Tag: Innovation



Recently, we had a faculty meeting to start our teachers thinking about their personal learning plans for this year. Personal learning plans are an important part of what we do to grow and learn as educators at Bolivar High School. I outlined what we do and why we do it in a previous blog post.



During our last meeting, I challenged our teachers to try to develop a learning plan that has the potential to be a game-changer for their own professional practice and for student learning. It’s easy to get in a pattern of just doing mostly the same things but trying to do them a little better. As a result, we may miss great opportunities to do something that would be completely different and possibly tranformational for student learning. It could be a game-changer.



I would certainly applaud those who seek to improve established practices, especially newer teachers. It’s much better than an approach that doesn’t seek growth at all. A worse scenario would be an educator who teaches exactly the same lessons year after year with little adaptation. Even the smallest incremental change is better than no effort to improve.



But for teachers who have developed their instructional foundation, it can be highly rewarding to take a risk that could be awesome or awful. You see I believe the things we often choose to pour our energies into are safe. We want to improve, but we aren’t comfortable enough with failure. If we are doing hard things, it can be highly rewarding, but it can also be terrifying.



During our staff meeting, I shared the video of Caine’s Arcade with our staff. I asked our teachers to consider how their own personal and professional learning is similar or perhaps different from Caine’s learning.






Each small group worked to develop a visual representation of how Caine’s Arcade might help us think about developing our own successful learning plans. These are a few of the characteristics often found in successful projects. 

1. Starts with Empathy – Empathy recognizes there is a problem to be solved. It involves seeing things from another person’s perspective and seeking to help make something better.

2. Rich Inquiry – Develop lots of questions to drive your learning forward. Seek out resources. Find the information you need to advance the project.

3. Deeper Learning – Apply the knowledge to create new understanding and original ideas. Invite complex thinking.

4. Meaningful Connections – Successful projects are usually personally meaningful, and they usually involve connections with others.

5. Autonomy – If you want commitment and engagement, not just compliance, autonomy is better. Our teachers are the ones who choose their project and are empowered to see it through.

6. Risk of Failure/Celebration of Success – Most meaningful projects have a chance of failure. The idea might not work. The more ideas we try, the more likely we are to find ones that are game-changers. We always need to reflect and celebrate what we’ve learned and what aspects are successful.



Our teachers shared some amazing insights from their reflection on the video. It was exciting to see the type of thinking happening around the room.


Here are some of the comments teachers shared on an exit survey:


It’s always exciting to have the opportunity to learn something new and different. I also love to experiment.
You telling us that if we try our plan and it fails, it’s OK.
I like that PLP is all about ownership and autonomy.
They will be something that has a positive impact on students and teachers.
Personal growth encouraged
The autonomy to make decisions of how I want to spend my time making a difference.
I feel good about the collaboration and the sharing that will take place. I feel like it’s a very open place to share good and new ideas
I want to continue to grow as a professional.
PLP’s hold me accountable for growth.
This next week we will have small group meetings (3-4) to share the ideas we have so far. It’s an opportunity for everyone to give and receive feedback. When we share our ideas, they almost always get better. Someone will have a suggestion or make a connection that will move our thinking forward. 


Caine’s Arcade was transformational. He didn’t necessarily have that in mind when he started, but he did have lots of big ideas. In the end, his little arcade started a movement that has impacted students, educators, and beyond. And some more pretty cool stuff happened for him too. Caine’s Arcade Part 2 details what happened after the initial video. It’s amazing.




Who knows what you might start at your school with an idea and the willingness to pursue it? Be willing to take a big chance and try something new for your students. Your dreams and passions make learning come alive for you and for your students.


Question: Some educators seem to think that new ideas are unnecessary. They say the fundamentals of learning and education are unchanging. Stay with the tried and true. What would you say to this type of thinking? Leave a comment below or share on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More Not Just Better, But Different



Recently, we had a faculty meeting to start our teachers thinking about their personal learning plans for this year. Personal learning plans are an important part of what we do to grow and learn as educators at Bolivar High School. I outlined what we do and why we do it in a previous blog post.



During our last meeting, I challenged our teachers to try to develop a learning plan that has the potential to be a game-changer for their own professional practice and for student learning. It’s easy to get in a pattern of just doing mostly the same things but trying to do them a little better. As a result, we may miss great opportunities to do something that would be completely different and possibly tranformational for student learning. It could be a game-changer.



I would certainly applaud those who seek to improve established practices, especially newer teachers. It’s much better than an approach that doesn’t seek growth at all. A worse scenario would be an educator who teaches exactly the same lessons year after year with little adaptation. Even the smallest incremental change is better than no effort to improve.



But for teachers who have developed their instructional foundation, it can be highly rewarding to take a risk that could be awesome or awful. You see I believe the things we often choose to pour our energies into are safe. We want to improve, but we aren’t comfortable enough with failure. If we are doing hard things, it can be highly rewarding, but it can also be terrifying.



During our staff meeting, I shared the video of Caine’s Arcade with our staff. I asked our teachers to consider how their own personal and professional learning is similar or perhaps different from Caine’s learning.






Each small group worked to develop a visual representation of how Caine’s Arcade might help us think about developing our own successful learning plans. These are a few of the characteristics often found in successful projects. 

1. Starts with Empathy – Empathy recognizes there is a problem to be solved. It involves seeing things from another person’s perspective and seeking to help make something better.

2. Rich Inquiry – Develop lots of questions to drive your learning forward. Seek out resources. Find the information you need to advance the project.

3. Deeper Learning – Apply the knowledge to create new understanding and original ideas. Invite complex thinking.

4. Meaningful Connections – Successful projects are usually personally meaningful, and they usually involve connections with others.

5. Autonomy – If you want commitment and engagement, not just compliance, autonomy is better. Our teachers are the ones who choose their project and are empowered to see it through.

6. Risk of Failure/Celebration of Success – Most meaningful projects have a chance of failure. The idea might not work. The more ideas we try, the more likely we are to find ones that are game-changers. We always need to reflect and celebrate what we’ve learned and what aspects are successful.



Our teachers shared some amazing insights from their reflection on the video. It was exciting to see the type of thinking happening around the room.


Here are some of the comments teachers shared on an exit survey:


It’s always exciting to have the opportunity to learn something new and different. I also love to experiment.
You telling us that if we try our plan and it fails, it’s OK.
I like that PLP is all about ownership and autonomy.
They will be something that has a positive impact on students and teachers.
Personal growth encouraged
The autonomy to make decisions of how I want to spend my time making a difference.
I feel good about the collaboration and the sharing that will take place. I feel like it’s a very open place to share good and new ideas
I want to continue to grow as a professional.
PLP’s hold me accountable for growth.
This next week we will have small group meetings (3-4) to share the ideas we have so far. It’s an opportunity for everyone to give and receive feedback. When we share our ideas, they almost always get better. Someone will have a suggestion or make a connection that will move our thinking forward. 


Caine’s Arcade was transformational. He didn’t necessarily have that in mind when he started, but he did have lots of big ideas. In the end, his little arcade started a movement that has impacted students, educators, and beyond. And some more pretty cool stuff happened for him too. Caine’s Arcade Part 2 details what happened after the initial video. It’s amazing.




Who knows what you might start at your school with an idea and the willingness to pursue it? Be willing to take a big chance and try something new for your students. Your dreams and passions make learning come alive for you and for your students.


Question: Some educators seem to think that new ideas are unnecessary. They say the fundamentals of learning and education are unchanging. Stay with the tried and true. What would you say to this type of thinking? Leave a comment below or share on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More Not Just Better, But Different

1. Is this best for students and their learning? 2. Is this scalable? 3. Are you willing to share? In a conversation with my good friend, Dave Sands, we were talking about the challenge of investing in systematic change vs supporting the outliers (and the Lone Wolves). There will always be limited resources to work with, and […]

Read More 3 Questions Before Supporting Innovation



Yesterday, I had a conversation with one of our teachers about some new ideas she wanted to share with me about her plans for the coming school year. She shared ways she wanted to create more relevance for her students, give them more ownership, and create a more engaging learning experience in her classroom. Wow! Those are awesome goals.



She had several specific ideas for achieving these aims. So we chatted about them. She was seeking feedback so I made some comments and asked some clarifying questions. I also handed her a book I thought might be helpful as she’s thinking more about where her ideas will lead.



After the conversation, I was reflecting on it. I thought to myself, I wonder if she is more excited or less excited about her ideas after our meeting. Of course, my intention is to generate excitement around new ideas and create a culture of risk-taking and innovation in our school.



But trying to be a good coach, I shared some cautious comments too. While I loved the direction of her ideas, I wanted to interject some wisdom from my experience. I’m not sure how helpful that was. It’s difficult for me not to launch into my own ideas about how I would do such and such. For the most part, I think I avoided that. But the last thing I want is to be a dream killer.



I remember a conversation I had with someone who was a leader in my life. I was sharing some ideas that I was very excited about. My passion was in this area and my energy flowed when talking about the changes I was planning. 



My leader didn’t completely reject the ideas I shared, but every comment seemed laced with caution and barriers. I can remember two words distinctly from that conversation my leader used over and over.



Yeah, but…



Those two little words cut my enthusiasm in half. I didn’t feel energized by our discussion. I felt deflated. Instead of throwing gasoline on my dream, they poured water all over it.



I believe successful organizations are dream building organizations. They tap into people’s passions and create a sense of excitement and enthusiasm in the culture. I guess there are successful organizations that aren’t great at this, but I would venture there are no incredibly, extraordinarily successful organizations that don’t have a dream building culture.




Image source: http://goo.gl/jSxnpQ

And I think this post is challenging for all of us in schools, not just principals or others in formal leadership positions. If you’re a teacher, how does your classroom support students’ own goals and dreams, not just your goals for teaching a subject well? Does your classroom allow students enough freedom and flexibility to pursue things that are important to them?



And when your students share their dreams with you, do you pour gasoline on their dreams or douse them with water?



We’ve all had students share dreams with us that seemed impossible. Or, we felt they didn’t really understand what it takes to achieve the dream. Their actions weren’t lining up behind the words of their dreams. I think we must be very careful about how we show up in these conversations. We have a delicate balance to help build dreams and guide actions. 



Unless someone in our life is about to go off a cliff, I think we should do everything possible to lift them up and speak support and encouragement into their lives.



Jim Carrey was once a struggling young comic from a poor family trying to make it big. He didn’t have much, but he had a dream. And he wouldn’t give up on it. When he was 10-years-old, he even mailed his resume to Carol Burnett. He was bold and audacious believing he would someday entertain millions and make them laugh.



In 1990, he wrote himself a check for $10 million dated Thanksgiving 1995. He placed it in his wallet. At the time, he was broke and struggling to find work as a comic. In the notation on the check, he scribbled ‘for acting services rendered.’ He carried that check with him as a powerful reminder. It was the tangible representation of his dream.



By 1995, he had starred in multiple films, Ace Ventura, Pet Detective and Liar, Liar. He was earning nearly $20 million per movie!



I wonder how many people in Jim Carrey’s life thought his dreams of being a comedian were misguided? I bet there were lots of people who thought he’d never make it. Those people probably doused him with water. But there were probably others who saw something special in him, who threw gasoline on his dreams of being an actor and comedian.




Image source: http://goo.gl/kKYxWA



When we see students or teachers who struggle with apathy, I think it’s often because they’ve given up on their dreams. Everyone must have something to aspire to, something that makes you want to get up in the morning and push forward in life. We need dreams to chase. As educators, we should be that spark of inspiration for both our students and our colleagues. 



When someone shares their dreams with you, how will you respond? Will you be the ‘Yeah, but…’ voice in their life? I would suggest a different response. How about these two little words, instead? 



Yes, and…



1. Yes! You can do it.



2. Yes! I believe in you.



3. Yes! Tell me more about that.



4. Yes! Why is that important to you?



5. Yes! How can I help you?



6. Yes! You are on the right track.



7. Yes! Your dreams matter to me.



If you are going to inspire others in your life to dream big, you can’t get stuck in the where, when, who, and how. Dreams are about what you want and especially why you want it. I feel so guilty about this in parenting my own children. I feel like sometimes my expectations have placed limits on their dreams. Our adult minds are so practical and boring.



But today I am reminded to help those around me dream big, audacious dreams. I don’t want to crush dreams. I want people to be excited about their dreams and not the dreams I have for them.



How will you encourage the dreams of those in your circle of influence? Reflect on who the dream builders were in your life. I want to hear from you. Share a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More Does Your School Build Dreams or Crush Them?



Yesterday, I had a conversation with one of our teachers about some new ideas she wanted to share with me about her plans for the coming school year. She shared ways she wanted to create more relevance for her students, give them more ownership, and create a more engaging learning experience in her classroom. Wow! Those are awesome goals.



She had several specific ideas for achieving these aims. So we chatted about them. She was seeking feedback so I made some comments and asked some clarifying questions. I also handed her a book I thought might be helpful as she’s thinking more about where her ideas will lead.



After the conversation, I was reflecting on it. I thought to myself, I wonder if she is more excited or less excited about her ideas after our meeting. Of course, my intention is to generate excitement around new ideas and create a culture of risk-taking and innovation in our school.



But trying to be a good coach, I shared some cautious comments too. While I loved the direction of her ideas, I wanted to interject some wisdom from my experience. I’m not sure how helpful that was. It’s difficult for me not to launch into my own ideas about how I would do such and such. For the most part, I think I avoided that. But the last thing I want is to be a dream killer.



I remember a conversation I had with someone who was a leader in my life. I was sharing some ideas that I was very excited about. My passion was in this area and my energy flowed when talking about the changes I was planning. 



My leader didn’t completely reject the ideas I shared, but every comment seemed laced with caution and barriers. I can remember two words distinctly from that conversation my leader used over and over.



Yeah, but…



Those two little words cut my enthusiasm in half. I didn’t feel energized by our discussion. I felt deflated. Instead of throwing gasoline on my dream, they poured water all over it.



I believe successful organizations are dream building organizations. They tap into people’s passions and create a sense of excitement and enthusiasm in the culture. I guess there are successful organizations that aren’t great at this, but I would venture there are no incredibly, extraordinarily successful organizations that don’t have a dream building culture.




Image source: http://goo.gl/jSxnpQ

And I think this post is challenging for all of us in schools, not just principals or others in formal leadership positions. If you’re a teacher, how does your classroom support students’ own goals and dreams, not just your goals for teaching a subject well? Does your classroom allow students enough freedom and flexibility to pursue things that are important to them?



And when your students share their dreams with you, do you pour gasoline on their dreams or douse them with water?



We’ve all had students share dreams with us that seemed impossible. Or, we felt they didn’t really understand what it takes to achieve the dream. Their actions weren’t lining up behind the words of their dreams. I think we must be very careful about how we show up in these conversations. We have a delicate balance to help build dreams and guide actions. 



Unless someone in our life is about to go off a cliff, I think we should do everything possible to lift them up and speak support and encouragement into their lives.



Jim Carrey was once a struggling young comic from a poor family trying to make it big. He didn’t have much, but he had a dream. And he wouldn’t give up on it. When he was 10-years-old, he even mailed his resume to Carol Burnett. He was bold and audacious believing he would someday entertain millions and make them laugh.



In 1990, he wrote himself a check for $10 million dated Thanksgiving 1995. He placed it in his wallet. At the time, he was broke and struggling to find work as a comic. In the notation on the check, he scribbled ‘for acting services rendered.’ He carried that check with him as a powerful reminder. It was the tangible representation of his dream.



By 1995, he had starred in multiple films, Ace Ventura, Pet Detective and Liar, Liar. He was earning nearly $20 million per movie!



I wonder how many people in Jim Carrey’s life thought his dreams of being a comedian were misguided? I bet there were lots of people who thought he’d never make it. Those people probably doused him with water. But there were probably others who saw something special in him, who threw gasoline on his dreams of being an actor and comedian.




Image source: http://goo.gl/kKYxWA



When we see students or teachers who struggle with apathy, I think it’s often because they’ve given up on their dreams. Everyone must have something to aspire to, something that makes you want to get up in the morning and push forward in life. We need dreams to chase. As educators, we should be that spark of inspiration for both our students and our colleagues. 



When someone shares their dreams with you, how will you respond? Will you be the ‘Yeah, but…’ voice in their life? I would suggest a different response. How about these two little words, instead? 



Yes, and…



1. Yes! You can do it.



2. Yes! I believe in you.



3. Yes! Tell me more about that.



4. Yes! Why is that important to you?



5. Yes! How can I help you?



6. Yes! You are on the right track.



7. Yes! Your dreams matter to me.



If you are going to inspire others in your life to dream big, you can’t get stuck in the where, when, who, and how. Dreams are about what you want and especially why you want it. I feel so guilty about this in parenting my own children. I feel like sometimes my expectations have placed limits on their dreams. Our adult minds are so practical and boring.



But today I am reminded to help those around me dream big, audacious dreams. I don’t want to crush dreams. I want people to be excited about their dreams and not the dreams I have for them.



How will you encourage the dreams of those in your circle of influence? Reflect on who the dream builders were in your life. I want to hear from you. Share a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More Does Your School Build Dreams or Crush Them?



What are some things you use every day? I bet I can predict with great certainty a few of them. Let’s see. I’m guessing you use your toothbrush every day. How about water? Electricity? Hopefully clothes, unless you are appearing on the reality show Naked and AfraidGood grief. What will they think of next? 



Umm…I’m guessing you use a bed every day (or night), probably a car, and you can’t forget this next one. It’s very important. You probably use a toilet every single day. It’s necessary, right?



I’m sure you’re amazed right now at my ability to know you so well. It’s almost like I know everything about your daily life. You might be a little creeped out. Has that crazy Twitter principal been stalking me? 



But wait, I’m not done yet. There is one more thing I bet you use every day. In fact, I think you might be using it right now. Most of us use one or more of these nearly every singe day. If you are a teenager, you might have confused it with one of your other four limbs.



That’s right. You guessed it. It’s a connected device. For you teenagers, that doesn’t mean it’s connected to your body. It could be a mobile phone, a laptop, a Chromebook, an iPad, or one of the many other varieties out there. We like to connect every day.



I’m guessing many of you even use several of these devices during your typical day. You probably have a couple at home, at least one at work, and a smartphone that goes with you everywhere. 






I just ran around our house and did a quick audit. Drum roll please. I counted 29 web connected devices in our home. We need to have a garage sale. Of course, who would buy a Palm Pre smartphone? It was a great device in 2010. Just shows how irrelevant a device can be in just six years. The Palm brand has gone the way of the dinosaurs. Extinct.



So last year was the first year our school was 1:1. Every student had a Chromebook to use for learning every day. One of the reasons our school made this move was because we all use technology in our everyday lives, so why should school be any different?



Before 1:1 came to Bolivar High School, using technology was not necessarily an everyday thing. We had computers in the library, in computer labs, a few scattered around in different classrooms, etc. But there was not consistent access. Some students rarely used a device for learning.



As we made the transition to 1:1, we knew every teacher was in a different place in terms of their comfort and skill with using technology. Of course, we are always striving to increase the comfort and knowledge of our staff. And we like to nudge people out of their comfort zone, too.






But since everyone was in a different place, we didn’t set any universal expectations. There weren’t any quotas or mandates on how to use the Chromebooks. Every teacher is unique, and the curriculum they teach is unique too. So we didn’t expect everyone to use the Chromebooks in the same way, or equally as often.



We simply asked everyone to look for ways the technology could provide value and enhance learning for students. And I believe every single teacher in our building used the Chromebooks to support learning in one way or another. That’s a good thing.



But even though all of our teachers were open-minded and supported the need to go digital as a school, some just didn’t see the relevance as strongly for their classroom. I’m guessing there were a whole variety of reasons the devices were used or under-used in each classroom.

But consider these questions. Do you have multiple devices in your home? Do you rely on a device daily? Is your ability to connect important to your learning? Do you feel your ability to connect is empowering to you? If you are a digital learner, I’m guessing you answered yes to those questions.



Even if you didn’t answer yes to all of the previous questions, consider the following. Do most professionals use devices every day? Are the most successful people connected learners? Is our world becoming increasingly digital? Will more opportunities come to those who are competent digital learners?



It just seems obvious to me that our students will need to be digital learners to be successful in the future. Heck, they need to be digital learners now in order to get the most from their school experience. There are tools and resources available online that far exceed the resources we could provide otherwise.



And almost every school has realized this to some extent. I haven’t visited a school yet that isn’t using computers or digital learning in some way. 



But technology should be an every day thing. It shouldn’t be a special event, a remediation strategy, a canned learning program, or an enrichment activity after the real learning is done. It should be an authentic part of learning. It should empower us, connect us, and give us new opportunities. It should stimulate curiosity, creativity, and help us solve problems.



Technology can be used to support learning, but it can also be used in ways that transform learning. And it is far more likely to be transformational when it is used regularly. It just becomes a normal part of learning and not an add-on or special event.



Now you might be thinking that using technology in every class, every day sounds rigid. And don’t we sometimes need a break from tech? Don’t we need to unplug occasionally? Aren’t students using technology every day anyway? Some students are probably using technology too much, right?



We absolutely need to keep some balance in mind. Too much screen time can be bad for us. We need to unplug from time to time. I took a month-long break personally in July 2015. There are benefits to pausing and stepping away from devices.



But that’s not a reason for limiting tech in the classroom when it could be so helpful. I recently learned about the Project Red research study, a large-scale look at practices in 997 schools across the U.S. The report includes seven key findings about the effective use of technology in schools. One of the key findings was related to the importance of daily technology use:




Schools must incorporate technology into daily teaching to realize the benefits. The daily use of technology in core classes correlates highly to the desirable education success measures (ESMs). Daily technology use is a top-five indicator of better discipline, better attendance, and increased college attendance.

The Project Red report shows how powerful technology can be when it is used effectively. There were all sorts of positive outcomes in schools that implemented technology well, including the benefits found from daily use of technology instead of intermittent use.



So I would challenge you to consider how you are using technology in your classroom. Is it an every day thing? Even if your students don’t have access to school-issued devices, what can you do to help them develop as digital learners? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or TwitterHere we grow!

Read More Technology Is An Every Day Thing



What are some things you use every day? I bet I can predict with great certainty a few of them. Let’s see. I’m guessing you use your toothbrush every day. How about water? Electricity? Hopefully clothes, unless you are appearing on the reality show Naked and AfraidGood grief. What will they think of next? 



Umm…I’m guessing you use a bed every day (or night), probably a car, and you can’t forget this next one. It’s very important. You probably use a toilet every single day. It’s necessary, right?



I’m sure you’re amazed right now at my ability to know you so well. It’s almost like I know everything about your daily life. You might be a little creeped out. Has that crazy Twitter principal been stalking me? 



But wait, I’m not done yet. There is one more thing I bet you use every day. In fact, I think you might be using it right now. Most of us use one or more of these nearly every singe day. If you are a teenager, you might have confused it with one of your other four limbs.



That’s right. You guessed it. It’s a connected device. For you teenagers, that doesn’t mean it’s connected to your body. It could be a mobile phone, a laptop, a Chromebook, an iPad, or one of the many other varieties out there. We like to connect every day.



I’m guessing many of you even use several of these devices during your typical day. You probably have a couple at home, at least one at work, and a smartphone that goes with you everywhere. 






I just ran around our house and did a quick audit. Drum roll please. I counted 29 web connected devices in our home. We need to have a garage sale. Of course, who would buy a Palm Pre smartphone? It was a great device in 2010. Just shows how irrelevant a device can be in just six years. The Palm brand has gone the way of the dinosaurs. Extinct.



So last year was the first year our school was 1:1. Every student had a Chromebook to use for learning every day. One of the reasons our school made this move was because we all use technology in our everyday lives, so why should school be any different?



Before 1:1 came to Bolivar High School, using technology was not necessarily an everyday thing. We had computers in the library, in computer labs, a few scattered around in different classrooms, etc. But there was not consistent access. Some students rarely used a device for learning.



As we made the transition to 1:1, we knew every teacher was in a different place in terms of their comfort and skill with using technology. Of course, we are always striving to increase the comfort and knowledge of our staff. And we like to nudge people out of their comfort zone, too.






But since everyone was in a different place, we didn’t set any universal expectations. There weren’t any quotas or mandates on how to use the Chromebooks. Every teacher is unique, and the curriculum they teach is unique too. So we didn’t expect everyone to use the Chromebooks in the same way, or equally as often.



We simply asked everyone to look for ways the technology could provide value and enhance learning for students. And I believe every single teacher in our building used the Chromebooks to support learning in one way or another. That’s a good thing.



But even though all of our teachers were open-minded and supported the need to go digital as a school, some just didn’t see the relevance as strongly for their classroom. I’m guessing there were a whole variety of reasons the devices were used or under-used in each classroom.

But consider these questions. Do you have multiple devices in your home? Do you rely on a device daily? Is your ability to connect important to your learning? Do you feel your ability to connect is empowering to you? If you are a digital learner, I’m guessing you answered yes to those questions.



Even if you didn’t answer yes to all of the previous questions, consider the following. Do most professionals use devices every day? Are the most successful people connected learners? Is our world becoming increasingly digital? Will more opportunities come to those who are competent digital learners?



It just seems obvious to me that our students will need to be digital learners to be successful in the future. Heck, they need to be digital learners now in order to get the most from their school experience. There are tools and resources available online that far exceed the resources we could provide otherwise.



And almost every school has realized this to some extent. I haven’t visited a school yet that isn’t using computers or digital learning in some way. 



But technology should be an every day thing. It shouldn’t be a special event, a remediation strategy, a canned learning program, or an enrichment activity after the real learning is done. It should be an authentic part of learning. It should empower us, connect us, and give us new opportunities. It should stimulate curiosity, creativity, and help us solve problems.



Technology can be used to support learning, but it can also be used in ways that transform learning. And it is far more likely to be transformational when it is used regularly. It just becomes a normal part of learning and not an add-on or special event.



Now you might be thinking that using technology in every class, every day sounds rigid. And don’t we sometimes need a break from tech? Don’t we need to unplug occasionally? Aren’t students using technology every day anyway? Some students are probably using technology too much, right?



We absolutely need to keep some balance in mind. Too much screen time can be bad for us. We need to unplug from time to time. I took a month-long break personally in July 2015. There are benefits to pausing and stepping away from devices.



But that’s not a reason for limiting tech in the classroom when it could be so helpful. I recently learned about the Project Red research study, a large-scale look at practices in 997 schools across the U.S. The report includes seven key findings about the effective use of technology in schools. One of the key findings was related to the importance of daily technology use:




Schools must incorporate technology into daily teaching to realize the benefits. The daily use of technology in core classes correlates highly to the desirable education success measures (ESMs). Daily technology use is a top-five indicator of better discipline, better attendance, and increased college attendance.

The Project Red report shows how powerful technology can be when it is used effectively. There were all sorts of positive outcomes in schools that implemented technology well, including the benefits found from daily use of technology instead of intermittent use.



So I would challenge you to consider how you are using technology in your classroom. Is it an every day thing? Even if your students don’t have access to school-issued devices, what can you do to help them develop as digital learners? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or TwitterHere we grow!

Read More Technology Is An Every Day Thing



What are you preparing your students for? College or career? The next grade level? Standardized tests? Or something more? We can’t afford to be shortsighted in these challenging times. But is it even possible to predict what students will need to be successful in the future? The world is changing at such a rapid pace, the only constant seems to be rapid change and increased uncertainty. 



In fact, one report estimated that 7 million jobs will disappear globally within the next five years. The same article reported over 2 million newly created jobs will help offset that loss. These new opportunities will emerge in technology, professional services, and media. These extreme shifts are happening because of advancements in robotics, artificial intelligence, and biotechnology.



Of students entering primary schools today, 65% will someday work in jobs that don’t yet exist. That is staggering to contemplate. You can even use this handy calculator to find out the likelihood your job could be automated in coming years.


LinkedIn published a list of jobs advertised on its site that barely existed five years ago. 8 of the 10 jobs on the list belong to the digital world—Android developer, digital marketing specialist, cloud services specialist—to name a few. It’s easy to see examples of how technology is changing the workplace.


Beyond the implications for employment, changes in population, politics, culture, climate, diversity, etc. will also present significant challenges in other areas of life. Being ‘future-ready’ goes beyond just ‘college/career’ readiness, because life extends beyond our need to earn a living. 



Tragic events in just the last few months illustrate the magnitude of the problems we face in our contemporary world. Just last night there were the Dallas Police Shootings, preceded by the Philando Castille shooting in Minnesota and Alton Sterling shooting in Louisiana. This summer we’ve had Brexit, more ISIS bombings, the Orlando night club massacre, and more bad news about rising ocean levels and climate change.



While the future should be viewed with optimism, the current headlines are warnings of the need for change. To navigate the challenges of these disruptive times, we need the mindset of adaptable learners. It’s the ability to adjust to meet the needs of the future by learning, unlearning, and relearning. We must develop the ability to quickly learn the knowledge and skills needed to survive and ultimately thrive.





The list below includes 15 skills that will help your students adapt and be ready for the challenges of today and tomorrow.


1. Problem-Solving



It’s not enough to know information. You must know how to apply information to new contexts and use reasoning and critical thinking skills to find solutions.


2. Creativity 



The ability to develop new ideas is extremely valuable. People will create value by divergent thinking and seeing problems in completely new ways. Creativity is art, but it’s not just art. It extends to every area of life and thought.


3. Communication Skills



Both written and verbal communication skills are needed to express ideas and create content. 


4. Taking Risks



Adaptable learners are willing to take risks to try new things. They step out of their comfort zone to pursue learning and innovation. Fear of failure doesn’t hold them back.



5. Continuous Growth



It’s not enough to develop expertise in an area and then ride the wave the rest of your life. Constantly growing and learning and building on expertise is the wave of the future.


6. Recognizing Opportunities



Adaptable learners see new possibilities and seize them. They don’t wait on the sidelines hoping things will work out for them. Instead, they jump into the game when a great chance comes along.


7. Building Networks



Being connected is critical for adaptability. Learning is multiplied when you draw on the power of your network. Networks are a source of help, support, encouragement, and ideas.


8. Utilizing Teamwork

Teamwork involves shared ownership of goals, tasks, and outcomes. Together we are able to achieve more. A high-performing team is characterized by positive interdependence of team members. Or in other words, you have each other’s backs.



9. Leveraging Resources



An adaptable learner uses available resources to the maximum. As future resources become scarce, it will require wisdom for how and when to use resources to provide the greatest value to self and others. 


10. Managing Change



Change can be unsettling and even frightening. The learner who will thrive in the future won’t deny change or simply react to change. With the right mindset, it’s possible to shape and influence change while remaining flexible. 



11. Interpersonal Skills


Learners need skills to relate to others positively. Our success in life is tied closely to our social skills. Empathy, compassion, honesty, trustworthiness characterize the adaptable learner.



12. Embracing Diversity



Globalization continues to make our world smaller and more interconnected. Diversity will be more evident in every aspect of life. As a result, there will be even greater need to work effectively with others who have racial, cultural, religious, and political backgrounds different from our own. 



13. Life Mission/Purpose


When learners recognize a purpose for life beyond themselves and work to make the world a better place, everyone benefits. A future ready learner recognizes the need to give back.



14. Sharing Knowledge



Adaptable learners create value, not by storing up knowledge, but by sharing it with others. Being recognized as an expert comes from the influence of sharing what you know and the ideas that identify your brand.


15. Perseverance



Perseverance is perhaps the most important skill of all. The future will demand the ability to stay with problems longer, to be persistent, and to never give up.



Question: What skills would you add or remove from this list? How are you helping your students become adaptable learners? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter

Read More 15 Essential Skills Your Students Must Develop Now To Meet The Challenges Of An Uncertain Future



What are you preparing your students for? College or career? The next grade level? Standardized tests? Or something more? We can’t afford to be shortsighted in these challenging times. But is it even possible to predict what students will need to be successful in the future? The world is changing at such a rapid pace, the only constant seems to be rapid change and increased uncertainty. 



In fact, one report estimated that 7 million jobs will disappear globally within the next five years. The same article reported over 2 million newly created jobs will help offset that loss. These new opportunities will emerge in technology, professional services, and media. These extreme shifts are happening because of advancements in robotics, artificial intelligence, and biotechnology.



Of students entering primary schools today, 65% will someday work in jobs that don’t yet exist. That is staggering to contemplate. You can even use this handy calculator to find out the likelihood your job could be automated in coming years.


LinkedIn published a list of jobs advertised on its site that barely existed five years ago. 8 of the 10 jobs on the list belong to the digital world—Android developer, digital marketing specialist, cloud services specialist—to name a few. It’s easy to see examples of how technology is changing the workplace.


Beyond the implications for employment, changes in population, politics, culture, climate, diversity, etc. will also present significant challenges in other areas of life. Being ‘future-ready’ goes beyond just ‘college/career’ readiness, because life extends beyond our need to earn a living. 



Tragic events in just the last few months illustrate the magnitude of the problems we face in our contemporary world. Just last night there were the Dallas Police Shootings, preceded by the Philando Castille shooting in Minnesota and Alton Sterling shooting in Louisiana. This summer we’ve had Brexit, more ISIS bombings, the Orlando night club massacre, and more bad news about rising ocean levels and climate change.



While the future should be viewed with optimism, the current headlines are warnings of the need for change. To navigate the challenges of these disruptive times, we need the mindset of adaptable learners. It’s the ability to adjust to meet the needs of the future by learning, unlearning, and relearning. We must develop the ability to quickly learn the knowledge and skills needed to survive and ultimately thrive.





The list below includes 15 skills that will help your students adapt and be ready for the challenges of today and tomorrow.


1. Problem-Solving



It’s not enough to know information. You must know how to apply information to new contexts and use reasoning and critical thinking skills to find solutions.


2. Creativity 



The ability to develop new ideas is extremely valuable. People will create value by divergent thinking and seeing problems in completely new ways. Creativity is art, but it’s not just art. It extends to every area of life and thought.


3. Communication Skills



Both written and verbal communication skills are needed to express ideas and create content. 


4. Taking Risks



Adaptable learners are willing to take risks to try new things. They step out of their comfort zone to pursue learning and innovation. Fear of failure doesn’t hold them back.



5. Continuous Growth



It’s not enough to develop expertise in an area and then ride the wave the rest of your life. Constantly growing and learning and building on expertise is the wave of the future.


6. Recognizing Opportunities



Adaptable learners see new possibilities and seize them. They don’t wait on the sidelines hoping things will work out for them. Instead, they jump into the game when a great chance comes along.


7. Building Networks



Being connected is critical for adaptability. Learning is multiplied when you draw on the power of your network. Networks are a source of help, support, encouragement, and ideas.


8. Utilizing Teamwork

Teamwork involves shared ownership of goals, tasks, and outcomes. Together we are able to achieve more. A high-performing team is characterized by positive interdependence of team members. Or in other words, you have each other’s backs.



9. Leveraging Resources



An adaptable learner uses available resources to the maximum. As future resources become scarce, it will require wisdom for how and when to use resources to provide the greatest value to self and others. 


10. Managing Change



Change can be unsettling and even frightening. The learner who will thrive in the future won’t deny change or simply react to change. With the right mindset, it’s possible to shape and influence change while remaining flexible. 



11. Interpersonal Skills


Learners need skills to relate to others positively. Our success in life is tied closely to our social skills. Empathy, compassion, honesty, trustworthiness characterize the adaptable learner.



12. Embracing Diversity



Globalization continues to make our world smaller and more interconnected. Diversity will be more evident in every aspect of life. As a result, there will be even greater need to work effectively with others who have racial, cultural, religious, and political backgrounds different from our own. 



13. Life Mission/Purpose


When learners recognize a purpose for life beyond themselves and work to make the world a better place, everyone benefits. A future ready learner recognizes the need to give back.



14. Sharing Knowledge



Adaptable learners create value, not by storing up knowledge, but by sharing it with others. Being recognized as an expert comes from the influence of sharing what you know and the ideas that identify your brand.


15. Perseverance



Perseverance is perhaps the most important skill of all. The future will demand the ability to stay with problems longer, to be persistent, and to never give up.



Question: What skills would you add or remove from this list? How are you helping your students become adaptable learners? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter

Read More 15 Essential Skills Your Students Must Develop Now To Meet The Challenges Of An Uncertain Future

One thing is for sure, social media is here to stay. Never before have people been able to connect, share, and learn from one another as we do now. I can only imagine what might be next! As a result, our students need skills to win at life in a digital world. The ability to use social media to support life goals and possibilities can be a game-changer. I know it has been very powerful for me in my professional life.



But one story is truly remarkable. I stumbled across Marc Guberti on Twitter and was immediately interested to learn more about this young man. His bio describes him as an 18-year-old entrepreneur and social media expert. He now has over 290,000 Twitter followers and over 250,000 annual visits to his blog. No doubt he has created a powerful presence online. But he also shared this part of his mission:

“This isn’t just about being successful and having financial flexibility. This is about creating a movement. I want to prove to other teens that it is possible to become successful at a young age. In a world where teens are increasingly going to drugs and drinking as a way to make themselves feel good and student debt keeps on rising, there are resources available that can allow any person of any age to become a leader and create a tribe of people that matter.”

While every student may not want to build a social media empire like Marc, everyone wants to be part of a tribe of people that matter. And as educators, we want every student to have the opportunity to reach the maximum of their potential. In today’s world, the ability to connect productively with others through social media can increase opportunities for college admissions, job opportunities, entrepreneurship ideas, and more. 



I believe helping students use social media effectively starts with educators and schools modeling the use of social media and inviting students to use social media as part of their education. When students see ways social media can be used for learning and professionally, that is a powerful message. We should also model and discuss the safe and appropriate use of social media to help our students avoid situations that could be damaging to themselves or others.



So here are 7 Reasons To Use Social Media In Your School. Feel free to download the infographic below to print or share as you wish. I hope this information helps your school or team.



1. Engage Parents and Community

Social media is a great way to connect with parents and community. Every classroom and school has a story to tell. Social media allows educators the opportunity to make visible the great things that are happening.

2. Share Student Work

Sharing student work on social media instantly creates an authentic audience. It’s possible to share examples of digital products, projects, artwork, writing, and just about anything else.

3. Teach Digital Citizenship



There is so much to know to be a safe, responsible user of social media. We must teach digital citizenship. When we regularly use social media in the classroom, it provides more opportunities for learning about safe and responsible use.

4. Make Global Connections

Give students a sense of learning beyond classroom walls. Social media allows connections across the globe, perhaps with another classroom. These connections help students to see different perspectives and cultures.

5. Prepare Kids for the Future



Social media continues to grow and is now an excellent way to learn, build a professional network, and even get a job. Our students will be better prepared for future opportunities if they have experiences with social media that are for learning and professional reasons.

6. Promote Positive Messages

There are so many negatives on social media. That’s one reason some educators have been reluctant to engage. However, schools have an opportunity to lead to create a positive presence and help students create a positive presence. Make the positives so loud it drowns out the negative aspects of social media.

7. Connect with Experts




We don’t have to be dependent on textbooks anymore for information. It’s possible to connect with experts in every discipline. Classrooms are interacting with authors, scientists, astronauts, activists, and entrepreneurs. These connections are inspiring and authentic.




CLICK ON THE INFOGRAPHIC TO SHARE THIS ON TWITTER.

      

Read More 7 Reasons To Use Social Media In Your School (INFOGRAPHIC)

One thing is for sure, social media is here to stay. Never before have people been able to connect, share, and learn from one another as we do now. I can only imagine what might be next! As a result, our students need skills to win at life in a digital world. The ability to use social media to support life goals and possibilities can be a game-changer. I know it has been very powerful for me in my professional life.



But one story is truly remarkable. I stumbled across Marc Guberti on Twitter and was immediately interested to learn more about this young man. His bio describes him as an 18-year-old entrepreneur and social media expert. He now has over 290,000 Twitter followers and over 250,000 annual visits to his blog. No doubt he has created a powerful presence online. But he also shared this part of his mission:

“This isn’t just about being successful and having financial flexibility. This is about creating a movement. I want to prove to other teens that it is possible to become successful at a young age. In a world where teens are increasingly going to drugs and drinking as a way to make themselves feel good and student debt keeps on rising, there are resources available that can allow any person of any age to become a leader and create a tribe of people that matter.”

While every student may not want to build a social media empire like Marc, everyone wants to be part of a tribe of people that matter. And as educators, we want every student to have the opportunity to reach the maximum of their potential. In today’s world, the ability to connect productively with others through social media can increase opportunities for college admissions, job opportunities, entrepreneurship ideas, and more. 



I believe helping students use social media effectively starts with educators and schools modeling the use of social media and inviting students to use social media as part of their education. When students see ways social media can be used for learning and professionally, that is a powerful message. We should also model and discuss the safe and appropriate use of social media to help our students avoid situations that could be damaging to themselves or others.



So here are 7 Reasons To Use Social Media In Your School. Feel free to download the infographic below to print or share as you wish. I hope this information helps your school or team.



1. Engage Parents and Community

Social media is a great way to connect with parents and community. Every classroom and school has a story to tell. Social media allows educators the opportunity to make visible the great things that are happening.

2. Share Student Work

Sharing student work on social media instantly creates an authentic audience. It’s possible to share examples of digital products, projects, artwork, writing, and just about anything else.

3. Teach Digital Citizenship



There is so much to know to be a safe, responsible user of social media. We must teach digital citizenship. When we regularly use social media in the classroom, it provides more opportunities for learning about safe and responsible use.

4. Make Global Connections

Give students a sense of learning beyond classroom walls. Social media allows connections across the globe, perhaps with another classroom. These connections help students to see different perspectives and cultures.

5. Prepare Kids for the Future



Social media continues to grow and is now an excellent way to learn, build a professional network, and even get a job. Our students will be better prepared for future opportunities if they have experiences with social media that are for learning and professional reasons.

6. Promote Positive Messages

There are so many negatives on social media. That’s one reason some educators have been reluctant to engage. However, schools have an opportunity to lead to create a positive presence and help students create a positive presence. Make the positives so loud it drowns out the negative aspects of social media.

7. Connect with Experts




We don’t have to be dependent on textbooks anymore for information. It’s possible to connect with experts in every discipline. Classrooms are interacting with authors, scientists, astronauts, activists, and entrepreneurs. These connections are inspiring and authentic.




CLICK ON THE INFOGRAPHIC TO SHARE THIS ON TWITTER.

      

Read More 7 Reasons To Use Social Media In Your School (INFOGRAPHIC)

In a previous post, I shared some thoughts on technology integration and how tech in the classroom is too often an add-on or extra and not part of an authentic learning experience. In fact, technology is so vital in today’s world that it’s on par with the school library. It’s that important. Your community would never support getting rid of your library. Yet, some schools still don’t fully accept technology for learning. Some even ban it from the classroom.



But having technology is not enough. There are millions wasted every year on technology that goes largely unused or is implemented in ways that don’t really transform anything. 



Like the teacher I spoke with who had iPads available in her classroom, but hadn’t even turned them on. She didn’t know what to do with them. It would be easy to criticize her for allowing this to happen. But where was the support to help her know what to do with them? Who was there to work with her to learn about using them?



In most classrooms, the available technology is actually used, but not in ways to really transform learning. At best, it’s used as a hook to achieve greater engagement. At worst, it’s a canned program that simply delivers content. Neither of these scenarios results in a shift in agency to the learner. It doesn’t transform learning. If we want adaptable, self-directed learners, students need opportunities to use technology in authentic, transformational ways.



7 Ways Technology Can Transform Learning



1. Authentic Audience



It’s really sad that most work students do in school ultimately ends up in a trash can. The audience for their efforts is usually the teacher and maybe their classmates, but rarely is work shared beyond the school walls. By using digital tools it is possible to share work to a potentially unlimited audience, and it’s possible to curate the work so it’s available forever. Say goodbye to the trash can finish.



When students work for an authentic audience, it is potentially a game changer. Instead of just completing assignments in a manner that is “good enough” they now want the work to be just plain “good.” And how the work is received can provide excellent feedback. An authentic audience multiplies the possibilities for feedback. As any blogger can attest, having an audience changes everything, and really makes you think about your ideas.



2. Creativity



While technology is not necessary to be creative, access can facilitate many new ways to express ideas in original ways. Digital content is easily captured, shared, and combined as an outlet to creative thought. In short, digital tools give rise to more possibilities for creation and innovation.



3. 24/7 Learning



Access to a connected device makes it possible for learning to continue beyond the classroom. Sure I guess that sort of happened before. You took your textbook home to study, right? Well, some people did. But now learners have the sum of human knowledge available on their smartphone, anytime, anywhere. When I need to learn just about anything, one of my top sources is YouTube. It’s helped me repair our vacuum and help the kids with algebra homework. It’s a shame it’s blocked in so many schools. 



4. Global Connections



We learn so much more when we connect and share with others. Now we can connect with anyone in the world with minimal effort. It’s possible to learn directly from experts in the field. Classrooms can connect across oceans. Global connections allow us to see diverse perspectives and understand problems with implications beyond the local community.



5. Learner Agency



Technology provides opportunities for individual learning paths. Not everyone has to learn everything in the same time, in the same space, with the same lessons. Students can learn about things that are important to them, in ways that they choose. Technology allows for students to take greater ownership and be more self-directed. Learning is more meaningful when it is personal.



6. Collaboration and Communication



Technology is tranformational when it allows learners to work in teams, share ideas, and collaborate on new projects. Learner can work together and share ideas even when they are apart. Digital tools allow for amazing new ways to connect around sharing ideas and tasks.

7. Curiosity and Inquiry



Technology allows students to pursue answers to their own questions. True understanding doesn’t happen by memorizing facts or seeking right answers. Understanding is developed by developing questions, interpreting information, and drawing conclusions. Curiosity taps into a sense of wonder and makes learning come alive. Technology provides access to information and inspiration to magnify curiosity and inquiry.



Question: How will you use technology to transform learning in your classroom or school? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

      

Read More 7 Ways Technology Can Transform Learning (INFOGRAPHIC)

In a previous post, I shared some thoughts on technology integration and how tech in the classroom is too often an add-on or extra and not part of an authentic learning experience. In fact, technology is so vital in today’s world that it’s on par with the school library. It’s that important. Your community would never support getting rid of your library. Yet, some schools still don’t fully accept technology for learning. Some even ban it from the classroom.



But having technology is not enough. There are millions wasted every year on technology that goes largely unused or is implemented in ways that don’t really transform anything. 



Like the teacher I spoke with who had iPads available in her classroom, but hadn’t even turned them on. She didn’t know what to do with them. It would be easy to criticize her for allowing this to happen. But where was the support to help her know what to do with them? Who was there to work with her to learn about using them?



In most classrooms, the available technology is actually used, but not in ways to really transform learning. At best, it’s used as a hook to achieve greater engagement. At worst, it’s a canned program that simply delivers content. Neither of these scenarios results in a shift in agency to the learner. It doesn’t transform learning. If we want adaptable, self-directed learners, students need opportunities to use technology in authentic, transformational ways.



7 Ways Technology Can Transform Learning



1. Authentic Audience



It’s really sad that most work students do in school ultimately ends up in a trash can. The audience for their efforts is usually the teacher and maybe their classmates, but rarely is work shared beyond the school walls. By using digital tools it is possible to share work to a potentially unlimited audience, and it’s possible to curate the work so it’s available forever. Say goodbye to the trash can finish.



When students work for an authentic audience, it is potentially a game changer. Instead of just completing assignments in a manner that is “good enough” they now want the work to be just plain “good.” And how the work is received can provide excellent feedback. An authentic audience multiplies the possibilities for feedback. As any blogger can attest, having an audience changes everything, and really makes you think about your ideas.



2. Creativity



While technology is not necessary to be creative, access can facilitate many new ways to express ideas in original ways. Digital content is easily captured, shared, and combined as an outlet to creative thought. In short, digital tools give rise to more possibilities for creation and innovation.



3. 24/7 Learning



Access to a connected device makes it possible for learning to continue beyond the classroom. Sure I guess that sort of happened before. You took your textbook home to study, right? Well, some people did. But now learners have the sum of human knowledge available on their smartphone, anytime, anywhere. When I need to learn just about anything, one of my top sources is YouTube. It’s helped me repair our vacuum and help the kids with algebra homework. It’s a shame it’s blocked in so many schools. 



4. Global Connections



We learn so much more when we connect and share with others. Now we can connect with anyone in the world with minimal effort. It’s possible to learn directly from experts in the field. Classrooms can connect across oceans. Global connections allow us to see diverse perspectives and understand problems with implications beyond the local community.



5. Learner Agency



Technology provides opportunities for individual learning paths. Not everyone has to learn everything in the same time, in the same space, with the same lessons. Students can learn about things that are important to them, in ways that they choose. Technology allows for students to take greater ownership and be more self-directed. Learning is more meaningful when it is personal.



6. Collaboration and Communication



Technology is tranformational when it allows learners to work in teams, share ideas, and collaborate on new projects. Learner can work together and share ideas even when they are apart. Digital tools allow for amazing new ways to connect around sharing ideas and tasks.

7. Curiosity and Inquiry



Technology allows students to pursue answers to their own questions. True understanding doesn’t happen by memorizing facts or seeking right answers. Understanding is developed by developing questions, interpreting information, and drawing conclusions. Curiosity taps into a sense of wonder and makes learning come alive. Technology provides access to information and inspiration to magnify curiosity and inquiry.



Question: How will you use technology to transform learning in your classroom or school? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

      

Read More 7 Ways Technology Can Transform Learning (INFOGRAPHIC)



What is your school’s mindset surrounding technology use in the classroom? If you’re like a lot of educators, you are probably working to integrate technology into instruction. You might even be discussing the merits of blended learning. But what does it mean to integrate technology? And what is blended learning?



I think those terms are used similarly and seem to indicate a desire for technology to be used more effectively in schools. A fairly common definition of blended learning is an education method in which a student learns at least in part through delivery of content and instruction via digital and online media with some element of student control over time, place path, or pace. The increased student agency is the most important part of the entire definition to me. 



And yet, I think many schools claim to have blended learning while maintaining a teacher-directed approach. The part about giving some element of student control gets lost in the shuffle as teachers use a variety of ‘cool’ tools in an effort to add pizzazz to the same old lessons they taught before.


Most teachers feel like they need to use technology in their classroom. They are aware of the “technology push” in schools. Everyone seems to be calling for more technology in schools. In fact, spending on K-12 education technology is nearly $10 billion a year. That’s a significant push! But to what aim?


Most teachers (but not all) have come around to the idea that it’s important to use technology in the classroom. However, far too many think using a PowerPoint and a projector equates to being a forward thinking teacher. If you ask teachers why technology is important, you will hear a variety of responses. But one common response I hear is that kids are interested in technology, so using technology will help make kids more interested in learning.


There is an element of truth to this. Some kids do seem to prefer learning that involves digital opportunities. Technology can support student engagement. But it can also support student empowerment. And there’s a distinct different. A student who is engaged wants to learn something because it’s exciting or interesting to them. But a student who is empowered wants to learn something because they find inherent value in the learning for themselves and others. They are choosing to learn because they find meaning in what they are doing. It is more than a fun activity, it’s an important pursuit.


If we are using technology to shift agency to the learner it can truly be transformation. By the year 2020 there will be nearly 6 billion smartphones in the world. We all know smartphones continue to get more powerful each year. A connected device gives its owner access to the sum of human knowledge at his or her fingertips. If your students aren’t empowered learners, how will they use this access to reach higher in a world that is rapidly changing?



Technology should not be an add-on to learning in the classroom. It shouldn’t even be an extension of learning. It’s just how we learn in a modern world. One way. Not the only way. But one very important way. I recently heard George Couros speak and he remarked that “if I told you the library in your school is just an extra, and I am going to remove it from your school, you would be outraged. Your community would be outraged. You would never allow that. Technology is just as essential to learning as your school library.



I enjoy gardening. This year I’m trying to raise my game and make my garden the best its ever been. So I worked extra hard to prepare my soil, select my plants, and find out what great gardeners do differently. I think that might be a great title for Todd Whitaker’s next book! I talked to friends who are good gardeners, and I regularly conducted research online to answer questions that arose. 



And check this out, I am cutting-edge here…I am integrating a shovel, a hoe, and a water hose into my gardening. I went to a garden conference, learned about some cool tools, and have now decided to integrate these tools into my garden plans. What the heck, you say?!? You would never say that you’re going to integrate essential tools like a shovel, a hoe, or a water hose into gardening. They’re essential. You just use them.



As I used technology to research my garden, I watched YouTube videos and read various blogs and articles to learn more. And it’s funny, never once did I think “I’m now going to integrate some technology into my garden project.” I viewed the technology as a helpful tool, a very powerful tool, a potentially transformational tool, to help me be a better gardener. In the same way that my shovel, hoe, and water hose are essential tools to gardening, technology is an essential tool to almost every kind of learning.



At the typical edtech conference, there seem to be a lot of sessions on the what and how of using tech tools in the classroom. Someone will also be sharing the latest version of a cool app, game, or platform. But I contend that we must always start with why. I learned that from Simon Sinek. We must understand why we are using technology in the class and have a clear vision of empowering students as as adaptable learners. They will need these skills in a world where there will soon be 6 billion smartphone users.



Question: Are you integrating technology as an add-on, or is it just an essential part of learning in your school? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or share on Twitter or Facebook.























      

Read More Is It Time To Move Past Tech Integration?



What is your school’s mindset surrounding technology use in the classroom? If you’re like a lot of educators, you are probably working to integrate technology into instruction. You might even be discussing the merits of blended learning. But what does it mean to integrate technology? And what is blended learning?



I think those terms are used similarly and seem to indicate a desire for technology to be used more effectively in schools. A fairly common definition of blended learning is an education method in which a student learns at least in part through delivery of content and instruction via digital and online media with some element of student control over time, place path, or pace. The increased student agency is the most important part of the entire definition to me. 



And yet, I think many schools claim to have blended learning while maintaining a teacher-directed approach. The part about giving some element of student control gets lost in the shuffle as teachers use a variety of ‘cool’ tools in an effort to add pizzazz to the same old lessons they taught before.


Most teachers feel like they need to use technology in their classroom. They are aware of the “technology push” in schools. Everyone seems to be calling for more technology in schools. In fact, spending on K-12 education technology is nearly $10 billion a year. That’s a significant push! But to what aim?


Most teachers (but not all) have come around to the idea that it’s important to use technology in the classroom. However, far too many think using a PowerPoint and a projector equates to being a forward thinking teacher. If you ask teachers why technology is important, you will hear a variety of responses. But one common response I hear is that kids are interested in technology, so using technology will help make kids more interested in learning.


There is an element of truth to this. Some kids do seem to prefer learning that involves digital opportunities. Technology can support student engagement. But it can also support student empowerment. And there’s a distinct different. A student who is engaged wants to learn something because it’s exciting or interesting to them. But a student who is empowered wants to learn something because they find inherent value in the learning for themselves and others. They are choosing to learn because they find meaning in what they are doing. It is more than a fun activity, it’s an important pursuit.


If we are using technology to shift agency to the learner it can truly be transformation. By the year 2020 there will be nearly 6 billion smartphones in the world. We all know smartphones continue to get more powerful each year. A connected device gives its owner access to the sum of human knowledge at his or her fingertips. If your students aren’t empowered learners, how will they use this access to reach higher in a world that is rapidly changing?



Technology should not be an add-on to learning in the classroom. It shouldn’t even be an extension of learning. It’s just how we learn in a modern world. One way. Not the only way. But one very important way. I recently heard George Couros speak and he remarked that “if I told you the library in your school is just an extra, and I am going to remove it from your school, you would be outraged. Your community would be outraged. You would never allow that. Technology is just as essential to learning as your school library.



I enjoy gardening. This year I’m trying to raise my game and make my garden the best its ever been. So I worked extra hard to prepare my soil, select my plants, and find out what great gardeners do differently. I think that might be a great title for Todd Whitaker’s next book! I talked to friends who are good gardeners, and I regularly conducted research online to answer questions that arose. 



And check this out, I am cutting-edge here…I am integrating a shovel, a hoe, and a water hose into my gardening. I went to a garden conference, learned about some cool tools, and have now decided to integrate these tools into my garden plans. What the heck, you say?!? You would never say that you’re going to integrate essential tools like a shovel, a hoe, or a water hose into gardening. They’re essential. You just use them.



As I used technology to research my garden, I watched YouTube videos and read various blogs and articles to learn more. And it’s funny, never once did I think “I’m now going to integrate some technology into my garden project.” I viewed the technology as a helpful tool, a very powerful tool, a potentially transformational tool, to help me be a better gardener. In the same way that my shovel, hoe, and water hose are essential tools to gardening, technology is an essential tool to almost every kind of learning.



At the typical edtech conference, there seem to be a lot of sessions on the what and how of using tech tools in the classroom. Someone will also be sharing the latest version of a cool app, game, or platform. But I contend that we must always start with why. I learned that from Simon Sinek. We must understand why we are using technology in the class and have a clear vision of empowering students as as adaptable learners. They will need these skills in a world where there will soon be 6 billion smartphone users.



Question: Are you integrating technology as an add-on, or is it just an essential part of learning in your school? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or share on Twitter or Facebook.























      

Read More Is It Time To Move Past Tech Integration?





We are trying to develop a culture of innovation in our school. Here’s why I think that’s so important. In the past, we would always try to get better at areas we felt needed to improve. We would implement this strategy or that strategy in the hopes that it would result in a better learning experience for students. Most of the ideas were not “home grown.” They were handed down from the state department or driven by standardized testing. Teachers, at times, didn’t feel all that invested and sometimes even felt the programs were being pushed upon them. Instead of nurturing an innovation culture, we had an implementation culture—implementing someone else’s ideas.



In an innovation culture, teachers are empowered to develop ideas that will create better learning opportunities for students. They are free to try new things, to make mistakes, to take risks, and to think out of the box. Since the ideas are developed by teachers in the classroom, they are invested in the process, and they understand the unique opportunities and challenges of their students and their content. They don’t have to ask permission to do what they believe is best for students. In fact, they are encouraged to look at school and learning with new eyes. So much of what we do is based on tradition and habit, even though it might not work best for students or learning.



Schools have been trying to get better at mostly the same old stuff for 50+ years. Maybe it’s time to try some new stuff. Instead of trying to repair the old things, I would suggest we consider building something new. It’s important to recognize that innovation is not just thinking of new ideas. It is about trying them out in a reflective way. It’s thinking of ideas and carrying them out.



As we have pursued a change culture in our school, we’ve thought about ways we can increase innovative thinking. But it’s also important to think about the things that keep us from innovating. Here are nine things that absolutely kill innovative thinking. 



1. “Prove it.”



More precisely, prove it with data. Schools are under intense pressure to prove results with data. But some promising innovations might not deliver results right away. The initial success does not always indicate what the long-term success might be. And moreover, some of the measures that schools are using may not be the best indicators of success in the first place. If we are relying exclusively on test scores to show success, are we really measuring the right thing?



Instead of being data-driven, we should be student-driven, and learning-driven. Look at a wide variety of indicators of success. When an idea isn’t successful right away, don’t feel that you must abandon it. If you feel it has the potential to make a positive impact, stick with it.



When an idea really takes off, we don’t need to prove it. I’ve seen things that are so wildly successful, that no one would question that it was incredibly beneficial for students. If our ideas are big enough, we will know if they are successful or not. 



2. “We’ve never done it that way.”



It’s so easy to get stuck in our patterns of thinking. Often we do the things that are familiar without another thought as to how effective they might be or if there might be a better way. It’s been said this is the most dangerous phrase in the language. That may be a slight exaggeration, but undoubtedly it is an innovation killer.



Instead of clinging to the way it’s always been, we should always question, “Why have we done it this way for so long?” Is this really what’s best, especially given how quickly the world is changing around us? If schools aren’t changing to meet the challenges of today and even tomorrow, what will that mean for our students?



Without a doubt, I think we are struggling to keep up with the changes in our world. The question is how far behind are we going to be before we make some bigger shifts in how we do business.



3. “We can’t afford it.”



There are many innovative ideas that don’t cost a thing. They just require a shift in thinking and courage to do things in a different way. I think too many schools think they can’t be innovative because of limited resources. But sometimes innovation does need budgetary support. While there are only so many dollars available for a school to spend, how funds are allocated is to some extent a choice. Instead of thinking “we can’t afford it,” maybe schools should consider “how can we find a way to afford it?” Ultimately, we shouldn’t allow the budget to kill innovation. Let’s think of possibilities to support innovation with our budgets.



4. “Our scores are great!”



Great standardized test scores can be an innovation killer. Why? Because teachers feel the pressure to keep the scores high and trying something new might result in lower scores. In many schools, a drop in scores would be considered complete failure. When the scores are high, we are tempted to pat ourselves on the back and feel that we are doing exactly what we should be doing. But is our goal to develop students who are great test takers? Or, are we trying to help students be adaptable learners and creative problem solvers? Some of the most important skills students need to be life-ready aren’t reflected in a standardized, content-driven test. 



5. “Our scores are terrible!”



Low standardized test scores can also be an innovation killer. Schools with low scores usually feel tremendous pressure to raise scores. Unfortunately, this often means a focus on remediation, with an increase in prescribed lessons, test-prep, and drill-and-practice. These methods may result in higher scores, but they can hardly be considered authentic or innovative. Moreover, these narrow-minded methods don’t prepare students to be adaptable or lifelong learners. It’s extremely difficult to think big and be bold when the focus is on fixing low test scores.



6. “That’s not how I do it.”



As George Couros has been quoted, “Isolation is the enemy of innovation.” Teachers who want to do it their way, without considering other possibilities, are detrimental to an innovative culture. This type of thinking resists collaboration and sharing work. Instead of looking for ways to work together, this attitude builds walls to protect my turf. 



7. How would we ever do that?”



One of the quickest ways to kill a creative brainstorming session is to start trying to figure out “how” the idea would work. Many great ideas were shot down because they didn’t seem possible at first. Until later, someone had the courage to give it a shot, to think in a different way, and then it became successful. Instead of focusing on “how” right from the start, think about “why” the idea might be important. Then, if the idea is important enough, you can figure out the “how” later. When something is important enough, you find a way to make it happen.



8. “We only use research-based practices.”



We can learn much from education research. But to think that we are only going to adopt ideas that have been proven successful in the research literature seems very limiting to me. If we only do the things that have been proven to work, what is the opportunity cost? Are there ideas that might be incredibly beneficial in our school that aren’t established in research? Most schools that focus exclusively on research-based practices are the ones that are trying to grow and get better at the same old stuff. They are not the ones trying to transform education so that schools are fundamentally different in ways that benefit today’s students. Research-based practices is a focus on the past. Forward-thinking practices are ones that look to prepare students for a future that will require different skills than ever before.



9. “Just one more thing.”



When educators have too many things on their plate, it becomes difficult to be innovative. There’s not enough margin in our time to think, dream, create, and experiment. This results in any new idea feeling like it’s just one more thing. And that is an innovation killer. Schools need to carve out time for teachers to collaborate, think, and develop ideas. I think it’s great for teachers to have their own Genius Hour, a time to work on projects they are passionate about. It’s one more way to encourage an innovation culture in your school.



Question: What are some other innovation killers? How can we overcome these challenges to create schools of the future? I want to hear from you. Respond by leaving a comment below or share on Twitter or Facebook.

      

Read More The 9 Innovation Killers in Your School





We are trying to develop a culture of innovation in our school. Here’s why I think that’s so important. In the past, we would always try to get better at areas we felt needed to improve. We would implement this strategy or that strategy in the hopes that it would result in a better learning experience for students. Most of the ideas were not “home grown.” They were handed down from the state department or driven by standardized testing. Teachers, at times, didn’t feel all that invested and sometimes even felt the programs were being pushed upon them. Instead of nurturing an innovation culture, we had an implementation culture—implementing someone else’s ideas.



In an innovation culture, teachers are empowered to develop ideas that will create better learning opportunities for students. They are free to try new things, to make mistakes, to take risks, and to think out of the box. Since the ideas are developed by teachers in the classroom, they are invested in the process, and they understand the unique opportunities and challenges of their students and their content. They don’t have to ask permission to do what they believe is best for students. In fact, they are encouraged to look at school and learning with new eyes. So much of what we do is based on tradition and habit, even though it might not work best for students or learning.



Schools have been trying to get better at mostly the same old stuff for 50+ years. Maybe it’s time to try some new stuff. Instead of trying to repair the old things, I would suggest we consider building something new. It’s important to recognize that innovation is not just thinking of new ideas. It is about trying them out in a reflective way. It’s thinking of ideas and carrying them out.



As we have pursued a change culture in our school, we’ve thought about ways we can increase innovative thinking. But it’s also important to think about the things that keep us from innovating. Here are nine things that absolutely kill innovative thinking. 



1. “Prove it.”



More precisely, prove it with data. Schools are under intense pressure to prove results with data. But some promising innovations might not deliver results right away. The initial success does not always indicate what the long-term success might be. And moreover, some of the measures that schools are using may not be the best indicators of success in the first place. If we are relying exclusively on test scores to show success, are we really measuring the right thing?



Instead of being data-driven, we should be student-driven, and learning-driven. Look at a wide variety of indicators of success. When an idea isn’t successful right away, don’t feel that you must abandon it. If you feel it has the potential to make a positive impact, stick with it.



When an idea really takes off, we don’t need to prove it. I’ve seen things that are so wildly successful, that no one would question that it was incredibly beneficial for students. If our ideas are big enough, we will know if they are successful or not. 



2. “We’ve never done it that way.”



It’s so easy to get stuck in our patterns of thinking. Often we do the things that are familiar without another thought as to how effective they might be or if there might be a better way. It’s been said this is the most dangerous phrase in the language. That may be a slight exaggeration, but undoubtedly it is an innovation killer.



Instead of clinging to the way it’s always been, we should always question, “Why have we done it this way for so long?” Is this really what’s best, especially given how quickly the world is changing around us? If schools aren’t changing to meet the challenges of today and even tomorrow, what will that mean for our students?



Without a doubt, I think we are struggling to keep up with the changes in our world. The question is how far behind are we going to be before we make some bigger shifts in how we do business.



3. “We can’t afford it.”



There are many innovative ideas that don’t cost a thing. They just require a shift in thinking and courage to do things in a different way. I think too many schools think they can’t be innovative because of limited resources. But sometimes innovation does need budgetary support. While there are only so many dollars available for a school to spend, how funds are allocated is to some extent a choice. Instead of thinking “we can’t afford it,” maybe schools should consider “how can we find a way to afford it?” Ultimately, we shouldn’t allow the budget to kill innovation. Let’s think of possibilities to support innovation with our budgets.



4. “Our scores are great!”



Great standardized test scores can be an innovation killer. Why? Because teachers feel the pressure to keep the scores high and trying something new might result in lower scores. In many schools, a drop in scores would be considered complete failure. When the scores are high, we are tempted to pat ourselves on the back and feel that we are doing exactly what we should be doing. But is our goal to develop students who are great test takers? Or, are we trying to help students be adaptable learners and creative problem solvers? Some of the most important skills students need to be life-ready aren’t reflected in a standardized, content-driven test. 



5. “Our scores are terrible!”



Low standardized test scores can also be an innovation killer. Schools with low scores usually feel tremendous pressure to raise scores. Unfortunately, this often means a focus on remediation, with an increase in prescribed lessons, test-prep, and drill-and-practice. These methods may result in higher scores, but they can hardly be considered authentic or innovative. Moreover, these narrow-minded methods don’t prepare students to be adaptable or lifelong learners. It’s extremely difficult to think big and be bold when the focus is on fixing low test scores.



6. “That’s not how I do it.”



As George Couros has been quoted, “Isolation is the enemy of innovation.” Teachers who want to do it their way, without considering other possibilities, are detrimental to an innovative culture. This type of thinking resists collaboration and sharing work. Instead of looking for ways to work together, this attitude builds walls to protect my turf. 



7. How would we ever do that?”



One of the quickest ways to kill a creative brainstorming session is to start trying to figure out “how” the idea would work. Many great ideas were shot down because they didn’t seem possible at first. Until later, someone had the courage to give it a shot, to think in a different way, and then it became successful. Instead of focusing on “how” right from the start, think about “why” the idea might be important. Then, if the idea is important enough, you can figure out the “how” later. When something is important enough, you find a way to make it happen.



8. “We only use research-based practices.”



We can learn much from education research. But to think that we are only going to adopt ideas that have been proven successful in the research literature seems very limiting to me. If we only do the things that have been proven to work, what is the opportunity cost? Are there ideas that might be incredibly beneficial in our school that aren’t established in research? Most schools that focus exclusively on research-based practices are the ones that are trying to grow and get better at the same old stuff. They are not the ones trying to transform education so that schools are fundamentally different in ways that benefit today’s students. Research-based practices is a focus on the past. Forward-thinking practices are ones that look to prepare students for a future that will require different skills than ever before.



9. “Just one more thing.”



When educators have too many things on their plate, it becomes difficult to be innovative. There’s not enough margin in our time to think, dream, create, and experiment. This results in any new idea feeling like it’s just one more thing. And that is an innovation killer. Schools need to carve out time for teachers to collaborate, think, and develop ideas. I think it’s great for teachers to have their own Genius Hour, a time to work on projects they are passionate about. It’s one more way to encourage an innovation culture in your school.



Question: What are some other innovation killers? How can we overcome these challenges to create schools of the future? I want to hear from you. Respond by leaving a comment below or share on Twitter or Facebook.

      

Read More The 9 Innovation Killers in Your School

Think of what Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon services and products you use daily. How much are they a vehicle for communications, work, social life, purchases and tasks? How often…

Read More Living in a GAFA world.





I’ve been reading The Passage of Power: the Years of Lyndon B Johnson by Robert A. Caro. It’s the fourth book in a series of autobiographies by Caro tracing the life and political career of LBJ. It’s a fascinating read, named one of the 10 best books of 2012 by the New York Times.



In the 1960 Democratic Primary Elections, John F Kennedy utilized television to his incredible advantage. Johnson was hesitant to enter the race, even though he badly wanted the nomination, largely because he feared the possibility of defeat. He wanted it almost too badly, and would not publicly announce as a candidate. His fear of losing and fear of being humiliated in defeat paralyzed him until at the last moment, he declared. But it was too late.



While Johnson had been reluctant to take a risk, Kennedy was developing a highly effective campaign machine. He traveled the nation building support, but even more importantly, he leveraged the power of television to his great advantage. Every chance he got, he was in front of the American public, in their living rooms, connecting with them through their television sets.



Johnson thought television was a waste of time. He thought Kennedy was too flashy and that he lacked substance. Johnson was proud of his accomplishments as leader in the Senate. He blasted Kennedy for his weak record as a senator, noting that JFK had accomplished very little as a lawmaker. Kennedy rarely even showed up for work. He was too busy running a campaign for President. 



Regardless of his Senate record, JFK won the nomination. In a strange twist, he invited LBJ onto his ticket as his vice president. Begrudgingly, Johnson accepted the offer to be Kennedy’s running mate. Kennedy went on to win the election in 1960, beating Republican Richard Nixon.



In the same way Johnson failed to recognize the power of television, too many educators today are not adapting to the digital transformation of the modern age, a revolution even more powerful than television. They are struggling to adapt to these new literacies. They think of social media and other digital tools as optional at best, and at worst they completely reject that these tools have any merit for learners.



Some pay lip service to the idea that technology is important, but they do very little to model the use of digital tools, in their own lives or in their classrooms. They rarely use technology for learning, and when they do it is such a special event that it is more of a gimmick than a way of doing business. They cling to their content as if it must be the most important thing for their students to know, without ever questioning how irrelevant it might be for some.



Do reading, writing, and math skills still matter? Absolutely. Every person should have skills in these traditional literacies, but we can’t stop there. Those skills are just the beginning. Students need to also know how to apply these basic skills in ways that generate value in today’s world. They need to practice these skills in modern applications. Learning digital literacies is not about learning gadgets or gimmicks. It’s about learning how to collaborate, communicate, create, and think in a connected, information-rich world.



So instead of writing that research paper, ask students to create blogs. Incorporate social media into studies of literature and history. Reach out to experts in various fields to demonstrate the power of connections. Examine how modern films, music, and art impact the world of science and social science. Develop a classroom culture that goes beyond memorizing and testing. We need students to develop the skills of makers, designers, and innovators.



If we are slow to respond to how our world is changing, we are doing our students a disservice. We can’t afford to make our own comfort and preferences the priority, now when seismic shifts are happening all around us that demand we change. If we want our students to win at life in a digital world, we have to act as if it’s that important. Our students are counting on us. We have to lead.



If educators fail to adapt to the rapidly changing world, our students will suffer. Someone else will get the job. Someone else will solve the problem. Or even worse, the problem won’t get solved. We will limit the possibilities of our most important resource, our children. simply because we didn’t take a risk, try something new, or continue to be a learner. Like LBJ, if we are slow to adapt, it will result in failure. We all stand to lose.



Question: How are you adapting as an educator and as a learner? What have you done to step out of your comfort zone? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

      

Read More If We Fail to Adapt, Our Students Lose





I’ve been reading The Passage of Power: the Years of Lyndon B Johnson by Robert A. Caro. It’s the fourth book in a series of autobiographies by Caro tracing the life and political career of LBJ. It’s a fascinating read, named one of the 10 best books of 2012 by the New York Times.



In the 1960 Democratic Primary Elections, John F Kennedy utilized television to his incredible advantage. Johnson was hesitant to enter the race, even though he badly wanted the nomination, largely because he feared the possibility of defeat. He wanted it almost too badly, and would not publicly announce as a candidate. His fear of losing and fear of being humiliated in defeat paralyzed him until at the last moment, he declared. But it was too late.



While Johnson had been reluctant to take a risk, Kennedy was developing a highly effective campaign machine. He traveled the nation building support, but even more importantly, he leveraged the power of television to his great advantage. Every chance he got, he was in front of the American public, in their living rooms, connecting with them through their television sets.



Johnson thought television was a waste of time. He thought Kennedy was too flashy and that he lacked substance. Johnson was proud of his accomplishments as leader in the Senate. He blasted Kennedy for his weak record as a senator, noting that JFK had accomplished very little as a lawmaker. Kennedy rarely even showed up for work. He was too busy running a campaign for President. 



Regardless of his Senate record, JFK won the nomination. In a strange twist, he invited LBJ onto his ticket as his vice president. Begrudgingly, Johnson accepted the offer to be Kennedy’s running mate. Kennedy went on to win the election in 1960, beating Republican Richard Nixon.



In the same way Johnson failed to recognize the power of television, too many educators today are not adapting to the digital transformation of the modern age, a revolution even more powerful than television. They are struggling to adapt to these new literacies. They think of social media and other digital tools as optional at best, and at worst they completely reject that these tools have any merit for learners.



Some pay lip service to the idea that technology is important, but they do very little to model the use of digital tools, in their own lives or in their classrooms. They rarely use technology for learning, and when they do it is such a special event that it is more of a gimmick than a way of doing business. They cling to their content as if it must be the most important thing for their students to know, without ever questioning how irrelevant it might be for some.



Do reading, writing, and math skills still matter? Absolutely. Every person should have skills in these traditional literacies, but we can’t stop there. Those skills are just the beginning. Students need to also know how to apply these basic skills in ways that generate value in today’s world. They need to practice these skills in modern applications. Learning digital literacies is not about learning gadgets or gimmicks. It’s about learning how to collaborate, communicate, create, and think in a connected, information-rich world.



So instead of writing that research paper, ask students to create blogs. Incorporate social media into studies of literature and history. Reach out to experts in various fields to demonstrate the power of connections. Examine how modern films, music, and art impact the world of science and social science. Develop a classroom culture that goes beyond memorizing and testing. We need students to develop the skills of makers, designers, and innovators.



If we are slow to respond to how our world is changing, we are doing our students a disservice. We can’t afford to make our own comfort and preferences the priority, now when seismic shifts are happening all around us that demand we change. If we want our students to win at life in a digital world, we have to act as if it’s that important. Our students are counting on us. We have to lead.



If educators fail to adapt to the rapidly changing world, our students will suffer. Someone else will get the job. Someone else will solve the problem. Or even worse, the problem won’t get solved. We will limit the possibilities of our most important resource, our children. simply because we didn’t take a risk, try something new, or continue to be a learner. Like LBJ, if we are slow to adapt, it will result in failure. We all stand to lose.



Question: How are you adapting as an educator and as a learner? What have you done to step out of your comfort zone? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

      

Read More If We Fail to Adapt, Our Students Lose