July 23, 2012

The Common Core Monster

Cross posted at ASCD EDge

The education blogosphere is rife with posts about the Common Core State Standards. This monster is approaching fast, and it's scarier than any of Spiderman's evil foes (pick your movie version).
Think I'm overstating? Check out what one blogger says:
"Ultimately, state leaders—educators among them—need to decide what expectations students across the state will be held to."
This perspective underscores the danger that the monster presents. Why should a state leader, who has never been in my classroom, who has no idea of the needs of my students, decide what the expectations are?

This arrogant notion CCSS authors have -- that they know what's best for my students -- is as bad, perhaps worse, than the monster we currently have.

Don't miss Mark's book ROLE Reversal: How Results Only Learning Will Change Education as We Know It, due in February by world education leader, ASCD

July 15, 2012

Can we be this bold?



Brilliantly bold ideas about education from consultant Will Richardson. Thanks to Lisa Nielsen for sharing this.

So, can we be this bold?

Don't miss Mark's book ROLE Reversal: How Results Only Learning Will Change Education as We Know It, due in early 2013 by world education leader, ASCD

July 7, 2012

Use the app, Evernote, for formative assessment



The web site and mobile app, Evernote, is a powerful collaboration, content management and formative assessment tool. Check out how one school uses Evernote in a 1:1 computer environment. 

Evernote offers the sort of technology integration that helps create a Results Only Learning Environment. 

You can learn more about Evernote here.



Don't miss Mark's book ROLE Reversal: How Results Only Learning Will Change Education as We Know It, due in early 2013 by world education leader, ASCD

July 6, 2012

Formative assessment in action

While browsing YouTube, I ran across this insightful video on formative assessment. Listen for keywords, like conversation and feedback. This is definitely worth 5 minutes.




Don't miss Mark's book ROLE Reversal: How Results Only Learning Will Change Education as We Know It, due in early 2013 by world education leader, ASCD

July 3, 2012

Why do we need classroom rules?

An article I posted at ASCD EDge, Top five reasons to eliminate classroom rules, has gotten plenty of attention (1,000 views in two days). When EDge promoted the article to its Facebook page, comments from teachers poured in.

Some people can't grasp the idea of a classroom devoid of rules and consequences. One skeptic writes, "Good luck with that." Another more emphatically states, "You've got to be kidding."

Others see the concept as easily as I do. "It's about relationships," one teacher comments. Another discusses the value of a student-centered approach.

Still, the discussion fascinates me. I'm curious what you think about rules and consequences. Do we really need them?


Don't miss Mark's book ROLE Reversal: How Results Only Learning Will Change Education as We Know It, due in early 2013 by world education leader, ASCD

July 2, 2012

When students and teachers collaborate



One of my Twitter friends (pictured above) tweeted this at me, in response to an article I posted at the ASCD EDge blog, called Top five reasons to eliminate classroom rules. She later amended "rules" to "expectations." Here is my response to her tweet.

Collaborating with students on creating a learning community

Any classroom will run smoothly, when students see that their teacher values their input. This doesn't mean using assertive discipline, in order to manipulate students into creating your rules. In fact, there's no place for the word "rules" in a high-functioning results-only classroom.

Here are a few simple guidelines for involving students and building a successful learning community:
  1. Begin with collaboration: Tell your students that you want their help. "We need a successful learning community, free from disruption. Let's brainstorm some guidelines for this kind of environment." Now, get out of their way and let them work.
  2. Listen to all suggestions -- even the crazy ones: Don't easily dismiss seemingly-wild ideas. Something like "Let us go to the bathroom anytime we want to" can go a long way in building the class that you want, when all parties agree on how to make it work. I did this once, and the students created a remarkable policy of signing out, taking the classroom pass and leaving whenever the urge hit them. They loved and respected the policy, because they created it.
  3. Remember the ultimate goal -- learning: When ideas are unreasonable, simply remind students that, "We are setting guidelines for a successful learning community." There can be chaos, but it has to be good chaos. There are times for movement and noise, and there are times for quiet contemplation. Discuss how to distinguish between the two.
  4. Emphasize mutual respect: Be sure to discuss what this means (let them talk about it with each other first). You can always fall back on respect, when something goes awry.
Start your year this way. Revisit the conversation often, and you can throw out the rules and consequences.


Don't miss ROLE Reversal: How Results Only Learning Will Change Education as We Know It, due in early 2013 by ASCD, the world's top educational leadership organization

July 1, 2012

An excerpt from ROLE Reversal

“Teachers tend to have control issues in their classroom. We have a paradigm of what teaching looks like. This paradigm usually includes teachers in front teaching students who are at their seats” (Jenkins, 2011). Without turning this into another book on classroom management, I want to clearly illustrate how I gave up the kind of control Jenkins describes and what I’ve replaced it with.

For a moment, consider the rules and consequences listed at the beginning of this chapter. I used to live by these. In the my-way-or-the-highway days, a student caught chewing gum more than once was asked to come after school and clean gum off of desks – a revolting punishment that I stood firmly on, even when challenged one time by an angry parent. Entering my room in pants with holes in the knees was grounds for dismissal to our Student Management Room. If a cell phone rang, it was immediately taken and turned into the office. Disruptive students were shouted at and told to see the principal. Notes were sent home, parents were called, and formal referrals were written and placed in permanent records.

Today, I have no rules and I don’t raise my voice. Students chew gum if they like, wear jeans with holes and use cell phones and iPods regularly. My bathroom policy is simple: students go when the need arises. I talk to those who leave too frequently and explain the value of being in class. “I don’t want you to miss any important discussions, reading or time you might be working on a project,” I say. “Remember, your group members are counting on you.” The key is emphasizing the value of class – not admonishing a kid who may legitimately be answering nature’s call.

Forcing students to ask for permission for natural acts like going to the bathroom or getting a drink of water is a further demonstration of teacher control. These are the kinds of teachers who are seen as authority figures, rather than as facilitators of learning. If you suggest that you want students to have autonomy, yet you enforce insignificant rules and policies, you risk undermining the freedom that you say you want students to have in a results-only classroom.

Consider just how powerful not enforcing silly rules is, when it comes to creating a comfortable learning environment. The majority of my students spend three-fourths of their school day being told “no” or “don’t” by adults. No gum, no candy, no cell phones, no torn jeans, no leaving your seat. Don’t go to the bathroom, don’t talk to your friend and don’t you dare walk in without a pencil. Then, they come to the results-only classroom and are met with an uncanny freedom. You might think they race in and start blowing bubbles, jumping up and down, shouting and sending text messages by the dozens. Quite the contrary.

There is a remarkable respect for the ROLE. Since I’ve spent so much time coaching intrinsic motivation, cooperative learning and community building, my students buy in. Believe it or not, almost all of them just want to do things right.

Jenkins, N. (Designer). (2011). Shut up and teach. [Web Graphic]. Retrieved from
http://prezi.com/j_wkwyalz-lx/shut-up-and-teach/.

Don't miss ROLE Reversal: Achieving Uncommonly Excellent Results in the Student-Centered Classroom, due in early 2013 by ASCD, the world's top educational leadership organization

A look inside ROLE Reversal, the book

The following is an outline of several chapters in the forthcoming book, ROLE Reversal: Achieving Uncommonly Excellent Results in the Student-Centered Classroom. Don't miss the remaining chapters, when the book is released in early 2013.

1. Rebelling Against Traditional Methods – A results-only learning system is one that is in direct contrast to a traditional classroom. Learn how the teacher becomes a rebel in his students eyes, which creates automatic support and respect for the results-only classroom from Day one of the school year.

3. Letting Go of Homework, Worksheets – A ROLE is about results. It is taking a learning objective and using a variety of methods to demonstrate meeting the objective. Gone are traditional in-class worksheets, homework and grades. This chapter demonstrates how the results-only system works, complete with project examples, activities and evaluation. Also, the chapter proposes a homework challenge that will encourage any teacher to rethink the usefulness of homework.

6. The Evolution of Evaluation – This chapter presents a Feedback Toolkit, which is filled with web-based assessment tools and other types of formative assessment. Each tool is explained and real-class examples are provided.

8. High Stakes Testing: No problem – One of the best aspects of a ROLE is that not only do students learn more than they ever have in a traditional classroom, they also pass standardized tests at a much higher rate than their traditional class peers. See how the author’s test scores skyrocket over a two-year period, even though he never teaches to the test, like his traditional colleagues do. Also, learn how minority students in a ROLE outscore minority students in the traditional classroom by substantial margins.

9. Who Needs Discipline? Throw out Rules and Consequences – A results-only classroom is a community of learners. The intrinsic motivation that grows in students throughout the year creates an environment of mutual respect and trust. The Do’s and Don’t’s of a traditional classroom and the carrots and sticks that accompany them are not necessary in a ROLE. This communal environment and how to facilitate it are carefully examined in this chapter. Creating this no-nonsense, discard-the-rules classroom is clearly illustrated in this chapter, along with a snapshot view of how to incorporate this problem-free atmosphere into any classroom.


Don't miss ROLE Reversal: Achieving Uncommonly Excellent Results in the Student-Centered Classroom, due in early 2013 by ASCD, the world's top educational leadership organization

ROLE Reversal book summary

Imagine a seventh grader asked to evaluate her production over a single grading period. She is told she must give herself a letter grade. After several minutes of consideration, she tells the teacher that she deserves an F. Sound farfetched? In a Results Only Learning Environment, this is the sort of self-evaluation that happens daily.

In a time when education reform is prevalent, bureaucrats across America believe they have the answers to improving America’s schools. The problem is that most think that high stakes testing, homework and a grade-it-and-move-on-to-the-next-unit approach are at the center of successful reform, but this is not reform at all.

Changing Education

 

Real change in education must include a complete transformation of the methods that teachers and students use for learning. This takes bold measures – a complete overhaul of a broken system. It means creating a Results Only Learning Environment that removes the emphasis from traditional worksheets, direct instruction, multiple choice tests, grades and the old style of education that most teachers use today. A results-only system makes learning a shared responsibility between teachers and students. A ROLE is student-centered and project-based. Rather than pressuring students to practice rote skills for two hours nightly, a results-only classroom provides a combination of individual and cooperative learning activities, completed in class and over extended time, with constant feedback from teachers and peers and the opportunity to change and improve any activity, in order to demonstrate learning.

Results-only learning is the type of reform that will forever change American education.


Don't miss ROLE Reversal: How Results Only Learning Will Change Education as We Know It, due in early 2013 by ASCD, the world's top educational leadership organization