CHIE Resources

I believe resources should be intriguing and provocative. They should stimulate the mind, not just feed it hyperlinks. Therefore, I have designed CHIE’s resource area to highlight relevant educational themes or useful related topics that will hopefully cause you to ponder the information rather than simply consume it. Topics will remain only as long as they offer worthwhile information that is timely in the educational market place. Thus, CHIE’s resources will be fluid and evergreen.

Organizing for Success (5)

Whirling Mind Syndrome

When you sit down to plan a project, create a draft document, or simply plot next steps in an already initiated undertaking, do you find your mind whirling with options, opportunities, and details (big and small)?  If you’re like me, you do.  I have no shortage of dreamscapes and they all seem to want center stage at the same time.  So plotting a course of action is a challenge.  I’ve tried organizational approaches from the traditional paper/pen, notecards, and post-it-notes lists to various digital graphic organizers.  Depending on the scope of a project, some worked better than others, but none seemed to work completely as I needed.  Then I found XMind.  It is an open source program that provides multiple templates for mind mapping.  It’s intuitive and it’s free.  There is a more sophisticated version that you can purchase, but I’ve found the free download very effective for everything from creating a presentation to planning a meeting to drafting a white paper.  I’ve even used it to track items I’ll need for a vacation.  You can find the free download at www.xmind.net.  Take a look.  I believe you’ll be pleased you did.

Active Listening

listening

Do I Hear You or Do I Hear Me?

For those of us who are engaged in working with people, and most of us are in some way or another, active listening is an important and very necessary skill.  There are countless examples of situations that have gone wrong from business deals to personal relationships to international relations, and all due to the failure of the parties to not pay attention and hear what was being said.

Many of us say we are active listeners, but are we?  Do we enter a communication moment with an open mind, ready to hear what will be said, or do we come with preconceived ideas or a cluttered mind?  I will self-report that although I practice active listening, there are times when I fail; especially if the topic is an emotionally charged one or if I have a lot of commitments whirling about.

Active listening is an art form that is developed by energetic practice and with self-awareness.  You have to focus to hear what is being said as well as to understand what is being said.  How to actively listen is the essential discussion and there are many blueprints available for what an active listener should do.  I like the approach taken by Dr. Fred Kofman[1] in his 7+1 Points of Active Listening.  Dr. Kofman suggests that the active listener do the following: [Comments after bold prompts are mine.]

Listen. – To do this, you have to close down your monkey mind and put aside biases.  You have to be present in the moment.

Focus. –  Look at the speaker.  Put away all digital distractions and hear what is being said.

Be quiet. –  Don’t interrupt no matter how tempting it is to do so.

Encourage. – This is an almost non-verbal exercise.  You can offer the occasional “ummm,” but most of the encouragement is through body language and head nods.

Summarize. Play back the speaker’s essential point(s).  You do not have to agree with them, but by capsulizing what has been said, you validate the speaker.

Check. Ask the speaker if you got the point being made, and, if not, ask for a clarification.

Validate. Acknowledge the speaker has a point to be considered.  On the other side of the coin, if you do not quite understand what the point is, ask for more information or a restatement.

Inquire. This is where you find a call to action, if there is one.  What is it that the speaker wants you to take away and do?

These steps are simple, not easy. They require conscious effort, especially if the stakes are high. They also require discipline. It only takes one misspoken comment to send a productive engagement into a disastrous tailspin.

As I noted earlier, Dr. Kaufman is but one of many who offer advice on active listening.  I also suggest that you look at comments in the following links to widen your perspective.

Active Listening – Communications Skills Training by Mind Tools

Active Listening by Study Guides and Strategies

Active Listening by U.S. Department of State

Active Listening by Carl R. Rogers and Richard E. Farson [Note: This is a detailed white paper, so it will take some time to read.]


[1] Fred Kofman, Ph.D. is the co-founder and President of Axialent, an international consulting company in the areas of leadership and organizational learning.  www.wakinguptheworkplace.com

Organizing Resources in the Cloud

If you are like me, you have thousands of thoughts swriling, virtual notes all over your PDA and computer, bookmarked resources so large that you can’t remember which is which, and frustration after frustration trying to remember that “perfect site” or “link” when a new thought pops up out of the blue.  Well, I found a great resource for teachers and students, and, for that matter, anyone who simply wants to organize their resources without having to slug through reams of print material, hundreds of post-it notes, or scroll endlessly down a litnany of saved favorites.

It’s LiveBinders.  The resource is rich with options for businesses, administrators, students, and even cooks.  Take a look. I’m sure you’ll be glad you did.  My life is much more organized now and, I can access my resources anytime, anywhere as long as the cloud is available.

Getting the Most Out of Professional Development Experiences

Getting the Most Out of Professional Development Experiences

Every profession has a need for its members to stay current and well versed in trending performance models. To do this, organizations and systems create educational portals known as professional development opportunities (PDO). These experiences may be online, real time, or a blend of both. Some are specific and required for continued licensing (i.e., accountants, doctors, pilots, etc.) and must be taken within a set timeline (e.g., one, three, or five year cycles). Others offer opportunities for professional or personal growth and do not carry as stringent a timeline for completion; however, typically, there must be a level of accumulation of PDO experiences over time. The endgame, regardless of the format and timeline, is to provide a professional and valuable experience that will translate into improved workplace performance.

Because PDOs come is varied sizes and formats, they offer unique challenges for the participants’ learning styles. If you are a visual leaner, then Power Point or Prezi style presentations may be of benefit. If you are an auditory leaner, then dialogue centric presentations will be more productive. If you are a tactile engagement learner, then a PDO with multiple problem solving breakouts may be best. Usually, PDOs have some blend of all three. However, central in each experience is the need to take away as much useful information as possible.

Over time, I have come to look my PDO experiences as a “panning for gold” opportunity. My hope is that somewhere within the experience I shall find a nugget or two or three that I can bring back to my space and use it to improve my performance.

If you’re like me, you find it frustrating to be back in your work space with the memory of something you learned in a PDO and not be able to bring it into focus. Revisiting margin notes on handouts sometimes helps, but it is a hit or miss proposition (my hen scratches do not always make sense a week later). Contacting other PDO participants is also helpful, but I’ve found that my unique take on the information may not sync with how another person may have seen or felt the experience. In the best of all worlds, reaching out to the author or presenter is the ideal way to rekindle the embers, but it is often difficult to reconnect in a timely way. So, I have come to use an action process that helps me hold what I learned in a PDO and to transfer the knowledge to my work or study situations over and over again. The process is not difficult, but it does take some pre-PDO planning.

When you learn of the PDO topic, the first thing you want to do is to define some outtake experiences that you want to have at the end. That is, what do you want to have in your hands when the PDO is finished? By establishing these expectations, you have a focused agenda entering the PDO experience vs. simply a time and place to be present.

Once in the PDO experience, listen for major themes or specific ideas that are coming through in the presentation itself, through side bar conversations, or Q&A opportunities that relate to your outcome expectations. This is the “panning for gold” metaphor in action.  To keep from being overwhelmed, be sure to take down only themes or ideas that apply to your already established outcome expectations. In this way, you will harvest only what you need. Do not try and capture everything; keep only the richest nuggets. Obviously, if there’s an “ah ha” moment, you’ll want to capture it as well, but place it a separate “parking lot” in order not to clutter your main information data.

Once you have captured a nugget, quickly define how it will apply in your current situation or outcome expectations and jot it down. This is a fluid process and needs to be done throughout the PDO. Do not wait until the end of the PDO to do this. It is important to marry the nugget and its use to you quickly so it will make sense at a later time.

Once the presentation is over, and in as close a proximity to the finish as possible, create a grid that will allow you to memorialize the value takeaways from the PDO. Start with the outcome expectations as first level statements. Next, in tier two, place the themes or main ideas that you captured underneath each outcome to which they apply.

In a third tier, consider what it is you want to happen in each category and put these thoughts down underneath each theme or main idea.  You have now created a three step guide on how what you learned can be applied in your work or study space.

It is now time to reflect on whether or not these good ideas have any traction.  That is, consider what obstacles exist that will prevent you from implementing the new knowledge or skills.  This is the next layer in the grid. Hopefully, you will not experience obstacles; however, if they exist, you want to review them before you try and implement any new concepts or strategies.

The final tier of your grid is a reflection on how you can overcome the obstacles, if there are any.  This is an important step as it will allow you to drop off any theme that cannot be successfully implemented and avoid the exasperation of finding out after you’ve expended time and energy to do a trial run.

If the PDO is high caliber, you should also be provided with multiple resources (e.g., websites, books, articles, and blogs). There also may be a list of people contacts as well that you can reach for clarification if needed. It is a good idea to place these references in another resource document as well for future use in other situations.

Engaging Students and Finding Success

There is not a teacher out there that does not lose sleep over how to engage students and find success in their teaching. It is a curse of the profession that has haunted classrooms for all of time. The challenge existed in the one room school house and it exists today despite all of the technological innovations. So, when a good resource shows itself, I am wont to bring it to you quickly.

Cheryl Mizerny, writing in SmartBlog on Education (August 4, 2015) has corralled some great wisdom on ways to ensure that your students are engaged with you and in their learning. Her blog post, Reaching Every Student, is full of great ideas and information to help seasoned veterans and new teachers alike create great success pathways for every student.

With a new school year opening in just a few weeks, this blog post is truly worth a look see.

 

Special Education (2)

Fresh Resources for Special Educators

As special educators, we are always looking for new resources and innovations to help in our delivery of services to students and families.  eSchool News has compiled a nice assortment of the latest innovations available, so I thought I would share the possibilities.

Co-Teaching – Mystical, Magical, or Simply Good Planning?

Co-teaching is a wonderful opportunity for a “two-fer.” You get the best of two professional backgrounds and combined expertise in one setting. However, it is not a simple thing, and this is the rub. Co-teaching is an evolving process and one that needs a great deal of tending.

If you are a teacher involved, or thinking about becoming involved, in co-teaching or a parent who has a student in a co-taught class, then I highly recommend you look in on Dec2015/Jan2016 edition of ASCD’s Educational Leadership which is dedicated to co-teaching. It is a very informative compilation of resources and opinions that will enlighten and guide you on the good and the difficult aspects of the practice.

You can access the magazine at the ASCD website. Once on the site, go to the Educational Leadership tab. The current edition on co-teaching is the top reference. Spoiler alert – you may have to be an ASCD member to access certain items, but overall you will get a good overview of the co-teaching process.

Good reading!

 

Common Core State Standards (1)

13 Questions to Ask When Selecting Common Core Materials

Schools, teachers, and parents are all bracing for the new challenges of implementing the Common Core State Standards.  One of the biggest challenges is selecting the correct materials to support the new instructional strategies associated with CCSS.  Although not extensive, here are 13 good questions that everyone involved in selecting CCSS support materials should ask.

Branding (1)

Storytelling Is an Art Form

It has long been understood that people of all ages love a good story. The reason is that stories, unlike facts, no matter how accurate, provide a platform of understanding.  One of the best ways to enhance your personal or company brand is to use the art of storytelling to help your message come alive.

As you craft your story, there are several things you should consider to ensure that once your story is in front of audiences it perfects your position and piques the interest of the reader/listener. I have read many pieces on the art of storytelling, but this one by Bruna Martinuzzi is an easy read and full of good guidance. Enjoy!

Education (7)

Deep Learning

It’s hard to have a conversation with educators these days and not eventually get on to the topic of whether or not America’s educational systems are optimally preparing our youth to successfully manage the future.  The essential themes in all conversations tend to be – is the learning deep enough and are the learners (children and adults alike) able to use their learning unconventionally and creatively to problem solve.  Research reports and white papers abound on these talking points, so there’s no scarcity of information to consider.  The challenge is to find a source that is worthy of supporting the debate.  If deep learning is a topic you feel important, and I hope it is, I recommend the National Academies of Science Education for Life and Work:  Developing Transferable Skills in the 21st Century (2012).  It is comprehensive and worth the read.  Once you arrive at the site, you have an option of buying a paper version, downloading a PDF, or reading it online.

How Do Students Learn?

Have you ever asked a teacher how students learn?  You should.  The results will be quite interesting.  Depending on a teacher’s school of philosophy and training, the responses you will get will be as wide as they are deep and as simple as they will be multifaceted.  As CHIE’s mantra says, “education is a complex process.”

There are thousands of books on learning, so finding time to read them all is a challenge most of us will not complete.  Finding the right one or two to consume is equally challenging.  So, if you have an interest in better understanding how we learn, may I recommend The National Academies Press open book How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School: Expanded Edition (2000).  You can purchase a hard copy, read it online, or download a free PDF.  You can also easily, and for free, join NAP and receive full access to their extensive library.  How People Learn is a good resource for personal understanding as well as research.

Technology in the Classroom

The challenge of using technology as a teaching tool is not how much technology to shoehorn into a classroom or instructional period, but, rather, selecting the right technology for the task at hand. It can be a Goldilocks nightmare.

As a past Superintendent of Schools, I speak from experience on just how dicey these conversations can become and how frustrating it is to try and match learning goals to technological advances. I often thought how much simpler the selection process would be if there were a consumer guide; something along the lines of an educational technology Zagat.

Well, now thanks to Common Sense Media there is such a consumer guide, albeit in its early stages. Known as Graphite, the site will provide teachers and administrators, and, yes, parents too, the opportunity to see how professionals (early childhood educators, classroom teachers, educational technology experts) rate various software and hardware, websites, games, digital curricula, online learning programs, and the thousands of educational apps using a detailed rubric. The nice part, aside from reducing the craziness of web surfing for the “just right” app or hardware, Graphite is free. I recommend that you drop in on the site. You might even find yourself signing on as a reviewer.

13 Questions to Ask When Selecting Common Core Materials

Schools, teachers, and parents are all bracing for the new challenges of implementing the Common Core State Standards.  One of the biggest challenges is selecting the correct materials to support the new instructional strategies associated with CCSS.  Although not extensive, here are 13 good questions that everyone involved in selecting CCSS support materials should ask.

Do You Know How To Google – Really?

Googling has surely become an art form, but should it be more a science? If you do not care what you find when you randomly Google a topic, then art form is probably the most optimum way to describe what you are doing. However, if you are a student doing internet research, then you probably want to view the use of Google, or other search engines, as a science.

A great resource for students, or anyone interested in learning the best ways to do research, is an eSchool News article by Kelly Maher titled “Teach Your Students the Right Way to Google.” In it you will learn the best approaches to actually do research. There is also a discussion and link on “Google Search Education” and a look at “Power Searching with Google.” There are also many other helpful hints on authenticity of information and source vetting. This is truly an article worth the read even if you are nowhere near needing to do research.

Engaging Students and Finding Success

There is not a teacher out there that does not lose sleep over how to engage students and find success in their teaching. It is a curse of the profession that has haunted classrooms for all of time. The challenge existed in the one room school house and it exists today despite all of the technological innovations. So, when a good resource shows itself, I am wont to bring it to you quickly.

Cheryl Mizerny, writing in SmartBlog on Education (August 4, 2015) has corralled some great wisdom on ways to ensure that your students are engaged with you and in their learning. Her blog post, Reaching Every Student, is full of great ideas and information to help seasoned veterans and new teachers alike create great success pathways for every student.

With a new school year opening in just a few weeks, this blog post is truly worth a look see.

 

Co-Teaching – Mystical, Magical, or Simply Good Planning?

Co-teaching is a wonderful opportunity for a “two-fer.” You get the best of two professional backgrounds and combined expertise in one setting. However, it is not a simple thing, and this is the rub. Co-teaching is an evolving process and one that needs a great deal of tending.

If you are a teacher involved, or thinking about becoming involved, in co-teaching or a parent who has a student in a co-taught class, then I highly recommend you look in on Dec2015/Jan2016 edition of ASCD’s Educational Leadership which is dedicated to co-teaching. It is a very informative compilation of resources and opinions that will enlighten and guide you on the good and the difficult aspects of the practice.

You can access the magazine at the ASCD website. Once on the site, go to the Educational Leadership tab. The current edition on co-teaching is the top reference. Spoiler alert – you may have to be an ASCD member to access certain items, but overall you will get a good overview of the co-teaching process.

Good reading!

 

Professional Development (4)

The Importance of Professional Development to the Success of a School or School District

With school budgets shrinking, many program options and support services are being considered as no longer a top priority. One area that often sees budget reductions or complete removal from a school budget is professional development (PD). This is one segment of the educational ecosphere that needs to be preserved, but its champions are few. The reason is that most people do not understand what professional development is or why it is an integral part of any school’s or school district’s success plan. To learn more about why PD is important visit Lean Forward’s Why Professional Development Matters.

A Leadership Profile

How many times have we run across someone or some organization telling us what good leadership looks like? If you’re like me, it happens often. Most profiles contain similar personal constructs – vision, tenacity, dedication, passion, etc. Differences are mostly in the order of appearance of the items and the story associated with each.

I offer a look in from Tony Robbins on seven attributes of a strong leader. Not unlike what you might have seen before, but positive nonetheless.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

Engaging Students and Finding Success

There is not a teacher out there that does not lose sleep over how to engage students and find success in their teaching. It is a curse of the profession that has haunted classrooms for all of time. The challenge existed in the one room school house and it exists today despite all of the technological innovations. So, when a good resource shows itself, I am wont to bring it to you quickly.

Cheryl Mizerny, writing in SmartBlog on Education (August 4, 2015) has corralled some great wisdom on ways to ensure that your students are engaged with you and in their learning. Her blog post, Reaching Every Student, is full of great ideas and information to help seasoned veterans and new teachers alike create great success pathways for every student.

With a new school year opening in just a few weeks, this blog post is truly worth a look see.

 

Co-Teaching – Mystical, Magical, or Simply Good Planning?

Co-teaching is a wonderful opportunity for a “two-fer.” You get the best of two professional backgrounds and combined expertise in one setting. However, it is not a simple thing, and this is the rub. Co-teaching is an evolving process and one that needs a great deal of tending.

If you are a teacher involved, or thinking about becoming involved, in co-teaching or a parent who has a student in a co-taught class, then I highly recommend you look in on Dec2015/Jan2016 edition of ASCD’s Educational Leadership which is dedicated to co-teaching. It is a very informative compilation of resources and opinions that will enlighten and guide you on the good and the difficult aspects of the practice.

You can access the magazine at the ASCD website. Once on the site, go to the Educational Leadership tab. The current edition on co-teaching is the top reference. Spoiler alert – you may have to be an ASCD member to access certain items, but overall you will get a good overview of the co-teaching process.

Good reading!

 

Technology (5)

iPad Brings Help to the Homework Table

When it comes to homework, there is a lot discussion on everything from ‘its value’ to ‘what is a correct amount’ to ‘at what age should it be started’ and on and on.  Everyone has a position on homework, but positions don’t help get homework done.  So, to the rescue comes the folks at Apple with some nice apps to help students get homework done.  Now that’s a practical approach. And, thanks to Educational Technology and Mobile Learning for sharing the news.

Digital Resources

It is every teacher’s nightmare – finding the right app, game, or website for lesson dellivery or support.  Well, fortunately several organizations, such as Common Sense Media, have provided sites to help.  Common Sense Media offers Graphite.  It is a free resource that reviews the many options that are out there, rating their value through reviews by educators.  It is a very comprehensive site that is searchable.  Take a look. You will not be disappointed.

Other options are edshelf, PowerMyLearning, and Learning List.  Each offers the opportunity to search and read peer reviews of numerous options.  Finding the right app, game, or website is now much easier.

Virtual Academic Planning and Design

With the increasing use of innovative ways to blend learning (face-to-face and digital presentations), there comes the challenge for teachers to define ways to address individual student learning needs while maintaining high levels of creativity within their lessons. One cannot be sacrificed for the other; there must be a common ground.

Two good resources to assist teachers in finding this common ground are Open Curriculum and Activate Instruction. Both are web-based and provide flexible platforms for collaboration, sharing ideas, and individualizing student learning plans and activities. They are a win-win option for teachers struggling on how to remain relevant and exciting while maintaining fidelity to existing curricula and multiple student learning styles.

Easy Steps for Creating Vodcasts for a Flipped Classroom

One of the first challenges I had when I decided to teach and use the process known as “flipping” lessons was how to do it well. There are a lot of options out there, some more tech centered than others. What I was looking for was a good resource that offered guidance in easy to understand language.

I found that guidance in Meris Stansbury’s eSchool News article “Creating Videos for Flipped Learning.” It offers an understandable explanation of the process of vodcasting and provides many good resources to use. If you are interested in becoming a “flipper,” then I highly recommend this article.

Do You Know How To Google – Really?

Googling has surely become an art form, but should it be more a science? If you do not care what you find when you randomly Google a topic, then art form is probably the most optimum way to describe what you are doing. However, if you are a student doing internet research, then you probably want to view the use of Google, or other search engines, as a science.

A great resource for students, or anyone interested in learning the best ways to do research, is an eSchool News article by Kelly Maher titled “Teach Your Students the Right Way to Google.” In it you will learn the best approaches to actually do research. There is also a discussion and link on “Google Search Education” and a look at “Power Searching with Google.” There are also many other helpful hints on authenticity of information and source vetting. This is truly an article worth the read even if you are nowhere near needing to do research.