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Seminar Reset the Mindset

Reset the Mindset    A presentation (and workshop) for teachers

NOTE:  you don't need to take notes.   Just listen.  If you want to take notes, don't worry.   We will give you this presentation on a CD or DVD, your choice.

At the end of this presentation, you will be asked to work with partners to apply some of the information that is discussed in this workshop. You might want to keep this question in the back of your mind: How can I use this information in my classroom?

What could I change in my lesson plans and in my classroom to put this information to use?

What materials can I bring into my classroom that could build on what I'm hearing today?

Yes, 1983 is ancient history for many of us...

1.  The Situation in 1983

The Carnegie Foundation paid millions of dollars to get a report that made broad recommendations for school reform.

Chairman Boyer looked at the school systems around the country and concluded: 

I hope that in the century ahead students will be judged not by their performance on a single test but by the quality of their lives.  I hope that students will be encouraged to be creative, not conforming, and learn to cooperate rather than compete.

Ernest Boyer, president of Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 1993.

Nearly 30 years later

We have more measurement.   Did anything ever grow by measuring it?   (Dennis Littky)

Have things really changed?   Is Boyer turning over in his grave?

What's needed?   A new way of looking at the problem.

2.  What happens when you change the mindset?

Before we look at schools, let's look at other times when the mindset was changed.


Galileo looked at the moon and said, "I can see that the moon orbits the earth, and there's no way that the sun circles the earth."  He provided a new model for categorizing what everyone saw.

His telescope showed that there were little moons that went around Jupiter and those moons did not circle the Earth.    This data blew the minds of 16th century Italians and they couldn't handle it.   Galileo had to recant.

There have been other shifts in mindsets or paradigms.  Copernicus showed that the orbits of planets were ellipses, not a circle.

Mindsets come from the way we look at the world scientifically 

à Ether.   Scientists used to think that light traveled along the ethers.   they used to think that light was a wave, but it also acts as a particle (that's a shift in the mindset)

à Phlogiston -- this word describes a material's ability to burn... Intellectuals in the Middle Ages thought that wood and paper had more “phlogiston” than metal or stone.

à Gasoline: our mindset before 1973 was (hopefully) different than today.

We are talking about cars that run on alternatives to gasoline.

There have been dozens of major changes in humanity's collective mindset and we are in the middle of a mindset change now...  

Howard Gardner helped us reset the way we think about intelligence (multiple intelligences)

Robert Ballard asked us to look at the Black Sea and imagine what might have happened to create the story of Noah's Ark and the Great Flood

Dan Pink told us to think about the other side of the brain… but these mindsets have stalled.    

People like Dan Pink are saying, "Hey, design is important, look to the whole brain" while test mavens want to standardize education in a left-brained, data-driven, lopsided manner.

Progress does not have to move forward smoothly.   There will be losses, retrenchment before we unloose the bonds that bind us to tradition and then we can surge ahead.

So let's move on... 

3.   Unintended Consequences  

Problem:  we depend on foreign oil   Remedy:   ethanol from corn

Unintended Consequence:   (cartoon of starving kid next to fuel pump with ethanol from corn)  

There are numerous other examples of unintended consequences.

Who knew that when Congress made it a goal to help more people to own their homes that the entire structure would start to fall down?  

Action:  Congress made it easier to lend money

Response:  Interest-only loans with a balloon payment and increased interest rate after four or five years.   OOPS:   people who couldn't afford to borrow were given loans... 

                                                    Political cartoon is by Chan Lowe, Sun-Sentinel.com  >>>>>

4.  What are the unintended consequences of measuring students and applying standards to schools?

a)  teaching to the test

"Tell us what's on the test, and let us prepare for the test."

b)  Preparing for a test (instead of teaching as we used to and just letting the test measure what was taught.)

These were NOT what Governor Jeb Bush stated in his plan for "A+" when the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) was proposed.


"It seems to me that schools primarily teach kids how to take test, a skill one hardly uses in real life unless one is a contestant on a quiz show).  Elementary school prepares kids for junior high; junior high prepares them for high school.  So the goal (if we can call it that) of schools is to prepare kids for more school." -- Tom Magliozzi, one of the Car Talk guys, writing in his book, In Our Humble Opinion:  Car Talk's Click and Clack Rant and Rave (2000).  

"I have been a psychologist for 21 years, and I have never had to do in the profession what I needed to do to get an A in many of my courses in college.  In particular, I've never had to memorize a book or lecture.  If I can't remember something, I just look it up.  However, schools set things up to reward with As the students who are good memorizers, not just at the college level but at many other levels as well.   -- Robert Sternberg, psychologist.

Our education system should be creating mindful learners.  (Littky)

Too often we teach people things like "There's a right way and a wrong way to do everything."  What we should be teaching them is how to think flexibly, to be mindful of all the different possibilities of every situation and not close themselves off from information that could help them.   Ellen Langer, professor of psychology

I never let schooling get in the way of my education.  -- Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)

No matter how far you have gone on a wrong road, turn back.  -- Turkish proverb

Think about how people learn best.   We learn best when we care about what we are doing, when we have choices.   We learn best when the work has meaning to us, when it matters.   We learn best when the work is real and relevant.  

We want to prepare our children for the world, so let's no isolate them from the world.   

Many people talk about how difficult it is to integrate a curriculum.   How can English teachers work with math, science and history teachers?   That is ridiculous:  the world is integrated!  Every day schools unravel the world and all its vast knowledge and put it into boxes called subjects and separate things that are not separate in the real world.  What is science and geography without math?  What is English with its history and word origins and other languages?  We teach kids about the real world by locking them up in a building that looks, acts and feels nothing like the real world.   -- Littky, page 29

The traditional school isolates large groups of young people from adults and the experiences of the real world, then expects them to emerge at age 18 knowing how to be adult, how to work and how to live in the real world.   Kids are expected to sit still for long periods of time, to learn primarily by listening to someone talk and never talk to anyone around them.    They learn how to please eight different teachers with eight different sets of expectations -- and the teachers base their understanding of the kids on 45 minutes spent in a room with 20 to 30 other kids.  Only if they are having trouble do they get an individualized education plan (IEP) or get any feedback on their learning beyond a single letter on their report card.   Their education system assumes that they are exactly like every other kid in the class and every other kid who was in that class 40 and 50 years ago.  The school emphasizes the same "set of knowledge" for everyone and expects them all to demonstrate the exact same skills.   The world is changing -- schools are not.  -- Littky, The Big Picture, page 32

One-third of the jobs that will be around ten to fifteen years from now haven't been invented yet.


What can teachers do today?

We could continue complaining, but let's end this training with two questions:

1) How can we personalize our lessons?

2) How can we integrate our lessons with other subjects?

3.     How can we bring the world into class or take the class out to the real world?

GROUP ACTIVITY (for the participants in the seminar)

Let's brain storm together -- sit with a group of four teachers and come up with three things you can do to individualize training.   

How can you integrate your subject with other subjects?

Can we use the Internet to create virtual internships?

(time to circulate with the audience, put them into groups, someone takes notes, the notes get passed to the front, a big list is made and checked off the list that is given to the audience.)


Project-based Learning

Many education reformers point to narratives and portfolios for assessment and projects to guide the learning in the classroom (to reduce lecturing).  Inquiry and independent thinking by students ought to lead the way in the classroom, so that the teacher is a “guid eon the side” not a sage on the stage.”   OBJECTIONS:   “It’s hard to grade a project” and “it’s messy.”  More objections?   Other comments?


CONCLUSION   This workshop is not over yet...    When you are finished working in your small group, we say, “Very good.   Each group got at least ten of the items that are on our list.”   BRAVO, thank you for your participation.   Some of the groups added some ideas that we didn't have on our list, so we will add them to the lit for our next training.

Don't leave!  Sit! Stay!  NOW COMES THE EXCITING PART:   You might think that this seminar is over.  We've talked together for 30-40 minutes.   This has just begun.  We are passing around a sheet of paper with your contact information.  You signed this paper, putting your email address and your name on the sheet.  Well, most of you did.   We want you to sign up for 7, 30, 90 day checkups.   Dennis and Steve will make it their job to call you, email you or possibly visit you in your class to see how you use these techniques.   If you want none of that follow up, scratch out the numbers.   If you want all three visits or emails, 7 30 90, then circle all three numbers.    We will contact you or visit you on this basis.   Please add your phone number.     If we can text your mobile phone, please write the word "TEXT" next to the phone.

Thank you for your attention.   The unexpected consequence of this presentation is not yet known, but we have a hunch that you might bring a camera into your classroom, a computer and a disk burner.

As the crowd disperses, the following quote goes on the projector

What is the power of stories?

I tell stories to new teachers who are just beginning to get a sense of what "one kid at a time" really means.  When they start to gather their own stories that is when they are beginning to see the inner workings of each kid and to understand where the kids come from.  This is when they are able to make learning happen and when they are helping to carry on the culture of our school.--- Dennis Littky

At the end, quotes by Steve Jobs, Thomas Friedman, etc., go on the wall, CDs are distributed with the materials and the lecture on the CDs so the participants don't need to take notes.

Presented by Dennis and Steve

By the way... here are three things you can introduce to you students immediately – (1) Posters for the walls at home (and at school), (2) digital books and (3) educational mp3 files – the CDs are included in your packet. Please follow up with us and tell us how you have used this information and please share contrary or supporting articles that you find in the news.

Photo from 2006 – we've been pushing digital books on TV (see the photograph of Steve on a local TV news show, South Florida Today)

For more information, write to VisualandActive@gmail.com

Dennis Yuzenas      yuzenasdennis@bellsouth.net   Steve McCrea visualandactive.com  


http://sites.google.com/site/visualandactive/Home/reset-the-mindset  << see images online







By Terry M. Neal and John Poole
washingtonpost.com Staff Writers
Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Those two programs -- one federal and one state -- are on a collision course this summer. That's when new test results could show that many of state's schools pass the Florida A+ standards while failing to show sufficient improvement under the federal No Child Left Behind rules. Failing to make progress on the federal standards would require the state to let the parents of students in failing schools transfer their children to better-performing alternatives.

Ninety-four percent of Florida's schools passed the state standards but only 13 percent passed the federal ones, according to a recent press release from Jim Davis, the Democratic congressman who represents Tampa and St. Petersburg. More than a few educators in Florida are worried that massive transfers could destroy the public education system in the state.

Gov. Bush touted the results at a press conference at Coral Park Elementary School in Miami. "When we ended social promotion and raised standards for our high school seniors last year, many were skeptical," he said. "Today's results show Florida is moving in the right direction, with more students reading on grade level and significant improvement and opportunities among those who have struggled most."


Testing is not new to Florida's school kids. The state has required graduating seniors to pass a competency test for 20 years, said Frances Marine, communication director of the Florida Department of Education. The A+ plan merely increased the level of proficiency required for graduation from an 8th-grade to a 10th-grade level. Marine said no one ever complained about the previous testing requirement until Gov. Bush began pushing his A+ plan, a sign that the opposition is playing politics. "Where was the outrage before?" she asked

Gov. Bush's supporters and advisers in Florida say the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) has integrated nicely with the state's existing testing formula. The goal of NCLB is to raise reading and math proficiency to 100 percent for all students in the country by 2014. Unlike the A+ plan, which grades schools on the aggregate scores of all their students, NCLB measures the performance of subgroups of students in reading and math and requires all groups -- defined by racial, ethnic, income and other factors -- to keep improving until all groups reach the 100 percent goal. These different scoring techniques have given some schools passing grades under the state A+ plan but failing grades under NCLB.


Gloria Pipkin, a white 57-year-old educator and author who lives in Lynn Haven, a small town on the Florida Panhandle, has organized a group called the Florida Coalition for Assessment Reform (FCAR). Her group consists mostly of educated, affluent whites who are alarmed at what they see as the undermining of a well-rounded education. Like Wilson and Curry, FCAR's members believe that the education system needs to be improved, but don't believe high-stakes testing is a means to achieve that goal.

FCAR is a nonpartisan and nonprofit grassroots organization with a "shoe-string" budget, Pipkin said. Hundreds of parents, educators and students are working in FCAR to repeal the A+ mandates.

"I'm sure the motives were noble and honorable, but whenever high-stakes are attached to any test -- bonuses for teachers, school funding -- the whole system becomes deformed and distorted by test scores, and we confuse that with learning and gaining," Pipkin said, arguing that subjects such as social studies and creative writing are being phased out to make way for test preparation. "I see high-stakes testing as a very real threat to deep thinking, critical thinking and imaginative thinking…All we're concerned about now is taking a test."