Category: Education reform

Should You Adopt Purpose Driven Learning?

I published this several years ago, but with the current dissatisfaction of many parents with traditional education, it’s worth revisiting.

Purpose Driven Learning (or PDL) is a concept coined by Michael Matera and Adam Moreno to summarize the philosophy that each learner’s inner strengths can be unlocked by focusing with purpose and drive. By following the guidelines for Purpose Driven Learning, teachers avoid the biggest pitfall in many lesson plans  — that they are theoretic without meaning in the real world. With PDL, resources are relevant, lessons are personalized, and real-life connections are placed under a bright light. In the end, learning is changed from pedantic to powerful and students learn to reliably connect academic studies to the world outside the schoolhouse.

The Goal of PDL

In a phrase:

the goal of Purpose Driven Learning is NOT about a curriculum that lasts a year. It’s about creating life-long learners who fuel their future passionately with knowledge.

This applies to both 1) education pursued with the goal of college or career, and 2) the critical preparation of students to succeed in life. Purpose Driven Learning, faithfully delivered with buy-in from students, will result in students willingly participating in even the boring lesson pieces (like worksheets or podcasts) as well as exciting applications like simulations and student-devised projects.

Problems implementing Purpose Driven Learning

Engaging PDL in your classroom is seen by some as teaching students what they want to learn at the expense of what they need to learn but this isn’t true. Done right, students come to understand that real knowledge relies on a solid foundation of data upon which they build their personal interests. For example, students who want to join America’s Space Force must first be grounded in the basics of science and math.

Educators who wish to use PDL often run into three roadblocks:

School Standards. Because state and national standards are often devised to serve the majority of students, they may not well-serve your students. But they do provide a necessary foundation without which the goals of your particular group can’t be met. That means that standards are taught first and additional learning is scaffolded afterward. Standards are in fact the foundation that underpins your students’ ability to achieve their PDL goals.

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11 Ways to Add #Inquiry to Your Class

You became a teacher not to pontificate to trusting minds, but to teach children how to succeed as adults. That idealism infused every class in your credential program and only took a slight bump during your student teacher days. You graduated sure you’d never teach to the test or lecture for 90% of a class.

Then you got a job and reality struck. You had lesson plans to get through, standards to assess, meetings to attend, parents to council, and state-wide tests that students must do well on. A glance in the mirror said you were becoming that teacher you hated in school. You considered leaving the profession. Until a colleague mentioned the inquiry-based classroom, where teaching’s goal was not the solution to a problem but the path followed. It’s what you’d hoped to do long ago when you started–but how do you turn a traditional entrenched classroom into one that’s inquiry-based?

Here are 11 ideas. One or more will resonate with your teaching style:

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A New Approach to Learning Through ChatGPT, AI Tools

In case you are not familiar with neural networks or have not used AI-based tools, you will be surprised to learn that solutions like ChatGPT tend to use the principles of transformer architecture. The core idea is an analysis of the lengthy bits of text where the system analyzes the keywords and sequences used to create a natural language flow. It also makes learning through ChatGPT and similar tools suitable for learning purposes and even works with autistic and dyslexic students who require more profound assistance with memorization, spelling, and pronunciation training. What makes it truly different is the level of customization and flexibility that becomes possible with the latest version builds. 

Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, Jodi Williams, discusses:

A New Approach to Learning Through AI Tools

  • New Approach to Customer Assistance

Although the use of Chat GPT and similar offerings are best known for their use as an intelligent chatbot implementation, it is way more than that! It is also a great way to learn about the demands of the customers, keep track of things,  and keep them engaged while you seek information or choose the best products by looking through the database. The most important is to input correct information and keep things at a conversational level. If you want to explore things deeper, consider custom research paper writing help and see what phrases and linguistic constructions will work best for your needs. 

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Parents as Educators

When I grew up, teachers ran the classroom and parents stepped back, but a lot has changed in thirty years. COVID hit schools hard, closing them down and forcing parents to become teachers. Most schools are again open, but parents found that their children learn better when education is a three-legged stool: Parents, teachers, and kids.

Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, Drew Allen, is an active working parent with some ideas on the new reality of parents-as-educators:

Managing Your Kids Needs as Educator and Parent

If you’re a teacher and you have children yourself, you face a somewhat different set of challenges than parents who aren’t teachers or teachers without children. Whether you work at the elementary level, with older kids or college students, managing the responsibilities you have to kids both at work and at home can be daunting. However, there are several things you can do to make this easier. If you aren’t an educator, many of the tips below will still apply.

Switching Roles

There can be something whiplash inducing about bouncing between the role of teacher talking to parents and parent talking to teachers. Even as you know there are certain behaviors that you dislike in a parent during a conference, you can find yourself displaying them yourself. Above all, you may know how unhelpful it is as a parent to lean on your professional authority when you’re talking to other teachers about your kid. Resist this temptation or you could end up pushing the educator away, leaving them reluctant to involve you further in your child’s education. It’s also important that you give the educator authority when your child asks for help with their homework or other tasks. Of course, you can help them, but try to defer to their teacher unless there is some good reason not to.

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Robot Teachers vs Human Teachers:

Simona Johnes, editor-in-chief of Science and Literacy, an educational blog for teachers and parents, did some research into a topic that is of growing concern to my fellow teachers: Robots in the classrom. Here’s an interesting article comparing the pros and cons of robots vs. humans: 

I recently came across an article published by Ohio State University that mentioned how several industries are using robots to get their jobs done, and the use of robotics is only expected to grow. This led me to thinking about the industry that I am currently employed in, education, and how this may affect my fellow teachers around the world. I began researching the topic and found a few articles about robots and artificial intelligence replacing teachers soon.

It was no surprise to see that educators are furious at this idea, and while I agree that human connection is important, I do think that there are several pros to having help from a robot in this tough industry from time to time. For example, robots can create a learning experience based on the personality of every single student, and this does not take much time or effort. I will explain more about what robots can help with throughout the article as well as explain why human teachers are still a necessity

After reading this article, you will officially know:

  • 6 advantages of a human teacher
  • 5 pros of a robot teacher
  • Who is better Human of Robot teachers?

6 Main Advantages of a Human Teacher

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Incorporate Mindfulness into Your Class

Students learn best when they are relaxed, happy, and feeling loved.  It is challenging to include those characteristics in classes when you are concurrently trying to achieve school goals, comply with curriculum timelines, juggle parent concerns, and blend your lessons with those of colleagues.

This is where mindfulness becomes important. It reminds teachers that the fulcrum for learning is the student’s emotional well-being.

Let’s back up a moment: What is mindfulness? Buddha once said:

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”

If that’s the plan, mindfulness is the path. It teaches students how to quiet themselves — get to a place where their mind is settled sufficiently to pay full attention to the task at hand. Experts offer many suggestions for incorporating mindfulness into your classroom experience. Consider:

  • pause and take a deep breath before beginning an activity 
  • reflect on an activity as a group
  • reflect on the student’s experience and background and how that relates to the topic

Here are five ideas on how to incorporate mindfulness into your classes:

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School district asks parents to house teachers amid high cost of living

This is new to me, but reading the predicament Milpitas California is in–having visited this expensive area–I commend the school district for this clever idea. Interesting that this article is about a US school in a UK newspaper, Metro 50:

School district asks parents to house teachers amid high cost of living

Teachers have been quitting their jobs at an alarming rate in one California school district — not because they’re leaving the profession, but because they cannot afford to live near their schools.

Read more…

Check out these clever ideas we’ve talked about on Ask a Tech Teacher:

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Tech Tip #134: 8 Tips to Become Tomorrow’s Teacher

tech tipsIn these 169 tech-centric situations, you get an overview of pedagogy—the tech topics most important to your teaching—as well as practical strategies to address most classroom tech situations, how to scaffold these to learning, and where they provide the subtext to daily tech-infused education.

Today’s tip: 8 Tips to Become Tomorrow’s Teacher

Category: Pedagogy

Today’s teachers have little resemblance to your mother’s teachers—lecturing from the front of the classroom, silent children, and rote drills to reinforce skills. Today, teachers are expected to nurture inquiry, critical thinking, and independent thought, often assessed by projects or anecdotal observation.

Here’s a poster with eight tips on how to become tomorrow’s teacher today:

For more on tomorrow’s teacher, check out these articles on Ask a Tech Teacher:

  • Let’s Talk About Habits of Mind
  • What is the 21st Century Lesson Plan
  • What’s Tomorrow’s Digital Student Look Like
  • Set up Your Digital Classroom

Sign up for a new tip each week or buy the entire 169 Real-world Ways to Put Tech into Your Classroom.

What’s your favorite tech tip in your classroom? Share it in the comments below.

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Tech Tip #6: 16 Habits of Mind

tech tipsIn these 169 tech-centric situations, you get an overview of pedagogy—the tech topics most important to your teaching—as well as practical strategies to address most classroom tech situations, how to scaffold these to learning, and where they provide the subtext to daily tech-infused education.

Today’s tip: Habits of Mind

Category: Pedagogy

Habits of Mind are learning skills that address the most granular problem-solving and critical thinking abilities required to prepare a student for college or career. They concentrate on the practical strategies of ‘analysis, evaluation, synthesis. Here’s a poster with all sixteen:

For more on Habits of Mind, visit “Let’s Talk about Habits of Mind” on Ask a Tech Teacher.

Sign up for a new tip each week or buy the entire 169 Real-world Ways to Put Tech into Your Classroom.

What’s your favorite tech tip in your classroom? Share it in the comments below.

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9 Ways to Add Tech to your Lessons Without Adding Time to Your Day

I update these suggestions every few years to remind teachers there are easy ways to techify your lessons even on a tight schedule. I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments about how you do this in your classes:

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Because I teach graduate classes for educators, I talk to lots of teachers all over the country. It’s become clear that for most of them, adding technology to their lessons means layering more work on top of their already overburdened lesson plans. Despite the claims of tech gurus that technology makes the job of teaching easier, few educators see it that way. Even the ones who love it put in lots of extra time to do one or more of the following:

  • learn tech tools and then teach their students
  • learn tech tools only to discover it’s not what they need
  • learn a tech tool they love only to have it either disappear or switch to a fee-based program
  • rework existing lesson plans in the school’s mandated digital program that too often, changes every year. This means they have to re-enter the lesson plan in a new format for a new LMS
  • find a tool they love, but no one else in their teaching team agrees, understands it, or cares
  • the tool won’t work on the Big Day of the lesson and nothing will bring it back to life
  • the digital devices–computer or Chromebooks or iPads–won’t work on the Big Day

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