Self-Awareness & School Change: @GrantLichtman #EdJourney, episode 5, week 4

From Grant Lichtman’s chapter in The Falconer entitled “Step 2: The Boundaries of Subjectivity and Objectivity.”

Sun Tzu says, “So it is said that if you know others and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know others but know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know others and do not know yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.


Acceptance that something is possible opens a lot of doors to creative thinking.

Most recently, Grant’s #EdJourney blog posts on The Learning Pond have touched repeatedly on schools that voluntarily invite regular reviews from visiting colleagues – schools that practice vigorous feedback looping and self-awareness. On another thread, Grant has been reporting on a series of schools that are rethinking and/or abandoning the AP (Advanced Placement) tests. Our week 4, episode 5 video-interview below concentrates on these stories…

A dashboard for the 7C’s – metrics for pedagogical master planning

I’m just playing with strands of ideas here…imagining one possible weave or braid.

Strand 1: 10,000 Hours

In Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, as well as in earlier work by Howard Gardner, the 10,000-hour rule is posited. Essentially, to become expert, or deeply disciplined and proficient, one typically must commit to at least 10,000 hours of dedicated practice. Hold that thought for a minute…like you’re holding one strand between your fingers.

Strand 2: Tracking Time

Not too long ago, I wrote about tracking my time at Unboundary, and I imagined what a similar practice of tracking time might be like in schools. Now, hold this second strand between another set of mental fingers.

Strand 3: The 7 C’s

In Trilling and Fadel’s 21st Century Skills: Learning for Life in Our Times, the authors advocate for the traditional 3 R’s (reading, writing, and arithmetic), as well as 7 C’s:

  1. Critical thinking and problem solving
  2. Communications, information, and media literacy
  3. Collaboration, teamwork, and leadership
  4. Creativity and innovation
  5. Computing and ICT literacy
  6. Career and learning self-reliance
  7. Cross-cultural understanding

Now, we can braid and weave.

Do we know how much time our students – the individual students – spend engaged in these seven activities? If a parent asked me, “Bo, I’ve been reading and listening about 21st C education. Can you tell me how much time your students spend in the 7 C’s? Can you explain some examples of how they might engage in the 7 C’s?”

I think I could knock the second question out of the park. I would totally strike out on the first question.

What if we had some sort of “dashboard” that could show us how much time our students are spending in these various C’s? Yes, you know…like the dashboards in our cars.

In our cars, the dashboards give us real-time feedback on speed, oil pressure, engine temperature, fuel remaining, battery voltage, etc. In 2012, couldn’t we have some sort of tech-enabled dashboard for how much time students are actually getting to immerse themselves in and practice the 7 C’s? It’s so easy now for me to examine how I spend my time at work by using the time tracker. I can see what projects I am working on, I can review what and how I am researching, and I can understand where I might need to rebalance my time allotments.

Wouldn’t it be insightful and informative to know, even if just for one day or one week or one month, how much time a student…

  • sits in lecture passively listening
  • practices communicating with an authentic audience
  • engages in collaborative problem-solving for a real-world problem (like a school’s recycling versus trash quandary)
  • participates in 3D printer activity to create something useful via Maker methods

By looking at the dashboard, I could see how close my son PJ is getting to 10,000 hours in “Creativity and innovation.” I could review how much time he is getting to engage in “Communications, information, and media literacy.” We could make some great, informed adjustments with this information. Just like we know when to stop for gas, when to adjust our speed, when to add oil to our car.

As a school we could examine aggregates and grouped data. We could look at departments to see if one department contributes more to certain C’s and another department contributes more to a different sub-set of C’s. We could see our bright spots and our areas for growth.

There could even be an app for that!

Driving without those gauges and instrument panels on the dashboard could cause a disaster! Using our dashboard makes us a better driver…and helps us get to where we are trying to go with greater success.

Developing and utilizing such tools could really help a school trying to create its finely tuned pedagogical master plan!

Fill-in-the-blank I can rally behind! Candy Chang: Before I die I want to… #TED

For years as a teacher, I used fill-in-the-blank. They were easy to check and grade, but they gave the illusion of more-than-multiple-choice. Over the years, I grew weary of fill-in-the-blank…as I grew to care more about what children could dream and think, instead of what they could tell me they had memorized.

This morning, I watched a number of TED talks – those that were released recently on the TED RSS feed. I’m sharing the one I found most powerful. The six minutes and twenty seconds is time well spent as I continue to contemplate how I will spend my life to make a powerful difference in this world.

Is it worth your time?

Candy Chang: Before I die I want to…

Performance-based assessment in the 21st century – two perspectives #PBA

Two of my ed-leader heroes have written about performance-based assessment, PARCC, and the future of testing…

  1. Performance Task Assessment: 10 Things for Educators to Think About, posted by Jonathan Martin

  2. What Was the Question To Which PARCC Is the Answer?, posted by Mary Ann Reilly

What about a Declaration of Independence from the Mother Country of Testing?

I wonder if U.S. educators will ever unite and pen something akin to our country’s Declaration of Independence.

From all I hear and read about educator opinion concerning the standardized-testing industry and the colonization of our classrooms with multiple-choice tests that don’t align well with the broad spectrum of learning, I wonder if we might ever declare independence. And I don’t mean “independent school” compared to “public school.” I mean educators declaring independence from the testing industry that many say they despise and see as counter-productive to preferred methods of assessment and student learning.

When our country’s historic leaders had had enough of “taxation without representation,” they declared an entire set of geographically-diverse peoples as independent from the perceived oppressors. Certainly, if those placing their John Hancocks on the D.o.I. could start the ball rolling on an entire new-country formation, educators – arguably the cohort most connected to “smarts” – could tackle the seemingly much simpler task of declaring our assessment independence.

Perhaps we could rally against the “Red Pens” like past heroes rallied against the “Red Coats.”

Or we could just remain complacent with our situation. Not many hero stories are written about the complacent and meek, though, are they?