Beyond Traditional Literacy Series

Teaching the New Basics for the Digital Age

How do we address the demands of both the short term goals of preparing students for the mandated tests and curriculum objectives, while at the same time addressing the long term goals of ensuring that they develop the new basic skills they will need to deal with life in the world beyond school? What does 21st Century learning look like, and how is it different from traditional approaches? What are the new basics for the Digital Age? And most importantly, how can we have it all? How do we address both the short term and long term goals at the same time?

This session identifies the essential skills students need beyond being able to do well on a written exam; outlines how these skills can be taught simultaneously with content standards; shows how content can be introduced within the context of real world experiences that have personal relevance and promote engagement; and identifies tools, strategies and resources that can be used to accomplish this. Participants will leave this session with a series of concrete ideas and specific strategies that they can use to create and authentically assess 21st Century learning experiences and environments, while still addressing the demands of high-stakes testing.

Beyond Literacy To Fluency: The New Learning Process

In an educational system that emphasizes standards and high-stakes testing, is it realistic or even possible to encourage students to think, explore, and develop their own understanding of concepts? How do we move education beyond a fixation on hardware to a focus on headware? Can critical and creative thinking, problem solving and decision making, information investigation, traditional and digital collaboration,  global  citizenship and other essential process skills be embedded into student learning experiences? This presentation outlines the fundamental shift in the basic paradigm of teaching that is required to prepare students for 21st century life; and identifies the principles and processes that will enhance current teaching practices. Participants will come away with a clearer understanding of how to address learning standards, improve test scores, meet mandated curricular goals, while at the same time helping students develop the skills, knowledge and habits of mind they will need to meet the new realities of life beyond school.

An Introduction To the Just-In-Time Teaching and Learning Model

Just-in-time teaching and learning (JITTL) is a blended instructional model that provides real world contexts to classroom learning experiences as a way to motivate and prime students. This model moves away from teacher-centered instruction to a model of discovery learning. The model provides real-world, personally relevant, highly motivating challenges to students as the primary vehicle for introducing curriculum content together with the essential 21st Century learning processes. The beauty of JiTTL is that it does not require a wholesale shift in a teacher’s existing instructional paradigm. As teachers’ comfort levels increase, they can progressively make the transition from traditional direct instruction, passive learning and content-based assessment. The tasks require students independently and/or collaboratively to examine their present knowledge, add to it and then apply this newly constructed knowledge to solve real-world problems. The goal of this model is for students to assume more responsibility for the learning process. Participants will learn a simple, step-by-step process for introducing the JITTL model into their classrooms together with simple digital tools that will enhance the process.

Lessons For the 21st Century

This presentation is about creating problem-based learning units using the Split Screen model. It is designed to help educators infuse 21st Century learning skills within the classroom; and to connect traditional student learning to real-time, real-world experiences that cultivate the higher-level thinking skills outlined by the Curriculum Standards.

Designed to engage lateral thinking, foster creativity, and expedite a shift to a 21st century classroom, this session aims to develop a holistic educator who can formulate instruction and assessment methods that continue to support traditional content while at the same time ensuring that students develop the 21st Century skills needed to be successful in the new global economy. By the end of the session, through guided questions and activities. participants will have prepared a unit or lesson plan using prescribed standards, which at the same time will be relevant and interesting to students.

15 Ways To Be a Smarter Teacher

A solution only makes sense once you understand what the problem is. The challenge for educators today is that, for the first time in our history, we’re expected to prepare all students to have high skill levels. Unfortunately, as it operates today, our system can’t or won’t do that. Far too many students leave before they complete high school. Even if they do graduate, many of them graduate learning disabled, learning delayed, or learning deficient. What’s more, many students today are increasingly disengaged. There’s a huge and growing issue of disconnect between what these students learn in school, what’s available for them outside of schools, and what they need to succeed in life beyond school.

In our attempts to fix things in education, we constantly focus on the symptoms, not the causes of problems. That’s why we see people looking for packaged answers, rather than looking at the root causes and doing what needs to be done to change the system. Sometimes we seek complex solutions for what are truly simple problems. With that in mind, this presentation identifies 15 things educators can do starting right now to change that.

Why Questions Are More Important Than Answers

In a traditional classroom, instruction and inquiry flow almost entirely in one direction – from the teacher to the student. Students are rewarded for having the right answer, not for asking good questions. A recent study indicated that the average pre-school child asks 100 questions per day. By the intermediate level, the number of questions asked approaches zero. Why is there such a drastic decrease in the frequency of an important behavior that seems to come naturally to most children when they’re very young?

It’s not just about answering the questions, it’s about questioning the answers. What would happen if the roles were flipped and students asked the questions? One good question can give rise to several layers of answers; can inspire decades-long searches for solutions; can generate whole new fields of inquiry; and can prompt changes in entrenched thinking. Answers, on the other hand, often end the process.This workshop outlines a simple but powerful process that students of any age can learn to ask good questions.

Information Investigation: Teaching Students How To Become Digital Detectives In the Age of InfoWhelm and Hyperinformation

Our society has been profoundly affected by InfoWhelm—an unparalleled access to a wealth of online information. Learning has truly become a lifelong pursuit that can happen anytime and anywhere in the Information Age. But how do we determine the good from the bad, interpret right from wrong, and distinguish complete, accurate, and usable data from a sea of irrelevance and digital inundation? The skills to help us best understand and make use of the wealth of knowledge at our fingertips is essential to life and success both in the classroom and workforce of the 21st Century.  This workshop looks at Information Investigation, the mental process that helps us to extract essential knowledge from raw data; verify its authenticity; perceive its meaning and significance; and apply it within the context of real-world tasks.

Using Rubrics For Teaching, Learning and Assessment

Rubrics are powerful tools for teaching, learning and assessment. We use rubrics to assess student work, communicate expectations for an assignment, provide focused feedback for works in progress, and for grading final products. In developing rubrics, we use an explicit set of criteria that not only assesses the prescribed standards or objectives for a particular subject area, but also assesses student application of the mental processes undertaken. Well-developed rubrics help students know in advance what criteria will be used to assess their work; and allow multi-assessors  i.e. peer, self, teacher, faculty… to use the same criteria when assessing student work. Using rubrics for peer and self assessment helps students become problem-solvers and allows them to take responsibility for their own learning.In this workshop, participants will learn a simple process for selecting the specific criteria they want to assess; identify terms that distinguish the learning progressions; and how these terms can be used to develop rubrics for teaching, learning and assessment.

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