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10 things any teacher can do with technology to upgrade their class.

There are lots of ways teachers can upgrade to more 21st century, digitally-relevant classrooms and lessons. Here are 10 that just about any teacher with Google Apps and even limited tech skills can do.

1. Publish work online. Students work harder and produce more quality work when they are creating with a world audience in mind. Publishing written work, websites, or even pictures of projects is fairy easy and not terribly time consuming. Make use of your class website to create links to a shared folder, or shared document created in Google Drive to share with the outside world.

2. Grade less. If you hesitate to assign larger projects due to the labor involved in grading them fairly and efficiently, make use of simple applications such as Google Forms to have students both self-grade and peer-grade projects. It produces far more authentic feedback, and takes less time to manage than doing the grading yourself. Even if you are not comfortable ceding that responsibility to the students, make use of forms or other digital applications to easily whip through your rubric and give accurate, speedy, and detailed feedback.

3. Make your materials available online. With Google Sites or Google Classroom, you may never need to chase make-up work packets again. Train students to look online for what they missed in their absence, even if it is right there in your room (assuming you have at least one student device). Use your school’s scanner to make digital copies, even if your classroom materials aren’t. After all, you are probably already at the copier making copies, right? If possible, make yourself a digital copy while you are there!

4. Offer a backchannel. During movies, labs, or any activity that might call for some quiet reflection, use, Twitter, or the discussion board attached to Edmodo, Moodle, or Schoology to open a background discussion about what is going on. You may need to discuss etiquette and expectations, but it can be a way to get even the quiet ones into the game!

5. Foster collaboration. Use shared documents, spreadsheets, or slideshows to allow several students to create at once. Live-time collaboration is a real-world skills. Get kids involved early on. Why should 32 kids each write their own essay, when groups of three can discuss the topic, and use higher-level thinking skills to decide what the most relevant information is to be added, and then practice teaming skills as they create something together.

6. Upgrade traditional materials. Why use paper maps when Google Maps is considerably more educational? Why use traditional timelines when digital ones can use videos and images? Why make a poster when they can make a website. If the devices are available, there is little reason to use obsolete materials.

7. Get connected. There is so much to learn from colleagues outside our district. Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest are just a few ways to connect with thousands of other educators that teach just what you teach. Connect with them and save a step on that new unit, or get a great idea to upgrade your next lesson!

8. Trust the students as learners. Want to try that new tool in your class, but no time to learn it? Who said you have to? Great teachers are fearless, and are willing to say, “ok, gang. Today we are going to try to see how PowToon works. Let’s see what it does!” Students are fine with this. They love being involved in the investigation and experiment process. Have them show you when they figure things out, and then share with everyone. I’ve taught entire courses this way.

9. Ask for help. Chances are, your district has specialists, coaches, or peers who would be more than happy to help facilitate something new. However, they can’t read your mind. Share what your learning goals are, and see who can help. If no one can, see #7 or #8 above.

10. Work smarter. Try to remind yourself that the technology way might be a bit more work on the front end, but almost always pays double on the back end. Sure setting your classes up on Google Classroom takes a bit of time, but once students are submitting work online, and you are able to manage it efficiently and from anywhere, the dividends pay. Setting up your site might take time, but you can use it over and over again for a long time. Invest in the front end and reap the benefits.


Bonus tip: When in doubt, ask Google. Ask the question directly in the search bar: “How do I add pictures to a Prezi” or “how do I set up a Google Form?” You will get videos and written help.




Choice projects in the 21st century.

The school project has evolved, and it is exciting for students and teachers. It may take a big shift, but many teachers are reaping the benefits!

The olden-days way to assign a project was to give specific instructions as to how each individual component was to be completed. This was less learning opportunity than learning recipe. If students assembled the ingredients in the correct manner, they got a good grade. There was little interest in displaying knowledge or learning, just completion.

Eventually, most of these projects gave in to a less compliance-based experience. It has been popular for some time to have choice projects. In this model, students are to show their learning by doing any one of several designated projects. The best part of this model is that students can seek the type of project that best suits their learning style and interests. Choices may have included poster, diorama, skit, model, etc. The more tech-savvy of these projects may come with several digital tools which students may choose to show their learning.

Even better, is a real shift in the teaching and learning dynamic. I call this the choice project on steroids. The students learn the entry-level material and are given several open-ended questions to research. The project is literally the display of learning.  In this project-based model, the means of showing learning is not specified, only the final criteria for evaluation. The instructor creates or collaborates with students to create a rubric that represents the ideal learning represented in the project. Quality indicators may include professionalism, accuracy, research, product, fidelity, etc. Notice that there are few references here to the poster or website. Students will choose those as they please. One student may begin preliminary research and feel they can adequately show learning through the building of a scale model. Another student who is adept using Photoshop, may choose to show what they have learned by way of a video scrapbook. Another student whose passion is music may express the learning in an epic ballad. Minecraft model? Why not? Does it meet the learning targets? If so, go nuts!

The beauty of the third model is that it is the learning that is the focus of the effort, not the medium. When the learning targets are emphasized, the resulting in increased autonomy and self-direction, as well as increased learning. Students enjoy the openness of the challenge, and the ability to build upon their passions. Some students may need a bit of a nudge, so it is a good idea for teachers to allow for some brainstorming and sharing or proposals early, so students can bet a better idea what they can do based on the choices of others.

There are a few keys to making this kind of project meaningful: First are clear learning goals and criterion by which learning can be evaluated. This should be built into a detailed rubric. Second is enough research or exploration to happen BEFORE the manner of learning expression is chosen. Finally, a reflective proposal is important so students build their own parameters and plan to follow.

Top 10 #edtech gripes and excuses, and how to answer them…

As an integrationist, I hear a lot of gripes about educational technology. Some complaints and criticisms are valid and well-deserved, and some are stupid, mean-spirited and detrimental to students. Sometimes the best move it to let it be. Sometimes it is good to respond with a logical, rational response. Here are some of the gripes I hear most often and a suggested response. I’ll leave the judgment as to when to use the responses and the intensity of said response to the tastes of the individual user.

I’m tech illiterate / I’m not good with technology.
Hogwash. By using this defense, people shift away responsibility.  The implication is that some people are naturally wired to be good with technology, and once they declare themselves “not,” they get a pass on any responsibility to remain current. Remind them that there is no such thing as someone who is “tech savvy.” The honest truth is that the only difference is in how brave people are. So-called “tech-savvy” people are simply more brave and unafraid of technology. They may, in fact, be far worse at learning how things work than anyone else. As gently as appropriate, help them understand this distinction is far more about interest than ability. The expectations of students and parents do not allow for anyone to get a pass from educators who are not interested in technology enough to be relevant in today’s world.

We don’t have enough machines. Maybe the complaint is that the school or district is not 1:1, or that there is a premium on shared devices. Either way, it becomes easy for some educators to throw up their hands and decide that if they can’t get 24/7 device access for all students, then there is no point in ever utilizing technology. This is a perfect opportunity to share with them the research by Dr. Sugata Mitra (either by paraphrase or with one of the videos) that proved that kids often learn even better when sharing a digital device than when they each have one. His research, among many other monumental discoveries, showed that kids learn intensely even if many students use one device. Most of the time this is a feeble excuse that deflects a lack of ingenuity or effort, but when this is a genuinely held belief, teachers should be supported as they explore any of the many alternatives to having 1:1 devices. Shared machines, home digital work, and “bring your own tech (BYOT)” strategies could all be employed, often in concert, to achieve a richer learning experience for all.

I don’t trust the internet connection enough to do online work. This gripe is about the ghost of past experiences and the fallacy of the rare event being thought of as common. How often is the internet really down?  Have some real data. With little doubt, your institution has comparable internet up times to any other educational institution and probably better than most other institutions. In the case of my district, I can safely say that our internet is up nearly 99.5% of the time school is in session, and I can bet that beats my home state’s giant institutions like 3M, The University of Minnesota, Target (Corporate), or United Healthcare. But let’s say, for sake of argument, that the internet is down 10% of the time (nearly impossible by today’s standards). Even if the internet were down that often, an innovative educator would still be able to provide rich instruction nine lessons out of ten, compared with zero for the person who uses this as an excuse as to why they refuse to use internet-based content or instruction. It’s a flimsy excuse, and it needs to be reframed consistently so people see the occasional outage as a part of life, and not an indication of a faulty system.

What happens when something goes wrong? I often wonder how people who ask this when considering digital-age lesson strategies are able to function in daily life. As a teacher, I have had walls broken through during construction projects, water pipes burst, fire drills, epileptic seizures, violent outbursts, lost or stolen materials, and any number of a thousand more unplanned, unexpected problems while teaching. Good teachers just tango on. Sure, sometimes things in digital-based lessons don’t work. So what? Tango on. What if they ask a question I don’t know the answer to? Ask the group. Educators need to let go of the idea that they must master a technique or tool before using it with students. That’s not realistic, nor is it realistic to expect everything to be perfect. Instead, educators need to trust that students can learn together, and that trying and encountering problems is a part of life. Shouldn’t we be modeling this for our students? Best answer: things WILL go wrong, don’t let that stop you.

Kids already use too much technology. Yes, young people use a lot of technology. Trouble is, the ways in which they use technology tend toward very slim applications, namely social interaction and absorption of media. Educators have a responsibility to help them see how to learn with technology. We can guide very rich learning experiences that will become a cornerstone of their work and life in the future. Don’t assume that since they use a lot of technology, they know how to use it for learning and creating. Most need help with this. If this is a value judgment from an educator, remind them that the past is past. We are preparing them for a digitally-rich society (which it already is). We do them no favors by dragging them back to the 20th century to learn and grow.

I never got training on this! This is perhaps the most valid gripe or excuse on this list. Certainly there is an expectation that certain tools and techniques are taught to employees, especially those that are part of mandated use, such as a learning management system or parent portal. Trouble is, this can’t be a catch-all excuse. There is a responsibility for all educators to stay at least marginally current on technology. Some educators can literally not be bothered to learn anything even remotely technology-adjacent unless they are formally trained. Picture the young child whose parent drags them through the store while the little one drags feet and whines. What’s in it for the child? They get to do as little as possible and train the parent not to bring them along the next time. So it is with some educators. By using this as an excuse, they put the pressure back on the administration, tech staff, or their peers, and also train them to ask less and less over time. Feet-draggers need to be reminded that willful ignorance is a choice and cannot be alleviated by a training session. Kindly explain that there are many opportunities online to learn what is not offered formally, and that there is support as they catch up. For some, it is good to make it clear that the needs of the large group will dictate that they keep moving forward, with or without a willful straggler. This is a tough discussion, but one that technology professionals and administrators need to have with those who have decided to challenge the system by demanding to be spoon-fed the kinds of skills most adults instinctively gain by being a part of society.

Why do it that way when the traditional way is easier?  Sometimes this is a really valid question. Most of the time it is a crutch and excuse. The key response here is “is the easier way relevant in today’s world?” Most of the time it is false equivalency: “why use Notability when a traditional notebook will do just fine?” Sure. sounds reasonable. But can the traditional notebook be shared? Collaborated on? Saved in multiple formats? Annotated? Illustrated? Disseminated and analyzed? Probably not, and that’s just an ordinary example. The best response here is whether it is easier for the students or the teacher? Is there any upgrade to the digital-age method? Finally, educators need to be reminded that if it’s all the same otherwise, we have a responsibility to model digital-age methods wherever possible, so students have a sense of how professionals use digital tools effectively. Today’s students are not likely to ever use paper and pencil for important professional tasks, if they ever do at all.

We just got training on this tool, and now that technique is already replacing it. What’s the use? Ok, this is sometimes a generational thing, and sometimes just an unfortunate consequence of our fast-paced society. It really can’t be helped. The best tool or technique for the job is bound to change from year to year. Tech directors and integration specialists can help minimize the whiplash, but there is no other alternative but to stay current. Students tend to be much more resilient to this than most educators. Response: that’s the world we live in. The alternative is to obsolete ourselves. We must stay current to the best of our ability. The days of mastering a particular tool and owning that for a decade are over, and they will never return. Look at tech skills not as owning, but as renting until you trade it in for something better.

I’m just not interested in technology in education or anywhere else. I’m a traditionalist. Great. Enjoy that in your private life. Being an educator means that you put the student’s needs first. If it is good for students, but you don’t care for it, too bad. It’s not about you, it’s about them. Get over yourself. For more on this, read THIS great blog post by Dr. Scott McLeod.

I don’t have the time. This is the grand-doozy of them all, because in essence this statement is true for most teachers. Teachers are being asked, year after year, to do more with less, to promote programs and participate in initiatives rarely of their choosing, and to give up quality instruction and connection time to make way for a litany of tests and evaluations. I was there. I see it. It’s true. You don’t have any extra time. I get it. I really, really do. So, with that in mind, let’s embrace ways to alleviate the stress and create time? Let’s digitize materials and save some trips to the copier every time someone needs a copy of something. Let’s learn how to really use productivity tools so we don’t spend an hour of each day sorting email. Let’s have students take on the role of evaluator so you don’t have to take 150 assignments home to grade every evening. The person who most needs to embrace educational technology is the teacher hanging on by a thread. I know, I lived it. I almost walked away from my profession. Then I got smart. I streamlined my most wasteful minutes and got back time to teach and think on important things. It is very difficult to trust that the front-end work will pay dividends tenfold on the backend, but it does. We need to answer this question with real empathy. It is a real anxiety in teachers, and it is something that we can help with. Remind them that teachers all over the world, in even more stressful situations, thrive by using tools to become more efficient educators.

In the end, whether you are a tech professional, an administrator or coach, we need to make sure that educators remember every day and every hour that we work for the children, and their needs are our priority. Caring teachers make adjustments necessary to be meaningful to their students, and poor teachers hide behind excuses and inflexibility.

Some good questions about flipping…

I was contacted by a graduate student this week concerning some questions she had on the flipped classroom. Her questions were fair and thought-provoking. Here are the questions and my responses:

Audrey Misirua:

I am wondering about the common criticism of flipping that not all students have access to technology and Internet outside of the classroom. Is that a concern for Princeton students? Do our students have devices provided by the school?

In my experience, there is indeed a percentage with limited or zero access at home to the internet, either due to financial restraints, or the literal lack of services in rural areas. Nationwide, the students most likely to be impacted by lack of reliable internet are from the inner-city and rural areas, both for the same reason: providers simply do not offer high-speed internet in some areas. I have some research on this if you are really interested, but there it is. Some kids won’t have access.

The majority, however, do. We need to offer the richest learning experience possible for as many students as possible, and then see who needs help getting access. In Minnesota, with the exception of dense urban areas of Minneapolis and St. Paul and some rural communities, most school students have reliable access, at least 85% and usually closer to 95% in most cases. So, what do we do with the 10% or so who do not? Well, we need to treat that as an inequity. The school and teachers need to commit to making that learning experience available with no extra work, anxiety, or shame on the students who need the help.  Some schools have checkout machines and even mobile hotspots available for use by students. Some schools make labs open for morning, lunchtime, and after school as a casual access point. Some simply have hard-copy and analog materials available to any student who needs them. The point is, there are equitable arrangements that can be made to include students in this learning. The burden of making it work, however, needs to fall completely on the school and teachers.

Also, I wonder what you recommend regarding the frequency of the flipped lessons. Once a week? More often, less often? Do you use Khan Academy or other ready-made presentations or do you recommend that teachers produce their own content videos? Have you found that teachers, students and parents are generally favorable to the flipped classroom concept?

This is a question I don’t hear asked enough. Frequency matters a lot! Some teachers are having lousy success doing a daily flipped lesson. They find the shine wears off very quickly and students get burned out on watching videos. It is also difficult for some students to get access on busy nights, so flexibility is key. My preference, and one that seems to work well, is no more than two per week, and no more than 6 minutes of video each. The University of Minnesota recently completed some really interesting research on the flipped classroom in Stillwater Schools, and found that most flipped classrooms led to lower engagement over time, even if initial engagement was high. Students surveyed listed video length (some were 20 minutes+) and frequency (most teachers were assigning one per day) as reason they didn’t care for it. Regardless, overall achievement did increase, but enjoyment and morale suffered severely. The study recommended short videos and long due dates, which compliments my own experiences.

As far as content, I really don’t care where a video comes from. If it’s accurate and effective, it shouldn’t matter. However, students in the U of M study indicated that they preferred the videos their classroom teacher produced more than the Khan ones. The students frequently cited that they missed the personal interactions that happened when they worked with their own teacher, even if it was on video. Statistically, I am not aware that there are any major differences between well made teacher videos or those that are pre-made. Some teachers do not have the confidence to make their own videos, so the pre-made ones are the only options.

The time bomb in the middle of the flipped concept is the critical mass. If a seventh grade student has one teacher who flips lessons, and has 5 minutes of video and follow-up at home, that tends to be pretty manageable. However, if that poor student gets five teachers each assigning 15 minutes of video each, each with follow-up work, that student will be buried in schoolwork at the time they are to be spending time with family, doing extra-curricular activities, and having personal time. I think the threshold is not monitored in most schools, and it can be a detriment to students as teachers embrace this instructional strategy more over time. There needs to be some limits and coordination set up by building leaders or within instructional teams in order to make it manageable and effective for all students.

Finally, does flipping work for elementary students as well?

Flipping in the true sense is not really a good fit for elementary students, but I do see many teachers extending the classroom with offerings of online practice and enrichment tools such as IXL, a math facts practice site. I see sites such as this used down to the lower grades. I cannot speak for the success of these. My own children did not respond well to these sites in the lower grades, but have no major complaint in the intermediate grades (4-6).


Please follow Audrey Misiura on Twitter at

Skeptical toward Ed Reforms? You should be.

A friend and colleague of mine is known for quipping that 56% of all statistics are made up on the spot. He, of course, changes the number each time to drive home his joke. But there is a certain truth to that statement, too, isn’t there?

Well, it is with that statement in mind that I offer the following dubious ratio for your consideration. Decide for yourself whether the notion holds any weight.

Be 30% skeptical regarding all education reforms and trends.

Why 30%?  No reason, only that I think we tend to sometimes give either too much trust, or too little to education reforms. 30% seems right to me, and it’s my blog.

Those who have been in the arena of public education for a while will no doubt have seen many reforms come, and some go over the years. This leads to a healthy skepticism that usually sounds kind of like, “Ah! This is just another version of that thing we did back then! Get off my lawn!”  Actually those voices tend to be TOO skeptical. They treat anything new as bad or tired, because they hate change, and think it’s all the same. They are also right. Lots of today’s reforms are repurposed ideas from the past. Marzano’s work is based on Bloom, Dufour recalls Dewey, and Danielson draws heavily from Madeline Hunter…and all of them from each other, too. The point is, treating an experienced teacher as if they have had a head injury because they have noticed similarities between pedagogical strategies over the years is really stupid. Anyone who has done any educational research knows they are right.

So, why is it so bad? Why is calling the establishment out on this revolving door of ideas so wrong? Well, it starts with the blanket rejection. Do those Marzano naysayers reject Marzano because they firmly believe the Bloom approach is superior? Rarely. Instead they blanket reject any of it, the repetition of ideas simply serves as a convenient excuse.  Another reason this is dangerous is that like any research, education researchers build better ideas, methods, and strategies upon what went before to improve, replicate, or prove an idea. In many cases the modern version of an education reform is enhanced from its predecessor. The infusion of modern technology or the framing of the idea in the context of a modern classroom is crucial for great ideas to thrive.  We need to remind ourselves that at the core of this revolving door is something that is really effective or really good. We need to trust that a bit more.

HOWEVER, if we take that packaged, shiny, brand new reform hook, line, and sinker with no skepticism at all, we become products ourselves. There is a lot of money and power at stake in education. Bill Gates is influencing education in major ways, State governors have pushed through a universal curriculum known as Common Core, and textbook publishers are bending the truth to the wishes of their political backers.  We cannot afford to take “popular” as good pedagogy. We need to have a healthy skepticism toward packaged institutional education reforms. It may be good stuff. It might not be. In most cases, I think it comes down to how it is implemented.

I have noticed that newer teachers and administrators lack this skepticism, and tend to be more likely to jump on reform bandwagons without question. The drive for higher standardized scores and more effective core instruction fuels this, but so does the notion that all new educators are change agents. Like the different skill levels of cooks, not every educator is a natural at inspiring change. Some need a recipe. They are enamored by products already assembled to help.  This can be a dangerous combination. It is entirely possible for a new administrator working with many inexperienced teachers to decide on, adopt, and implement an entire system of pedagogy without even fully understanding how it works, or whether it is likely to produce favorable results. Five years down the road, everyone wonders what the rationale was in the first place, and no one knows. Worse yet is the administration who becomes so enamored by a major shift that they cannot unbiasedly judge it and confront problems with the system head-on.

So, I propose the 70/30% rule. With anything new that comes down the education pipe, let’s all collectively, regardless of experience and previous knowledge, take a 30% skeptical stance, and ask it a few very basic questions before we jump on the bandwagon:

  • Is it good for kids?
  • Is it REALLY good for kids? The whole child, not just the part we are testing?
  • How do we know it is good for kids? Are there multiple measures of effectiveness?
  • Is there qualitative research from case studies and pilots in similar schools with similar students?
  • Is there money at the front-end of it? Who stands to profit or advance?
  • What is the check and balance? What structures will help us know whether we are seeing the results we expected? Are we seeing any side-effects? Are we admitting those or just ignoring them?
  • Which parts of this are recycled? What is the upgrade?

Be skeptical, but be also ready for change. Once these questions are adequately addressed, it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work. Education does need some reforming. We are the ones to do it. Let’s just go about it like the smart people we are!

Six factors that explain why educational action research is being snuffed out.

I’m noticing a trend, and I wonder if anyone else is noticing it.

When I was working on my Master’s back in the oughts, the big push was for meaningful action research in schools and classrooms. If you are unfamiliar with this term, don’t feel bad, many of us at the time were as well. Action research, in short, is the deliberate experimentation with teaching methods in the classroom or school, following typical scientific processes like building hypothesis, data collection, reflection, etc. The great thing about this effort was that it really got teachers involved in the change process. They created their own evidence to rationalize what worked and what didn’t, and it was completely defensible when done correctly. “Why don’t you have students do poster projects?” “Because we did some action research on extinction of knowledge for visual learners, and found that our students retained that knowledge far better if they built websites.” Easy. People collected this on-the-ground research on blogs, sites, and in books, and it informed best practices. Then it didn’t. At least, it doesn’t in the same ways it did some years ago.

I haven’t seen or heard a lot of talk about deliberate action research by teachers or principals for a while. Passing trend? Perhaps. I suspect, though, it was obsoleted by several factors. Here are a few that come to mind:

  • Lots of action research was published and replicated and published again. I suspect that to some extent, potential researchers find nothing new under the sun, and are finding that many of the key questions have been pretty adequately answered already.  I hope not, but there it is. Maybe we just aren’t wondering as much?
  • Similar to the first reason, some researchers became so well associated with their research that schools have adopted methodologies for improvement as a packaged unit, therefore eliminating a lot of the need to experiment. As districts jump on the DuFour, Marzano, Danielson, or other bandwagons, we will likely see much less action research.
  • The rise of Response to Intervention (RtI) programs which rely heavily on standardized data collection may de-emphasize or discourage action research. Data collection has become largely quantitative. As these programs proliferate, and include the intervention strategies, the need for experimentation may be lessened. Likewise, the development of new positions like data coaches, and groups such as data teams whose job it is to disseminate standardized data have also become commonplace, further devaluing action research.
  • Common Core State Standards and other standardization efforts imply that there is one best method to teaching and achieving goals (even though most teachers would disagree), that action research is not valued highly in districts as much as it used to be.
  • The concept of a PLC has changed. In the early days of PLC work, groups used this time for book study, action research, and evaluation of methods and materials. More common today is the PLC that is essentially an implementation team in which small groups work collaboratively to advance an overarching initiative set at the building or district level. Shifting the focus of these groups has certainly had an affect on the ability for small teaching groups to engage in action research.
  • Preservice and graduate teaching and leadership programs simply are not teaching action research like they used to, and there are fewer people comfortable with this method to use it frequently.

If you know of teachers or schools who still engage in deliberate action research, rather than simply working with raw data acquired from other sources, I’d love to hear from you. I think this is a professional practice unfortunately on the way out, or at least changing a lot. Leave a comment and let me know your take on it.

The power of “yet”

jk-keller-wax-and-yet-detail-1Have you ever thought about the power of the word yet? The connotation is amazing, especially in the arena of education and learning.

Think of how different the following pairs of statements are:

I don’t know.

I don’t know yet.

I haven’t been successful.

I haven’t been successful yet.

I haven’t worked very hard on that.

I haven’t worked very hard on that yet.

That one modifier at the end makes the difference between an idea sentenced to perpetuity, and an idea groaning with hope. As teachers, as educators, as leaders, we need to leverage this word to help people understand the promise of hope in the future and the possibilities.

There is certainly a big caveat in that it works with just as much dread when used as an inevitable decline:

I haven’t failed.

I haven’t failed yet.

We need to remember that yet is powerful and we need to teach our students how to use positively, as a weapon against loss of hope. After all, we live in the era of yet. Can your phone do _____? Not yet. How does that application work? It doesn’t do ______ yet. We look at technology as a waiting game where if we can imagine it, we need only be patient and assume it will come to be in time. Students see this dynamic in the only era they have ever lived, and will be responsive to it. Just as a phone or game or computer can’t do something yet, students need to understand that they will succeed over time, with a little effort, maturity and patience.

Maslow and Student Motivation

There is no such thing as an unmotivated student. All students are motivated by something in school. The problem is that they might not be motivated by the things you’d like them to be motivated by. –Unknown

I’ve been thinking a lot about Maslow and his hierarchy lately. In fact, I have been thinking about it a lot for years. To me, there is little else that helps to explain why humans do what they do better than this chart.  My previous posts have adapted the basic hierarchy in order to reflect how teachers and students approach technology integration. I have taken some liberty to adapt the progression, particularly at the base level, but I think it takes a good guess at where people are in that regard. I have had in the back of my mind for years an adaptation for student motivation in school:


Both of the previous adaptations are variations on this concept, the one you see above. I learned a long time ago that if a student’s motivations in school are about avoiding unpleasantness or getting by, it created far different challenges than for a student whose motivation is to be liked. The cognitive ability was rarely the deciding factor. I think it wise to consider these when working with students. Understanding these motivations are important to finding ways to help students learn.

Maslow’s needs for students using technology for learning


Maslow’s Hierarchy – Teacher integration and implementation needs



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