IDE Corp
Professional Development for Innovative Schools

Posts tagged Dr. Nancy Sulla

IDE Corp. to Present at Future of Education Technology Conference in Orlando, FL

IDE Corp. is pleased to announce that it has been selected for two presentations with Pasco County Schools at the 37th Annual Future of Education Technology Conference. FETC, which is described as “the largest, national, independent education technology conference, annually attracts thousands of education and technology leaders from around the world” will be held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL from January 24th to 27th, 2017. Please visit us and send your colleagues to see us in booth 2440!

1) Dr. Nancy Sulla is presenting with Vanessa Hilton, Assistant Superintendent of Student Achievement, Pasco County Schools in session W081: Using Systems Theory to Accelerate Your Technology Initiative on Thursday, January 26, from 2:00 – 4:30 at the Hyatt Regency in Bayhill 29.

2) Tanya Bosco is presenting with Pasco County Schools’ Sanders Memorial STEAM Magnet Elementary School Principal Jason Petry and Assistant Principal Kelly Edwards in session PS155: Designing a Learner-Active STEAM Magnet Elementary School: Stories from the Change Process on Thursday, January 26, from 2:30 – 3:30 in booth #2500 in the Convention Center.

3) And, see Sanders’ Memorial STEAM Magnet Elementary School Third Grade Teachers Tanya Kindberg and Megan Bender present from the teacher perspective of teaching in a STEAM-LATIC school in Session PS032: Learner-Active, Technology-Infused Classrooms: Recipe for Success on Thursday, January 26 from 2:30 – 3:30 in booth #965 in the Convention Center.

Founded by Dr. Nancy Sulla, IDE Corp. offers a comprehensive instructional model that is the synthesis of the best research available on student achievement. IDE consultants work with school districts around the country to help them shift paradigms and design new approaches to instruction.  IDE Corp. has been providing instructional and organizational consulting to schools since 1987.

#LATICinsights: Cultivating Rigor

When you first learn to design a Learner-Active, Technology-Infused Classroom, you are faced with the paradigm shift of launching each unit of study with an authentic, open-ended, real-world problem to solve. You start by thinking through the problems students could solve at the end of a five-week unit if they learned everything. Designing the problem-based task statement is just the beginning.

Imagine the task as the gift box that excites students to delve into all of the rich and diverse opportunities to learn. Your next step, therefore, is to fill the unit by building a collection of learning opportunities. My latest video discusses this metaphor in more detail.

Learning opportunities include whole-class lessons, small-group lessons, teacher facilitation, and learning activities. Much of the learning in a Learner-Active, Technology-Infused Classroom takes place through learning activities, rather than teacher dissemination of knowledge through lessons. Unlike activities to practice learning, learning activities should be narrowly focused on a skill or concept, include step-by-step direct instruction, and provide the student with some level of feedback. When designing learning activities, consider the following:

  • What is the grade level standard to be met?
    • All students must meet this standard.
  • What prerequisites would be needed?
    • Some students may need help in mastering prerequisites first, but they cannot stop there; they must achieve the grade level standard.
  • What learning activities can you find or design that provide concept exploration or direct instruction in skills, including a variety of learning modalities, related to the standard?
    • Differentiation should include not only cognitive differences, but learning style differences.
  • What supports/scaffolding could you put in place for students, such as partner work, how-to sheet or video, peer expert board, help board, and teacher facilitation?
    • Once involved in an activity, how can you ensure students will meet with success?

Rigor means ensuring that all students are learning at high levels of understanding and application of at least the grade-level standards. With LATIC students taking greater responsibility for their learning, teachers are freed up to engage more powerfully through facilitation toward greater rigor. Make your gift to your students complete with powerful opportunities to learn. Change the world!

#LATICinsights: The Sounds of Engagement

What does engagement sound like? Allowing students to have a say in their work is not enough to build engagement. Adam FleSVnotSEtcher writes a great blog on engagement, including this entry:  voice and engagement are not the same.

In the Learner-Active, Technology-Infused Classroom (#LATIC), engagement refers to the state in which students are thoroughly engrossed in their work, intrinsically motivated, with a purposeful destiny and path. Here’s one way to assess engagement.

What do you hear in the classroom? As students are working, walk around for about five minutes and jot down what you hear them saying to one another. Then categorize those as:

  • Clarification (asking for or giving)
  • Help (asking for or giving)
  • Organizing
  • Analyzing
  • Brainstorming
  • What-If?
  • Aha Moment
  • Grit
  • Facing Failure

You should hear them all! These are the sounds of engagement. While theScreen Shot 2016-10-11 at 1.23.40 PM first few might indicate mere compliance, as you move down the list and as you hear them all, you’ll know you’re observing higher levels of engagement. (Use this tool to make your assessment easier.) 

When students are asked to solve authentic, open-ended problems; self-assess; collaborate with others; manage their time; manage learning resources; and advocate for their own learning, these are the sounds of success: the sounds of engagement.

You can increase engagement by ensuring that:

  • Your problem-based task is driving instruction; that it hooks and motivates students to want to solve the problem
  • Students use the rubric first to determine their learning goals and then look to the activity list for opportunities to learn
  • Your activity list has learning activities that promote engagement over compliance; that is, that they connect closely with the task and rubric: no worksheets without a task-related purpose!
  • You’ve read Students Taking Charge: Inside the Learner-Active, Technology-Infused Classroom. 😉

Engaging students is an important step in positioning them for higher achievement and a rewarding life. Go change the world!

Rethinking Success: Engagement, Empowerment, & Efficacy

Like it or not, to most schools, achievement means strong performance on state tests. Some claim to value life preparation and social/emotional growth over test scores, but that never plays well in the annual newspaper articles. What if you could have it all? What if you could rethink success and have happy, healthy, excited students from all walks of life, with strong test scores?

I love to build sand castles, particularly with young children; and I usually start with a large hole in the middle that hits the water (easier to retrieve wet sand.) I begin by sharing a vision and a dream of a sand castle; then I share the news that if we dig dequoteep enough, we will hit water. The dream of hitting water from the sand on the shore is usually all it takes to engage my building partner. As the hole grows, there are skills to retrieving the wet sand and building up the walls. I coach in those skills and share my belief in my building partner’s ability to carry them out (empowerment). Finally, the walls are in place and we begin the work of carving with shells (my dad always told me you carve away everything that doesn’t look like a castle.) Soon, the castle begins to emerge. Now, my building partner spreads wings, creates, and shines with self-belief (efficacy) and the castle grows more and more awesome until there is no more sunlight to guide us.

One of my favorite quotes:

build a shipIf you want an increase in test scores, don’t drum up teachers and coaches to gather up resources and teach to the test. Instead, teach them to long for a day when their students are self-confident, responsible, and excited about learning. Your strong test scores will emerge. Make these your goals:
EEE

Engage students with authentic, open-ended, problems to tackle related to the content to get them in “flow“: get them grappling! Instead of focusing on the skill; focus on where they will use that skill and start there (flip the triangle!)

Empower students by giving them increasing responsibility for their own learning. Let them decide which activities to pursue and when in order to learn the skills they need to accomplish the task that has engaged them.

Build their efficacy through leveling up activities that continue to offer them success, building a belief in their ability to achieve a goal. Let them self-assess, set goals, and accomplish their goals. Essentially, facilitate their learning.

If you aim for engagement, empowerment, and efficacy, your students will be proud, happy, and loving learning; and your test scores will rise! Perhaps success for our students is, in fact, engagement, empowerment, and efficacy.

“If, Then” Plans: Building Executive Function

One of the most important characteristics for success is the ability to delay gratification: to persist in a task or goal in spite of tempting distractions. How do we build this valuable executive function skill in our students? For starters, here is an “If, Then” planning sheet to use with students; but read on . . .

 

In the 1960s, Stanford University professor Walter Mischel devised the marshmallow test in which he gave preschoolers a choice: eat this one marshmallow now or wait fifteen minutes and you’ll get two. It is interesting to watch videos of the test, with some children simply eating the marshmallow and others doing everything possible to delay gratification marshmallow testin order to get the better prize! Ultimately, as researchers followed the children through school and life, those who were able to delay gratification ended up with better outcomes and accomplishments in later years.

 

In his book, The Marshmallow Test, Mischel shares the story of this test along with brain
physiology that can help you better understand your students. For example, the limbic system (primitive brain structures) handle basic drives and emotions; Mischel calls it the “hot system,” where decisions to act are made quickly without regard for long-term consequences. The pre-frontal cortex, home of executive function, is then the “cool system” that includes complex, reflective decision-making. Obviously, the more you can build this “cool system” (aka executive function) in students, the better. And the
more “cool” you are, the better you fare in life.

 

The planning sheet above addresses just one approach to activating your cooling system presented by Mischel. Students of all ages can use it. Just have them consider a short-term goal they are trying to achieve in which they could be derailed by distractions. Have them anticipate those distractions and consider how they would thwart them. This could be a phrase they would say to themselves or an action they would take. Later, they can reflect (another executive function skill) on how well they did in staying on track.

 

For more on executive function:

IDE Corp. to Present at 2016 Annual AMLE Conference

AMLE WebsiteIDE Corp. is pleased to announce that they will be partnering with two client school districts and presenting at the 2016 Conference of the Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE).  IDE and the Hastings-on-Hudson Union Free School District in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY will present two sessions on “Redefining Class Participation Into Building Executive Function Skills” and “Designing Classrooms For Problem-Finders, Innovators, and Entrepreneurs”.  The South Orangetown Central School District in Blauvelt, NY will partner with IDE to present “Using Systems Mapping to Support Comprehensive Instructional Change”.  Both school districts are designing and implementing K-12 Learner-Active, Technology-Infused Classrooms™. The annual AMLE conference will take place in Austin, Texas from October 9-12, 2016.

Learn more about Executive Function in Dr. Nancy Sulla’s video “Executive Function: The Missing Link to Student Achievement“.

Founded by Dr. Nancy Sulla, IDE Corp. offers a comprehensive instructional model that is the synthesis of the best research available on student achievement. IDE consultants work with school districts around the country to help them shift paradigms and design new approaches to instruction.  IDE Corp. has been providing instructional and organizational consulting to schools since 1987.

Leveraging Myers-Briggs Personality Types While Facilitating Learning

As you move to a more student-centered learning environment, the role of teacher as facilitator becomes critically important. If you honor the reality that not all students are ready to learn the same content at the same time in the same way, you have to vacate the front of the room and get elbow-deep in the learning experience with your students. While you can find many perspectives and tools for facilitation on the IDEportal and in my books Students Taking Charge (ch. 8) and It’s Not What You Teach But How (ch. 7), here’s a more advanced perspective on facilitation: leveraging your and your students’ Myers-Briggs types in the process.

Note: Type Talk is a great book for understanding the individual type letters and the sixteen personality types. You can use this to build your skills in typing the people around you. While it is best to have a trained test administrator administer the test, here is a free online survey that seems to provide fairly accurate results for adults. For children, this free online tool can help you assess the child’s type. Children seem to develop their energy (E/I) and structural (J/P) preferences first, then their information (N/S) preference, and lastly, their decision-making (F/T) preference.

 

E-I-E-I-Ohhhhh

Let’s consider the energy lens of the E and the I, as the differences can significantly affect facilitation of learning.

The E gains energy from being involved with others and objects in the external world; the I gains energy from being involved in the inner world of thoughts and mental images. E’s, therefore, tend to “think with their mouths,” often speaking immediately after a question or point is presented. I’s like to think through their response before they speak. This can lead I’s to think that E’s are loudmouths that monopolize conversations, while the wait time that is characteristic of the I personality can make the E’s feel like the I is being critical, not liking what the E just said. Now translate that interaction to the classroom.

An E teacher with an I student: During facilitation, the I’s wait time might make the E teacher think the student is incapable or does not understand the work. If the E teacher jumps in with an explanation or answer, the I student might become frustrated, feeling that s/he didn’t get the chance to present the solution or answer. If you’re an E teacher facilitating an I student, take a few seconds to pause before responding, allowing the I student to take a few seconds to pause before responding.

An I teacher with an E student: During facilitation, the I teacher might feel that the E student is jumping to conclusions or lacks thoughtfulness. When the E student asks a question or offers an answer, the I teacher’s wait time might make the E student feel that the teacher didn’t like the question or answer, causing the student to second guess or begin offering a different question or answer. If you’re an I teacher facilitating an E student, use cue words to allow yourself the processing time you like, such as, “let me think on that,” or simply summarizing back the question or answer.

As you learn more about Myers-Briggs personality types:

  1. Consider how the letter holder might perceive the opposite letter.
  2. Be mindful of your letters and those of your students.
  3. Take deliberate steps to minimize the differences in your facilitation.

 

From Best Practices to Systems Practices

Albert Einstein is credited with saying, “I never teach my pupils; I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they learn.” This speaks of the shift from teacher as the purveyor of information to that of an architect of a complex environment in which students learn; a shift from “teacher as ferry” to “teacher as bridge builder.” How does one create the conditions under which students learn?

Schools place considerable focus on best practices, which are necessary but not sufficient for creating the conditions under which students learn. Best practices are often approached as individual strategies for supporting student learning. Consider some best practices that would create the conditions under which students learn:

  • Using problem-based learning to launch a unit of study creates a “felt need” for students to learn, thus motivating them to pursue curricular goals.
  • Using an analytic rubric to provide students with clearly articulated expectations offers them a sense of responsibility for self-assessing, setting goals, and pursuing nodesthose goals.
  • Developing a set of rich and diverse opportunities to learn, including multiple pathways to the same objective, based on learning modalities, provides students with the differentiation necessary to ensure that all students learn at high levels.
  • Allowing students to schedule their own time empowers them to make decisions about when and how they will pursue individual learning goals.

These seem like worthy practices; however, the power of these practices lies in their interconnectedness, their interdependence. The key to creating the conditions under which students learn is in creating a systems-based classroom.

Consider the four best practices mentioned above. Teachers can build their ability to employ each of these, and, no doubt, this would enhance the instructional process. However, looking at these practices as independent strategies or structures falls short of creating the conditions under which students learn. What is needed is systems-thinking: how does each component of the classroom affect every other component of the classroom?

Fig Str 2 in progress

To determine the health of a system, you look not at the nodes; you look at the lines. It is in the interdependencies that one creates a strong, effective system for learning.

For illustrative purposes, this diagram presents just four of the structures of the Learner-Active, Technology-Infused Classroom, designed to put students in charge of their own learning by creating the conditions under which they learn. The actual system includes many more nodes and lines. In order for students to take charge of their own learning, teachers must view the classroom as a self-sustaining, interdependent system.

First, think about the classroom as a system of interdependent components and identify the relationships among the components. You can then start building a system that removes the teacher from the position of “ferry master” and, instead, creates the conditions under which students learn.