[Background music.] [VO: Welcome to The 90 Second Integrationist, episode 10.]
(from Madonna’s song, “Vogue”) “Beauty’s where you find it.”
Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel had none of the prerequisites of her day to become a fashion designer. She was poor, orphaned, and female. But, her unique designs, born of utility and her innovative perspective on what women’s fashion should be, changed the business forever. The Chanel suit, the little black dress, and a fashion designer’s name on a fragrance line were unthinkable before Coco – and now they are indispensable elements of the women’s fashion world. As Coco said in a 1965 interview, “La mode passe; le style reste” (“Fashion passes, style remains.”)
On Friday, January 12, 2007, world-famous violinist Joshua Bell donned a non-descript cap and jacket and took his multi-million dollar Stradivarius to a DC metro station. He played, for 45 minutes, while over a thousand people passed by. A few stopped to listen. A few of them dropped coins or the occasional dollar bill into his open case. A virtuoso performance went almost completely unnoticed – not because of the lack of skill, but because it was an unexpected performance from an unexpected person in an unexpected place.
We have students giving virtuoso performances every day, but sadly they go unnoticed because it isn’t who we expect, where we expect, in the way we expect.
Teach like you’re Chanel. Strive for beauty and elegance, but understand that those things will not be the same for everybody.
[Background music.] [VO: Welcome to The 90 Second Integrationist, episode 9.]
Leonardo da Vinci is known for a variety of accomplishments. Painting, sculpting, cartography, anatomy and physiology, military engineering, civil engineering, botany, and more. At least some of his success should be attributed to the fact that he used what he learned in one field to inform his progress in another, ignoring the lines we often draw between academic subjects.
The more he learned about how the human body is designed, the more he changed how he painted and sculpted human figures. The more he learned about how birds are able to fly, the more he changed his designs for his own human-powered flying machines. Da Vinci didn’t put his science textbooks in his locker before he went to art class, and vice-versa.
Imagine you’re about to get a pet hamster. What all will that hamster need? You might think of a cage or aquarium, food, water, bedding, toys, exercise wheels, tubes, and even other hamsters! Why is it that when we need to support a diverse range of students in our classrooms, our first thought is to make less options available to them instead of more? We can do so much more for our students by adding to their learning environments than we can by taking things away.
Teach like you’re Leonardo da Vinci. Be curious about everything, and never stop questioning how you can make things better.
[Background music.] [VO: Welcome to The 90 Second Integrationist, episode 8.]
Banksy is the pseudonym for a common, trespassing thug who scrawls graffiti all over other people’s private property.
Banksy is the pseudonym for a talented, important activist who calls attention to the social injustices of his day through intricately planned street art.
Same person. Two different perspectives on him and his work. His rulebreaking style effectively calls attention to social injustices.
Are we willing to break rules, for the right reason?
Monopoly is one of the most popular board games of all time, but nobody plays it by the published rules! Piling money on Free Parking, getting double-salary if you land on “Go!” by exact count, and not collecting rent if you’re in jail are just some examples of the way I grew up playing Monopoly that are not part of the actual rules! We change the rules all the time when it makes the game more fun for us – and that’s the whole reason behind playing a game, to have fun! Whenever the rules stand against the purpose, there is a serious disconnect that has to be addressed.
In education, any rule we have in place that prevents a kid from getting the education they should be getting is a rule that needs to be broken.
Teach like you’re Banksy. Read the rulebook, then rip it up and create something that challenges the accepted wisdom.
[Background music.] [VO: Welcome to The 90 Second Integrationist, episode 7.]
What do architectural design, software design, and instructional design all have in common? At first thought, you might believe “not much”. But let’s look a little deeper.
Architectural design is an amazing combination of creating buildings that have an important function, but that also are aesthetically pleasing. The best architects pride themselves on designing buildings that serve their purpose, and are nice to look at.
Software and web designers do something very similar. They design a program or site for a particular set of functions, and it’s extremely important for the program or site to perform that function very well. But, it’s also important for that program or that website to provide a pleasant experience to the user.
The same need to provide a balanced approach to both essential function and aesthetic appeal factors into the way we design instruction. We don’t fault visitors for not wanting to come to a building that isn’t very functional or that isn’t very pleasant to be in. We don’t fault users for not using a program or website that doesn’t do what they want it to do, or is too hard for them to use for the intended purpose.
We can design quality instruction that does the work of upholding high standards for all students, while providing a warm, inviting environment that engages each student to do his or her very best.
“The differences between our students don’t end at their ankle.”
Based on a video where I collaborated with the good folks at OCALI.
[VO: Welcome to The 90 Second Integrationist, episode 6.]
Here’s an experiment for you to try with a classroom full of students who wear kids’ size shoes.
Ask each student what their shoe size is. Now, if they don’t know it, that’s okay. It’s usually written somewhere on the shoes that they are wearing, so you should be able to find it. Collect everyone’s shoe size, and find the average. Go ahead and round your answer to the nearest half-size.
Once you have the average shoe-size, answer this question. How many students in the classroom is the average shoe size going to fit?
Nobody would propose bringing 20 or 30 pairs of the same size shoe into your classroom and giving every student – or even most students – a well-fitting pair of shoes. Their feet are just too different!
The differences between our students don’t end at their ankle.
When we exclusively use classroom materials based on a hypothetical average, we exclude far more students than we include. Flexible educational materials in a variety of formats, low-tech and high-tech, give all students the opportunity to engage with instruction in a way that best suits their diverse needs. Technology amplifies this built-in flexibility by individualizing support and transforming how we can provide and collect evidence of real learning.
Your classroom is like a shoe store. Do you have something in stock for every student who walks through the door?
[Background music.] [VO: Welcome to The 90 Second Integrationist, episode 5.]
“Podcasting” is a fancy name for recording audio and making it available for others to play using their own devices.
Because podcasts are an audio-only format, it might seem that only certain people can make use of them. Have you ever wondered if people who cannot hear are able to use podcasts? Beyond that, have you ever wondered if people who cannot speak are able to create their own podcasts?
Well, this podcast episode has been produced without a human voice. The voice you are hearing is artificially generated by the Read and Write extension for Google Docs by the texthelp company. The free version of this tool adds text-to-speech capability to websites with selectable text, and Google Docs. Visit texthelp.com to get started with Read and Write for free today!
In addition, every episode of The 90-Second Integrationist has a full transcript available at our blog, designingeducation.org. Podcasts are inherently inaccessible for those with diminished hearing, but multiple formats make the content available to all. Besides helping those with hearing impairments, the text version makes the podcasts searchable, and usable in situations where audio isn’t feasible. Multiple means of representation is one of the three principles of Universal Design for Learning, and it is foundational to providing meaningful access to the curriculum for all students.
[Background music.] [VO: Welcome to The 90 Second Integrationist Podcast, episode 4.]
What was your last “ta-da” moment? What was the last thing that you did that you’re proud of? Was it part of your work, or something you did on your own, perhaps as part of a hobby?
In 2012, Michael I. Norton, Daniel Mochon, & Dan Ariely published a paper on something they called “The IKEA effect”. In essence, “The IKEA Effect” says that we have a natural tendency to highly esteem something we have made ourselves. I like the end table that wobbles a little bit because I invested the time in putting it together. My child likes the stuffed animal he made at Build-A-Bear Workshop more than similar or better quality stuffed animals we have purchased in other places, already completed. We tend to prefer the things that we have invested our own time and skill into creating. We do what we love. We also love what we do.
On the flipside, we can also be much more critical of the work that bears our mark or our name, not wanting our own products to be seen by the general public if they do not meet a ridiculously high self-imposed standard.
So, how do we leverage this human tendency when it comes to applying technology in the classroom?
First, we must support students with opportunities to create their own work for authentic audiences. We must move beyond having them simply answer our questions.
Second, we must support students in the iterative process. When students are supported in developing their own questions and formulating, and improving, their own answers, deeper, more-meaningful learning happens.
[Background music.] [VO: Welcome to The 90 Second Integrationist Podcast, episode 2.]
Once upon a time, a boy turned sixteen. For his birthday, his loving father gave the boy a brand new car. The boy excitedly took the keys and went for a spin! Only two blocks from home, the boy ran over three garbage cans and crashed into a tree. Assessing the wreckage, the father decided he had one course of action to fix the problem: give his son a newer, faster car!
Absurd story? Sure. But, don’t we treat technology in the classroom the same way sometimes? Maybe your test scores aren’t going up, student discipline is poor, and graduation rates still aren’t where we want them. What role does technology play in those situations? Is technology a complete non-factor when it comes to student achievement? Or is the answer to academic deficiencies to be found in buying the next upgrade, the next version, the next “game-changing” technology?
Perhaps the answer is in neither of these approaches.
Just like the young driver in our story, our students have amazing technology at their fingertips. Too often, we spend our time as educators trying to figure out ways to stop them from using it, fearing that the only other option is to turn them loose to let them crash.
When our focus is on the technology instead of the learning, our programs aren’t so much Technology Integration initiatives as they are just Technology Acquisition initiatives. The best successes come when we implement our best available instructional strategies, and use the tools available to support them. That goes beyond Technology Acquisition, and even Technology Integration, to become Technology Transformation.
[Background music.] [VO: Welcome to The 90 Second Integrationist Podcast, episode 1.]
The Internet didn’t need another podcast or another voice talking about education, or technology, or education-and-technology. But, here I am. So, perhaps the best place to start is to let you know why I’m doing this – give you a brief synopsis of what I believe.
In his TED talk “How Great Leaders Inspire Action”, Simon Sinek advocates for the idea that “…people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Go watch the 18-minute video of his 2009 TEDxPugetSound talk, the link is on the website: designingeducation.org
Here’s what I believe: I believe that every student can learn, and can learn to define and achieve what the highest level of success means for them.
I have to thank people like Michael McSheehan and Elise Frattura for challenging me years ago to spend some real time constructing that idea, putting it into words. There are a lot of people who kinda know what they’re about, but they can’t tell it to you. They operate based on a set of values that they have never taken the time to reflect upon. They operate in the “what”, and occasionally in the “how”, but rarely in the “why”. The “why” is a scary place. It requires us to take a stand on something. It makes us be about something. It influences our decisions, our choices, our actions, and our thoughts.
Great ed tech that doesn’t help real kids really learn isn’t really great ed tech.