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Where learning, technology and community meet.









July 2014

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contents tm

July 2014 Volume one Issue one A quarterly magazine

Where learning, technology and community meet.

12 inquire

20 feature

33 feature

Sal Khan Khan Academy founder Sal Khan discusses how his invention helps address fundamental issues in education.

Brave new world The modern approach to professional learning is leading to ‘an explosion of sharing.’

At the core Love it, hate it, revise it or debate it, Common Core has all eyes on the classroom. Find out what learning and teaching should look like under Common Core.

26 cover Learning personalized Our education system is in the midst of a powerful transformation, thanks largely to a movement that is gaining steam and garnering champions from around the world.




6 about us

9 invigorate

Where learning, technology and community meet

10 engage Wires and lights in a box 19 worldwise ISTE Standards meet

40 salute Joquetta Johnson ISTE member Joquetta Johnson is an education technology evangelist whose innovative approach, positive attitude and boundless energy encourage people to look at librarians differently.



the global test

39 dispatch Creative application of

technology is net result of rethinking learning, teaching

44 backstory Taming the stress tiger

Experiment in the classroom, not with it. Our comprehensive solutions include technology, professional development, implementation support and curricula content that’s been proven effective worldwide for over a decade. Visit us at Booth #1806 and at or follow us on Twitter @IntelEDU.

entrsekt Copyright Š 2014 Intel Corporation. All rights reserved. Intel, the Intel logo, Intel Education Solutions, and the Intel Education logo are trademarks of Intel Corporation in the U.S. and/or other countries.



Where learning, technology and community meet.

publisher Brian Lewis executive editor Julie Phillips Randles chief marketing officer Tracee Aliotti contributor Tim Douglas contributor Linda A. Estep contributor Gail Marshall contributor Julie Sturgeon art director Sharon Adlis ad production manager Lori Mattas advertising sales manager Cici Trino 916.990.9999 iste board chair Kecia Ray, Ed.D. Executive Director of Learning Technologies and Library Services Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools iste board chair-elect Matt Harris, Ed.D. Head of Learning Resources German European School Singapore

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE®) is the premier nonprofit organization serving educators and education leaders committed to empowering connected learners in a connected world. ISTE serves more than 100,000 education stakeholders throughout the world. ISTE’s innovative offerings include the ISTE Conference & Expo — the world’s most comprehensive ed tech event — as well as the widely adopted ISTE Standards for learning, teaching and leading in the digital age, and a robust suite of professional learning resources, including webinars, online courses, consulting services for schools and districts, books and peer-reviewed journals and publications. For additional information, please visit and Our vision. The vision of ISTE is a world where all learners thrive, achieve and contribute. Our mission. As the creator and steward of the definitive education technology standards, ISTE’s mission is to empower learners to flourish in a connected world by cultivating a passionate professional learning community, linking educators and partners, leveraging knowledge and expertise, advocating for strategic policies and continually improving learning and teaching. Letters to the editor. Letters to the editor in response to content in entrsekt are welcomed. All letters will be edited for length and AP Style. Please send your 200-word letter to Copyright 2014 ISTE. All rights reserved. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced by any means, in whole or in part, without the prior written consent of the publisher. Published July 2014.



Editorial guidelines. entrsekt’s articles are written in accordance with the magazine’s editorial guidelines, which may be found at Story ideas may be submitted to entrsekt Articles published in entrsekt are edited for style, content and space prior to publication. Views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent ISTE policies or positions. Endorsement by ISTE of products or services advertised in entrsekt is not implied or expressed. Subscriptions. ISTE members receive entrsekt each quarter as a membership benefit. Nonmembers can subscribe to entrsekt for $49 per year. To subscribe, please visit or contact our customer service department by emailing or calling 800.336.5191. About entrsekt. entrsekt ISSN 2334-2587 (print), entrsekt ISSN 2334-2595 (online) is published quarterly by the International Society for Technology in Education, 1530 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22209, USA. Periodicals postage paid at Eugene, Oregon, and at additional mailing office. Send address changes to the ISTE membership department at 180 West 8th Avenue, Suite 300, Eugene, OR 97401-2916, USA.



TeachersFirst • Free and Ad-free With you in your classroom

With you at ISTE 2014 “Nourishing the gifted through technology in any classroom” Candace Hackett Shively & Melissa Henning • Monday, June 30 • 12:30-1:30 PM

Visit us at booth 3118 • Join us for OK2Ask® Live Mon. June 30 at 3:30 PM • Earn a Thinking Teacher T-shirt entrsekt

8 • Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers®


Where learning, technology and community meet

photo by hope harris

Brian Lewis ISTE CEO

C o l l a b o r at i n g w i t h o n e another while actively supporting students everywhere is what members of the iste community do. And so it will be with our new quarterly magazine, entrsekt. We’re so pleased to introduce this new print and digital magazine as a forum for exploring the big issues, complex questions and inspiring opportunities for learning, teaching and leading in the digital world. At the same time, iste’s popular Learning & Leading with Technology, which had been published nine times a year, is evolving into a dynamic online resource called the EdTekHub (, providing the great content (and more) that its readers have come to love and anticipate. As iste continues to reimagine itself for the future, entrsekt emerges as the place where learning, technology and community meet. iste is compelled to do more and to serve more. And this service has never been more in demand, or more critical in terms of the futures we want for all our children, and our children’s children. As you read this inaugural issue of entrsekt, please know that our goal

is to dive into issues around which there is sometimes a lack of consensus. For even though collaboration runs through the veins of the iste community, so does diversity of experience and viewpoint. And it’s those experiences and viewpoints we hope to highlight and reflect on as the magazine evolves. We want entrsekt to explore controversial topics, to ask hard questions and to encourage readers to ponder the topics of the day and the philosophies behind them. It’s likely that none of us will agree with everything in these pages. But we do hope you’ll agree to join the conversation, and you can do so by weighing in online or submitting a letter to the editor. Kudos, concerns or questions, we can’t wait to hear from you. Which brings me to something I heard recently. I was at a conference where a panelist said that “students learn on their own because their teachers aren’t good.” I immediately wrote that quote down because I couldn’t believe my ears. Because, in fact, increasingly, the very opposite is true: Students are empowered to learn on their own because of excellent teachers: teachers who encourage students to

be at the center of their own learning. Isn’t that the point of personalized learning? A shift from the teacher as the singular font of knowledge at the front of the room, to the “activator,” as Michael Fullan says? We’re living in a time of significant, fast-paced change. We can’t, and shouldn’t, try to stop it. Instead, we are called on to inform and guide that change. The good news is that the great work of iste – the iste Standards, the iste Conference & Expo, the incredibly passionate iste community – that has grown over the course of many years as the result of countless dedicated volunteers and staff, is driven by a commitment to one another and to all students. And, with the strategic leadership of our board of directors, iste, which exists by and for the educators it serves, is poised to fulfill its mission of service in new and exciting ways. And we are all driven to do so.




Wires and lights in a box

Barry A. Bachenheimer, Ed.D.



Broadcaster Edward R. Murrow uttered these words in a speech to the Radio Television Digital News Association in 1958. While he was talking about television, he just as easily could have been talking about today’s laptops, tablet computers or interactive whiteboards. This may sound almost blasphemous for a column in a magazine that explores how technology impacts teaching and learning, but technology is never the ends, it is simply a means. It’s not about the technology, it’s about the learning. My vision for schools is to provide an innovative learning environment where all students can actively explore their personal passions, be inspired to intrinsically gain knowledge, develop and improve communication and collaboration skills in a variety of media,

and use information and research to accomplish personal and professional goals. To get to this vision, several shifts must take place. Technology, specifically a 1:1 laptop or tablet program, can cause this paradigm change – as long as the proper steps occur along the way. The first step must be to put the focus on student learning, exploration and readiness. Not test scores. When my school district adapted its 1:1 program over a decade ago, the board of education and district leadership had the foresight not to tie the laptop initiative to test scores. They felt that to be a productive citizen in the modern age, students needed access to digital age communication and resources. Test scores are simply one indicator of learning – a highly political indicator to be sure, but laptops themselves can’t be expected to cause

the change, and the change won’t happen overnight. It is a process that takes time, patience and perseverance. Currently, many districts are buying up tablets, Chromebooks and laptops to get their schools technologically ready for the Common Core assessments. But if instruction hasn’t shifted away from didactic instruction, multiple-choice/fill-in-the-blank testing and purely content-focused curriculum, it won’t matter. In any discussion of digital age skills, high on the list is always what I call the Triple C: communication, collaboration and creativity. When you put technology into the hands of every student, the instruction needs to foster these three skills. The purpose of a class is not to impart knowledge and content. Instead, students need

photo by studio phoenix

“This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it’s nothing but wires and lights in a box.” –Edward R. Murrow

to do things with that content, such as identify and solve problems, prioritize, organize, present and look at multiple perspectives. There needs to be a calculated plan in place to have kids learn and develop these skills while using effective digital citizenship practices. When classroom instruction is presented this way, the 1:1 program forces the shift as students have tools to communicate with peers, as well as with the world. The teacher is no longer the only person in the room with all the answers. Instead, the technology is the tool that can help students ask the questions and explore the solutions. The teacher’s role is to help guide them to effectively and appropriately communicate, work together and promote innovation. When that occurs, amazing things happen, as was the case when my district organized a Virtual Day during a recent snow day. School was held and learning occurred despite the physical campus being closed. Getting teachers to alter their instruction requires professional learning. Sure, they should learn how to use the technology tools, but more importantly, they need to collaborate with colleagues to examine their instructional practice, find ways to better engage students and use technology as a tool to facilitate engagement. We need to encourage teachers to take instructional risks and praise them for taking chances. Altering what seems like a successful method of instruction in favor of an uncertain one is a major risk. We must support teachers to encourage innovation. School presents a fine line between having kids learn what they need to, have to and want to learn.

They also need to be exposed to things they never would have if left to their own devices. There must be time for students to pursue their education passions to foster lifelong learning. A shift in learning requires buyin from all stakeholders: students, educators, administrators, parents, school board members and community members. To get this buy-in, we must clearly articulate, present and continually follow up on the vision for change and the sought-after outcomes. The time to engage these stakeholders is not just when the technology is purchased. Instead, it is an ongoing conversation that should be taking place all the time. Bottom line – if districts purchase laptops for students without going through the steps described, all they have acquired is “wires and lights in a box.”


Barry A. Bachenheimer, Ed.D., is the regional director of curriculum, instruction and assessment for the Pascack Valley Regional High School District in New Jersey, an adjunct professor at Montclair State University and an iste member.




Sal Khan describes the passion behind Khan Academy By Julie Phillips Randles



Sal Khan is the founder of khan academy (, a nonprofit with the mission of providing free, high-quality education for anyone, anywhere in the world. Born and raised in New Orleans, Khan graduated from mit in 1998 with three degrees: two bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and electrical engineering/computer science, and a master’s degree in electrical engineering. He began his career working in technology, and later earned his mba at Harvard Business School. Khan then became an analyst at a Boston-based hedge fund, which later relocated to Palo Alto, California. As a side project in 2004, Khan began tutoring his young cousin in math, communicating by phone and using an interactive notepad. By 2006, Khan was tutoring 15 family friends and cousins as a hobby. To better scale, he began writing software to give his students practice and feedback in mathematics.

To complement this software, he also began posting videos of his hand-scribbled tutorials on YouTube. Demand took off, and in 2009, when the practice problems and instructional videos were reaching tens of thousands of students per month, he quit his day job to commit himself fully to the nonprofit Khan Academy. The Khan Academy website now provides a self-pacing, guided learning experience with more than 100,000 practice exercises and 5,000 instructional videos covering everything from basic arithmetic to college-level science and economics. It’s the most used library of educational lessons on the Web, with more than 10 million unique students per month, more than 300 million lessons delivered and more than a billion completed exercises. More than 200,000 educators around the world are also using Khan Academy to help build student mastery of topics and to free up class time for dynamic, project-based learning.

photos by hope harris

He weighs in on how his invention helps address fundamental issues in education

Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy. Khan says the people he's met during the creation and operation of Khan Academy have inspired him to think bigger and devote more energy to his aspirational goals.




Khan has been profiled by “60 Minutes,” featured on the cover of Forbes magazine and recognized as one of TIME magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World.” He is also a recipient of the National School Boards Association’s Heinz Award. In late 2012, Khan released his book “The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined.” If you could have a different career, what would it be?

Some combination of a science fiction author, avant-garde artist and Charlie Rose. What’s the side of you the public never sees?

I sing a lot when no one is looking or listening.

I’ve become more optimistic. I was never really a pessimist, but, like many people, I was somewhat cynical about society’s odds of addressing the really big challenges it’s facing. In the last five years, through Khan Academy, I’ve met incredible teachers, students, parents and business leaders who are committed to improving the lives of others and having real impact. When I meet folks like that, it inspires me to think bigger and devote even more energy to aspirational goals. I have also had two wonderful, hilarious children in the past five years, which has given me a deeper appreciation of what it means to have love and fear for someone other than oneself. I recently heard singer John Legend speak about education and, in discussing the framework we should use for making decisions that impact schools, he said, “We just have to ask, what would we do if we really loved those kids …like really ‘loved’ them.” I don’t think I could have fully appreciated the power of that idea before I was a parent. What aspect of Khan Academy are you most passionate about?

As much as Khan Academy is known for me and my videos, I think they are the least important part of what we do. Most of our energy is focused on creating world-class, free interentrsekt


active software that allows teachers to meet the individual needs of students. For example, we’ve spent the past year building resources with 40 leading educators, including some of the authors of the Common Core, to build tens of thousands of Common Core-aligned, interactive math exercises. As the students work through the exercises, either at their own pace or based on assignments, teachers get real-time reports on how their classroom is progressing. I believe we now have the most rigorous and comprehensive set of Common Core exercises available, and we are passionate about always keeping this free and noncommercial to empower as many teachers and students as possible.

If he had a different career, Khan says he’d be some combination of science fiction author, avante-garde artist and Charlie Rose.

What measurements can you point to regarding the effectiveness of Khan Academy?

Over the past few years, we collaborated with a number of schools and with sri International to study various types of classroom use and the effects of different approaches on teaching and learning. The report was published in March, and we were encouraged to see positive association between Khan Academy use and some important outcomes like improvement in student test scores, improvement in students’ confidence and reduced anxiety when it comes to math. Teachers also reported that integrating Khan Academy into their instruction increased their ability to support their students. Students’ perceptions of Khan Academy were very

photos by hope harris

How have you changed in the last five years?

positive, their engagement during Khan Academy sessions was high and students felt that using Khan Academy encouraged greater independence in learning. This reinforces a lot of what we hear directly from our users, both those using Khan Academy in the classroom and students using it independently. We get hundreds of letters from people using Khan Academy who have changed their entire outlook on learning, and often how this learning journey has transformed their lives. Hearing these personal stories from both students and teachers is the “effectiveness data” that really propels and inspires us on a daily basis. Why didn’t the SRI report focus only on effectiveness?

When we first started working with schools, we had a very nascent product and only a small subset of the full Common Core curriculum. We, the schools, and the researchers fully expected our product and content to evolve tremendously during the study period. Given this, sri felt it was more appropriate to focus the research on the different ways that our exercises platform was used. One of the things they found was that Khan Academy was rarely the only variable being changed and that the use cases were very different so, given the sites being studied, it would have been difficult, if not impossible, to isolate the impact of Khan Academy alone. sri concluded that trying to conduct effectiveness research would have been methodologically unsound. How can today’s Khan Academy address some of the fundamental issues in education?

We hear from teachers how hard it is to reach all their students – to give enough attention to kids who are struggling while still engaging and challenging their students who are more advanced. That’s why we felt it was important to give teachers a tool to let students work at their own pace and give teachers instant feedback so they can see their students’ progress and, at any time throughout the year, quickly identify which students might need more attention and then assign more practice. We also hear a lot about how teachers use this data to form small groups of students to encourage peer mentoring. Khan Academy is certainly not a silver bullet, but we strive to be a valuable tool for teachers to help reach each student, at every level. We also hear from students that it’s hard to catch up if they missed something in class or have gaps from prior grades. We built our learning environment to provide students a safe, unpressured learning environment where they can fill in their gaps and practice concepts at their own pace. This is not only important to help students develop math competency, but also a sense of agency over their learning.

The SRI report also indicated that teachers use Khan Academy as a supplement to classroom instruction. How would you help teachers think about integrating Khan Academy into actual teaching practices?

Khan Academy has never been about direct or primary instruction. We view our role as a tool to empower teachers by giving them unlimited, standards-aligned exercises with instant reporting and feedback and on-demand, mini-explanations as a reference. You could think of it as a 21st century textbook. By definition, this is going to be a supplement to the great work that teachers are already doing. However, “supplemental” doesn’t necessarily mean “superficial.” There are many instances where teachers use Khan Academy as a tool that is meaningfully integrated into their math teaching practice. We are now seeing teachers getting students on the new Common Core-aligned, grade-level “missions” that ensure each student can focus on practicing the skills and filling their individual gaps, while giving teachers in-depth feedback to know exactly where each student stands at any time throughout the year. We’ve profiled and interviewed a number of teachers on our website, like Suney Park, who recently won a Presidential Teacher award, to show different ways teachers have deeply integrated Khan Academy into their classrooms.

“I think we all know and have personally experienced that there can never be anything that replaces what a great teacher can do.”

In addition to content, Khan Academy provides educators with data from student use of lessons. Is that data being used effectively? How can the analytics that you are able to provide assist teachers and students?

We hear from teachers how hard it is to know where to focus your teaching and attention, so we enable teachers (as well as their students and parents) see a student’s progress. Through Khan Academy’s coach reports, teachers can quickly see how their class is doing overall or skill-by-skill, at any time throughout the year. Teachers can then quickly identify which students might need more attention and then assign more practice. And while there are thousands of teachers who use these reports on regular basis, we are continually looking for ways to make this data even easier to interpret and more actionable for teachers. How is Khan Academy managing the student privacy guidance that was recently released? How far will you go to work with school districts to secure student data? For example, would you be willing to sign a memorandum of understanding or a data use agreement?

We care deeply about the privacy of all our users and have always worked to create a safe learning environment for students and teachers alike. In fact, the primary reason we entrsekt


decided to incorporate as a nonprofit is because we wanted to provide free access to education, without ever having to do things like advertise or sell student information. We make sure we are transparent on what we do with students’ information, and we get explicit permission before any personal student information is shared with anyone. There have been situations where we worked with third parties, such as sri International, to do research, but we were very careful to ensure we got proper and explicit permission from students and parents. So, yes, we take privacy very seriously and we’d be happy to work with school districts to ensure we are collectively protecting student information. What misconceptions does the education community have about Khan Academy and what it contributes to learning and teaching?

One of the questions I sometimes get is whether Khan Academy is trying to replace teachers with technology. I think we all know and have personally experienced that there can never be anything that replaces what a great teacher can do. We hope that by providing teachers with a comprehensive and free learning resource, we can be one of the tools that help empower and elevate the role of the teacher in the classroom. Another misperception that stemmed largely from the popularity of our early YouTube videos is that Khan Academy is just a video library that students passively watch, when in fact our focus and most of our usage has been students actively practicing using our interactive exercises. In addition, as I mentioned, over the past year we’ve brought in a team of over 40 math educators to create thousands of interactive exercises designed for the Common Core standards and to provide students with instant feedback, hints and step-byentrsekt


step solutions. The videos are only there as supplements to the instruction students get from teachers. Can you help readers visualize how Khan Academy’s new relationship with College Board for SAT test preparation is going to work?

Rather than focusing on “cramming” or teaching students how to game exams, we want to help prepare students with deep practice that will build a solid foundation in math to help them be successful not only on the sat exam, but also in college and beyond. We are working in close collaboration with the College Board to create thousands of in-depth practice problems and instructional videos available spring of 2015 – a full year before the launch of the redesigned sat. Students will be able to practice at their own pace using Khan Academy’s personalized learning dashboard. The dashboard will recommend exercises at each student’s level and show progress, points and badges as students accomplish their “sat mission.” What’s the next big thing on the horizon for Khan Academy?

We know this is a really critical time for students and teachers. This year, we’re going to continue to roll out resources to help millions of students and teachers transition to the Common Core math standards. We’ll also be focusing on building a world-class learning experience that helps students build the math foundation they need for the redesigned sat by spring of 2015. And of course, we’ll be continuing to make our teacher tools and reports even simpler and easier to use, and making our student learning dashboard more engaging for students.

“We built our learning environment to provide students a safe, unpressured learning environment where they can fill in their gaps and practice concepts at their own pace. This is not only important to help students develop math competency, but also a sense of agency over their learning.”

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Learn more at ISTE, booth 1514 | 1-866-SAM-4BIZ © 2014 Samsung Electronics America, Inc. All rights reserved. Samsung is a registered trademark of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. All products, logos and brand names are trademarks entrsekt or registered trademarks of their respective companies. Screen images simulated. *NPD distribution unit share of the Samsung Chromebook through Q3 2013.



ISTE Standards meet the global test

photo by arab bureau of education for the gulf states (abegs)

Ali Al-Karni, Ph.D.

Under the auspices of the Arab Bureau for Education in the Gulf States (ABEGS), ISTE has embarked on a five-year commitment to help the Gulf States introduce the ISTE Standards through a coach-the-coach program, allowing certification with an ISTE/ ABEGS Coaching Certificate ( With representatives from Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Yemen, ISTE recently completed its first coaching pilot program and is now preparing to help Gulf State ministries implement an Arabic language-based professional development program. The pilot program held in Qatar, a reflection of coaching programs ISTE will launch throughout the Arab Gulf States, included six face-to-face workshop days, a 30-day online course, classroom activities and self/peer and faculty evaluation. Throughout the program, ISTE focused on three principles: professional learning programs should be educationally rigorous; these programs should extend over time to allow theory and practice to merge; the programs must allow mentors and coaches to share their wealth of experience by working directly with participants. The ABEGS/ISTE Coaching Certificate Program was designed to recognize aspiring coaches/mentors who successfully demonstrate competencies embedded in the program. These initial competencies based on the ISTE Standards for Coaches include: the design and implementation of technology-enhanced instruction and assessments based on learner-centered strategies; the implementation of technology-powered innovations in pedagogy to differentiate learning based on learning styles, readiness and personal goals; the use of online and blended learning to expand opportunities for learning among teachers and school leaders. The program made use of local, Gulf States curricular resources and Arab language-enabled digital tools. Student-

centered learning, and connections to curriculum and the standards, provided the foundation for the program, with themes and activities to support that effort. A number of themes were interwoven programwide such as: engagement, student ownership of the learning process, problem solving, collaboration/communication, multi-tiered assessments, evaluation of the effectiveness of activities and classroom management. Feedback from the 25 participants was highly positive and noted the relevance of the content, the Arabic content, the use of Arabic-speaking presenters and the high level of achievement that was expected. Feedback from the ISTE faculty included a focus on the high-level engagement of the participants and the common focus on student engagement and improvement. In addition to the new coaching certificate, it must be noted that ISTE’s Standards are referenced in numerous countries, allowing ministries of education to develop consistency in methodology and employers, teachers, administrators and, in some cases students, to move from country to country knowing they have met a certain set of recognized standards. The bottom line is that the ISTE Standards have become the backbone for many international educational administrators as they procure or develop professional development programs and courses. Intertwined with the ISTE Essential Conditions, these standards are seen by many as a foundation for improving technology education in classrooms around the world. Ali Al-Karni, Ph.D., is the director general of the Arab Bureau for Education in the Gulf States.




BRAVE NEW WORLD Modern professional learning is ‘an explosion of sharing’ By Linda A. Estep



Thanks to the common core state standards, which most states and the District of Columbia have adopted, teachers today find themselves drawing on some unexpected resources for professional learning. We’re talking YouTube, Pinterest and Twitter, according to a 2013 survey conducted by the National Center for Literacy Education (ncle) – and teachers are definitely

collaborating among themselves as they explore a universe of technology that was a distant galaxy just a generation ago. “[It’s an] explosion of sharing and adapting instructional materials, some on specific platforms but many through the broader use of [popular] technologies,” says ncle’s write-up.




“The teacher is no longer the lone hero in front of the student. It is now a group responsibility. And teachers across disciplines are realizing literacy will depend on technology.”



THE GIFT OF TIME The survey, “Remodeling Literacy Learning Together: Paths to Standards Implementation,” was designed to indicate where we are nationally in terms of opportunities for educators to learn about the new standards, the most powerful professional learning approaches to it, and how involved teachers are in their districts’ transition to the standards. Not surprisingly, the survey pinpointed the dearth of allotted learning time as a major challenge for the Common Core. Kent Williamson, who serves as executive director of the National Council of Teachers of English and the ncle, says organizations such as Learning Forward (learningforward. org) can assist districts in developing more efficient time blocks for on-site professional learning. The website also offers a deep reservoir of workbooks and guidelines for download to help strengthen and develop professional learning policies, many with an emphasis on Common Core standards implementation. Williamson suggests that examples of improved on-site time management include a rearrangement of the school day, where teachers of the same grade levels can collaborate while other staff members work with students on projects. The overall idea, says Williamson, is to lessen the time teachers spend in instruction mode to allow collaborative and individual research time. The survey notes, “The best school systems in the world design their schools so that teachers spend substantial portions of their day working

alongside other educators to think through challenges together…. In most other developed countries, classroom instruction takes up less than half a teacher’s work day. The rest of the day is spent on activities designed to make that classroom instruction more powerful, such as preparing lessons, planning with colleagues, observing peers and analyzing student work.” Williamson believes a “quiet revolution” is occurring as districts revamp school time and decision-making, and that successful learning comes from how an educator’s expertise is developed and delivered, rather than simply from content of the standards. “We need to treat teachers like professionals who solve problems, just like architects and doctors,” he explains. “The teacher is no longer the lone hero in front of the student. It is now a group responsibility. And teachers across disciplines are realizing literacy will depend on technology. These days [a student] must be able to read like a scientist and a mathematician. Literacy is not just about English.” With the Common Core State Standards gearing up students to collaborate and analyze evidence that crosses disciplinary lines, it makes sense that teachers, too, would spend time together in multiple disciplines, according to the ncle survey. Another valuable resource the ncle offers is the Literacy in Learning Exchange (literacyinlearningexchange. org), where a plethora of information related to professional learning is

available online, including scheduled Twitter chats and group discussions. The website also features articles, blogs and online groups formed by teachers, coaches, librarians and others willing to share their expertise and accept contributions from outside the group. ISTE RESOURCES iste Chief Innovation Officer Wendy Drexler points out that iste is highly effective in connecting teachers with channels that include webinars, online courses, consulting services and, of course, the annual iste Conference & Expo. Often, when conference attendees meet colleagues from other areas, they arrange to connect later virtually and in person for deeper group discussions. For those unable to attend an annual conference, iste provides professional networking avenues. And, Drexler notes, just as students work with other students in faraway lands using Skype as their communication tool, teachers can converse similarly with peers by using a Twitter account and following #EdTech, where educators from every corner of the world share information. “We need to model for the student what 21st century learning looks like,” she says. “What I’m feeling now is a tipping point,” she says. “Ask any teacher what they need and they always say ‘time.’ They are so overwhelmed. They want to know how they can do one more thing when they barely have time for what they do now. We are all in this together. We can learn so much by

collaborative research. iste is trying to provide as many opportunities as possible.” Drexler stresses that teachers are at different levels in terms of digital learning, so no one solution fits all. “We have teachers who are not using technology at all,” she says. She points to a resource produced by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology (College of Education)at the University of South Florida called the Technology Integration Matrix ( It charts the progress of five meaningful learning

environments and their five levels of technology integration. The matrix provides a step-by-step illustration, complete with video links, to demonstrate how teachers at different levels of adoption can use technology to enhance learning for k-12 students. EXPERT PERSPECTIVE Nancy Fichtman Dana has a distinguished career in education and education research. She is a professor in the School of Teaching and Learning at the University of Florida and is a co-author of “Inquiring into the Common Core,” published in 2013, among other books and publications.

She has witnessed the evolution of teacher professional learning from the traditional “sit-and-get” inservice days to the more powerful job-embedded and collaborative approaches. “There is nothing wrong with having a speaker [at an event], but often teachers return to the classroom without help to synthesize the information into instruction,” she said. “Teachers engaging in their own research have a chance to ask questions about a topic and to analyze, to share with other professionals at their school sites or within the district.”

“Without high-quality professional learning, adopting standards becomes an empty promise.”



“If we stay the same, we will constantly be playing catch up. We need to embrace a system that encourages collaboration.”



The collaborative approach Dana describes is natural for iste conference attendees, many of whom are part of passionate learning communities that discuss and synthesize the information from conference speakers, panels and training sessions to support improved learning and teaching, Drexler notes. Dana also is a strong proponent of the work and resources Learning Forward provides, adding, “Technology creates many rich opportunities [for educators] to connect with each other. They have generated lots of knowledge, and technology creates greater opportunities to share.” Dana also acknowledges that what works for one does not necessarily work for everyone. That’s why providing a variety of professional learning opportunities is important. Like students, not all teachers learn in the same way, and some

even find they prefer the traditional speaker. “In many districts, the speaker style is pervasive. What is important is the inclusion of teacher voices. They need to be heard and understand how Common Core will impact student learning.” She encourages professional learning settings where groups can share successes and engage in activities that use a protocol of “pushing each other’s thinking.” RECOGNIZING NEED In California, where Gov. Jerry Brown approved a one-time $1.25 billion grant in 2013 for schools to use for professional learning, technology and resources for Common Core implementation, education leaders are asking for more in 2014. In a recent survey conducted by the Association of California School Administrators members overwhelmingly listed professional learning and technology as the highest priority in new funding.

Respondents cited a need for coaches to work with teachers and staff, time for teachers to work collaboratively, and more powerful infrastructure and computers to meet the demands of digital learning under Common Core. STEP UP, POLICYMAKERS Last February, Stephanie Hirsh, executive director of Learning Forward, called upon state and school district policymakers to ramp up meaningful, effective professional learning as the Common Core State Standards are implemented, warning, “Without highquality professional learning, adopting standards becomes an empty promise.” After all, as policies increase the expectations for students and educators, Hirsh stresses, districts also must transform their expectations for professional learning. In other words,

BRAVE NEW WORLD she’d like to put meat on skeletal policies currently in place for professional learning. In a Feb. 12, 2014, blog post titled “Seven Policy Shifts That Improve Professional Learning” at, she provides a checklist for policymakers to determine if sufficient strategies are in place to ensure high-quality professional learning opportunities. “When I advocate to policymakers, I tell them, ‘This is your way to tell teachers you want them to experience quality professional learning,’” she says. One of her recommendations is to invest significantly in resources and support to implement those priorities. Other suggestions include requiring educators to collect evidence demonstrating improved practice and student results following professional learning engagement, establishing stringent requirements so third-party professional learning providers use evidence to demonstrate the impact of their services, and, finally, establishing formal feedback and advisory systems to tap expertise and insights of educators following input from stakeholders. Accountability must be built into new policy structure. Collaborating with peers at the school site should be the first order of business in professional learning for educators, according to Hirsh. She feels districts should assess which resources and expertise are available among school site personnel before looking outside for additional help. “Too frequently, educators look outside first, and it should be the reverse. Work that occurs among

teachers who talk about their students’ performance and how to support them should come first. Then if expertise doesn’t reside in their group, they should look outside, often using technology,” she says. Hirsh’s advice parallels some of the recommendations offered in the 2013 ncle survey, where support from all stakeholders – including parents and community, school site leaders, school board members, local leaders and state and federal policymakers – is encouraged. Those recommendations offer a “how-to” list for each group to follow. WORLDWIDE VIEW Former iste board member Eileen Lento, worldwide director of strategy and marketing for Intel Education, an iste corporate member, believes institutional changes must occur in this new world of universal connectivity. Without broad change – and not just in professional learning – education will suffer, she says. “There are structural obstacles. Institutions have built structures that are brittle in the world we live in now,” Lento says. She is talking about a new way of doing business, replacing the old model of schooling, making significant time for professional learning and looking at a vision of a successful student in today’s world. Lento wants education leaders to think in terms of “a system change lens” where all stakeholders, including parents and the community, are part of the transition.

“If we stay the same, we will constantly be playing catch up,” she predicts. “We need to embrace a system that encourages collaboration. The days of isolation are over.” Lento also points out that the sense of not having sufficient time to accomplish tasks is a common complaint in a world that “is always on” due to advances in technology. “There are more and more consultants to guide the workplace in time management. It is universal and not limited to education,” she explains. “Educators are realizing we must change to the world around us. This is the world our children will live and work in.”

“Work that occurs among teachers who talk about their students’ performance and how to support them should come first. Then if expertise doesn’t reside in their group, they should look outside, often using technology.”

linda a. estep is a former reporter for mccl atchy newspapers and was the public information officer for a l arge school district in california. today, she works as a freel ance writer covering education policy.







By Tim Douglas

VCR s and VHS tape s, film, CD s, m ovie r e n ta l sto r e s, phone books, dictionaries, encyclopedias, fax machines and pay phones. They served a purpose and paved the way for advancement. But now they’re mostly gone, succumbing to a wave of acronyms: DVRs, MP3s, WAVs, MOVs, AVIs and URLs. Like devices and technology, systems, too, undergo significant change to meet different demands, deliver services and support in more effective ways and, in general, help create a better world. Our education system is in the midst of a powerful transformation, thanks largely to a movement that is gaining steam and garnering champions from around the world.

“We are living in an interesting time. Personalized learning is the best opportunity and most efficient way to ensure students learn what they need to learn to be successful,” says Randy Ward, San Diego County superintendent of schools. “We need to prepare students for jobs that aren’t even created yet. So we need to transform what teaching and learning are all about.” Teaching, as established in the early 1900s, was designed to process large populations of students categorized by age. Teachers conducted lessons for these segmented groups. America has changed quite a bit in the last 100-plus years; indeed, the world has undergone an incredible transformation. Now, sparked by personalized learning, education is taking a huge leap forward. entrsekt


Learning personalized Already popular with thousands of educators worldwide – including scores of iste members – personalized learning is viewed by many to be the future of education. At its foundation, and as explained in a recent blog on the Microsoft Educator Network, this approach to learning and teaching recognizes that each student has diverse needs and learns differently. Personalized learning also respects the central role of the student, while expanding teachers’ roles to help them serve as mentors and guides to assist students on their own learning journey.



According to the National Educational Technology Plan developed by the u.s. Department of Education, personalized learning is defined as adjusting the pace, adjusting the approach and connecting to the learner’s interests and experiences. It’s designed to raise student engagement and achievement, and it requires a more customized way of thinking about education. iste members Barbara Bray and Kathleen McClaskey, co-founders of Personalize Learning, a consulting firm that assists schools and districts in initiating and implementing per-

sonalized learning, say the philosophy seeks to transform teaching and learning to focus on learner-centered environments. “That means students drive their learning and are the ones responsible and accountable for their learning. Teachers’ roles and the environment change when the focus is on the learner and learning first,” Bray and McClaskey explain. Other education stakeholders have definitions of their own. Some tech developers automatically think data analytics and programming trees. A handful focus on efficacy. Others see the root of personalized learning

as data-driven formative assessments able to track student progress and serve up customized lessons. But these are definitions. They don’t capture the essence and magnitude of personalized learning and the role it will play in the education revolution. A SYSTEM FOR THE TIMES Michael B. Horn, cofounder of the Clayton Christensen Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank focused on innovation in education, says the education system, when first established, fit the times. The u.s. economy was based largely on industry, and schools were turning out workers for that world. But the industrial age is over. The world now operates in a knowledge-based economy that demands high-functioning and flexible employees. The early education system simply wasn’t designed to prepare students for today, let alone tomorrow. Enter personalized learning, an approach that is helping educators think on a multi-dimensional level about the cognitive and social intelligences needed to navigate any world that comes next. The future is here, and for David Ross, senior director of programs and services at the Buck Institute for Education based in the San Francisco Bay Area, the revolution can’t happen fast enough. “Look at what happens in the marketplace. If a business ignores the end user, then the business suffers,” said Ross, whose organization, bie, focuses almost exclusively on helping teachers use project-based learning, which is a significant part of personalized learning. “…We have to give students voice and choice. That’s really what personalized learning is about.”

ABANDONING ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL If Thomas Edison is right, that discontent is the first necessity of progress, then consider Lisa Dubernard, a leader in the personalized learning revolution. “The one-size-fits-all approach to education doesn’t work,” says the director of education strategy at itslearning, a Boston-based company and iste corporate member dedicated to helping American educators create and use innovative digital learning environments to improve retention and graduation rates and reduce instruction costs. “Personalized learning helps students see the meaning of things, and that makes a difference. That makes [learning] much more valuable.” “At the end of the day, it’s setting up students for success in the way that most suits them,” says Phillip Napier, co-director of the Barren Academy of Virtual and Expanded Learning (bavel) in Kentucky. bavel is committed to giving parents and students more options in education. “Let’s say there’s a test to climb a tree. There are different ways to get to the top.

Personalized learning helps build on strengths to get students college and career ready.” Personalized learning moves away from just teaching content. Students play a key role in deciding what they will learn, how they will learn it, and they then get a chance to show they understand it, which can take many different forms across many media. “I think of adapting pace and pedagogy when I think personalized learning,” says Cathy Cavanaugh, director of teaching and learning for Microsoft Worldwide Education and a veteran iste member. “How fast the student learns and the best methods of instruction and ways [a student learns].” There are a multitude of techniques in personalizing and tailoring instruction, but for Dubernard, student and teacher need to be in lockstep from the very beginning. “It boils down to assessment,” Dubernard says. “I view learning like gps on a phone. Student and teacher need to know where they are, where they’re going and how they’re going

“Personalized learning is the best opportunity and most efficient way to ensure students learn what they need to learn to be successful.”



Learning personalized

“I view learning like GPS on a phone. Student and teacher need to know where they are, where they’re going and how they’re going to get there. Then, follow the little blue dot. Each student’s journey is like MapQuest.”



to get there. Then, follow the little blue dot. Each student’s journey is like MapQuest.” WIELDING TECHNOLOGY WISELY With the emphasis on pace, methods of understanding and freedom, personalized learning is very well served by technology, which helps deliver instruction and allows students to demonstrate competence through multiple forms of media. Technology also allows for immediate feedback on students’ understanding and grasp of materials. Bottom line: technology gives students and teachers a wide variety of options. But technology, like any dominant tool, needs to be wielded wisely. We have more computer power in our pockets and purses than we realize. Last year, Voyager I, the space probe launched in 1977 to study the outer solar system, became the first manmade object to reach interstellar space. It left the solar system using much less computer power than an iPhone. Still, you use a shovel to dig a hole, but the shovel doesn’t do the work. Super machines only deliver informa-

tion. Technology users are charged with turning data into usable, useful knowledge. “Technology enables students to have a wide choice to express their understanding of what they learn and how,” says Dubernard. “[But] an iPad, ultimately, has nothing to do with personalized learning. It’s how it’s used.” Kecia Ray, executive director of learning and technologies for the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools and chair of the iste Board of Directors, says technology should be viewed as a way for teachers to augment instruction, with the technology doing some of the heavy lifting. “Technology amplifies our reach to teach,” she describes. “That’s my bumper sticker.” The increased adaptability and sophisticated algorithms that are part and parcel of modern technology are helping to facilitate individualized instruction. “Today, it’s a whole different ball game, and in five to 10 years the technology that can impact personalized learning will be exponentially more sophisticated and affordable than it is today,” Ray says.

Used incorrectly, technology can also be a detriment, and this is assuming it’s even accessible. The very tools that seek to improve our students could make matters worse. “Technology is a double-edged sword,” adds Ward. “If we don’t teach our teachers how to use technology, it can go wrong very quickly. And it’s not just technology. We need the infrastructure to make sure that rural and inner-city students are connected. In fact, to get really serious about this, broadband should be treated like water and electricity. It should be standard.” DEVIATING FROM THE NORM Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible. When the late musician and song writer Frank Zappa said these words, he had no idea they would be applied to a discussion about personalized learning, but the quote is appropriate. Why do we teach our kids? The easy answers are to help them get good jobs, be productive citizens, lead happy lives, etc. But personalized learning is more than that. It’s aspirational.

Nathaniel Whittemore, a principal with Learn Capital, posits that an education system designed to maximize employability is different, ultimately, than a system designed to maximize capacity for critical thinking, and so on. How we choose to define the “why” shapes what we do and how we do it. We simply can’t view education as a system for the provisioning of facts and formulas, or even a system solely aimed at preparing kids for the careers of the future. It can do so much more. “[Personalized learning is about] preparing students to be expert learners throughout life,” Cavanaugh said. But this philosophy needs to challenge the status quo. Districts nationwide are driven by test scores, standards, measurements and graduation rates because they need to be – this is the norm. Adopting personalized learning on a more widespread level will take commitment, conviction and dedication. “Why do we put students in classrooms? To get seat time?” Dubernard asks rhetorically. “Why do we do that? Because that’s how we had it done to us.” Bray and McClaskey concur, noting that maintaining the status quo, instead of turning teaching and learning upside down, is certainly easier and avoids the required culture shift. “What holds schools and districts back is the time it takes to make change happen. It takes a shared vision, commitment by all stakeholders, a supportive human infrastructure that is selfsustainable, and years to transform a system that is embedded in traditional teaching methods.” MAKING PERSONAL COMMONPLACE Personalized learning places a premium on pace and a demonstration of competency in myriad ways.

Personalized learning also challenges us to rethink the physical school. If students are able to learn 24 hours a day, seven days a week in different ways, there will become little need for brick, mortar and blackboard. These are significant challenges, and the solutions won’t be easy. Recognizing the value and need of personalized learning is one thing, actually making it commonplace is something else. “If I knew how, I’d be rich,” Ross quips, “but I do think it starts with two things. Universities need to understand the environment and better prepare teachers, and I don’t routinely see government as a problem solver, but in this case the federal government has the capacity to weigh in, offer significant funding and really help the nation focus on this. We need patience. It will take time.” “It starts with the school district at the top,” Dubernard says. “Districts need to understand it and implement professional development trainings for teachers. Districts also need to provide clear examples and set clear expectations. Teachers need to see it. For students, we need them to show an acceptable level of mastery of material, but we need to all agree what that looks like.” “When is the student done [with school]?” asks Cavanaugh. “If a child has met the ‘standards’ of his or her personalized learning curriculum, can that student be done at [the age of] 13? Conversely, what if a child hasn’t shown adequate competence by the age of 21? When is and what is complete? That’s one of the big questions.” For Napier, it’s a question of courage. “It’s a challenge to step out of the comfort zone and really focus on what each student needs, but that’s when

“The one-size-fits-all approach to education doesn’t work. Personalized learning helps students see the meaning of things, and that makes a difference. That makes [learning] much more valuable.” true learning and growth take place. We need to show leadership.” Ward has been in education for 50 years. He stresses pragmatism, and he understands the value of bringing all forces to bear in pursuit of one common goal: a quality education for all children. “Personalized learning doesn’t mean you throw everything else out,” he said. “It needs to be a mixture of strategies and approaches. We can be great at matching whatever works with human beings and situations. There is no one path to Oz.” Ward makes a good point, and while we’re still a long way from fully embracing personalized learning, it’s time is coming. In their new book, “Make Learning Personal: The What, Who, Wow,

Where, and Why of Personalized Learning,” publishing in November, Bray and McClaskey explain how to make personalized learning a reality by providing a process for teachers to individualize learning, along with stories from teachers who have changed teaching practice around the world. Things change, the world adapts, and we always hope it’s for the better, especially for our children.

tim dougl as is a former television news producer who also served as a senior media consultant for several speakers of the california state assembly. today, dougl as is a freel ance writer who covers a wide range of topics.



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Common Core created a personal Facebook page, the relationship question would be answered this way: “It’s complicated.” Scanning the Twitter feeds, social media comments and news articles makes it clear that assessing this change in education is a challenge. How do you measure “messy?” Students, teachers, administrators, politicians and parents all are at different points on the spectrum.


Love it, hate it, revise it or debate it, Common Core has all eyes on the classroom, education leaders say. Much of the angst reflects legitimate concerns over implementation timing and high-stakes impacts. At the same time, there is a chorus of voices talking about the nature of learning that is at the heart of the Common Core movement. We sampled a variety of experts from across the country to share their vision and experience about this gamechanging movement: an Illinois author whose ideas are flipping the classroom time structure upside down; a techsavvy New Jersey principal who once was “that guy” squelching the interference of technology into his school; an East Coast student who one day hopes to design video games, among others. All have their  own  answers to the  essential question:  What should learning and teaching under Common Core look like? A REAL-TIME EXAMPLE It could look a lot like the work of Sarah Almeda of New Milford High School in New Milford, New Jersey,



according to her principal, iste member Eric Sheninger, an award-winning administrator and author of the book “Digital Leadership.” He recently posted an animated video project she created at school on his popular blog, A Principal’s Reflection. Sarah is a vibrant, loquacious high school student who wears a signature derby hat. For an assignment her sophomore year, Sarah and her classmates first had to read the book “Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative,” by Ken Robinson. Her animated project was called “Let’s Make Some Good Art.” She watched two videos, wrote a script and put together her presentation using a graphics tablet and the software Bamboo Pad, Quicktime to record the computer screen as she drew and iMovie for the editing. Her final seven-minute video uses multiple sources to analyze and describe her own creativity in writing and illustration: what inspires and stifles her creativity, whose creativity she admires, who has helped her learn to express her creativity and, finally, what schools can do to better enhance all students’ creativity.

Her suggestion to the schools: “Do away with the ranking systems. I hate grades. It’s like getting quality checked and stamped Grade A student, Grade B student, Grade C student. Getting told what you are from a young age, people start to believe it. I know so many people who still cry over their grades, as if getting a C on a biology test actually means you’re not going to college, getting a job or be able to support a family.  Why do students cram and cheat on tests? Because we are made to believe the grade is more important than actually learning. Instead, school should make us feel more excited about learning new things and about ourselves, to discover what we are really capable of doing. Because that is what the world needs now.” THE POWER OF CREATIVITY Her principal was there that day to watch Sarah’s and her classmates’ oral presentations. Sheninger describes them as “amazing.” When Sarah’s turn came, it was a good thing he was there because “I had to use my administrative privileges to get the YouTube video to work for her (students will

At the core be advocating soon for unrestricted access),” he says. “Once her video began, everyone was floored,” he says. “I can honestly say this was one of the best, most inspiring, thought-provoking student presentations I have ever seen. Not only was it created entirely through self-directed learning, but it also sent a strong message about how powerful creativity is to learning for our students.” Within two weeks, Sarah’s commentary on creativity spread to far more people than just her classmates and principal. More than 8,500 people viewed her video nationwide on YouTube, largely spread  via Sheninger’s social media network. In about seven minutes, Sarah demonstrates the heart of Common Core’s higher-level thinking standards. It’s creative; addresses real-world problems; demonstrates digital fluency; interests  students;  gives students power over their own learning; demands research, reading, writing, analysis; grapples with an issue; states her opinion and backs it up with rationale. It is student-centered and crosses disciplines. Sarah did not just use media, she also was a creator. (Danielle Shanley, director of curriculum and instruction for New Milford Public Schools, developed this activity.) Sheninger turned this one-day experience into a collaborative resource for all teachers and administrators by posting the rubric, video, lesson plan and even the software Sarah used on his popular blog. That, too, is part of the plan. “Our biggest asset is being connected learners ourselves,” he says. “We are not alone, and no one has to be alone. You can find answers, strategies and solutions that the real-time Web and social media provide us. That

is a great starting point. The work we are doing anyone can find, adapt and replicate.  We are not hiding it from anybody. We want to be transparent and share in the hopes that others will share with us.” A GLIMPSE INTO THE FUTURE CLASSROOM  If Sheninger, Sarah and her teachers at New Milford are examples of carrying out the Common Core standards, what is the picture with the red line through it? Think of the classroom stereotype of a teacher standing at a whiteboard lecturing, students quietly sitting in their seats, facing forward.

John Fallon, ceo of Pearson, an iste corporate member, was a keynote speaker for a Microsoft Global Learning Forum where he was blunt about what the future classroom should not look like: “Technology is disrupting, to use the phrase of the moment, pretty much every other activity and industry. It is transforming the way children and young people play, access information, communicate with each other and learn – and yet, so far, it has largely failed to transform most schools or universities or teaching and learning in many classrooms and lecture halls. We are failing to engage many young

people. Research by academics at the mit Media Lab, for example, suggests that students’ brain activity is nearly non-existent during lectures. As professor Eric Mazur of Harvard University’s physics department puts it, ‘Students are more asleep in lectures than they are in bed.’” Jon Bergmann, an education consultant from Lake Forest, Illinois, and an iste member, is a busy man, best known for speaking internationally about books he co-authored with Aaron Sams, “Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Classroom Every Day,” and its sequel, “Flipped Learning.” (Both books were pub-






lished by, and are available through, iste). He agrees we need to revise our thinking about what an effective classroom looks like. What may look chaotic on the outside may actually be anything but. “Kids sitting passively and listening to somebody drone on is not learning even though some people think it is. For some kids it is, but for a lot of kids, it’s not.” The  quick backstory is that two science teachers, frustrated when they have to repeat teaching to accommodate absent students, use technology to record their lectures for students to view on their own. There is a big bonus: videos work not only for the students who are absent, but become lifesavers for students with limited language abilities, students who don’t take notes well

or who need to hear the explanation more than once to understand. The teacher is then able to clear out precious class time to engage the students interactively, using their new knowledge to solve real-world problems, engage in a personal project that excites them and collaborate on a group activity.  While speaking at a school, Bergmann got a surprise: three teachers wanted to flip their classroom. “Cool,” he said, “so what do you teach? They said, ‘We are the P.E. department.’ Whoa, whoa, whoa.  What do you mean?  And they said, ‘We want our students to move their bodies.’ Generally, they spend far too much time telling them how to instead of actually moving. There are short videos on the different games that they play and dif-

ferent activities they do like how to swing a bat, how to play a specific game and how to do a certain type of yoga. The students watched the videos and came to class and did what they saw on the videos.” WHERE STUDENTS WANT TO LIVE Paula Don, director of education technology for the School District of Philadelphia and an iste member, recently conducted a delicious “aha!” moment. During a professional learning session, she heard the room go silent – a roomful of educators suddenly stopped shuffling in their seats, stopped talking to their neighbors, stopped looking at her, intently engrossed instead with what was on their computers.   “Stop!” she instructed the class. “What made you suddenly go quiet?”

ISTE STANDARDS ASSIST IN NAVIGATING COMMON CORE ISTE MAY NOT HAVE THE CALM, reassuring voice of Siri, but when it comes to navigating

Don had referred the class to a real-time website called worldometers. info. They were fascinated with the constantly changing data on subjects such as how many people in the world are dying of starvation, how many people are being diagnosed with obesity, how many computers are being sold at this second versus tablets.  With that, she engaged the session in a lively discussion of questions they might ask their students to think about that were contained in that data: Look at the number of Tweets being sent versus the number of books being printed. How many Google queries are being sent at this very minute? How much money is being spent on weight-loss remedies in the United States today? How many acres of forest were lost today?  “This is inquiry and analysis into the real world,” Don says, “tasks that are all over Common Core. This is where the kids want to live.” Sheninger confirms that the engaged classroom is not just a place

where students are excited, but their teachers and administrators are learning, as well. “As a principal and educator,” he says, “you could not ask for a better day. We witnessed our students shine when given the autonomy to produce a learning artifact that is meaningful, relevant and reflects the importance of student voice. The conversations that resulted during and after the presentations act as catalysts to empower students to take action and work with us to create an even better school.” And what about that dreaded test panic? “There is one other significant takeaway I learned from my students this day,” he says. “When it comes to creativity and learning, standardized tests are one of the most significant inhibitors.” (Read the research that supports Jon Bergmann’s description of what an effective classroom looks like at

Common Core, it can help to keep you on the right road. Wendy Drexler, Ph.D., ISTE chief innovation officer, makes it clear that just as the organization is technology agnostic, it is program agnostic as well. Devices and programs come and go over time, but the ISTE Standards remain consistent. “There is a lot of controversy around the Common Core, but it does exist; it has been adopted in many states, and teachers are having to work toward it,” says Drexler. “Having the ability to support teachers as they try to make that change is where ISTE sits.” The ISTE Standards are laid out separately for students, teachers, administrators, computer science teachers and coaches, but the heart of the standards starts with the students. “The focus should be on what we want students to be able to do,” she says. “The ISTE Standards are focused on active learning. The teacher standards are there to facilitate the teachers’ ability to help the students meet the student standards.” One of those standards, for example, addresses research and information fluency. “Literacy is no longer about reading a book on paper,” she says. “It is about digital literacy and being able to vet resources, to recognize a valid resource. You might look at the ability to locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize and ethically use information. That is perfectly in line with what Common Core is trying to do from a literacy perspective.”

gail marshall is a writer and editor for the fresno bee, a major metropolitan newspaper in california. she also owns and operates a freel ance business, marshall arts communications consultants.

Perhaps most valuable is ISTE’s power to bring people together. “One of the things ISTE does well,” Drexler says, “is create communities of professionals who share what they do in the classroom. That goes a long way to help integrate technology that relates to Common Core.” — G.M.



Save the date! JUNE 28 through JULY 1, 2015 in PHILADELPHIA

Join the ed tech revolution Technology transforms learning, teaching and you! Stay on the leading edge by collaborating with us at ISTE 2015 in Philadelphia.

Expand your horizons with more than 1000 sessions and learning activities including: • Lectures, panels and snapshots • Hands-on workshops, forums and roundtables • Exhibiting companies, agencies and organizations • Poster sessions, bring-your-own-device workshops and experiential playgrounds • Meetings, social events and networking opportunities entrsekt



Creative application of technology is net result of rethinking learning, teaching

photo by steve smith

Wendy Drexler, Ph.D. ISTE Chief Innovation Officer

Empowering learner s has always been my passion. What does empowerment really mean in the educational setting? I like to think of it as a continuum of control. At one end of the continuum is simple student choice, perhaps options for completing an assignment. At the other end is full student autonomy in which the learner determines what to learn, as well as when and how to learn it. Technology provides increasingly rich opportunities to explore alternatives to our traditional learning and teaching paradigms. Changing paradigms is never easy. We are challenged by the breadth of our field and, even more so, by nomenclature. Few clear definitions exist for the terms regularly associated with educational technology. Ask anyone to define innovation, blended learning or personalization, and I promise you will get a different definition from each person you ask. At one end of the personalization continuum, we could find books assigned to students based on reading level. Further along, we encounter technology-assisted formative assessments that collect student achievement data in order to personalize the learning experience for each child. Travel further, and you’ll find student-constructed personal learning environments that combine multiple online tools chosen by the student based on his or her interests. Virtually every person who hears the word personalization conjures up a different vision of what that means. The blended learning continuum is just as diverse and broadly applied. One teacher defines blended learning as the integration of any technology in the classroom. Another teacher thinks of flipped learning. Still another takes the typical school week and replaces two days of class time with

online learning. It’s easy to understand why so many educators are intimidated and confused. Relinquishing control in the school setting can be scary for everyone involved. Teachers are expected to control the class. They spend the first few years of their careers honing this skill and pride themselves on effective classroom management. At the same time, successful students have learned how to “do”school. They know what it takes to earn a grade and are comforted by a structure in which the steps for success are clearly defined. They are less comfortable with ill-defined problems, even though we know that is precisely what they will face in their future. Assuming control can be just as challenging for students as relinquishing control is for teachers. We may express frustration over the slow rate of change, yet we sometimes fail to acknowledge the journey that takes place from one end of the continuum to the other. Perhaps we can help our colleagues and students with a series of thought-provoking questions that allow for small steps to begin the journey before we even think about the technology. How might we effectively place more responsibility for learning on the student? How might we do less and encourage our students to do more? How might we create an environment of active learning rather than passive listening? How might we think differently about time, place and space for learning? Leaders often begin with infrastructure and technology purchases and then move to pedagogy. Perhaps if we begin by rethinking learning and teaching, the creative application of new technologies will come as a more natural result.



At the core of Joquetta Johnson’s career and professional pursuits is a commitment to technology and the use of social media in education.




Joquetta Johnson She’s an ed tech evangelist

photos by scot t henrichsen

By Tim Douglas

To know joquetta johnson, take a look at her 1994 Honda Accord. Flashy. Bright. Dazzling. Eye catching. Complete with a custom sound system and televisions, it’s at least the equal of any car from the “Fast & Furious” movies. Now look a little closer. The basic model was practical and smart – a great way to get from point A to point B. According to, it’s a car that feels right at home. It’s a car that provides reasonable performance, good economy and decent room in a package that doesn’t take up too much real estate. And since its debut in 1976, the Accord has been the top-selling car in the United States several times. The car is a reflection of Johnson’s career. She’s been a library media specialist throughout Baltimore-area schools, which is a great position with an esteemed history. But Johnson decided to make the librarian something more by emphasizing the “special” in specialist. She stands out without standing apart. She’s bold without being brash. Her innovative approach, positive attitude and boundless energy encourage people to look at librarians differently. She educates in style. She made her car – and her career – her own. “Most people have a view that librarians sit behind a desk and just check out books; we are so much more than keepers of books,” Johnson said. “I refuse to put myself in that box.”

No, Johnson will not be put in that box or any box, because she’s too busy building her own brand in the ever-changing environment that is education. The selfproclaimed Digital diva, which stands for dynamic, innovative, visionary and authentic, is constantly improving, learning and growing. She is as much student as she is instructor, guided by a Native American proverb: He who learns from one who is learning, drinks from a flowing river. But all this passion was almost funneled into a different field. In high school, she wanted to be an anesthesiologist, but math proved to be her downfall. She entertained the notion of being a concert violinist but decided instead to become a member of the drum line at Morgan State University, where she earned her degree in telecommunications. Following her time at Morgan State, she completed significant coursework toward a master’s in mass communications from Towson State, and Johnson seemed poised for a career connecting with people in a much broader way. Then something happened on the way to her “life.” She got a job working in a school library, and it quickly evolved into something much greater. “When I first began, I didn’t have any formal training – no education background; I hadn’t taken any library courses. It was true on-the-job training,” says Johnson, who is currently the library media specialist at Pikesville High School in Baltimore County. “It was exciting, scary and exhausting, and I was so fortunate I had an administration entrsekt



Joquetta Johnson

“My heart is with the students. I want to give all students access to resources and help make them globally competitive citizens.”



that provided such support and encouragement. This career chose me.” Now she has a master’s degree in school library media from McDaniel College, and she embraces her career with all the gusto you would expect from someone who is already envisioning her next personal and professional renaissance as “Joquetta Johnson 2.0,” no longer simply a diva. In addition to her duties as a librarian, Johnson is a Google Certified Teacher (the only one in her school district), a member of the Maryland Society of Educational Technology, and she’s served as a master teacher as part of the National Teacher Training Institute of Maryland Public Television. At the core of her career and professional pursuits is her commitment to technology and the use of social media in education, which helps explain her passion for iste. Her first experience with the organization is one she will never forget. “I went to my first conference [then known as necc, now iste] in 2001 in Chicago, and I was floored,” she says. “I thought, ‘omg, I am in heaven.’ These conferences are like Christmas.” For Johnson, iste provides an oasis of knowledge and ongoing support that are invaluable, and while she truly enjoys the conferences and iste membership, it’s not the personal benefits that give her the biggest boost. “I bring the knowledge back from these [conferences] and workshops, and I share it,” says Johnson, who also has served as a consultant for iste, writing lessons for an iste/ Microsoft collaboration. “I want to be an evangelist for technology. One of the major benefits of being a member is it allows me to connect, share and learn with and from educators around the world. From these connections, I am able to develop a global perspective and obtain new knowledge to share and apply in my instructional practices.” Johnson’s dedication to her peers and her profession spans a variety of programs and roles. As a consultant with The Learning Collective based in Los Angeles, she has helped develop technology integration plans and strategies for use across the nation. And through her work at the Bureau of Educational Research, she provides professional development for other library media specialists. Johnson clearly has a keen understanding of technology and its power. And while she is driven by a need to continue to grow professionally and share her knowledge with oth-

ers, she also knows these are only skills to serve a greater purpose. She never loses sight of the real goal. “My heart is with the students,” she says. “I want to give all students access to resources and help make them globally competitive citizens. Technology is a powerful vehicle that can facilitate any dreams or wishes they have. I love teaching. I love technology. And I love students. I’m so fortunate they all merge together.” And by the way, Johnson’s custom license plate on her tricked-out ride is “BRN2TCH.” Of course it is.

tim dougl as is a former television news producer who also served as a senior media consultant for several speakers of the california state assembly. today, dougl as is a freel ance writer who covers a wide range of topics.

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Taming the stress tiger

Seven ways to hit the pause button on stress By Julie Sturgeon

Educators are under some serious stress. According to a recent survey, 69 percent of teachers reported receiving work-related emails from senior staff outside of work hours, with nearly 85 percent of these receiving emails on weekends, 76 percent during school holidays and 43 percent when they’d called in sick. Educator networks are full of news about expanding job roles and additional mandates. Think this is why roughly 40 percent of adults say they lie awake at night plagued by the stressful events of the day? Ha! We’re just getting started.


In addition to being potentially vulnerable to the physical effects of chronic stress, scientists have discovered that folks who work day in and day out with youth who have experienced trauma begin to show the same symptoms as their students. It’s called vicarious trauma. Even the small things put a load on our psyches. On the most-common-anxieties-at-work list, look what made it into the top 20: keeping up with technology, forgetting something, being seen as incompetent and dressing inappropriately. Now, here’s what you do about it during – or after – work hours:






Don’t sit there thinking. Stand up, move about, engage in a hobby, read something fun. Opening a classroom or office window and letting nature in does wonders for the moment. Dwelling on your worries is fatal to your mental health.

Is your gut roiling or your heart racing like a reaction in a suspense novel? (More likely there’s a crick in your neck.) Focus on that area of your body until the sensation fades. If your attention wanders, bring it right back to the affected body part. Experts say five to 10 minutes of that, and your stomach or kidney or spine says, “I quit” under the scrutiny. The anxiety follows it out the door.



Literally. Disasters, troubles, mistakes, conflict and pain are a staple on cable TV, magazine covers, sometimes even your Facebook and Twitter streams. Turn them off when their contents make you anxious. Some counselors say to limit yourself to one hour of news a day.

Don’t react immediately when the urge to snap hits you. Instead, take a cooling breath: breathe in through your mouth as if you are sipping through a straw, and then breathe out normally through your nose. You will feel a cooling, drying sensation over the top of your tongue. Plus, it helps you hit the pause button.







Feeling panicky? Instead, feel your acupressure point by positioning your thumb on the side of your middle finger and applying pressure. Bingo! You’ve just regulated your blood pressure.

Another literal move. Clean out a drawer or a shelf in your life every day, five minutes at a time if that’s what it takes to lighten your load.

This career tends to bleed over into our personal lives. Your spouse does something annoying, for example, and boom! You shoot him or her the “behave” teacher look. Ban scolding and perfection in your own four walls. You are not Mrs. or Mr. Anybody. Here, you’re Diane or Bob or Jennifer.



julie sturgeon has 25+ years in the journalism industry, serving as both an awardwinning business writer and editor.



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