Moved My Site!

Thank you for taking time to visit my website!!  I recently migrated all of my information to my new website in order to support my podcast Perspectives in Education.

All of the posts on this website and more can be found at justinmckean.com

 

LeVar Burton: Digital Devices Can Embrace Storytelling

lavar-burton

Image borrowed from the article.  (http://www.edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2017/01/levar-burton-digital-devices-can-embrace-storytelling)

Jena Passut interviews LaVar Burton, the former host of the PBS show Reading Rainbow. Check it out here!

I love this quote from the article, “she always had at least two or three books going for her own personal enjoyment. I always saw my mother reading. I got the example from my mother that reading is an important part of the human experience”

This is something that I struggle with as a parent.  I read all the time at work or while I am traveling for work but not much at all while I am home.  If I am, I am reading articles and things on my phone.  Literacy is crucial to the development of our children and I respect how Mr. Burton sees the value that digital devices can play.

 

Dashboarding 101 – 5 Tips to Get Your District Started

The buzz around dashboards continues to grow, and as I travel the US providing demonstrations, more and more educators are interested in learning what dashboards can do for them. I am going to walk through what a data dashboard is, why they are becoming so popular, and then lay out my 5 tips to get started. First, what is a dashboard? Merriam-Websters defines it as:

1: a screen on the front of a usually horse-drawn vehicle to intercept water, mud, or snow

2: a panel extending across the interior of a vehicle (as an automobile) below the windshield and usually containing instruments and controls

Close but no cigar right!? (Love number 1 by the way) Explaining to a colleague, client, prospect, what a dashboard really is and why they are so powerful is not always easy. But Eric Soden, Managing partner at Capitialize Analytics simplifies it a bit by defining a dashboard as “a consolidation of information that provides answers to questions the user needs to consider for his or her role. An effective dashboard must be timely, accurate, actionable, and provide value for the user accessing it.”

Ok, so we have defined a dashboard.  Now the question becomes, “why are they so popular?” Dashboards can provide top-level metrics at a glance, with the ability to easily drill down to more detailed information stored below the surface. Think about your district goals and objectives for the upcoming year. They often fall into one or more of these categories:

  1. Lower the drop-out rates
  2. Put a damper on chronic absenteeism
  3. Develop a plan to minimize teacher turnover while maximizing teacher productivity

Those are all examples, but my question to you is, “How would you measure them?” That is where dashboards can come in. Dashboards simplify the process, while providing timely, accurate updates. They are becoming so popular because they provide high level insights in an organized, efficient, timely manner.

Most people get the why they need dashboards, they just get hung up on how to implement them. It seems complicated, right? Here are 5 tips to get your district moving in a data-driven direction that will allow for Dashboards to simply your data:

1. Define Your End Game

You have to know what the “end game” is for EACH dashboard project that you undertake. Before you can start, you have to know what your district goals are for the next year, 3 years, 5 years and beyond. Without knowing where you are going, you will never know how to get there.

If you are the advocate for your district to explore the power of dashboards, I would start with the influencer. For this example, let’s focus on the Superintendent. Ask them what information they would LOVE to have at a glance that would simplify their job exponentially. There is your starting point!

2. Keep your Data Clean

In order for dashboards to be efficient and provide usable information, your data MUST BE ACCURATE. In today’s world where most data checks come from running reports, odds are you will not be finding any errors until someone runs a report and discovers the issue. With dashboards, data is constantly being analyzed so you will be more on top of your data. In turn, it will make your data more accurate, which will lead to a more reliable database and the ability to trust the results. This is a benefit of dashboards that often goes over looked!

3. Set Aside Time

This is two-fold. First, do not be naïve to the fact that generating dashboards with great functionality takes time. “Nothing worthwhile ever comes easy.” Embrace the journey and the challenge knowing that when you are done, it WILL be gratifying because you will be making a difference for your staff, students, teachers, and community.

Second, once the time and effort is put in to the development of the dashboards you MUST set aside time for the data to be analyzed. It is critical to analyze the data and allow your staff/faculty the time to discuss the data together. You will be amazed at how this will help to develop a culture of learning and support amongst your staff. They will be able to discuss learning strategies and have data to support why one specific group fell behind while another soared. It is time to empower your staff with accurate data, to not just support, but drive the learning process.

4. Establish Growth Targets and Track Progress

So we have established our end-game, cleaned our data, and set aside time to review and discuss the data. The next step is defining what progress is and setting benchmarks. Set benchmarks as a district, campus, classroom, teacher, and students. Dashboards will aide you in tracking it all.

Think about the impact this can have for your students. Studies show that if you empower a student in their learning, then true magic can happen. You can design dashboards to demonstrate growth and provide your students with a sense of power while teaching them valuable life skills in order to achieve their goals.

What is also cool about dashboards is that we can use this data for more than just impacting students as well. As a teacher, I can set a goal to see a minimum of 5% growth in each student and actually have the data to support if I achieved my goal.

5. Make it Visible

You have to show off all of your hard work right!? Seriously though, accessibility is key and will help you to promote buy in. Often times you may ask for a report and then when you receive it, it leads to you having more questions and you ask for another report, then another report, and by then your teachers (who are always strapped for time) have already tapped out and are doing their own thing.

If the data is easily accessible by your staff, teachers, students, and community then it is all the more likely that they will engage. If you present the data in a way that it is easy to access, reliable, and used on a regular basis, then you are making it easy for them to take the next steps.

Bottom Line

Dashboards will revolutionize the way districts compile, track, and analyze data. It’s important to know that this process will take time, though, often by a dedicated a group that can design and build the dashboards. This is where many districts get hung up. However the time initially invested is time that will help our students and provide them with the best support they need to be successful. And in the end, what’s more important than that?

We may have less than 5 years to change how we learn, earn and care

job-families

In one work the post is brilliant.  It was written by Saadia Zahidi and comes from the World Economic Forum.

“Globalization and technology are accelerating both job creation and destruction. Some estimates have put the risk of automation as high as half of current jobs, while others forecast a considerably lower value of 9%. Still, all occupations will go through change: we found that on average one-third of the skillsets required to perform today’s jobs will be wholly new by 2020.”

Here are the highlights of the Common Vision.

1. Transform education ecosystems. .

2. Facilitate the transition to a new world of work.

3. Advance the care economy.

 

Read the article for the details!  You will not be disappointed.

4 Things All Project-Based Learning Teachers Should Do

4-things-all-pbl-teachers-should-do

Image borrowed from article.

Lauren Ayer does a GREAT job outlining the “4 Things All Project-Based Learning Teachers Should Do” and it is published by TeachThought.

I believe that she hits the nail on the head.  I spent a year in a PBL high school before being transferred to another campus in my district.  The transition from a “standard” learning environment to a PBL environment does not come without some significant challenges.  As a teacher I found it incredibly difficult to:

  • Help students to be critical thinkers and develop/design their own projects
  • Guide students in developing essential questions that their projects will answe
  • Aide students in time management, organization, and presentations
  • Research, Research, Research.  Students have to be able to read for understanding, develop their own thoughts, and then cite them
  • Appropriately assess and grade students based on a variety of skill sets
  • Connect projects back to classroom concepts to use them to deepen understanding
  • Prove the value of being an independent learner and show that these skills are crucial to being a successful adult.

I could keep going!  When I read this piece and thought about how Lauren’s 4 things would have helped us as teachers be more organized and prepared to guide our students.

 

10 Tips Guaranteed to Bring You Success Early in Your Teaching Career

AAEE ( American Association for Employment in Education) published a great article for Education Week Top School Jobs.

Here are the 10, check out the article for more details:

1.  BREATHE

2.  REMEMBER YOU ARE HUMAN

3.  SET A TIME TO GO HOME

4.  KNOW THAT TOMORROW IS A NEW DAY

5.  BE POSITIVE

6.  REMEMBER WHY YOU BECAME A TEACHER.

7.  FIND A MENTOR OR WORK BUDDY

8.  UNDERSTAND YOU ARE A LIFELONG LEARNER

9.  BE CONFIDENT

10. ASK QUESTIONS

On Becoming More Than Preparing: 10 Tips on Developing Humans

 

sel-trends

Image is borrowed from the article.

Check out more from this article written by Tom Vander Ark via GettingSmart.

Here is the introduction to the article…

“Talk about delayed gratification. Rather than a two-minute wait for a marshmallow, we try to convince kids that 10 years from now they’ll need a particular skill to get a job. That may work for some, but it’s a pretty weak incentive.

The importance of social emotional learning (SEL) — the ability to manage yourself, to collaborate with others and make good decisions — is widely recognized as key to success in life. But it’s not just about what students are preparing for it’s who they are becoming as people. It’s about being a better learner, team member, contributor, and friend tomorrow than you were today.”

Why Executive Function Is A Vital Stepping-Stone For Kids’ Ability to Learn

executive-function

Katrina Schwartz writes a power article called, “Why Executive Function Is A Vital Stepping-Stone For Kids’ Ability to Learn”.

The article focuses on the importance of executive functioning and cites work done by Bruce Wexler.  He and his company have created a program called Activate and they are celebrating some astonishing results.

“The data just keeps coming in about the importance of focus, self-control and working memory for learning and life.” – Bruce Wexler

Teachers Are Stressed, And That Should Stress Us All

teachers-are-stressed

Image is borrowed from the article.

Cory Turner writes “Teachers Are Stressed, And That Should Stress Us All” after talking with Mark Greenberg, a professor of human development and psychology at Penn State via NPR.

Forty-six percent of teachers say they feel high daily stress. That’s on par with nurses and physicians. And roughly half of teachers agree with this statement: “The stress and disappointments involved in teaching at this school aren’t really worth it.”

It’s a problem for all of us — not just these unhappy teachers.

Here’s why: “Between 30 and 40 percent of teachers leave the profession in their first five years,” says Mark Greenberg, a professor of human development and psychology at Penn State.”

Arkansas School Administrator Urges More Teachers to Embrace Video

tarver-academy

Image is from http://www.tarveracademy.com/

Tyler Tarver is not your standard Director of Curriculm, Instruction, Communications, or Technology.  Tyler is an innovator and his story is highlighted on the Curriculum Matters blog by Marva Hinton.

“Tarver’s educational videos have more than 10 million views.  He runs two channels on YouTube and the website tarveracademy.com, which includes his math videos as well as tutorials for teachers on using technology and career advice.  I recently caught up with him to ask about his success.”

This article hits home because I am a HUGE advocate for videos and using them to aide in the learning process.  I used Khan Academy when I was a teacher and I loved it.  The major issue with it, as Tyler states in his interview, is that it is boring.  I was able to use it to fine tune my craft while my students were not engaged enough.  After watching a couple of Tyler’s videos, he brings humor and fun into the videos making them more engaging.

Makes me wish I was still in the classroom to share this great content with my students but instead I will share it with all of you!