'Decency is what your grandmother taught you!' a beleaguered Morgan Freeman appeals to a frenzied courtroom in the film version of "Bonfire of the Vanities." This scene reveals public figures of authority and private citizens alike on the verge of bankrupting what little moral inventory they still retained after a series of related circumstances and opportunities. Meanwhile, in real life, a celebrated attorney goes on TV to confirm that lying to Congress is a crime, but simultaneously asserts that criminalizing lying itself (to the press, for example) would be an abridgment of our First Amendment rights -- possibly true, but a head-shaking premise, to be sure, in considering how reprehensible lies and dishonesty are commonly held to be . In the spirit that it does indeed "take a village," here are 5 ways to add virtue to the 21st century learning. 1) Bring Back the Classics A good story often teaches the best lessons. The epics, poetry, theatre, and other literature of Antiquity through the late Renaissance is generationally revered for its exploration of human nature. [...]
What are performance-based assessments (PBA)? Here's an example to help you understand PBAs. Let’s think about verbs. Regardless of your level of interest in sentence structure, the word verb most likely brought one thing to mind: action. The physical act of doing something. Now, what verb in the following standard do you consider most significant? Develop a model to describe the cycling of water through Earth’s systems driven by energy from the Sun and the force of gravity. If you picked develop, congratulations! That’s what the middle-school science student has to do in this case: create something to describe something else. Both the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards are all about action, regardless of the age of the student. So, how does a student develop a model on a traditional multiple-choice assessment? Chances are, this question made you pause a bit and think about it. Can a model be made by choosing A, B, C, or D? Kind of. You can definitely complete a model by selecting the correct answer. You [...]
Micro-credentials might be just the right approach for your district’s professional development program. Think smaller and a more focused format. That’s microcredentials in a nutshell. How does micro-credentialing work? Professionals complete a discrete, competency-based task. The organization offering micro-credentials can then issue badges, continuing education credits, or other verification of completion. Putting it in practice Let’s say a K12 school district typically offers face-to-face courses for teachers’ professional development. Teachers sign on and attend a number of hours of training and are then awarded continuing professional development, or CPD, credit for participating in those workshop trainings. Instead, how about changing the format to something like this. Redesign learning using the micro-credentials and change the components in the following manner. Plan shorter sessions Since educators already have a lot on their plate, why not shorten the units? It’s easier for busy educators to fit a 15- or 30-minute professional development session into their busy schedules. Use a skill-based program The second approach is to modify the learning to be skill-based and related to on-the-job tasks. [...]
This is the third installment in a four-part blog series about authentic learning experiences. In the first part we focused on what authentic learning is. The second part looked at how to develop authentic learning experiences. This post shows you how to integrate these learning experiences into your existing curriculum. Authentic learning sounds great in theory. Who wouldn’t want to give students real-world practice with what they’re learning? You’re just having trouble figuring out how you can incorporate it into your curriculum. It may seem overwhelming. These suggestions will show you just how easy it is to incorporate authentic learning into any curriculum. You may have already integrated it in your course design. Videos You can use videos to show students exemplars of procedures and techniques they’ve learned. You can stop videos at specific instances to ask students pointed questions. The videos guide your discussion and help students see a visual representation of what they’re learning Additionally, videos can also allow students to show rather than tell their learning. They have the opportunity to put the [...]
Writing good multiple choice assessment items might seem easy, but creating questions that truly get at “what students know” takes a good deal of practice.
Many traditional biology class frameworks require students to memorize terms and processes. The IBIS (Integrating Biology and Inquiry Skills) curriculum is different. It asks students to collaborate with others to facilitate and take charge of their own learning. They take charge through experimentation, inquiry, and critical thinking activities. Since the IBIS curriculum has such a large focus on fostering these skills, lectures are minimal. The majority of learning is student-centered. Student-Centered Learning: What’s the Fuss? Student-centered learning shifts the focus of learning from instructor to student. Students face scenarios and problems crafted by instructors. Each scenario requires hands-on learning that pushes students towards a specific learning outcome. They must collaborate, hypothesize, experiment, and reflect. Students take control of their learning which, in turn, increases student buy-in and learning. Additional Benefits The student-centered approach of IBIS is enough to set it apart from other traditional approaches. On top of that, there are other factors that make it so unique: Backward Design: IBIS starts with learning outcomes. From there, each subsequent piece is designed with each [...]
What are soft skills? Different skills are used and developed for different situations. The skills needed for math are different than the skills needed for reading; athletic skills are different still. But what about more subtle skills such as listening and time management? These intangible but essential skills are known as soft skills. Soft skills are a set of skills students need to be successful in the workplace and world at large. Why are soft skills important? These skills are especially valuable for students in high school and higher education. High school students benefit from a well-rounded, differentiated curriculum. Colleges and universities require students to have a grasp on many soft skills, and they are expected in the workplace. Beyond that, students with a firm understanding of soft skills have a greater ability to connect interpersonally. Which skills need to be incorporated? There are a lot of skills that fall under the soft skills umbrella, so which ones should be included in a curriculum? Communication skills, especially active listening, should rank high on any list. These [...]
What is Mobile Learning? Smartphones, tablets, and laptops are often viewed as distractions for students. Since technology has become a necessity in our daily lives, why not integrate it into the learning framework? Those distractions can actually be used to achieve educational goals. Mobile learning is an educational system that allows students constant access to learning with electronic devices. While apps are a piece of the mobile learning world, they are just one piece of the puzzle. Mobile learning includes videos, audio, polls, discussion boards, interactive quizzes, and more. Why the Appeal? Mobile learning is quickly gaining popularity with educators and students across all grade levels. Educators can appeal to students with varying learning styles using different mobile platforms. Students are motivated by the idea of integrating their devices into classroom activities. Mobile learning also expands the possibilities of interactive learning. It allows students to access and expand curriculum at any time and in any place. How to Plan a Mobile Learning Curriculum The first step in designing a quality curriculum is to determine how [...]