Friday, December 23, 2011

Try These Math Games Over the Holidays

I stumbled upon this interesting math site of quick math games for students to use that will support a variety of math strands and skills.  Honestly, it was the Pac Man image that lured me to the site, and after a quick game of Math Man (swallow a question mark circle, which gives you an equation, which is the next ghost you need to eat) I was hooked.  Not the highest quality or fully developed, but definitely FUN!!  I've added a permanent link to the sidebar Website Links for Students.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

EdCampTO 2011

Looks like an innovative gathering took place in TO this this reflection video to see what happened at EdCampTO 2011 and visit the wiki to join in on the conversation.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

YouTube for Schools Is Education Hub for the Digital Age

YouTube for Schools Is Education Hub for the Digital Age

An article can be found at the link above...and please view the brief video below...

Can you believe that I had to argue and fight for You Tube access in our schools for over two-three years?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Financial Literacy documents

Here are a couple of Financial Literacy documents that come from the Ministry of Education.  I am posting them here so you can find them again.  I will also add a link to the sidebar.  A reminder that Financial Literacy is a responsibility of all teachers of all subjects.  The scope and sequence document helps align some of the curriculum areas with Financial Literacy concepts for grades 4 to 12.

A Sound Investment:  Financial Literacy Education in Ontario Schools

Financial Literacy:  A Scope and Sequence of Expectations

These documents are only available electronically on-line and can not be ordered in print form.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Try your hand (or head) at the Daily SET puzzle.  This is quite the game, presented to the OMCA group by Dr. Daniel Jarvis.  It is available at Scholar's Choice, Chapters, as well as an iPad app.  To try the Daily SET puzzle, click here for the website.

Friday, December 9, 2011

JUMP Math webinar

Announcing JUMP Math Online Training Dates for December 2011- January 2012

JUMP Math is pleased to announce its first series of online training sessions for educators of grades 1 - 8. This two-part webinar, entitled How to Reach and Teach Every Child, is geared for educators with little or no experience with JUMP Math. Please register below for parts 1 and 2 on the dates and times that suit you.

The JUMP Math approach embraces new work in cognition that shows that mathematical abilities can be developed in all students through rigorous instruction. It is a method and philosophy that closes the achievement gap and raises the bar. In this two-part webinar, we present proven methods for engaging students in learning mathematics. Meticulously crafted lessons enable teachers to get their entire class moving forward at unprecedented rates by using: continuous assessment; techniques for improving class dynamics; scaffolded lessons that challenge students to discover mathematical concepts in manageable steps while continuously raising the bar; innovative bonus questions; and subtly varied practice. The JUMP approach helps teachers eliminate math anxiety and enables all students to reach their full potential.

In this webinar participants will:

•Learn about the JUMP Math program, its philosophy and development
•Become familiar with JUMP Math's teacher and student materials
•Learn about JUMP Math teaching strategies
•Discuss practical strategies to develop mental math fluency
•Learn about strategies to develop solid problem-solving skills

JUMP Math experts will conduct these live, interactive webinar training sessions.

Introductory Offer: Participants who complete this 2-part seminar by the end of January can take advantage of a total price of $25 for this program. Please check the registration form for currently available sessions. We will add new sessions each month.

Please register at:

Please visit for more information.

Nya:weh to Mr. Freeman for sharing this information.  I do not believe that he receives kickbacks for this, but I may be wrong.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Monday, November 28, 2011

Visual Art in all Subjects

Interesting article courtesy of The Committed Sardine...

Visual Art as Critical Thinking

We've heard this story before. The first thing to go in budget cuts is the visual art program or another related art. Proponents of arts education counter with the usual rhetoric on the importance of self-expression and creativity. I, myself, am a product of arts education.

From the early age of kindergarten I was in musical theater. I eventually transitioned in music as a focus, and was a choir nerd in middle school and into college. In fact, my participation in Jazz Choir kept me in school, as I struggled with depression as a young adult. I kept singing into college, where I led the jazz and a cappella ensemble, and participated in a semiprofessional jazz ensemble the Seattle Jazz Singers. Although my schedule no longer allows me to sing on a regular basis, karaoke continually calls my name. I'm sure many of you had have had a similar experience, where art remains a crucial part of your being. These stories alone say "Yes!" to arts education.

Well, I have another argument to advocate for arts education. Visual arts (as well as other arts) are an excellent discipline to build and utilize critical thinking skills. I don't think we often give credit to the deep conceptual and interpretational thinking that goes into the creation of a piece of art, and this is often because art is treated as something separate from the core content areas. School does not need to be this way. In fact, I have recently seen two excellent ways that art can be used to wrestle with rigorous content from the core while allowing for creativity and expression.
I had the privilege of visiting High Tech High and Middle in San Diego, California. The first thing I noticed that art was vital to the culture of the school. Whether using physics content to create kinetic art with pulleys or to create 21st century resumes (see photo above), teachers embraced art as part of the culture of study.

Chris Uyeda was nice enough to sit down with me to talk about a recent chemistry project by his students. They were told that the common image of the atom was WRONG, and that they needed to create a pitch for a better representation of it. Chemistry and the study of the atom require deep conceptual thinking, some of which is hard to grasp. Chris saw art as an opportunity to have students critically think around the content to create a beautiful art piece. The student example below shows just one student's take on a more appropriate representation of the atom through the motif of bees and beehive. Art was a great way to familiarize students with critical content they would need later in the course.
A colleague of mine, Dayna Laur, a social studies teacher at Central High School in York, Pennsylvania, worked with her art teacher colleague Katlyn Wolfgang to ingrate the study of art and politics. Edutopia featured their story and advice, and you can use some of their resources. The driving question for the project was, "How can art reflect and inform the public about policy-making agendas?" In it, the students had to collaborate across classrooms to create an art piece that had a message.
More than just making connections, the art students had to use their critical thinking skills not only to understand all the information and nuances of their public policy issue, but also to synthesize it into an art piece that conveyed a message. Students researched legislation, background information and other pertinent content. Instead of simply creating artwork with a message (which is a natural function of art), they had to wrestle first with critical content of politics and social studies before creating the art piece. Student examples are pictured above and below.
Teachers, your mission is finding ways to integrate art into the core subjects. Use your students' creative impulses to bring a new purpose to interpreting, conceptualizing and critically thinking around content. This type of integration can work for ANY discipline. It will help to value art as not just a separate entity, but rather integral to the school culture. Art is important as a single subject, but also should be valued as core through rigorous integration. In addition to being a fulfilling part of your students' lives, it can engage them in the core content

Thursday, November 24, 2011

ExploreLearning GIZMOS on PD Day

We are excited to have the ExploreLearning GIZMOS and REFLEX trainer at our PD day on Friday, November 25th.  All Intermediate teachers will get their accounts set up in the AM and junior teachers will be able to view the resources in the PM.  Please check your government e-mail for the PDF file that Peter Wright has shared with our teachers specifically for this PD day.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Alberta Principal's View on Assessment

Click on the following link to read this from the "for the love of learning" blog...

for the love of learning: Assessment and Provincial Achievement Tests: This was written by Don Wielinga who is an elementary principal in central Alberta. by Don Wielinga This Is What I Think: "Assessment...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Using Social Media in Schools

Ten Ways Schools Are Using Social Media Effectively

Readers discuss how they use social networking in their schools, list helpful resources
October 21st, 2011
By Meris Stansbury, Online Editor
ESchool News
Smart phones might be getting the green light in more schools around the country, but social networking is still getting the yellow in many schools: Parents are worried about bullying, teacher-student online relationships are questioned, and school security can be compromised all too easily, some critics fear.

To understand how social media, an almost integral part of our current culture, can benefit K-12 schools and districts, we asked eSchool News readers: “Name one way you use social networking in your school/district. Or, if you can’t/don’t currently use social networking, how would you like to?”

From professional development to providing real-world examples of mathematics, readers say it’s time to make the best of what can be a valuable resource for education. Here are some of the top ways they’re using social networking in their schools.

How have social media enhanced your own district, school, or classroom environment? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

10. Professional development

“In my professional role, I’ve become very quickly reliant on Twitter and Facebook to inform me of trends and Web 2.0 tools I should be considering using with students/sharing with staff. For the most part, social networking is blocked in our district, and it’s frustrating to not have access to ed-tech blogs I’d like to check with on school time.” —Marcia Dressel, K-5 librarian, Osceola, Wis.
9. Community outreach
“At my school we use it to promote various activities, gain feedback, or start a conversation for something, and sometimes [for] recognition of a particular group, teacher, etc. We never use full names for students or tag them in photos. … I think it is a great tool for connecting with our parents who are already participating in social media.” —Shannon Bosley
8. Course assignments

“We have some teachers using to leverage social networking features in the classroom. With Schoology, we can create a private social network focused around course curriculum. Teachers can post assignments and create online assessments as well. The site is free to use, is intuitive, and works well.” —Brian C. Dvorak, technology TSA, curriculum and professional learning, school support services, Fresno Unified School District
7. Parent communication

6. Distance learning

“We use social media in two distinct ways: (1) As a communication tool between the district and parents. We are a small district, but over one-third of our families ‘like’ our Facebook page. This gives us a great tool to communicate pretty quickly with a good portion of our parents. (2) For classroom use—a teacher who taught a distance-ed class for our school and three others set up a Facebook page to foster communication between the remote students and the students she taught physically.” —George Sorrells, technology facilitator, Winneconne Community School District
5. Assessments

“I use Twitter to do an end-of-the-unit review. I tweet various topics, people, and dates for AP U.S. History.” —Ann Wright, assistant principal, Archbishop O’Hara High School, Kansas City
4. Cross-cultural communication and language learning

“A few years ago, when I used to work in … a Greek private elementary school, we cooperated with several schools from foreign countries, such as Holland, England, France, and Sweden, and used social networking in order to communicate with each other and break down the distance and language barrier. We used English as a means of the aforementioned communication and completed several activities such as writing chain stories and letters offering personal information in English, and arranged to meet in person with our students once a year in a different host country. This activity materialized with the great contribution of the internet, as it was our only means of contact. It has been a great experience and assisted young students in [becoming] communicative and confident in using English, as well as the internet, in [performing] hands-on-activities.” —E. Mantzana
3. Collaborative learning

“Our district is using the paid version of this year with the middle school and high school students and teachers. This online social media [platform] includes a social wall, very similar to Facebook, along with an eMail account, a digital online locker, blogging, … [and] many other available items. One of the main reasons we went with this medium is because of the tight security it offers our students, by using filters for slang words, curse words, hate words, porn, and more. It is a medium to teach the students how to use social media in a professional manner to help prepare them for the marketplace upon employment. The students enjoy having the social aspect of it, and the teachers are appreciative of the means to acceptably and safely contact the students. Also, the teachers can upload assignments into a specific drop box that only their students can see, where the students complete the assignment and submit it back to the teacher, totally without the need for printing anything.

“The teachers are also very appreciative of having access to YouTube through Gaggle, with the filters that are in place—they can show just about any education video without being blocked. Because it is a cloud-based program, anyone can get to their account anywhere there is internet [access], so students can access their social wall at home, as well as their homework assignments. Files can be uploaded to their digital locker and shared and worked on collaboratively, so the need to be in the same room together at all times is eliminated. As teachers create “classes” within the program, it concurrently creates a class social wall for the students enrolled in that class, where they can talk with each other, post pics, message each other, and more. So far, it has been a very positive experience for all our users.” —LeAnn Waldie, instructional technology specialist, Godley Independent School District, Texas
2. Networking with colleagues

“Our college is located in Queensland, Australia, and we are fortunate to have a one-to-one [computing] program for our students from year 4 to year 12 and for all of our staff. The power of the Personal Learning Network that our staff tap into would be impossible without the global interactions and connections our teachers have made through social networking tools. We encourage our staff to be at least active ‘followers’ on Twitter–and have established valuable networks for our teaching teams. In a recent Modern Foreign Language Teachers’ workshop, one of our team sent out a tweet inviting practitioners to share their expertise. We were amazed at the response we received, and without as so much as a blink of the eye–we switched into Skype mode and there was a ‘new’ face in our workshop–sharing their ideas and success stories from the U.K. We have just finished our review of our Strategic Plan, and we have indicated as one of our goals for 2012–the expansion of Personal Learning Networks for all of our staff harnessing the power of social networking.” —Jan MacNamara
1. Integrating real-world applications into teaching

“Social networking is an excellent real-world example of discrete mathematics. Students can post a joke and then track the vertex edge graph that results. The graph can be used to make inferences about popularity, outgoing personalities, and levels of friendship. Tracking the joke as a tree may also allow you to make inferences about natural communities, cliques. This document is one way we have used social networks to make mathematics meaningful.” —Mary Hosten

Friday, November 11, 2011

Nya:weh to Mr. Freeman for sharing this with us a few years back...
and a HUGE meegwetch to the soldiers this song pays respect to.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics

Mrs. Reuben asked me to share this particular resource from the Six Nations District Numeracy Plan.

It is John A. Van de Walle's series of books entitled "Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics."  Above you will see the K-3 text.  There are texts for grades 3-5 and 5-8 as well (see District Numeracy Plan for ISBN numbers/details).  Most of our schools have these texts kicking around, probably in a teacher resource area or on a teacher's classroom book shelf.  If you haven't had a chance to look through it, please consider taking some time and contacting me to try a lesson in your classroom.  For downloadable blackline masters of each text, click here.  Thanks to Mrs. Reuben for bringing this text to the attention of PAC and for recommending it be shared here for all of you!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Take the Pledge

Take the Pledge to End Bullying at this website and view the resources available to participate in National Bullying Awareness week November 14th to 18th, 2011.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Native Math and Science Listserve


We are in the process of re-designing the listserv and the website. Over the next few months you will receive updates including information about math and science lessons and activities you can use with your students. We are pleased to let you know that the listserv notices will become a regular feature of the expanded Aboriginal Access to Engineering Program (AAEP) now in development at Queen's University Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science located in Kingston, Ontario. If you know other teachers who might be interested in joining this listserv, please forward our message to them.

To help build a strong Calendar of Events for teachers in all geographical regions and for them to receive the maximum benefits about events taking place within their province/state, please send us an email at to inform us of any Career Days, Career Fairs, Job Fairs, Career Symposiums designed for Aboriginal/Native American students within your high school or close to your community. Are you aware of any math and science teacher meetings, teacher association meetings, subject association meetings, conferences, workshops, or conventions that would be of interest to math and science teachers? Please provide the date, location and website so that we may pass it along through our Calendar of Events.

In the meantime, here is a current list of good professional development opportunities that are taking place over the coming year.
  1. Council of Ministers of Education Canada
    The CMEC Educators’ Forum on Aboriginal Education, Winnipeg, Manitoba, December 1-3, 2011.
  2. National Science Teachers Association
    NSTA 2012 National Conference in Indianapolis on Science Education, Indianapolis, US, March 29-April 1st, 2012.
  3. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
    NCTM 2012 Annual Mathematics Meeting, Philadelphia, US, April 25th-28, 2012.
We're looking forward to passing along more lesson plans, curriculum ideas, great websites, and other resources that you can use with your Native students.  If you have any suggestions for other listserv content, we'll be pleased to hear from you.

Duncan Cree, PhD, P.Eng.
Interim Director
Aboriginal Access to Engineering Program(AAEP)
Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science
Queen’s University
Kingston, Ontario, Canada, K7L 3N6
Tel: 613 533-6000 ext. 78563
Fax: 613-533-6500
Copyright © 2011 Queen's University Faculty of Engineering & Applied Science, All rights reserved.
Nya:weh to Mr. Freeman for sharing this info.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Not exactly Numeracy, but too good not to share, there is a website called We Give Books.  It is exactly what it sounds like.  There is a selection of digital books that you can read (alone, with a child, with your class) and once you are finished you will be asked to input your e-mail (so the site knows you are an individual, real person) and they will donate a book to a child that needs it.

Here is a link to the website:  We Give Books.

Today we read Goodnight iPad, a fun parody of the classic Goodnight Moon.  Check out the site!!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Saviours and Burnouts

The following article appears on the Rethinking Schools blog.  It has been copied in its entirety below.  To view it from the original source, click here.

Saviors and Burnouts: Rethinking Teachers in Popular Culture

by Elizabeth Marshall
Rethinking Popular Culture and Media
Receive 20% discount during Media Literacy Week, Nov. 7-11. Use code 5BRPCMJ11.
From movies such as Blackboard Jungleand Freedom Writers to televisions shows like Degrassi: The Next Generation and The Wire, teachers and students are regular subjects of film and television.
November 7-11 marks Media Literacy Week in Canada, and it affords educators—Canadian as well as those south of the border—the opportunity to ask the question: What sorts of pop culture stories are told about teachers, and how do these fictional stories matter in the real world?
In our recent book, Rethinking Popular Culture and Media, authors critically engage with numerous representations of teachers in television and film. It is clear that a number of stereotypes about teachers are consistently reproduced in mainstream North American popular culture. What is at stake in popular representations of us as teachers? Let’s begin with a focus on two familiar characters, the “Savior” and the “Burnout.”
The Savior: This character appears in numerous “urban” movies. S/he is usually White and seeks to save students of Color in under-resourced schools. InRethinking Popular Culture and Media, Chela Delgado analyzes these representations for readers in her piece, “Freedom Writers: White Teacher to the Rescue.” In Freedom Writers and other scripts like it, one teacher saves the students—not through structural change, but through individual pluck. Delgado suggests a different kind of plot. She writes: “I want a teacher movie where there aren’t cardboard heroes and villains, but a genuine analysis of how race and class play out in schools” (p. 226).
The BurnoutThis teacher has worked in the schools for too many years. The following clip of the economics teacher from the 1986 movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is a good example of the teacher who continues to try, if ineptly, to impart information to disengaged students.
Some might argue that representations of teachers in popular culture are just entertainment; however, these images and storylines all have real life implications. For instance, the consistent use of the savior-teacher-who-saves-students-one-classroom-at-a-time continues the myth of the individual teacher and teacher education as the main problem with schools, rather than structural issues such as poverty. Images of the burnout-teacher, who teaches the same lesson year after year in a coma-inducing tone, and has a “job for life,” like the economics teacher in Ferris Bueller, help sustain the fiction that tenure is the problem with schools (Not Waiting for SupermanWisconsin). These representations then lay the foundation for films like Waiting for Superman, which have an explicit ideological agenda that is bolstered by both the Savior and the Burnout myth.
All of these representations are caricatures meant to distort, and therefore deflect, the real challenges teachers face. However, as the contributors toRethinking Popular Culture and Media demonstrate, we can promote alternative representations of teachers that frame educational issues in different and more complex ways. In her chapter, “More Than Just Dance Lessons,” Terry Burant analyzes how the documentary Mad Hot Ballroom raises for educators a number of important questions about teaching that challenges the familiar teacher-as-savior storyline, such as “How can we change the face of teaching to reflect a more diverse nation?” Similarly, in Gregory Michie’s piece “City Teaching, Beyond the Stereotypes,” he points out how a film like Half Nelson complicates teacher-hero movies, and how a documentary such as The First Year moves away from “grand or symbolic gestures” in favor of “steady, purposeful efforts to make the curriculum more meaningful, the classroom community more affirming, and the school more attuned to issues of equity and justice” (p. 233).
Too often educators focus on critiquing children’s popular cultural texts as somehow separate from that of adults when in reality, television and film cross over between audiences and share familiar images and storylines. Educators can and should use Media Literacy Week as an invitation to improve our own digital citizenship, to use technologies to resist and rewrite representations of teachers as saviors and burnouts, as well as any other number of stereotypes, in popular culture and in mainstream media.
Analyzing representations of teachers and teaching is important and necessary work. As the writers in Rethinking Popular Culture and Media suggest, thinking critically about how educators are represented is the first step for repositioning ourselves “from cogs in the machine to social actors intent on resisting and/or rewriting the status quo” (p. 11). In this way, critical media literacy is not just for youth.
Classroom Resource for Analyzing Teacher Stereotypes  
Media Awareness Network, a sponsor of Media Literacy Week, has a unit of study for grades 6-8 entitled “Images of Learning” through which educators and students can undertake a critical media literacy analysis of how teachers and youth are represented in television and film. Readers can access it here.
Elizabeth Marshall, Ph.D. teaches in the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver Canada, where she researches children’s and young adult literature and popular culture.  She is co-editor with Özlem Sensoy onRethinking Popular Culture and Media. Her work has appeared in numerous academic journals, including the Harvard Educational ReviewReading Research QuarterlyGender & EducationDiscourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, and The Lion and The Unicorn.
This post represents the views of the author, and not necessarily those of Rethinking Schools.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

SNDNC October Meeting Minutes

Six Nations District Numeracy Committee
Meeting Notes   October 5, 2011.   2:30- 4:00
Present:  Joe Restoule General, Cathy Jamieson, Alice Anderson, Anne Noyes, Tammy Claus, Carrie Froman, Luanne Martin
Absent:  Deb Martin Abel, Judy McNaughton
1.  Reviewed NC Representation chart- Pam Beaver is Jamieson alternate.
Tammy Claus approached Janis Thomas (Native Language Rep), Alison Maracle (TEA rep), Betsy Buck- all three are pondering the notion of joining the committee.
Joe RG will ask Tom Deer (District Language & Culture Teacher) to attend meetings as needed.
2.  Goals/Areas of Focus for 2011- 2012
Using assessment data for, of and as learning
Share resources from each school to support PLCs
Ensure connection w/PD committee
Generate a Scope & Sequence/Cultural Link to Math Alignment document
Desk book example, added on to with additional topics (3 part lesson; Big Ideas, Scopes of Sequence)
Adjust DNP (District Numeracy Plan) to meet new template of SSP (School Success Plan)
Much discussion for Goal #4 to emphasize cultural link to math.  All members received a copy of the Traditional Knowledge Teaching Cycle.
Cathy Jamieson will present Terms of Reference to PAC at the next meeting.
New Business
3. Joe RG shared items from OMCA meeting, such as GAP Closing, Financial Literacy Scope and Sequence gr. 4-12 (see EduGAINS), MOE release of Proportional Reasoning K-12, Patterning and Algebra K-3 (see MathGAINS), also check out and  An updated version of Geometer’s Sketchpad (v. 5.02) is available for our district.
4. Scope and Sequence Document; discussion around this goal included identifying many resources to use as we create our own document, which will include the traditional teachings/cultural component.  Joe RG will send committee members the following documents: Scope and sequence/delivery plans for DSB of Niagara, Hamilton-Wentworth DSBoard, GEDSB, Combined Grades doc.   He also mentioned Math Makes Sense planning sequence, and Circle of Light Conference Placemat.
Teams were set to work on the Scope and Sequence Document:
Junior- Judy, Carrie, Joe
Primary-  Alice, Tammy
Intermediate- Anne, Luanne, Deb, Cathy
5.  FOR NEXT MEETING November 2, 2011 at 12:30 pm - All members to look over documents sent and bring all documents to District Teachers' Office for a working session.  We need to decide on a template to use.
BYOL-  Bring Your Own Lunch
Thanks for the Cinnabon treat, Mr. Restoule General.

Submitted by Luanne Martin   October 7, 2011.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Seven Billion and counting...

Today, the world's population will reach seven billion.
Watch this short video about your "average" or "typical"
person and think about the numbers at play.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Grade 7 Fraction Festivities

 Mrs. Charles had her Grade 7 class solving some fraction puzzles
AND getting creative in the culinary arts at the same time.


 Students were given a cue card like the one above and had to 
then take the correct amount of cupcakes based on their allotted fraction.
They then had to follow the fraction amount to properly decorate the cupcakes
with the right amount of cupcakes iced a particular colour for their cupcake creation.

 Mrs. Charles really turned a normally frightening math concept
into a fun and festive classroom activity, all for ECG's Halloween fun night.
(Do they even know that they were technically multiplying fractions???)

Also seen at ECG:  a fun math mystery book on display.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Right Drivers for Whole System Education Reform

Very interesting piece from the Huffington Post (called The Global Search) on the left sidebar, under Numeracy in the News.  Read the entire article below, or click here for the link to the original source...

"The way to improve the quality of teaching is through teamwork in the schools, and then surround it with better teacher pre-service, better attraction of the profession, and better professional development." -- Michael Fullan

Michael Fullan has been working to identify the right drivers for whole system education reform. His paper, "Choosing the Wrong Drivers for Whole System Reform," has stimulated considerable interest from educators around the world (including the U.S.) to understand the policies and strategies that can help get education into successful system reform, i.e. real solutions to closing the achievement gap and improving learning so that students learn better than they did before.
Michael Fullan is Professor Emeritus at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, and is Special Adviser on Education to Dalton McGuinty, the Premier of Ontario. Fullan served as dean of the faculty of education at the University of Toronto from 1988 to 2003. He is currently working as adviser and consultant on several major education reform initiatives around the world. His work is based on how large-scale reform can be successfully accomplished. He has written several best sellers on leadership and change. His latest book isChange Leader: Learning to Do What Matters Most.
What kind of education system will permit a country to have the people skills needed to compete globally?
We did a qualitative study called "The Slow Road to Higher Order Skills" to take a look at what we call the 21st century skills. The skills that are normally listed, like creativity, communication, collaboration, problem solving, reasoning and digital literacy, are not well operationalized. Even though there has been a big project from Cisco/Intel/Microsoft to do that, the progress has been very slow. In Ontario, we want to start deeply with literacy and numeracy. We do not want to be narrow in our focus, but we also do not want to get into the vagaries of the 21st century skills that people talk about but do not operationalize. In short, no one seems to know what "there" looks like when it comes to higher order skills, and correspondingly, no one knows how to get there.
What are your views on standardized testing?
The worst thing a system can do is load up on standards and assessments in a way that overwhelms schools. This is wrong driver number one. Instead, we have to focus on instruction and learning (personalized to each student) as the centerpiece, and then link to standards and assessments. The driver here has to be assessment-instruction up close with the student and the teacher. In my paper, "Choosing the Wrong Drivers for Whole System Reform," I identified how some systems are mishandling accountability.
Note: To briefly summarize Fullan's paper, the four wrong drivers are the focus on accountability (versus intrinsic motivation and capacity building), individual quality (versus group quality), technology (versus instruction), fragmented (versus systemic) solutions.
Testing is important in what I am going to call the accountability strategy, but the push on standardized testing can become too narrow and it becomes a mindset that says we have to load up on assessment and also identify with world class standards (such as PISA) in terms of assessment. Almost all of the skills that I consider the high order skills are measurable if you want to measure them. Politicians make assessments based on testing that is narrower than it should be. The PISA test is a great example of how we can break out of that mold. On top of this, we have been working on the "black box" of implementation for which you not only need better assessments, but you also need innovative instruction in relation to those assessments. Once again, the core is assessment-instruction personalized to each learner.
We seem to have become assessment obsessed in the U.S. since our poor results in the last PISA Test.
The greater urgency the U.S. places on competing internationally, the more that becomes an obsession in the wrong direction. The U.S. school systems have been losing ground since 1980 with growing gaps between high and low performers, and poor rankings internationally. The U.S. needs to take PISA benchmarks seriously, they need to get behind the numbers and realize that the top performers got there by building the collective capacity of teachers in the country -- all the teachers.

"With Sir Ken Robinson, we want to map out the curriculum that includes the arts as well as literacy and math." -- Michael Fullan

What can be done to better address the emotional well-being of some kids today given the rise in competition and the pressure to achieve?
We have too many tests, so one way to reduce stress is to have fewer tests. I agree we have to reduce the stress on kids. Enabling them to have more success would be a great stress reducer. So, I would rather ask first what goals we are striving for. Let's build those goals into the learning experience. And those goals have to include the well-being of our kids.
I think of the problem as a three legged stool. Let's call the three legs: standards, assessment, and instruction. I want to go beyond the word curriculum and focus also on instruction. We've got standards. Even though they've not improved enough, there is a foot in the door around higher level skills, which should include well being. Our solution is to strengthen the two way street between instruction and assessment. Assessment should be a strategy teachers use to personalize the curriculum for kids and to improve instruction.
Dylan Wiliam has published a book called Embedded Formative Assessment (Solution Tree), and it's all about teachers and students engaged in the two way street between instruction and assessment of how they are doing. The answer for me is to zero in on instruction and assessment. In addition, we are beginning to work with Sir Ken Robinson to ensure curriculum is broadened to include the arts. Students' well-being will be greatly served by tapping into the intrinsic motivation of a range of kids.
Note: see Global Search for Education, my interviews with Sir Ken Robinson and with Dylan Wiliam.
What is the nature of the respect for teachers in countries that are doing well in education?
When you look at Finland, Singapore, South Korea and Hong Kong, all of which have high quality teachers, you will see that it's not just that they have good teachers, but also because they have improved the whole profession. It's a combination of incentivizing teachers and improving working conditions. Teacher's salaries have been going up in the U.S., so it's not just about teachers' salaries. It is more about the respect for teachers, the quality of their preparation, the working conditions, and enabling teachers to work together. It's a big task for the U.S. because the U.S. is starting so far behind.
What the U.S. is counting on is the wrong driver on teacher appraisal. We think the way to improve the quality of teaching is through teamwork in the schools, and then surround it with better teacher pre-service, better attraction of the profession, and better professional development. Those surround things are enablers rather than causes, and the core cause is to improve the profession itself. You have to improve the entire teaching profession, not just reward the top 20 percent and punish the bottom 20 percent. You have to improve the daily work of all teachers, which is what we are doing in Ontario.
Does Canada's definition of educational excellence take into account the quality of life of individuals and of a society's artistic and cultural achievements?
No, not yet. I have been an advisor to the Premier of Ontario since 2003. We are in our 8th year now and we have spent a lot of time getting the house in order, so to speak. I would say that what we have done is get to the point where our next phase is to go for the whole well-being of the child. We have the stage set to do that. Five years ago, OECD UNESCO did a report on child well-being in rich countries. This study assessed the well being of students in about 20 countries. It showed Canada well down. A policy objective has to be the well-being of students. We are looking forward to working with Sir Ken Robinson from the UK who, as you know, has advocated for the arts in education for over a decade. We need to integrate some of Ken's thinking into our ongoing goals. Specifically, what we are now working on is to integrate technology, pedagogy, and change knowledge to accelerate personalized learning. We need learning that is deeply engaging for students, precise (i.e. it has to be specific and concrete), high yield (big return for the effort) and higher order. With Sir Ken Robinson, we want to map out the curriculum that includes the arts as well as literacy and math.

Professor Michael Fullan and C. M. Rubin