Addressing Poverty as a Sector, as a School and as a Classroom

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Reposted from ASCD In Service:

On Wednesday, May 5th, ASCD sponsored its most recent Whole Child Symposium on the topic of poverty. Convened at the Newseum in the heart of Washington, D.C., and streaming online to educators everywhere, we assembled two panels of educators to explore the impact and implications of poverty in preparing children for their future.

“It’s a national problem. If public education in this country fails, the nation fails,” stated Steve Suitts, senior fellow of the Southern Education Foundation. “The trend of impoverished majority has been accelerated by the great recession. Even in suburban America, more and more students are low income. Poverty cannot become the new normal.” And yet that is the reality we are facing.

Poverty2ASCD Executive Director Judy Seltz agrees. “At the beginning of the War on Poverty there was a
national commitment to make life better for poor people. But over time there was a shift and it became OK to change the dialog from the supports people needed to blaming them: it’s their fault. This 50 year mark is an opportunity to look back, do this again, do it differently, do it better.” It has become too easy to select media and news sources that only reinforce our existing belief systems. To fight poverty is to fight ignorance and belief systems of “us” versus “them.”

Read More…

Friday’s Revolutionary ASCD PD Pilot: Four Takeaways

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On Friday, March 27th, five ASCD affiliates simultaneously held a blended learning professional development event, bringing in Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey of FIT teaching fame from San Diego, California, right into their states for educators eager to learn more. But this wasn’t just about the delivery of Fisher & Frey’s high quality content. It was also about providing a context for like-minded educators to learn from one another. The combinations of content and collaboration, virtually and face-to-face, is a powerful new model that ASCD and its affiliates partnered together to pilot…and the results are powerful.

Maine educators collaborating in between sessions with Fisher & Frey

Maine educators collaborating in between sessions with Fisher & Frey

First of all, not only were there event sites on the ground in Maine, Massachusetts and Vermont; Rhode Island hosted two sites and New York filled three. And all that was in play before two campuses of Instituto San Roberto in Mexico contacted Rhode Island ASCD to attend remotely from their facilities. First takeaway: blended learning can reach multiple groups of educators in different locations at the same time.

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Then there was Fisher and Frey’s ability to share their work virtually live from their school during a normal school day. They spoke casually and confidently about their program, openly fielding questions and interacting with all ten locations, genuinely sharing their vision and its practical applications with students. “It was like they were right in the room with us….it didn’t feel any different than when I was in Houston last week sitting in the third row enjoying exchanges with big name presenters at ASCD’s annual conference,” one Massachusetts attendee shared. Second takeaway: blended learning works best with subject matter experts who come across authentically online.

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And then there was the ASCD EdSpace unconferencing format. Each opportunity for work with colleagues throughout the day provided for collaboration across common needs and interests working with the FIT teaching framework. Attendees self-selected pairings and groupings to learn from one another and build understandings, strategies and processes that can be immediately implementable in classrooms and offices first thing this coming Monday morning. No down time. No sit and get. No seat hours. Just pure what’s-in-it-for-me professional development. Third takeaway: unconferencing couched in rich, purposeful content provides powerful learning and networking that far surpasses traditional PD formats.

Massachusetts educators discussing purpose and culture in the FIT teaching framework.

Massachusetts educators discussing purpose and culture in the FIT teaching framework.

Finally, there was the virtual cross-pollination of ideas. At the end of a full day, affiliates all came back together online to showcase their takeaways from the day, after two solid hours of localized unconferencing that allowed each affiliate to work within their unique state context. This virtual sharing was a powerful wrap up to a powerful day. State after state offered attendees coming up to the camera to share the meaningful learning they had experienced. Fourth takeaway: collaboration can happen in multiple dimensions within a single professional development experience.

New York educators welcoming everyone to the big event virtually Friday morning.

New York educators welcoming everyone to the big event virtually Friday morning.

What is most rewarding is that given the success of this weekend’s pilot, each of these affiliates has expressed interest and enthusiasm for delivering more blended learning PD. The seed has been planted, from which many more possibilities can blossom. How about you and your corner of the world? Are you ready to open up professional development to whole new dimensions and possibilities? Are you willing to bring what you have to offer to interested educators remotely around the world? Are you receptive to meeting the needs of different and diverse cadres of educators who will make their own meaning from what you provide? If your answers are “Yes!” then join ASCD and its affiliates in continuing to push the boundaries on what effective PD can be for educators everywhere.

Taking charge of their professional development locally and across the northeast and Mexico.

Taking charge of their professional development locally and across the northeast and Mexico.

ASCD: It’s Time to Rethink Antiquated Accountability Systems

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Reposted from the ASCD Policy Position:

A two-year moratorium on using state assessments for high-stakes purposes is needed. States can and should still administer standardized assessments and communicate the results and what they mean to districts, schools, and families, but without the threat of punitive sanctions that have distorted their importance. ASCD is strongly advocating for a new approach in which testing is just one tool among many in determining whether our students are prepared for a successful future after high school graduation.

Standardized test results have been the defining measure of student achievement and school quality under the No Child Left Behind Act. This singular focus has resulted in several unintended and undesirable consequences, including over testing, a narrowing of the curriculum, and a de-emphasis of untested subjects and concepts—the arts, civics, and social and emotional skills, among many others—that are just as important to a student’s development and long-term success.

Making decisions about student readiness, teacher performance, and school quality that have far-reaching ramifications should never be based on a single state assessment. Yet, unfortunately, that is where we find ourselves today. Our education system is out of balance and needs to be reset so that testing is merely one component for evaluating progress and not the main driver of student learning and school improvement.

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Share Your Support for this Policy Position via the ASCD Forum…

The Guilded Age: Professional Learning Communities in Education | ASCD Inservice

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Reposted from the ASCD Inservice Blog:

Educator PLCs come in all shapes and sizes, and they all thrive on connections between interests, inquiries, and ideas. Whether working together side-by-side on a daily basis or meeting intermittently as time and opportunities allow, PLCs remain vital so long as members continue to value working together. Face-to-face or online, asynchronously or in real time, the venue doesn’t define the community—the work does.

The life cycle of a vibrant, thriving PLC includes six phases: building understanding, acquiring expertise,practicing skills, solving problems, contributing new knowledge, and creating original products. At the end of the life cycle, members will either regroup and recommit to new work or disband, having completed their objectives.

The legacy of a successful PLC is its members’ demonstrated, observable contributions to society. Just like artists, artisans, and their apprentices came together to improve their crafts, ultimately providing a contribution to society that is still valued and appreciated in museums today, education PLCs should seek to achieve similar long-lasting effects. As we conclude Connected Educator Month, let’s resolve to not just make connections in a social media sense but also in a substantive, meaningful, generative sense that pushes us to move education forward, improving the world in which our children will live. Professional learning communities have the potential to shape our legacy and our children’s future.

Read More…

Looking Forward to L2L

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Once again ASCD leaders from around the world are traveling to the Leader to Leader conference to be held this weekend. Leader to Leader (L2L) is our annual professional development event for those dedicated education professionals who serve in important leadership roles for ASCD Affiliates, Connected Communities, Professional Interest Communities, Student Chapters, and our Emerging Leaders program. Over the five years I have been associated with L2L, it has evolved to be a much more collaborative event with lots of opportunity for networking and learning from one another. The diversity of thought, perspective, experience and expertise is, in my own humble opinion, what makes this conference such a success every year. It’s never the same event twice.

This year we are looking to up the ante again, focusing on the theme of Take Charge Leadership, as we continue to encourage these ASCD leaders to work with one another across their constituent groups and generate new ideas, initiatives and energy that they can take back home and implement in support of the educators they serve. And so the question we ask at the outset of this year’s L2L is, “What do you get when you allow talented, capable minds to self-select groupings and projects that will build their professional capital while providing new value and greater capacity to lead?” We are about to find out.

We look at leadership around eight very specific actions that are nurtured and sustained over time. Beginning our conference work around these actions and then moving into an unconferencing format that allows participants to take charge of their learning sets the tone for the weekend. We are also instituting for the first time Web-based polling that will allow everyone in attendance to vote and comment instantaneously using their mobile devices throughout the three days.  Modeling this as participants provide quantitative and qualitative feedback to one another will provide practice and experience with a tool our leaders can take back with them to their respective, states, provinces and countries.

By the time we wrap up Saturday, everyone will be saturated in new ideas and possibilities. L2L is always an exhausting experience for everyone involved. Exhausting and gratifying. What is most gratifying for us as staff is the number of return participants we have every year, and the highly positive feedback we receive from the conference participant surveys. The truth is, it’s the ASCD Leaders who come and participate who make L2L the success it is. As a membership organization, ASCD could not make the difference it does for educators everywhere without its constituent group leaders. L2L is ASCD’s way of giving back to our leaders in the field, offering them the skills and support to be effective on the ground where it matters most.

What Differentiation Is, And What It Isn’t… [INFOGRAPHIC]

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For all the talk about differentiating instruction over the years, there are still so many different interpretations of what it looks like in the classroom, when the truth is there are very clear parameters for DI that bear themselves out in the research literature.

Consider the definition of differentiation, what it is and what it is not, provided in this ASCD infographic from the new second edition of Carol Ann Tomlinson’s highly acclaimed “The Differentiated Classroom: Responding to the Needs of All Learners” (ASCD, 2014). 

Post it where you work, share it with colleagues, and circulate it online to help everyone keep clear understanding of best practices for differentiating instruction in mind!

Choosing Your Tomorrow Today

Video: An excellent discussion on next steps in choosing
our future from the Whole Child Live Symposium.

http://bcove.me/whdbwn9y

The Panel

The Panel, (l-r): Yong Zhao, Karen Pittman, Charles Haynes, Gene Carter, David Osher

See more video from the Symposium at 
http://www.ascd.org/conferences/whole-child-symposium/live.aspx