a map with pins noting the interesting facts (which can be embedded in a blog post or web site to share with others). For example, pick a dream vacation spot and share why; research state landmarks; choose the c…

Close Read Complex Text, and Annotate with Diigo--Part 3

Close reading is a strategy for reading complex text. In Part 1, the focus is how to do a close reading. The focus in Part 2 is how to annotate with iPads. The focal points of this post are the teacher steps in close reading; how to create text dependent questions for informational text in 6th-12th grades; annotating in Diigo; and creating writing activities to go with close reading.
Below are the teacher's steps for creating a close reading lesson. However, the student steps are in the poster shown on the right:

Teacher Step 1: Choose the text

Choose a short and difficult text to do a close reading on. It should be at the frustration reading level.

Some examples to choose from for informational text are short speeches (or excerpts from a speech); research; paragraphs or chapters from biographies, memoirs, or historical accounts to name a few.

Teacher Step 2: Planning

Plan and do what you expect your students to do.
Decide if they will annotate on a paper copy, with sticky notes, o…

Connecting 21st Century Learning, Technology, and Common Core Standards

21st century learning and technology integration are part of the Common Core design. 21st century skills include:
communication and collaboration creative thinking and innovationcuration: research and informational fluencycritical thinking, problem solving, and decision makingdigital citizenshipcomputing skills: using technology to learn, communicate, consume, contribute, design, and produce
In the introduction of the Common Core, those skills are referenced, and specifically outlined as a key design consideration, and placed in a portrait of a student who is college and career ready.

They are also interwoven in the anchor standards, which can be viewed by specific grade levels.
Academic conversations

Academic conversations are part of 21st century learning and the Common Core Standards. Constructivism in learning, building meaning based on prior understanding, occurs in academic conversations (speaking and listening face-to-face and digitally, as well as in writing).

Academic conversa…

Close Read Complex Text, and Annotate with iPads--Part 2

In Close Read Complex Text, and Annotate with Tech--Part 1, the focus was how to do a close reading. In Part 2, the focus is how to annotate with iPads, and insights gained from a lesson done with students in first through third grades.

iPad apps for annotating

Many apps can be used for annotating. I'm listing a few apps that can be used for close reading, and will go into detail on the one I've used the most with students.

AppTutorial LinksLearnabilityCostPaperPort Notes
PaperPort Notes Tutorial
Tips listed belowEasyFreeEducreations
Educreations Tutorial
Tips listed belowEasyFreeNotability
Notability YouTube TutorialMedium$1.99Skitch with Evernote
Skitch for iPad tutorial by the EdubloggerMediumFree

Lessons learned through annotating in Educreations

On the first day of close reading, it was easy to use Educreations to annotate. For each new page, we'd add a new page to the presentation. We took screen shots to keep a "hard copy" of their written reflections. However, o…