From Graveyard Rows to Artificial Intelligence: EdCats Unlearn to Lead

By Tonnie Martinez, Ph.D.

“We still have a lot students seated in graveyard rows,” lamented the graduate student as she sifted through hundreds of sketches. The future teachers had been asked to sketch a classroom and interestingly, most of the sketches depicted chairs in rows with the teacher as the focal point of the classroom. There were apples on teachers’ desks and alphabet letters bordering the walls but the most prominent trait in the sketches were smiling students in single file rows.

The sketch activity reminds us, although we’re in an innovative era in education, we still have students coming into education programs with old ideas about what classrooms and instruction should look like. The challenge for progressive educator development programs like K-State’s is to make sure that deeply held beliefs– desks always in rows or one-way-my-way math problems–are replaced with new paradigms in student-centered learning. Our K-State College of Education faculty work hard to prepare educators with the expertise to develop the next generation of innovators and creative thinkers. We do this by conducting research, testing promising practices in curriculum and instruction and collaborating with innovative schools.

There can certainly be justification for all types of teaching and learning (and even putting desks in rows now and then) but innovative teaching practices are vital for teaching today’s learners– digital natives who are able to pose higher order thinking questions to themselves (and to Siri) and obtain the answers without an adult in the room.

Readers have recently recommended some great resources for infusing new ideas into stale lesson plans. The resources are listed below with links EdCats may want to explore:

Turn excitement into action with Edutopia’s 5 Ways to Bring Passion into Learning. My colleagues and I are big believers in Genius Hours–which made their list. So much so that EdCats can earn professional development hours (and get a micro-credential and badge) for implementing Genius Hours into professional practices. Here’s a link for more on K-State College of Education Micro-credentials.

Top Picks are editorially curated lists of the best ed tech tools reviewed by Common Sense Education. EdCats can browse through a full library of top picks listed by grade, subject, and/or skill.

Our own Cyndi Kuhn has some great resources on her web page. Subscribe to her Think Different newsletter for tips and tricks for integrating technology in your classroom.

The STEMIE Coalition has a goal of every student becoming an inventor. They make the case for invention education and offer a FREE curriculum divided into four grade ranges: K-2; 3-5; 6-8 and 9-12. As of this post, STEMIE says they will have the curriculum up any day. In the meantime you will get great ideas by clicking on the “resources” button.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the classroom? You bet! EdCats may want to fantasize about  using AI to grade papers while Matt Lynch offers 8 Must-Have Artificial Intelligence Apps and Tools here .

The long and important journey that takes future teachers from graveyard rows to smarter classrooms with AI (and beyond) is both exciting and possible. By the time EdCats graduate they recognize that engaging digital natives requires mastering edtech tools, inspiring creativity, and integrating future-ready skills. I hope you’ll continue to reach back to the K-State College of Education professors and resources like EdCat Chats to continue your journey as leaders in education.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Micro-credential is Here

Who:

Yours truly, the K-State College of Education is rolling out micro-credentials for you, EdCats, the most well-prepared educators in the country. (But anyone can take them… and everyone should!)

What:

Micro-credentials.

A micro-credential is professional development. No, not the kind that requires a staff to sit in the auditorium and a highly compensated “guru” comes in and talks all day about a strategy (that you have been doing for the last two years–at least). This is where the teacher decides what is important to improving professional practices. Teachers develop a new skill through a guided study, implement it, and then progress-monitor continuous improvement. Participants earn badges that can be included in resumes, Linked-in accounts, and even on e-mail signatures, highlighting enhanced skills.

When:

Anytime. Earning a micro-credential is like taking a mini version of a college course. It’s more thorough than an in-service because teachers implement what was learned and then provide artifacts (perhaps student work samples, video evidence, etc.).

Where:

That’s the real beauty of it. Anywhere. How many times do teachers sit in auditoriums hearing blah blah blah yadda yadda yadda when they could have been making better use of that time in a classroom (or we’ll admit it, a coffee shop as we plug our class roster into our learning management apps)?

How:

You can click here to see two of our micro-credentials, Flexible Seating and Genius Hour (and many more are on the way).

Why:

Flexible seating can enhance your classroom in ways you never dreamed of. Meghan Chapman, Andover Public Schools, helped design this micro-credential. She is going to give you resources, tips, classroom photos, and a step-by-step implementation process to maximize your professional practice and student learning.

Genius hour is another concept that is sweeping the country. Educators are increasing student engagement like never before using this Google corporation model. Jonathan Ferrell, Shawnee Mission School District teacher and 2017 Kansas Teacher of the Year Team member, takes you into his classroom to demonstrate how his students utilize genius hour to develop passion projects that have them producing incredible ideas, prototypes, and products being sold on Etsy. He also provides a curated, “best of” list of digital resources (like Twitter accounts and classroom videos) that can help you get started.

You’ll also be happy to know–not only are you getting amazing ideas that can make you a top teacher, upon completion, you will get documentation of 15 hours of professional development.

And finally…

We have to charge for them. $100. This pays for development, hosting on a user-friendly website, uploading all the content you get, and keeping track of everyone taking them so when it comes time to document learning for a school district; we can be contacted for verification. Everyone will know you gained your new skill set through Kansas State University.  Questions? Contact Dr. Tonnie Martinez, tonnie@ksu.edu. We hope you’ll be the first in your building (hey, maybe your district will pay for you to be the first and share with your team) to participate in a K-State College of Education micro-credential.

 

Genius Hours: Something all Teachers Should Consider for Spring

screenshot-2016-11-28-10-08-45When teachers adopt and adapt successful  business models in classrooms, the results can be as beneficial in schools as they are in the business world. Here’s one business concept taking classrooms by storm:  Genius Hours.

Mr. Ferrell’s 6th graders explain their passion project.

 

The idea is credited to something started at Google corporate in 2004, when founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin wrote a short blurb in their annual IPO letter, We encourage our employees, in addition to their regular projects, to spend 20% of their time working on what they think will most benefit Google. This empowers them to be more creative and innovative. Many of our significant advances have happened in this manner. Some of the highly successful 20% products include the development of Google News, Gmail, and even AdSense.

Teachers across the country have taken the idea to their classrooms. For a designated amount of time (some teachers tell us they use minutes each day, others prefer 1 block of time each week) students work on projects they are passionate about while meeting state standards and indicators without even realizing it.

In order to see the concept in action, we turned to none other than K-State College of Education Graduate, Jonathan Ferrell, a 6th grade teacher at Briarwood Elementary in Shawnee Mission School District. A Kansas Teacher of the Year nominee, Mr. Ferrell’s students have found rigor, relevance, and relationships through their Genius Hour projects this semester. Mr. Ferrell’s  students’ “passion projects” include an ever-evolving list of projects and products. Here are just a few:

  • Prosthetic fingers
  • Designing a game
  • DIY Cooler
  • Cleaning spray
  • Prosthetic limb for an injured dog
  • Inventing a stylus
  • “Bake It” a bakery Etsy shop
  • Model train
  • Designing clothing

Students hone their skills by researching real-life concepts and interviewing industry experts. Mr. Ferrell’s sixth graders host outside audiences as they gain confidence in their product designs and prototypes. Cross-curricular applications are discovered as they present to students in other grade levels and schools.  Students become highly motivated as they see inventions realized and sales made.

Want to know more about how you might incorporate Genius Hours in your classroom this spring? A great resource is Chris Kesler’s YouTube video and the resources found at The Genius Hour webpage. Clicking around that site you’ll also find books, webinars, and blogs to get you started. Do you teach primary grades? Click on Erica Adams’ YouTube video of her 2nd grade Genius Hour experiences. Whatever grade level you teach we think you’ll be convinced that adopting and adapting the Genius Hour concept this spring is a good thing!