Building the Future: Tinkering and Playful Learning

The following is an excerpt from an article in The Journal by Mike McGalliard and Anne Wintroub. It’s too good not to share. I encourage educators and parents to read and consider the ideas and recommendations presented in the full article.

“Educators and business leaders have more in common than it may seem. Teachers want to prepare students for a successful future. Technology companies…have a vested interest in developing a workforce with the STEM skills needed to grow the company and advance the industry. How can they work together to achieve these goals? Play may [be] the answer.

“We’ve assumed that focusing on STEM skills, like robotics or coding, are important, but the reality is that STEM skills are enhanced and more relevant when combined with traditional, hands-on creative activities. This combination is proving to be the best way to prepare today’s children to be the makers and builders of tomorrow. That is why technology companies are partnering with educators to bring back good, old fashion play.

“In fact many experts argue that the most important 21st century skills aren’t related to specific technologies or subject matter, but to creativity; skills like imagination, problem-finding and problem-solving, teamwork, optimism, patience and the ability to experiment and take risks. These are skills acquired when kids tinker. ” — The Journal

Sources: Image 1, Image 2

Making Thinking Visible: An Introducton

Visible Thinking

Harvard’s Project Zero: Part 3

Visible Thinking is a flexible and systematic research-based approach to integrating the development of students’ thinking with content learning across subject matters. An extensive and adaptable collection of practices, Visible Thinking has a double goal: on the one hand, to cultivate students’ thinking skills and dispositions, and, on the other, to deepen content learning. By thinking dispositions, we mean curiosity, concern for truth and understanding, a creative mindset, not just being skilled but also alert to thinking and learning opportunities and eager to take them” (Source).

“Visible Thinking is a broad and flexible framework for enriching classroom learning in the content areas and fostering students’ intellectual development at the same time. Here are some of its key goals:

  • Deeper understanding of content
  • Greater motivation for learning
  • Development of learners’ thinking and learning abilities.
  • Development of learners’ attitudes toward thinking and learning and their alertness to opportunities for thinking and learning (the “dispositional” side of thinking).
  • A shift in classroom culture toward a community of enthusiastically engaged thinkers and learners” (Source).

“The idea of visible thinking helps to make concrete what a thoughtful classroom might look like. At any moment, we can ask, “Is thinking visible here? Are students explaining things to one another? Are students offering creative ideas? Are they, and I as their teacher, using the language of thinking? Is there a brainstorm about alternative interpretations on the wall? Are students debating a plan?”

When the answers to questions like these are consistently yes, students are more likely to show interest and commitment as learning unfolds in the classroom. They find more meaning in the subject matters and more meaningful connections between school and everyday life. They begin to display the sorts of attitudes toward thinking and learning we would most like to see in young learners — not closed-minded but open-minded, not bored but curious, neither gullible nor sweepingly negative but appropriately skeptical, not satisfied with “just the facts” but wanting to understand” (Source).

A proven program for enhancing
students’ thinking and comprehension abilities

“At the core of Visible Thinking are practices that help make thinking visible: Thinking Routines loosely guide learners’ thought processes and encourage active processing. They are short, easy-to-learn mini-strategies that extend and deepen students’ thinking and become part of the fabric of everyday classroom life” (Source).

About the Research

“Visible Thinking is the product of a number of years of research concerning children’s thinking and learning, along with a sustained research and development process in classrooms.

“One important finding was that skills and abilities are not enough. They are important of course, but alertness to situations that call for thinking and positive attitudes toward thinking and learning are tremendously important as well. Often, we found, children (and adults) think in shallow ways not for lack of ability to think more deeply but because they simply do not notice the opportunity or do not care. To put it all together, we say that really good thinking involves abilities, attitudes, and alertness, all three at once. Technically this is called a dispositional view of thinking. Visible Thinking is designed to foster all three.

“Another important result of this research concerns the practical functionality of the Visible Thinking approach — the thinking routines, the thinking ideals, and other elements. All these were developed in classroom contexts and have been revised and revised again to ensure workability, accessibility, rich thinking results from the activities, and teacher and student engagement” (Source).

Thinking Routines

Visible Thinking makes extensive use of learning routines that are thinking rich.

Technology Integration

Visit this overview of Making Thinking Visible with Technology by Clif Mims, then enjoy the many exemplary lesson plans and wonderful resources at MTVT.org (See screenshot below).

Making Thinking Visible with Technology (MTVT.org)

* Much of this content courtesy of Project Zero at Harvard University.

 

Call for Chapters: Digital Tools for Writing

Student Writing

Dr. Becky Anderson and I invite you to consider contributing your expertise by submitting a chapter in a soon-to-be-published edited book. Digital Tools for Writing Instruction in K-12 Settings: Student Perception and Experience is timely because students are currently using technology to write both in and out of the classroom. In particular, students are writing outside of the classroom in ways that are not well documented or understood. Research is needed to report what students are doing both in and out of school and the implications this has on their learning. As a result, there exists a need for an edited collection of chapters in this area to 1) keep educators abreast of how to use the growing number of technology tools, 2) address the growing emphasis on writing instruction in both K-12 settings and in teacher education programs, 3) meet national standards and current initiatives that expect teachers to integrate writing across the curriculum, and 4) inform practice for the growing number of educators involved in K-12 online teaching and learning.

Working Title

Digital Tools for Writing Instruction in K-12 Settings: Student Perception and Experience

Download Call as PDF

Publisher’s Announcement

Editors

Rebecca S. Anderson (The University of Memphis, USA)

Clif Mims (The University of Memphis, USA)

Call for Chapters

Proposal Submission Deadline: March 15, 2013

Full Chapters Due: July 20, 2013

Introduction

Currently, more emphasis is placed on writing instruction in K-12 schools than ever before. Unfortunately, however, students continue to perform poorly on national writing assessments. One possible solution to helping students become better writers is for K-12 teachers to use the growing number of digital tools to teach writing. Another possible solution is for content area teachers (i.e., math, science, social studies, and language arts) to integrate writing assignments into their curricula. Consistent with the present national STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) initiative, which also embraces writing across the curriculum, students are no longer taught how to write just by the writing teacher. Instead, teachers at all levels, and in all content areas, are expected to use writing to help students both become better writers and to learn content knowledge. Therefore, it is important that K-12 teachers learn how to use new digital tools to effectively teach writing in the content areas. In particular, it is important to learn which technologies students are using, both inside and outside the classroom, and the implications this has for teaching and learning. As a result, there exists a need for an edited collection of articles in this area.

Objectives of the Book

  1. To provide research about using digital tools to support writing instruction with K-12 students.
  2. To disseminate information about how students use digital tools to write in school settings.
  3. To disseminate information about how students use digital tools to write outside of school settings.
  4. To disseminate information about students’ perspectives on using technology to write.
  5. To discuss issues and concerns related to students using digital tools for writing.
  6. To discuss the teaching and learning implications of K-12 students using digital tools for writing.

Target Audience

The target audience of this book is educators who are, or who work with, K-12 content area teachers. Thus, the primary audience will be professionals and researchers working in the field of K-12 education and teacher education. Additional audiences are higher education and adult education professionals who can adapt the practical and effective applications for using new technologies to teach writing in their respective content areas.

Recommended topics include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Hardware (e.g., iPads, Audiobooks, Smartboards, etc.) Used to Teach Writing in K-12 Classrooms
  • Applications Used to Teach Writing in K-12 Classrooms
  • Software Applications Used to Teach Writing in K-12 Classrooms
  • Web-based/Online Tools for Use in the K-12 Writing Curriculum
  • In-School Writing Using Digital Tools
  • Students’ Out-of-School Writing Using Digital Tools
  • Action Research: K-12 Classroom Teachers Studying Students’ Digital Writing Tools
  • Training Teachers: Providing Professional Development for Digital Writing Tools
  • The Future Use of Digital Writing Tools

Submission Procedure

Researchers and practitioners are invited to submit on or before March 15, 2013, a 2-3 page chapter proposal clearly explaining the mission and concerns of his or her proposed chapter. Authors of accepted proposals will be notified by March 29, 2013, about the status of their proposals and sent chapter guidelines. Full chapters are expected to be submitted by July 30, 2013. All submitted chapters will be reviewed on a double-blind review basis. Contributors may also be requested to serve as reviewers for this project.

Publisher

This book is scheduled to be published by IGI Global (formerly Idea Group Inc.), publisher of the “Information Science Reference” (formerly Idea Group Reference), “Medical Information Science Reference,” “Business Science Reference,” and “Engineering Science Reference” imprints. For additional information regarding the publisher, please visit www.igi-global.com. This book is anticipated to be released in 2014

Important Dates

Proposal Submission Deadline March 15, 2013
Notification of Acceptance March 29, 2013
Full Chapter Submission July 30, 2013
Review Results Returned September 30, 2013
Revised Chapter Submission October 30, 2013
Final Chapter Deadline December 15, 2013

Inquiries and Submissions

Submissions can be forwarded electronically (Word document)

Rebecca S. Anderson, Ph.D.
Professor, Reading Education
The University of Memphis
406 Ball Hall
Memphis, TN 38152
USA
Website, Email, Phone: (901) 678-3977

Clif Mims, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Instructional Design and Technology
The University of Memphis
406 Ball Hall
Memphis, TN 38152
USA
Website, Email, Phone: (901) 678-5672

Seeking Participants for Exercise Study

UMlogo-HHSdept-500The Department of Health and Sport Sciences at The University of Memphis invites your participation in an exercise study.

“Come and join us as we explore the effects of two exercise modes on balance. The study will include repeated balance tests on a computerized test system in the pre-, middle, and post-training phases. It’s free and fun for everyone!

The study will start in February, 2013. Financial compensation and campus parking are provided” (Source).

Download flyer for full details.

Future Teachers: Your Help Is Needed — #edchat #idt6061 #idt3600

America’s future teachers are invited to participate in the “Speak Up 2012 Survey for America’s Future Teachers” to share your ideas about teaching.

Speak Up, a national online research project facilitated by Project Tomorrow®, gives individuals the opportunity to share their viewpoints about key issues in K-12 education.

Any college student, who is participating in a degree or credential program that will prepare them for a career as a K-12 teacher, is eligible to take the survey, regardless of prior student teaching experience.

Speak Up for America’s Future Teachers is facilitated through online surveys and will be aggregated at the national and institution level. All of the data is 100% confidential and no specific institutional findings will be shared with anyone outside of the participating college or university.

Participate in “Speak Up 2012 Survey for America’s Future Teachers” and share your ideas about teaching.

Project Zero at Harvard University: Information and Strategies Every Educator Needs

Harvard’s Project Zero: Part 1

I had the privilege of participating in Harvard University’s Project Zero Classroom last summer. We (the Martin Institute for Teaching Excellence) were able to send 6 local teachers to participate in the institute thanks to the generosity of Presbyterian Day School here in Memphis. It was undoubtedly the best professional development in which I have ever been involved. I took notes, gathered resources, and spent time documenting my thoughts and reflections with the intent of sharing some of it with you here on this blog. The experience impacted my beliefs about learning and teaching and has been a catalyst for the redesign and enhancements I’ve made in the graduate courses and professional development that I teach and facilitate. In the midst of implementing those instructional modifications, and balancing my work and personal lives this school year, I just haven’t had much time to share much of anything on the blog.

This past February Harvard invited me to be a Project Zero Faculty Fellow. I’m excited for the opportunity to work more closely with “the experts in learning” and look forward to all the ways that I will grow and all that I will learn. With the school year behind me and the summer before me, I’ve begun to steer my mind towards all-things-Project Zero. I’ve been reading and watching videos about learning, teaching for understanding, making thinking visible, thinking routines, cultures of thinking, multiple intelligences, making learning whole, and more. These are just some of the components of the work that the Project Zero research group has produced in it’s more than forty year existence. I intend for this to be the first in a series of Project Zero related posts in which I hope to introduce you to some of PZ’s research, frameworks, strategies, terminology, and big ideas, while sharing some of my own experiences, ideas, and classroom connections. With that in mind, let’s start at the beginning.

Project Zero

“Project Zero is an educational research group at the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University” (Source). “Project Zero was founded in 1967…by the philosopher Nelson Goodman to study and improve education in and through the arts. Goodman believed that arts learning should be studied as a serious cognitive activity, but that “zero” had been firmly established about the field; hence, the project was given its name.

“Today, Project Zero is building on this research to help create communities of reflective, independent learners; to enhance deep understanding within and across disciplines; and to promote critical and creative thinking. Project Zero’s mission is to understand and enhance learning, thinking, and creativity in the arts, as well as humanistic and scientific disciplines, at the individual and institutional levels.

“Project Zero’s research initiatives build on and contribute to detailed understandings of human cognitive development and the processes of learning in the arts and other disciplines. They place the learner at the center of the educational process, respecting the different ways in which an individual learns at various stages of life, as well as differences among individuals in the ways they perceive the world and express their ideas. Many of these initiatives involve collaborators in schools, universities, museums, or other settings in the United States and other countries” (Source).

Learn more about the history and research of Project Zero.

Project Zero Classroom

Participants in this week-long immersive institute will learn to “create classrooms, instructional materials and out-of-school learning environments that promote deep learning and understanding…The Project Zero Classroom details various frameworks that enable you to look at teaching analytically, develop new approaches to planning and make informed decisions about instruction. You will learn to recognize and develop students’ multiple intellectual strengths; encourage students to think critically and creatively; and assess student work in ways that deepen learning. In a Project Zero classroom, teachers are also learners who model intellectual curiosity and rigor, interdisciplinary and collaborative inquiry, and sensitivity to the ethical and aesthetic dimensions of learning” (Source).

The institute addresses fundamental educational questions, such as:

  • How can we best inspire and nurture creative thinking and problem solving in our students and ourselves?
  • What is understanding, and how does it develop?
  • What are the roles of reflection and assessment in student and teacher learning?
  • How can participants continue to share and pursue their understanding of Project Zero’s ideas with others after the institute?

The Project Zero Faculty Chair is comprised of Howard Gardner, David Perkins, and Steve Seidel.

 

Thanks @InsideHigherEd for the Feature

My colleague and friend, Dr. Katrina Meyer, just brought it to my attention that Inside Higher Ed has featured one of my recent articles in its May newsletter. I’m surprised and honored. My thanks to anyone at Inside Higher Ed that might read this note.

“Inside Higher Ed is the online source for news, opinion and jobs for all of higher education…We believe that higher education [is] evolving quickly and radically, and that the time [is] right for new models of providing information and career services for professionals in academe” (Source).

Learn more at Inside Higher Ed.

 

Our Book Is Now Available

Developing Technology-Rich Teacher Education Programs: Key Issues

Drew Polly, Clif Mims, and Kay A. Persichitte

Developing Technology-Rich Teacher Education ProgramsDescription

Though technology is expanding at a rate that is alarming to many skilled laborers concerned for the welfare of their industry and jobs, teachers should feel safe in their position; however, teachers who refuse to adapt to technology will be left behind.

Developing Technology-Rich Teacher Education Programs: Key Issues offers professional teacher educators a rare opportunity to harvest the thinking of pioneering colleagues spanning dozens of universities, and to benefit from the creativity, scholarship, hard work, and reflection that led them to the models they describe. Contributors from 32 universities from around the world came together as authors of case studies, methodologies, research, and modeling to produce the work that went into this reference work. The target audience for this book includes faculty, leaders, teacher educators, and administrators within higher institution and every level of education.

Overview

Teacher education programs, more than ever before, are under severe scrutiny from national and state government, policy, and accreditation organizations. Teacher education programs are being asked to provide evidence of their impact on teacher candidates, as well as the indirect impact of teacher education programs on PK-12 students. Reforms in teacher education programs focus on the integration of 21st century skills, which include knowledge and skills related to information technology, creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication (Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2004).  Technology is an essential component of these 21st Century reforms.

The focus of teacher education programs is to prepare teacher candidates to effectively teach in 21st Century learning environments. These classrooms have access to Internet-connected educational technologies, including computers, hand-held, or portable devices (U.S. Department of Education, 2010). As a result of the technology-rich nature of PK-12 schools, it is critical for teacher education programs to examine their effectiveness related to preparing teacher candidates to effectively use educational technologies to support teaching and learning processes.

The construct of Technological Pedagogical and Content Knowledge (TPACK) has explicated the knowledge and skills related to technology integration. Candidates develop the knowledge and skills related to technology integration through educational technology courses, methods courses, and technology-rich field experiences (Schrum, 1999). In this book, contributors address all of those contexts and provide examples of how technology-rich teacher education programs have developed TPACK and related skills in teacher candidates and faculty.

The purpose of this book is to provide examples and frameworks related to creating effective models of infusing technology into teacher education programs. This book is intended for faculty and others associated with teacher education programs as a resource of creating technology-rich teacher education programs.  As a result, each chapter has clear directions and implications for adopting their ideas into teacher education programs.  Further, the ever-changing landscape of what constitutes current educational technologies, has led the editors to focus this book on examples and models that address current educational technologies, but are likely to be relevant over the next decade or two as well.

The book is divided into six sections, which focus on:  Frameworks for Technology Integration, Web 2.0 technologies, Teacher Education Courses, Integrating Technology across Content Areas, Field Experiences, and Ways to Support Teacher Education Faculty.

Testimonial

“This book offers professional teacher educators a rare opportunity to harvest the thinking of pioneering colleagues spanning dozens of universities, and to benefit from the creativity, scholarship, hard work, and reflection that led them to the models they describe.  Teacher educators are, indeed, fortunate to have this opportunity to make informed decisions that will transform teacher education at this important moment in the history of education.”

Kyle L. Peck, Associate Dean for Outreach, Technology, and International Programs and Professor of Education at Penn State University, USA

Personal Note

I’d like to thank everyone that contributed to this book and worked with us during the past year and a half. I’d especially like to note the contributions and dedication of my friends, colleagues, and co-authors, Drew Polly and Kay Persichitte.

I hope this work enhances teacher education and technology integration ultimately blessing the education and lives of all learners.

– Clif