The edu-blog awards prompted a spirited debate on twitter in recent weeks, with many arguing that those of us in education who oppose awards in our schools should oppose the edu-blog awards.  One of my favorite tweets in that conversation argued that instead of awards, we in the blogging community should instead write a list of our favorite blogs.   I was inspired.

As an aside, I do not oppose supporting my students in seeking external awards: I love to see them compete and triumph outside my school community, and I like to celebrate their successes in doing so.   What I worry about, though, is that internal awards, where our students’ teachers select “favorites” among them, is potentially damaging to the strength of our school community. So with that as my standard, I don’t see such a conflict in bloggers who oppose in-school awards celebrating their edu-blogger award nominations.

The problem with any list is once you start it is hard to know how to stop.    There will inevitably be many fine blogs left off a list like this, so I offer my apologies to any potential exclusions in advance.  This list is is no particular order whatsoever.

1. Peter Papas is a former public school educator, now consultant, who blogs at Copy/Paste: Dedicated to Relinquishing Responsibility for Learning to the Students.   The sub-title alone represents its point of view compellingly; this is a great blog.  Peter seems to publish 5-10 times a month, and he is unafraid to write lengthy, thoughtful, academic posts which really inform as they inspire.   Copy-Paste has great themes which resonate closely with my own writing, but with sharper analysis and more thorough elucidation.     Some excellent recent posts include

2. David Truss is the independent school (international independent, in Dalian, China) administrator whose blog I currently most admire; he writes at Pair-a-Dimes for Your Thoughts. He posts 2-5 times a month; he writes about his school-work and his educational philosophy interchangeably;  and he uses images powerfully.  He is also unafraid to write at length.     Some recent posts I admired include:

3. George Couros, a Canadian public school principal,  is a great inspiration to me, both for his work as architect and soul of Connected Principals and for his individual blog, The Principal of Change.   (more…)

“If you are not a school of the future, you won’t be a school in the future.”

In NAIS President Pat Bassett’s presentation Monday, he called upon educators to frame their inquiry about becoming Schools of the Future around four Essential Questions:

  1. What should we teach?
  2. How should we teach?
  3. How should we assess?
  4. How do we embed the vision?

He then elaborated upon each; perhaps it was due to time running out, but his discussion of the fourth was most abstract and least pertinent, I thought.   But I offer some summary and thoughts about the first three:

What should we teach?

Pat urged schools emphasize the The Five C’s: Creativity, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Communication, and Character.  He argued that thought some schools may have done good work with articulating the language arts or science curriculum, K-12, via mapping, now it is incumbent upon us to map these skill and value curricular strands: “What is your PS through 12th grade leadership curriculum?”

But once schools have embraced the responsibility to ensure students can do, rather than just know, it is time to then grapple again with what is is students must know: “Is there a body of knowledge that is mandatory and universal for our students?”

This is the right place to start, and I appreciate Pat’s focus on this most essential of questions as the foundation for creating schools of the future.  (more…)

I enjoyed greatly a six hour session yesterday with NAIS President Pat Bassett; he spoke on critical trends facing our industry and on generative questions framing the “School of the Future.”

I have, for this post, picked out seven of the trends he discussed, summarizing his points and offering a small response to each.

1. Marketing and Communicating Value: Competition among school sectors (public, charter, private, independent, on-line, home schooling) will only continue to intensify.   To flourish, NAIS  schools will need to seek and gain a larger market share of a declining market: we must work harder to demonstrate value,  to make the case for quality education of our kind, and we must discover and distribute a sticky message.    PB suggests one possible message, to the many consumers who are struggling with the costs associated with quality, national caliber independent education:  You Can’t Afford Not To Afford an Independent School! Many, many high school graduates are attending college, PB points out, but far, far fewer succeed brilliantly in college, graduate, and go on to grad school successfully– but NAIS grads do, in high numbers.     The investment is worth it; independent school grads succeed in university in unparalleled proportions, Bassett argues.     (more…)

Resources and Links below, or after the jump.

Some comments:

1.  As much as the audience seemed to appreciate my presentation, some who were there, and some who were not, expressed and/or felt that the topic wasn’t ideally suited for an audience of  ed. technologists and librarians– because they are not often involved enough in the decision-making about assessment and measurement of learning.  (And I am apologetic for my topic having been a little off-base for some attendees).

However, there was definitely interest in some areas of the talk:  the topic of computer adaptive assessment as exemplified by MAP, for one.   Some asked me why, when the technology for computer adaptive assessment has been available for years, why it is only now coming on-line (or, according to Sec. Duncan, won’t be available until 2014).  I didn’t know the answer, but others in the audience speculated that it might be because the hardware hasn’t been available in the classroom to exploit computer adaptive assessment software until now.  There was also an illuminating conversation among attendees about new tools via Moodle for teachers to design their own computer adaptive testing, which was fascinating to me.  (more…)

Dear NAIS:

It is the time of year again when you solicit nominations for the NAIS Board, and it is very generous of you to do so.  There are many fine educators and school supporters on the NAIS board now, but I believe there is something missing from the mix.  As a fairly close observer of our terrific independent school association over the past several years, I have been increasingly awed by the growing role of our ed tech directors as a enormously valuable NAIS brain trust.

Our ed tech directors are not just expert in, and informing us about, educational technology; increasingly as you listen to them and see what they are doing, you recognize that these folks are leading the way in thinking about and guiding us fellow independent school educators

  • in how learning is changing,
  • in shaping schools and the classrooms of the future,
  • in effective professional development for our faculties,
  • in communication and collaboration among independent school educators,
  • and in the nature and process of change in schools.

These folks are excellent educators and great promoters of our independent schools; as members of the board, they can and will greatly and positively influence the agenda that is set and the advances that we make for our association.

I have a list of about a dozen suggestions below, but this is by no means an exhaustive list.   I am not lobbying for any particular candidate– these folks are all great– but I do want to implore our association to add an educational (or academic) technology director to the board.

Howard LevinHoward Levin is Director of Academic Technology at Urban School (CA), and a main contributor to that school’s excellent Center for Innovative Teaching.   He is a guru, I think,  about the intersection of technology and teaching, and is very thoughtful and articulate (and widely published) on how our students can and should use laptops for organizing, publishing, communicating and collaborating online.

bigenhocChris Bigenho, at Greenhill School, has been an architect of the NAIS schools of the future program at the Annual Conference, and provided a terrific service at last year’s annual conference as the mastermind of the shared blog and twitter feed for NAIS attendees.   He consults widely and blogs brilliantly; he is a sharp thinker about cognitive development and draws upon that knowledge to inform and shape our understanding  about technology and learning in a very impressive way. (more…)

This was a great session, and my kudos and appreciation to the presenters:  CWRA (College and Work Readiness Assessment) is a powerful tool for educational reform, and an important vehicle for bringin problem-based learning into our classrooms.  It isn’t just a measurement device, I increasingly realize, but a tool that stirs the entire pot of a school culture toward more authentic assessment throughout a school. Below is my narrative of the session:

Today’s presentation, entitled Collaboration for 21st century Success, features a panel of representatives from schools actually using the CWRA.
(more…)