Monday, March 30, 2015

5 Ways to Move the Education Conversation Forward

This week's #YourEduStory is about how to bring new people and perspectives along to grow the conversation about education. Here's five ways to avoid the echo chamber.


1. Read new books and share your connections.

Use social media like an online book club. It can be organized by hashtag, part of a scheduled chat, or just a slow chat that evolves over time. The great thing about sharing the connections you make with ideas from a book is that others can compare their connections to yours and grow from your contribution to the conversation.

2. Share student work.

I love student work. It is the best data educators can look at. By default, it is unique, however similar it may be to whatever else is being shared by educators. Student work is where the rubber meets the road, so it doesn't matter if it's very much like the work that's already shared in your PLN because the contribution is always relevant.

3. Discuss new data.

We read reports about various studies in books and online, but how often do we stop and look for data sets that say otherwise? How often do we search for updates on a study's conclusions?

For example, the first edition of Classroom Instruction that Works reported an achievement gain of about 40 percent for using similarities and differences. Since then, a report published by Marzano Research showed an achievement gain of almost half that. However, the conclusion from the first edition did not change because the gains relative to the other strategies were consistent. So, be careful with the data. Just because the numbers change, doesn't mean the significance changes, as well.      

4. Try old ideas in new ways.

I love working with veteran teachers. They always have something to offer. I'm a techie teacher who looks for the traditional methods that can be made more efficient using digital tools. After all, the brain and how it learns hasn't changed. It's how we learn that's changed.

Try making videos in lieu of an oral presentation. Since making videos for students, I've noticed that my public speaking and writing have become more fluent and clear. Now, I'm trying it with my students, and so far they are finding it very difficult because they are critical of the way they look and sound. This brings together self evaluation and oral presentations. But don't think of it as replacing oral presentations. Think of it as practice and differentiation.

5. Participate in online PD with other connected educators.

Professional development opportunities come in all shapes and sizes. If you want to contribute new ideas to the conversation, try some of the learning series and sharing opportunities for educators on social media.

This year, I've participated in Todd Nesloney's award-winning Educator Learning Series (#EduLS), a weekly educator blogging series (#YourEduStory), and George Curous's weekly Twitter video share #EduIn30. I like these three for the variety in terms of forms of communicating and the new ideas people share.