Friday, April 18, 2014

Trending Forward

Spring is an interesting time of the year.  I typically think of fresh beginnings.  This Spring has done nothing to change those thoughts.  A couple weeks ago I was asked to be on a panel at a local university and talk to education students about everything from educational trends to keeping life balanced.  The panel discussion was actually just one in a series of events.  Since February I have had numerous conversations with prospective educators and educators looking for new challenges.  I have felt a sense of pride that people have had the confidence in me to ask for my thoughts.  The most common conversation I have had always seems to come back to trends in education.

This got me thinking, what do I see as the top ten trending ideas in education.  So here goes:

10) Wifi in all schools.  This is simply a no-brainer.

9)  1:1 Technology that has the potential to morph into a BYOD -Bring Your Own Device.  One of the major goals of schools is to prepare students for the future.  It goes without saying that technology is going to be a major part of our future.  I really like the Districts that are able to implement something close to a 1:1 and then evolve to a BYOD.  The reasons I like BYOD is this, we need students to understand multiple devices, we shouldn't pigeon hole them into just one.  It isn't about the technology, it's about the learning and doing.

8)  Flipped Classrooms.  This may not be the hottest topic at the elementary level, but I see flipping as a segway into Blended Learning.  Flipping the Classrooms allows teachers and students to better utilize class time.  It also allows students to do the learning on their terms.  As an educator you may not choose to Flip Your Classroom, but you should be aware of what it is.

7)  Gamification Learning.  This is a growing trend in education.  We all know that most students love to play video games.  In many ways it is the ultimate engager!  So the question is, how can educators harness this tool and use it to their advantage?  I for one am intrigued.  I learned a lot growing up and playing, Where in the World is Carmen San Diego and from the Legend of Zelda.  I expect Gamification to continue to grow.  Check this out: Gamification Infographic

6)  Maker Movement/Project Based Learning/Genius Hour.  I lump these together, but they are not the same thing.  Let's start with PBL, the common core lends itself to exploration and discovery.  What better way to achieve this than through projects?  Allow students to discover answers and share information.  Project Based Learning has been around for a long time, but recently is has regained momentum.  As a classroom teacher and principal I get a lot of joy from checking out what students have created.  Maker Movement has some similarities, but it is also scientific in its approach.  Students are creating and making as they solve problems.  One part of me believes the Maker Movement is the wave of the future.  As soon as the Next Generation Science Standards are finalized we will all see a huge shift in focus.  I believe science will become a MAJOR focus.  Finally, Genius Hour, I'm a big fan of Genius Hour, but I realize it is a process.  Initially I looked at Genius Hour with skepticism. Now I see the value and the ownership that students take.  Genius Hour is here to stay!

5)  Paper Less classrooms.  This may seem drastic, but I must admit it excites me.  With increased technology, student blogging, online learning and the ability to create multiple ways to show what you know, paper and packets are quickly becoming archaic tools.  If you want to begin to dabble in the paper-less movement I suggest looking into Evernote.  I believe you will quickly find it is easier than you ever imagined.

4)  Taking charge of your own LEARNING.  For new educators and for experienced educators the times of District Professional Development being the only source of growth are LONG GONE! Educators can now attend FREE Edcamps, participate in Twitter chats, and talk face2face on Skype or Google Hangout with other professionals.  I have openly informed all perspective educators that this is a key component for new teachers.  Administrators are looking for individuals that have the drive to grow, improve and try new things.  Do you own your own learning?

3)  Blended and Hybrid Learning Environments.  It has already begun.  Students and parents are looking for an individualized education.  Families don't want to be tied to a school schedule and for some students they crave choice.  Over the next few years I predict High Schools to take on a new model.  We will begin to see hybrid learning environments, students will spend part of their day in class, part online and part on their own.  Teachers will begin to create online lessons that allow students to learn at their own pace.  Now all students will come to school at 7:30 and leave at 3pm.  As this takes off I predict more and more students will get involved with internships.

2)  Truly understanding differentiation and engagement.  For some time these words have been thrown out there.  It is vital for educators to have a true sense of how to differentiate their classroom and then how that differentiation increases student engagement.  I'm a believer that all students can learn, it is our job to find the motivator and the way to pull them in.  Relationships are always key!

1)  Sharing The Great Stories Everyday!  The time is now.  We as educators MUST share the positive things happening in classroom and schools on a daily basis.  Educators have an endless amount of tools to communicate the greatness.  There is Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, Animoto, email, Instagram, Remind101...the tools are endless.  If you are not sharing the positive stories you are missing out on a golden opportunity.

As you check out my top ten trends notice I didn't put anything on there that is curriculum specific. This is for good reason.  I am an authentic learning believer.  My goal is always to empower teachers with tools for their toolbox, but I do not want to force teachers into a one-size fits all method.  The resources available to educators are endless, and I hope people are willing to get messy and find the tool(s) that works best in their classroom.

So now you see my list.  What would you add or subtract?  Better yet, do you have a top ten educational trends list?

This week's big question:  What was one educational trend from five years ago?  Any guesses?


Monday, April 21st:  Morning IEP's
Monday, April 21st:  3:45pm 1:1 Leadership Meeting
Monday, April 21st:  4 - 5pm Minecraft Club
Monday, April 21st:  4 - 5pm Lego Club
Monday, April 21st:  KDG Round-Up
Tuesday, April 22nd:  EARTH DAY
Tuesday, April 22nd:  Morning IEP's
Tuesday, April 22nd:  Minecraft Club 4 - 5pm
Tuesday, April 22nd:  Lego Club 4 - 5pm
Tuesday, April 22nd Boy & Girl Quest 4 - 5pm
Tuesday, April 22nd:  KDG Round-Up
Tuesday, April 22nd:  Science Night at Warner from 6pm - 7:30pm
Wednesday, April 23rd:  Grades K-2 morning assembly
Wednesday, April 23rd:  National Secretary Day!
Wednesday, April 23rd:  KDG Round-Up
Wednesday, April 23rd:  Minecraft Club 3 - 4pm
Wednesday, Apri 23rd:  String Team 3 - 4pm
Thursday, April 24th:  KDG Round-Up
Thursday, April 24th:  Lego Club 4 - 5pm
Thursday, April 24th:  Boy & Girl Quest 4 - 5pm
Friday, April 25th:  Staff Meeting at 8am in Mrs. Smith's classroom
Saturday, April 26th:  Happy Bday to Patti Dault
Sunday, April 27th:  Happy Bday to Joleen Hurt

Articles Worth Reading:

8 Things I'd Like To Change in Education +Justin Tarte @justintarte

Rip the Training Wheels Off @jonharper70bd

4 Tips for a Successful Parent-Teacher Conference +Erin Klein @KleinErin

4 Types of Leaders You Shouldn't Be +George Couros @gcouros

The Case for Change +Nicholas Provenzano @thenerdyteacher

Plant a Seed of Change +Pernille Ripp @pernilleripp

How To Make It To The End Of The School Year +Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher

Exposure +Josh Stumpenhorst @stumpteacher

60 Apps in 60 Seconds +Scott McLeod @mcleod

What Principals can learn from Kliff Kingsbury... +Amber Teamann @8Amber8

Now What?  +Tony Sinanis @TonySinanis

25 Things You Should Never Stop Doing For Yourself +Marc Chernoff @marcandangel

Videos Worth Watching:

My Digital Stamp.  How will you be remembered? (18 min) shared by @Joesanfelippofc

Unsung Hero!  This is amazing...must see. (3 min) @jvbevacqua 

Pass it will you make a difference? (2 min)

Use it or Lose it...Love this from Ellen! (2 min) @TheEllenShow


  1. Ben that is an excellent list! I would not take a thing off. I would love to have my own children attend a school in which those ten trends are taking off. My hope is that one day we are able to spend more time teaching the whole child. In other words, I wish we had time during the day set aside to teach character. With testing at the forefront it is very difficult to see that happening in most schools. I realize that great teachers and schools infuse character education throughout the day. I wish it would start trending more because I feel as a nation we are suffering a great moral decline.

    1. Bridget/Jon,

      Thanks for taking the time to check out my list of trends. You are spot on when you say we need to focus on Character. I have been pleased with our progress at Warner Elementary in large part to our Leader in Me program and my weekly focus on character education at our assemblies. The biggest factor in this movement must be mentality and attitude...It Takes A Village!

  2. I regularly read your blog, and always learn something new from your writing. Along with reading your post, one of my favorite things that you do is to include articles that are worth reading. I am never disappointed when I click on the article links and take the time to read, reflect, and comment. So, thank you for sharing your thoughts, and also articles that have made you think!

  3. Great Post, Ben!! I love how #2 is necessary no matter what educational trend is out there! Engaging your students and meeting their instructional needs through differentiation is key to achievement! Thanks for sharing!