Friday, July 15, 2011

Surprise! Boys and Girls Learn Differently

Here is a quick survey about Boys and Girls. See the table of results at the bottom. Correct answers will show in green. Incorrect in Red. Newest responses will show at the bottom of the spreadsheet.



If males and females really are the same, why are they so different?

Boys are falling behind. This is not an "American" problem. Research is showing it is a global issue.

If we are truly the same and equal, why are boys being diagnosed for learning disabilities at a much higher rate?

A spattering of research:
  • one of the underlying beliefs in our culture is that we have fabricated these gender stereotypes. This is probably more appropriate for girls and their self-image. Women's right has actually made it harder on women socially and emotionally. However, it is more than just culture. We are wired differently:
    • the brain, even with the naked eye, looks different in males and females. They are different!
    • men who has a stroke on the left lose more speech functions than men who stroke on the right. But that is not true in women, they use both sides for speech. The joke that men only use half of their brain is sort of true (in speech at least)! Look at Congresswoman Gifford and her recovery.
    • Girls hear better than boys - the distinction has even been observed in newborn babies continuing through development. Girls will often complain that a teacher "is yelling".
    • Girls are better at reading facial expressions. Studies done as early as the day of birth. Gender was not known by researchers. The newborn girls tended toward the face of a young woman rather than a mobile. Boys have more cells in their eyes to make them sensitive to movement. Girls have more "P cells" and are sensitive to soft colors.
    • Boys and girls approach direction differently. Girls give direction by landmarks. Boys are more procedural.
    • part of the brain that deals with feelings develops much more quickly in girls. Do not confuse "emotion" with "feelings". Boys will show emotion, but asking "how do you feel about that" isn't as appropriate.
    • Risk taking - Boys take more risks than girls (sometimes to their own detriment). 
    • Boys are more into rough and tumble play. Very healthy for boys. Some say this is a cultural thing, but it has been observed across cultures. There are always exceptions, of course. Boys will "duke it out" then be friends 2 hours later. Girls tend to hold grudges.



Classroom Techniques: An Overview
Science is confirming what we all knew already...Boys and girls are different. There is a growing movement of single-gender education. If there are truly differences, we can better target classroom instruction in a single-gender environment.

Just splitting them up...does that make a difference in and of itself?
The presenter wrote his dissertation on it. His research showed teachers didn't do much different in terms of teaching techniques based on gender. He expected there to be no real difference because instruction wasn't being changed.

Surprisingly, all subjects except Social Studies showed differences, and male classes caught up to girls...even with no instructional modifications based on gender.

Some observations from the classroom:
Girls typically draw pictures of people, flowers, and trees with colors, neatly arranged using warm colors (red, green, yellow, brown). Boys tend to draw action in 3rd person perspective using "cold" colors (blue grey silver and black). Girls draw nouns, boys draw verbs. 95% of kindergarten teachers are women. Teachers tend to encourage students to draw the pictures they like. Students are intuitive and boys find that their "action" pictures are not pleasing to the teacher and quickly label themselves as "not good at art". In a modern, 21st century, "gender-neutral" classroom, the boy quickly transfers his "inability" in art to many areas of the classroom.

In single-gender schools, boys get more involved in art, drama, and the like. Our co-ed system has created the cultural differences we see because of a lack of awareness of gender differences. The difference isn't the culture, it is the biology.

Classroom Strategies for boys:
  • single-gender classes
  • put the boys in the front (but explain why...they can't hear)
  • Boys need action
  • use primary colors for organization (if you use a table for papers/organization in that is color coded)
  • Boys should use Blue or Green when highlighting
  • Move around when you talk (boys are stimulated by motion/action)
  • use visual cues
  • Try to speak only when you are facing the students - Don't talk with your back to them
  • Make sure boys are looking at you
  • Give wait time - especially for boys
  • after a student does answer a question - before you indicate right or wrong - ask a student to summarize and judge whether it is right or wrong
  • Spread out boys' desks as far as possible - allow opportunities for rough & tumble play
  • teach boys how to identify serious injuries
  • have boys take notes word-for-word because they are not good [tendency] auditory learning
  • small boys do better with several shorter recesses in a day
  • break skills into smaller bits
  • make handwriting exercises into fun games - grade handwriting randomly from ALL work, not just handwriting practice
  • break long-term projects into concrete steps with deadlines
  • if students can't write in their books, let them use sticky notes in their books
  • let them memorize things (boys)
  • break up lectures by stopping every 5 to 10 minutes and ask for a synopsis
  • Talk for 5 minutes and then have them write down what they remember
  • Have students work math problems twice - specifically the 2nd time on a fresh sheet of paper
  • have a variety of literature choices so boys and girls can choose (Michael Gurian's website has a list of "boy friendly" books"
  • Encourage boys to go into non-typical careers. Encourage their passion!

Classroom Strategies for girls:
  • give girls more risk-taking opportunities
  • start with thebig picture and comprehensive discussion. Then head to the details.
  • math/science - begin with written materials and describe each step
  • a soft voice is better
  • have them stand when they're answering a question
  • be careful of facial expressions - girls read into them and can get discouraged
  • concept mapping works well
  • journaling and question journals
  • pair girls up and have one explain while the other DRAWS it
  • make her explain how she would solve it FIRST, before solving
  • Don't present alternative ways of solving problems until they have mastered one way


Presented at IICSE by Dr. Doug Roth - Dean of the College of Education at Southeastern University. 7/14/11

Basic Tools of the Digital Classroom

Presented at IICSE by David McVicker (@DavidMcVicker)- Assistant Principal of Elementary at Ben Lippen School, 7/12/11 Columbia International University, Columbia, SC

Tools of the Trade
The following is a list of pretty standard resources. I will not include a real summary of each. There are plenty of descriptions, tutorials, how-tos, etc. all over the internet/blogosphere. A simple Google search will provide [way too] many resources on each item listed below.

There are SO many, we must have good discernment to find the things that work well in your classroom to provide consistency for the students.

Pushing for a computer lab is 15 years too late. Internet must be in the classroom.

Online Content - Part of active learning - not a replacement to instruction
Khan Academy - 2400 video content lessons - Math, science, and more. AWESOME!
TED Talks - every talk is limited to 18 minutes - cutting edge talks by experts in various fields.
iTunes U - 350,000 videos from high schools and universities

Search

Time is the most limited resource in the classroom. Do everything you can to use it wisely.

Memorization by itself is not bad. You must ask yourself WHY you are memorizing.

Communication
Gmail - a bit passe for students
Twitter - great for open discussion.
Facebook - this is where most students are spending time
Skype - many uses beyond just video chatting with grandma

Writing - Just because it's not pen and paper doesn't mean it's not important
Google Docs - Online writing collaboration
Blogger - blogging site
Word Press - another blogging site
Kidblog.org (Primarily for elementary and middle grades students)

Choose new technology in bite-sized pieces. Be intentional with the tools you use to encourage thinking. Don't have so many balls in their air that if one drops, they all fall.

Feel free to comment and add more tools. This is not an exhaustive list by any means. I just wanted to point out what he talked about in the session.



Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Basic Tools of the Trade

The following is a list of pretty standard resources. I will not include a real summary. There are plenty of descriptions, tutorials, how-tos, etc. all over the internet/blogosphere. A simple Google search of any tool will provide [way too] many resources on each item listed below. This list is intended for someone looking to get started.


There are SO many, we must have good discernment to find the things that work well in your classroom to provide consistency for the students.

Inserted thought: Pushing for a computer lab is 15 years too late. Internet must be in the classroom.

Online Content - Part of active learning - not a replacement to instruction
Khan Academy - 2400 video content lessons - Math, science, and more. AWESOME!
TED Talks - every talk is limited to 18 minutes - cutting edge talks by experts in various fields.
iTunes U - 350,000 videos from high schools and universities

Search
Google
Bing
Yahoo!
YouTube

Time is the most limited resource in the classroom. Do everything you can to use it wisely.

Memorization by itself is not bad. You must ask yourself WHY you are memorizing.

Communication
Gmail - a bit passe for students
Twitter - great for open discussion.
Facebook - this is where most students are spending time
Skype - many uses beyond just video chatting with grandma

Writing - Just because it's not pen and paper doesn't mean it's not important
Google Docs - Online writing collaboration
Blogger - blogging site
Word Press - another blogging site
Kidblog.org (Primarily for elementary and middle grades students)

Choose new technology in bite-sized pieces. Be intentional with the tools you use to encourage thinking. Don't have so many balls in their air that if one drops, they all fall.


Presented by David McVicker - Assistant Principal of Elementary (also AP Physics teacher) at the Ben Lippen School. 7/12/11 Columbia International University, Columbia, SC

Developing Thinking Skills in a Digital Age

My 3-year-old is able to think at a high level. He can take a set of criteria (at his age it is given by me) and evaluate his own behavior and the behavior of others. For example, the other day he saw a young boy interacting with his parents. He watched for a few minutes and turned to me and said, "Daddy, that boy is being disrespectful." He was using a given criteria for behavior, analyzing another's behavior, and evaluating and labeling that behavior based on that criteria.


But what does it mean to teacher students in a classroom?

These are my notes from a session at IICSE. Presenter info at the bottom.

Two Key Components:
1. Teaching Students to think
2. Understanding the digital learner

The need to cultivate a student's ability to think is not new...but the setting has changed...because a shift has occurred.

The shift has an impact on how students find and live their calling.

Defining Thinking Skills
The cognitivie processes that enable us to make meaning from and create with information.

The ability to:

  • Form ideas and opinions based on reason and evidence.
  • Evaluate the worth of ideas, opinions, and evidence before making a decision, formulating opinions, or taking actions.
  • DO something with information or concepts


Thinking skills form the foundation upon which the decisions making capacity and predispositions that direct a student's life are built.

Why is it so difficult to develop thinking skills in our students? (class responses)

  • takes more time
  • curriculum not written that way
  • curriculum too broad - teachers must cover too much as the sacrifice of depth
  • teachers not aware of their own critical thinking skills
  • teachers not aware critical thinking needs to be taught
  • such a variety of learning styles and student needs, it is difficult to get to it all
  • can't force someone to think


You have to have a target at which you are aiming if you are going to be intentional in your planning.

The 21st century student has a different schema...different presuppositions, beliefs, and values...
Their scheme is NOT of reason, rather experience.

"They think with their feelings and listen with their eyes." Their thinking is not based on "is it reasonable" or "does it make sense". They decide based on "is it good for me and my beliefs?"

The do not connect face-to-face as much, yet they want/crave/need relationships.

Nothing in their daily lives challenge them to "go deep" into ideas and concepts.

The world tells them to think for themselves because you can't rely on others. However, unchanging truths do exist.

We must train/disciple/mentor them to be independent thinkers who recognize:

  • they do not exist on their own
  • they cannot control their destiny
  • they cannot simply "look to themselves" or set their own standards if they expect or desire to be a child of God.


To understand who they are in Christ (and who they are without Him), they must be thinkers who can interpret, compare, extrapolate, analyze, evaluate, differentiate, etc...

Reflection Time: I agree that a student must develop who they are as an individual. That can only be done through thinking skills. A student can then make a conscious decision to follow the Lord or a purposeful choice to not trust Him. To be an "independent thinker" from a Christian worldview is different than "independent thinker" from the secular world's perspective. Independence to the world generally places the person at the center of all things. Whereas Christians, though independent, still recognize God not only at the center of Truth, but as Truth himself. A person who "thinks" searches for truth.


Presented  at IICSE by Dr. Helen Boen, Westar Educational Services (www.helenboen.com) and Elementary Principal and Assistant Headmaster at the Ben Lippen School. 7/12/11 Columbia International University, Columbia, SC

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My New Role: No Longer "The Young 'Principal'"

Well that didn't last long. No I wasn't fired (yay!). My new role (and title) are very exciting to me. I am now the "Dean of Instruction". This is part of our school's restructuring the create more efficiency and effectiveness as the administrative level. I've created a Prezi to try and explain it as simply as possible. (I recommend viewing it in full-screen, found at the bottom right under "More" after you have clicked "Play" [the triangle].)





Monday, July 11, 2011

Where does a school begin with Social Media

Presented by Randall Ross, Executive Director of Gathering Media at IICSE, Columbia, SC. July 11, 2011

Here are my notes:


Where do we begin?
Have a strategy
Must be data-driven AND people-focused

Phase 1 - Laying the Foundations
  1. Interest in Social Media (people are asking. school decides to explore the possibilities so not to lose touch with culture and community.)
  2. Training on Why (Why is social media growing in our culture? Why should the school engage?)
    1. Decision point - Wait or Move Forward
  3. Create a "Social Media Task Force" - (asses the community, develop the SM strategy and implementation plan. Should be comprised of a proper sampling of stakeholders)
  4. Community Assessment (gain understanding of demogrpahics, infrastruction readiness, and current use. Needs to be enough info to get a clear picture and make informed decision)
    1. Decision point - wait or Move Forward
  5. Goals for Social Media (immediate, mid-term, and long-term)
    1. Immediate - create and engaged and prepared commnity to invovle in teh communication and promotion of the school's values and mission
    2. Mid-term - to enhance the reputation of the school and leverage its strenghts for increased enrollment.
    3. Long-term - to deepen relationship formed with the community through promoting shared values and mission
  6. Social Media Strategy (Who, what, when, where, and how. Establish guiding values. Identify target groups within the Tribe. Identify key SM content. Identify SM platforms. 
Phase 2 - Implementation of Social Media Presence
  1. Social Media Training (communicate policies and procesures. Training for content creators. Training for SM Monitors)
  2. Monitoring and Maintenance (analytics and evaluation tools. Schedule for SM presence maintenance. 
  3. District Staffing Needs (hiring, changing, or adding a job description)
Phase 3 - Ongoing Process of Imprvement
  1. Set plan for growth of SM (start small. build upon areas of high interest or use. Add content creators
  2. Empower and Reward Advocates (recognize contributions and seek input. find ways to deepen connections)
  3. Review and Analyze Usage Patterns
  4. Back to Phase 1 - Community Assessment

Timeline:
Soft Launch: 30-90 days
Limited Launch: 90-180 days
Full Launch: 12-18 months

Project Cost:
Training: $570-$1200
Manpower:
  • Monitoring - 1/8 FTE - 5 hr/wk
  • 1-3 faculty creators - 2 hr/wk
  • 1-3 guest creators - 2 hr/wk

Analytics:
Prices vary from "free" to $400-$1000/yr+


The Content Carnival
Interaction won't take place without dynamic content. These are ideas for different types of content.

Information
  • School Mission and Beliefs
  • Course Schedules and Offerings
  • Permission slips and covenants
  • Curriculum Pieces
  • Homework assignments
  • more...
Announcements
  • Weather related info
  • disaster and crisis alerts
  • Alerts for missing students
  • Fine Arts events
  • Athletics
  • Dismissal Delays
  • more...
Articles and Blog Posts
  • New Teacher/Administration Stories
  • Departmental updates or Program Info
  • Programs for Parental involvement
  • Student Articles and Stories
  • Teacher/Student acheivements and awards
  • Local Highlights of the School System
  • Statewide/National Education news
  • Fundraising/Development articles and updates
  • Devotionals and Chapel transcripts
  • Physical Ed. and Healthy Living Articles
  • more...
Rich Media
  • School Promotional Videos
  • Athletics highlights
  • Fine Arts commercials and Trailers (drama trailer for upcoming play...others...)
  • Podcast of chapel services
  • Podcast of Weekly Announcements
  • Photos of school activities and events (Flickr, Picasa, etc.)
  • Vids/Pics of student projects
  • Mission Trip and outreach media
  • Interactive polls and surveys
  • more...
Sources of Content (mostly Christian b/c conference is Christian Education)
  • ACSI
  • Your website and social media channels
  • YouTube, TeacherTube, GodTube
  • albertmohler.com
  • challies.com
  • worldmag.com
  • desiringGod.org
  • the people you follow/followyou
  • local news and community activity boards
  • Local churches and schools
  • advocate sources
  • donor sources


Resources to help with SM activities
Basic
  • SM Forums & discussions boards
  • www.convinceandconvert.com
  • www.socialmediaexaminer.com
Media Hosting
  • YouTube
  • iTunes - free podcast hosting
  • flickr.com - photo storage (or picasa)
Document Sharing
  • Google Docs
  • Free Online Wikis
  • iwork.com
  • dropbox.com
  • SM Platform tools
Analytics
  • google analytics
  • quantcast.com
  • SAS.com
Monitoring
  • google alerts
Third Party Helps
  • Tweetdeck
  • hootsuite and cotweet
  • bit.ly - url shortener

Introduction to Social Media

Presented by Randall Ross (@gathermedia), Executive Director of Gathering Media at IICSE, Columbia, SC. July 11, 2011

Define Social Media
(Wikipedia) Media for social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Social media uses web-bases technology to turn communication into interactive dialogues.
(Kaplan & Haenlein) - a group of internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundation of web 2.0, which allows the creation and exchange of user-generated content.

(Ross' Definition) Technology-driven media that creates social connections through interaction with dynamic content.


History of Social Media (gave a handout...I will summarize in a small nutshell)
Started with email in the 1960's when people wanted a way to connect their computers and information. In the 1980's companies like Prodigy and AOL sprung up to make email available to everyone. This made companies realize that services could be exchanged via the network, which resulted in the .com boom of the 1990's. Eventually that bubble burst and companies realized that people still wanted to interact in a face-to-face manner. They liked going to stores. Then, September 11, 2011 happened. Americans' (and much of the world's) eyes were opened to a broader global climate. We realized more than ever that we are a "global village". This gave way to a desire to be connected to the rest of the world. Blogs by soldiers in Afghanistan opened up the whole idea of instant, front-lines news from non-commercial outlets. This led to the desire to network that in turn gave way to the expansion of social media.

This does not have all of the minute details. He was trying to give us a very broad overview. Of course it is much more complex than this...

Social Media in Plain English

Our Time Focused on the Big Four: Blogger, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn

Blogs In Plain English

Blogging is the backbone of social Media - It is where it began and what sustains is. Great for content storage and links back from other Social Media outlets.

Twitter

The idea of Twitter is simply the "Headlines" of real life, without the full stories. This can also be found on Facebook status, FourSquare checkins, etc. The idea is to provide small bursts of information. Could be thought of as "micro-blogging". Also great for content distribution and linking to larger content.

Social Networks

The focus is to see connections between people that are not normally visible. Various social networks have their target audience (ex. Ping is focused on music, concerts, etc.).
Social Networking is a combination of blogging and Headlines (Twitter). More media rich which makes it great for content sharing.

Professional Networks (sorry no video)(LinkedIn)
"Facebook's big brother" or "Facebook with a job"
Fine-tuned for professionals that want to network and share information.

What is the number one question on your mind...?
Is social media a fad?


My Notes from the other sessions will be posted shortly.

Why Use Social Media?

Presented by Randall Ross, Executive Director of Gathering Media at IICSE, Columbia, SC. July 11, 2011

These are my notes:



Why Use Social Media?
  • Its where the focus is
  • we are already focusing on it
  • to keep in touch with the global village
  • correct info at the right time...and quickly.
  • "marketing tool" - Sort of
Social Media is relationships. Schools should think of themselves as a "tribe" (see Tribes by Seth Godin).

No longer "us vs. them". Our community (Tribe) is made up for people with:
  • common values and connection
  • common values and limited connection
  • common values and NO connection
  • no common values and no connection (not in our tribe)
"The real power of tribes has nothing to do with the Internet and everything to do with people." - Seth Godin

"If you don't lead the discussion, then someone else will."

8 Reasons why we should engage in social media?
  1. Your people are!
  2. It is a great way to humanize your organization. Have a school account AS WELL AS a personal account
  3. People will get to know you (your tribe, your organization, and you as a leader.)
  4. People will learn something. (content creation, distribution, and affirmation)
  5. People will stay informed. (more efficient than a newsletter. real-time updates and response)
  6. People will defend you. (That's the way a tribe works...loyalty. People that believe in you will protect your brand and message.)
  7. People will talk to you. (unique access and format. real and perceived flattening of connection.)
  8. People will talk about you. (your values and story can be spread. your advocates can start conversations of their own.)
6 Fallacies of Social Media
  1. Social Media is inexpensive (takes a lot of time, man hours, and training to do it well)
  2. Social Media is fast (social media is about relationships. Relationships take time, trust, listening, and constant communication. It is not a "silver bullet".)
  3. Social Media is "Viral Marketing" (not every tweet will get retweeted 6 billion times. Social media simply makes viral marketing possible)
  4. Social Media results can't be measured (many tools have ways to track the interaction and activity in a qualitative and quantitative way)
  5. Social Media is optional
  6. Social Media is hard (SM is created to be a natural/organic thing. If it is hard, you are trying to make it more than it is)
Is Social Media Safe?
As an individual? Organization? Community?

What is the danger of engagement in Social Media? (individual responses from attendees)
  • Bullying
  • how much info is too much?
  • isolation from those right next to you
  • broadcasting unwanted information
  • destroy reputation
  • burn bridges
  • Control of content
  • Can't stop
  • perceived superficiality of relationships
  • intentional or accidental misrepresentation of self
Presenter's Response:
Social Media has no moral position. It is the misuse of SM that is wrong. The people are wrong, not the tool.

For 6 years, Mark Zuckerberg has been focused on one thing: Free Social Connection. The greatest benefit is also the greatest threat. 
Spiderman: "With great power comes great responsibility." There is great power in SM.

"Back in the day, bullying happened in the school yard and you came home to your safe haven. Now you come home to a whole new aspect of bullying."

There has been a lot of progress in the past few years. We now have built-in safeguard to protect the integrity of SM.

Blogging safeguards - Mostly related to comment management. Setting preferences, moderation, etc. The blogger can choose the level, type, and accessibility of the two-way interaction.

Headlines (Twitter, FourSquare, etc.) - Safeguards based on followers. Regulate who is following you. Delete inappropriate people.

Social Networks - Most activity happens on your News Feed. News Feeds have many controls as to what shows up.

YOUR Social Media is never out of your control. Education is the key. The problem is: other people are out of your control.

The starting point is Theology - God reigns over SM just as much as He reigns over the other aspects of life.

What other defenses do we have?
  • Policies
  • Tribe Leaders and Advocates
  • Legal Defenses
Resources:
covlife.org - media library - Parenting "Teens and Facebook"

Sunday, July 10, 2011

"The Institute" - 41 years training educators

Tonight was the commencement address for the International Institute for Christian School Educators (IICSE). The commencement speaker was Dr. Milt Uecker who, as a veteran of the Christian School movement, presented us with the timeless questions asked by Christian educators. It is amazing how 40 years ago these questions were asked, just clothed in different circumstances.

Amazingly, Dr. Uecker spent a good amount of time referencing Neil Postman’s [non-religious] book The End of Education: Redefining the Value of School. In the book Postman talks about how all education must serve a god. That god may be the Christian God, democracy, humanity, nature, etc. Education must have a narrative about that god or it loses its meaning, context, and relevance. Democracy has a narrative; humanity has a one; nature too; Christianity’s God has a narrative in the Bible (surprisingly well laid out and much easier to read/understand than the narrative of nature and humanity…) In order for Christian education to be successful, that narrative must be the centerpiece. The humanistic narrative is certainly the centerpiece of many educational philosophies. Democracy, capitalism, and others can easily been seen as in others as well. A “Christian” school that does not have the Bible not only at its founding, but as its continued foundation and vision-driving force fails to be a Christian School.

You can see this at Harvard University with Scripture plastered all over the architecture and in the crests and emblems (“Veritas Christo et Ecclesai” or “Truth for Christ and Church”). It was there once, founded as a training ground for men entering the ministry. Now God’s story is just a decoration, not part of the philosophy of those institutions.

Dr. Uecker passionately spoke to the ultimate purpose of Christian education as transformational. First and foremost a spiritual transformation and secondly (though not diminished in its importance) is the learning the must take place. We must have BOTH. If we have spiritual transformation but no learning, we fail to be a school. If we have learning but no spiritual transformation, we fail to be Christian. I must say that this was a great way to start off the conference. As a relative newbie to the Christian school movement (I’ve worked in Christian Education for 5 years now), his words were inspirational. Sitting next to my more veteran colleagues, from my school and others, they were just as fired up with his words. I will be attending 4 plenary sessions, two 6-hour sessions, and 5 one-hour electives. I pray to come away with a passion for something that will truly impact the lives of my students and teachers.