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Three Levels of #LATIC Implementation

I have great respect and appreciation for teachers who work hard to shift their paradigms and practices to design Learner-Active, Technology-Infused Classrooms. The multi-year process requires that they move through three levels of innovation implementation:

Level I) The Framework

As a foundation, the Learner-Active, Technology-Infused Classroom is a combination of Authentic Learning Units (ALUs) and a collection of structures. The first step in design is to create a compelling problem-based task for the unit, followed by a rubric to provide clearly-articulated expectations. Creating activity lists of required, choice, and optional activities builds student responsibility for learning, as do structures, such as: the Help Board, Peer Expert Board, and Resource Area. All of this becomes the first level of design in shifting to a Learner-Active, Technology-Infused Classroom.

However, students may not show the desired achievement gains without . . .

Level II) Purposeful Learning Activities

As students encounter an unknown skill or concept on the rubric, they should be able to look at the activity list and find a variety of ways to learn, such as through: videos, how-to sheets, learning centers, and more. The challenge is that conventionally, a teacher presents the content to the whole class and then assigns activities to practice what they’ve learned. In Learner-Active, Technology-Infused Classrooms, teachers minimize the amount of whole-class instruction; however, they must still provide direct instruction through a variety of venues, Therefore, once teachers have the foundation, they turn to creating and improving upon their library of learning activities. This improves student achievement, however, to raise the level of academic rigor so that students build deep understanding of content and can apply it to new situations, you need . . .

Level III) Masterful Teacher Facilitation

The role of teachers in Learner-Active, Technology-Infused Classrooms shifts to engaging with students “in-the-moment” as they pursue learning goals. Teachers help students learn to self-assess, set goals, manage time, and select appropriate learning resources. They work from the Help Board to assist those in need of help. Most importantly, they probe students’ thinking through “what if?” questions and content-rich conversations. They observe and listen to students, synthesize the data, determine the natural next step for a student, and then provide guidance. It’s difficult to locate teachers because they’re sitting down with students.

 

It’s important to move through to include all three levels of implementation. Take the worthy journey to design classrooms that are the embodiment of Students Taking Charge, and change the world!

Problem-Based Learning at Chester W. Taylor Jr. Elementary in Zephyrhills, Florida

zephyrhills-article-on-cwtes-2nd-gradeThe Zephyrhills Free Press in it’s November 10th edition describes how second grade students at Chester W. Taylor Jr. Elementary School in Zephyrhills, Florida created dozens of “unique, handmade brochures” to help encourage tourism to their city.  The brochures are the end product of an authentic and relevant problem-based learning unit developed by teachers during training with the Learner-Active, Technology-Infused Classroom. Based on the book “Students Taking Charge” by Dr. Nancy Sulla of IDE Corp., Chester Taylor Elementary “adopted this method of teaching three years ago”.  Second grade teacher Marabeth Ward comments “that she has seen great improvements in the students already”.

Ward describes her students as “more invested in their work and determined to learn” and her teaching as “a lot more student-driven”. She says her students are learning “life goals that are going to translate as they get older”. “I really love it,” said Ward.

Learn more about the Learner-Active, Technology-Infused Classroom.

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: Driving Achievement Through a Product or Performance

What would most motivate you to learn how to calculate the perimeter of a space?fence-bubble

  1. Someone tells you to learn it.
  2. You want to fence in an area of your yard and need to know the distance around it.
  3. Someone tells you you’ll need it for your future.

I don’t know about you, but I would pick b! Clearly, I learned a lot in school just because someone told me to learn it; and I also forgot it after the test.

David Sousa’s research on the brain, from his book, How the Brain Learns, points to the need for information to make sense and have meaning in order to be stored in long-term memory. Concepts and skills out of context make no sense and have no meaning to the brain, thus, the reason I promote the use of problem-based learning to drive instruction.

The core of the Learner-Active, Technology-Infused Classroom is driving instruction through an authentic, open-ended, problem. Real-world problems are the best! The purpose is to ensure that learning makes sense and has meaning. The keys to designing a powerful, motivating task are to make it:  

  • Standards-aligned (It’s too easy to have a great task that doesn’t get the job done!)
  • Open-ended, meaning there is no one right answer
  • Authentic, meaning the situation occurs in real life
  • Have an audience, that is, someone to whom the student could present the solution
  • Ensure that the task is aligned well with students’ interest so that they are engaged (grappling) rather than compliant

You might have students:

Once you have your problem, and have your students hooked, you must then fill their days with rich and diverse opportunities to learn, so they can, in fact, design the product or performance. Your problem-based task is your strong foundation. Create great problems for your students to solve; change the world!

 

Greetings from ASCD 2016

At ASCD 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia, people are talking about:

Screenshot 2016-04-03 at 3.46.26 PM

We’re enjoying the many great conversations with old friends and new.

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Pedro Noguera: “How do we teach teachers to make their classrooms come to life?” “Good teaching takes art and skill.” “Equity is the issue of our times.”

Carol Dweck: “Growth mindset isn’t just about praising effort.”

Manny Scott: “Student Voice – help them find it as the world needs to hear it!”

In light of this, our favorite shares of the conference:

Great conference! See you next year.

ascd2016

 

 

The Many Faces of Problem-Based Learning

At its core, problem-based learning is an approach that offers students an authentic, open-ended, complex problem to solve, which requires applying curricular content. While there are many definitions of project- and problem-based learning, let me define them for the purpose of this blogpost.

A “project” does not necessarily have to be open-ended; there is often one correct answer based on content:  for example, create a salt-and-flour map of the state; create a dinosaur museum; develop a timeline to detail the cause-and-effect relationships that led to the civil war. In each case, the content is set, available, “Googleable” if you will; and the student is focused on the best way to present it. The only open-ended aspect is how to present the known data. A “problem,” on the other hand, must be open-ended, having no one correct contentScreen Shot 2016-03-27 at 5.14.10 PM answer. Students must grapple with the content, utilizing higher-order thinking skills to formulate a response: for example, determine where your state should build the next airport; develop a habitat at your school to house a cloned dinosaur; identify a hot spot in the world that could erupt into a civil war and offer a plan to avoid it, based on your study of the civil war addressed by your curriculum. I view problem-based learning as a subset of project-based learning.

Given that definition, problem-based learning can be used in at least three ways to empower students and enrich the learning process:

  1. Use it to launch a unit of study. For example, to open a geometry unit covering the Pythagorean Theorem, present the concept that companies use geometry to determine the strength of their offerings and asks students to select an organization and determine how strong their social network is, offering mathematically-defended recommendations for greater strength. (Sample unit) A rubric would drive instruction by offering steps to achieving success to guide instruction and allow students to take responsibility for their own learning.
  2. Use it as a transfer task. For example, at the end of units on the parts of a story (character, setting, and plot) and letter writing, ask students to write a letter to a favorite author convincing that person to write the next book about their city or town. (Sample unit) A rubric would offer assessment criteria in order to evaluate student’s content mastery.
  3. Use it as a curriculum document. For example, if sixth grade social studies includes addressing ancient curriculum rubric screenshotcivilizations, use a problem-based task to define the curriculum standards. (Sample unit)
    In this case, the rubric should detail the standards to be addressed, creating a “scope” for the curriculum. A series of problem-based tasks would now represent the curriculum. Teachers could use the units as is or suggest alternate problems for addressing the same content.

Using problem-based learning, you can engage students in grappling with content, create a venue for differentiation, foster executive function, and build the kinds of skills students need to succeed in the creative economy. For more information, view my video on The Case for Problem-Based Learning; join our Virtual Learning Community online course on problem-based learning, or subscribe to the IDEportal for hundreds of sample problem-based unit.