Transparent Curriculum

An Open United States History Curriculum.

An Open Letter About Transparent Curriculum

Hello.

Back in the day when I began my career in education my goal was to be the best teacher that my students had ever seen. I wanted to leave them on the edge of their seats evey day that they left my classroom – eager to return the next day for more. Then I realized the realities of being a classroom educator. Time was is an issue – especially for that first year every teacher.

That curriculum that I wanted to roll out day one of my career did not show up. In fact, it took me eight years in the classroom to get to a curriculum that I thought was “shareable”.

You see; the reality is that educating is a tough gig – only educators know that. This site is designed as a place fellow educators can come to use the curriculum that I developed for my United States History courses over the past eight years of my life. I was once told that teachers are the biggest thieves – so please, theive away. The curriculum that you will find here is the result of compiling, researching, google-ing, and self-reflecting over the past eight years in the high school classroom.

I will also be discussing instructional technologies, assessment, and school reform issues here on this blog. I want to share with you and I hope that you will share too. You can find more info about what I do over at my company’s site at: www.innovateedu.org.

Enjoy!

Mike Meechin, M.Ed.

Filed under: Uncategorized

FETC 2014

Well, it’s that time of year again. The Florida Educational Technology Conference (FETC) is right around the corner with it’s 2014 version.

I will be presenting again this year and could not be more eager to connect with fellow like-minded tech-saavy educators from around the country and the world. You will find me at the front of three sessions for FETC 2014; all of which you can find listed below. New friends, old friends… I look forward to connecting with you there.

My FETC 2014 Sessions

01.30.14 | Digital Assessment: Using Mobile Devices for Assessment
8:00 AM (Ticketed BYOD Workshop)

01.30.14 | 60 Instructional Technologies in 60 Minutes
10:00 AM (Get there early… this one was at capacity in 2013.)

01.30.14 | Blogging with a Purpose: A Different Approach to Assessment
1:00 PM (Common Core focus)

You can find full descriptions for each and every session offered at FETC 2014 at http://www.fetc.org.

Until then you can find me on the Twitter @mikemeechin.

See you in Orlando.

Mike Meechin, M.Ed.
mikemeechin (at) gmail.com
@mikemeechin

Filed under: Conferences, EdTech

Blogging and the Common Core

Ah, the Common Core… that’s right – I said it.

Common Core State Standards

They are here – whether we like it or not. Blogging is a great way to engage our students, but also address some key Common Core Standards at the same time. In fact, I feel like some of the anchor standards were written with student blogging in mind. Check them out…

Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.

College and Career Readiness
Anchor Standard 6

If we break this standard down – we can clearly see how blogging is a perfect fit for addressing this standard with your students. Blogging requires students to produce and publish writing. The days of students writing for one person, the teacher, are over. Common Core requires that students now publish their work – what better way than for students to blog?

In addition to that, blogging encourages students to collaborate with one another as well. Moderated commenting can allow students to collaborate with one another safely. You could also have students write group blogs, where they collaborate on articles in pairs or small groups.

If you are a teacher thinking about, or already implementing blogging in the classroom I would encourage you to check out the link below of all of the Common Core College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Writing.

http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/CCRA/W

If you are arguing for blogging with your students and it’s effectiveness… I would encourage you to use the Common Core Standards to begin a conversation with the powers that be.

Mike Meechin
mike.meechin (at) gmail.com
@innovateed

Filed under: Classroom Blogging, EdTech

Socrative and a Film Engage Assessment

Movies in the classroom… you know you’ve shown one before.

I was guilty of it too when I was in the classroom. As an administrator I do not necessarily want my teachers showing films to students – unless they relate to the standards of course. So when a film relates to the content and we want to use it to provide a visual for concepts already taught; how do we ensure that students stay engaged throughout? How do we ensure that students stay awake when the lights are off and engaged in the viewing process?

The answer is a tool that I used in the classroom; I called them film engage assessments. I used @Socrative as the driving force and delivery method. If you are not familiar with Socrative, check it out here.

Here is how it works.

As students watched a film in my class, we would use Socrative and I would run a teacher-paced quiz on my student’s devices. For this example we will use the film Glory as the example. The Socrative Share Code is: SOC-594065, if you want to run it in your Socrative teacher dashboard.

The engage assessment consists of ten open-ended short answer questions. Because this is a teacher-paced assessment, I would launch the questions as the students got to the scene they related to. Students would use their devices (Socrative runs on ANY web enabled device) to answer the question.

Socrative allows you to email or download a report of all student answers at the completion of the assessment. I would use the report to guide discussion at the conclusion of viewing.

Keep in mind that this strategy would work with and length of film – from short video clips to feature length films. It is an easy way to keep our students engaged while they view pieces of film in our classrooms.

Mike Meechin, M.Ed.
mike.meechin (at) gmail.com
@innovateed

Filed under: Assessment, EdTech, How-Tos, Student Engagement

Using Evernote for Classroom Walkthroughs

I wanted to share a brief video that I created to show you how my team uses Evernote for classroom walkthroughs.

Evernote is an amazing company that is devoted to a quality product (which at its basic level is free) for education. One of the strongest benefits for me is that Evernote is available on all of my devices and it auto synchs. This allows me to have my data whenever, and wherever I need it.

You can download Evernote at www.evernote.com, or for your iOS or Android device.

Mike Meechin, M.Ed.
mike.meechin[at]gmail[dot]com
@innovateed

Filed under: Administration, How-Tos, Principalship

Shift Happens

Shift. It happens.

What can I say? It’s been a while since I have found time to sit down in front of my keyboard and put my thoughts onto the screen for you to read. It is good to be back.

Since I last wrote I have had a major shift in my professional career – being promoted to Assistant Principal with a large, urban high school in the Atlanta, Georgia area. It has been a major shift for me… and it happens. Just as I shift, this blog will shift as it has before. I am excited to bring new content and my reflections to this blog as I journey down this new path.

I am excited to write more and also to continue to contribute over at the Coop Catalyst – where you can find the work of many great ed reformers.

I thank you for your readership and interest in the Transparent Curriculum.

Mike Meechin, M.Ed.
mike.meechin[at]gmail[dot]com
@innovateed

Filed under: Uncategorized

A Different Take on Transparency

In education we read, speak, receive PD about transparency and its place in our profession altogether too often. Now, having said that – I am all for transparency (check the blog title) in the public education system. In fact I would argue that it is imperative in our schools.

Today, however I want to write about a different take on transparency; a take that deals with how we put in place the leaders of our education systems across the nation. I would also propose a plan (that is being carried out in some districts) that requires transparency in the hiring process.

Superintendent positions often require community review of a candidate. My argument is that we need to replicate this process for school principals and assistant principals. Too often in the public education system it is about “who you know”… and in this business, where our commodity is children – we can not allow decisions to be made on who one knows.

The hiring process of school leadership must be transparent and open to members of the community that a school serves. I know that there are those out there that will argue for the sake of time. I would argue that we must find the time – and the time to take a stand and demand transparency in the hiring process at all levels is now.

School based leadership is essential to student, school and community success.

Mike Meechin, M.Ed.
mike.meechin[at]gmail[dot]com
@innovateed

Filed under: Principalship, Reform, Transparency

It’s Been a While…

I apologize for that. Have you ever hit a run where you are just slammed? Well, that has been me. Work, parenthood, you know…

Well, I am happy to say that I am back. I also wanted to announce that I will also be contributing at the Cooperative Catalyst from time to time. I want to thank @dloitz for the opportunity. I hope that my readers will also check out some of the work at the Coop – there are some amazing conversations going on over there.

You can check out my first post at the Coop, by clicking here. My next Tranparent Curriculum will be coming up real soon. Thanks for reading.

Mike Meechin, M.Ed.
mike.meechin[at]gmail[dot]com
@innovateed

Filed under: Reform

An Appeal.

This is an appeal.

Today the nationwide discussion is, and has been about accountability. Accountability for schools, for teachers, for students. Since the passage of NCLB, and ESEA before that – we have seen testing become the vehicle for how we assess accountability in public schools across the nation.

I am an educator in Florida, so let me give you a snapshot of how we do things (and to be honest you will not see much differ from state to state). A high school student in Florida has to pass a battery of end of course exams, FCAT tests (our state standardized test), and now the Post-Secondary Education Readiness Test (to prove college-readiness).

Can I ask a question? What happened to having faith in schools – so that at the end of thirteen years of school we knew that our students would be prepared to meet the world head on?

I am a history teacher by trade, so let’s look at the past of this great country and it’s educational trends. The World War I generation fought for peace and many also outlived the Great Depression. These men and women were lucky to have finished elementary school. World War II… only 50% of this generation held a high school diploma. Kids who attended school during World War II went on to serve in the Korean Conflict, or later the Vietnam War. These generations introduced the world to film, television, space, and the Moon. They overcame armed conflict many times, economic turmoil, a civil rights movement, and much more.

Do you know what these past generations did not face? A standardized test – at least not in the present form. They turned out doing just fine – people had faith in the schools and the education they received.

Today, we have more resources than we could imagine – but we have no faith in the system. We need to put in place a battery of tests in order to prove that a student in worthy of a high school diploma. (And let me fill you in on a little secret – the tests do not tell the measure of the contributions our students will make to this society.)

Shame on us.

In order to change the system we need to get serious about the system. Reform needs NOT be about testing and how much of it can we run a student through before they graduate. Reform needs to be about taking the profession seriously. Reform needs to be about ensuring that every school across this nation has a quality educator standing at the front of each and every classroom.

Enough is enough – it is time to take a stand. If you are a reformer, if you are an educator, if you are a parent, if you are a student – this is an appeal… start to get serious about the system. This country will be better for it.

Mike Meechin, M.Ed.
mike.meechin[at]gmail[dot]com
@innovateed

Filed under: Reform, Standardization

Classroom Blogging Series: The Digital Footprint

I recently had the privilege to present to some amazing educators from around the world at FETC 2012. I had an amazing time connecting with other “game-changers” in this profession. I want to thank you for the great discussion in person and on the Twitter.

At FETC I was presented the IE PD workshop, Blogging with a Purpose. While we packed lots of info into our hour-long session, I was unable to get to the finer details with that time constraint. So, I am going to follow up with the Classroom Blogging Series – where I dive deeper into some of the details in blogging in the classroom.

The Digital Footprint

While attending FETC 2012, I found myself hearing echoes of edtech gurus calling for educators to have a digital presence. It really is so important – whether a classroom educator or administrator – to have a presence on the Internet; a place to provide some transparency to the happenings in your classroom or school. Do you currently leave a digital footprint?

For the sake of this post I am going to discuss two things. First, I will review the key points that I make in my Blogging with a Purpose workshop. I will follow that up with some additional options for educators in addition to the “Digital HUB” I will discuss first.

The Digital HUB

We educate students that are immersed in a digital environment. From the songs they listen to, to the way they communicate, to the content they digest – everything for them comes in a digital format. If we, as educators or school leaders believe that we do not need to educate in the digital – we are dead wrong.

Students need educators and schools to maintain a digital footprint – one that they can follow to continue the learning on their time.

Think of your “Digital HUB” as a place where your classroom is open not only to students, but parents and the community. Think about the transparency that you provide any stakeholder that is interested in seeing what you are doing with your students.

One very important point about creating the digital footprint is interaction. This digital presence has make student want – not force them – to interact with the content. You have to find the right mix of to bring students to your “HUB” to interact with the content. This interaction is how your students will become engaged. Without it you will not see students using it to engage in their learning.

I have two recommendations for creating these digital footprints. These two technologies are by no means the end all, but they are technologies that I have personally used. I will drop a Steve Jobs quote on you; “They just work.”

Google Sites

If you are a Googleite, like me, you may find that Google Sites is the place for you. You can visit my Google Site here, however, I am now out of the classroom and it has not been updated – but you can use it as a formatting guide.

Google Sites allows you to build a website. I has lots of options for you and is fairly easy to use for the tech savvy educator. I also like how well it integrates with other Google Apps for Education, such as Google Calendar and Google Docs. If these are technologies that you already use – then Google Sites is a great option.

Edmodo

At FETC this year, Edmodo was all the rage – and for good reason. I have used Edmodo for professional development purposes, and I can see how this could just connect with students. First, it looks, acts, and feels like Facebook. It is definitely a technology that most students are comfortable with, which means a small learning curve.

Edmodo allows for posting of materials, ease of communication to students (and parents if they have the access code), a more closed environment, and the ability to group students (i.e. periods, sections, etc…). I would encourage you to check Edmodo out and play around with it to learn its true potential. It is a technology that I will continue to use for professional development and also recommend to my teachers.

What If…

What if I am not a classroom educator, or I just am not ready for this. Well, there are other ways to go about creating a digital footprint.

Blogs

A blog is a great way to begin. It will allow you to publish content and your thoughts to the web. It allows you to begin with one-way communication (output) to students – and also publish some materials. You can continue the classroom discussion, and post announcements and such. The limitation is the engagement piece discussed earlier.

Now principals, this is your bread and butter. I am a believer that every principal should maintain a blog. It is a great way to communicate about your leadership, you school, and your students to all of the stakeholders in the community. If I were a principal it would be a top priority to publish to a blog and grow a readership – I think that this type of transparency is vital to school success in this day and age.

Two recommendations are WordPress and Blogger, both free.

Twitter

If you are still not sure about Twitter – the time is now. This may be one of the most revolutionary technologies to help transform education. The amount of professional material that is out there is infinite. You MUST, as an educator in 2012, be on Twitter. There are plenty of people blogging about it and you can find out a bit more here. This, however should be a non-negotiable for educators today.

You can find me on the Twitter @innovateed.

Bottom Line

Today’s students and school community need to have the option to receive content in a digital format. This can only be achieved when today’s educators and school leaders are leaving behind a digital footprint of what their students, classroom, and schools are doing – and where they are going.

In addition, these resources are free. With the budget crunches of today, these are powerful tools that need to be the focus for us to drive our curriculum. It is vital.

 

Be sure to visit Part I: The Details of the Classroom Blogging Series.

For more information about the Blogging with a Purpose PD workshop, please visit Innovate Education. All workshops can be fully customized to the clients needs.

Mike Meechin, M.Ed.
mike.meechin[at]gmail[dot]com
@innovateed

Filed under: Assessment, Classroom Blogging, EdTech, How-Tos

Classroom Blogging Series: The Details

I recently had the privilege to present to some amazing educators from around the world at FETC 2012. I had an amazing time connecting with other “game-changers” in this profession. I want to thank you for the great discussion in person and on the Twitter.

At FETC I was presented the IE PD workshop, Blogging with a Purpose. While we packed lots of info into our hour-long session, I was unable to get to the finer details with that time constraint. So, I am going to follow up with the Classroom Blogging Series – where I dive deeper into some of the details in blogging in the classroom.

The Details

I am often asked about student safety in the online environment. While I am an advocate of an open Internet in schools, where we teach responsible use – I also understand the many valid concerns. Here I will outline the settings that you can change to address many of these concerns. For the sake of this post, I will address the blogging platform WordPress and Blogger.

WordPress

Most of the safety concerns on WordPress can be addressed from the “Settings” menu from your “Dashboard”. The “Settings” menu has a submenu titled “Discussion”, which will allow you to control comments on student blogs.

WordPress "Discussion" Menu

 

Allow people to post comments on new articles

Unchecking this option will disable the ability to post comments on the student blog. While this is the easiest way to shut off the ability for two way communication, I think that the ability to use comments for feedback is monumental.

Users must be registered and logged in to comment

Checking this box will require all commenters on articles to be signed in with either a WordPress account or other account (Yahoo!, Google, etc…).

By default you will always be emailed when a comment is posted, so long os your students have made you an administrator on their blog. (Instructions below)

An administrator must always approve the comment

Probably the best way to keep student blogs secure. It does require some work on your end however, requiring you or your student to approve the comment. This would be my recommendation for THE setting to change on all student blogs.

Blacklist Comments

On WordPress you also have the ability to “blacklist” words for comments. It is a nice feature, but not necessary if you are going to approve comments prior to being posted.

Have students make you an administrator

This should be a non-negotiable. All students that maintain a blog should add you as an administrator. Here is how. Choose “Users” from the left menu then “Invite New” from the submenu choices.

WordPress "Invite New" Menu

 

Have the student enter your email address, then CHANGE YOUR ROLE TO ADMINISTRATOR. Click “Send Invitation” and that is all. You will need to respond to the email, but then you will be able to change all settings on that students blog. This process requires some work at the beginning of the year, but only needs to be done once.

Blogger

Most of the safety concerns on Blogger can be addressed from the “Settings” menu from your “Dashboard”. The “Settings” menu has a submenu titled “Post and Comments”, which will allow you to control comments on student blogs.

Blogger "Posts and Comments" Screen

Comment Moderation

This is really the only change you need to make for Blogger. In Blogging with a Purpose I mentioned that Blogger does not have quite as many options, so this is what you are limited to. Choose “Always” and have students enter your email address in the box. That’s it. All comments will need to be approved by you prior to being posted to student blogs.

Have students make you an administrator

This should be a non-negotiable. All students that maintain a blog should add you as an administrator. Here is how. Still under the “Settings” menu choose “Basic” from the submenu choices.

Blogger "Basic" Menu

Have the student choose “Add Authors” and enter your email address. What I do not like about blogger is that once you have accepted the invitation, the student must go back in to make you an Administrator. However, so long as you are approving comments, I believe you can leave this step out.

Disclaimer

As I discuss in Blogging with a Purpose, student behavior in the online environment is treated no differently than is a student were standing in front of me having a conversation. They key to student safety is to outline strong procedures, policies and consequences in the classroom. Take the time to teach responsible use.

For more information about the Blogging with a Purpose PD workshop, please visit Innovate Education. All workshops can be fully customized to the clients needs.

Mike Meechin, M.Ed.
mike.meechin[at]gmail[dot]com
@innovateed

Filed under: Assessment, Classroom Blogging, How-Tos

Where I Am Speaking

January 30, 2014
FETC 2014 | Orlando, Florida
Digital Assessment (Ticketed Workshop)
8:00 AM
******
January 30, 2014
FETC 2014 | Orlando, Florida
60 Instructional Technologies
in 60 Minutes
10:00 AM
******
January 30, 2014
FETC 2014 | Orlando, Florida
Blogging with a Purpose
01:00 PM

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Disclaimer

Of course these opinions, musings, rants and reflections do not express the opinion of my employer. One would be crazy to think that one single teacher could be the mouth piece for an entire district. Nor are my posts meant to offend mostly, nor mislead but rather provide a snapshot of my mind at a certain point in time on a topic. So please feel free to disagree, agree, compliment or discourage further blogging but promise to not think this is in any way an official mode of communication for my employer. These are my opinions and while I stand behind them right now they may change so while you are at it, don't hold that against me either.

[Disclaimer Attribution: @pernilleripp]

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