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Hacking Education: 10 Quick Fixes for Every School


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Schools have big problems, but here are 10 quick fixes that all teachers, principals, college professors and parents can implement immediately. Based on the popular book, Hacking Education, by Mark Barnes and Jennifer Gonzalez.

Published in: Education

Hacking Education: 10 Quick Fixes for Every School

  1. 1. MEET ME IN THE CLOUD Replace Meetings with a Backchannel and a Bin THE PROBLEM: LONG, TIME-CONSUMING MEETINGS • Faculty/Staff Meeting • Department Meeting • Grade Level Meeting • Committee Meeting • Parent/Teacher Meeting BACKCHANNEL: A discussion platform that allows for back-and-forth conversation between multiple parties. THE HACK: MOVE MEETINGS TO THE CLOUD HACK 1 In a typical school, teachers will spend at least two hours per week in meetings. By moving the meetings to the cloud, you will improve communication, the ability to share information, and use your time more effectively. It is simply a different environment, one that doesn’t require your physical presence. By combining backchannel discussions with the easy accessibility of cloud storage, you can truly replicate the dynamic of face-to-face meetings. 1
  2. 2. MEET ME IN THE CLOUD— continued HACK 1 For busy teachers and administrators whose work depends on robust collaboration, but hate setting aside hours and hours to do it, moving meetings to the cloud can be a real game changer. 2 “Time is what we need most but what we use worst.” — William Penn, English Entrepreneur 1. Whole group gathers 2. Agenda and other documents distributed 3. Opening remarks and announcements 4. Other presentations 5. Small group discussion, if time permits 6. Voting or consensus 7. Action items and plans for follow-up 8. Adjustment All people and all discussions inthe same place at the same time. People in different places, discussions happen as needed, asynchronously. Bin (cloud storage) Backchannel (discussion tool)  Agenda and other documents uploaded  Links to videos or other presentations  Action items and plans to follow-up Traditional Meeting Cloud Meeting Whole-Group Chat  Opening & closing remarks  Whole-group discussion, voting, consensus Small-Group Chat  Discussion of items only relevant to a few This Hack has both a do-it-tomorrow fix and a blueprint for full implementation
  3. 3. PINEAPPLE CHARTS Boost Teacher Collaboration with a Public Chart of “Open Door” Lessons THE PROBLEM: LITTLE TO NO PEER OBSERVATION THE HACK: POST A CALENDAR OF “OPEN HOUSE” LESSONS HACK 2 Observing each other teach is one of the easiest and fastest ways to refresh our practice, learn new strategies, and build rapport with one another but most of the time we never leave our own classrooms. Everyone is busy, time is valuable, and no one has enough extra time to find out what another teacher is doing and plan a visit to observe a lesson that is relevant to you. The pineapple is a traditional symbol of welcome. When it’s displayed on welcome mats and on door hangings, the intended message is “Come in!” A Pineapple Chart is a systematic way to put a “welcome mat” out on a central message board that lets other teachers know that you’re doing something worth watching, and when, and if they’d like to come by, your door is open. 3
  4. 4. PINEAPPLE CHARTS— continued HACK 2 Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri 1 Taylor: Reciprocal Learning 2 Hughes: Socratic Circles Silva: Video Editing in iMovie Silva: Video Editing in iMovie 3 Vasquez: Ellis Island Simulation Vasquez: Ellis Island Simulation 4 Turner: Impressionism Miller: Frog Dissection Miller: Frog Dissection 5 Wilson: Measuring heart rate 6 Robertson: Poetry Patsel: Kahoot Quiz Robertson: Discussion of Lord of the Flies 7 Patsel: Kahoot Quiz If something is on the board, teachers know they have explicit permission to stop by to informally observe—even if just for a few minutes. Peer observation is one of the most powerful, affordable forms of professional development. 4 This Hack has both a do-it-tomorrow fix and a blueprint for full implementation “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” — Helen Keller
  5. 5. TEACHER QUIET ZONES Escape the Chaos and Maximize Planning Time HACK 3 “The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.” — Albert Einstein 5 THE PROBLEM: NO SANCTUARY THE HACK: CREATE TEACHER QUIET ZONES A typical school day brings a cornucopia of noise and distraction. Some teachers have given up trying to get anything done at school, opting instead to take work home. A room or section within any school building can be designated as a Teacher Quiet Zone (TQZ). Unlike experienced professionals in so many other industries, teachers don’t have the luxury of an office with a door, a place to concentrate, reduce stress, and get things done. Since few schools will ever be able to foot the bill for a separate wing of private teacher offices, a Teacher Quiet Zone can go a long way toward meeting those same needs. This Hack has both a do-it-tomorrow fix and a blueprint for full implementation
  6. 6. TRACK RECORDS Make Classroom Management Enduring and Real with a Simple Notebook HACK 4 THE PROBLEM: MANAGING MINOR MISBEHAVIORS THE HACK: REPLACE PUNISHMENT AND REWARD WITH A TRACK RECORD Classroom management is one of the most challenging aspects of teaching. If a teacher can’t get students to stay on task, treat each other civilly, follow basic instructions, and behave in a way that permits others to learn, there’s little else they can do. Instead of setting up a system of consequences for poor choices and rewards for good ones, let a student’s track record become the motivator. A track record is an accumulation of behaviors that constitute a person’s general reputation. A “Track Record” notebook is for documenting poor choices as well as the good. After an observation is recorded, you can share your documentation with that student privately. 6
  7. 7. “The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you choose, what you think and what you do is who you become.” — Heraclitus, Greek Philosopher TRACK RECORDS— continued Jane Doe Date + – 9/14 Offered a pencil to another student 9/30 Volunteered to give first speech 10/7 Tardy 2 min. 10/8 Tardy 2 min. 10/13 Stayed focused during silent reading 10/14 Tardy 2 min. Sometimes the best solution to a complex problem is the simplest. Try the straightforward act of recording noteworthy incidents and showing your students that, ultimately, who we are really is the sum of the choices we make. 7 HACK 4 This Hack has both a do-it-tomorrow fix and a blueprint for full implementation
  8. 8. STUDENT TECH GURUS Fix Small-Scale Tech Problems with a Team of Students HACK 5 8 “Don’t limit a child to your own learning, for he was born in another time.” —Rabindranath Tagore, Bengali Writer, Philosopher, Artist, and Composer THE PROBLEM: NOT ENOUGH TECH SUPPORT Classroom management is one of the most challenging aspects of teaching. If a teacher can’t get students to stay on task, treat each other civilly, follow basic instructions, and behave in a way that permits others to learn, there’s little else they can do. THE HACK: EMPLOY STUDENT TECH GURUS Because many students are already comfortable with technology—often more so than teachers, students can be trained to provide tech support. This added support means more lower-level problems get solved at a greater speed. Imagine how much more effective this process could be if it were formalized (i.e., a Student Help Desk).
  9. 9. Nolan, Maddie, Tristan, and Natalie serve as the 6th Grade Student Help Desk at Richardsville Elementary STUDENT TECH GURUS— continued HACK 5 9 A student tech support team can be hand-picked, trained, and made available whenever needed. Apart from troubleshooting, a team of student tech gurus can also work proactively, training other students and staff in basic skills, so the whole school learns together. This Hack has both a do-it-tomorrow fix and a blueprint for full implementation
  10. 10. MARIGOLD COMMITTEES Nurture New Teachers with a Circle of Mentors HACK 6 THE PROBLEM: POOR TEACHER RETENTION It’s no secret that teacher retention is a huge issue for schools. This creates a vicious cycle of wasted time as schools must look for, interview, hire, and train new teachers every year. THE HACK: ESTABLISH A YEAR-LONG WELCOMING COMMITTEE FOR NEW TEACHERS Every school has a few teachers who have that “it” factor: They love their work, they love the students, and they never seem to run out of enthusiasm. Their very presence inspires others. Many of these same teachers are also naturally good mentors. Properly implemented, new teachers would benefit from the support and wisdom gained by consistently spending time with these motivational peers. This Hack has both a do-it-tomorrow fix and a blueprint for full implementation 10
  11. 11. 11 THE IN-CLASS FLIP Bypass the Hurdles of Flipped Learning by Keeping It in School HACK 7 THE PROBLEM: FLIPPED LEARNING CAN FALL APART AT HOME Flipped learning has become wildly popular in education. Unlike a traditional course setup, where content is delivered in class and students apply and practice their learning through homework, the flipped classroom turns that arrangement on its head. THE HACK: “FLIP” YOUR CLASS . . . IN CLASS The In-Class Flip moves the flipped learning model inside the walls of your classroom. Using technology, the content delivery portion of a lesson—the “home” part in a true flip—would be set up as a station in the classroom. This allows students to receive the content in the same way that they would at home, while freeing up the teacher to engage with remaining students as they apply the learning from a video or from previous lessons.
  12. 12. 12 THE IN-CLASS FLIP— continued HACK 7 “If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it” —Michael Jordan, Basketball Player and Entrepreneur Students are divided into stations. Flipped learning gives teachers more time to engage in small groups with students who need it. Mark Levezow, This Hack has both a do-it-tomorrow fix and a blueprint for full implementation Station 1: Warm-up writing activity Station 5: Application of new content Station 2: Review of prior learning Station 3: Hands-on activity Station 4: Video a 5th grade literacy and social studies teacher at Omro Elementary School in Omro, WI says, “the students love it—they seem motivated to view the lessons.”
  13. 13. THE BOOK NOOK Create a Culture of Readers at Your School with Free Books for Everyone HACK 8 “The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is the man who’ll get me a book I ain’t read.” —Abraham Lincoln THE PROBLEM: NONREADERS Are you frustrated by a culture of nonreaders at your school? Why do our children continue to not read? One answer is simple: They don’t read because they don’t have access to books. Low-income families typically don’t have many books in their homes, and many live in communities without good libraries. THE HACK: BUILD A BOOK NOOK Like the bookstore, a Book Nook contains books, but they are not for sale; they are free to all students. Build a culture of readers at your school and offer something that really gives the community an opportunity to contribute to. 13 This Hack has both a do-it-tomorrow fix and a blueprint for full implementation
  14. 14. 14 THE GLASS CLASSROOM Put Learning on Display with Social Media HACK 9 THE PROBLEM: WHAT HAPPENS IN CLASS STAYS IN CLASS When we set up a demonstration, deliver new and exciting content, or give students instructions, these experiences stay between us and the students. What if we could tear down the walls and make our in-class learning activities transparent to parents, colleagues, administrators, other students, and anyone who’s interested? THE HACK: BUILD A TRANSPARENT CLASSROOM WITH SOCIAL MEDIA With class accounts, you and your students can share photos, status updates, reminders, announcements, and daily activities. Parents, students, and community members will become more invested in what’s happening in class! This Hack has both a do-it-tomorrow fix and a blueprint for full implementation
  15. 15. THE 360 SPREADSHEET Collect a Different Kind of Student Data HACK 10 15 “One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.” — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince THE PROBLEM: TURNING STUDENTS INTO NUMBERS We collect data, analyze data, and make data-driven decisions. Data can be useful, helping us notice patterns—allowing teachers to figure out where help is needed and yet, it is not enough. Students bring with them many “other “ kinds of data (i.e., home atmosphere, out-of-school school schedule, physical concerns, and the passions and obsessions that may consume them). These things are much harder to measure. Most teachers don’t even try, focusing instead on the things that convert into numbers. THE HACK: COLLECT DATA ON THE WHOLE CHILD Most teachers make an effort to get to know their students, and many regularly
  16. 16. THE 360 SPREADSHEET— continued HACK 10 16 distribute surveys but often just file them away. They might have intentions of reviewing them later, but that time never comes. There is reliance on the day-to-day interactions, and while getting to know some students is easy, others fade into the background. A 360 Spreadsheet is a place for teachers to store and access the “other” data we collect on our students, giving a more complete, 360-degree view of each student. The suggested categories offer vital information, they are just suggestions. Teachers can and should collect whatever information is most relevant to them, information that will help them connect to their students as whole people and build stronger relationships . This Hack has both a do-it-tomorrow fix and a blueprint for full implementation
  17. 17. HACK EDUCATION 17 Hacking Education won't weigh you down with outdated research or complicated strategies. Barnes and Gonzalez provide brilliant ideas woven into a user-friendly success guide that you'll want to keep nearby throughout the school year. Each chapter is neatly wrapped in this simple formula:  The Problem  The Hack (a ridiculously easy solution that you've likely never considered)  What You Can Do Tomorrow (no waiting necessary)  Blueprint for Full Implementation (a step-by-step action plan for capacity building)  The Hack in Action (yes, someone has actually done this) This is not your average education book! LEARN MORE Now Available!