Challenging the Status Quo

I shared this post on my 'Pair-a-Dimes for Your Thoughts' blog back in November 2012. I went back to it this weekend and noticed that a considerable amount of the links shared are from fellow Connected Principals. Pick ONE, and be the change you want to see in your school. ~ Dave.


Educational bloggers blogging about things that need to be changed… This isn't a post to read from start to finish. Instead, pick a topic that may challenge the status quo in your school or district and dig in. Read, tweet, share, write your own post, comment… it is fodder for YOU to challenge the status quo!

Here are the TOPICS discussed:

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Homework Why’s and Homework-Wise ~ By Chris Wejr

Which includes this Alfie Kohn quote:
“It strikes me as curious on the face of it that children are given additional assignments to be completed at home after they’ve spent most of the day in school – and even more curious that almost everyone takes this fact for granted.  Even those who witness the unpleasant effects of homework on children and families rarely question it.”

From me: Homework

As a math teacher, my first lessons were not about Math they were about life. I wrote this formula on the board:Equal is not equal to fair.

How Necessary Is Homework? Join the Conversation ~ By Patrick Larkin

“As I sat watching her grow more frustrated with her assignment, I was sure that I would be equally unsuccessful had I been asked to complete the same task.”

… Which viagra for women led to Patrick's post about my post: The Homework Discussion Continues With Thoughts From B.C.

“Another positive of having this discussion in a web-based setting has been the fact that we have gotten feedback from people in other parts of the world who have had these same discussions. We are truly fortunate to live in a day and age where this type of sharing can take place so easily.”

And if you must give homework, read: The Great Homework Debate, does it ever end? By Remi Colins which leads to many other interesting blog posts, including Brian Kuhn's  What Homework Should Be and Cathy Vatterott's The 5 Hallmarks of Good Homework.

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Death of an Awards Ceremony ~ By Chris Wejr

“If you are a person who believes school is all about grades and awards, I am afraid that you will not like the decision made by our school yesterday; if you are a person who loves the idea of the “proud parent of an honour roll student” bumper sticker, you may be frustrated by our school.”

The Impact of Awards ~ By George Couros

Creating an awards system in school; there is no right way.
Have you ever been in a meeting with your colleagues discussing how awards should be given out?  Should the average be 85% or 80%.  What subjects should it include?  Should it only be the “core” subjects?  There are so many things that are not right with this process.”

Rethinking Awards Ceremonies ~ A full page of links and resources from Chris Wejr.

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From me: Chasing the A

Marks seem to take our attention away from what matters. I find it funny that we can assess young kids without grades and then around Grade 3 we suddenly start indoctrinating students into the paradigm of good marks = success

The above post was inspired by a graduating student's blog post: Why Our Current Education System Is Failing ~ By Bud Hennekes

Is it time to eliminate letter grades? What is the purpose of report cards? ~ By Remi Colins

“If grades are a distraction, and are not necessary for any entrance requirements, why have them? Why do elementary student need to be graded? It would seem to me that the purpose of a report card is to report a child's progress. The report card should focus on what specific skills have they mastered, improved on or are struggling with.”

Abolishing Grading ~ By Joe Bower. Joe is very vocal on this topic and this is a page dedicated to things he has written on the topic.

Using the Right Brain ~ By Darcy Mullin

“It does suggest that the traditional ways of measuring student success and learning have not changed at the rate that society has.  The current system of letter grades has been around for decades.
How many effective institutions have remained unchanged in that time?”

See Darcy's posts on Assessment and Grading.

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“No Zeros Until…” ~By Dwight Carter, and the follow up, No Zeros Until… Part II.

“Doug Reeves, Thomas Guskey, David Langford, and Ken O’Conner among others have researched this for years and have thoroughly explained why zeros create a huge hole for students to dig themselves out of. So why assign them…

Learning is a continuous process and real world deadlines are flexible. There are deadlines and penalties, but companies want their payments regardless if it’s on time or not.”

Enough with the Late Penalties ~ By Tom Schimmer

“Here is my issue with Late Penalties being applied to student work.  If we are going to reduce an entire course worth of work down to one symbol for the purpose of reporting, should we not at the very least ensure that the grade is accurate?”

From me: Late Penalties are 'off the mark' (Inspired by Tom's excellent post, the quote below is originally from Edupunk or Educational Leader – see footnote 3 for my views on assignment length requirements.)

“As a teacher, I don’t take any marks off for something coming in late. It is my job to make sure that students demonstrate their learning and meet the learning outcomes during the year. All time lines within the year are arbitrary (and usually teacher determined) and not a requirement worthy of penalty. Exceptions may be made where either Personal Planning or Goal Setting are part of the outcomes.”

Docking student paychecks ~ By Cale Birk

“What are people thinking when they believe that giving late marks motivates students to complete homework on time? The research is so clear (just email Rick Stiggins if you would like a sampling, or watch Douglas Reeves to see his piece on Toxic Grading Practices, or look up any of the work by Ken O'Connor, such as A Repair Kit for Grading: 15 Fixes for Broken Grades, or Guskey et. al, etc.) that this does not work.”

As suggested in the video Cale linked to above, “The appropriate penalty for missing work, is getting the work done” ~ Dr. Douglas Reeves

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(Canadian Style, nothing nearly as bad as what Americans deal with!)

From me: Open Letter to the Fraser Institute. I take a rather brash approach to prove my point that ranking schools according to a single test is unfair. And I further make the point that ranking schools at all is ridiculous ~ this continues in the comments.

Dear Fraser Institute,
In fairness I am telling you this on the basis of a single observation. One salient point. That’s all I need.

My struggles with the FSAs ~ By Remi Collins

“A couple of friends with students at schools outside of our district were telling me that the kids had been practicing the tests for a couple of weeks and were a bundle of nerves because they were told how important these tests are and that they had to do well to represent the school.”

(American Style, where the results are truly high-stakes)

ReadingFirst, NCLB, School Accountability, and our Educational Future ~ By Wes Fryer

“How could so many many smart people elected to lead our nation take us down the forsaken path which has led to so much unnecessary suffering and misdirected energy in our classrooms with high stakes testing?”

Here are a few more Posts challenging educational status quo in US by Wes, including A contrary view of education and NCLB.

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Driving Innovation in K-12 ~ By Chris Kennedy and “So this is the dance!” Four Steps to Personalization ~ By Gino Bondi

In his recent post, Driving Innovation in K-12, Chris Kennedy raises what for me is the starting point for all of the changes within the BC Education Plan:

Teachers need to know where to begin – “personalization” and “digital literacy” are broad and ambiguous terms, so we need to narrow the framework.

How My Teaching Has Changed ~ By Chris Kennedy

I have tried to not only simulate the real world, but give students opportunities in the real world. I often describe it in simple terms as moving to real-real, instead of fake-real (mock trials, case studies etc).

…the move to personalized learning, the focus on “the 7 C’s”, and the power of technology to allow us to do things not possible before, have really changed the dynamics.

Also see Lyn Hilt's “FedEx Prep” style professional development day described in inspiration delivers.

My post on Personalization and Responsibility shares a great chart by Barbara Bray and Kathleen McClaskey, and emphasizes responsibility over accountability.

We need to personalize the learning for our educators and our students… seeing both first and foremost as learners. We can’t cookie-cutter our professional development to teachers and expect meaningful results. We can’t evaluate students based on tests with easily Googleable answers. We can develop a sense of learner responsibility by personalizing learning, making it meaningful and making it work that matters.

Keeping the “Professionalism” in the Profession ~ By Dean Shareski

“A teacher is by definition a professional and over time they've had their professionalism eroded. That should stop. I want the future teachers I teach to be responsible, caring adults that have developed a network of educators and a culture of sharing that will make them and their students successful. If I can help facilitate that, they will be an asset to any school they work at. They'll be professionals.”

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Becoming a 1:1 School – Edition 8 – Some People Ask Why? I Prefer Why Not? ~ By Patrick Larkin (And also see the 1:1 Series)

Being a father of three, I have some things that I want for my children:

  • I want my children to learn about resources that allow them to connect and collaborate with those who share their passions/interests.
  • I want my children to be inquisitive and lead their own learning.
  • I want my children to be responsible citizens.

More powerful pencils: 1:1 Laptop Programs and 21st century learning ~ By Jonathan Martin

“…the mere implementation of 1-1 laptops alone will not accomplish great learning gains; they need to be integrated into effective, contemporary, forward-looking, best-practices learning environments, one where teachers are serious about engaged, active, collaborative, and creative student learning.”

BYOT and one-to-one initiatives are literacy initiatives ~ By Patrick Larkin

A look at the world outside of our schools and the technological resources being accessed in so many professions that allow people to work “smarter” is a clear indication of the track that our students need to be on in order to be able to function in the “real world.”

From me: Bring Your Own Laptop To School

In the past two weeks I’ve moved from a school with just 3 projectors in a 4 floor, (no wireless), school to a school with:
• Projectors in every classroom (that we will be using next school year).
• Netbooks for every teacher.
• Wireless in key rooms and common areas.
• Beginning next September our Grades 7-9?s will be bringing their own laptops to school!

And also from me, a little more recently, BYOL vs BYOD and Still sold on Laptops over iPads. These both show my bias of bringing laptops over bringing other devices to school.

Leveraging the ‘Instrumented’ Pocket & Backpack ~ By Lisa Neale

  • How open are we in schools and classrooms to allow students to access their own devices and leverage them for learning in the digital age?
  • Do we allow and encourage BYOD? Can students bring out their smartphones, tablets, laptops and netbooks to aid in their learning?

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Your School Needs a Facebook Page ~ By Chris Wejr

“Instead of worrying about the message your school is sending on social media platforms, consider the message your school is sending by NOT engaging with social media at all.” M. Peacock via Ferriter, Ramsden, Sheninger.

A colleague and I were discussing Facebook and he mentioned that parents at his school had created their own Facebook Page for the school and were leaving some negatively toned comments on topics such as head lice and behaviour.   At that point I  decided to take (at the time) a risk and I created our “Parent Info For Kent Elementary” Facebook Page.

I've written two posts on Facebook, Facing Facebook and Facebook Revisited. In both cases, excellent comments help me think about my own stance towards this tool.

Parents supervise their kids on playgrounds, and teachers supervise students in our schools…

Who supervises these kids online? Whose responsibility is it?

Whether it is a responsibility to be present online or not, what right do we as educators have to be online? Should our role change what we do on sites like Facebook?

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Freedom Sticks for the Classroom ~ By Alec Couros, (and his accompanying video).

Distributing these USB sticks to teachers is done as an interim measure. For now, this will allow these teachers to get to many great resources and will allow them to use powerful Web 2.0 tools. Teachers will also be able to show their students the resources they choose and deem appropriate. I have dubbed these loaded USB devices “freedom sticks” as this was exactly what was gained from this experience.

Also see: The Freedom Stick – be ready for Universal Design next academic year ~ By Ira Socol

I've been quite vocal in speaking out about filters filtering learning… The PODs are Coming! (starting at Slide 53), Warning! We Filter Websites at School, Choose Your Battle, Openness and Acceptance, and one of my favourites, Bubble Wrap.

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Ira Socal: Question Everything

“Questioning everything is idiotic and a waste of time. Teach them to question wisely.” appeared in my Twitter stream. It was a response to my statement, “The future comes from questioning everything.”

I'm not backing down from my assertion, the context of which is the argument that, as educators, our job is to help students learn to “question everything.”

Which led to my subsequent post: Truly Questioning Everything

Ira reminded me of my post: Question Everything that I wrote, while still in China, to start off 2011.

Little did I know that within a year of writing this I would be part of the design and development team for a new school, the Inquiry Hub opening in September of 2012. Reading my post again, I am just thrilled to see that we truly are questioning everything!

Change Begins with Me ~ By Jeff Delp

“This is where this discussion comes full circle.  Change begins with me.  I am not going to rely on someone else to provide me with development opportunities as an educational professional.  I am going to find others, through my professional learning network, who will challenge my way of thinking, offer advice and suggestions, and share their ideas about what works in our schools and classrooms.  If you are serious about your profession, I would encourage you to do the same.”

I've spent a bit of time Thinking About Change. And that's probably why I wrote this post in the first place!

This was inspired by reading Chris Kennedy’s post by the same name.
Chris starts his post:
“With all the discussions swirling around personalized learning, and school reform, I have been thinking a lot about change, and how we do it right.”


And Now for Something Completely Different ~ By Dave Meister

“Inevitably I think about all the things we do just because we have always done them.  My thinking almost always makes me question why we do things that no longer make sense, such as…”

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Is Your Connectedness Showing? ~By Lisa Neale

So, I ask you:  is your ‘connectedness’ showing and making a difference in how you learn and lead?  It better be because that’s how we (meaning the world) live and learn today. As a leader you must be visible, be open, be transparent, be googleable, be shareable, be participatory and be connected.

Lost in Space ~ By Jeff Delp

 Office => Desk => Computer => E-Mail => Disengage/Isolate

My fear is that many of our students suffer a similar response when they enter our schools and classrooms.  Consider the structure and setting of a typical classroom.  A teacher’s desk and chair, student desks (generally with the chair and writing surface connected), limited number of windows, sterile paint (i.e. eggshell), and perhaps a bulletin board or two.

 Classroom => Desk => Notebook/Textbook => Disengage/Isolate

And Blogs as Learning Spaces, a video that shares why I blog, and why blog with students. I wanted to end this post with something that shows the incredible power of blogging to help spur your learning and educational change.

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It starts with you!

What are you going to do now?
Who will you share this post, or one of the posts linked to above, with?
What will you do to tip the scales and be a meaningful agent of change?

Go on… challenge the status quo!

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  1. […] I shared this post on my ‘Pair-a-Dimes for Your Thoughts‘ blog back in November 2012. I went back to it this weekend and noticed that a considerable amount of the links shared are from fellow Connected Principals. Pick ONE, and be the change you want to see in your school.  […]

    October 21, 2013
  2. […] I shared this post on my ‘Pair-a-Dimes for Your Thoughts‘ blog back in November 2012. I went back to it this weekend and noticed that a considerable amount of the links shared are from fellow Connected Principals.  […]

    October 22, 2013

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