Educators Need Twitter in their Lives

Nice article by Peter DeWitt that highlights why joining Twitter as an educator is a great idea.  I could not agree more.  Read the article to see what is possible, as well as some helpful tips.

Since joining I have made connections with so many people and learned so much.  It is great to follow others, have people follow you, and follow popular hashtags can open your eyes to all the great education movements, lessons, professional development, and more.  It also provides your a platform to connect with educators across the world.  It can be a truly enjoyable experience so I encourage you to give it a try!

Here are some great hashtags (#) to follow once you get started…

#satchat, #edchat, #txeduchat, #growthmindset, #edtech, #edtechafterdark, and the lists go on!

Feel free to comment on the ones that you love, share your experiences with using Twitter as an educator, and share with a colleague that has not joined yet!

Let’s Flip Professional Development

Great commentary posted by Mike Rocco about professional development and flipping the process like we do in the classroom.  Check it out for yourself!  .

Special Education Numbers are Increasing

Christina Samuels,  she specializes in writing about early childhood and special education, writes a great article discussing why special education numbers have been on the rise in the United States since 2012 after decrease each year since 2005.

It is a great read that summarizes the changes in statistics, reasons for the shift, and for why they numbers may be rising.   She also discusses funding special education and the impacts that the shift has on states.  Interestingly, it has been 16 years since the anyone has analyzed special education spending!

I find this alarming because what if there are better, more efficient ways to serve these students but as a country we do not know where, how the money is spent.  I am confident that each district tracks this information carefully but what if there was a more efficient way to distribute, allocate this funding and we are missing out on that opportunity?

Check out the article!

Here is a link to the Ed Week Special Education blog as well that provides tons of great information!

How to Share Data Effectively

Harvard Family Research Project (2013). Tips for Administrators, Teachers, and Families: How to Share Data Effectively. Retrieved from http://www.hfrp.org/var/hfrp/storage/fckeditor/File/7-DataSharingTipSheets-HarvardFamilyResearchProject.p

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Data-driven organizations are found all over the world.  It is the data that drives decisions in banking, sports, and in recent years, schools.  It has transformed the way districts analyze scores, make decisions, and all of this has a direct impact on our students.  The question I have for you is are you sharing it effectively?

The Harvard Family Research Project provides us with their Tips for Administrators, Teachers, and Families: How to Share Data Effectively.  The article provides tips on how to effectively distribute, use, and communicate data to your teachers, students, and community.  I worked at a school that would provide me piles of data on paper, multiple websites with multiple log-ins, and then claim to be data driven!  They never sat down and talked with teachers to explain best practices is utilizing the data, how to share it with students or even how to share it with parents.  Do you work at a place like this?  This article is great and provides suggestions on how to get over these hurdles.

Here are some of the headlines from the article highlighting which scenario’s are discussed:

  • Creating a Data Sharing Culture Among Teachers
  • Helping Families Make Use of Data
  • Preparing to Share Data With Families
  • Talking With Families About Student Data
  • Preparing to Communicate With Teachers
  • Talking with Teachers About Your Child’s Progress

So often I see schools who claim they are data driven and then when you ask how they use it effectively they are not able to provide a solid response.  They are like one of the districts I worked at.  They can provide me lists of websites, benchmark tests, etc to collect the data but they do not have a plan on how to use it effectively.

Think of the things that are wasted when data is not used: money, instructional time, teacher planning time, etc.  “Recess!” My daughter would yell and you know what why not!?  Gathering data with benchmark tests bring stress, anxiety to classrooms across the country for teachers and students so when I see they are not used effectively it is disappointing.  Data alone has no value, it is what is done with it that matters.

So we have talked about ways to share the data so how did we get to this point?  Data has no value unless you use it appropriately to make decisions.  Here is a resource that highlights how to make data work and what you can do as a teacher, administrator and policy maker to ensure that data is useful.  If you are still wondering what specifically you could do here are 11 tips on How to Make Data Analytics Work for K-12.

Use these resources to inspire changes in policy and usage of data in your district or fine tune your methods.  In this ever changing world we always need to make sure that we are being efficient in our practices and data sharing is no different!

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Want to Guarantee Your Children’s Success?

I recently came across an article put out by my friends business called Guaranteeing Success for your Child.  “Guarantee”caught my attention and has a father of 3 (8, 3, and 1) I was instantly curious what is the secret!

The article discusses the work of a man named Geoffrey Canada.  This man’s story is awesome and after reading this article I encourage you to do more research on his past and how he impacts children.  The purpose of this article though is to discuss the key to successful children and also, the key to breaking out of poverty.  Ready for it?

READ TO YOUR CHILDREN

This blog encouraged me to research Mr. Canada and I am inspired of his desire to do the right thing, support families, and advocate for education.  He founded the Harlem Children’s Zone and The Baby College to help parents with children from age 0-3.  They teach the solution to poverty: READ TO YOUR CHILDREN.  These institutions have had AMAZING success.  You can follow the links above to read about them or watching his excerpt on TEDTalks (20 minutes) or 60 minutes (14 mintues).

How does has he had so much success?  Read the excerpt from the blog that highlights how he and his people are impacting our future generation.

“The more you introduce language to children, the more they grab it.  Middle and upper middle class parents typically know that, but in those 97 city blocks of Harlem, no one had previously stressed the importance of reading.

It turns out that the biggest difference between the haves and the have-nots is language acquisition, because that translates into verbal ability.

James Heckman, an economist at the University of Chicago, found the difference in the sheer number of words that middle class parents speak to their child–as opposed to poverty class parents–differs by about 20 million words.  So, by age three, your middle class child has been exposed to 20 million more words than a poor three year old.”

Geoffrey Canada wants to provide children raised in poverty the opportunity to achieve success and his institutions have been wildly successful.  Do your research, share his story with everyone because you can be apart of the success of another child, and READ TO YOUR CHILDREN.

His schools have boasted 100% graduation rates and 100% college placement.  They continue to stay involved with these students post-graduation.  They “harass” them as a good parent should to be involved in their lives, preach that you can do it, and let their children know that they REFUSE to let them fail.

Kudos to you Mr. Canada and all that you are doing for our youth.  I am truly inspired by you and your work.

Why Reflection in Classrooms is Important

Great segment, on BAM Radio Network (A network dedicated to sharing the voices of the Education Village) with Starr Sackstein and Robert Pennington, that discusses why bringing reflection into the classroom is so important.

Starr does a great job explaining why using reflection is so important for the learning process but also how it can aid teachers in fine tuning their craft.  It is only about 10 minutes and she provides lots of great information for all teachers to review.

I love the idea of allowing students to have a voice in their education because this will help to create and generate buy in, even on those topics that you might “fail” to teach effectively each year.  Think about how much your students will learn about themselves if they are able to understand how they learn best.  Making a transition from school to college will be seamless if they know how they learn best.

As a teacher, you must be willing to make adjustments to your style based on opinion but also work to create a culture where you students realize that not every suggestion will occur OR that they must provide meaningful, useful feedback.  Once this is done and you are prepared to make adjustments, the sky is the limit for you, your classroom, and your students.

Some of the highlights…

Easy ways to have students reflect:

REFLECTION IS NOT A POST UNIT ACTIVITY, IT IS SOMETHING THAT NEEDS TO OCCUR DAILY, WEEKLY IN ORDER TO BE EFFECTIVE.  

Gold Stars – MUST haves in order to do this effectively:

  • Growth Mindset – open mind – You have to value student opinion
  • Flexible – you must be willing to make changes to your lessons or units based on students opinions.

 

Tips to Share Ed-Tech Success

In today’s 21st century the digital classroom is now common place around the United States and is found in over half of our countries districts.  The next big thing is the idea of personalized learning and how to find ways to customize learning for each individual student.

So maybe your district has a 1 to 1 initiative and found a solid way to personalize learning – AWESOME! – but how do you share those ideas?  Maybe you are in the middle of the process and are looking to develop buy in across the district and community?  Have you found ways to frame your district successes share them with your community?

SunGard K-12 sponsored an article with District Administration that highlights the best ways to make sure that you are celebrating and sharing your success with others.  Here are the highlights:

  • Consider how to frame your district’s story
  • Get to know your local education reporters, as well as ed-tech trade press
  • Leverage other resources in your district to help spread the word
  • Keep it simple, avoid jargon and acronyms

Another way is to use social media.  Here are links also provided by SunGard K-12 that highlight ways to be successful on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.