Making Change Happen: 21st Century Skills and Meaningful Integration into the Classroom

Technology keeps advancing, students keep changing, and the world we live in is vastly different than the one in which most of us seasoned educators completed our student teaching experiences. Yet in many ways, teacher preparation hasn’t reflected these changes. However, there are myriad excellent examples of students, teachers, and teacher educators engaging in truly 21st century teaching and learning. The challenge we face as a community of educators is being able to bring these innovative practices to all students, teachers, and teacher educators. It isn’t enough to simply tweet about technology-enhanced education to other educational technology converts. How do we engage in a broad, open, inclusive, and effective push for cutting edge yet sustainable and teaching and learning at both the k-12 and the postsecondary level?… Read More Making Change Happen: 21st Century Skills and Meaningful Integration into the Classroom

Talking EdTech

Technology isn’t going to become any less omnipresent in our lives; with the rate at which technology advances, we actually have no idea what type of world our current students will enter when they are ready to pursue careers and make big decisions. So how on earth do we prepare them for that? How can we even begin to teach students about technology or prepare teachers to teach technology when we don’t know what technology will look like even a few years from now?… Read More Talking EdTech

Coding Instead of Cursive

There’s a great deal of debate in the education world about the death of cursive writing instruction. Cursive lovers bemoan the excision of cursive from the curriculum, and are horrified at the thought that someday, these children will grow up and not be able to read their grandparents’ letters (nevermind that their grandparents are now Tweeting, Instagramming, and Snapchatting).

But what do they really need cursive for? Important documents are no longer written in cursive. When applying for most jobs, no one will ever see your handwriting until you’re hired, and even then they may never see it. Signatures are generally written in cursive, but it’s generally a stylized, bastardized version of cursive. So why are we clawing at cursive in a vain attempt to keep it in the curriculum?… Read More Coding Instead of Cursive

3 Ways to Support Student-Parents Online

I teach in a Master of Arts in Teaching program, using an online platform (a Moodle-based LMS developed for us by the fabulous 2U, and Adobe Connect). In this program, many of my students are also parents. Since they’re also attending live classes over a webcam from home, this means that often their children are in the house with them. Many professors in this setting take the approach of banning children, or in fact any potential distractions at all, from the classroom. My approach is a bit different. See, I’m a parent myself, and I believe that one of the big problems in our society is the disconnect between work life and family life; the idea that once you get to work you’re supposed to stop being a parent, but when you’re home with your family you should still be answering work email. I think this is a damaging and stressful thing for parents, whether they’re at work or in an academic program, or as often happens, both. So, instead, I choose to support my student parents in ways that not only improve their educational experience, but improve learning for other students and improve my experience as the instructor. It’s my small act of rebellion against the societal encroachment of work and academia on family life.… Read More 3 Ways to Support Student-Parents Online

Dear failing student,

Dear failing student,
I’ve just discovered that you’re past the tipping point, and won’t pass my course. I will spend all day thinking about you. I’m so sad that your outcome in this course wasn’t positive. I take it personally when even one of my students doesn’t succeed, even though I probably shouldn’t. I know this is a big obstacle, because my course is required. I’m a gatekeeper for the degree and the credential, which you have your sights set upon.… Read More Dear failing student,

Teachers instead of Tests

It is no secret that I am no fan of standardized tests. I strongly believe that they are killing public education, and I am terrified at what our educational system will look like in 20 years. We desperately want to be the best, and so we devise test after test to hold students and teachers accountable.

Who is it that we think we need to hold accountable? We have these mythical “bad teachers” who just aren’t doing their jobs. Those teachers do exist, but they are a small percentage. The vast majority of teachers out there are good teachers. Because, you see, teachers don’t become teachers for the money (or even for the summer breaks). They become teachers because they have a passion for inspiring and educating young minds.… Read More Teachers instead of Tests

Why I don’t lecture

As a professor in the MAT@USC program, I occasionally get a question from a student that goes something like this:

“I enrolled in this program so that I could learn from the top-notch USC faculty. So why am I spending most of my time talking to my classmates instead of listening to YOU tell us what is important for us to learn?”
I appreciate it when a student asks this question, because I think it takes guts to speak up when you think a learning experience isn’t working for you, or isn’t being productive. I think it is an important question to ask. WHY, when I have a very expensive and hard-earned set of letters after my name, would I sit back and let my students teach each other? Why am I not bestowing this wisdom upon them? How are they getting their money’s worth out of a prestigious program from USC, when the professor isn’t the center of attention? Shouldn’t I be lecturing about Bandura and Piaget as so many of my academic predecessors have done? Lecturing is a time-honored tradition in academia, so why am I not honoring it?… Read More Why I don’t lecture