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Chapter 3: What Are My Next Steps?

William M. Ferriter Solution Tree Press ePub

Here’s an interesting question: what happens in your classroom when you hand back assignments? If your students are anything like ours, they check their grades and promptly file their papers into binders, recycle bins, or trash cans. That’s discouraging, isn’t it? We spend long hours and late nights filling margins with comments and covering rubrics with check marks only to see students move on without giving our feedback a second thought.

There are lots of reasons why students don’t really care to hear what you have to say about their work. Some have learned to tune out feedback because it has always been too general to be worthwhile. Spend a decade reading vague comments like “Good work,” “I like this,” “Remember to capitalize proper nouns,” and “Don’t forget to indent,” and you would question the value of teacher comments too. Others tune out feedback because it has always been overwhelming. Being buried under a thousand things left to learn can cripple some students. Most, however, are ready to move on simply because that’s the classroom’s regular rhythm. Teachers assign tasks, collect papers, and give grades. Students complete work. The student’s job is to turn something in. The teacher’s job is to score it. Nothing more, nothing less.

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1 Using Social Media Tools to Enhance School Communication Plans

William M. Ferriter Solution Tree Press ePub

Coauthor Eric Sheninger, principal of New Milford High School in New Milford, New Jersey, believes that effective leadership begins and ends with effective communication. He argues, “If we’re going to succeed as a school, I’ve got to get several different stakeholder groups—parents, students, community leaders, and businesses—to buy into a set of core beliefs. That means I’m constantly trying to craft messages that have resonance and trying to deliver those messages in ways that are likely to be heard. In a lot of ways, communication is the most important thing I do every day” (Sheninger, 2010a).Researchers studying school leadership would agree with Eric—communication is the most important thing that he does every day. Hoyle, English, and Steffy (1998) identify communication and community relations as one of the nine most important skills for leaders to master, while Arnold, Perry, Watson, Minatra, and Schwartz (2006) conclude that principals cannot be successful unless they communicate effectively with their publics. Marzano, Waters, and McNulty (2005) support findings from both of these studies, noting that the most accomplished principals establish strong lines of communication throughout the school community, and Strong, Richard, and Catano (2008) emphasize that principals who practice two-way communication engender support for their schools. To put it simply, communication should be the most important thing that you do every day.

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Chapter Five Exploring Collaborative Problem Solving

William M. Ferriter Solution Tree Press ePub

For the students involved in Michael Furdyk’s DeforestACTION initiative (http://dfa.tigweb.org)—an extension of Microsoft’s Asia Pacific Partners in Learning Program designed to empower learners to “take control of the planet that they will inherit” by fighting back against global deforestation—learning is anything but traditional. Instead of working on isolated lessons with small handfuls of individual classmates, participants are mastering required curricular objectives while simultaneously wrestling with a complex real-world problem—a practice that educational expert Michael Fullan (2013) describes as an example of meaningful pedagogy in action:

Over 80,000 students from more than 60 countries are developing as global citizens by collaborating to solve global problems; reviewing and evaluating the causes, impact and politics of deforestation at the local and global levels; analyzing, planning, and organizing by using collaborative technology; preparing and implementing action plans by engaging in interactive activities; and taking part in valuable conversations with peers and mentors. (p. 50)

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Chapter 2: Microlending as an Example of Doing Work That Matters

William M. Ferriter Solution Tree Press ePub

Chapter 2

Microlending as an Example of Doing Work That Matters

My efforts to give students opportunities to change the world for the better began at the breakfast table on Christmas Day in 2008. My family wasn’t awake, so I was sifting through my Twitter stream, checking up on my digital friends. Hiding in a surprisingly long list of warm holiday messages was a 140-character invitation from Karl Fisch (@karlfisch) to join a new Kiva lending team that he had decided to start. Not knowing a thing about Kiva (www.kiva.org)—a website that pairs willing lenders in the developed world with people trying to improve their lives in the developing world—I clicked through to Karl’s blog to learn more.

Karl’s charge was a simple one. He asked his followers to lend twenty-five dollars to an entrepreneur in a poor country and to purchase two twenty-five-dollar Kiva gift certificates to pass on to members of their own learning networks (Fisch, 2008). Knowing that I wanted to help, I took Karl up on his challenge, lending one hundred dollars to a group of women in Bolivia who wanted to start small businesses selling groceries. And I felt remarkable. Not only had I helped struggling families living halfway around the world with nothing more than a simple click, I’d joined a team of like-minded individuals who cared about global poverty.

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Appendix Technology Permission Slip

William M. Ferriter Solution Tree Press ePub

Often, teachers and administrators feel uncomfortable about introducing digital tools to students because of Internet safety risks that are widely reported in the media. These fears are completely understandable! In fact, moving forward with digital projects before articulating specific actions that parents, teachers, and students should take to keep safe online would be nothing short of irresponsible. Teaching students strategies for self-protection is a basic requirement for any educator interested in using digital tools to facilitate instruction.

This document outlines both the reasons that digital tools should play a larger role in classroom instruction and the behaviors expected of parents, teachers, and students in 21st century classrooms. It can be used as a permission slip to generate commitment to Internet safety before digital projects are started.

Dear Parents,

Perhaps the greatest challenge facing parents and teachers is preparing students for a future that is rapidly changing yet poorly defined. New content and information is constantly being created, new partnerships developed across global boundaries are becoming commonplace, and new tools are connecting workers who once would have remained isolated.

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