Bringing SCRUM to Education

As part of our district's innovation initiative, I'm always on the look out for ways to improve both what we do and how we do it. Last spring I read Jeff Sutherland's book on SCRUM. SCRUM, if you're new to it, is a framework for managing complex projects. A good overview can be found here, and I've posted an overview video at the bottom of this article. After reading Sutherland's book, I piloted a couple of projects with SCRUM management techniques and used it to streamline some of my own … [Read more...]

Bridging the Gap to Action

I often go to great conferences or solid professional development sessions. I leave the sessions with great ideas for things to do. Then I get busy doing the next thing, or attending the next meeting, and I don't start acting on the learning or developing the ideas. Just from a time perspective, I know that I don't have time to act on everything, but sometimes the ideas are easy to act on, won't take much time, or just need a little momentum to get going on. For the past few years I've been … [Read more...]

Getting Minecraft Right

I'm a big believer in the gamification of education, so for the past three years, whenever I've been at an educational conference I've looked for sessions on using Minecraft in classrooms. I've been trying to find great examples of Minecraft usage that both engages students and fosters academic rigor. I've always left feeling that somehow the presenter was missing the mark, mistaking engagement for academic learning, and rationalizing the gains as academic. Today, however, I can cross off … [Read more...]

Coursera: Teaching Character and Creating Positive Classrooms

Coursera has a new digital course out from Dave Levin, the founder of KIPP Academy, called Teaching Character and Creating Positive Classrooms. It's a five-week course that looks to require a modest 2-3 hours of time per week. I'm in the second week of the content and am enjoying it. More and more I've been thinking that the answer to many of our academic woes lies in non-academic solutions, and this course is all about that line of thought. The course covers topics like self-control, … [Read more...]

Paper Tiger Reflections

I got a chance to watch a screening of the new educational documentary, Paper Tigers, which explores a successful reform initiative at an alternative school in Walla Walla, Washington. The approach uses research in developmental science surrounding Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and their impact on behavior and learning. The school's remarkable effort is heartwarming and inspiring. Through their work, they have achieved measurable improvements in behavior and academic achievement. They are … [Read more...]

Rethinking this blog…

When I started this blog a few years ago, I thought of it as a place to post "set pieces," basically posts where I had come to a conclusion about a certain aspect of education and took a position with an detailed and refined article. But over time I've come to realize that this approach hasn't worked for a couple of reasons. First, things are changing so fast in education that I rarely feel like I'm holding on to a set position about anything. My ideas and thoughts and approaches are … [Read more...]

Coursera Course Review: An Introduction to Interactive Programming in Python

Whew! Just this morning, I submitted my final project in Rice University's An Introduction to Interactive Programming in Python. With that, I'm done with the eight-week course. This was my first experience with Coursera, and I wanted to jot down some impressions. A good portion of my work week centers on digital content and instruction, so I was particularly interested in the pedagogical elements of the course. For background, each week in the course is based on a half dozen or so … [Read more...]

Google Classroom

Earlier this week, Google announced a new Learning Management System (LMS): Classroom. I'm amazed at the buzz it's getting on Twitter. People are reacting like Google has discovered human flight. At this point, it's vague as to how robust Classroom will be. Google's YouTube video really only promotes the "paperless" aspect of Classroom, and every Learning Management System (LMS) on the planet already has that. That's only a fraction of the important functions available in an LMS like Moodle, for … [Read more...]

Background Babble Boosts Creativity?

I stumbled onto Coffitivity via a mention in a Codeacademy email, and although I went there to check out the design, I quickly stayed because of the interesting concept. Coffitivity is a website (and app) that plays background "coffee-shop" conversational noise at low levels. The thinking behind the site is that creativity is higher in environments of moderate noise than it is in quiet or very noisy environments. So with this site, you can put on your earphones, generate some "Morning Murmur," … [Read more...]

Don’t Make Me Think!

I wanted to post some thoughts about Steven Krug's book, Don't Make Me Think, which is a popular seller about web design. More and more teachers and educators are asked to design digital content, and although this book focuses on web design, all of its content is applicable to designing and building digital content for education. Educators are often asked to build digital courses with little to no training, and that is often a recipe for disaster. The solution, of course, is to learn how to … [Read more...]