Posts Tagged ‘Bea McGarvey’

What the Heck do iPads in Kindergarten have to do with Middle School?

November 20, 2011

Auburn School Department just got done hosting what we hope is our first (inter)national conference on iPads in primary grades education. We leveraged our experience with iPads in kindergarten to put on an institute, in Auburn, for 115 people from across the country (and one from India). Visit the institute website to learn more. Be sure to click on the Institute Resources tab to explore some of the presentation slides, handouts, and other resources and check out the back channel and the twitter feed to see what folks were posting about the institute.

So, what the heck do iPads in kindergarten have to do with middle level education?

Well, take a closer look at the twitter feed.

Do you see all those tweeters whose names begin with AMS? Those are student reporters from Auburn Middle School. As we designed the conference, we wanted to support and encourage back channel conversations about the institute and we thought a great way to do that was to use our middle grades students. District Tech Director Peter Robinson and AMS Tech Integrator Carl Bucciantini worked with the students on how to tweet an institute (and I have to say that I was REALLY impressed with how well they tweeted information from my sessions!). These kids did a wonderful job!

Not only did they do a great job of factually reporting on the sessions and keynotes, but their own voice started coming through!

But what made this so cool wasn’t just that we could rely on middle grades students for this important task, but rather the great conversations adults and students had together about teaching and learning!

Our students had some dedicated time with Gov. Angus King, where they were impressed that he really talked with them and listened to me about technology and about their learning.

Another student came to the conference not really believing that kindergarteners should have iPads, but changed his mind after attending sessions (then wrote about it for his school newspaper).

And one student said she wanted to read Inevitable after having further conversations about teaching and learning with Auburn educators and a school committee member and their mentioning that the District has read the book. Someone got her a copy, and there she was devouring the book during open work time at the conference (I don’t know if you can see that she’s already at least a quarter of the way through the book!).

Not only will student reporters (and finding other ways to include student voice!) be included at our future institutes, but some of us, including both Central Office folk and at least one School Committee member, are anxious to tap our students for their voice and input into what our schools should be like so we can better help them learn.

Once again, middle grades students surprise us when we’re smart enough to engage them in conversation and listen to what they have to say.

How have middle grades students surprised you recently? What have they said that made you wish we listened to them more closely?

Interested in Customized Learning? Take a Look at These Books

October 22, 2011

Are all your students learning well, getting good grades, scoring well on tests?

Ours aren’t either.

I think that’s the case with a lot of schools. I think that’s why 9 districts have formed the Maine Cohort for Customized Learning (MCCL) and why Maine’s Education Commissioner Bowen is so actively pursuing customized learning.

So if you want to read more about customized learning, what might you read? Take a look at these three books. All three focus on different approaches to and aspects of customizing learning. They all share the idea that we can customize learning by starting with learning targets and then students collaborating with their teachers to master those targets in interesting and meaningful ways.


Book: Delivering on the Promise

The 9 Maine districts who have become members of MCCL are exploring the Reinventing Schools Coalition (RISC) model. Delivering on the Promise by Rich DeLorenzo and team, provides a nice 30,000 foot view of how the approach was developed in one Alaskan school district, and of the components of the approach.





Inevitable, by Bea McGarvey and Chuck Schwann, both makes the case for mass customized learning, but also lays out a vision of what it might look like and how we might do it. My district has had members of the visioning committee (made up of educators and community members) and the entire administrative team read this book, as well as having made copies of the book available to community members. Commission Bowen had all his department heads read this book, and now asks each department how they are moving in that direction.



Book: Passion for Learning

Another approach to customized learning is student-designed standards-based projects. The Minnesota New Country School is given much credit for developing this model, and their work has been recognized by the US Department of Education, and others. Ron Newell has captured this work and makes clear the student-designed project approach in Passion for Learning.



It’s Your Turn
What are your favorite readings about customized learning?
Have you read any of these books? What were your favorite parts?
What are your thoughts about how the ideas in the books might come to life in your school?

Paradigm Shift

October 1, 2011

I know I’ve sensed the ground shifting beneath me before in education but not like what I am sensing at this time. Recently all staff at the Maine Department of Education read Inevitable by Bea McGarvey and Chuck Schwahn. The books were purchased by the Maine Coalition forĀ  Excellence in Education. Bea faciliated a half-day session with staff on the book. We passed our books on to every superintendent throughout the state. During the next two months Don Siviski will meet with each superintendent group to discuss the book. The superintendents will pass their books on to a school board member or another administrator in their school district. Just that alone is unique at this level . . . A simple process to that makes a statement. To me the straight forward message: “this is important”.

So what is important about the book? It outlines mass customized learning which is about transformation change. This isn’t about the industrial age of education (mass producing). It is about the information age (mass customizing learning). What is required to make this happen? A huge paradigm shift, not just by schools but by everyone in and out of schools. A tall order, but as Bea says “it’s inevitable”!

A new Sir Kenneth Robinson video link was sent to me recently. I wonder if Bea and Ken have ever met?! If not, they should. He makes so much sense to me. Take 11 min. and 41 seconds and take a look and let us know what you think.

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