Category Archives: #innovatorsmindset

A Vision of Effective Mathematics Teaching and Learning

What is your vision of effective mathematics teaching and learning in elementary school?

This is a new question for me.  This blog is Learning About Learning, and I have a lot of learning to do about mathematics education.

I am hoping you can help me.

Here are a few of the things I am thinking about right now.  What can you add to this? What have you learned in your own practice? What do you think about when you consider a vision for teaching and learning mathematics?

I think that efficacy is critical.  Students have to believe they can achieve at high levels.  Teachers have to believe that students can achieve at high levels and that teachers have the capacity to  get students to that high level.

Is mathematics skills (as I was taught), or is it ideas (as Dr. Marian Small suggests)?

Is math about making connections?  Is it important that we work with big ideas rather than teaching skills and concepts only in isolation?

I think students have to be able to choose the tools and strategies they need to help them solve problems.

It isn’t up to us to tell them what tool to use, but to teach them how to use many tools effectively so they might pick the one that is right for them in each context.

Math needs to be fun.  Kids need to be the ones doing the thinking. Teaching through problem solving can be very effective (problems are not add-ons).

Teachers need to collaborate with other educators, to share their thinking openly, to challenge the thinking of others, to read and write blogs about their work.  Isolation is a choice, and isolation is unprofessional.  Kids need the thinking of many professionals, not just the one assigned to them.

As I work through #mathleaderNEO over the next few years, I plan to grow this thinking.

I encourage you to share your ideas too.

Featured Image: shonk via Compfight cc

The Robots are Coming…. No, Wait, They are Here!

How are we preparing our students for the digital economy that is not their future, but their present?

How do we create the compelling argument that this is important, that this should be a priority in our school system?

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Walmart is mere months away from replacing their warehouse workers with drones and robots.

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More menial low-skilled standardized jobs lost to automation. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-wal-mart-drones-idUSKCN0YO26M

Automation is not new.  We have had the “robots are taking over the world” narrative in our minds for decades.

Have we become desensitized to it?

Because now they really are.

The extent to which robots are able to do menial jobs has grown exponentially, and artificial intelligence is no longer science fiction – it’s commonplace.

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Automation has become extremely sophisticated using AI to do jobs not previously thought possible. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacobmorgan/2016/06/03/automation-isnt-new-so-whats-the-big-deal/amp/

 

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From http://chronicle.com/article/Robot-Proof-How-Colleges-Can/235057 by Joseph E. Aoun

 

But when robots can do standardized work, it creates new opportunities. New opportunities for creators, for coders, for those educated to take advantage of these new opportunities.

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by Joseph E. Aoun, Chronicle of Higher Education http://chronicle.com/article/Robot-Proof-How-Colleges-Can/235057

 

How are we embracing the opportunities robotics will bring to our economy? In Ontario alone, we will have a deficit of 76,300 digital economy jobs by 2019.

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Canada Labour Market Outlook http://www.vancouvereconomic.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Labour-Market-Outlook-2015-2019-by-ICTC-March-20151.pdf

 

Or are we just going to continue to blame corporations for embracing the technology available to them?

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If we create standardized students, they can easily be replaced.

 

If we create unique individuals with the skills and competencies to rise above the menial and embrace new opportunities, we will be enabling our communities to continue to grow and  prosper in our changing world.

 

As a parent, do you ask your school how your child is being prepared to thrive in the digital economy?

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LEARN HOW TO LEARN

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Featured image shared by Robin Zebrowski under a CC-BY-2.0 licence.

 

 

References:

Technology Has a Language. It’s Called Code.

Are Robots Going to Steal Your Job? Probably.

3 of the World’s Top 10 Employers are Replacing Workers With Robots

What If? OPSBA 2009

A Vision for Teaching and Learning in a Digital Age OPSBA (2013?)

Robot-Proof: How Colleges Can Keep People Relevant in the Workplace by Joseph E. Aoun 

Canada’s Digital Talent Strategy March 2016

Digital Canada 150

Michael Geist: Digital Canada 150

Automation isn’t new, so what’s the big deal? by Jacob Morgan

 

 

#InnovatorsMindset Blog Hop 4: Resources on Assessment for Learning

It’s March Break, and while I am taking some time away from thinking hard about innovation and education, I have been collecting some great resources that I will use to write a response to this blog hop question in a few days.

The provocation:

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Here are some of the resources I have been reading to prepare for this weeks’ blog hop.

One of the most powerful paragraphs comes from Will Richardson:

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Is the best measurement that which determines how motivated a student is to learn more?

Further Resources:

Joe Bower: Assessment and Measurement are NOT the Same Thing

The RSA: Re-imagined System Leadership

 

Michael Fullan: How testing does not align with our education goals

Danger of the Dunning-Kruger Effect

Creating Innovators by Tony Wagner and Robert Compton

Most Likely to Succeed: Preparing out Kids for the Innovation Era by Tony Wagner and Ted Dintersmith

Most Likely to Succeed (the movie)

Working at the Edge: Kinds of School Leaders

OECD: The Nature of Learning

Chris Wejr: Are we Marking Assignments or Assessing Learning?

Dean Shareski on Exemplars

BBC: Stress and Teens

BBC: Robotics used to give financial advice

Pedagogical Documentation (Ontario)

The Gap Between Educators

Robot-Proof: How Colleges Can Keep People Relevant in the Workplace by Joseph Aoun

 

Creative Public Leadership: Building a Powerful Case for Change

Early this morning, The RSA posted this report release on Twitter:

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In the report, they set out nine first steps in moving to an education system that creates the innovators needed for today’s world.

Step 1 is Building the case for change.

For those who have been in this business of change for many years, it is a struggle to understand why many leaders don’t see the urgency.

This section from page 8, the Executive Summary, explains the situation with such clarity:

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Page 8, Creative Public Leadership https://www.thersa.org/globalassets/pdfs/reports/creative-public-leadership.pdf

Over the past few years, many leaders have told me that as soon as someone starts talking about 21C, or innovation, or technology, or the 6 C’s, they tune out.  It doesn’t interest them and they don’t see the value.

For those who have heads that hurt from hitting them against the brick walls of hierarchy, remember the Randy Pausch quote:

 

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Creative leadership requires more than courage, more than dedication.  It requires passion and purpose, so don’t give up.

It also requires an understanding of how to carefully defend your position, to find value in your stance, and to clearly communicate that value to those who can make a difference.

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p. 59, Creative Public Leadership: https://www.thersa.org/globalassets/pdfs/reports/creative-public-leadership.pdf

Page 60 of the report suggests first steps for building that case.

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Page 60, The RSA, Creative Leadership https://www.thersa.org/globalassets/pdfs/reports/creative-public-leadership.pdf

What a great focus for our work – building a case for change.

Why is it critical to create innovators?  Why is it, that a school system designed to build a standardized work force, is not creating the conditions for learning needed for young people in a world where robotics and offshore/global competition have eliminated most manufacturing jobs?

How do we convince leaders to  prepare our kids to seize the opportunities that arise when all menial work can be done by machines?

We need creative public leaders who can build this convincing case for change – before we become completely irrelevant.

Featured image from TheRSA.org

Related:

Connecting with the Disconnected – Chris Wejr

Tom Whitby: What is an “Accomplished Administrator” in education?

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Kinds of School Leaders

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#innovatorsmindset Blog Hop #3: What If?

“Daddy, what is that yellow stuff they are spraying on the plane?”

“Daddy, what are those big white things for?”

“Daddy, will we still be able to see the ground when we take off?”

“Daddy, do you think it is snowing in Toronto yet? Will there be snow when we get there?”

I heard all of these questions this morning from a boy, about 7 years old, sitting behind me while taking a flight with his family from Thunder Bay.  They were on their way to Miami, via Toronto.

Then the Mom, who was sitting across the aisle, said, “Why can’t you be that interested in your school work?”

What if?

What if parents asked questions like, “Why can’t you learn about things you are interested in, like this, in school?”

What if parents asked those questions all the time?

Would it impact the pace of change?

Check out some other wonderings about the What Ifs of school:

Patrick Miller

Paul McGuire @mcguirp

Tina Zita @tina_zita

Mark W. Carbone @markwcarbone

Amit Mehrotra (@AmitMehrotra78)

Stacey Wallwin @WallwinS

 

 

#InnovatorsMindset Blog Hop #2: If I Could Build a School..

 

This post is part of a collaborative blog hop.  We all write on a single topic, then post all of the links at once so that readers can read many different viewpoints at the same time.  Join in here. It’s never too late!

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If I were to build a school from scratch, I would start at the top.

That’s right, at the top.

University.

No longer would marks be the thing that determines what children and young adults get to do with their lives.

As long as university entrance is based on ranking children individually, we cannot create the innovative “EY to 12” learning spaces we need in 2016.

Universities are necessary.  We need professional schools.  But why do we think that the people who do best at writing tests will make the best doctors? Or the best teachers?

It’s insanity to judge based on the marks assigned by high school teachers.

Let’s create program entrance requirements that match the capacities required by the profession.

Other university programs can easily be completed through online community-based study similar to what I am proposing below for secondary schools.  But the ridiculous cost of tuition and housing for a basic degree must change.

And what about colleges? Marks can no longer be the currency of program entrance.

Almost half of all jobs are currently at risk of disappearing because of robot technology.

How are colleges embracing this as an opportunity to become more relevant in today’s world?  Are they agile enough to change from centres of knowledge transfer to places that embrace robotics and technology to allow humans to do greater things?

Once we can dispense with ranking children, we have the freedom to really become innovative with our thinking about schools.

Imagine leveraging the power of bringing people into a building every day.  Dean Shareski first made me think of this when we were on a panel together.

Imagine what can happen when school becomes that building in the community where learning happens for everyone.

My school would welcome the community with open arms to model lifelong learning.  It would be a place with resources – family services, a nurse practitioner, a community garden, library, food services, exercise facilities, device access and support for all.

For senior students who don’t require custodial care, I would model the school on the one in the movie, “Most Likely to Succeed“, where learning comes from collaborative projects, reinforced with more formal learning from the best teachers from around the world.  It would be similar to the Inquiry Hub model that won the CEA Ken Spencer Award for Innovation last year.  It is based on cross-curricular learning and conversation, with access to great learning in online environments to supplement the face-to-face opportunities.

First Nations students in remote fly-in communities would learn digitally alongside their peers because education opportunities, and access to pathways, would no longer be tied to geography.

We would use Howard Gardner‘s work on Five Minds for the Future as a basis for learning classical understanding, while building understanding through experiential learning and inquiry would be the norm.

Curiosity and Creativity would be respected and nurtured.  Music education would be a priority for all.

Our youngest learners would be engaged in the current Ontario Early Years model that respects the rights of young people to learn, to self-regulate, and to be in nurturing, healthy environments.

Outdoor play would be part of everyone’s day.  Sitting is the new smoking, and ADHD is diagnosed at epic rates.  Activity is essential to health.

Makerspaces would be the norm. Children would not be sorted by date of manufacture.  Physical and digital spaces would be seamlessly integrated, and tools would be chosen by what each child needed for personalized learning.

Educators would be properly educated for the important role they play in the lives of children.  They would deeply understand knowledge building, constructivism, brain science and learning theory, and they would be encouraged to continue to learn, both with students and on their own.

Time for professional collaboration would be a priority.

This is not a model that ditches the idea that there are things all children should learn, but one that builds on that idea, because just knowing will not be enough for a meaningful life beyond today.

Above all, school would be a place for hope.  The Finnish definition of equity would prevail.

A public education system “levels the playing field”.  Everyone emerges with the same life opportunities regardless of parents or geography.

 

What do you think?

What do others think?

Check out the blogs here.

Paul Mcguire

Amit Mehotra

Patrick Miller

Stacey Wallwin

Leigh Cassell

Tina Zita

Mark W. Carbone

Jennifer Casa-Todd

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Resources:

High Tech High

Dr. Jackie Gerstein – Learning on the Edge & Visions of Education Futures

Pasi Sahlberg – What Makes Finnish Teachers so Special?

What’s Best For Kids?

For the past 24 hours I have been participating in the rich, immediate conversations in The Innovator’s Mindset Voxer Group.

Last night, we were thinking a lot about the challenges of innovating from the middle.  When we challenge leaders to innovate their practice, we are seen as “rogues”, as troublemakers (I can’t tell you how much this reminds me of bright, creative children in a classroom!)

In response (at 1:30 a.m. I might add), George Couros generously jumped in and said that it is important to do “what is best for kids”.

And this is exactly where I see the problem.

As educators, we all want to do what is best for kids.

Perhaps “what is best” for a child is passing the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test so that he might graduate.

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In that case, the “best for kids” strategy is to teach the child to write a news report, and to practice it over and over again so that they might pass the test necessary for graduation.

An innovative educator might suggest that in a world where media companies are failing, and people are getting their news through Facebook (CBC Radio Noon, Feb. 4, 2016), Buzzfeed, Twitter, etc., that writing a news report is a ridiculous bar for graduation from secondary school.

What is “best for kids”?

Until the structures in the system align, until we can clearly articulate what school is for, what is “best for kids” will be blurry.

We need even better arguments to insist on innovative practices to meet the needs of our learners in 2016 and beyond.

Please join The Innovator’s Mindset Voxer group and keep the conversation going!IMG_2004