From Teaching Children to Teaching Adults – Shift your PD Focus

I am an educator in many ways. First, I teach a cabal of sophomores (at Ransom Everglades I teach two courses of United States history). However, I am also a teacher of adults. In my role as Director of Educational Technology and in my work with ISTE and ATLIS, I proselytize, train, and educate.

All of us know (at least intrinsically) that adults and children are very different learners and students; some might argue that adults can be more challenging than children! There is actually a lot of data that highlights how adults differ in learning styles and process. If you want to ensure that your Professional Development sessions are effective, consider doing a little investigation into andragogy (the teaching of adults). I especially liked this infographic:

The Adult Learning Theory Infographic
Find more education infographics on e-Learning Infographics

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America in Class

Some amazing resources for teachers of American History!

History Tech

The National Humanities Center is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to advanced study in all areas of the humanities. And it’s got some handy resources that they’ve housed at a site called America in Class that has primary and secondary resources, webinars, and lessons for history and literature teachers.

According to the site, it’s designed to promote the analytical skills called for in the Common Core ELA / Literacy standards in History/Social Studies:

  • identifying and evaluating textual evidence,
  • determining central ideas,
  • understanding the meanings of words,
  • comprehending the structure of a text,
  • recognizing an author’s point of view, and
  • interpreting content presented in diverse media, including visual images.

You can find a variety of things at American in Class:

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The Privacy Paradox

I have written a great deal about the importance of privacy for ourselves and our students. How much data corporations and the government gather about us, our families, and especially our children should be an important topic for educators and parents alike. This week, the Note to Self Podcast began their quest to investigate how we can take hold of our digital world and privacy. Check out the first episode of their series the Privacy Paradox.

privacy-paradox

WNYC Privacy Paradox

Americans have struggled with their views on privacy, security, and convenience since the dawn of the internet; PEW Research center has published numerous polls and studies on just this topic. These problems have exploded with the advent of social media, smart tools (thanks Waze for getting me around that traffic), and now the internet of things (do you own a Nest Thermostat or an Amazon Echo?).

Check out this evocative series on privacy and your digital self.

Interactive Maps out Life of Former Presidents

Today, President Obama and his family will leave the White House as the 45th President takes the oath of office. President Obama is the 44th person to embark on a post-Presidential journey. This Smithsonian Interactive maps out the lives of Former Presidents.

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History, Art, and Archives of the House of Representatives (and the Senate)

This is a wonderful resource for Social Studies teachers!

History Tech

I’m a member of a semi-active Facebook group that was started several years ago following the final session of the Century of Progress TAH project. The group was an attempt by project participants to stay somewhat connected and supported after three years of working together.

We were able to develop a face-to-face PLC that meets four times a year and the Facebook group continues to act as a sort of digital conversation space. Most of us aren’t super active, simply lurking around and picking up the helpful tidbits posted by the few truly active members of the group.

One of those truly active members is Nathan McAlister, middle school teacher at Royal Valley MS. The 2010 Gilder Lehrman History Teacher of the Year, Nathan is one of those seriously gifted individuals, perfectly tuned to be a great middle school social studies teacher. And not only is he a great classroom teacher and GLI Master…

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Lifelong Learning is a Life Skill not a Buzz Word

Working in education, I have seen my share of buzz words (and concepts) come and go. Often they are rebrandings of past, failed initiatives or great ideas that simply don’t work among the established cogs of the modern educational machine. However, one “buzzword” that I believe has been unfairly branded as such is “lifelong learning.” Lifelong learning is “the “ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons.” In other words, it’s a self-driven desire to continue to learn and grown in all areas of our lives well after we leave a classroom. I have attended numerous educational conferences and events that highlight the need for educators to inspire “lifelong learning” in their students. In the world of educational buzzwords, it’s easy to roll one’s eyes and get back to the classroom. However, what I have learned in my world of education and technology is that lifelong learning is not the latest flash in the pan. Rather, it is now a necessary life and career skill.

In the past, job changes were few and far between and career changes (barring going back to school for a degree) were practically unheard of. Now, with automation and technology putting more people out of work and a shifting landscape in the economy, job-hopping and career shifts are becoming more prevalent. Forbes highlights that job hopping (moving to a new job every 2-4 years) is becoming a career necessity, often leading to higher salaries, more opportunity for advancement, and a better “cultural fit” at your place of employment.

But besides the fact that job hopping can lead to better opportunity, the reality is that job hopping and career shifts is not just an “acceptable practice” but becoming a necessary one, thus the need for self motivated learning. In his almost dystopian non-fiction work Rise of Robots, Martin Ford argues convincingly that automation and technology will not only be displacing factory workers and manual laborers, but traditionally “safe” jobs that require high levels of (often expensive) education–think lawyers, doctors, and even writers. If the trends that Ford highlights continue, unemployment and (more commonly) under-employment by even the highly educated will persist and grow. The Economist made a similar argument, stating that the solution to these trends is continued education throughout the life of one’s career (whether it stays within a single trajectory or takes a radical shift):

A college degree at the start of a working career does not answer the need for the continuous acquisition of new skills, especially as career spans are lengthening. Vocational training is good at giving people job-specific skills, but those, too, will need to be updated over and over again during a career lasting decades.

In their article “School and the Economy,” economists Murnane and Levy argued that the answer to helping students (and adults) be prepared for the new, shifting economy is to emphasize softer skills: expert thinking and complex communication, primarily “…the ability to solve new problems that cannot be solved by applying rules. (If the problem could be solved by rules, a computer could do it.)”

Lifelong learning empowers individuals to adapt to a variety of new jobs and career paths in the unforeseeable future. Levy and Murnane have a less apocalyptic view of future employment. While they argue that many traditional careers will shrink and even disappear, they view this shifting landscape as one that will open up new avenues and jobs. However, preparing for those jobs requires greater emotional and intellectual agility; a desire and passion to learn new skills and information.

Whatever the future holds for careers, lifelong learning is now a critical component for success. Your current job or position may downsize or all together disappear. New opportunities may be a better fit for your skill set and passions. Whatever the the future holds, being prepared and skilled at adapting to it through continuous learning is vital for success.

New Google Classroom Tools Feature Differentiated Learning

hero_logoGoogle just announced several key new features for Google Classroom that allow teachers to differentiate work for their students. Teachers can now assign work to students or groups of students.

With this feature, students can also discreetly receive extra practice if they’re struggling with a new subject.

They have also announced new notification methods for when students submit work late or resubmit. Check out the latest updates on Google’s blog here.