5 Things We Have to Stop Pretending

What should we stop pretending is good in education?

I was first asked this question by +Nancy Minicozzi when she wrote her "5 Things We Have to Stop Pretending." In her blog post, she challenged me and four other educators to come up with our own five things to change in education. Then, after publishing our post, we must pass the challenge to five other educators.

So how can we #MakeSchoolDifferent? Here are five beliefs I think we should change:
  1. Our digital natives are digitally proficient.
  2. Multiple choice tests and quizzes are effective assessment tools.
  3. A quiet audience is a captivated audience.
  4. We should teach our content areas in isolation and not recognize the importance of cross-curricular connections.
  5. To create an academically rigorous class, teachers need to assign more work, more tests, and more homework.
This next part isn't necessary or a part of the challenge, but I wanted to provide responses to the above five points.
  1. Our digital natives are very adept at using technology for social networking and gaming, but we need to give them opportunities to expand on their skills by letting them practice what I perceive to be the "9 C's of Digital Literacy."
  2. In the real world, we don't take multiple choice tests to demonstrate our skills. We are asked to create products and provide services, neither of which has any resemblance to the summative assessments most students are asked to complete in schools.
  3. Just because students look like they are listening during a lecture, it doesn't mean they are actually learning. Instead, give students the opportunity to practice, explore, and showcase their understanding of a lesson with collaborative work, hands-on learning, and eportfolios. Talk less and have students do more. 
  4. The world is interconnected in so many ways. It's time we showed students the connections.
  5. Learning doesn't have to be hard for it to be valid. Great teachers scaffold their students so that students can successfully meet their learning goals. Excellent educators make difficult-to-learn concepts easy to understand.
Now I pass the challenge to five of my good friends: +Liz Castillo+JR Ginex-Orinion+Jeanne Reed+Lisa Nowakowski, and +Jo-Ann Fox. I look forward to hearing from them and others who come across our blogs. Please use the hashtag #MakeSchoolDifferent to continue the conversation.

Don't Plagiarize! Just Cite It!

Image by Alice Chen / CC0 1.0
It's so easy to avoid plagiarism, and yet many students, and even adults, don't realize this. By definition, plagiarism means to take information (words, concepts, creations, etc.) from another person and present it as your own.  You can easily avoid plagiarism by simply citing the source of the information. However, reusing someone else's creative work is a different topic altogether, and if you are unclear on what this means, then you should read this blog post "Do You Really Have the Right to Reuse That?" to learn more about copyright and fair use.

Below is a great video created by EasyBib that explains how to cite work so that your students don't become plagiarists. Please share this with them so that they can be role models for others.


In-text Citations from EasyBib on Vimeo / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

Also check out this great resource plagiarism.org to learn more about this topic.

Do You Really Have the Right to Use That?

April 2015

Most students, and even educators, don’t think twice about copying and redistributing Web content, not realizing that they may be in violation of copyright laws. As of March 1, 1989 all creations (text, images, videos, etc.), automatically receive this protection even if the creator never formally files for copyright status.

In this post, I’ve put together a quick guide to help educators better understand this concept and to help them teach students the need to respect the work of others.


Quick Guide to Copyright, Fair Use & Public Domain


Copyright
  • Only expressions of ideas are copyright protected.
  • As of March 1, 1989, all work is copyright protected the moment it is created.
  • Copyright registration is not required to copyright a creator’s work.

What fair use usually allows
  • Criticism and comments
  • News reporting
  • Research and scholarship
  • Nonprofit educational uses
  • Parody
  • Non-commercial uses

Does it qualify under Fair Use? How will you use it?
These are the questions usually considered in a court of law when determining fair use.
  • Is this an entirely new creation?
  • What is the purpose of using this work?
  • Will you be competing with the creator of the original work?
  • How much of the original work are you using? (You can only reproduce a small portion of the work.)
  • What quality and essence of the original work are you using? (There is no magic percentage that protects you under Fair Use. If it is the “heart and soul” of the work, even reproducing a minute amount of the work could be considered a violation of copyright laws.)

How to Determine If a Work Is in the Public Domain (United States Only)
The table below is created from information published by Stanford University Libraries’ “Welcome to the Public Domain.”
Publication
In the Public Domain
Work published before 1923
Yes
Work published between 1923 and 1963
Work has copyright status for the first 28 year, but has to be renewed to retain copyright status
Work published between 1993 and February 28, 1989
If the work has no copyright notice and “the law has not made an exception for its omission, then the work is the public domain.”
Work created by the government
Yes

Sources
"Taking the Mystery Out of Copyright (Library of Congress)." 2007. 15 Feb. 2015 <http://www.loc.gov/teachers/copyrightmystery/text/reading/>
"The 'Fair Use' Rule: When Use of Copyrighted Material is ..." 2011. 28 Jan. 2015 <http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/fair-use-rule-copyright-material-30100.html>
"Welcome to the Public Domain - Stanford Copyright & Fair Use." 2013. 25 Jan. 2015 <http://fairuse.stanford.edu/overview/public-domain/welcome/>



This guide cannot be substituted for legal advice and should not be construed as such. The information contained herein is based on the works cited above.

A Trip on the Wild Side: From the Rainforest to the Desert

March 2015

“Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.”

“The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”
By Samuel Taylor Coleridge

According to USGS, the earth’s surface is 71% water. What many students don’t know is that this doesn’t translate into an unlimited supply of drinking water, especially considering that 97% of it is ocean water.

With all lifeforms dependent on water for survival, it’s important that our students understand the role of water and how it affects our present and our future. Bring this lesson to life for your students by joining Kari Vigerstol, senior hydrologist on +The Nature Conservancy's Global Water team, and science teacher Tyler DeWitt as they first visit Seattle’s unique watershed before zipping over to the Verde River, a vital water source for Arizona’s dry desert. During this live broadcast, one classroom will be chosen to participate live using Google Hangouts on Air.

Don't miss this great learning opportunity for your students! Event details are listed below:

“Wild Biomes: From America’s Rainforest to America’s Desert”
April 8, 2015 at 12 pm ET.
Register here for this unique event.

Classes that can watch the field trip live on The Nature Conservancy’s Google+ Channel or they can watch it as a live stream on YouTube at this link. Classes can also watch an archived copy or other Nature Works Everywhere productions by visiting The Nature Conservancy’s YouTube channel.

After watching the virtual field trip, students can continue the learning by using these fantastic supplemental materials:

This virtual field trip is the second in a series of future broadcasts that will examine the interconnectedness of people and nature. This program is designed for students in the third through eighth grade.

Through this program, students will gain a greater awareness and appreciation of the following key concepts:

  • Biomes (temperate rainforest, desert)
  • Water quality
  • Water quantity
  • Pacific Northwest
  • Urban watershed
  • Arizona desert
  • Verde River
  • Geography
  • Rainfall
  • How water affects people and how people affect water
  • Where does your water come from?

The Nature Conservancy is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to preserving the beauty of our natural world. That is why they created +Nature Works Everywhere “to help students learn the science behind how nature works for us -- and how we can help keep it running strong.”

The partnership between us and nature has never been as important as it is now. Do your students understand where we belong in this fragile relationship? Let’s bring this lesson to life for them and help them become our future changemakers!

This blog post is sponsored by We Are Teachers.

The 9 C's of Digital Literacy

March 1, 2015


Today, at my keynote for the California League of Schools Annual Conference North, I will be discussing what I perceive to be the 9 C's of Digital Literacy and how to integrate these skills in a Common Core classroom.

We all know that our digital natives are very at ease with technology. In fact, they’re in love with it, but does that automatically make them digital proficient?

When I originally pondered this question, I began to realize that the 5 C's often discussed in education today - communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and citizenship - needed to be expanded to include these other areas as well: curation, copyright, character and connectedness. I believe that these digital literacy skills are essential for success in today's modern world. It’s more important than ever for educators to teach students how to become digitally literate so that they will be successful in their lives and careers.