Tagged “Problem Solving”

Klea Scharberg

Ask Dr. Judy Willis Webinar: Strengthening the Brain's Executive Functions

Join renowned author, neurologist, and teacher Judy Willis for an exciting free webinar on strategies to promote executive functions and goal-directed behaviors, especially critical during the school years when this highest cognitive system undergoes its most profound changes.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011, 3:00 p.m. EDT
Register now!

The last part of the human brain to "mature" through pruning and myelination is the prefrontal cortex, the seat of executive function such as judgment, critical analysis, prioritizing, deduction, induction, imagination, communication, reflective (versus reactive) emotional control, and goal development, planning, and perseverance. These executive functions are needed now and will be even more critical for the best job opportunities and creative problem solving in the 21st century as globalization and technology continue to rapidly change the skill sets needed by the students who will lead us in the coming decades.

Connect with Willis on ASCD EDge and on her website, RADTeach.com. Watch her archived webinars below:

Explore forthcoming and archived ASCD webinars.

Klea Scharberg

College, Career, and Citizenship Readiness Roundup

The current education climate encourages a tremendous amount of time and energy be spent on preparing students to take exams. But does that strategy actually ensure students are prepared for college, career, and citizenship? We've seen the research and heard the debate among teachers, education media, ASCD's own Educational Leadership magazine, and even the White House.

Connecting learning today with students’ futures engages and prepares them to take on the challenges and opportunities of tomorrow. In March, we looked what it means for students to be ready and able for their complex and demanding futures.

Learn about Quest Early College High School, winner of the 2011 Vision in Action: The ASCD Whole Child Award. Located in Humble, Tex., Quest prepares a very diverse student population for the next phases of their lives by creating a learning environment that allows students to practice taking college courses, work at businesses in their community, and experience the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

Listen to the Whole Child Podcast with Kim Klepcyk, principal at Quest Early College High School; Denise McLean, a teacher and former student at Quest; and Micaela Casales, a current student at Quest, as they discuss strategies for preparing students for college, careers, and citizenship.

Hear another viewpoint on what it means to be college- and career-ready and the value of citizenship skills in a conversation between Molly McCloskey, managing director of Whole Child Programs at ASCD and host of the Whole Child Podcast, and Jay Mathews, education columnist for The Washington Post and author. Mathews also answers audience questions on a range of topics including the importance of teacher-student relationships, KIPP charter schools, and the responsibility of education journalists.

Consider if U.S. schools are emphasizing the knowledge and skills that students need for a global future with author Yong Zhao. Do you think we need to reform education to maintain leadership in a rapidly changing world?

Empower students to understand their rights, responsibilities, capabilities, and opportunities in their educational and civic experiences today as well as in the future.

Practice skills such as inquiry, critical thinking, collaboration, public presentation, and reflection that students will use as adults through problem-based learning in the classroom.

Take action about the need for college- and career-readiness standards that include proficiency in reading, math, science, social science, the arts, civics, foreign language, health education and physical education, technology, and all other core academic subjects. Use ASCD's legislative agenda and the the Making the Case for Educating the Whole Child tool to guide discussions and decision making in your states and communities.

Find resources to help prepare young people for their futures from whole child partners the America's Promise Alliance, Educators for Social Responsibility, the Forum for Education and Democracy, and the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

In late March, ASCD held its 2011 Annual Conference in San Francisco, where sessions engaged participants in dynamic, diverse dialogues addressing the challenges of learning, teaching, and leading, including:

What do you think is critical to preparing young people for the complex futures that lie ahead?

ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Integrating Global Education in Every Discipline

Post submitted by Whole Child Blogger Robyn Gee

Dave Wilton - 2011 ASCD Annual Conference

"Let's go shopping!" This simulated trip to the mall caught session attendees by surprise on Sunday morning, but the activity served its purpose.

Dave Wilton, from Facing the Future, modeled this activity with the group to demonstrate one way that teachers can integrate global awareness education into their classrooms.

Each participant was assigned a random dollar amount. This was their hypothetical income. Then, they got a list of items—in the categories of food, heat/fuel, transportation, and home—for sale at a global mall, where they were told to shop for their basic needs. People with $200 on their card could buy only locally grown rice and beans, provide heat with firewood, and purchase a single bicycle, while those with $5,000 could purchase organically grown food and install solar panels on their houses. Afterward, each group discussed how their income affected the extent to which they could consider the environment when making their purchasing decisions.

According to Wilton, in 2011, the world's population will rise to 7 billion, while 48 percent of the world's population lives on $2 per day (as of 2008). "The idea is that just knowing these facts doesn't make you any more globally competent than before. How can we help our students understand that they can make a difference in these statistics in their own communities?" asked Wilton. He added that global education should be integrated into all disciplines throughout every grade level. "It's not an add-on," he said.

Next, Wilton began a discussion about the definition of sustainability. Teachers in the room wanted their students to grasp specific concepts in relation to sustainability. One AP Environmental Science teacher had her students attempt to define the term. "I was looking for some connection between the world now and the world in the future; a lot of students didn't get it," she said. Other teachers said they hoped their students would associate sustainability with renewable resources, their effect on future generations, and the fact that things can't continue this way forever.

As another example, Wilton walked through one lesson plan called the Clean Water Challenge. The lesson begins by having students pollute small amounts of water with whatever they can find (dirt, oil, paper), then spend a week in the lab cleaning the water to the point that it's drinkable again. You can watch this video of this lesson, developed by Jessica Levine:

Clean Water Challenge Overview from green levine on Vimeo.

Facing the Future is a nonprofit organization that designs curriculum, primarily for K–12 classrooms, that integrates global education into standards-based lessons. Wilton said half of the Facing the Future lessons are available for free online.

ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Listening to Student Voices

Post submitted by Whole Child Blogger Karissa Bell

The "Listening to Student Voices" session examined the strategies and programs the National Urban Alliance (NUA) has implemented in schools across the United States to inspire confidence in all students and give them a voice in their own education.

"All students have the potential for high intellectual performances," said presenter Yvette Jackson, chief executive officer for the NUA. Jackson calls this idea "the pedagogy of confidence," and she wrote a book by the same name that examines methods, backed up by research, to inspire urban students to perform at a higher level.

"We've been doing the wrong thing for so long with underperforming students by starting with where they're weak," said Jackson. Instead, she said, it's important to focus on the things students are good at and build off of their strength, adding that her own neuroscience research confirms this.

"If you start working with someone based on their strengths you are working on a very specifically developed area [of the brain] that makes learning happen more efficiently, more effectively," she explained.

Listening to Student Voices - 2011 ASCD Annual Conference

The NUA has developed innovative strategies—like including students in professional development and faculty meetings—to get students more invested in their own education. One school in Green County, Georgia, particularly demonstrated this. There, the students who were included in the professional development meetings were those who were at Saturday school for being consistently tardy.

But their experience in interacting with their teachers in this way completely changed them and the way they thought about school. "By the middle of the year, none of those students were ever tardy," Jackson said. And not only that, but those students also became ambassadors to other students and began coteaching with their teachers.

"The school became a place where they had voice," Jackson explained. "They were having fun. The real issue becomes what we have to do not to reform education, but to transform it."

San Francisco schools, with the support of the superintendent, have also embraced student voice programs. At Washington High School, students were allowed into faculty meetings so that they could express their concerns to teachers in a casual way. This gave students the opportunity to take issues that affect them and offer teachers their suggestions for improvement.

Ericka Lovrin, the principal from Washington High School, will present a session with Jackson on their experience with the student voice program Monday morning (Session 3153: "Leading for Change: A Principal's Story in San Francisco").


ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Maximizing 1:1 Computing in the Classroom

Post submitted by Whole Child Blogger Hunter Holcombe

Try telling Gary Stager that there's not enough money in your school budget for personal laptops, and brace yourself for an education. Given just a few minutes, he can convince most that to deny a child her own computer is tantamount to bad education.

With more than 28 years in the field, Stager has worked in schools throughout the world, helping them capitalize on the use of laptops in and out of the classroom.

In his morning session, "Twenty Lessons from Twenty Years of 1:1 Computing in Schools," Stager shared 20 of the most critical lessons he learned by witnessing how children learn through computers. One of the most memorable: "The laptops go home." Stager explained that, when students are given the responsibility of keeping their own laptops with them at all times, their computer-based learning increases considerably as they continue to work on projects at home in their free time.

This practice is also financially advantageous because of a greater risk of laptops being stolen from the school after hours than being damaged by students. In addition, letting students personalize their own laptops by decorating them gives them a greater interest in using the computer, just like any personalized backpack or binder.

One of the more controversial claims Stager asserted was that there is no benefit to giving teachers laptops before students receive them. He says that it's more important that the teacher actively witnesses how the individual students interact with and learn from their own computers. What the teacher personally understands about the workings of the computer is much less important.

Sprinkled throughout the session, Stager relayed a number of anecdotes from his time in the field consulting with schools to illustrate his points. He played a video of a 5-year-old in an underperforming Australian school who was interested only in being a ballerina. By using a basic computer program that controlled motorized LEGO structures, she was able to build and simulate a dancer’s pirouette.

On his personal website, Stager offers up a wide range of blog posts, recommendations, and advice for incorporating 1:1 laptop programs and maximizing those already running. Information relevant to Stager's presentation can be found at www.stager.org/ascd.

Below is his list of 20 lessons:

  1. Determine who has agency.
  2. What type of laptop school are you?
  3. Set high expectations.
  4. The laptops go home.
  5. Behave as if the laptops are personal computers.
  6. Kids need real multimedia portable computers.
  7. Laptops make good teachers better.
  8. The network is not the computer.
  9. Every child's laptop is a studio, laboratory, publishing house.
  10. 1:1 is cost-effective; nobody washes a rental car.
  11. Every laptop needs open-ended creativity software, but less is more if fluency is the goal.
  12. Seize the impossible.
  13. That's what it looks like if students have the time.
  14. Entire cohorts of students need to get the laptops at once.
  15. Zero benefit in giving laptops to teachers first.
  16. Professional development must be focused on benefiting learners.
  17. Work with the living and do no harm.
  18. You need sustainable leadership and vision.
  19. Expect everything to change.
  20. We are done arguing.


Klea Scharberg

Watch and Learn from Home

ASCD will live stream select sessions from the 2011 Annual Conference and Exhibit Show in San Francisco. All times indicated are Pacific Time.

You can view all livestream sessions on ASCD EDge. To participate in live chat during the sessions, you must log in to EDge or sign up for a free EDge account if you don't have one. You can also view the sessions on Android and Blackberry mobile devices. You will not be able to watch the livestream on the iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch.

Interactive sessions have an online moderator to guide the discussion. Onsite and virtual participants can ask questions, add comments, or reply to comments on the session's chat wall. You can also download presenter resources from the session's livestream page.

Saturday, March 26

8:00 a.m.–9:30 a.m., PT

Heidi Hayes Jacobs - Curriculum 21: Essential Education for a Changing World (interactive)
We do not need reform—we need new forms for teaching and learning. What year is your school preparing your learners for: 1990 or 2025? In this provocative and highly practical session, based on the presenter's ASCD book of the same name, the presenter will lay out steps for transforming your school into a contemporary learning environment.

3:30–5:00 p.m., PT

Harvey Silver - The Strategic Teacher (interactive)
Bringing together 35 years of research on effective instruction and 30 years of experience in helping schools address student diversity, the session will provide educators with the tools needed to help all students meet today's rigorous standards.

5:15 p.m.–6:15 p.m., PT

Bob Sullo – The Motivated Student: Five Strategies to Inspire
Successful teaching requires you to create an environment that fosters academic success by engaging and inspiring students rather than trying to control them. In this session, learn how to manage your classroom effectively, and identify five strategies that will inspire academic achievement and unlock your students' natural enthusiasm for learning.

Sunday, March 27

8:00 a.m.–9:30 a.m., PT

Urban Education Panel
In this session, hear from three distinguished principals who are making a difference in the lives of urban high school students: Linda Nathan, founding headmaster, Boston Arts Academy (Mass.); Baruti Kafele, principal, Newark Tech (N.J.); and Tim King, founder and president, Urban Prep Academies (Ill.).

10 a.m.–11:30 a.m., PT

Peter Reynolds – Make Your Mark, and See Where It Takes You (General Session)
Creativity champ Peter H. Reynolds is a New York Times best-selling author and illustrator and founder of FableVision Learning, creating technology tools to inspire young writers, artists, and thinkers. Join Peter as he shares his uplifting message, and hear more about how you can inspire learners through his philosophy and vision. (This session will not be archived.)

1:15 p.m.–2:45 p.m., PT

Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey - Responding When Students Don't Get It (interactive)
How teachers respond to an incorrect answer significantly influences students' eventual understanding. Resolving errors requires an interaction between students and teachers, with the goal of ensuring that students experience success. Participants will explore questions to check for understanding, prompts for cognitive and metacognitive processes, cues to shift attention, and direct explanations and modeling.

Monday, March 28

8:00 a.m.–9:30 a.m., PT

Geoffrey Fletcher - From Islands of Excellence with Technology to Every Classroom: An Optimist's Perspective
A few schools and districts have been able to garner the right mix of hardware, bandwidth, tech support, and professional development to change instruction, truly engage students, and increase student achievement. This session will look what is driving change in the purchase and distribution of content and how this missing link will be a major catalyst to changing our schools.

10:00 a.m.–11:45 a.m., PT

S. Lawrence Lightfoot – The Third Chapter: Adventure-Passion-Risk (General Session)
In this presentation, author and philosopher Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot will envision a much-needed cultural shift in our attitudes toward youth and age—a need based on simple demographics. She will examine the challenges educators face in their search for meaningfulness and purposefulness after their careers have ended. (This session will not be archived.)

12:15 p.m.–2:15 p.m., PT

Betty Garner – Getting to "Got It!": Helping Struggling Students Learn How to Learn
Why do some students get it while some don't? This session will help educators learn how to help students develop cognitive structures needed to process information for meaning, such as finding patterns, formulating predictable rules, and abstracting generalizable principles that transfer and apply learning.

What sessions will you be watching?


Andrew Miller

PBL is Career, College, and "Now" Ready

Project-based learning (PBL) is rightfully touted as a way not only to create engagement in the classroom, but also to prepare students for their lives once they leave the confines of our classrooms. When given an authentic task to complete that is aligned to standards, students engage in an inquiry process, both as a team and individually, to innovate a solution. The task creates engagement in learning content and also 21st century skills. But let's cut to the chase and see exactly what about PBL aligns to aspects of being career and college ready.

Read more »

ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

10 Ways Technology Supports 21st Century Learners in Being Self-Directed

Lisa Nielsen 

This article has been reposted with permission from Lisa Nielsen, creator of The Innovative Educator blog and the Transforming Education for the 21st Century learning network. She is an outspoken and passionate advocate of learning innovatively and has worked for more than a decade in various capacities supporting schools and districts in providing innovative learning opportunities that will prepare students for 21st century success. Connect with Nielsen on Twitter @InnovativeEdu. 

Life in the 21st century provides a whole new world of opportunities for self-directed, passion-driven, personalized learning. Educators who are ready to move on from teaching the way they were taught, and have administrators who will let them, can begin supporting students using tools and strategies available to the 21st century learner. 

Here are 10 ideas every teacher should consider when supporting learning for students today. 

1. Personal Learning Networks 

Perhaps the core of passion driven, self-directed learning is the development of personal learning networks, which can be developed through blogs; social networks like Facebook, Ning, or Group.ly; Twitter; and discussion boards. Read 5 Things You Can Do to Begin Developing Your Personal Learning Network, The PLN Matures. The Progression of the 21st Century Personal Learning Network, and 5 Ways to Build Your 1.0 and 2.0 Personal Learning Network to learn how to get started. 

2. Tweet to Connect with Experts 

If you have an interest, Twitter is the place to connect with others who share that interest. Simply do a search on Twitter for the topic and you'll be connected to many others interested in the same topic. Follow them. Reply to them. Use the search term in your tweets and others interested in that topic will see your tweet. Students can even have their own newspapers created instantly about their topic of interest using a service called Paper.li

3. Skype an Expert 

You can make your classroom a global communication center for free with Skype by connecting with anyone around the world about topics of interests. These experts may be people you have conversations with or perhaps they are people you learn from. Author, blogevangelist, teacher, thought leader, and father Will Richardson uses Skype to supplement his children's learning. Paul Bogush, an 8th grade social studies teacher, not only supports his students in doing this; they take it up a notch with a program they produce called Lunchtime Leaders. Students interview leaders from around the world on their opinions about what they should do to be prepared for the future. Bogush and his students do most of their interviews using Skype, and they turn the interviews into podcasts. 

4. Free Online Educational Resources 

Learn about whatever you want with free online education resources. The purpose of this coordinated movement is to move toward a common goal of providing quality courses for learning for free. Many of these resources do not require a teacher for students to learn

At the heart of the movement toward Open Educational Resources is the simple and powerful idea that the world's knowledge is a public good and that technology in general, and the World Wide Web in particular, provide an extraordinary opportunity for everyone to share, use, and re-use knowledge. 

—The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation 

5. Online Learning 

When given the choice, students often say they LOVE learning online and not just because it lets them sleep in. They find that they are exposed to many more possible courses in alignment with areas of interest and moving at their own pace without distractions of classmates enables them to learn more effectively. Many public schools, universities, and colleges are starting to jump on board, and companies like Zulama.com are popping up that offer high-interest online courses students can't find at their high school. Access to unique subjects they're passionate about makes Zulama a place teenagers want to go to learn. With Zulama, students connect, teachers simplify, parents stay involved, and schools get ahead. 

6. Authentic Publishing 

In the 21st century, irrelevant hand-it-in teaching should be a thing of the past. If a student's work has no authentic audience beyond the teacher, it shouldn't be assigned. Student who are self-motivated to do something count. A teacher directing them to do it does not. Most 21st century kids love to share with real audiences and are doing it outside school already. Inside school, work should not sit lifeless on a computer or even just the school website. Support students in finding real audiences for their work in their global community. If you're not sure how, find out by reading 21st Century Educators Don't Say, "Hand It In." They say, "Publish It!" 

7. Use YouTube and iTunes to Learn Anything 

It's rather outrageous that many schools still block one of the most powerful tools for learning available for students today: YouTube. While iTunes is a powerful option for learners on the go, YouTube adds the visual element, making learning even more powerful and FREE! With YouTube Education and iTunes University, more and more colleges, universities, and their professors are sharing content for free. Although some schools are paying for pre-packaged online learning options, they're really all already out there for free. Empower teachers and students to design their own learning and learn about whatever they want with these free resources. Not only are these good resources to go to learn from others, but they're also a smart place to ask for help like this student did who needed help with his bowdrill set. 

8. Passion (or Talent) Profiles 

When we start collecting profiles of students' passions, talents, interests, abilities, and learning styles, suddenly students and teachers have an awareness that they may never have considered previously. A passion (or talent) profile is not only of value for teacher and student self-awareness; it is also a helpful tool for students to connect with others who might share a passion. These students could connect on a topic of interest, collaborate, and share ideas. These profiles can be purchased using a company like Renzulli Learning or they can be made for free with Google Forms and Spreadsheets. Either way, it's much easier to differentiate instruction when teachers and students can quickly and easily see where they stand and sort by interest, learning style, talents, or abilities. 

9. Develop Authentic Learning Portfolios 

When done well, ePortfolios can be a powerful tool that helps remind students of their accomplishments and enables them to share them with the world. In the 21st century, creating an ePortfolio is free and easy. Students simply select a container, such as a blog, wiki, website, or Google site; decide how they'd like to organize it; and then post their work. I strongly advise against using any paid-for portfolio sites. It is important that students have ownership of their own work and that it can travel with them wherever they are. When it comes to ePortfolios, Helen Barrett is the go-to person. To learn more, visit her blog, where she shares fantastic ideas. 

10. Empower Students to Assess and Learn Themselves 

The days of teacher-as-gatekeeper of the answer key or teacher edition are gone! Educators need to stop hiding and start sharing information with students, including enabling them to learn how to assess themselves. If students want to know their reading level, show them how to determine it with resources like those you can find here. If students create a video, honor the built-in authentic assessment like number of views and comments to evaluate their ability to find an audience. Show examples of how to share with appropriate audiences and get feedback for improvement. If students want to know how well they might do on a test, let them find a test-prep review site where they can take practice tests and see the results. Empower students to develop their own learning plans and assessments so that they can learn and assess independently. After all, they are the ones who own the learning. 

In our globally connected world, it is no longer acceptable for teachers to teach the way they were taught, nor is it OK for administrators to allow it. It is also no longer acceptable for administrators to take the easy way out and require connected kids to learn in a disconnected environment where they are banned from accessing sites or bringing to school the tools and technologies they love and need to succeed in the world.

In the 21st century, if we truly care about students' success, we will lift the bans, unblock the filters, and connect our students to the world so that they can learn effectively.

Andrew Miller

Culturally Responsive Online Teaching

Online education can help solve the issues of equity and access for students across the United States. We have heard fantastic stories of student success in graduating from high school due to access to online courses.

Last year, Susan Sawyers wrote an article for USAToday showcasing how some students are using online courses to graduate on time. It's a great window into the potential and echoes many stories we hear from students, families, and community members who are experiencing online education. A diverse population of students was able to take classes to retrieve credit for classes they may have failed in the past.

Read more »

ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Learn to Think—the Facts Will Follow

In Chile, a charter school is going against national norms by focusing on individualized instruction and thinking skills, rather than simply facts and memorization. Read the article and view a listing of global education resources at Edutopia.

Does your school's curriculum support creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving and other 21st-century skills? Share your story.

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