Process Post and Resources: Contemplating 21st C Ed, PBL, and Common Core State Standards – a Thought Board in Progress

[Disclaimer: This post may not make any sense to anyone but me. I am researching 21st C education trends, project-based learning, social and civic responsibility, school transformation, and Common Core State Standards. All through the lens of strategic re-design of school of the future. What follows below is some of the thought-board I am developing, and I felt compelled to share at least some of what I am discovering and thinking about…]

Today, during a Skype conversation with a trusted and highly respected educational colleague, I heard a couple of interesting threads of commentary that have led me on a fascinating research exploration for much of the day.

One of the folks here says PBL is dead. I don’t agree, but there is some strong movement against it.

We call him Pele because he knows where the ball is going, and the ball is currently going to the Common Core State Standards.

You breathe rarified air, and there are tremendous hurdles to implementing PBL in an environment overrun with standardized testing and the Common Core.

While I think that significant, meaningful PBL (capital P) has been largely non-existent in the heavily industrial-age influenced school system of the 20th century, I think PBL has thrived as a human learning paradigm for millennia, and I think PBL is alive and well as a learning methodology. In fact, I think PBL dominates learning before formal schooling, and I believe that PBL dominates the workplace of almost all jobs (if not, ALL jobs). I believe that school transformation and enhancement will necessarily include and integrate PBL. Furthermore, I think the Common Core State Standards not only support PBL, but I believe they demand it! [And I continue to mean capital-P PBL!]

Exploring Edutopia’s Resources for Understanding the Common Core State Standards, I worked on a thought board, and I am capturing a few bits and pieces here…

Intriguing videos from Hunt Institute YouTube channel regarding the CCSS:

  • The English Language Arts Standards: Key Changes and their Evidence

    At the end of the video, David Coleman speaks of “reading like a detective and writing like an investigative journalist.” From my own studying and implementation of capital-P project-based learning, I can think of few other methodologies that create the space and opportunity for student learners to be detectives and investigative journalists who are wrestling with real-life issues that need addressing and innovating.

  • Literary Non-Fiction in the Classroom: Opening New Worlds for Students

    Watching this piece was fascinating! I was both inspired and frightened stiff. On the frightening end, I pictured teachers who take David Coleman’s analysis literally as the recommended pedagogy for deconstructing Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birmingham letter and removing many possibilities for self-motivated discovery and heart-touching. At the inspiring end, I was moved by MLK’s language and by thinking about a group of students searching for this letter after engaging with a community issue about fairness, justice, equality, and rights. I imagined this letter as a digestible resource for students who created a need-to-know about the letter because of the context with which they approached the letter. [Interestingly, I never experienced this letter as part of my formal, school-based education. In fact, I am embarrassed to admit that this video viewing may have been the first time I read the entire letter. The content reminded me of many of the reasons that I am working for school reform and transformational enhancement.]

Quotes from the CCSS website that point to PBL:

Research—both short, focused projects (such as those commonly required in the workplace) and longer term in depth research —is emphasized throughout the standards but most prominently in the writing strand since a written analysis and presentation of findings is so often critical.
– Writing: http://www.corestandards.org/about-the-standards/key-points-in-english-language-arts

An important focus of the speaking and listening standards is academic discussion in one-on-one, small-group, and whole-class settings. Formal presentations are one important way such talk occurs, but so is the more informal discussion that takes place as students collaborate to answer questions, build understanding, and solve problems.
– Speaking and Listening: http://www.corestandards.org/about-the-standards/key-points-in-english-language-arts

The standards help prepare students for real life experience at college and in 21st century careers.
– Language: http://www.corestandards.org/about-the-standards/key-points-in-english-language-arts

The standards stress not only procedural skill but also conceptual understanding, to make sure students are learning and absorbing the critical information they need to succeed at higher levels – rather than the current practices by which many students learn enough to get by on the next test, but forget it shortly thereafter, only to review again the following year.
– Math: http://www.corestandards.org/about-the-standards/key-points-in-mathematics

  • The high school standards call on students to practice applying mathematical ways of thinking to real world issues and challenges; they prepare students to think and reason mathematically.
  • The high school standards set a rigorous definition of college and career readiness, by helping students develop a depth of understanding and ability to apply mathematics to novel situations, as college students and employees regularly do.
  • The high school standards emphasize mathematical modeling, the use of mathematics and statistics to analyze empirical situations, understand them better, and improve decisions. For example, the draft standards state: “Modeling links classroom mathematics and statistics to everyday life, work, and decision-making. It is the process of choosing and using appropriate mathematics and statistics to analyze empirical situations, to understand them better, and to improve decisions. Quantities and their relationships in physical, economic, public policy, social and everyday situations can be modeled using mathematical and statistical methods. When making mathematical models, technology is valuable for varying assumptions, exploring consequences, and comparing predictions with data.”
    – Math: http://www.corestandards.org/about-the-standards/key-points-in-mathematics

Literacy equals mastery across academic disciplines.
– Callout in Hunt Institute video about CCSS

At the intersection and confluence of 21st century education and project-based learning, we would have:

  1. Personal learning, as explained by @MaryAnnReilly
  2. Education Systems that Support Innovation, as questioned by @FusionJones (Aran Levasseur)
  3. Greater understanding of What does it mean to be learned?, by David Warlick
  4. Commitment to Helping Students Become Active Citizens, by Margaret Haviland
  5. Schools that play matchmaker between world issues and adolescent energy, by Bo Adams
  6. Educators designing high-quality PBL to engage students with learning innovation, by Thom Markham
  7. Lessons from Lehrer’s Imagine for Cultivating Student Creativity, by Jonathan E. Martin
  8. Design thinking and iterative prototyping built into the program [see MVPS, Nuevo School, Beaver Country Day School & NuVu, etc.]
  9. Purposeful presentations over PowerPoint(less) ones, by Jeff Delp
  10. Value the Immeasurable, by Will Richardson

Videos that have profoundly shaped my viewpoint on 21st Century Education and the Future of Schools…Schools of the Future:

It’s all connected! And there’s so much more! It’s about learning.

21C Learning…It’s ALL About Your Mindset! OR…What Kind of Boat Are You Building?!

Right now, I consider myself one of the most fortunate people on earth…amazing and healthy family, great health for myself and my loved ones, warm home and no worries about my next meal, exciting and purposeful job that focuses on growth of self and others, a spirituality of faith and significance in the world, a life in a country founded in freedom…and the list goes on! And for the proverbial “cherry on top,” I am serving a sabbatical to advance my work and interest on the topic of “The Future of Schools and Schools of the Future.” I imagine I am enough to make even the extreme optimists marginal. I am learning and I am growing. I am not yet the educational leader I will learn to be, but I have every advantage and the mindset I need to get there.

Since March 22, I have been in “phase II” of my sabbatical. Phase I involved a two-week internship at Unboundary, recent subject of a Huffington Post. [Search this blog for “Unboundary” to see related posts here.] Phase II is concentrated on school visits, a conference, and a few “random and invaluable” opportunities. Here is a snapshot of what phase II has involved:

  • March 22 – student-shadow visit and meeting with Laura Deisley (@Deacs84) at The Lovett School, Atlanta, GA. (a few tweets @boadams1, find date)
  • [March 22 – attended Jeff Small’s (@jeffreysmalljr) launch of novel The Breath of God.] (a few tweets @boadams1, find date)
  • [March 23 – Morris Brandon Primary, Kindergarten field trip to Yellow River Game Ranch.]
  • March 24 – sixth-grade visit to Trinity School, Atlanta, GA, and Megan Howard (@mmhoward). (a few tweets @boadams1, find date)
  • March 25 – meeting with Gever Tulley (@Gever), co-founding Brightworks, a new school, San Francisco, CA. (a few tweets @boadams1, find date)
  • March 25-28 – ASCD Annual Conference 2011 (@ASCD and #ASCD11…many tweets at this hashtag)
  • March 26 – dinner with Jill Gough (@jgough) and Grant Lichtman (soon to be on Twitter!), author of The Falconer and C.O.O. of Francis Parker School, San Diego, CA.
  • At ASCD conference, numerous informal meals and great conversations with Jill Gough, Bob Ryshke (@centerteach), and Barbara Preuss (Drew Charter School).
  • March 27 – meeting with Jill, Bob, Grant, and Bill Ferriter (@plugusin) – The Tempered Radical, Solution Tree award-winning author, and NC teacher.
  • March 27 – dinner with Jill, Bob, and Grant.
  • March 28 – Solution Tree (@solutiontree) breakfast about PLCs (professional learning communities).
  • March 29 – visit to The Bay School, San Francisco, CA. (tweets at #bayviz)
  • March 30 – meetings with Jonathan Martin (@jonathanemartin) and visit to St. Gregory School, Tucson, AZ. (tweets at #gregviz)

From all of those bullet-points – mere place-holders-in-pixels for absolutely invaluable real-life experiences – I am building a mind-map. Here is the start, and it will undergo countless changes as I reflect and synthesize…evaluate and analyze…collaborate and amplify. What is here now is only a rough beginning…a starting place.

What I am realizing already is this:

The single-most important attribute in 21st century teaching and learning is THE GROWTH MINDSET!

  1. Carol Ann Tomlinson said it directly at the ASCD conference. She talked of Dweck specifically.
  2. Heidi Hayes Jacobs alluded to it as she talked about “upgrades.” You cannot upgrade if you don’t believe in growth or fear change.
  3. Chip Heath indicated that mindset is a fundamental thread in directing the rider, motivating the elephant, and shaping the path. He talked of Dweck’s game-changing work.
  4. Peter Reynolds demonstrated the critical nature of a growth mindset as he read The Dot and Ish, and as he showed He Was Me (video below). Creativity necessitates a mindset steeped in growth orientation.
  5. Linda Darling-Hammond mentioned it by name and all but demanded it for our national education policy.
  6. John Hattie, after years of a meta-analysis of 800 meta-analyses (200,000,000 subjects) made it clear – the growth mindset is THE most influential factor in student and teacher success.
  7. My individual sessions all touched on the growth mindset in one way or another. The session on the 3rd Rail: Grading emphasized the possibility that arcane and unexamined grading practices undermine learning and promote a fixed mindset.
  8. 10,000 educators were at ASCD to learn and grow, too.
  9. Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot spoke about the third chapter of life, ages 50-75, and the need for renewed spirit aimed at growth and further development. Don’t stand still!
  10. The teachers at Lovett, Trinity, Bay, and St. Gregory who are striving to learn and grow are the teachers who are advancing the schools and earning the distinctions among the student learners.
  11. Gever Tulley is founding a school on the entire idea as represented in the philosophy and pedagogy of “learning arcs.”
  12. Grant Lichtman wrote a foundational work on the power of questioning and seeking growth as a learner and system understander of our world and thinking.
  13. Bill Ferriter promotes the connected life of Twitter and other social networking – not just to understand the iGeneration – but to share one’s resources and gain access to the resources of others for the benefit and possibility for growth and new learning.
  14. Jonathan Martin showcased Steve Johnson’s “Where Good Ideas Come From” RSA video to make the point that connectivity and coffee-housing create the opportunities for enriched thinking and enlightened growth as a collective efforts weave together for better ideas and a better world.
  15. I COULD GO ON AND ON AND ON…

And then this morning, I read a blog post of someone I met on Twitter at ASCD. I have never met the person face-to-face, but I am learning immeasurably from adding Jeff Delp (@azjd) to my Google Reader. Here is one of the quotes he chose to begin a post:

Never be afraid to do something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark; professionals built the Titanic. – Author unknown.

21st century learning…it’s ALL about your mindset. The waters of educational change are rising. What kind of boat are you building? With whom are you building it?