Monday, March 14, 2016

The Innovator's Mindset Week 7: Chapters 10 and 11

This week, I'm letting you all lead the conversation. What would you like to discuss regarding these 2 chapters? What would you like to share with or ask the other participants?

We're down to the last few weeks of the book club. Make sure you have responded to all weeks' blog posts. Also, don't forget to register for the book club by completing the form here. Next week we will read and discuss chapter 12.

75 comments:

  1. Couros makes many interesting points in these two chapters that challenged my thinking about education. One point in particular that I liked was his discussion of Bernajean Porter's talks about moving from literate, to adaptive, to transformative. This reminded me of discussions we have had in my school regarding the SAMR model.

    I think it is important to use the technology in our schools to be more transformative. Right now in our school we are on the path to transformation, but aren't there yet. Our teachers have done a good job of moving from becoming literate to using tech in an adaptive way. The challenge for our staff is to take that next step to transformation. This is where the creativity and the innovation comes in. We need to get our teachers to see the power of creation and innovation first so we can get our students to see themselves as creators and innovators.

    I am curious as to how other schools have successfully helped their teachers use technology in a more transformative way.

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    1. Your question made me think about the part in Chapter 11 which I quote: The internet is.... “accelerating the creation of new ideas and the advancement of global knowledge. What really pushes our thinking is not consuming information, but reflecting, creating, and sharing our ideas with the understanding that others will read it." Technology makes it easier than ever to be connected to educators on blogs like this, or on twitter. Matt Miller surely provides great ideas for transforming the classroom with the use of technology. I am curious to know the amount of teachers who have transformed how they are in the classroom due to being connected to others on blogs and twitter? Any other sites or people that have helped them transform?

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    2. As a math teacher, I am challenged by the ideas of Dan Meyer (former math teacher with connections to desmos.com and author of Three-Act Math lessons). I follow him on Twitter @ddmeyer as well as his blog: http://blog.mrmeyer.com/
      He has a lot of great connections himself which adds another layer of networking that is inherent in being connected via Twitter.

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  2. I love his idea of less being more. I know when I was a student, I despised busy work, so I try to make everything we do in my classroom meaningful. With this idea, we can do more creative things with major, essential topics and standards since we are not rushing to check items off of a long list of standards.

    My question everyone here is how do you decide the content of what you are going to teach, or the basics of what you are teaching? Specifically with history, how do you decide what standards and topics to cover? Do you cover them all? I am finding that rather difficult in my World History and Civilization course.

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    1. Wiggins and McTighe help answer this question by stressing that we need to find the big ideas or enduring understanding we want our students to know and be able to do. For history, teaching students to discover and learn how where you live determines how you live and to discover the factors that have influenced how that place has developed may be examples of those bigger standards that will cover many others standards at the same time.

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    2. In thinking about teaching for transfer and the big ideas lends itself to identifying those essential and supportive standards, which in turn, then lend themselves to transfer goals. We are able to provide students with authentic learning experiences that encompass and demonstrate if students are truly able to transfer rather than digest multiple means of content.

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    3. When it come to history, I love the idea of student choice. Make the kids choose what period they want to study. Have small groups work together to study a time period and let them teach the class. Let them become the masters and get that deeper learning. At least for me, it seems like history is such a spring board... learning about one time, makes me want to learn about "what happens next."

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    4. These responses are very helpful! Thank you!

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  4. I can see advantages of keeping the focus on selected tools simple. However, I can say at the junior high, high school level where students have up to six or seven different classes each day, the students grow weary of the same tools being used repeatedly, especially as they are targeted as the newest, greatest features. While the other extreme is also a problem, with too many new items at once students experience the same burn-out as their teacher counter-parts with an overload of variety. All of that said, it is the 'voice and choice' opportunity given to both students and teachers that keeps everyone feeling as though they are directing their own path and therefore have only themselves to answer for feeling either extreme--overwhelmed or stuck in one mode of accomplishing a task.

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    1. Tammy, I see that as well. However, I find it ironic that when given multiple choices of NEW tools, students tend to fall back on their "comfort" tools. It's our job to push them in new directions.

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    2. When given the choice the other day between submitting an essay electronically or handwriting it, over half of my class chose to hand write it and turn it in. I know that collecting work digitally is not transformative, but it still amazes me how many have not fully embraced it, even though they are the "tech-savvy" generation.

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  5. These two chapters really spoke to me in terms of establishing an open, learning culture within a school and district to support teachers and students going deeper in their learning while keeping a sound focus on building thinkers and innovators rather than content surfers and coverers. "When educators and organizations feel overwhelmed by the number of requirements they have to meet, the focus in the classrooms tends to be on covering curriculum, rather than focusing on the learning and exploring concepts in depth" (p.154) If our overall goal as educators is to teach for transfer, then we need to be providing the types of learning opportunities and experiences that allow for depth rather than surface skill application. Teachers already feel as if they have a lot on their plates, but by supporting them with a focused vision, they are able to grow innovative thinkers while still getting content needs addressed. They are able to be responsive to the needs of their learners and go to those next levels of authentic learning. That being said. I love the idea of having an open culture within your building and even district. We need to model our beliefs, and if our beliefs involve transfer and providing innovative experiences for our learners, we must do the same for our teachers. Supporting our teachers and students in making shifts towards a growth mindset, lends itself to building that culture of inquiry, openness, and collaboration within classrooms. You will see both students and teachers making efforts to be risk takers and at the same time, have a willingness and eagerness to grow from others. The tweet idea is something I would like to see our teachers embrace within our building. "What if all teachers tweeted (using their school's hashtag) about one thing a day that they did in their classrooms and took five minutes to reader other teachers' tweets?" (p.177). We have a school twitter handle and district hashtag of #millershift, but I would love to see our teachers capitalize on the power of Twitter and how it can grow us a ongoing learners. I feel like I, as a coach, utilize this as a way to show the great instruction taking place within our building, but would love to see teachers empowering their colleagues through trying something similar to this idea.

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    1. I also really liked what he said about Twitter in these chapters. I think Twitter is a powerful way to share and access information and ideas. I would love to see our staff become more involved in using Twitter to share the great things they are doing in their classrooms.

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    2. I have to admit that I have never used Twitter, but I plan to change this. After reading these last two chapters, I have to find out what I have been missing!

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  6. Personally, I have always struggled with feeling like my ideas are ordinary and insignificant. When Couros mentioned the YouTube video by Derek Sivers, it was powerful. I have been encouraged over the last few weeks in a variety of settings and by completely different groups of people to simply share. I loved the analogy of dipping a cup into a stream of information. The value of me sharing my thoughts is not how it will impact me feeling innovative or not, but how it may positively impact the life of another.

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    1. Great sentiments. I have recently joined a Facebook group for my subject matter, FACS (Family and Consumer Science). I have thoroughly enjoyed the group. I can scroll pass the information that does not apply to me and participate when I feel like I have something significant to say. It makes me feel a bit proud when someone "likes" my idea or lesson.

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    2. Aaron, I have often felt the same way, that I do not have much to offer, in the way of new ideas. I do feel like I can offer quite a bit in areas I am strong in. Your point of sharing your thoughts helping others really hit home, and is very helpful.

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    3. I often feel the same way. I moved to a middle school setting after earning an elementary education degree and working in an elementary school for a few years. I had no idea how to teach middle school. I often feel that what I do in my classroom is good, but not innovative or exciting to anyone outside of my subject area. Over the last few years, I have had some people come to me and ask about something that they heard I do in my classroom and they want to adapt it and try it in their class. It is such a good feeling to know that what you are doing has value. I think that sometimes we get stuck in a rut of doing the same things each year, that we don't realize how great they really are. Sharing with peers can be a big morale booster.

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  7. I love the section on competitive collaboration. "Competition is only a bad word in education if our students lose as a result. When we view "sharing" as something that both supports and pushes us to be better, the big winner will always be our students" (Couros 176). This competitive collaboration has, without a doubt, had the biggest impact on my growth as an educator. However, the sharing can't be one sided. I have always been excited to share anything I create, but I can understand why some are more guarded with it, to a point. I think sometimes teachers are presented with situations in which they feel they are sharing everything with others but nothing is coming back to them. That can be frustrating and is not true collaboration. It has been very powerful to watch the amazing collaboration happening in our district this year. Kids are benefiting from the work our teachers do together. "...the best way to become a better educator is to have access to other teachers" (Couros 172). Technology can be leveraged to increase our collaboration time and reach as well.



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  8. “In a world where we suffer from information overload, less is definitely more.” It is easy to be overwhelmed in our careers because of the wealth of information and initiatives. It seems like just when we think we have grasped the current initiative in the world of education, another one (or three more) pop up. I find that many teachers (including myself) feel overwhelmed at times and although we try to dabble in all of the new trends in education, we often become “...knowledgeable in all but masters of none.” And if we’re masters of none, where does that take our students? I think many teachers try to take on all new initiatives because they feel that if they don’t, they’ll look like they aren’t compliant or like they don’t want to improve. But that is hardly the case. Choosing one area to work on is much more effective than choosing seven. And then the learning can happen because we have time and energy to focus on “...what we know and make something out of it.”

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    1. I love this! I worked with a teacher a few years ago who felt that she had to try each new idea that came up. She almost completely reinvented her class each year, and wore herself out and became so burnt out that she often came across as mean. She was a wonderful lady and teacher, but didn't trust that she was doing enough unless she tried it all. Sometimes less is definitely more.

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  9. Sometimes I struggle with technology for me and my family because I don't want to be accessible 24/7. I want my family to be "present" most of the time rather that hooked to an electronic device. I get that there has to be balance, but I don't see this as a 50-50 relationship, rather a 10-90. However, I am starting to see the value of connecting with others via social media to share ideas. For me, I have no problem saying to another teacher that I am comfortable with "hey how would you go about this lesson?" However, if I am new or not comfortable around a person, I wouldn't dare ask...for fear of judgement. On the flip side, like all educators, I have had some great lessons and some not. Sometimes it feels awkward sharing those great lessons face-to-face for fear of sounding arrogant. Social media allows individuals to share with those who want to be shared with and take ideas from those who want their ideas taken.

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    1. I agree. I am not on twitter simply because I don't want to be bombarded with information 24/7.

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  10. The quote that stuck with me from these two chapters is in Chapter 10. "If we create innovation teams that simply make cookie-cutter versions of the same idea for every school and classroom, we neglect the most important component of innovation: empathy. In education, understanding the community we serve is critical and necessary for innovation to flourish in each of our unique communities." I find myself reflecting on this quote while trying to enact local school district and state wide initiatives. We often see innovative teaching practices in our daily lives. It is often hard to replicate those positive experiences in a variety of settings. Personalities, administrative initiatives and students all change the dynamics of the situation. I have been lucky to have administrative support to try out new ideas. Sometimes they work and other times you need to go back to the drawing board. While my intent is always to replicate positive results, there are always variables which force you to adjust your expectations or current plan. This quote has allowed me to change my thinking to the considering the outside circumstances of the situation instead of what the initiative is.

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    1. I think that this idea of Innovation being an open arena is good for all. We need to make sure that teachers are given the time to expand their own learning in manner that they are familiar with. I agree that we need to provide choice to staff and students to develop a plan of action.

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  11. I struggle with the fact that we are trying to encourage innovative thinkers but the students are constantly using technology in ways that are counter effective to what we are trying to teach them. Movies, games and distractions are at their fingertips all day long. In addition to teaching the students the content, we are also teaching them how to effectively manage time and use their devices for productive reasons. For some kids it is too big of a distraction for them and all instruction gets lost.
    I think technology is wonderful for helping us become stronger teachers; I am hesitant to say whether technology is helping all our students become innovative thinkers.
    Kids will ultimately benefit from teachers collaborating to improve lessons and techniques. I would like to know how to reach the point where I feel like technology is just as beneficial to our students, instead of just a distraction to them.

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    1. Yes, I hear what you're saying. It's like I want to get past the "shiny new toy" stage where they are getting distracted by the devices and get to the part where they can use it for productive reasons. While I don't mind movies, games, etc... during free time on the computer I don't want those things happening during instructional time. I can think of one of my students who just watches boxing videos on youtube every single second he gets a chance. At this point he should realize when I walk in the room to start class he needs to close his computer or exit out of the video, I shouldn't have to say every. single. day. "we are getting started, please turn that off". During class I walk around the room and monitor computer activity when they are supposed to be on it so the distractions aren't as big of an issue then but it would be nice if students could monitor themselves. I know some teachers try to have the students take notes on the computer and that is completely lost, they don't monitor the students but others in the room have reported that students are just looking up pictures, watching youtube, or playing games. I teach 8th grade at a middle school for reference.

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    2. It always humors me when they can't figure out how to change the spacing in a Word document, but know 10 different ways to get around the filter. It goes back to if they want to know how to do it, they will learn it, and the simply do not care about most of what we are trying to teach them.

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    3. As the technology specialist/coach for my district, this is one of my biggest battles. Teachers want to use technology to empower students,mbut many have asked me to lock the iPad's down so that students can't surf the web, watch movies or use social media. Some even want the iPad's to remain in classrooms and not go home with students. I have to admit that some days I question these things myself. It is a struggle to get them to disconnect with what they want to learn about the world and get them focused on content that we know is beneficial for them. The one thing I keep coming back to is that we are preparing them for life after school. Hopefully these experiences will become teachable moments and lessons they will remember when they go off to college or into their careers.

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  12. As an introvert with a capital "I", this whole book has pushed me outside of my comfort zone. I like technology and use it everyday, but I do not want to be connected. When I am interested in something that I have read/heard about, I will seek out the information. But to me, to constantly be bombarded with information is overwhelming. I like the idea of reflection, however, I hate the idea of reflection in a public format.

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    1. I can see your point here. I think the idea of reflection in a public format can be a very frightening experience for some of our students. Middle schoolers are trying hard to fit in with the crowd and not to stand out. Making them interact in this manner may be great in theory; it may not be always beneficial though.

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  13. Since starting this book I've been thinking about making an Instagram specifically for my class. After reading chapter 11 I like the idea of the school hashtag. That way it'd be easier for people to find instead of having to look for my specific account. I like the idea of being able to see/read what others in my building/corporation are doing as a way of seeing best practices. I know for myself it'd make me think about what I'm sharing just how George talks about blogging being your best because you know others will see.

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  14. I felt like I could really relate to the feeling that less is more. Teaching kindergarten, I often feel that even my whole group instruction to too much for my students. E specially, in the beginning of the year. I found the tidbit about the extremely long work email very relatable. I often feel I have so much extra "paperwork" along with my daily task of being an effective classroom teacher. I understand that comes as one of my responsibilities that is just an area where I wish less was more. I often think of starting a classroom blog. I think it would be a great form of communication between my parents and me. I feel that some of what we do during the day gets forgotten by the time my students get home and are asked the infamous "how was your day" question by their parents. I would enjoy sharing what I do on the daily with my parents and I feel like a blog would be a form of social media that my parents could get on board with. This book has motivated me try many different ideas in my room, and a blog is just one of them.

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    1. I taught kindergarten for 5 years before moving to a technology position 3 years ago. I dabbled in blogging with my class and wish I had really stuck with it. It would definitely be one of the top 3 tech pieces I would implement if I ever get back to my kinders! Go for it!!

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  15. I had the same thoughts last year about creating a blog or class webpage to keep parents informed and up to date on what was going on in the classroom, but I found that I barely had to time to create a monthly newsletter. This year, I also had ideas of starting a library tweet or blog or something to generate more interest in the school library, but again, time goes to quickly. This has definitely given me ideas to mull over and organize before next year. Couros said "the more we connect, the more opportunities will come our way." I so appreciate all of the school librarians that currently have blogs, I have read and use ideas from them, they have given me insight and have been a source of knowledge to me. Same goes for the 4th grade teachers with blogs...helped alot last year! I hope all continue to share in the future. I hope to start my own, because I think his line, "if we as leaders want to accelerate our own growth...we must actively participate in sharing of ideas," is so true, I might be at the point where I need to start sharing in order to grow.

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  16. I appreciate the fact that Couros makes it a point of emphasis to state early in chapter 11 on open culture that, "while students had access to computers, it was the learning environment that was different" (p. 168). He also once again stresses the importance of being a connected educator. For those not digitally connected to colleagues, it may seem as if people overstate this message, but I find myself gushing when I talk about it too. So many solutions present themselves through connectedness. I agree with Couros that is it typically easy to identify connected educators. I would say they seem happier, less overwhelmed, and more solution-focused and adaptive. For many of us going through change, it helps to see what it looks like. School visits, conferences and face-time with other people are all powerful, but few of us can do those frequently. Digital connections fill a lot of the same needs with similar benefits, and it can happen at any time. Start small; you can yield benefits at any level.

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    1. I agree that there are benefits at any level. Sometimes my only connection is a weekly #INeLearn chat. It is energizing, welcoming, and reassuring that we are all trying our best to make progress regardless of our digital capabilities. For those who are afraid that Twitter or social media will consume their lives; it could. However, I find that when I slice it into five to ten minute segments I fill time that I might previously have looked for something constructive to read anyway (while I am waiting on an appointment/waiting on my children).

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  17. In Chapter 10, I really liked when Couros shares an example of how he was overwhelming his staff by bombarding them with technology, and expecting them to be as excited as he was. He finally saw that all the "stuff" he was giving them was so overwhelming and that maybe embracing 1 or 2 new things at a time was a much better idea. I can relate to this. I feel that we get so excited because we see something new out in technology and we want to learn it, but we only scratch the surface of it because something "new" or "better" comes out again. We have been through several programs at school and now we use Canvas, and with that we are now switching from Microsoft products, and going to Google. When do we have time to learn the indepths of it, or is it just good enough to scratch the surface? Do we just give bare minimum to our students? I love technology, but it is very overwhelming at times!

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  18. I liked the idea of too many ideas being overwhelming for others as well. Somewhat out of necessity concerning my own learning style and personality, when I teach/coach, I have found simpler is usually better. Often, the less said, the better, as well. This allows for my students and athletes to take more ownership and in turn, be more innovative, and helps me do the same. I think often we are afraid to "delegate" responsibility to our students/athletes, but I have found when I do, it is better, often WAY better for both of us. It is the same with our use of technology, our students have lots of very creative and innovative ideas that they are already doing; we need to foster that, and encourage it.

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  19. The quote about being interactive producers, not isolated consumers is something I think we all need to look at more deeply. Consider what are students are doing today in almost all classrooms. Most are probably listening to a teacher, doing a worksheet, then going home and not remembering what they did since it wasn't empowering to them. What would happen if we help students begin to take on being an interactive producer, one that produces and consumes, but critically thinking about how consumption increases their production. John Spencer and AJ Juliani are two educators who have helped shape the way I think about creativity and learning. Check them out http://www.spencerideas.org/ and http://ajjuliani.com/. These two show what learning could be in a system where we are interactive producers. Connections like these are so important for educators, no longer do we just bounce ideas of teachers in our school walls, we can learn from others around the world. Go Twitter!

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  20. I like the idea of simple tools and making sure they are as simple as possible. I think many times we get lost in tools that are much to complicated in education. If it works I really don't care if its simple.
    I also have felt overwhelmed with technology many times in my teaching career.

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  21. I like the idea of teachers tweeting one thing per day they did in their classroom and spend 5 minutes reading other teacher's tweets. Even if we did this 3-4 times per week, I think it would definitely help us grow.

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  22. I am embracing the idea that less is more. I want to streamline my lessons and give more thought to how to just concentrate on the most important ideas. Just giving a worksheet to fill time is in the past. Using technology to create is my goal. I also love the idea of more sharing between teachers. If we even shared how we manage our classrooms and what we do each week that was successful by tweeting would be amazing! I am so open to this idea and would love to see it happen in my school.

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  23. I liked reading about the feeling that the writer got when visiting Jeff Unruh's room. Last year, I worked in a school that had their own "Jeff Unruh"; when I entered this man's classroom, I knew I was experiencing something quite different from any other room in the school. This teacher seemed to have considered all of one's senses when he designed the mood of his room- music, visual display overhead, lighting... you might think that this would result in sensory overload, but each element complimented another, making the whole experience very cohesive, inviting, and calming. When I entered this classroom, I remember thinking to myself, "I hope there is a seat in here for me." I would love to create this type of atmosphere for my students, I want them to have that same hope when they walk into my classroom, the hope that there is room for them; this is a goal of mine for next year!

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  24. A quote that really hit home for me was when the author stated "In education, time is the most precious and scarcest resource". The one thing that I have taken away from this past year is the importance of working smarter, not harder, and this knowledge has already allowed me to start evaluating all of the things that I previously considered to be "important". When I really began looking into the "return on my investment", I realized that I spent a lot of time on some trivial activities. Many time-consuming things are self-imposed; I get hung up on thinking that things have to be done a certain way. It has been very liberating and productive for me to reflect on my mindset.

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    1. It's easy to confuse effort with results. If we work and work but never get anywhere, we are wasting time. Taking time to fully assess what we are trying to accomplish (working smarter)increases our productivity and does not drain our resources (time).

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  25. The biggest thing I took away from these chapters was about adding to the already full plate of the educator. It was validating to hear that administration starts so many initiatives and never does one really well. I loved the sentence, " This practice has made us knowledgeable in all but masters of none." What if we, as teachers were allowed to choose something we really wanted to know about, or to learn and we became the school expert on that subject? Sure, you can set some limits. For example, the area in which you become an expert must be related to education. I can't even imagine how valuable this could be for a school! Rather than all of learn the same thing at the surface, we become experts in a certain place. I really think that could bring passion back for many of us.

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  26. In chapter 10 the author talks about being overwhelmed by new initiatives and never mastering any of them; I felt a connection to this concept. I often feel like I have so much going on that I am not doing anything well. It is encouraging to hear that it is ok to take on challenges one step at a time and see how it goes. There is no need to try and implement the “50 great new techniques” all at once. I like to try one thing and see how it goes, and I like to be able to choose the ideas that I want to implement. Too many times, people want to force an idea or concept, because it works for them. The problem is that my brain may not work like theirs. In the end, give me a few options, and let me work out what works for me.
    I also agree that teachers need to be connected with each other teachers. I am part of FACS List Serve. They send out emails with ideas on how to keep the different subjects that we cover fresh and new. It’s a simple way to be connected to other teachers around the state. I have gone to conferences to learn about new technologies, and have found new and creative ways to implement new tech into the classroom. These things are vital to helping me keep up in a changing world. This is my way of “dipping a cup in a stream of knowledge”.

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    1. The most important thing I took from these chapters was that “learning happens when we take what we know and make something out of it.” It made me think immediately of a unit I am doing with one class and how to end this unit. Originally I was going to have a test but now that I think about it, the information lends itself to something completely different, like making a collection of, say, the top 10 most interesting tidbits, or creating a travelogue or story. I have some more thinking to go, but I am glad I read the section about “a focus on creation.” My students will have learned the information when they make it their own.

      To add on to what you say, Barb, I appreciated the part about how educators and organizations feel overwhelmed with the number of requirements to meet, and add that to all the new options for online things, and we have too many options and are overwhelmed. I have felt this way a lot in the past two school years, as if I’m doing everything a little bit and nothing well. Trying to do and learn everything at once is frustrating. I am starting to wise up and pick one thing to try at a time and find what works for me, and not worry if someone else can do fifty new things.

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  27. I was really able to relate to the section in chapter 10 where George talked about overwhelming his staff with new initiatives. In my first year as an assistant principal I was sending out different blog posts and articles to the staff on a daily basis. Just because I was reading them, however, did not mean the staff wanted to read them. Now that I am the principal, I still send out several posts and articles to the staff just not on a daily basis. I have also started using google classroom as a central location for those posts/articles to be stored. I still think it is valuable as educators to continue to read and inform ourselves however. It is also a valuable tool to model for our students. When they see that we continue to learn and grow as educators, they begin to understand why continued learning is important. It is good for us to talk about what we are reading with them so they see that learning taking place in us.

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  28. Looking back over the last six years in my current position, most definitely, technology changed everything. One of the basic student goals, of responding and looking towards light, took on new meaning with the addition of the iPad. The opportunities for visual activities became abundant. iPad Apps, as "Tap N See" focused on students with cortical vision impairments. I witnessed my students becoming engaged. However, reading this book has challenged me. How do I go from students being engaged, to having them be empowered? The "Paradox of Choice" and Schwartz's quote, "When people have no choice, life is almost unbearable." It seems that I see students from all ages and intellect impacted with too many decisions or not enough. The root of the problem most often stems from the parents, and grows beyond in the student's educational experiences. Finding the right balance in choices is like a fluid pendulum. I've reread the passage from Daniel Pink regarding, "Human beings have an innate inner drive to be autonomous, self-determined, and connected to one another". I am not on board with this sentiment. I'm not sure why, but I just don't.

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  29. There were two ideas from these chapters that I really liked. The first "creativity is not inspired by the pressure of time" and the second "Go global, impact local". As a chronic procrastinator I have always believed that some of my best work has been the product of necessity due to self imposed time crunches. In reality though my best and most creative works have been done at a slower pace. Using and exploring technology in my classroom most likely will need to take time to implement and will require me to allow time for my students to explore. The second quote Made me realize that I need to look outside the boundaries of my school for inspiration but that doesn't mean that the information I find cant impact my immediate classroom and school. The idea of a district or school hashtag to share new found ideas and information could be very beneficial.

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  30. I would love to use technology in my classroom. My classroom is the gym and unless I want to hook up the computer to the screen with power cords I have no technology. I go to conferences every year to learn what is available for the classroom but can not use it. I have created some fun and creative activities for my students but I am not able to implement them.

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    1. There are some interesting apps available. My fitness gym does a class using a Tabata app that counts with an interesting timer. It is fun and I started using it at home. All I need is an iPad/iPhone and sometimes speakers if I am outside.

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  31. The idea of "less is more" is interesting in the age of multiple standards which seem to increase every year. I would like to eliminate some of the "busy work" which I know have students do, but I'm not sure I can make use of all the time allotted to our class. I am interested in allowing the students to have more time to investigate the things about biology that interest them, but they seem to rarely be able to stay on task. Sometimes the "busy work" is good just from the standpoint of helping them learn how to focus and concentrate. I also really like the idea of students seeing themselves as creators. If we can get them to feel like the work they produce is their creation, I think we might get some of them to invest in their work a little more and strive to "create" a better product. Couros speaks of allocating "adequate time" for creativity to thrive. I have to find a way to balance the amount of time for certain activities with the length of time my students are able to concentrate.

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    1. I inadvertently got signed out of my account before I published this post. Please forgive me!

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  32. The idea of "less is more" is interesting in the age of multiple standards which seem to increase every year. I would like to eliminate some of the "busy work" which I know have students do, but I'm not sure I can make use of all the time allotted to our class. I am interested in allowing the students to have more time to investigate the things about biology that interest them, but they seem to rarely be able to stay on task. Sometimes the "busy work" is good just from the standpoint of helping them learn how to focus and concentrate. I also really like the idea of students seeing themselves as creators. If we can get them to feel like the work they produce is their creation, I think we might get some of them to invest in their work a little more and strive to "create" a better product. Couros speaks of allocating "adequate time" for creativity to thrive. I have to find a way to balance the amount of time for certain activities with the length of time my students are able to concentrate.

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  33. The idea of “less is more” hits home for me. There is an ever-increasing amount of information and ideas that are difficult to sort through. I am finding that the ability to sift through this information and take away what is valid and useful is a skill that teachers and students must learn. Many times I feel we are on information overload. We breeze through information so fast that we do not fully assess its importance or relevancy.

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  34. After reading everyone's comments I can see the two topics that really hit home with me, also struck a nerve with everyone else. I loved the "less is more" point he makes. I always dread the question of "how long does it have to be?" when doing a writing assignment. I always just say as long as you think it needs to be to cover everything effectively. I do think we drill into students certain ideas of a paragraph has to be this many sentences, an essay should be this many paragraphs, etc., when in real life/real writing it varies greatly all the time. I'm using writing as an example but I see this in other subject areas as well. I can remember as a student myself doing 30 math problems all over the same skill, chances are if I can do 10-15 of them correctly, then I've got it and the extra work only made me not like math! I think as teachers we have such precious little time with students we have to make sure what we are asking students to do is productive.
    The second topic that hit home was his discussion on Twitter. I had the opportunity to see Mr. Couros speak at the elearning conference in Scottsburg. After hearing him talk about Twitter I gave it a go but then didn't really do much with it until I read "What Connected Educators Do Differently" and it's like something clicked. I can truly say that being on Twitter has changed my "teacher life"! There are so many great resources out there but most of all it helps me stay positive about my profession and dedicated to wanting to be the best teacher I can be for my students. I love the idea of using a school wide hashtag, or even a corporation hashtag. I feel like through the use of Twitter and Facebook the public perception of our school has been increasingly positive. Great chapters!

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  35. After reading everyone's comments I can see the two topics that really hit home with me, also struck a nerve with everyone else. I loved the "less is more" point he makes. I always dread the question of "how long does it have to be?" when doing a writing assignment. I always just say as long as you think it needs to be to cover everything effectively. I do think we drill into students certain ideas of a paragraph has to be this many sentences, an essay should be this many paragraphs, etc., when in real life/real writing it varies greatly all the time. I'm using writing as an example but I see this in other subject areas as well. I can remember as a student myself doing 30 math problems all over the same skill, chances are if I can do 10-15 of them correctly, then I've got it and the extra work only made me not like math! I think as teachers we have such precious little time with students we have to make sure what we are asking students to do is productive.
    The second topic that hit home was his discussion on Twitter. I had the opportunity to see Mr. Couros speak at the elearning conference in Scottsburg. After hearing him talk about Twitter I gave it a go but then didn't really do much with it until I read "What Connected Educators Do Differently" and it's like something clicked. I can truly say that being on Twitter has changed my "teacher life"! There are so many great resources out there but most of all it helps me stay positive about my profession and dedicated to wanting to be the best teacher I can be for my students. I love the idea of using a school wide hashtag, or even a corporation hashtag. I feel like through the use of Twitter and Facebook the public perception of our school has been increasingly positive. Great chapters!

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  36. I really like the “less is more” comments at the very beginning of the chapters for this week. I think this can apply to almost everything we do in life. I was thinking about what happens when we give or are given less instruction or direction when starting something new. I have found that the lack of a lot of suggestions or opinions when starting anything new really inspires creativity and sparks ideas. Figuring things out, what works best for each individual, and making mistakes has to be part of every positive learning experience.

    Along the same line, putting constraints on assignments or by assigning a specific length of an essay or research paper causes undue pressure for students. I’ve seen this personally with my son who is a freshman in college. Writing has always been his nemesis, he dreaded whenever a writing assignment popped up in any class, no matter the content. Then he told me when he got to college and the professors never assigned a specific length to the papers they were asked to write, he felt freer to express himself and less pressured to come up with a minimum of words or pages that were required. He is actually turning into a pretty good writer and I feel not starting the assignment with a preconceived idea of having to fill a page actually allows a writer to let his/her thoughts flow more freely.

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  37. It is so interesting to me to read the numerous comments about "less is more"! This is something that many need to be reminded of in life as well as teaching!! Everyone learns and writes differently- some love the clear cut instructions; while it acts as a barrier to others. Saying less is more makes me think of the saying quality over quantity. In the elementary setting (as opposed to writing papers), I would much rather have 1-2 quality deeper thinking activities for students to learn at their own pace and follow their own path than 5-6 that might just scratch the surface.
    I love how many times students own curiosity on a topic can create a much more impactful and better lesson than I could have planned by simply allowing them the ability to use their own ideas and not be confined to what we feel is important.

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  38. As many others have also commented, I absolutely agree with the "less is more" information. I can't tell how many times I have been overwhelmed by all of the choices in education. I feel that there are so many good teaching ideas and practices shared (which is fantastic), but it can also be very overwhelming. One of my former administrators often told the staff to focus on implementing one new teaching idea/modification at a time instead of trying to incorporate every new idea all at once. I loved this approach and that there was no pressure from above to incorporate everything! I also think this message clearly translates down to our students. "Less is more" is a great philosophy to keep in mind.

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    1. Hi Christina,
      As a teacher, I am sure you appreciated the "focus on implementing one new teaching idea/modification at a time"; I know that I have appreciated that type of support from administrators and mentors. As teachers, we want to do what is best for our students. Staying stagnant in our practices can hold students back, but trying too many new initiatives can overwhelm them. I agree that creating a plan with an open mind and a growth mindset can best benefit our students and keep our passion for teaching alive!

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  39. I am definitely in the "less is more" camp!! I love the fact that there are so many resources for teachers to use, but I so often feel that I don't even know where to begin!! This leads me to feeling overwhelmed and disappointed as I think that I have not accomplished anything except weeding through countless websites.
    I love the idea of implementing one idea at a time so that I can fully understand and utilize it to the best of my ability.
    I also think the less is more idea is applicable to writing papers. I always hesitate to add a word count into the rubric because that becomes the students' main focus instead of the content. Instead, I like to require a certain number of paragraphs. If the students include all the needed information in each paragraph it does not matter how many words are in the paper. They will have succeeded in effectively communicating the content.

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    1. I love the idea of implementing one idea at a time! Teachers can get too caught up in trying all of these new things at once or within a short time, and students are not understanding or teachers are feeling overwhelmed.
      I know many teachers who assign a word count to papers and I know many students just focus on that. Students could write a wonderful paper if they were not so concerned on a number.
      Also with the less is more......many teachers still talk so much and after a little bit (with elementary) you might loose their focus. Always thinking "less is more!"

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  40. I agree with Couros that less is more, and that going deeply is much more meaningful than experiencing a little of everything and never really making meaningful connections to the experiences. But the gold for me in these two chapters lies in the paragraph where he explains the Alberta Education focus on the whole child: "Starting with the student in the center, the next focus is on the skills of literacy and numeracy. From there, education expands to discussing skills, such as collaboration and leadership, critical thinking and problem solving, creativity and innovation, social responsibility, communication, digital literacy, and lifelong learning." Wow. I'm not only impressed with the list, but the fact that this focus comes from the department of ed. What stands out in that list right now is social responsibility. We know that we are in the business of helping our students think critically, build their knowledge base and their skills and strategies, but the application possibilities that are engendered by those two words--social responsibility.

    I then looked up Alberta Education and clicked around their site. I found their ministerial order on student learning. Here are the first two statements set forth to explain the thinking behind their goals: WHEREAS the fundamental goal of education in Alberta is to inspire all students to achieve success and fulfillment, and reach their full potential by developing the competencies of Engaged Thinkers and Ethical Citizens with an Entrepreneurial Spirit, who contribute to a strong and prosperous economy and society.
    WHEREAS education in Alberta is based on the values of opportunity, fairness, citizenship, choice, diversity, and excellence. (https://education.alberta.ca/policies-and-standards/student-learning/)

    So I guess my basic learning from these two chapters is that there is a whole world of education out there waiting to be explored, with amazing ideas that I am just now lucky to find. AND I want to think more about incorporating thinking about and exploring social responsibility into my class curriculum.

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  41. Like many on here, it is relieving to read that "less is more" is okay. We do not need to do 100 different thinks. We can innovate slowly by implementing one idea at a time. Otherwise we might drive ourselves crazy trying to add new initiatives. While our intentions are always good it can easily lead to burn out.

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  42. Less is more is an idea I need to take advantage of more often. I feel like when I get involved in something I like to go full force and big picture. I've realized now, whether it is class, or any extra curricular, or even my personal life, I need to streamline the things I'm doing and not overthink ideas and overextend myself. It was refreshing to read that.

    I also think having a constant stream of ideas is so handy, and enjoyed when he wrote in chapter 11 about an open culture. Using coworkers, friends, and online resources has expanded everything I do, from coaching to teaching to advising student government.

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  43. Less is more was the BIGGEST idea that stuck out at me. I find myself despising busy work and truly make sure that every activity, assignment, quiz, essay, etc. meaningful and of value. I truly want students to walk out of my classroom on a daily basis and feel engaged and excited about what we are doing. Of course this isn't going to happen with every lesson and for every student, but this is also why I find myself trying to offer a variety of activities and assignments to make sure that throughout a unit, I'm creating excitement or engagement for every style of learner.

    I also have to remind myself professionally that less is more. I don't have to be perfect. I don't have to overextend myself. I can focus on one thing at a time. My time is valuable and I don't have to fill every minute of my life with my professional life.

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    1. I agree with your statement of wanting student to walk out feeling engaged and excited. I hate hearing the students say that what they are working on doesn't matter to them. That shows they are not engaged and the work isn't meaningful.

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    2. I agree with your statement of wanting student to walk out feeling engaged and excited. I hate hearing the students say that what they are working on doesn't matter to them. That shows they are not engaged and the work isn't meaningful.

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  44. I believe we all loved the statement “less is more.” This point he made fit right with what I was doing in school at the time. For professional development my department is presenting in front of the middle school staff about differentiation. When teachers here differentiation the word work. Then the students feel that extra work. They ask questions like, “how long does it have to be” or “do I have to answer all questions in complete sentences?” Teachers and students feel that “less is more.” I wanted to present an idea that would be meaningful for students and teachers but giving that “less is more” mindset. Most teachers have a warm up in my school for when students first come in. I created an idea of having 5 questions, the students get a questions based on their own individual level. Students didn’t have to use complete sentences, just make their point across. Student could then turn the questions over to the teacher by asking something they were interested in based on subject. This required little work and was a great check for understanding. I was loving these chapters for they fit with exactly what I was trying to accomplish at the time. It gave great incite.

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  45. “Creativity is where we start to think differently, and innovation is where creativity comes to life” (Couros, Ch. 10). While this quote is not only powerful for us as teachers, it is powerful for our students as well. Each year as I sit down to change, adjust, prioritize and re-design my curriculum based on what I learned the year before, I have started to reflect on what skills and growth I can help my students achieve to leave as the “ideal graduate”. Is the ideal graduate one who memorized what a present participle was, or did they take away writing skills and reflection techniques to produce a personalized blog where they published a variety of writings? “Learning does not happen in chunks; it is on-going, non-linear, and continuous” (Couros, Ch. 10). While it can be very easy to get bogged down in the content standards for a particular class in a particular grade, it is important to remember we want to help our students learn when they leave our room with what we have helped to teach them (or cultivate within them).

    Lastly, the idea of culture shined through to me. “In education, understanding the community we serve is critical and necessary for innovation to flourish in each of our unique communities” (Couros, Ch. 10). Understanding the needs of our students or the teachers in our schools can have a powerful effect on the learning or teaching that goes on within each building. I have been so fortunate to work for school corporations and administrators that value and encourage risk-taking in the classroom. This support has taught me to value and encourage these very same traits in my classroom. As Couros discusses, we should embrace those successes, encourage our students to do so and break out of isolation. “As educational leaders, we must promote and capitalize on open, connected learning” (Couros, Ch. 11). We want our students to be able to carry these connected skills into their own futures.

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