Friday, November 30, 2012

WAR, What is it good for? Absolutely EVERYTHING?

W.A.R. in baseball stands for "Wins above replacement."  It's a baseball statistic described by wikipedia as: 

Wins Above Replacement, commonly known as WAR, is a non-standardized sabermetric baseball statistic that is used to show how many more wins a player would give a team as opposed to a "replacement level", or minor league/bench player at that position.  

Edwin Star believes has his own belief about War.  He asks "War, what is it good for?"  
He claims "Absolutely nothing."

I could not disagree more!

When we think of WAR, wins above replacement this makes me think of education.  Wins above replacement (a sub).  When I walk into a class are you providing a learning experience unlike any other.  What is your WAR?

When I first started teaching I always strived for a classroom that "ran itself."  When I work with teachers and talk about "flipteaching"  teachers always ask "Well, what will they need me for then?"  

If you think a video can replace you, then it should!

The environment you provide, the relationship you create with a student, the desire to learn you grow, collaborating and connecting with students families and the community impact your WAR.

When you think about what you provide every day for students.  Are you providing an environment, an experience, a lesson that is statistically better than a replacement could give?  What added benefits are you bringing to the table?  

Challenge yourself every day in your school to provide a unique opportunity that is special.  Build lasting, compassionate relationships with students and families.  Ensure that your connection and experience you provide is without replacement.

They always say:

That may be true for the next warm body to fill the space.  But I guarantee their WAR won't be as high as mine.

So you ask, "WAR, good God y'all, What is it good for?"  Possibly EVERYTHING?!

Mad props to @mrsenorhill, @ideaguy42, @ahintofcinnamon, and @desertdiver for the idea for this post.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What is the next chapter for edcuation?

Today I had the opportunity to watch Bill Rankin's discussion on the next page of education:

My takeaways:

Amazing technological changes don't do a thing to culture.
  • The problem with education is us...
  • "We use to do it this way, now we'll do it a slightly different way..."
  • We've seen the enemy and it is us.  
  • I want to see my students learn more, then in-turn don't I need to learn more?
  • Letting other people move ahead gives us an excuse to not to.

We cannot focus on the technology without focusing on the culture.

  • It's time for everyone to be involved.
  • All contributions are important.
  • New technologies allow us to localize education.

SHIFT in education must move the students to the center:

  • Customizing education to fit YOUR needs.
  • Getting the tool "I" need means we cannot have a one-size-fits-all solution.
  • When will we realize we are teachers first and content specialists second?

  • How are we ALL connected?  Why aren't we capitalizing on it?
  • Increasing anytime and anywhere learning.
  • How long until the tools become invisible?
  • The days with the single teacher in front of the class with the book has passed.
  • Teachers are becoming CO-LEARNERS.
  • How can kids get prepared outside of class to go in-depth inside of class.
  • Every child needs to have THEIR OWN personal device.
We are at the beginning of the SHIFT to ubiquity of access.  

  • We are heading to a mobile environment.
  • Kids are significantly ahead of us as teachers. (we often get in their way)
  • Kids have games and life apps on their mobile device.  We are missing the opportunity to design GREAT apps to engage students in learning.
Instead of letting technology influence the classroom, let's think about what we want our classroom to look like.  

  • Keep the outcomes in mind!
  • Technology is focused and supportive to the goal.
  • Funding is an issue.  You've got to "bring your own."
  • Assessments need to be embedded.
WOW! as we continue to discuss curating our own textbook.  I continue to wonder.....

  • Will a Digital resource or really anything technology related change the culture?
  • How do you change the culture of education in your building or district?
  • How can we SHIFT the focus from the teacher to the learner?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Reflecting on EdcampKC

Educators Never Cease to Amaze me....

I recently got back from #EdcampKC and I am refresher, recharged, and excited about education as whole.

EdcampKC was held November 10th at Lee Summit North High School.  The entire event was led and organized by Kyle Pace, Steve J. Moore, and Laura Gilchrist.

The event is an "unconference" and is designed to be entirely led by the people in attendance.  The sessions presented are decided the day of and people are charged to collaborate and share their passions, ideas, questions and conversations.

Here are some resources I found from the day:

When I got home I used to download all the tweets and read through them:

TOP TWEETERS: @Mrskmpeters= 67 @usamimi74 = 53 ME! = 43 @ELanghorst = 40@stevejmoore = 39 J

Capturing the day:

Images from the day:

Who Tweeted:

What did they say in their tweet?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Reading Levels for Everyone!

So I was discussing with a group of teachers how easy it is these days to take ANYthing you come across and determine it's reading level.  Differentiating for even the most struggling readers has never been this easy.

First of all, let's talk about finding resources:

To find great resources.

Did you know that you can use Google search to search by reading level for a student, Here's how:

Now, what if you already have something and want to evaluate it's reading level.  Not that hard either.

1.  Copy and paste the document or website into microsoft word.
Click Tools, Grammer and Spelling, Options

Then Click "show readability statistics"


What about resources for Online.  

Online Resources:

Book title, Author or ISBN number into:
Also Lexile has an analyzer that's pretty good but you have to register:

Copy and paste the web address, paste text, or embed this into your webpage of something you find here:

Test a book using Scholastic Book wizard:

DIY Method

CAUTION: Math involved!

You can use a formula to calculate Flesch-Kincaid reading level on your own. This is a good tool to determine whether a book is going to challenge you.
1. Select a few paragraphs to use as your base.
2. Calculate the average number of words per sentence. Multiply the result by 0.39
3. Calculate the average number of syllables in words (count and divide). Multiply the result by 11.8
4. Add the two results together
5. Subtract 15.59
The result will be a number that equates to a grade level. For example, a 6.5 is a sixth grade reading level result.

Mad props and thanks to great educators on twitter:
I love having  Professional Learning Network (PLN) to rely on!
and of course

Have any other resources you love?  Add them in the comments section:

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Never Work Harder Than Your Students: Chapter 3

We are doing a book club with our 2nd and 3rd year teachers in our district and reading the book Never Work Harder than your students.

Chapter 3 could be summed up as:

If you don't believe in yourself, who can you believe in?

Some of the main Take-aways I have from chapter 3 are as follows:

  • We drag kids through curriculum
  • We need to look at the expectations we have for ourselves before we can expect things from kids
  • The difference between the expectation and the standard is:
    • Standard is the bar
    • Expectation is your belief that the students can reach the bar
  • Just because you raised the standard doesn't mean that you have also altered your belief that kids can reach those standards.
  • If you believe students won't meet the standard, then that belief will play out in your classroom.
  • An expectation is the confidence that something will happen
An expectation is what you get when you multiply the probability of an occurrence and the value of that occurrence.

  • Beliefs are what we think is true
  • Values are what we think something is worth
  • Our expectations are the intersection between what we believe about our teaching situation and our own abilities to handle it and what we believe is important.

  • Blind belief in our own talent
  • Bet to take anything and turn it into something better
Teachers go to work believing they will end up with a masterpiece, not because the raw material they are working with has some innate potential but because of the power of their own ability to create a masterpiece.

It's about you...
  • Students pick up on our expectations fairly quickly.  They then formulate judgements about the kind of teacher we are and decide how hard they will work in our classroom
  • If we believe in the student, we will pull out all the stops.
  • If we are not confident in our ability, we will lower our expectations
  • lowered expectations is a self-protective measure
  • You want to raise expectations of your students, you first have to raise your expectations of yourself
  • Rather than focus on the problem, focus on how to solve the problem
Stockdale Paradox
  • Optimism creates despair
  • Never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end with the discipline to confront the most difficult of reality.
Have faith in yourself
  • If we believe what we are doing is important, we are more likely there is a way to prevail
  • Faith based on your ideals, what you believe is important
  • Do you value your students following your rules, being quiet and cooperative?
  • Do you value engaging activities with the material and learn to be critical thinkers and effective communication.
  • What do you value?  When you determine what you value, you will determine your faith...
Confront your reality
  • The way we decide what to focus on is what we value.
Our beliefs function as a filter through which we sift our reality.
  • Our decisions are based on our beliefs and the magnitude of our teaching task as well as our own abilities.
  • Asking the right questions will grant you the opportunity to change your beliefs or let them be challenged.
  • Be humble enough to know that you don't have all the answers
  • Be willing to "stop" doing something you are doing...
  • When you get data or information do you use it as an opportunity to blame someone or to improve?
Whole Equation
  • Balance your focus on both sides of the paradox
  • What can I do today to move toward my goal despite the reality of my circumstances?
  • How do you see your individual reality?

Wrap it up...

If a student is failing, then it means that I haven't found the right way to get through to them.

Qantas model of edcuation

Today I got to attend a Keynote presentation by Joel Davies (more on Joel) from Apple.  He was presenting on "Flipping the classroom: Sticking the landing."

He made me laugh out loud on this thought:

Education today is the Qantas Model:

  • Sit down
  • Face forward
  • Strap in
  • Turn of all portable electronic devices
  • If you're lucky your trip will be relevant
  • You may resume your life in a few hours
Work hard today and tomorrow to break that mold...


You are now free to revolutionize education...