Partnering with Digital Content

Partnering with Digital Content

It’s that time of year again, when students are excited to meet their new teachers and staff are busy preparing classrooms. It’s important to kick the school year off on the right foot. One that can lead to excitement, innovation, and higher student gains. As the saying goes, “We can’t keep doing the same thing, and expect different results.”   It’s time to consider partnering with digital content. When teachers utilize digital curriculum, it is like having an aide in the classroom – one for each and every student. In the CIA of blended learning model, teachers partner with digital curriculum to help deliver Depth of Knowledge one and two (DoK 1-2). This frees time in the day for the teacher to work differently. They no longer have to provide all content. Classroom teachers need to partner with the digital curriculum and allow it to do what it is best at – creating an individualized learning space for each student. Again, the technology is good only at a low level of understanding, DoK 1-2.   Releasing control to another is a big ask, I know. Think about other partnerships you have in your life. Take your spouse or kids for instance. They may not put the dishes in the dishwasher the way you would, but it gets done. They may not fold the clothes the way you might, but again it gets done. Teachers may find that the digital curriculum does not instruct the way they would have, but it will get done. And just like you may walk behind your spouse or kids and rearrange the dishes, or...
Paving a Path to Personalized Learning

Paving a Path to Personalized Learning

The value of a word, not it’s definition, but the word itself can make a difference. Take personalized learning. This is a word that is thrown into every educational conversation, yet does it have a single meaning, or is the definition determined by the individual who hears or uses it. Think for a moment of how you would define personalized learning. What characteristics and elements are essential? Does digital devices, or digital content rise to the top? In 2014, Education Week published a working definition of personalized learning, developed by some of the most respected minds in the field such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Christensen Institute, iNACOL, the Learning Accelerator, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, and many others. The four-part “working definition” included: Competency-based Progression: Each student’s progress toward clearly-defined goals is continually assessed. A student advances and earns credit as soon as s/he demonstrated mastery. Flexible Learning Environments: Student needs drive the design of the learning environment. All operational elements – staffing plans, space utilization, and time allocation – respond and adapt to support students in achieving their goals. Personal Learning Paths: All students are held to clear, high expectation, but each student follows a customized path that responds and adapts based on their individual learning progress, motivations, and goals. Learner Profiles: Each student has an up-to-date record of his/her individual strengths, needs, motivation, and goals. Imagine doing all of this without technology. Sure, personalized learning can take place absent from digital learning, but it would be difficult, and why would you not take advantage of the tools of today – like devices and...
Expanding on the CIA of Blended Learning

Expanding on the CIA of Blended Learning

In December 2016, we was first introduced the CIA of blended learning; digital Curriculum, guided Instruction, and authentic Assessment. In a blended classroom CIA has unique qualifiers. The more we present this concept to teachers, schools, and administrators as they prepare to adopt blended learning, it grew and expanded to show the circular relationship of the three elements presented here. Understanding the one-third relationship of the three elements can shift teacher mindset for partnering with digital content to establish a blended personalized learning environment. Blended Learning First, let’s revisit the definition of blended learning, in its simplest of terms: Adding the wisdom of teachers, with the intelligence of technology to create a personalized learning environment for every student. Understanding the relationship of these three elements helps to create a balanced blended classroom.   Digital Curriculum In a blended classroom, teachers need to partner with software and the intelligence of technology, that can provide individual data points, to deliver Depth of Knowledge (DOK) levels 1-2: recall and skill/concept. Computer access to lessons allows students to pick up where they left off, thus reducing gaps in learning. Engaging digital software Aligned to standards Personalized learning space Data points for every individual student Through partnering with digital content, software and resources filled with curriculum with individual data points, teachers are freed from having to deliver DOK 1-2 to the masses. Guide Instruction   Using the data from the digital partner, the wisdom of the teacher can support and extend learning. When teachers partner with software, they no longer have to lecture to the middle, they can create learning environments that intervene (DOK...
Fostering an Environment for Blended Personalized Learning

Fostering an Environment for Blended Personalized Learning

Changes to school and district-wide systems are needed to foster blended personalized models. As teachers gain expertise through blended rotational models, they become better prepared to implement a more disruptive model of blended personalized learning. The implementation of such will occur on a continuum for each teacher, classroom, and school. All are at a different starting point and potentially a different ending point. It’s important to create precise messaging and scaffolded steps to guide teachers, classrooms, and schools along their journey. The phases below are aligned to the design thinking process of: understand – explore – materialize. It’s through this scaffolded process by beginning small, going slow – so later you can go fast, that leaders can support the growth and success of blended personalized learning. Exploration – This initial phase prepares districts, schools, and teachers to think through their readiness. Start by conducting an internal evaluation and resource mining. Planning – Once you have gathered information and current resources on hand, it’s time to strategize. Look closely at resource allocations and set goals. Preparation – Develop internal resources and support systems to sustain a pilot through implementation. Consider policies, staff training, and marketing. Implementation – Pilot. The idea here is to start small, prove success, and grow on that success. Support, Engage, and Track – Track and troubleshoot pilot implementations to gain on-the-ground insight. Allow others to see what is possible. Gather data, create feedback loops, and share successes. Reflection, Calibration, and Resetting – Analyze outcomes from the pilot against intended goals. Make recommendations for the next iteration. Grow upon success – in small steps. Bring on another...
Growing Up Digitally in High School

Growing Up Digitally in High School

Last month I had the opportunity to share options for digital learning that opens doors for high school students from the early freshman year to college ready senior year. Often, we think of digital courseware as a solution to a single problem; typically credit recovery or within alternative education. Having courseware opens numerous opportunities. Check out the Apex Learning Personalized Learning webinar: Think Outside the Box – Moving Beyond Credit Recovery. When designing digital learning environments, teacher preparation is just as important as student readiness. Personally, I’m a huge fan of “go slow, to go fast.” This means start with something small, something easy for both students and teachers. Use a tiny pilot. Watch it closely, refine as needed. Set everyone – the students, the teachers, the digital courseware – up for success. Since the digital content is new to both students and teachers, think of ways to create a learning environment that allows for familiarity with as little pressure as necessary. For example, elective classes can be fun and engaging, typically requiring less homework. Given a choice, start with electives. Freshman year is an ideal place to have students experience digital success with an online elective, embedded in an advisory type blended environment. Digital courseware can be introduced in a blended classroom by using the CIA model of blended learning, where teachers have a full understanding and embrace a balanced approach to digital curriculum, guided instruction, and authentic assessment.  Blended classrooms are an ideal way to introduce students to taking ownership of their own learning, in a nurturing environment. Students still have a structured learning environment and see...
Book: Think Outside the Box

Book: Think Outside the Box

Think Outside the Box –  A new book for Secondary Schools   I’ve spent the last year accumulating and assembling program advise and deployment designs for secondary schools into a new book. I’ve gathered these words of wisdom, (nearly twenty years’ worth in the digital learning front) from working with hundreds of schools and thousands of classroom teachers in Nevada’s Clark County School District, the fifth largest in the nation. Below are a few excerpts from my new book titled: Think Outside the Box: The CIA of Blended Learning and 10+ Designs for Secondary Schools. Introduction Having access to digital content creates scenarios that you may have not even considered. Thinking outside the box allows us to see beyond the most obvious. Thinking outside the box opens doors to new prospects. Thinking outside the box forces us to be innovative. That is why this book is titled think outside the box. Boxes come in all sizes; from the student information system in your district, to the four walls of a classroom, or even the socio-economic classification one was raised in. It’s a reminder to all of us that boxes do not define our limitations.   Not only will schools of the future need to think outside the box, they must think differently about the relationships of curriculum, instruction, and assessment (CIA). In blended and personalized learning, that’s:   Digital Curriculum Guided Instruction Authentic Assessment   Part 1 – Foundations of Blended I believe the power of technology lies in digital curriculum. It has the potential to open the doors to a brighter future, help fill gaps, and provide more time...