Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Summer Means...Online Courses!

Each summer since 2009 I've had the privilege to lead an online course for teachers through Xavier University about using technology to differentiate and personalize instruction for learners.  My favorite part of facilitating and online course is how much I learn as a result of the discussions held about fundamental ideas around learning with participants.  One would think that technology has changed so much since the class began that the class would have gone through extensive changes in terms of content, but what I'm proud of is that the basic tenets of the class have NOT changed.  While tools have come and gone, and the uses of technology continue to evolve as more becomes possible, the emphasis of our course is on how to take advantage of technology to become stronger teachers and to help students to become better learners.  Sure, some of the arguments change - from "should we allow graphing calculators?" to "should we allow cell phones in the classroom?"  Teachers are a conservative lot, by and large, as they should be in some respects. They have a large and awesome responsibility to help all students in their classrooms learn, but they also have a responsibility to keep students safe and technology use often pushes the boundaries of what students have access to and in recent studies, how they interact with others.  But for those who can see past the dangers into the possibility and actually, have an understanding of the charge to help students navigate online tools in a safe and appropriate way, using technology helps us to expand beyond the four walls of our classrooms to become authentic creators of content and contributors to the larger body of knowledge that exists.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Mindsets Are For High-Achievers

This excerpt is from an interview of Carol Dweck by Jo Boaler, author of Mathematical Mindsets and several other volumes designed to help teachers work more productively with students in math.  I think it speaks to the population I work with in my classroom and that many of us have had experience with as teachers.

“Some people may think that mindsets are just for lower-achieving kids who don't think they're good learners. But we have seen untold numbers of high-achieving kids who are crippled with anxiety that a struggle may mean they're not perfect, not adequate. Less than an A is the end of the world. Not getting into the right school is the end of the world. They are not focused on growth and learning. They are not joyful in their learning. They are not seeing into the future and making themselves that person they want to be. It's just that every A, every test score is the ultimate judgment of who they are and what they're worth. And a growth mindset can help them in conjunction with values and a sense of a larger purpose, can help them out of that place. Because we are stunting the development of many of our most promising students by making them feel that the meaning of their life is wrapped up in the grades and test scores.

If these ideas interest you, please consider reading Mathematical Mindsets and/or taking the Mathematical Mindset online course.