An edublog about integrating technology into the classroom.
If You Give a Teacher a Mouse
Today I finally finished a project I have been working on with my students. I borrowed this concept from a video that I saw on Teacher Tube and thought it would be a fun way to get our teachers, admin, and tech staff thinking about technology. I had one of my first grade classes record the audio...
At Anastasis Academy, our year begins by building a Learner Profile for every student. Before we’ve even ventured into the school year, we know a tremendous amount about our students. This is the first step for building student agency. Our Learner Profile is made up of six parts:
The Learner Profile Survey (student’s interests/passions)
Multiple Intelligence Strengths
Learning Style Preferences
Parent/guardian hopes and goals for the school year (both social/emotional and academic)
We get a lot of requests for our Learner Profile template. Today, I’m sharing the first piece: the Learner Profile Survey. These are the questions we ask our students each year to get a better understanding of who they are, what makes them tick, what their vulnerabilities are.
To download this resource for FREE, just enter your information below and you’ll receive an email with the Learner Profile Survey PDF!
The complete Learner Profile template is free with purchase of the Learning Genome Project Card Sets that help you determine multiple intelligence strengths, learning style preferences, and brain dominance.
At Anastasis Academy, we’ve decided that above all else, we will value the identity of all of our students. Because this is a core value, we’ve built it into our school year. Before our first day of school, we hold two days that we call “Learner Profile Days.” Parents sign their child up for a one hour, one-on-one conference between the student and teacher. During this hour, our teacher’s job is to get to know the student. We ask a host of questions that inevitably come with nuance and supporting stories. Then the kids interact with Learning Genome card sets to identify their learning style preferences, their multiple intelligence strengths, and their brain dominance. The result is a Learner Profile.
This profile is our starting point for every decision we make. When you begin the year this way, it is impossible to think of students as data points. When you listen to their stories, you learn their feelings, and experiences, and values, and habits of mind, and gain a picture of who they are.
You can do this, you can make the decision to take time out of your first weeks of school and gain a picture of who your students are. What do you value?
The anatomy of a Learner Profile:
Student Name- In the whole of history, there has never been another one just like them. With this name comes unique gifts, passions, and a vantage point on the world. With this name comes unique genius all their own. The student name is a bold reminder of the identity.
Interests/Passions- This is where we begin to learn about student passions, their likes and dislikes, their hurts, and the things that make them feel alive. In this one-on-one interview, we hear stories, often these questions will lead students down a thought trail that gives us insight.
Learning Style Preference- Learning Style preferences do not indicate that this is the only modality that the student can learn with; however, when we know the preferences that a student has we can make better decisions about introducing new learning. We discover Learning Style Preferences through the Learning Genome Card Set.
Multiple Intelligence Strengths- Howard Garner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences details eight distinct intelligences. All learners have the capacity to learn and understand in a variety of ways, each learner differs in their strengths of these intelligences. Discovering a students unique mixture of strengths allows us to better direct students in learning and curiosity. We discover Multiple Intelligence Strengths through the Learning Genome Card Set.
Brain Dominance- Learning about a student’s preference in brain dominance allows us to make better decisions about how we design our classroom, how we design learning experiences, and how students will approach learning and assessment. We discover Brain Dominance through the Learning Genome Card Set.
Strengths Finder- This is where we gain insight into our students strengths and the way passion can collide with learning experiences. We use Thrively.
On Tuesday I had the distinct honor of chatting with @thenerdyteacher on The Nerdy Cast. Nick and I have been buds for years, working on various projects together, talking education and pop culture. You can listen to our whole Nerdy Cast chat which includes our humble adventures in blogging, starting Project PLN , starting a school and my newest project, The Learning Genome.
Okay, here is the thing, we (the collective we) have exactly 25 days to raise $83,570. This number represents change. This number represents personalized learning for our kids. This number represents revolution.
It is big. But not that big. Not that impossible. We can do this. One dollar at a time. When you view this campaign you will see suggested donation levels beginning at $5 and going all the way to $5,000. Those are merely suggestions. If we all take a minute out of our day, chip in one dollar, spread the word to one other person, this project is completed in no time. Are we willing to give up a cup of coffee (and a cheap one at that!) to make education better for all?
We often wax poetic about changing education. This, right here, is your opportunity to really do it. I wish I had a trust fund hiding out somewhere that could make this happen. That just isn’t the case. So here I am, shamelessly asking you for a dollar. Kind of like an internet panhandler.
Big, sweeping changes don’t seem to happen overnight, as quickly as we might like. Thirty, forty, or a hundred years go into those sweeping changes: race relations, animal testing, women’s rights, recognition of addiction as a disease. And yet, in each case, there was a turning point. Those handful of pivotal moments when someone(s) decide it must be different and that in this moment in time, change will begin.
For me, this pivotal change happened in October of 2010. Two years ago. That moment of “it must be different” led to a school. Anastasis Academy. In many ways, Anastasis feels like it happened over night (we started a school in 4 short months!) and in other ways, it feels like it will take years before the vision of Anastasis is realized.
Sweeping changes happen over time. Often, they are hardly noticeable as they are happening. This explains the 5 year old, struggling through their ABC’s who is ‘suddenly’ reading. When did that happen?!
People often ask why I don’t write more about Anastasis. The whole process has been incredibly organic and hard to describe to someone who isn’t seeing it unfold with me. I can tell you about students who are becoming fully alive and discovering that they love learning. Until you see this happen before you, until you hear the students talk about it, it is really a weak representation of what is happening. Here we are in year two. In a lot of ways, it has felt like a harder beginning. This is strange in light of what happened last year…starting a school in 4 months from a place of zero. I think it feels harder because the vision of what could be is being more fully defined and dreamed up each day. There is this sense of frustration that it isn’t here yet.
The change is hardly noticeable as it’s happening. It is organic and creeping. Sometimes I overhear students talking animatedly about figuring out ratios, and exclaiming over learning what portion of the population lives on less that $1.25/day, the change is happening. The vision is being realized one moment at a time. These kids are becoming fully alive. Those teaching them are doing the same. We hear parents describe what we do to others.
This is community.
This is family.
This is church.
This is Anastasis.
This is the beginning of sweeping change, where students can be fully alive and learn how to properly manage their freedom.
So, we will go on wishing that we could already see the full realization of this vision, but we will also rest in the hardly-noticeable moments of change in this journey. We will appreciate the moments in time that keep everything from happening at once. We will rejoice as we watch it all unfold in it’s perfection. We will wait anxiously for the day when this type of learning is available to children everywhere in the world.
***While we wait, consider joining in this mission to help students be “fully alive” in their learning. Donate and spread the word about the Learning Genome Project. This is the vehicle we will use to share this vision with ALL children.
Schools often talk about professional development as if it is the key to a successful school. I’m not convinced more professional development is the answer. I think it’s all about culture. When you have people who come together around passion, who enjoy each other, who have a common mission: that changes everything.
Our teacher handbook doesn’t look like most. It was inspired by creative companies like Valve and Apple. We are a group of rebels here. Our handbook had to reflect that.
We are on a mission to humanize learning. We are on a mission to make personalized learning available to EVERY child in the world. Please help us spread the word. Donate, tweet, blog, and email others about the Learning Genome Project.
*** If you need the cliff notes version of this post, skip down to the Call to Action section!
Last year I had a “hunch” about learning…specifically about curriculum. That hunch turned into a full fledged idea and a mission to do better for kids. Everywhere. Along the line I met some truly incredible people who taught me things I didn’t know how to do before. Like wire framing (thanks @ianchia), and pitching ideas (thanks @houseofgenius), and how to go about picking up programmers (thanks @toma_bedolla). Now I’m ready to share the culmination of all this work with you.
This isn’t just a post to tell you about what I’m doing, it is a call to action for everyone (yes, even you). It is a request for you to join me in this mission in whatever form that may take.
I have a vision: to make personalized learning a reality for EVERY child.
“The problem with curriculum and textbooks is that they complete thoughts. Curriculum and textbooks give the impression that learning has an end. That when you have made it from cover to cover, the job is done. I know in my own schooling this was true, I thought that school was teaching me what was important and that anything outside of the curriculum wasn’t important or relevant to my life…wouldn’t they have included it otherwise? How did curriculum get this way? Well, people realized that there was no possible way to cover every facet of learning, so they stripped it down to what they thought was important. The problem? What is important to you may not be what is important to me. What’s more, something that is very important to me may have been cut all together so I don’t even get the chance to know that it is important to me. Humans tend to like things that are definable, we like things that we can put into a neat, orderly box and carry out in a predictable way. It feels safe and manageable. This is what led me to the following hunch:
What if curriculum was more flexible? What if curriculum/schools/learning looked more like Pandora. If you aren’t familiar with Pandora, it is an online radio station that plays the music that it thinks you will like. You type in an artist or song and it creates a customized radio station just for you. It is remarkably accurate. Pandora almost never gets it wrong for me. It is like they have a direct line to my brain and can predict what song I would like to hear next. When it is wrong, I can give the song a thumbs down and it apologizes profusely for the error and promises never to play that song again on my station. The other thing I love about Pandora: I can have multiple radio stations. Because sometimes I really couldn’t think of anything in the world better than Frank, Dean, and Sammy; but other times I also want a little Timberlake, Whitestripes, or Bangles. What if curriculum looked like that? What if learning happened as a result of typing in one subject or topic that a student was enamored with and a completely personalize learning journey began playing out for them? What if students were led through a journey that was completely customized? What if they had several stations mapped out for them?”
I believe this is possible. I believe it is within our reach to create a completely personalized learning experience to every unique child. I believe that we can honor humanity instead of treating our kids like widgets in a factory. I believe that teachers should be teachers, focused on the needs and development of the child instead of teaching the masses through scripted curriculum.
The Learning Genome Project will empower teachers and parents to become engineers of learning by providing each individual student the exact content they need, at the exact moment they need it. The Learning Genome will enable students to explore the process of inquiry, experimentation, discovery and problem solving. Instead of learning how to pass the next test, we will enable students to construct meaning and learn how to transfer that meaning to new life context. At the hub, the Learning Genome is a platform that aggregates resources and, using a series of algorithms, provide recommendations of the BEST resources to meet the individual learning needs of a specific child. The Learning Genome creates those serendipitous moments of finding just the right learning tool to meet the needs of children at the right time.
Much like Pandora finds that perfect piece of music, the Learning Genome will find the perfect piece of learning material to aid the student in learning. The key to the Learning Genome’s success is crowd sourcing. I will be drawing on educators around the world (that’s you!) to help me tag curriculum, books, lessons, videos, apps, websites and other educational content. This collection of tagged content lives in the centralized “cloud” and wil allow users around the world to find and access materials that best suit student needs. By gathering information about the individual student’s learning style preferences, multiple intelligence strengths, social/emotional levels, interests and passion, the Learning Genome can help teachers to create customized learning maps for each individual. This portion will be free. Every child deserves a unique learning experience.
In addition to the Learning Genome Hub (the aggregate), the site will include a complete Student Information System, planning tools, e-portfolios, e-learning, individual learning plans, assessment and blogging tools. All of these will work seamlessly together for you go-to for learning and planning.
4. Tweet about this project…a lot. Let’s completely take over the Internet with tweets about the Learning Genome and taking over education for kids! Please make sure to link back to the indiegogo campaign so that others can learn about it! Use the hashtag #standagain (because after all, we are helping children “stand again” in their learning)
6. Mention us on Facebook and like us on Facebook!
7. Did I mention spread the word? Seriously, that is SO helpful! You never know who might see that tweet and drop a couple thousand (or more) to make this project go!
8. Time is of the essence. I have 40 days starting NOW to make this happen. eeek! I need your help!
So, what are the perks to helping with this project?
$5 gets your name on the Learning Genome Change Makers page. You are changing education. That makes you a big deal. I want everyone to know what a big deal you are! I know many of you don’t think that your $5 can do anything. Wrong. According to my cluster map, I have hundreds of thousands of visits to this blog. If each of you pitches in…we all win fast!
$10 Remember all those cool Bloom’s Taxonomy posters I made? This campaign is now the ONLY place you can get them. These are 8.5″ x 11″ versions of the poster.
$30 Learning Genome beta tester. You get the inside scoop and ability to play before ANYONE else. I know, pretty cool.
$60 EXCLUSIVE A full size large-format print of my Bloomin’ Peacock mailed to you. That awesome little Peacock looks even better large. Did I mention this is the ONLY place you will get a big version of this?
$500 Even more EXCLUSIVE you get all of my Bloom’s re-imagine posters in the large format. Perfect for your classroom, library or as a gift to your favorite teachers.
$1000 My Searching for daVinci webinar for your school. What better way to spend your professional development dollars than learning how to create a daVinci like culture of learning at your school? Worth it!
$5000 For my corporate friends who want to see their logo in lights as a company that supports education and changing the world. If you have an education company, The Learning Genome Project will be the place to be seen.
We have $85,000 to raise. It sounds like a big number. We can do it together. I figured if I am going to lean on crowdsourcing to transform education, the funding should be crowdsourced too. How awesome will it be to join together as an education community to say, together we transformed the way learning is done. We changed things for every child in the world. Yeah, it’s big.
I am currently working on a website for the school (Anastasis) I am starting. This is a different model than most parents will be familiar with so I am finding myself working on ways to flesh out just what learning looks like in this new model. One of the pages I have created is titled “Educational Framework”. I would love your input on the descriptions below as well as the graphic.
The framework below illustrates the educational approach of Anastasis and the synthesis of:
Inquirers: The combination of child, teacher, mentors, family, and friends in pursuit of a question.
The Cycle of Inquiry: The cycle that lead learners use to facilitate learning; inquire, investigate, plan, customize instruction, collaborate, construct meaning, create, evaluate, reflect and revisit.
Academic Content Areas: Nine areas are explored to help learners achieve standards and developmental benchmarks; language arts, social studies, science, mathematics, physical awareness/health/play, spirituality, social/emotional learning, arts, and global citizenship.
Learning Habits/Disciplines: Distinct habits and disciplines are assumed by the students as they approach learning. These disciplines support and assist the learning process.
Technology: Technology permeates learning in this blended learning model. Students use technology to build: functional skills, effective communication, collaboration, ability to find and select information, critical thinking/evaluation, cultural/social understanding, eSafety, and creativity.
Learning Genome: The Learning Genome makes it possible to customize and personalize learning for every student by taking into account; the student profile (interests, passions, developmental levels, learning styles, abilities, etc.), the school profile (resources available), the individualized learning plan (created by lead learner, student, and parents), Standards/benchmarks/scope and sequence, and tagged curriculum.
In addition to the graphic above, I have created an animation of the same graphic. In the animation, each section builds on the previous section so that the graphic is revealed in manageable pieces. The audience for the graphic is parents so I am trying to keep educational jargon to a minimum.
I realize there is a lot of information on the Graphic but really want to paint a picture of what I am referring to under each heading…I don’t want to assume that parents will fill in those blanks on their own.
So, what do you think? Suggestions and recommendations are welcome!
Last night I presented an idea and project I have been working on since September at House of Genius. It was a fantastic experience, now I invite all of you to be my House of Genius and add your 2 cents at Dreams of Education.
I wrote this last week but didn’t do a Friday recap so I’ll share it this week 🙂 A call for education to be more Da Vinci like.
I am currently working with two schools in town. One I am taking from zero technology to a 1 to 1 environment– it has been a fun experience for all of us. I am helping the other school roll out a social media plan, equally fun experience!
I don’t know about you all but I NEED this 3 day weekend. Can you see me jumping up and down?! I wish you all a wonderful, restful weekend!