Sunday, December 25, 2016

The Golden Rule in Cyberspace: My Christmas/Hanukkah Moonshot Wish 2016

"Is God in cyberspace?" is a question that was posed to Thomas Friedman which he addresses in his latest book, Thank You For Being Late: An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations. He recently returned to his home state of Minnesota and spoke at the Westminster Town Hall Forum. I wish I could have heard him in person, but thankfully a recording of the talk is online. I've cued it to the part describing his answer to this question here. After listening to this talk while on a run recently, I bought his book.  

The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century was the first book by Thomas Friedman that I read back in 2005. I love his storytelling/news reporting writing style and remember being amazed of the new technologies predicted that he wrote about based on his travels and research. This latest book is similar and provides an update on the rapidly changing world in which we live. Friedman outlines three simultaneous changes that are taking place all at an exponential pace: Moore's law, the market, and climate change.

Regarding technology, our interconnectedness, and the cloud (or as Friedman calls it, the Supernova) he explains that a lot of things in cyberspace like pornography, hate sites, gambling, and now even fake news make it seem like God is absent. However, he also points out that God manifests himself in us. If we want God to be in cyberspace, we have to bring him there by how we behave “with the moral choices and mouse clicks” we make. 

"Everything is now in cyberspace... We are all connected, but nobody is in charge... In this age of acceleration, we are standing at a moral intersection... One person can kill all of us and all of us can fix everything... What is naive is if we I think we are going to be just fine if we don’t scale the Golden Rule."

For almost the past decade as I have been speaking around Minnesota to students and parents about using technology appropriately, I have shown the image pictured above of the Golden Rule. As I do, I ask audiences if any of them see an asterisk at the end with any sort of note stating "*except when using technology." Of course there isn't one, and I point out that that we all need to follow the Golden Rule even when we are using technology.  As I've written before, I  explain to the audience the importance of using technology with empathy, compassion, and integrity. I was pleased to see that Friedman calls for this same thing to happen: as more of us than ever before are connected, the Golden Rule is what will ensure that we interact positively with one another. 

Friedman explains that future “leadership is going to require the ability to come to grips with values and ethics. We need to think more seriously and urgently about how we can inspire sustainable values like honesty, humility, integrity, and mutual respect.” His solution is that we do this through strong families and healthy communities. These communities aren’t just our local neighbors living nearby. Now our community is the entire planet. Mother nature treats us as one, says Friedman, and our interconnected technologies and machines all work as one, so we too must start to realize our communities are all one.” We have to work together globally in order to get everyone following the Golden Rule. My short summary here doesn't really do justice to how well he says it, so please read the book!

Two years ago I posted that my Christmas moonshot wish was for a marriage between Apple and Google. Although that hasn't happened yet, when I look back on that wish now it seems so shortsighted. Truly what the world needs is so much more than just a merging of two tech companies. We need a universal agreement for everyone to follow the Golden Rule as we interact with one another. Teach your children, your grandchildren, your students, and your community the Golden Rule. On this Christmas, let this be our hope and prayer for the future. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Beyond SAMR Ladders & Pools: A Framework for Teaching & Learning

Last week at the Minnesota state technology conference, TIES, I co-presented a session with our Assistant Superintendent for Instruction, Eric Schneider, entitled "Beyond SAMR Ladders & Pools: A Framework for Teaching & Learning." The slide deck and a 4 minute video overview is below, as well as links to a draft Framework Overview document and the draft guide for Authentic & Real World Learning. For those of you who weren't there, here's a recap:

Although the SAMR scale has really gained popularity over the past few years, the concept of differing levels of technology integration and stages of use in education is not new. Back in 2003 when I first left the classroom and started in my instructional technology career, I referenced the ACOT Stages of Integration with teachers (Entry, Adoption, Adaptation, Appropriation, Invention). By 2011 when we first started our 1:1 iPad program, we began using the RAT scale (Replacement, Amplification, Transformation). As SAMR gained in popularity, we stopped referencing the RAT scale, but we never really shifted to SAMR. In fact, I don't believe many teachers in Minnetonka are familiar with it. Here is why: 

What's Wrong with SAMR?

There are many iterations of SAMR, from ladders to coffee to wheels and pools. Creating a catchy analogy helps, but the focus of each of these variations still is on the technology. I asked the attendees and now you to think about what is wrong with SAMR. What is it missing? How does it fall short? 

Around 2014 we stopped referencing the RAT scale and began evaluating the benefits and results of using these various scales in our efforts to help teachers integrate technology more meaningfully into their teaching. Each of these scales was helpful, but also left some voids. Sometimes the delineation between the levels was hard to pin down (is that use Amplification or Modification?). As we worked with teachers on how to use technology in their teaching, we didn't want the focus to be on the technology itself. Instead we found great benefit from and a need to reflect on many other areas of teaching and learning, too. Talking about how students are thinking critically, communicating, what they are creating, if their experiences were authentic, personalized, collaborative, and global in nature is just as important as talking about technology. It all fits together as part of the conversation and bigger picture of instructional best practices.

Each of these other areas of instruction and learning have their own levels and stages, too. For example, you can say that your students are collaborating, but is it at the basic level of talking with a neighbor about their answer to a problem or a higher level of collaborative skills involved in negotiating and resolving decisions about what information is most important for a group presentation? Because of this, we developed a larger framework for instruction overall. There are eight dimensions on our framework, and each has its own levels of complexity (similar to SAMR levels). 

As stated in the Framework Overview document, the Framework shows "how often modest adjustments to lesson design and learning environments can significantly elevate students’ opportunities to learn. It provides educators with a launching point for planning meaningful, engaging instruction for learners who already live in a complex information society in which the nature of work is rapidly changing. Teachers can create places of learning that engage students at high levels and lead to deeper understandings by intentionally planning learning experiences with these strands in mind."

The Minnetonka Framework for Teaching & Learning

To develop this comprehensive framework, our Director of Teacher Development, Sara White, coordinated the work and efforts of teacher and administrator teams who worked to identify and compose the definitions and levels for each level of complexity on the Framework, as well as write an overview document and create guides of about 10-15 pages that detail each of the Framework's eight dimensions. 
(View the draft Framework Overview document and draft guide for Authentic & Real World Learning referenced in the presentation.) Sara also scripted an overview video that we showed our staff this past August during back to school workshops:

Our Framework now guides our curriculum writing with dimensions and levels being identified in our UbD units. It also is the focus of our staff development, including technology. Our instructional technology coaches meet with teachers and do trainings focusing on strands of the Framework. Teachers meet in roundtables to discuss how they are designing instruction around different dimensions of the Framework and how technology integrates with these other areas. They also discuss the progress they are making on their technology goal for the year which is tied in with another Framework dimension. These goals are shared with the instructional technology coaches and their building principals. The Minnetonka Framework for Teaching and Learning has helped us move beyond SAMR ladders and pools to designing student experiences for meaning, engagement, and deeper learning. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

12th Annual Minnetonka Site Visit February 24, 2017

Annual Minnetonka Site Visit

Deeper Learning in the 21st Century

Friday, February 24, 2017

Register Today!

For the past decade, more than 1,000 educators have visited Minnetonka, including the National School Boards Association which hosted its second visit in Minnetonka in 2014. This year’s 12th annual visit is on Friday, February 24, 2017. Choose to visit an elementary, middle, or our high school. Small group sessions and classroom visits will provide direct interaction with teachers, staff and students. Come see learning in action, witness proven programs and gather innovative ideas which you can take back to your school. Breakout sessions with some classroom visits will provide direct interaction with administrators, leaders, teachers and students.

Choose from a wide variety of small group sessions led by Minnetonka staff to learn how things work behind the scenes. Sessions include innovation, the Teaching & Learning Framework, instructional technology support, online learning, coding, principal leadership, Design for Learning, assessment, the curriculum review process, Global Learners, gifted and talented programming, innovative student support services, personalized learning, 1:1 iPads, Schoology, and more. Discover best practices for implementing meaningful instruction that will accelerate learning, have time to ask questions, and head back to your own school full of ideas!

Availability is limited in order to keep groups small. Lunch is provided. View tentative schedules with breakout session descriptions below:
  1. Clear Springs Elementary School
  2. Minnetonka Middle School West
  3. Minnetonka High School

Related posts:

Monday, December 5, 2016

More Than an Hour of Code: Tonka Coding & Computer Science Programs Now in Year Three

This week during the international Hour of Code, students everywhere will have the opportunity to learn and practice computer coding. It's not too late to join them! For some, it will be their first time doing so. For students in Minnetonka, this is now the third year that we have a coding program that begins in kindergarten and extends through high school. Last year students coded for 7,843 hours just during the first week of December for the Hour of Code.

The video above gives an overview of our coding and computer science program. A couple story features showcased in it to take note: One, the story of a sixth grade middle school student, Omar, who designed, coded, and is fine tuning his own hall pass application. Along the way he worked with his teacher Michelle Brunik, an older eighth grade student Jacob, and Paul from our technology staff to refine and see things through. Second, middle school students in Lisa Reed's STEM class created their own apps on Droid tablets and then visited a first grade classroom to test out their creations and solicit feedback on their products.
The Minnetonka Framework for Teaching & Learning

It's stories like these that highlight the wide variety of experiences our students have in coding. They continue to use 
TynkerKodableCode.orgScratch, Swift Playgrounds, Finch Robots (also featured in the video above), Bee Bots, Lightbots and more. Each of these experiences are part of the Minnetonka Framework for Teaching and Learning, helping students with critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, the use of technology and more. 

Some related posts and videos to learn more about coding in Minnetonka Schools are listed below: