Sunday, April 10, 2011

Wk#2/Blog#4 Free Choice - Tony Wagner

This week, I had the privilege to attend a lecture by noted education expert Tony Wagner. Wagner has written several books; his latest is called The Global Achievement Gap. He is a first rate speaker and recently was named the first Innovation Education Fellow at the Technology & Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard ( My school sponsored the lecture and I was asked to videotape it (I own a professional video camera). Of course, Wagner spoke about everything that is taught in the EMDT program at Full Sail and in fact after the lecture, when I had him sign my book, I mentioned the program and he said he had heard of it.

Anyway, I've embedded the lecture and Q&A session that I edited and uploaded to Vimeo this weekend for your viewing pleasure. There are a lot of pieces to his talk that I liked but one of the most important I liked was that he gave a REAL definition for what critical thinking really is. I think this term is used way to much and most educators have no idea what they really mean when they use it. Until we, as educators, are able to really define what it means, we won't be able to re-define our teaching to enable this important skill.

One of the other pieces that I think relates directly to how this program is the notion of developing an online portfolio. Wagner says that the development of a digital portfolio for all students, teachers and administrators will be an important element. I believe this is something important to consider. At Whitby, I have helped the students create an iWeb this past year that is a Developmental Workbook required by IB for the middle school program, but in essence begins to help students create a sustained place to document their work over the course of their life as a student. And, the AR site I did last year serves as a cornerstone for my digital portfolio. No only did I put all of my AR work there, but I also uploaded all of the projects from each class.

Wagner said that Tufts University asked students to submit YouTube videos last year as part of their admission requirement and they were astounded at the creativity shown by the applicants. Helping our students create a positive digital footprint AND show them how to make a portfolio of this work will be something I will work on as an educator. And, of course, I will document this effort for MY digital portfolio!

Wk#2/Blog#3 Art of Possibility

In Chapter 3, Zander discussed how the idea of "giving an A" represents a shift in attitude that transforms everything into a world with possibilities. This shift allows students to realize for themselves what is possible. In a lecture I listened to this week (as well as videotaped and edited), Tony Wagner speaks at length about the role of curiosity and imagination that needs to be nurtured. I completely agree with this line of thinking and I can connect this idea to Zander's notion of "giving an A." In order for students to be able to be intellectually curious and motivated to be creative, they need to learn how to give themselves an A first so they are free from the weight of responsibility that is expected in the normal course of the school day. Giving students a A allows them to fail and then try again.

Wk#2/Blog#2 Comments to Jean Alman

Week 2 Reading

The first four chapters of the Art of Possibility are truly inspiring. It really got me thinking about how I see my students and the expectations I place on them. I was particularly inspired by the authors' idea of celebrating and valuing mistakes. "...I actively train my students that when they make a mistake, they are to lift their arms in the air, smile, and say, "How fascinating!"" So often our students feel that if they do not have the right answers they will be punished or get a bad grade. I would like to work on this in my classroom and foster a more open environment where students feel comfortable enough to make mistakes and learn something from them.

I was also interested in the concept of 'giving an A' and enjoyed reading the letters from Ben Zander's students. It was inspiring to hear a student's opinion on what an A would look like for them at the end of the semester. So often we tell students what the final outcome of a course should be, without giving them the opportunity to take ownership of their learning along the way.

The only concern I have about what I have read so far is that it all seems very idealistic. I imagine that it is harder to apply these principles consistently.
Posted by Jennifer Juniper at 3:48 PM
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Tonneche Brown said...
You are so right. Many student see mistakes as failure. Training the students to embrace their mistakes and learn or create from them will truly open up to a awesome learning environment. I also enjoyed the letters.
April 10, 2011 6:08 PM
lesliegperry said...
Just this week, I listened to a lecture by Tony Wagner, and failure was one of the various topics he discussed. Doesn't it seem odd that in the business world, in companies such as Google, you are encouraged to try new things and fail often with the idea that in doing so, you will create something new. Now compare this with what happens in schools where making 2 mistakes on a test can give you a B. The educational system and our grading for students is completely contradictory to how innovative business is run. With esteemed speakers such as Zander and Wagner along with others speaking about failure, why do we still grade students the way we do?
April 10, 2011 8:09 PM

Wk#2/Blog#1 Comments to Mr. Peglow

EDM613 Wk2, post 4: Free Write - ARP Pgph 2
The following was the opening of my cycle 1 plan and also is intended to be my second paragraph for my final paper for the Full Sail EMDT ARP. I welcome any and all comments and critiques:

There are many poignant opinions about high-stakes testing and whether or not it has done more harm than good for the students who are subjected to these testing situations. But, no matter what the opinions are, for teachers and students in today’s educational system, standardized and quantitative testing are a reality that cannot be ignored, circumvented, or avoided. For this reason the research conducted in this project focuses on two areas of concern in assessment of state writing tests. The first area of concern is in the shortcomings of the many students at the Middle School level who are failing to achieve a proficient score on state writing tests. "Why are our students scoring so poorly? Certainly there are a number of factors out of our immediate control (e.g., second language issues, poverty, lack of parental involvement). Dwelling on these issues, however, is counterproductive and a waste of time and energy. We are better served by focusing on what we can control—namely, our teaching" (Gallagher, 2003, p. 26).
This ARP will investigated the root causes of students performing at basic or below basic writing proficiencies at the middle school level and what teaching practices could be utilized to enhance student writing skills, motivation, and interest. "Writing is an activity that is as much emotional as cognitive. Affective factors influence all phases of the writing process. A strong need exists for researchers and educators to explore the affective factors that contribute to students' writing performance. Motivation, with its conspicuous influences, is important among those affective factors" (Lam & Law, 2007).
Secondly this ARP investigated those students who were capable of providing proficient standardized responses in response to writing prompts, but consistently fall short in achieving the advanced writing scores.

- - - - - - -

Gallagher, K. (2003). Righting our writing wrongs: Ten concerns about writing instruction. California English, 8(5), 26-28. Retrieved from Education Research Complete database.

Lam, S., & Law, Y. (2007). The roles of instructional practices and motivation in writing performance. Journal of Experimental Education, 75(2), 145-164. Retrieved from ERIC database.

Posted by mrpeglow at 5:41 PM

lesliegperry said...
Colleges have noted that students are coming to their schools with very poor writing skills so looking at this issue is a good ARP. I like your first paragraph in setting up why you chose to do this ARP and what you will focus on. However, I would suggest you look carefully at the 2nd paragraph. There are a few grammatical errors ("This ARP investigated - remove "will"). But I got lost in the description especially the multiple uses of the word "affective." I think you need to find another word for some of these instances. I also think you could describe more specifically about what you see in the classroom and what you hope to change in Cycle 1. Perhaps you are doing this later in your paper but as a person new to this project, I got lost in this 2nd paragraph.
April 10, 2011 7:28 PM

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Wk 1/Bog #4 Copyright Issues

A year ago, I listened to the videos and read the material from this class on copyright. This year, I have some classroom experience to gain a sense of the challenge faced with fair use and copyright. I am working with the students (grades 5 - 8) on learning how to find research and resources like photos and video on the internet. In the various media projects they have done (Glogster, Museum Boxes etc.), images are inevitable required and finding what they need usually is about locating something on Google. By and large, they really don't understand why, if an image is available for searching on Google, why they shouldn't use it in their paper or project. I think it is going to be hard to have this generation understand copyright given the accessibility of images and video, and the mashing of material done on the web. This issue has been something I've been thinking about and will continue to ponder. Over the next few months, I am planning on developing an integrated curriculum that will develop research skills from 3rd to 8th grade and finding ways to really help the students understand copyright will be one thing I expect to struggle with. I don't have the answer yet, but I'm enjoying looking at the issues again in this class.

Wk1/Bog #3 - The Art of Possibility

Hands down, The Art of Possibility was my favorite book of the entire EMDT program. The Zanders were able to create simple, memorable phrases that had wide meaning and used colorful examples from their life to show what they meant. In the first three chapters, which hooked me on this book instantly, the most meaningful tidbits included a questioning of what assumptions I make that I am not aware of and what might I now invent that I haven't yet. When I graduated from the program, I started working at a private school. The position I was hired to do was new - Technology Integration. From the beginning, I took it and did everything I imagined doing with technology in education working twice as long as I was paid for but having the best time of my life (I still am). The Head of School said recently that he never expected me to do all that I have done and I've excited teachers and students in ways that are meaningful. I think that the spirit of Zander has been with me through the past year and I am eagerly enjoying rediscovering their words of wisdom.

Week 1/blog #2 Comment to Brandy Hoelscher

Chapter 1. It’s All Invented: How can we think outside the box we live in? What assumptions are we making that we’re not aware that we are making? What might we invent that would give us other choices?

I agree, broadly, that if you can change your mindset on any topic, then you decrease the factors that limit you. One of the largest assumptions we make is thinking that other people think like we do. To a large extent, we conform to the mindsets of the people around us - friends, family, people in our churches and communities. We are expected to think and behave a certain way, to maintain the equilibrium in our corner of the universe. The issue I take with this chapter is the belief that changing your mindset is going to change things around you. The truth as I see it is that you can either conform, or choose to stand out on your own. Either are valid, and may be appropriate at different times with different circumstances.

Chapter 2. Stepping into a Universe of Possibility: We live in a world of measurements. The Zanders recommend that when we look at how different things appear we can see them as possibilities. How are your thoughts and actions a reflection of the measurement world?

As a part of human nature, we strive to categorize things in the world around us. We like to put things into neat little boxes, listing properties, drawing comparisons. We are competitive and taught to see the negatives instead of twisting it around to what might be a positive. It seems more likely that the Zanders are supporting and suggesting a basic theory of karma. If people modify the conditions that mark them as successful, approach life with a positive outlook, are generous and joyful, then they are more likely to be successful in their personal and business endeavors. On its most basic level, this idea of “what goes around comes around” is a great theory, but when the world still operates on a different mindset, it may be wiser to play by the established rules.

Chapter 3. Giving an A: Giving Yourself an A.

The Zanders offer a quote from Michaelangelo in this chapter that really resonates with me as an educator: “Inside every block of stone or marble dwells a beautiful statue. We need only remove the excess material to reveal the work of art within.” The practice of giving an A means the ability to realize the potential in another person, even if they haven’t completed their “masterpiece”. I like this approach because it means I can encourage students (and myself) to their own creative expressions without needing to compare them to the next person. Michaelangelo, Beethoven, Shakespeare, Abraham Lincoln and Einstein are all masters at their craft, but it wouldn’t be fair to compare them in the same mediums.

MONDAY, MARCH 28, 2011
The Art of Possibility

Leslie G Perry
You brought up so many of the thoughts about this book that resonated with me. I read this almost a year ago when I was in the program and it is still one of my favorite books. How we frame what we are thinking, how we are looking at others, how we perceive the situation are so important.