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robertogreco : shawncornally   13

I Have to Take a Second Job to Support my Teaching Habit: Thanks #ialegis | ThinkThankThunk
"Here’s my plan: I’m going to take another job as a web developer and database consultant and donate this salary back to my school district. The Cedar Rapids Community School District can then issue me a part-time contract. I will work my usual 60 hours/week at Iowa BIG and do development work after my kids are in bed and on the weekends.

Because that’s what teachers do.

I’d love to have just one job, but in 2015, I suppose I’m supposed to be innovative and feed my family on altruism."



"We’ll have to save the property tax nightmare for another post! Suffice it to say, I’m really excited for my 80/hour work weeks, because they’ll allow my school district be able to afford schools like Iowa BIG.

TL;DR: I’m taking a second job, donating income to CRCSD, so that I can work for free full-time at Iowa BIG."
eduction  funding  iowa  2015  shawncornally  schools  publicschools  policy  taxes  propertytaxes  us  cv  teaching  howweteach 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Just to be clear, Teaching Math is a Tire Fire Right Now | ThinkThankThunk
"When a student comes to me and says she can’t concentrate on her projects because of how she’s doing in another one of her classes, I tend to feel a violent ambivalence.

When someone is asked to prove that two trigonometric expressions are equal by using arcane identities, especially when this someone is a barely abstract-thinking 16 year old, I can’t help but wonder at the logic of it all. Is this practice–for surely a problem this steeped in meaninglessness must only be seen as some level of abstract proving-gound-ness–really worth the life-long aversion to analytical methods that it’s creating?

That gets me really thinking! Is the goal of all this math to create analytical thinkers? Is it? Really?! If you believe all of the saccharine posters hanging on lowest-bidder brick walls in schools everywhere, math is, in some ineffable way, “learning how to think.”

Is it?

Or, is that the goal of making math a part of school?

As a mathematician, I find it beautiful when two unknown things connect. I find it exhilarating, the connection between pattern, numbers, and the world. This is much the same feeling as when I turn out a good pair of shoes or a fine piece of furniture.

But, school? Math is for learning to think and quantify. To reason and objectify. To abstract and re-abstract.

If those are the mental capabilities we expect in our students, then how do you grade what our math curriculum does for students, and why is doing a trig identity the only way to prove a student has gotten there?"
shawncornally  2015  math  mathematics  schooliness  education  schools  curriculum  purpose  abstraction  howweteach  howwelearn 
march 2015 by robertogreco
That Study Never Happened | ThinkThankThunk
"What I question is for how long we in education will continue on without control data. How long will a status quo, that was never studied, continue? Show me the study that proves an 8-period day of personality-disorder inducing frenzy is more effective than a fundamentally different approach to time, space, and assessment?

Don’t compare to a block schedule, don’t compare to 7-period days, or long lunches, those aren’t fundamentally different variable states. Those studies weren’t ever done, and it has to do with the trickle-down college modeling that has now permeated the social inertia of the American public school.

That said, you can’t ask a teenager what they like. That’s another data analysis error. I value student voice, but I also recognize that someone who has only been thinking abstractly for a time span on the order of months may not have the data set necessary to legitimately claim what will and won’t work for their education.

That said, they can, with reasonably veracity, report really valuable metrics.

Efficacy.

Joy.

Interest.

Curiosity.

The ever-present effervescent teenage blurted comment shows a lot about mental connections in a very Rorschach-ian way.

If you asked this student whether she likes attending physics class or her Iowa BIG project better, she’ll report that she loves her project. I could tout this as a glorious victory, but, given the previous argument, I don’t think that kind of data is actually meaningful or those claims are even possible.

Test scores then, right? Nope. In general, those are only a measure of the poorly understood genetic rate of the brain’s ability to abstract concepts. There are some fantastically written exams, but they’re few and far between in usual practice.

My thesis is that you have to define the metrics that you believe matter. I got this idea from a fantastic conference I attended in Ohio a few years ago, and it has never left me.

If we’ve let the fickleness of history and public policy describe the bizarre set of standards (looking at you, Math) and therefore the metrics that we’ll measure all students against, you’ll end up with a system designed for those metrics.

Instead, if you define your own measures, and actually study longitudinally their validity, we’ll end up in a place where perhaps we’ll value the emotional-intelligence development of a teenager above their ability to comply with outdated curricula. Maybe we’ll come to value the nuance of entrepreneurial thought opposed to attempting to cram a line of reasoning they stole wholesale from Reddit into five paragraphs 20 minutes before the paper is due.

I love working at Iowa BIG."
shawncornally  2015  learning  metrics  comparison  control  education  meaning  values  measurement  curriculum  projectbasedlearning  purpose  socialemotional  emotionalintelligence  teens  youth  policy  teaching  howwelearn  legitimacy  pbl  socialemotionallearning 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Mu of Zero | ThinkThankThunk
"What happens when you get to the bottom of a slippery slope?

You end up attempting to optimize a system that has no high point.

It began simply: someone, somewhere, said that they knew a few things that they were sure everyone needed to know, probably on East Coast around 1910.

The list grew exponentially [http://www.corestandards.org/Math/ ]. The draws [http://www.jamievollmer.com/poster.html ] on school grew with them, and you end up with an institution designed to be bad spaghetti sauce.

Surely, though, there are some golden pieces of knowledge [http://thinklab.typepad.com/think_lab/2006/03/8th_grade_exami.html ] that everyone must know:

Reading, writing, arithmetic…

Philosophy, theology, personal finance…

Basic biology, abstract thinking skills, algebra…

Cooking, cleaning, candlestick making…

Oh, wait.

Curriculum isn’t an outcome. The fact that no one can agree on the list above, is exactly why trying to make that list is damaging. Damaging to students, teachers, parents, and a society.

Allowing someone the mentorship to discover that a specific piece of content is necessary to create economic and/or social value. That’s an easy package for me to wrap. Much easier than pretending that learning to divide polynomials is the best way to become an abstract critical thinker, whatever that means."
shawncornally  curriculum  schools  education  content  teaching  society  mentorship  2015  workload  breadth  outcomes  lists 
february 2015 by robertogreco
The Overflowing Froth of Realness: Iowa BIG | ThinkThankThunk
"It’s been slow, especially because I’m used to running my own little kingdom of a classroom, but Iowa BIG is bearing the fruit of a community-focused, project-based model.

The dream was to create a schooling experience with a seamless connection and sometimes blurred difference between who’s doing the learning and who’s doing the supporting of that learning. As I watch my students move out into the community to pitch their projects and seek support from local experts and interested parties, I can’t help but beam with pride.

I woke up this morning to an inbox full of reports and evidence of community building that I had no direct control of: students telling me that they met with local counselors and psychologists that have steered a project on mental health in a totally new direction; I didn’t do that. 300 people gathering to support a student’s long-term study of gender equality this Friday. I had such a small role in that.

Community Building, Inc.

It all comes down to the view of community building as a profession. I was brought into that fold by a local media company; their constant drum beat being that a built community, a connected network where the central node becomes less and less so, is vital to the success of schools, businesses, and the ability for residents to thrive.

I have to admit I didn’t get it at first… So, we should, um, have hang-outs at coffee shops? Sure, but what should the conversation be? You don’t get to plan that, but you do get to support it and help drive it. But don’t these Luddites have a complete lack of understanding of my beautiful vision for education? No/Yes, but they’re integral in creating a vision for education that’s more doable and effective than your “beautiful vision.”

At Iowa BIG, students, faculty, and, most importantly, the community at large pitch projects into our pool. The students then pull from that pool know already that the project matters to someone. The teaching and learning of the students overflows beyond any individual teacher so quickly, it’s almost amazing that we’ve intentionally left the community out of education for so long. Sure, parents support sporting events, and some donate money to the schools, but actual involvement in the educational process has been becoming more and more divorced.

Why else would we have such complicated conversations about grading? I know I’ve spilled some serious digital ink on the subject. If Wormeli is right, that grades are supposed to be communicative over time, instead of summative of a time, then why wouldn’t we carry that naturally beyond the preposterously reductionist practice of grading directly into instruction and mentoring?

As a teacher, my only real talent is the experience I have of working with young people. I can take the smallest tell and imagine what misconception or hang-up may be preventing that project/student from moving forward. That’s my profession. I am not so good at generating a thousand project ideas for every student and having all those ideas hit the mark. Many teachers suffer needlessly over this ineffable hubris that has been placed on the teaching profession: somehow, student interest and buy-in must stem from the teacher or else, I must be a bad teacher.

That’s impossible! For every student!? Impossible!

Yet, I see burned out teachers every May wishing for a break. I then see those same idealists stand up with a firmed chin in August to try it again. You know what they say about repetition…

Without creating a network of interconnected communicative nodes, all dedicated to the education of the network’s students, bringing them into how the community gets work done and needs work done, you’ll never achieve the individualized instruction that everyone claims to want. You’ll never attain the quandrant-D-OMG-engaging-real-world-real-real-World lessons everyone’s trying to design. The school budgets aren’t big enough, but a symbiotic, intentionally-built relationship between education, business, nonprofit, government, and so on?

That’ll do it.

Schools that are Just Killing It:

Blue Valley CAPS [http://www.bvcaps.org/s/1403/start.aspx ]
Northland CAPS [http://www.nkcschools.org/northland-caps ]
Makerspace@Lakewood City Schools [http://www.makerspacelcs.com/ ]
Eagle Rock, CO [http://www.eaglerockschool.org/ ]
Iowa BIG (obvi) [http://iowabig.org/ ]"
shawncornally  iowa  community  mentors  mentorships  generalists  teaching  education  openstudioproject  lcproject  learning  relationships  networks  explodingschool  iowabig  bluevalleycaps  nortlandcaps  eaglerockschool  control  connections  2014  interconnectedness  realworld  projectbasedlearning  pbl  interconnected  interconnectivity 
may 2014 by robertogreco
[Tyranny of the Curriculum] What is Extra in Education? | ThinkThankThunk
"You wanna know what keeps me up at night? Not climate change. Not the fact that Ke$ha makes more in a minute than I make in a decade. Not the fact that Iowa is slowly but surely wasting the prairie’s soil and everyone’s fresh water so it can produce Pepsi, ethanol, and beef.

No, it’s the tyranny of the curriculum, because without that oppression, we would actually have an entire population who could solve those aforementioned problems.

Disclaimer; super pissed right now.

“Tyranny”? Too harsh?

I once had a student develop a computational model that predicted the behavior of Alzheimer afflicted networks using a software neural net that she and I wrote together. When I asked if she’d like to pursue her research for math and science credit, she came back the next day, espousing the rhetoric of the oppressed:

“No, well, I have to get my required credits done in class, so I won’t have time.”

She, and almost every other student believes that “interesting” is extra. They believe in the monopoly on credits, learning, and schedules that schools have packaged and sold, despite also claiming to be “bored.”

That’s tyranny folks. I have more stories exactly like this, but my blood pressure can’t handle typing them.

That’s why I’m super pumped that BIG is growing, and fast. Thank God, because I’m actually super scared of Ke$ha."
shawncornally  2014  curriculum  openstudioproject  lcproject  interestedness  interested  projectbasedlearning  extra  tcsnmy  credits  learning  schedules  highschool  unschooling  deschooling  schooliness  pbl 
may 2014 by robertogreco
The Quanta of Design Thinking | ThinkThankThunk
"When I say “nucleator” I mean an object, idea, or task that gives students an opportunity to enter into the process of design in a way that isn’t an explicit discussion about “learning design” like so much that gets co-opted from Stanford’s D School.

Kids dig the idea of take-this-bracket-and-make-a-chair. The design process is inherent in the challenge, and for some reason the Wikiseat bracket works. Kids like it.

We toyed around with social studies. What if you asked students to design an eating utensil optimized for a specific food? Like miso soup, or pulled pork. What would it be like to 3D print that object and then live with it for a week or a even a day? What could you say about culture, history, and agriculture? What would the documentary, “Living with the Snork,” be like?

What about math? What if you asked students to redesign RISK? How much math and design would that take? Let’s be honest, we all wish RISK weren’t so boring towards the end.

What if you asked students to redesign the human body? For the first century? for the 16th? The 21st? How much biology would that take? What kind of explanations and communications skills/objects would you have to foster to communicate such a strange idea?

Maybe I’m just in the stream of being with such awesome people right now, and I’m not communicating the nuance that the Wikiseat bracket represents, but I’m digging the idea of fundamental design quanta right now."
shawncornally  projectbasedlearning  projectideas  openstudioproject  teaching  learning  tcsnmy  designthinking  design  criticalthinking  projectsnotclasses  process  education  pedagogy  2013  pbl 
october 2013 by robertogreco
Standards-Based Grading: The End | ThinkThankThunk
"The idea of remediation is a serious hang-up for those that like to have hang-ups about new ideas. At BIG, we’ve left this whole idea of scheduled learning–and therefore hacking scheduled learning–behind, which is all SBG really is, a nice hack of a broken system. Like sending Internet packets down phone lines.

Our students work towards a competency for the following reasons:

• Faculty take an enormous amount of time learning about the student’s passions, interests, and current projects.

• Our goal is to produce a resume-building experience and product the student can take with them long after they graduate.

• The student co-designs the projects, competencies, and work.

• Students seek out faculty time, and have significantly less required “seat time” than in a traditional environment.

• The pedagogy at BIG is wildly student centered

• Notable absence: for a grade

The last couplet of points is the most important. We’re seeing an insurrection of grading initiatives around the country, which almost by definition means that the whole thing is going to implode under the weight of poor implementations. Sad, but education is as education does.

So, why is SBG a gateway drug? Because the minute you admit that you’ve been grading ineffectively, you end up admitting all sorts of things are weird about school. Like schedules, like cookie-cutter assignments, like students doing work to be “done with it.”

It’s a gateway to student-centered pedagogy. It’s a gateway to asking what kind of projects can be done that envelope multiple standards. It’s an exercise in creating deadline-murdering, interesting projects."
remediation  grades  grading  education  teaching  learning  standards-basedgrading  assessment  competency  pedagogy  2013  schedules  standards  experience  shawncornally 
july 2013 by robertogreco
What I Learned in my First Week of Running a School | ThinkThankThunk
[Highlighting 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 12, and 13]

"1. Competency-based education is really attractive to a certain group of parents and students; those that know their kid needs a real CV to compete coming out of the gate.

2. No one has any idea what a project is.

3. If you start a project without an external audience in mind, it’s probably going to be sucky.

4. If you start a project with a genuinely interesting question, it’s probably going to be legit. (How different are the proteins in blue, green, & brown eyes? vs. the much crappier: How does DNA make proteins?)

5. Middle school students can’t drive.

6. There’s an astonishingly small number of students who gravitate towards (and are properly served by) book-first learning. BIG is operating at 10% of students really flourishing this way. <implications implied implicitly>

7. Blurred Lines is a fun tune, but wildly inappropriate.

8. Ripping off Piet Mondrian for your logo makes you look like a fop, and minimizes time in Illustrator.

9. Writing competencies should be individualized to the student and needs to map back to at least 3 curriculum standards, or you’re just never going to stay at a good pace (just below Grueling/Meager Rations.)

10. No one talks about grades at BIG. It just doesn’t come up.

11. Keep a Google Doc for every student that has all of the crazy good ideas that pop up. You won’t remember everything, and the kids won’t either.

12. The context upon which you can hang content has a surprisingly wide latitude for most students.

13. Symposium time is necessary. (When 5-10 students get together to share progress, failures, successes, and ideas with each other)

14. We really need a mascot and colors. Currently we’re The Fighting Whalephants."
competency  competency-basededucation  middleschool  projects  projectbasedlearning  teaching  education  learning  schools  bigideasgroup  bigideasschool  shawncornally  2013  audience  parents  context  content  reflection  sharing  standards  pbl 
july 2013 by robertogreco
The Big Ideas Group » Philosophy
Our pedagogy centers around the following tenets:

• Learner Co-Designed Coursework: Our kids state the target of their learning before a teacher ever begins to design a lesson. We believe the path towards reaching a student’s target will be littered with ancillary and contextual learning that can only be found when the student is driving the bus.

• Competency-Based Education: Learners do not receive grades, they demonstrate their ability to learn and do. Learners work to produce a portfolio and resume showing how they have mastered common content standards. Unlike traditional school, learners do not finish working until they have the content.

• Intense Community Integration: Community resources are tapped as a necessary part of nearly every student project and learning cycle. Our learners develop the “soft” skills associated with working in diverse situations while nurturing professional connections and relationships; all the while deepening the validity of their learning through community context.

• Art & Design: Our learners experience design and art thinking in everything they do. We embrace failure and iteration as the actual process of learning.

• The Information Revolution: The Big Ideas School believes in the Internet. We believe in using the web as a leveler and an inspirational tool. The tepid and often confrontational relationship traditional schools have with the Internet is as mind boggling to us as it must be to you and your child.
thebigideasschool  shawncornally  iowa  education  educationalphilosophy  art  design  internet  technology  community  competency  curriculum  coursework  schooldesign 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Confessions of an Average AP Scholar | ThinkThankThunk
"So what’s the commonality there? For all that AP swagger, my education was mostly devoid of any real experience, and I didn’t even know it until years later. I believed I was prepared.

The Big Ideas School:

I do not want this for my students. I will spend the rest of my life working with students to ensure that they’re never lied to like I was. Harsh? Yeah, but you know me.

So, I left my job in a traditional high school to work at The Big Ideas School. I’m helping to create this place, and its job is to provide content-rich experiences for students coupled with killer instruction from area experts. Check it out:

[ http://www.shawncornally.com/BIG/ ]

The Big Ideas School. Inaugural class summer of 2013.

This school is designed for students in Iowa’s seven-county Creative Corridor, and it will demand that students find connections between content through a STEAM environment within a community context."

[See also: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/we-dont-like-projects-shawn-cornally ]
shawncornally  learning  aps  highschool  schools  schooling  testing  context  2013  thebigideasschool  experience  iowa  steam  apclasses 
june 2013 by robertogreco
YouTube - TEDxEastsidePrep - Shawn Cornally - The Future of Education Without Coercion
[These are killing learning in schools]

No product = Failure [Product is emphasized over process]

What if they don't do anything? [Worry that they won't learn anything if given control of their learning]

3.9 ≠ 4.0 [Loss of motivation, feeling beyond recovery, no meaning]
education  learning  schools  tcsnmy  success  failure  science  teaching  process  productoverprocess  processoverproduct  time  scheduling  schedules  classschedules  2011  shawncornally  inquiry  inquiry-basedlearning  questioning  student-led  student-initiated  openstudio  unschooling  coercion  deschooling  motivation  intrinsicmotivation  extrinsicmotivation  overjustification  schooliness  schooling  creativity  absurdity  wonder  colleges  universities  admissions  gameofschool  playingschool  alfiekohn 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Think Thank Thunk » Surprise! My Wife is the Good Teacher, I Just Plagiarize
"He didn’t have the ingrained sense of fear and respect most kids have for teachers. He did not have the false urgency that we create in our students. He wasn’t worried about whether I was going to test him, because in preschool, you don’t have tests, just really sweet experiences."
relationships  teaching  preschool  tcsnmy  emergentcurriculum  emergent  constructivism  topost  shawncornally 
july 2010 by robertogreco

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