Monday, August 22, 2016

Role of the 21st Century Teacher

Dear Colleagues:

Typically, teachers are referred to as classroom teachers, fourth grade teachers, high school teachers, mathematics teachers, college professors, or home school teachers. These conventional descriptions focus on where they teach, what level they teach, or what subject they teach. And they tend to sustain the roles and images of teaching in the past!

In the 21st century, we envision an ever-changing and disruptive learning improvement vision and role for all teachers.

  • The role of the 21st century teacher combines what people do best -- nurture and support learners -- with advanced digital technology to do what it does best -- process data, information, and knowledge at the speed of light.
In this role, people will become dynamic learners -- to be their own teachers, able to ask themselves good, new questions and guide both online and collaborative face-to-face efforts in answering them. In this role, 21st century teachers focus on the following vision of teaching as they increase both collaboration and learning:
  • Moving from one teacher and many learners to thousands of teachers for each learner!
The preliminary characteristics posted here and in our WikiTask begin to describe this emerging vision and role in the field of learning improvement. What do you think about the vision and role of the 21st century teacher? Add your ideas to this WikiTask in LearningFront!

Nick Hobar

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Deconstructing CCSS -- Two Questions?

Dear Colleagues:

The CCSS development criteria state that the standards be "Clear, so that educators and parents know what they need to do to help students learn." 

Question 1: Why are state leaders, curriculum specialists, and teachers deconstructing them if they were deemed by the developers to have met the "Clear" criterion? 

Question 2: Would standards deconstructed by individual teachers over 40 states lead to different understandings of the original "CCSS standards" that are intended to meet another development criterion: to be "Consistent across all states, so that students are not taught to a lower standard just because of where they live?"

Start-Up. Given the immediate need to implement CCSS, I believe time would be better spent by teachers designing, pilot-testing, and constantly improving instructional practices that result in improved student demonstrations of the standards as adopted. This is where creativity shows up in teaching and in student products and performances that meet and surpass the intent of the standards. 

Support. This start-up focus would guide state and local officials, subject matter experts, and professional developers to support teachers as instructional leaders as they network with colleagues in classrooms across state lines to answer the essential question for our profession:

"What teaching practices in my classroom lead to 
improved student learning on specific CCSS standards?" 

Source for Development Criteria:

Friday, May 1, 2015

What If School Was More Like Twitter?

Dear Colleagues:

What if school was more like Twitter?

I discovered this question in a LinkedIn discussion group for Twitter-Using Educators. It motivated me to envision what a learning venue like that might look like. Well, here are my thoughts for two purposes as part of teachers' daily on-the-job tasks:

For Communication and Information Sharing. Teachers would use social media tools such as Twitter or Syzygy in LearningFront to communicate throughout the day with their followers or colleagues. For example, to find a place to park at a staff development session, share a vision for quality learning, identify what they're reading, share a web link, describe a cool activity in their classrooms, or ask for help on meeting student needs. Teachers would just have fun and learn from their colleagues as a part of their daily workplace! They might post something as simple as "off to eat lunch with my instructional team" or as complex as "what is data-driven teaching?" Simply put, Twitter or Syzygy are social media tools for teachers to communicate with each other when something is relevant and timely to share or inquire about.

For Teaching and Student Learning. Teachers would access and use online templates to construct lesson plans that integrate social media tools such as Twitter. For example, they might adapt the following templates or design their own lessons:

Payoff. The values of this approach are the pre-planning, delivery, and results from using Twitter to achieve a specific content standard. Once the Twitter session is started, teachers would adjust their Tweets to meet the differentiated needs and ideas of the students as the Twitter-generated lesson is taught through online or blended online and classroom settings.  Moreover, the examples demonstrate how a scoring tool would be used to assess both student performance of the content standard and the efficacy of using the Twitter timeline instructional strategy. Now, that's transforming what a lesson plan looks like!

"School as Twitter" is an exciting and evolving concept -- and highly inviting for us to improve upon as we collaborate to engage our students.

All of this thinking stimulated me to raise a new question: What would a standards-based curriculum comprised of "School as Twitter" lessons look like?

Nick Hobar

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Teaching to a Vision of Student Learning -- Not a Standardized Test!

Dear Colleagues:

It may seem counterintuitive, but the most scaled-up evidence of constructivist, projected-based teaching and learning I have observed was supported by standardized performance task assessments and scores. It happened with the MD School Performance Program. 

  • First, a state vision of rigorous problem solving for all students was developed and adopted as the driving force for statewide school reform. 
  • This led to the development of high-level state learning standards in reading, language usage, writing, mathematics, science, and social studies for all students. 
  • Next, state standardized and authentic performance task assessments -- in which students had to produce, construct, or perform something expected in the standards -- were developed to reflect the vision and standards. 
  • Then, local districts developed performance instruction tasks that were aligned with the vision and standards and included formative assessments similar to the state assessments. 
This approach meant teachers taught to a vision of student learning and standards in a constructivist context -- not to a test. Moreover, writing was integrated into each performance task to bolster critical thinking, analysis, and reflection. Many of the state assessment performance tasks were multi-content so more than one subject was assessed and scored in one performance task. 

These factors really made local instruction engaging and worthwhile for all students -- in urban, suburban, and rural parts of the state. Recently, I adapted one of the performance instruction tasks for use in a Twitter timeline as an exploratory project. You can check it out at this link under “Learning with Social Media.” 

Charge on with authentic constructivist learning, assessment, and improvement -- they work for all students.

Nick Hobar

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Today's Change Agents

Dear Colleagues:

Today I was thinking about: "Who are the change agents creating 21st century education approaches?" 

I'm not sure today the "real" change agents are in education. I look at it this way. If you want ideas for changing and improving 21st century education in schools to flourish and spread, join a learning community where people actively share, innovate, co-create, and produce something. Typically, learning communities start and stop at the sharing phase. Today's change agents are members of learning communities that produce something of value.

When you have a cool idea to change teaching and learning, people will share it, collaborate, and make it better. Chances are today that happens outside the formal education structure, e.g., Khan academy, iPad, virtual K-12 schools, emerging online degree-granting and job-related professional development platforms.

Want to be a change agent? You are cordially invited to join LearningFront and make it happen. We build and share cool ideas here to change and improve teaching and learning! 

Nick Hobar  

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

CCSS Mathematical Practices

Dear Colleagues:

I'm pleased to announce that we posted a new template for CCSS Mathematical Practices in the TaskBuilderOnline Learning Link for your use and feedback. We integrated the TIMSS research findings for effective teaching with list boxes that include the CCSS mathematical practices for you to adapt on the TaskBuilderOnline Design Page in LearningFront.

I trust this template will be useful as you plan and share lessons and assessments. Please let us know how it works for you and how we can improve the template.

Nick Hobar

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Dear Colleagues:

I'm pleased to invite you to join LearningFront and to contribute your ideas and solutions for implementing the Common Core State Standards through our Learning Rave entitled: WikiTasksCCSS!

What is WikiTasksCCSS? WikiTasksCCSS helps teachers to implement the Common Core State Standards in their classrooms and to share their work in the LearningFront global learning community.

Why WikiTasksCCSS? WikiTasksCCSS makes it possible to connect the individual and collective talents of teachers worldwide to collaborate and lead instructional reform!

When? WikiTasksCCSS is open 24/7 in real time and as needed.

How? WikiTasksCCSS uses the integrated social media and professional development tools in LearningFront to develop original lessons and to edit WikiTasksCCSS lessons.

Click here to:
  • Learn more about WikiTasksCCSS
  • Register for "Open House" webinars
  • Watch videos of how to plan and edit WikiTasksCCSS Lessons
Have questions or suggestions? Click on the link below to share them with us -- and enjoy WikiTasksCCSS!

The LearningFront Team

I look forward to your contributions in WikiTasksCCSS!

Nick Hobar