Technology Rich and Innovative Poor

I've posted a new article over on the OSC IB Blogs site: Technology Rich and Innovative Poor in the Teacher blog section. I've re-posted it below.

Visit the OSC-IB Blogs site and explore the posts on other areas of interest for students and for teachers.
flickr photo by Marco Bellucci http://flickr.com/photos/marcobellucci/3534516458 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) licenseCleaning off my desktop this morning, I found this pdf from Alan November, that I've been meaning to write about on this blog. The original post from November Learning is at this link.   Written in January 2015, "Clearing the Confusion between Technology Rich and Innovative Poor: Six Questions" is an important, on-going discussion for every teacher and school leader, well worth looking at each school year. It begins
"In a recent webinar, more than 90% of school leaders responded that they were leading an innovative school as a result of the implementation of technology. At the end of the webinar, when polled again, only one leader claimed to be leading an innovative school. The complete reversal was due to a presentation of the Six Questions that you will read about in this article. This list of questions was developed to help educators be clear about the unique added value of a digital learning environment."
Readers are urged to consider our use of technology in our teaching in general, and in each assignment in particular, and to  test our own level of innovation with these six transformational questions, each of which are followed by discussion and examples.
  1. Did the assignment build capacity for critical thinking on the web?
  2. Did the assignment develop new lines of inquiry?
  3. Are there opportunities for students to make their thinking visible?
  4. Are there opportunities to broaden the perspective of the conversation with authentic audiences from around the world?
  5. Is there an opportunity for students to create a contribution (purposeful work)?
  6. Does the assignment demo “best in the world” examples of content and skill?
I urge you to read the article, and the comments that follow it. Add the six questions to your unit of inquiry planning process, so that with each planning cycle you can easily consider how your lessons "stand up to the test",  and think about how you can improve them.

To improve your own skills in this area, you might be interested in exploring this page of teacher resources from the November Learning website, and the Power Searching with Google site, with links to two excellent free courses in search techniques.

Watch this 16 minute  2011 TEDxNYED video from Dr. November. The talk is about how the current culture of school typically underestimates the contribution that many students would make to solve real problems and to make a contribution to help classmates learn. It includes examples of  using technology and learning. Towards the end, he says "A lot of technology is about improving teaching, which is why so many teachers show up in staff development without kids.  That has to change.  We have to get a lot more kids into staff development, and teach them how to build that same capacity with whatever tools we're giving teachers - kids to kids." (min 12.31)

Photo: flickr photo "Question Mark"  by Marco Bellucci http://flickr.com/photos/marcobellucci/3534516458 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

New Blog Post on OSC-IB Blogs: What will they know 20 years from now?

I've posted a new article over on the OSC IB Blogs site: What will they know 20 years from now? in the Teacher blog section. I've re-posted it here.

Visit the OSC-IB Blogs site and explore the posts on other areas of interest for students and for teachers.


What will they know 20 years from now?

This morning my Flipboard reading brought me this news commentary: Do You Really Understand Why Water Boils? New Survey Says, Probably Not. by Nadia Drake. Ms. Drake writes about the newest Pew Research Center Science Knowledge Survey, asking some very pertinent questions that anyone teaching in an IB school should recognise.

She writes:
"The key with such surveys, says the University of Michigan’s Jon Miller, who’s been studying science literacy for nearly four decades, is to ask questions about core concepts. Things like what molecules are, what DNA is, and how the universe is organized. Show people an image of a spiral galaxy, like the Milky Way, and ask if they know what it is and why it’s important.
"Conversely, asking about names, dates, or places can tap into someone’s biographical rather than foundational knowledge. “It’s not really getting at whether they have a skill level,” Miller says.
"In other words, surveys should not be testing whether people understand the headlines in today’s science stories, but whether they have enough basic knowledge to understand the headlines 20 years from now."
If you read some of the IBO's resources about teaching and learning through inquiry you'll find paragraphs like these:

Conceptual understanding
"A concept is a “big idea”—a principle or notion that is enduring, the significance of which goes beyond particular origins, subject matter or a place in time. Concepts represent the vehicle for students’ inquiry into the issues and ideas of personal, local and global significance, providing the means by which they can explore the essence of language and literature.
"Concepts have an important place in the structure of knowledge that requires students and teachers to think with increasing complexity as they organize and relate facts and topics.
"Concepts express understanding that students take with them into lifelong adventures of learning. They help students to develop principles, generalizations and theories. Students use conceptual understanding as they solve problems, analyse issues and evaluate decisions that can have an impact on themselves, their communities and the wider world."
The structure of conceptual understanding in the Diploma Programme
"DP courses have always had a focus on developing conceptual understanding, but within DP subject guides and teacher support materials the focus on teaching through concepts is becoming increasingly explicit.
"Some DP subjects explicitly construct their subject guides around concepts. This can be an effective way of framing course content, as well as inspiring more explicitly conceptual assessment tasks. Other DP guides over time will be arranged and framed around concepts. However, in all subjects teaching through concepts can be a very powerful teaching strategy."
The Pew Research results reminded me of this video of Harvard Graduates explaining why Earth has seasons:

Read more about this video at the Harvard University Gazette:
"...You hear a lot of rhetoric about how to reform education, and how to compete with nations whose students outscore children in the United States on science and math tests," Schneps [Matthew Schneps, director of the SED's Science Media Group] says. 'Instead of opinions, we have evidence of what goes on. It's not just gaps in teacher training and lack of money. It's more fundamental. Students leave classrooms with concepts that are totally different from what teachers believe they have taught. What is being taught is not what is being learned...' "

If you'd like a quick mental review of the value of facts vs. concepts, watch this video. Think about your units of inquiry.

50 Science Misconceptions https://youtu.be/LqaDf2fuUH8

Further reading about Concepts, you might start with these web resources:

Concept Based Teaching and Learning by H. Lynn Erickson, IB Position Paper http://www.ibmidatlantic.org/Concept_Based_Teaching_Learning.pdf

Using Concept Tests (from Carnegie Mellon) "...Concept tests (or ConcepTests) are short, informal, targeted tests that are administered during class to help instructors gauge whether students understand key concepts. They can be used both to assess students’ prior knowledge (coming into a course or unit) or their understanding of content in the current course..." https://www.cmu.edu/teaching/assessment/assesslearning/concepTests.html

From The Journal of Chemical Education "The use of conceptual questions is one tool that can assist students in obtaining a deeper learning experience, improve their understanding and ability to apply learning to new situations, enhance their critical thinking, and increase their enthusiasm for science and learning. In addition, conceptual questions extend assessment beyond "What does a student remember?" and "What can a student do?" to "What does a student understand?" Conceptual questions also provide one route for diagnosing student misconceptions...http://jchemed.chem.wisc.edu/jcedlib/QBank/collection/CQandChP/CQs/CQIntro.html

"Today we sumed up our understandings, distilling the essence via a Frayer’s model, which has us creating a definition of a concept, describing the characteristics, listing out examples and non-examples.
Image CC https://whatedsaid.wordpress.com/2012/06/07/learning-by-doing-an-inquiry-into-inquiry/

Find blank Frayer's Model at this Google Search page.