Great Conference @ PSU!

The Integrated Learning Conference is now history. There were 76 great outbreak sessions & presenters! Keynote speaker Bill Symonds (Pathways to Prosperity) had a great message. PtP Video .

I learned about some very cool things happening in classrooms around the Commonwealth. In fact, I have some new ideas for my students! I’m going to highlight a few great things I learned while at the conference.

Topics included on this post: (1) PA Career Zone, (2) School Counts (teaching & learning employability skills), (3) Habits of Success: Skills for a Lifetime and (4) What’s It Worth? Georgetown University report (interactive) on the economic value of college majors.

1. Pennsylvania Career Zone (new and very improved!) Includes:

(1) Self-Assessments Self-Assessments can help students know themselves better. And students knowing themselves better can help students choose a satisfying job or occupational field to explore.

(2) Career Clusters Starting a search by looking at broad sectors can help students find related occupations within an area that they might enjoy.

(3) Budgeting  After High School students need to work to pay for housing, transportation, and clothes… They can find out how much money will be needed to pay for all their needs and research careers that will help meet those needs.


2. Bridging Education and the Workforce Through Community Certificates: School Counts!

A collaborative “community certificate” links students to employers and to valuable preparation for their future. “Employability” certification provides recognition to students who demonstrate responsibility and hard work in school. The document credentials identify potential candidates for jobs or internships based on predetermined criteria. Employers benefit from this initial screening process orchestrated by the school and earned by the student. People resources, not funding, are required, providing a cost-effective way to connect schools and business. I’m going to introduce this idea to my community partners as well as my students-this is a GREAT IDEA! Thanks to CDLN friends Betty Holmboe (Program Coordinator/Consultant) and Liz Biddle (K-12 Project Manager, Pennsylvania College of Technology) for this one.


3. Skills for a Lifetime: Teaching Students the Habits of Success

I attended a couple sessions by the High Schools that Work folks (Teaching Students the Habits of Success & Teaching Students Organization, Time Management and Study Skills: A Habit of Success). I have their book titled “Skills for a Lifetime: Teaching Students the Habits of Success”. Great sessions and great book provided to attendees by PDE. They promote 6 habits. They also have 3 “jobs” for school districts.

The jobs:

  1. Helping students learn to make good decisions, set and achieve goals and become independent learners
  2. Encouraging students to work harder
  3. Giving employers what they expect from the graduates they hire

The six habits:

  1. Build and maintain productive relationships with peers and adults
  2. Organize, manage time and develop study skills
  3. Develop strong reading and writing skills
  4. Develop strong mathematics skills
  5. Set goals and make plans to reach them
  6. Access the resources needed to achieve goals

These habits are consistent with the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Covey). The first section of the book builds the case for teaching the habits. The second section provides approaches for teaching the habits (including What Freshman Need!). And the final section of the book provides model lessons and activities for teaching the habits. I’ll be happy to share more if you’d like.

My SD is already talking about expanding and deepening our students understanding of 7 Habits. This will be a great resource. Can’t wait to read this book more carefully.


4. What’s It Worth? The Economic Value of College Majors by Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (interactive links below)

We’ve always been able to say how much a Bachelor’s degree is worth in general. Now, we show what each Bachelor’s degree major is worth. 

The report finds that different undergraduate majors result in very different earnings. At the low end, median earnings for Counseling Psychology majors are $29,000, while Petroleum Engineering majors see median earnings of $120,000.

What’s It Worth? has been cited by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Time Magazine, Associated Press, NBC, U.S. News and World Report, Huffington Post, Washington Times, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Read the Press Release (PDF)

Download the Selected Findings (PDF)

Read the Full Report (PDF)*

Check out the presentation from the release webinar (PDF) 

Interactive summary tables

Thanks to my CDLN friend Kate Lomax (Educational Services Director, Community Education Council of Elk and Cameron Counties) for this resource!

Presentations I gave at the ILC can be seen here. Topics: e-portfolios & Futures Fair (hybrid career & post-secondary fair connecting students to high priority professions in our region)


“If we want to equip young people for the new world of work—and, more important, if we want them to lead satisfying lives…”

For my last post, I simply passed along a video summary of the book Drive (Pink), that Zoe Weil had posted on the blog Cooperative Catalyst. Zoe said, “When learning becomes its own motivation and reward, we’re golden, and when we realize this simple fact and hire engaging teachers who love to learn and love to share their learning, and abandon our carrot and stick approach in schools, we may find that our students astonish us with their capacity to learn, produce new ideas, and go on to teach what they know to others.” The video: RSA Animate YouTube film Daniel Pink shares what really motivates us.

I finished reading Pink’s most recent book, Drive. He says, “If we want to equip young people for the new world of work—and, more important, if we want them to lead satisfying lives—we need to break Motivation 2.0’s (carrots and sticks—the incentive of good grades, or the fear of bad grades, and the incentive of greater privileges and the fear of removal of privileges) grip on education and parenting.”

Pink has some specific suggestions for educators. From Drive:

The Homework Test

  1. Am I offering students any autonomy over how and when to do this work?
  2. Does this assignment promote mastery by offering a novel, engaging task (as opposed to rote reformulation of something already covered in class)?
  3. Do my students understand the purpose of this assignment? That is, can they see how doing this additional activity at home contributes to the larger enterprise in which the class is engaged?

If you really think about these questions as you plan for learning you can attempt to change homework into “homelearning.”

 “Fed Ex Day” (once a quarter)

You can inject a burst of autonomy into your classroom by setting aside a day each quarter when students can work on any project they choose, however they want, with whom ever they’d like. Ask kids to come up with a problem to solve or a project to tackle. In advance, help them collect/identify the tools, information, and supplies they might need. Ask them to deliver by reporting to the class their discoveries and experiences.

DIY Report Cards

At the beginning of a semester, ask students to list their top learning goals. Then at the end of the semester, ask them to create their own report card along with a one or two paragraph review of their progress. Where did they succeed? Where did they fall short? What more do they need to learn? Once students have completed their DIY report cards, show them the teacher’s report card, and let the comparison of the two be the start of a conversation on how they are doing on their path toward mastery. You could include parents in the conference.

Offer Praise the Right Way

  1. Praise effort and strategy, not intelligence.
  2. Make praise specific.
  3. Praise in private.
  4. Offer praise only when there’s a good reason for it. (“You can’t kid a kid.”)

Help Kids See the Big Picture

Whatever they are studying make sure they can answer these questions: Why am I learning this? How is it relevant to the world I live in now? Then get them out into the “real world” so they can apply what they’re studying. Think of it as the fourth R: reading, writing, arithmetic…and relevance.

Helping kids see the big picture is echoed by many: Covey (The 7 Habits: Begin With the End in Mind), Gray (Getting Real: Helping Teens Find their Future), Wiggins and McTighe (Understanding by Design), Daggett (Model Schools)…I sure there are more. As Tom Friedman once said during a discussion about his book, The World is Flat, “Why isn’t anybody telling the kids?” Why do we so often forget to tell the kids?

Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose–Drive, the suprising truth about what motivates us. How do you motivate yourself? Recommended reading for anyone interested in the science motiviation.