Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Hottest Posts This Week!

Here’s the roundup of what's been popular on The Innovative Educator blog this week. Below you’ll see the top weekly posts along with the number of pageviews. I hope there's something that looks of interest to you.  If it does, check it out. If you’re inspired, share it with others and/or leave a comment.

Mar 12, 2012, 4 comments                       2,931 Pageviews

Mar 26, 2012, 5 comments                       2,868 Pageviews
Mar 25, 2012, 1 comment                         2,527 Pageviews

Aug 24, 2010, 35 comments                     2,458 Pageviews

Mar 23, 2012, 1 comment                         1959 Pageviews

Jul 15, 2010, 20 comments                       1525 Pageviews

Feb 5, 2011, 22 comments                       1485 Pageviewa                                                             

Mar 27, 2012                                          11426 Pageviews

Mar 23, 2012, 18 comments                      1424 Pageviews

Mar 30, 2012, 1 comment                         1423 Pageviews

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Parent says, "No good reasons for this excessive testing!"

Cross posted from Grumpy Educators
"Since I found out two years ago how much experimental testing was happening, I’ve opted him out of dozens of tests. He has skipped the CPS Learning First Benchmark Assessments, the Scantron Performance Series tests, and the pilot Common Core. CPS administered each of these standardized tests in several subjects, several times a year. But there are no good reasons for this excessive testing."

No good reasons indeed and no good reason for parents to get the runaround, be threatened, intimidated, punished, or misinformed, a disturbing and familiar trend nationwide as parents attempt to exercise their parental rights.

Chicago parent, Sharon Schmidt, chronicles how much effort it took to once again this year to exercise those rights and opt out her son of standardized testing. The Schmidt family has been exercising their rights in accordance to the law and provides the requisite information so that other parents have access to the facts. The lack of clear policy guidelines leads to unnecessary confusion. No parent should have to work so hard and write so many emails to clarify. This year, their son will not take the tests, but the school requires that he be kept at home on the testing days and be marked absent versus previous years when he stayed in school and did independent reading.

In a U.S. Supreme Court determination, Troxel v. Granville, the justices relied on the 14th Amendment:

(a) The Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause has a substantive component that “provides heightened protection against government interference with certain fundamental rights and liberty interests,” Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U.S. 702, 720, including parents’ fundamental right to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children, see, e.g., Stanley v. Illinois, 405 U.S. 645, 651. Pp. 5—8.

You can join the discussion about opting out in your state in two ways by joining the Opt Out group on Facebook. Here's how:
1) Type in the search: Opt out of State Standardized Tests - Your State i.e. Opt Out of State Standardized Tests - Ohio
2) Go to the page url: i.e.

You can find and additional information pertaining to your state at 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Reactions to Stop Stealing Dreams

If you haven't read Seth Godin's Stop Stealing Dreams I recommend you consider downloading the free eBook and as it provides a great platform for education reform conversation. If you've read the book and want to talk about it, you can join this group where folks are not only doing just that, but they are also writing their reflections via articles and posts. Want to know what people are saying? Read these articles. If you're writing about Stop Stealing Dreams join the group and add your post here.

Article Name: Learning Math through Programming
Blog / Magazine: Shuback
Author: Jeremy Shuback
Brief Description: In Part 113, Seth Godin asks "Is the memorization and drill[...] of advanced math the best way to sell kids on becoming scientists and engineers?" A look at how various schools are teaching math by teaching programming.

Article Name:Those Kids Could Dream
Blog / Magazine:Between the By-Road and the Main Road Looking Up
Author: Mary Ann Reilly
Brief Description: An art piece and an essay exploring dreaming, parenting, and school.

Article Name: A Today's Meet by 5th graders
Blog / Magazine:
Author: 5th graders
Brief Description: 5th graders read part of the manifesto and then began discussing the ideas with their classmates and teacher

Article Name: “Stop Stealing Dreams”-Part 1
Blog / Magazine: Looking Up
Author: Andrew Campbell
Brief Description: A collection of my first thoughts after reading 'Stop Stealing Dreams'

Article Name: My review of Seth Godin’s new book, Stop Stealing Dreams
Blog / Magazine: Penelope Trunk blog
Author: Penelope Trunk
Brief Description: The author points out that even though school stinks Godin dismisses a viable option...homeschooling.

Article Name: When we stop stealing dreams, what do we do instead?
Blog / Magazine: The Innovative Educator
Author: Lisa Nielsen
Brief Description: When we realize education is no longer tied to places, but rather to people, a completely new way to learn can emerge.

Article Name: I refuse to steal my kids’ dreams (On homeschooling as a social movement)
Blog: Simple Homeschool
Author: by Jamie
Brief Description: Point by point response to Seth Godin's reasons home ed won't take off including: concern, time commitment, mistakes, fear,

Article Name: Stop Stealing Dreams - Seth Godin's New Book. Available Free!
Blog: The Innovative Educator
Author: Lisa Nielsen
Brief Description: Information about downloading the article, joining the Facebook group, sharing favorite quotes and reactions, and a fantastic info graphic by Lynne Cazaly.

Article Name: Stop Stealing Dreams - Homeschooling works for parents who try it
Blog: The Innovative Educator
Author: Pat Farenga, Lisa Nielsen
Brief Description Patrick Farenga responds to section 121 of Stop Stealing Dreams: 121. Home schooling isn’t the answer for most.

Article Name: How Soccer Will Save the World
Blog / Magazine: Looking Up
Author: Andrew Campbell
Brief Description: Discusses how SSD has affected the way I view unrelated topics (industrial vs post-industrial activities). Seeks post-industrial activities in a non-educational setting. How has SSD changed the way you see the world?

Article Name: Adjusting the High School Curriculum
Blog / Magazine: Shuback
Author: Jeremy Shuback
Brief Description: Infographic & Video on adjusting the high school curriculum based on the classes Seth Godin suggests in SSD.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Develop language skills with cell phones - True Stories

Cross posted at the Teaching Generation Text. The blog dedicated to using mobile devices for learning.

Not only can Google Voice become a repository for oral reports, assignments, or sound bites, but teachers can also write notes on each clip, share, and post them. Not only is this an effective tool for use with auditory learners and a way to practice language skills, but English as a Second Language and Foreign Language teachers will also want to listen up too! Often there is not enough class time for oral reports, but Google Voice changes all that as we see in the story of one high school Spanish teacher's experience in the below anecdote.

Text Talk Classroom Stories: Katy Taylor
At Holmdel High School in New Jersey, students in Katy Taylor’s 
Spanish class practice their language skills on the phone. On their own time, students call her Google Voice number and  read something in Spanish or create a dialogue which is sent to her Google Voice account.  The kids respond really well to it and instead of taking up class time, they dial in to her phone number at a time that works best for their schedule. She is then able to go online to hear what they've done at a time that works best for her.  She listens to their recordings and e-mails them feedback. Many students are afraid to make mistakes in front of their peers. When they receive a recording assignment, they're more apt to take risks because they have some privacy. The end result is students are speaking more and getting feedback.

More Ideas for Using Google Voice with Students
  1. Have students do their oral reports using Google Voice. If they don't like how they sounded the first time, they don't have to send the message. They can re-record until they have something with which they are happy.
  2. Use as an assessment tool to easily capture student's reading level. Not only do you have a recording, you have a transcript and a place to keep notes. Rather than talk to a parent about how a student has progressed across a year, let them listen to it their child themselves.
  3. Have students share something interesting about themselves and post the recordings on a class page or in a blog where other students can listen or comment.

To find out how to get going with Google Voice, visit this link. For more ideas about effective ways to use cell phones for learning, including research-based strategies, lessons, and more order Teaching Generation Text.

Monday, March 26, 2012

2 critical things to do & remember each day as a teacher

When I speak to teachers and parents of students and ask them if they are doing work that is meaningful, relevant, and worthy of the world, I often get puzzled looks or disappointing answers. Sometimes this is because there is a belief that we’re only preparing students for work worthy of the world. Actually doing is reserved for adults. Other times it’s because some believe that teaching their subject content is worthy in and of itself.  

I generally get a variety of answers.  An answer might be something like...

"Sure I am. My kids dissect virtual frogs in science class." 


"My kids turn in response to literature essays." 

A worse answer will be, something like...
"Sure I am.  My kids are going to be very well prepared for their standardized tests." 

The answer some people think I want to hear might go something like this...
“Oh, yes I am! I use Smartboards and I have my kids come up and tap it.”  

For those who know I think Smartboards are dumb, they may say something like this...
“We are using technology to publish student work.” 

Good start but when I ask where the work is published and what is happening as a result of the work? 
I often get answers like...
“It’s published on our website, blog, wiki, or maybe YouTube.” 

Okay. That’s nice, but if it’s meaningful and worthy of the world how are adults supporting students in getting this work out from just reaching a school audience and into the world? Publishing it to your school or class is nice, but it’s not the world. It doesn’t help young people feel like they matter. It doesn’t help them understand how they have the power to change the world.  Publishing something and doing nothing is usually not empowering students to do as much as they can.

Unfortunately, in this age of accountability, many have lost sight of what really matters. In many schools it no longer matters what students, teachers or leaders are doing to change the world. What matters today is how well you help students fill in bubbles. 

And, frankly...

That's a skill that doesn’t matter!  

It's time to get back to the basics and by that I don’t mean reading, writing, and rithmetic.  I mean, the basics of why we decided to do this work. We didn’t enter this field to help kids fill in tiny bubbles.  We want our work to matter. We want to make a great impact on the lives of children. We know students won’t remember their favorite teachers or best times in school from the teachers who talked, textbooked, and tested. They will remember their teacher who told them they mattered. They won’t fondly remember the one who lied and answered that "you need to know this and take these tests to be prepared for the world." They will remember the teacher who told them they can change the world today.

How can you become that teacher?  By doing and remembering two important things.

Here they are:
Every day educators must remember two things.
1) We are not teaching subjects. We are teaching children.
2) Children are more than test scores.

Every day educators must do two things.
1) Be aware of how you are supporting your children in doing work that is worthy of the world.
2) Ensure each child knows that they matter.

What does this really mean?  Well, I’m bringing to you the two best people in the world that I know of to explain what I’m talking about.  

Kiran Bir Sethi - Kids take charge
Watch this video to learn what happens when we empower kids to take charge and do work worthy of the world.

Angela Maiers - You Matter
Angela Maiers empowers youth to figure out why they and their peers matter. This reading and videos show how.  

Read this article
12 ways to let every person in our lives now their value, contribution and significance.

Watch these two videos

If you are an educator (note: parents are educators) who is doing this work with your children (or if you’re a child doing this work), know that the world is thirsty for it. Show us. Tell us. Comment and share here and inspire others. If you’re not doing this work yet, tell us how you plan to get started. Let’s let our children know they matter and we will no longer hold them back from doing work that is worthy of the world.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

When we block social media we block learning

At New Canaan High School students have the freedom to learn using tools they love and the websites they need to be most successful. One of the two freedoms were taken away from them in honor of “Banned Websites Awareness Day.” On that day students were blocked from using the sites they commonly use for learning and collaborating such as YouTube and Facebook. Not having the ability to use the tools necessary for success in the real world for learning at school deeply interfered with their ability to get the education they deserved. It really drove home the fact that the young men and women at this school were fortunate to go to school in a place that trusts and respects young people.  

Watch this video created by librarian Michelle Luhtala to see how these young people felt when this freedom was taken from them.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Hottest Posts That Everyone's Talking About This Week!

Here’s the roundup of what's been popular on The Innovative Educator blog this week. Below you’ll see the top weekly posts along with the number of pageviews. I hope there's something that looks of interest to you.  If it does, check it out. If you’re inspired, share it with others and/or leave a comment.

Mar 12, 2012, 5 comments                 2,932 Pageviews                                                       
Mar 14, 2012, 7 comments                 1913 Pageviews
Mar 16, 2012, 18 comments               1811 Pageviews
Mar 21, 2012, 4 comments                  1613 Pageviews
Mar 15, 2012, 2 comments                  1558 Pageviews
Mar 5, 2012, 13 comments                  1328 Pageviews