Tag: project based learning

The focus of traditional education has mostly been on knowledge. The focus has been on learning more information. But now we have more information available to us than ever before. And the amount of information out there is growing exponentially…

Read More Knowing vs. Understanding vs. Applying

Which students are doing the creative work in your school? Who has the most opportunities to work on projects, solve problems, collaborate with classmates, develop ideas, design products, and publish for authentic audiences? If your school is like mo…

Read More All Kids Deserve Opportunities for Creative Work



“How did you become a Chicago Cubs fan?”



I asked the question to a Cubs fan I was visiting with recently. And I wasn’t being sarcastic, since I’m a St. Louis Cardinals fan, and that would be on point for fan behavior between the two teams.



No, I was just curious because he wasn’t from a part of the country that isn’t typically considered Cubs fan territory. He explained that some members of his family were Cubs fans but what really hooked him on the Cubs was when he attended a game at Wrigley Field (Chicago) as a young boy.



That experience, he said, was something he never forgot and resulted in his lifelong love of the Cubs. It was as simple as that.



Experiences are powerful. They can change our entire perspective for good or bad. In this case, a positive experience resulted in a deep attachment to a baseball team.



I’m wondering about how students experience school. Are we creating experiences that result in a lifelong attachment to learning? Are we creating powerful learning experiences that develop curiosity and cultivate interests?



While much of my own school experience was somewhat routine and mostly forgettable, there were some amazing experiences that really led me to want to learn more.



Most of those memorable experiences were projects or trips to visit interesting places. I remember visiting a cave, a Civil War battlefield, and even a museum with a real mummy, all part of opportunities through school.



I also remember creating a news broadcast and interviewing people from our community, as part of a project for class. I also remember competing in a stock market game, and I remember performing a classroom play.



I don’t remember a single lecture from school. I take that back. I remember one very gifted social studies teacher who could tell stories from the Civil War that were so interesting I wanted to learn more on my own. He had us on the edge of our seats.



I don’t remember any worksheet tasks standing out. I don’t remember any tests in particular. 



Here’s the thing. I’m not saying tests, or assignments, or routine work are all bad in school. I’m not saying they don’t have value. But if we want our students to be inspired learners, we better look for ways to connect learning to positive emotions. We better give students experiences that really capture their attention in ways that go far beyond the routine.



In a time where standards mastery seems to be at the top of all priorities, I wonder what types of experiences kids are having? 



What type of experience are they having when remediation has been routine for them year after year in school?



What type of experience are they having when they don’t have the opportunity to pursue things they’re interested in?



What type of experience are they having when they don’t get to learn outside the classroom by taking field trips?



A couple of high school principals were discussing how they are making sure any field trips in their school tie directly to meeting standards. I guess that’s one way to look at it.



But for me, I want our students to have as many opportunities as possible to learn and interact with interesting people and places away from our school campus. I especially want that for our under-resourced students who might not ever have those opportunities otherwise.



There is a time for rolling up our sleeves and doing the routine work of learning and life. But if we’re not also creating peak moments along the way, we are missing the joy in the journey. 



And we’re probably missing out on potential passions, and maybe even missing out on developing a passion for learning.



The routine work should flow from a deep sense of purpose. We need to know our why. That’s where lasting learning is nurtured.



As I wrote in my book, Future Driven,

Don’t just create lessons for your students. Create experiences. Students will forget a lesson, but an experience will have lasting value. We want to do more than cover content. We want to inspire learning.

Is your school making time for powerful learning experiences? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.





Read More Don’t Just Plan Lessons, Create Experiences



Earlier this week, I was speaking at What Great Educators Do Differently in Houston. It was a fantastic event with a great lineup of inspiring education leaders.



My topic was Great Educators are Risk-Takers and Difference-Makers! When I have the opportunity to work with school districts or speak at conferences, I want to remind educators that we’re educating kids for the world they’ll live in and not the world we grew up in.



It’s an central message in my book, Future Driven



The world is changing faster than ever and schools need to be changing too. I always ask, “Is your school a time capsule (static) or a time machine (dynamic)?” We can’t afford to teach to a test or simply prepare kids for the next grade level, or even college or career. We’re preparing them for life and anything they might face.



We can’t continue to prize student achievement while ignoring the critical importance of student agency. Kids need more opportunities to make decisions and take initiative. We need to develop future leaders and passionate learners, not just proficient test takers.



And the only way that will happen is by allowing teachers to have the needed professional autonomy to be risk-takers and difference-makers. Educators must have the freedom to take initiative and make decisions. They need the flexibility to use their strengths and bring their passions into their classrooms.



But I also want to challenge educators. What are you doing with the autonomy you have? Are you pushing limits? Are you challenging the status quo? Are you creating extraordinary learning opportunities that prepare students for a complex, unpredictable world? If we’re going to crush student apathy, we have to start with addressing teacher apathy. We have to show up strong!



Here are 5 Future Driven questions to think about with your team…



1. What will students need to thrive in a complex, unpredictable world? (addressing rapid change)



2. How can our school better meet the unique needs of today’s kids? (kids are dealing with new issues/pressures)



3. How can we create a place where kids who resist school are empowered to love learning? (compliance vs. empowered learning)



4. Do teachers have the autonomy they need to create deeper learning? (teacher agency)



5. Do students have opportunities to pursue and explore their own questions? (inquiry)



6. Are students expected to create and innovate in your classroom? (critical thinking, problem-solving)



7. How are students helping others through what they’re learning? (empathy, service)



What other future driven questions do you think are relevant for educators to discuss? It’s amazing how questions can help us make the best decisions. I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter

Read More 7 Future Driven Questions to Discuss With Your Team



Reflection is so important for continued learning and growth. I developed the list below as a tool for educators to reflect on practices that help prepare students for a rapidly changing, complex world. Some of these practices are new. Some are not. Some of them involve technology. Some do not. 


These are all based on important themes from my book, Future Driven. These factors help prepare students for a modern world where continuous learning and adaptability are paramount.



I don’t think I would expect any educator to be pursuing all of these indicators at once. And this list should never be used to think in terms of judging a good teacher vs. a bad teacher. So don’t look at it like that. The purpose of the list is for reflection and growth.


It might give you an idea of where you want to focus your learning for next school year. You could pick one or two and consider how you might develop the practice in your classroom. It might help you consider your next steps in your growth as an educator.


20 Ways to be Future Driven in Your Classroom


1. I provide opportunities for project-based and inquiry-based learning.

2. I give students choices about learning (time, place, path, or pace).

3. I am learning new things about technology and sharing my learning with students and teachers.

4. My students have opportunities to connect with real-world experts.

5. My classroom learning space provides flexibility for student-centered grouping and learning tasks.

6. My students regularly have opportunities to use digital tools to leverage their skills for learning tasks.

7. I utilize Genius Hour or 20 percent time to provide opportunities for students to pursue their passions and interests.

8. I model risk-taking, grit, and perseverance for students and regularly discuss the importance of these characteristics in class.

9. I build strong relationships by greeting students, calling them by name, and getting to know them as individuals.

10. My students assume considerable responsibility for class discussions. Conversations become student-led, instead of teacher-directed.

11. My students take on projects that make a difference in the community or in the world (service-learning).

12. My students have many opportunities to create work that will be visible to authentic audiences.

13. I am intentional about cultivating curiosity in my students by having them develop their own questions, by allowing exploration, or by creating mystery or intrigue.

14. I ask my students for feedback on my teaching and the relevance of my lessons.

15. Empathy is just as important as responsibility in my classroom.

16. I am focused more on what a child can do and not what he/she cannot do.

17. I think about how the future will be different for my students and strive to teach with that in mind.

18. My students have opportunities to experiment with different approaches, rather than just practicing a predetermined method.

19. Character is more important than compliance in my classroom.

20. My students have many chances to take initiative, not just follow directions.



What other practices do you think are important for relevant, future ready learning? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 20 Ways to Be Future Driven in Your Classroom



Reflection is so important for continued learning and growth. I developed the list below as a tool for educators to reflect on practices that help prepare students for a rapidly changing, complex world. Some of these practices are new. Some are not. Some of them involve technology. Some do not. 


These are all based on important themes from my book, Future Driven. These factors help prepare students for a modern world where continuous learning and adaptability are paramount.



I don’t think I would expect any educator to be pursuing all of these indicators at once. And this list should never be used to think in terms of judging a good teacher vs. a bad teacher. So don’t look at it like that. The purpose of the list is for reflection and growth.


It might give you an idea of where you want to focus your learning for next school year. You could pick one or two and consider how you might develop the practice in your classroom. It might help you consider your next steps in your growth as an educator.


20 Ways to be Future Driven in Your Classroom


1. I provide opportunities for project-based and inquiry-based learning.

2. I give students choices about learning (time, place, path, or pace).

3. I am learning new things about technology and sharing my learning with students and teachers.

4. My students have opportunities to connect with real-world experts.

5. My classroom learning space provides flexibility for student-centered grouping and learning tasks.

6. My students regularly have opportunities to use digital tools to leverage their skills for learning tasks.

7. I utilize Genius Hour or 20 percent time to provide opportunities for students to pursue their passions and interests.

8. I model risk-taking, grit, and perseverance for students and regularly discuss the importance of these characteristics in class.

9. I build strong relationships by greeting students, calling them by name, and getting to know them as individuals.

10. My students assume considerable responsibility for class discussions. Conversations become student-led, instead of teacher-directed.

11. My students take on projects that make a difference in the community or in the world (service-learning).

12. My students have many opportunities to create work that will be visible to authentic audiences.

13. I am intentional about cultivating curiosity in my students by having them develop their own questions, by allowing exploration, or by creating mystery or intrigue.

14. I ask my students for feedback on my teaching and the relevance of my lessons.

15. Empathy is just as important as responsibility in my classroom.

16. I am focused more on what a child can do and not what he/she cannot do.

17. I think about how the future will be different for my students and strive to teach with that in mind.

18. My students have opportunities to experiment with different approaches, rather than just practicing a predetermined method.

19. Character is more important than compliance in my classroom.

20. My students have many chances to take initiative, not just follow directions.



What other practices do you think are important for relevant, future ready learning? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 20 Ways to Be Future Driven in Your Classroom



Reflection is so important for continued learning and growth. I developed the list below as a tool for educators to reflect on practices that help prepare students for a rapidly changing, complex world. Some of these practices are new. Some are not. Some of them involve technology. Some do not. 


These are all based on important themes from my book, Future Driven. These factors help prepare students for a modern world where continuous learning and adaptability are paramount.



I don’t think I would expect any educator to be pursuing all of these indicators at once. And this list should never be used to think in terms of judging a good teacher vs. a bad teacher. So don’t look at it like that. The purpose of the list is for reflection and growth.


It might give you an idea of where you want to focus your learning for next school year. You could pick one or two and consider how you might develop the practice in your classroom. It might help you consider your next steps in your growth as an educator.


20 Ways to be Future Driven in Your Classroom


1. I provide opportunities for project-based and inquiry-based learning.

2. I give students choices about learning (time, place, path, or pace).

3. I am learning new things about technology and sharing my learning with students and teachers.

4. My students have opportunities to connect with real-world experts.

5. My classroom learning space provides flexibility for student-centered grouping and learning tasks.

6. My students regularly have opportunities to use digital tools to leverage their skills for learning tasks.

7. I utilize Genius Hour or 20 percent time to provide opportunities for students to pursue their passions and interests.

8. I model risk-taking, grit, and perseverance for students and regularly discuss the importance of these characteristics in class.

9. I build strong relationships by greeting students, calling them by name, and getting to know them as individuals.

10. My students assume considerable responsibility for class discussions. Conversations become student-led, instead of teacher-directed.

11. My students take on projects that make a difference in the community or in the world (service-learning).

12. My students have many opportunities to create work that will be visible to authentic audiences.

13. I am intentional about cultivating curiosity in my students by having them develop their own questions, by allowing exploration, or by creating mystery or intrigue.

14. I ask my students for feedback on my teaching and the relevance of my lessons.

15. Empathy is just as important as responsibility in my classroom.

16. I am focused more on what a child can do and not what he/she cannot do.

17. I think about how the future will be different for my students and strive to teach with that in mind.

18. My students have opportunities to experiment with different approaches, rather than just practicing a predetermined method.

19. Character is more important than compliance in my classroom.

20. My students have many chances to take initiative, not just follow directions.



What other practices do you think are important for relevant, future ready learning? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

      

Read More 20 Ways to Be Future Driven in Your Classroom



Reflection is so important for continued learning and growth. I developed the list below as a tool for educators to reflect on practices that help prepare students for a rapidly changing, complex world. Some of these practices are new. Some are not. Some of them involve technology. Some do not. 


These are all based on important themes from my book, Future Driven. These factors help prepare students for a modern world where continuous learning and adaptability are paramount.



I don’t think I would expect any educator to be pursuing all of these indicators at once. And this list should never be used to think in terms of judging a good teacher vs. a bad teacher. So don’t look at it like that. The purpose of the list is for reflection and growth.


It might give you an idea of where you want to focus your learning for next school year. You could pick one or two and consider how you might develop the practice in your classroom. It might help you consider your next steps in your growth as an educator.


20 Ways to be Future Driven in Your Classroom


1. I provide opportunities for project-based and inquiry-based learning.

2. I give students choices about learning (time, place, path, or pace).

3. I am learning new things about technology and sharing my learning with students and teachers.

4. My students have opportunities to connect with real-world experts.

5. My classroom learning space provides flexibility for student-centered grouping and learning tasks.

6. My students regularly have opportunities to use digital tools to leverage their skills for learning tasks.

7. I utilize Genius Hour or 20 percent time to provide opportunities for students to pursue their passions and interests.

8. I model risk-taking, grit, and perseverance for students and regularly discuss the importance of these characteristics in class.

9. I build strong relationships by greeting students, calling them by name, and getting to know them as individuals.

10. My students assume considerable responsibility for class discussions. Conversations become student-led, instead of teacher-directed.

11. My students take on projects that make a difference in the community or in the world (service-learning).

12. My students have many opportunities to create work that will be visible to authentic audiences.

13. I am intentional about cultivating curiosity in my students by having them develop their own questions, by allowing exploration, or by creating mystery or intrigue.

14. I ask my students for feedback on my teaching and the relevance of my lessons.

15. Empathy is just as important as responsibility in my classroom.

16. I am focused more on what a child can do and not what he/she cannot do.

17. I think about how the future will be different for my students and strive to teach with that in mind.

18. My students have opportunities to experiment with different approaches, rather than just practicing a predetermined method.

19. Character is more important than compliance in my classroom.

20. My students have many chances to take initiative, not just follow directions.



What other practices do you think are important for relevant, future ready learning? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

      

Read More 20 Ways to Be Future Driven in Your Classroom





Every teenager is motivated. Every student is motivated. Every teacher. Every parent. Every person is 100% motivated. That’s right. You’re 100% motivated to do exactly what you’re doing at any given moment. 



I’ve been reading The Game Changer: How to Use the Science of Motivation With the Power of Game Design to Shift Behaviour, Shape Culture and Make Clever Happen by Jason Fox. Besides having a spectacularly long title, the book is long on great ideas too. The author makes a strong case for ways game design can be applied to bring motivation to life and work.



The book shows how we are motivated to do what we are currently doing in a given moment. That’s why it’s not helpful to assume someone just isn’t a motivated person. 



Whatever we are doing is what we are motivated to do.



As a result, it doesn’t make sense to try to change motivation. It might be possible, but it’s very difficult. We will default to activities that provide the richest sense of progress. Motivation isn’t the problem. The problem is the work itself. We want work that is satisfying.



We meaning WE, all of us. The adults in the school want meaningful work, and so do the students. All of us.



That doesn’t mean that every moment of the work will be satisfying, but overall, we see progress and benefits from the work we are doing. I’m guessing none of us would do anything we are currently doing if we didn’t see it as valuable or necessary to some relevant and beneficial purpose. 



And if we were required to do something out of compliance, that we did not value or find satisfying, over time it would be soul crushing and mind numbing. I wonder if some of our students feel that way?



If all of this is true, does it really make sense to expect students to change their motivation toward learning in your classroom or school? We plead with them to do their homework. We try to convince them why the work we offer them is so important to their future. We fuss at them to do more. We try to get them to buy-in to the game of school.



But why don’t we just change the game? 



Why don’t we reduce the friction? That’s the point I was trying to make in a previous post, 9 Ways to Make Learning Irresistible



I’m not saying we should make things easier, just more meaningful. Gamers fail as much as 80% of the time. Kids are extremely persistent when playing the games they love. They will persist in spite of frustration. They enjoy the challenge. They will stay with the struggle.



If kids aren’t persisting in our lessons, maybe we need to change the game. Every game includes goals, rules, and feedback. Every classroom includes goals, rules, and feedback. 



If we have an effective learning design, students WILL be motivated and you WILL successfully influence their behavior. Instead of expecting students to adjust to your game, why not develop the game with their motivations in mind? 



Why not change the learning to meet the students where they are? To me, that’s true relevance.



The students in your class who are struggling have probably always struggled in school. That becomes a pattern of frustration and failure. What are you doing to disrupt that pattern? What are you doing to be a game changer?



I’m really curious to know your thoughts on all of this. Leave me a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More A Surprisingly Beneficial Way to Think About Motivation





Every teenager is motivated. Every student is motivated. Every teacher. Every parent. Every person is 100% motivated. That’s right. You’re 100% motivated to do exactly what you’re doing at any given moment. 



I’ve been reading The Game Changer: How to Use the Science of Motivation With the Power of Game Design to Shift Behaviour, Shape Culture and Make Clever Happen by Jason Fox. Besides having a spectacularly long title, the book is long on great ideas too. The author makes a strong case for ways game design can be applied to bring motivation to life and work.



The book shows how we are motivated to do what we are currently doing in a given moment. That’s why it’s not helpful to assume someone just isn’t a motivated person. 



Whatever we are doing is what we are motivated to do.



As a result, it doesn’t make sense to try to change motivation. It might be possible, but it’s very difficult. We will default to activities that provide the richest sense of progress. Motivation isn’t the problem. The problem is the work itself. We want work that is satisfying.



We meaning WE, all of us. The adults in the school want meaningful work, and so do the students. All of us.



That doesn’t mean that every moment of the work will be satisfying, but overall, we see progress and benefits from the work we are doing. I’m guessing none of us would do anything we are currently doing if we didn’t see it as valuable or necessary to some relevant and beneficial purpose. 



And if we were required to do something out of compliance, that we did not value or find satisfying, over time it would be soul crushing and mind numbing. I wonder if some of our students feel that way?



If all of this is true, does it really make sense to expect students to change their motivation toward learning in your classroom or school? We plead with them to do their homework. We try to convince them why the work we offer them is so important to their future. We fuss at them to do more. We try to get them to buy-in to the game of school.



But why don’t we just change the game? 



Why don’t we reduce the friction? That’s the point I was trying to make in a previous post, 9 Ways to Make Learning Irresistible



I’m not saying we should make things easier, just more meaningful. Gamers fail as much as 80% of the time. Kids are extremely persistent when playing the games they love. They will persist in spite of frustration. They enjoy the challenge. They will stay with the struggle.



If kids aren’t persisting in our lessons, maybe we need to change the game. Every game includes goals, rules, and feedback. Every classroom includes goals, rules, and feedback. 



If we have an effective learning design, students WILL be motivated and you WILL successfully influence their behavior. Instead of expecting students to adjust to your game, why not develop the game with their motivations in mind? 



Why not change the learning to meet the students where they are? To me, that’s true relevance.



The students in your class who are struggling have probably always struggled in school. That becomes a pattern of frustration and failure. What are you doing to disrupt that pattern? What are you doing to be a game changer?



I’m really curious to know your thoughts on all of this. Leave me a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More A Surprisingly Beneficial Way to Think About Motivation





Every teenager is motivated. Every student is motivated. Every teacher. Every parent. Every person is 100% motivated. That’s right. You’re 100% motivated to do exactly what you’re doing at any given moment. 



I’ve been reading The Game Changer: How to Use the Science of Motivation With the Power of Game Design to Shift Behaviour, Shape Culture and Make Clever Happen by Jason Fox. Besides having a spectacularly long title, the book is long on great ideas too. The author makes a strong case for ways game design can be applied to bring motivation to life and work.



The book shows how we are motivated to do what we are currently doing in a given moment. That’s why it’s not helpful to assume someone just isn’t a motivated person. 



Whatever we are doing is what we are motivated to do.



As a result, it doesn’t make sense to try to change motivation. It might be possible, but it’s very difficult. We will default to activities that provide the richest sense of progress. Motivation isn’t the problem. The problem is the work itself. We want work that is satisfying.



We meaning WE, all of us. The adults in the school want meaningful work, and so do the students. All of us.



That doesn’t mean that every moment of the work will be satisfying, but overall, we see progress and benefits from the work we are doing. I’m guessing none of us would do anything we are currently doing if we didn’t see it as valuable or necessary to some relevant and beneficial purpose. 



And if we were required to do something out of compliance, that we did not value or find satisfying, over time it would be soul crushing and mind numbing. I wonder if some of our students feel that way?



If all of this is true, does it really make sense to expect students to change their motivation toward learning in your classroom or school? We plead with them to do their homework. We try to convince them why the work we offer them is so important to their future. We fuss at them to do more. We try to get them to buy-in to the game of school.



But why don’t we just change the game? 



Why don’t we reduce the friction? That’s the point I was trying to make in a previous post, 9 Ways to Make Learning Irresistible



I’m not saying we should make things easier, just more meaningful. Gamers fail as much as 80% of the time. Kids are extremely persistent when playing the games they love. They will persist in spite of frustration. They enjoy the challenge. They will stay with the struggle.



If kids aren’t persisting in our lessons, maybe we need to change the game. Every game includes goals, rules, and feedback. Every classroom includes goals, rules, and feedback. 



If we have an effective learning design, students WILL be motivated and you WILL successfully influence their behavior. Instead of expecting students to adjust to your game, why not develop the game with their motivations in mind? 



Why not change the learning to meet the students where they are? To me, that’s true relevance.



The students in your class who are struggling have probably always struggled in school. That becomes a pattern of frustration and failure. What are you doing to disrupt that pattern? What are you doing to be a game changer?



I’m really curious to know your thoughts on all of this. Leave me a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

      

Read More A Surprisingly Beneficial Way to Think About Motivation





Every teenager is motivated. Every student is motivated. Every teacher. Every parent. Every person is 100% motivated. That’s right. You’re 100% motivated to do exactly what you’re doing at any given moment. 



I’ve been reading The Game Changer: How to Use the Science of Motivation With the Power of Game Design to Shift Behaviour, Shape Culture and Make Clever Happen by Jason Fox. Besides having a spectacularly long title, the book is long on great ideas too. The author makes a strong case for ways game design can be applied to bring motivation to life and work.



The book shows how we are motivated to do what we are currently doing in a given moment. That’s why it’s not helpful to assume someone just isn’t a motivated person. 



Whatever we are doing is what we are motivated to do.



As a result, it doesn’t make sense to try to change motivation. It might be possible, but it’s very difficult. We will default to activities that provide the richest sense of progress. Motivation isn’t the problem. The problem is the work itself. We want work that is satisfying.



We meaning WE, all of us. The adults in the school want meaningful work, and so do the students. All of us.



That doesn’t mean that every moment of the work will be satisfying, but overall, we see progress and benefits from the work we are doing. I’m guessing none of us would do anything we are currently doing if we didn’t see it as valuable or necessary to some relevant and beneficial purpose. 



And if we were required to do something out of compliance, that we did not value or find satisfying, over time it would be soul crushing and mind numbing. I wonder if some of our students feel that way?



If all of this is true, does it really make sense to expect students to change their motivation toward learning in your classroom or school? We plead with them to do their homework. We try to convince them why the work we offer them is so important to their future. We fuss at them to do more. We try to get them to buy-in to the game of school.



But why don’t we just change the game? 



Why don’t we reduce the friction? That’s the point I was trying to make in a previous post, 9 Ways to Make Learning Irresistible



I’m not saying we should make things easier, just more meaningful. Gamers fail as much as 80% of the time. Kids are extremely persistent when playing the games they love. They will persist in spite of frustration. They enjoy the challenge. They will stay with the struggle.



If kids aren’t persisting in our lessons, maybe we need to change the game. Every game includes goals, rules, and feedback. Every classroom includes goals, rules, and feedback. 



If we have an effective learning design, students WILL be motivated and you WILL successfully influence their behavior. Instead of expecting students to adjust to your game, why not develop the game with their motivations in mind? 



Why not change the learning to meet the students where they are? To me, that’s true relevance.



The students in your class who are struggling have probably always struggled in school. That becomes a pattern of frustration and failure. What are you doing to disrupt that pattern? What are you doing to be a game changer?



I’m really curious to know your thoughts on all of this. Leave me a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

      

Read More A Surprisingly Beneficial Way to Think About Motivation



You have a choice when it comes to your attention. You give it to things you value, the things you find interesting or rewarding or helpful. And you withhold your attention from things that seem less valuable to you. We are constantly making decisions about our attention, where to focus it, and how to spend it.



And your students are no different. They also make choices about where to focus their attention. And that’s why it’s so important to provide a classroom experience that students will find meaningful (this is important to me) and rewarding (I can be successful here).



What if we treated students like volunteers? What if we acted as if they had no obligation to learn the things we must teach? What if we made it our mission to cause them to want to learn more?



Wouldn’t it be great if students saw learning as something they get to do instead of something they have to do?



What if we decided it was up to us to create a force that pulls them in? After all, students make decisions with their attention just like the rest of us. Let’s make learning so great it becomes irresistible. 



How strong is your lesson’s gravitational pull? Be a force field of energy. Bring so much passion, enthusiasm, and creativity to your lesson that students think, “There is no way this teacher is gonna settle for less than my best!”



Bring that type of energy. Are your students pulled into your lesson? How is the energy in your classroom? How is your culture of learning?



When I visit classrooms, every single one feels a little different. But when things are working right there is a kind of energy that makes learning go. It’s focused energy. It’s energy that’s driving learning forward.



It’s kids really connecting to learning. There’s a kind of positive tension, a push forward that comes with growth. 



And none of this is necessarily about specific teaching methods. There are lots of different methods that can work. But where is the attention flowing? Are you pulling them in? The teacher may be sage on the stage, or guide by the side. Lots of methods can work.



But the method doesn’t matter most. Whatever the method, the room is focused. It might be noisy or quiet but there is intentionality. It might be teacher-centered or student-centered, but ultimately it’s learning-centered.



So be intentional about how energy is flowing in your space. And don’t settle for mediocrity. Aim for excellence. Is attention flowing toward learning? Does the energy pull them toward success?



Here are 15 ways to get attention focused and get energy flowing toward learning. I’ve divided them into three different categories.



Connect. Students will focus energy on learning when the relationship with the teacher is stronger. 

1. Greet students.

2. Call them by name.

3. Smile.

4. Make eye contact.

5. Learn something new about each student.



Communicate. Effective classroom communication helps focus energy in desirable ways. 

6. Clarify expectations.

7. Start with why. Explain context and relevance.

8. Tell stories to illustrate concepts. Stories capture attention.

9. Increase student voice and choice.

10. Redirect unfocused energy. Call out energy drifters.



Inspire. When learning is meaningful and authentic, students will give more. Don’t play the game of school. Do stuff that matters and makes a difference.

11. Connect learning to student interests.

12. Challenge students to design, think, and problem-solve.

13. Make surprises routine. Mix it up.

14. Be the Chief Energy Officer. Lead the fun.

15. Incorporate curiosity and creativity consistently.



What else would you add to this list? How would you take these ideas deeper? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 15 Ways to Increase Focused Energy in Your Classroom



You have a choice when it comes to your attention. You give it to things you value, the things you find interesting or rewarding or helpful. And you withhold your attention from things that seem less valuable to you. We are constantly making decisions about our attention, where to focus it, and how to spend it.



And your students are no different. They also make choices about where to focus their attention. And that’s why it’s so important to provide a classroom experience that students will find meaningful (this is important to me) and rewarding (I can be successful here).



What if we treated students like volunteers? What if we acted as if they had no obligation to learn the things we must teach? What if we made it our mission to cause them to want to learn more?



Wouldn’t it be great if students saw learning as something they get to do instead of something they have to do?



What if we decided it was up to us to create a force that pulls them in? After all, students make decisions with their attention just like the rest of us. Let’s make learning so great it becomes irresistible. 



How strong is your lesson’s gravitational pull? Be a force field of energy. Bring so much passion, enthusiasm, and creativity to your lesson that students think, “There is no way this teacher is gonna settle for less than my best!”



Bring that type of energy. Are your students pulled into your lesson? How is the energy in your classroom? How is your culture of learning?



When I visit classrooms, every single one feels a little different. But when things are working right there is a kind of energy that makes learning go. It’s focused energy. It’s energy that’s driving learning forward.



It’s kids really connecting to learning. There’s a kind of positive tension, a push forward that comes with growth. 



And none of this is necessarily about specific teaching methods. There are lots of different methods that can work. But where is the attention flowing? Are you pulling them in? The teacher may be sage on the stage, or guide by the side. Lots of methods can work.



But the method doesn’t matter most. Whatever the method, the room is focused. It might be noisy or quiet but there is intentionality. It might be teacher-centered or student-centered, but ultimately it’s learning-centered.



So be intentional about how energy is flowing in your space. And don’t settle for mediocrity. Aim for excellence. Is attention flowing toward learning? Does the energy pull them toward success?



Here are 15 ways to get attention focused and get energy flowing toward learning. I’ve divided them into three different categories.



Connect. Students will focus energy on learning when the relationship with the teacher is stronger. 

1. Greet students.

2. Call them by name.

3. Smile.

4. Make eye contact.

5. Learn something new about each student.



Communicate. Effective classroom communication helps focus energy in desirable ways. 

6. Clarify expectations.

7. Start with why. Explain context and relevance.

8. Tell stories to illustrate concepts. Stories capture attention.

9. Increase student voice and choice.

10. Redirect unfocused energy. Call out energy drifters.



Inspire. When learning is meaningful and authentic, students will give more. Don’t play the game of school. Do stuff that matters and makes a difference.

11. Connect learning to student interests.

12. Challenge students to design, think, and problem-solve.

13. Make surprises routine. Mix it up.

14. Be the Chief Energy Officer. Lead the fun.

15. Incorporate curiosity and creativity consistently.



What else would you add to this list? How would you take these ideas deeper? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 15 Ways to Increase Focused Energy in Your Classroom





I completely agree with the tweet below from Jennifer Hogan. High schools can learn from elementary schools. And every level of education should stoke the fire and cultivate curiosity in learning. It’s important for every classroom to inspire kids to want to learn more.




High schools can learn a lot from elementary schools, who do a great job of creating a sense of wonder & cultivating curiosity in kids! Let’s keep stoking the fire! 🔥 #ALedchat #satchat pic.twitter.com/1mbGo4W2OR

— Jennifer Hogan (@Jennifer_Hogan) December 9, 2017

I truly believe that regardless of what level we teach, we should also strive to learn from each other. When we share our knowledge and experience across content areas or with other grade levels, it just makes us all stronger.



The tweet also reminded me of another way high schools might learn from elementary schools.



I’m always amazed when I have the opportunity to visit elementary classrooms. I observe keenly and enjoy seeing different strategies and methods that lead to more learning in that context. I often see things that would be beneficial in the typical high school classroom, too. 



All the way down to primary school classrooms, I have observed students taking responsibility, working collaboratively, and self-managing in various structures. The teacher is often working with a small group of students while other learning activities are happening all around the classroom.



I’ve heard teachers at the high school level make statements that seem to reject this type of learning. 



“Freshmen can’t handle working in groups.”



“Projects don’t work for my students.”



“I would like to do more collaborative things, but I have 30 kids in my class. It’s just not possible.”



“If I’m working with a small group of students, how will I know what the others are doing?”



All of these statements have an element of truth. It can be challenging to do these things, at any grade level. But the statements are also extremely self-limiting. These statements become self-imposed limits, probably based on an experience that wasn’t positive, “I tried that. It didn’t work for me. Case closed.”



Is it possible for projects, collaboration, and small group instruction to be effective at the high school level? Of course! I’ve seen high school classes thriving with these methods. And it makes no sense developmentally that even much younger students can handle self-directed methods while older students cannot.



So why do teachers tend to revert to more teacher-centric approaches in high school? It’s likely because of the efficiency, control, and structure that is provided through direct instruction. It’s partly because it’s what’s comfortable, and perhaps all they’ve ever known. 



By the way, direct instruction is not bad. It can be an effective and necessary method, but it shouldn’t be the only way students learn.



There should also be opportunities for more self-directed, student empowered methods also. We must provide students opportunities to develop agency, ownership, and social learning abilities.



So what does it take to have success with this type of learning?



Structure.



It’s the same thing that makes teachers want to use direct instruction. Every teacher knows that a productive learning environment is going to have structure. And it feels easier to do in a direct-instruction, teacher-centered classroom. And maybe it is easier to do. But that doesn’t make it better.



In the classes that succeed with more collaborative, student-centered approaches, teachers must clearly communicate the structure that will be used. There must be boundaries. The expectations must be communicated consistently and revisited regularly.



Whether it’s an elementary classroom or high school classroom, it takes structure to make any learning strategy successful. We are not talking about anarchy in the classroom here.



However, it will take willpower and determination on the part of the teacher to push through some of the struggles that may happen as students learn the structure. But as the teacher works with students to clarify expectations and provides opportunities for practice and reflection, students will learn to have more independence and exhibit a higher level of responsibility.



It’s not that the students can’t do it. Don’t impose your limits on a classroom of kids. Don’t diminish their capabilities. You are choosing not to pursue success when you embrace disempowering thoughts. You won’t have success with any method if you don’t believe in it and your kids’ ability to succeed with it.



It’s just that you must teach them to do it. You must provide accountability as needed. You must coach them. You have to reflect with them. You have to provide consequences when needed. You have to bring so much passion to the space that students know you’re not going to settle for less than their best.



With your guidance and creativity, you can help your students do amazing things, regardless of the grade level you’re teaching.



Is there a misconception that student-empowerment means not having structure in the classroom? I wonder about that. Share your thoughts below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Another Thing High Schools Might Learn From Elementary Schools





I completely agree with the tweet below from Jennifer Hogan. High schools can learn from elementary schools. And every level of education should stoke the fire and cultivate curiosity in learning. It’s important for every classroom to inspire kids to want to learn more.




High schools can learn a lot from elementary schools, who do a great job of creating a sense of wonder & cultivating curiosity in kids! Let’s keep stoking the fire! 🔥 #ALedchat #satchat pic.twitter.com/1mbGo4W2OR

— Jennifer Hogan (@Jennifer_Hogan) December 9, 2017

I truly believe that regardless of what level we teach, we should also strive to learn from each other. When we share our knowledge and experience across content areas or with other grade levels, it just makes us all stronger.



The tweet also reminded me of another way high schools might learn from elementary schools.



I’m always amazed when I have the opportunity to visit elementary classrooms. I observe keenly and enjoy seeing different strategies and methods that lead to more learning in that context. I often see things that would be beneficial in the typical high school classroom, too. 



All the way down to primary school classrooms, I have observed students taking responsibility, working collaboratively, and self-managing in various structures. The teacher is often working with a small group of students while other learning activities are happening all around the classroom.



I’ve heard teachers at the high school level make statements that seem to reject this type of learning. 



“Freshmen can’t handle working in groups.”



“Projects don’t work for my students.”



“I would like to do more collaborative things, but I have 30 kids in my class. It’s just not possible.”



“If I’m working with a small group of students, how will I know what the others are doing?”



All of these statements have an element of truth. It can be challenging to do these things, at any grade level. But the statements are also extremely self-limiting. These statements become self-imposed limits, probably based on an experience that wasn’t positive, “I tried that. It didn’t work for me. Case closed.”



Is it possible for projects, collaboration, and small group instruction to be effective at the high school level? Of course! I’ve seen high school classes thriving with these methods. And it makes no sense developmentally that even much younger students can handle self-directed methods while older students cannot.



So why do teachers tend to revert to more teacher-centric approaches in high school? It’s likely because of the efficiency, control, and structure that is provided through direct instruction. It’s partly because it’s what’s comfortable, and perhaps all they’ve ever known. 



By the way, direct instruction is not bad. It can be an effective and necessary method, but it shouldn’t be the only way students learn.



There should also be opportunities for more self-directed, student empowered methods also. We must provide students opportunities to develop agency, ownership, and social learning abilities.



So what does it take to have success with this type of learning?



Structure.



It’s the same thing that makes teachers want to use direct instruction. Every teacher knows that a productive learning environment is going to have structure. And it feels easier to do in a direct-instruction, teacher-centered classroom. And maybe it is easier to do. But that doesn’t make it better.



In the classes that succeed with more collaborative, student-centered approaches, teachers must clearly communicate the structure that will be used. There must be boundaries. The expectations must be communicated consistently and revisited regularly.



Whether it’s an elementary classroom or high school classroom, it takes structure to make any learning strategy successful. We are not talking about anarchy in the classroom here.



However, it will take willpower and determination on the part of the teacher to push through some of the struggles that may happen as students learn the structure. But as the teacher works with students to clarify expectations and provides opportunities for practice and reflection, students will learn to have more independence and exhibit a higher level of responsibility.



It’s not that the students can’t do it. Don’t impose your limits on a classroom of kids. Don’t diminish their capabilities. You are choosing not to pursue success when you embrace disempowering thoughts. You won’t have success with any method if you don’t believe in it and your kids’ ability to succeed with it.



It’s just that you must teach them to do it. You must provide accountability as needed. You must coach them. You have to reflect with them. You have to provide consequences when needed. You have to bring so much passion to the space that students know you’re not going to settle for less than their best.



With your guidance and creativity, you can help your students do amazing things, regardless of the grade level you’re teaching.



Is there a misconception that student-empowerment means not having structure in the classroom? I wonder about that. Share your thoughts below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Another Thing High Schools Might Learn From Elementary Schools





The teacher asked her students to make some decisions about the direction of the learning. The lesson required independent thought and initiative.



But one student resisted, “Isn’t it your job to teach me?”



Have you ever heard a question like that from one of your students? It’s a question that was asked by a student in our school. And to me it illustrates the way many students have come to believe that learning is a product of their compliance with a teacher. 



Just tell me what I need to know. Tell me what to do, what to learn. Teach me. Isn’t that YOUR job?



Another student said to me, “I just want to take notes and then have a test.” This comment came from a student in a classroom where students are expected to own a considerable amount of the learning and develop original thoughts. Learning in this class is demonstrated through projects and authentic activities.



I don’t blame these students for thinking this way. I think, at least in part, they are simply a product of a system that has conditioned them to be passive learners. 



So who owns the learning? The student? The teacher? Both?



How would you respond if you heard these words from your students? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Isn’t It Your Job To Teach Me?





The teacher asked her students to make some decisions about the direction of the learning. The lesson required independent thought and initiative.



But one student resisted, “Isn’t it your job to teach me?”



Have you ever heard a question like that from one of your students? It’s a question that was asked by a student in our school. And to me it illustrates the way many students have come to believe that learning is a product of their compliance with a teacher. 



Just tell me what I need to know. Tell me what to do, what to learn. Teach me. Isn’t that YOUR job?



Another student said to me, “I just want to take notes and then have a test.” This comment came from a student in a classroom where students are expected to own a considerable amount of the learning and develop original thoughts. Learning in this class is demonstrated through projects and authentic activities.



I don’t blame these students for thinking this way. I think, at least in part, they are simply a product of a system that has conditioned them to be passive learners. 



So who owns the learning? The student? The teacher? Both?



How would you respond if you heard these words from your students? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Isn’t It Your Job To Teach Me?





The teacher asked her students to make some decisions about the direction of the learning. The lesson required independent thought and initiative.



But one student resisted, “Isn’t it your job to teach me?”



Have you ever heard a question like that from one of your students? It’s a question that was asked by a student in our school. And to me it illustrates the way many students have come to believe that learning is a product of their compliance with a teacher. 



Just tell me what I need to know. Tell me what to do, what to learn. Teach me. Isn’t that YOUR job?



Another student said to me, “I just want to take notes and then have a test.” This comment came from a student in a classroom where students are expected to own a considerable amount of the learning and develop original thoughts. Learning in this class is demonstrated through projects and authentic activities.



I don’t blame these students for thinking this way. I think, at least in part, they are simply a product of a system that has conditioned them to be passive learners. 



So who owns the learning? The student? The teacher? Both?



How would you respond if you heard these words from your students? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Isn’t It Your Job To Teach Me?