Getting to THEIR Optimum Vision

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Are you a follower of the posts of Jesse Lyn Stoner? She is a business advisor and coach – as well as a bestselling author. I am a very dedicated follower. Her business leadership posts are quite often easily (and importantly) adapted to education; and her posts and quotations (such as the one in the featured image) are very aligned with my values and those of many others.

When I encountered this image on Twitter, I was, as usual, very much in agreement with its message. In fact, I added a comment: “Even worse are the people who don’t discuss issues with ANYONE… They simply select someone’s points of view as theirs!!!”

The title of my blog, “Considerations,” relates to my strongly held beliefs. It is our responsibility to ourselves, our country, and to humankind that we gather a broad body of information believed relevant to a topic of current importance. Subsequently, we must understand, assess for relevance, and organize into a Vision associated with the topic. ‘Vision’ is my term for the interrelationships/ linkages on the topic that enable us to deal appropriately and usefully with situations associated with the topic. ‘Appropriately and usefully’ is an extremely key phrase… One important use of our vision is discussions on the topic with others. While habitual dedication to ‘Considering’ will help us become better with the process, it would be frightening (to me at least) to allow ourselves to believe that personal vision is totally, automatically useful. (It’s no more automatically useful than the visions or points of view of anyone else.) Consistent with the quotation in the featured image above, discussions with a diverse group of people will indeed provide their assessment of and feedback to your vision and introduction to their vision – both improving the visions AND thus the outcomes for situations appropriate for application of those visions.

So how do people develop the skills of Consideration leading to these visions? For sure, each of us can and likely will self-develop the skills if we in fact seek to make a difference; we will self-assess our efforts during and after the application to identify and subsequently refine those skills. And, yes, our parents and family are hopefully successful in their efforts; and if so, they are likely to provide feedback and encouragement to us to refine our skills – starting at a young age.

It is my firm belief that formal education’s most important task is to facilitate the development of those skills. The four skills most critical, I believe, are Effective Learning, problem solving, communicating, and working in groups. Effective Learning deals with the gathering, understanding, and organizing information for use in developing a vision. [Aside: This Effective Learning will also prepare students for in-school assessment including the useless (IMHO) Standardized tests.]

Problem solving starts with recognition of a problem, continues with determination of the true objective, includes the building of aligned visions, obviously involves application of those visions to develop outcomes useful to addressing the objective, and ends with reflection on and documentation of outcomes and efforts made. Application of problem solving enhances both Effective Learning and formal School assessment by the way.

Communicating is important to our improved vision building as noted earlier; it is also obviously the route to our sharing of our efforts with others. I often remarked to my students that “It would be sad if our Nobel-prize efforts never were seen by others.” Of course, the likelihood of ‘Nobel-prize efforts’ are slim. But hopefully our efforts are valuable / useful to others for their adaptation and refinement. Those efforts will be so only if our preparation of material for clear communicating occurs – the complete skill of communicating.

Finally, there is the skill of working in groups. Very often, our efforts are a part of a formalized group effort; but even ‘individuals’ work in informal groups. An artist, for example, works with their manager, agent, materials suppliers, reviewers, gallery people, … Developing the skill of working in groups is important (including for working in study and project groups in school) and must be included in education priorities.

So there is my thesis on the preparation for successful formal education, for lifelong learning so important to a successful personal life and career, and for the critical exercise of our citizen responsibilities. If we educators facilitate the development of these skills and help them to become habitually used through student-centered addressing of our carefully developed driving questions, we will help our students understand the importance of getting to their optimum visions and doing so through discussions with people having diverse views.

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UDL, Considerations, and Effective Learning

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In my efforts to constantly reflect on and refine the “Considerations” tool that is the focus (and title) of this blog, it is important for me to consider (using my tool of course!) many of the learning sources available to all of us, using the visions thus developed to refine the concept and application procedures of the tool. In this post, I have two objectives: (1) I want to (maybe, may already be familiar) introduce readers to the notion ofn Universal Design for Learning (UDL); and (2) I want to discuss a few of planned upcoming posts to this blog that will explore UDL and its inclusion with consideration to further enhance learning.

Universal Design for Learning is an extension, as I understand, of Universal Design – an approach utilized in architecture. Architects seek to include universal access to and engagement with the structure(s) being designed from the first concept developed (as contrasted with revising near-final designs for universal access and engagement). Similarly UDL seeks to enable engagement of ALL learners in effective learning through the improved education design. I am in the midst of participation in a SOOC (Supported Open Online Course – NOTE new participation is closed) on UDL and Applicable Apps offered by ISTE. Through this learning opportunity, I am gaining the knowledge and practice that willbetter align with my facilitation of effective learning AND lead to revisions as appropriate of my Considerations tool. One important research-supported UDL conclusion that I find easily logical: ALL students, with and without special needs, learn more effectively in UDL-based education opportunities!

Let me give a brief overview of the role of considerations in effective learning. For more information, the reader is directed to the previous posts to this blog. It is my thesis that PBL (Problem Based Learning) is the optimum approach to learning. The sketch at the top of this blog, taken from a piece from George Couros, is very much aligned with PBL. Indeed, there are also many of the eight items included that are consistent with UDL as well. Via the voice of the students, their choices, the problem finding / solving, and connected learning, involvement of all students (i.e., UDL aligned) in the effective learning is enabled. Where does “Considerations” fit with this notion of classroom effective learning? Interestingly, for me at least, the one shortcoming of the sketch is the near void of learning (really only directly in the connected learning)! INDEED, after the students’ voice and choice, after the reflection, after the problem finding, and after the self-assessment, THERE ARE LIKELY NEEDS FOR CONSIDERATION: individual or sub-groups of team members addressing the hurdles identified, developing those visions to share / refine within the team, to indeed move forward with this student-controlled effective learning.

The SOOC in which I am participating has quickly shown me that I have been far too lax in intentionally and specifically including UDL components (beyond their fortunate but unplanned inclusion as noted in the previous paragraph). This tool and personal pedagogy shortcoming will be remedied and then discussed in future posts to this blog. A few ideas that I am already exploring:

1. Please note that this and all previous blog posts are all provided in text-only format. The SOOC materials provided to us participants have included text, voice-only, video (often accompanied by transcripts and/or subtitles). I will be investigating many apps (e.g., YouTube, Text-To-Speech, Grid Diary, and Today’s Meet) to broaden the options for engagement.

2. Please know that while I personally have provided Internet storage sights (through Blackboard) for student teams to save and share their files, I have much to do to broaden collaboration opportunities. One example: I intend to learn better the use of Google Hangouts (or similar) to enable teams to collaborate from different locations.

3. Please know that previously I have required teams to summarize their efforts in written progress and final reports. I intend to invest in the learning necessary to broaden the reporting options – including presentations, poster discussions, videos, and other options as appropriate.

4. MOST IMPORTANTLY, to me at least, I must investigate the more subtle concepts of UDL in both the PBL pedagogy and the “Consideration” tool. Subtle??? Yes, as I continue to learn in the SOOC, I am uncomfortable, believing that the “visible” changes such as those noted in #1 – #3 above under-represent the true importance of UDL for both in PBL and consideration! The ability to have empathy for ALL learners and to facilitate their special and individual effective needs are chief among these subtle features.

I realize this is short on new information and more on setting the commitment. I welcome the interaction with you through replies to this post or by email. For further UDL material, Internet searches have been invaluable to me. Here’s two of my favorites:  this CAST website and  this one. Stay tuned…

Welcome to Considerations!!!

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As I have read and responded to many favorite blog posts, both related to Leadership and Education, I have routinely connected with a concept important to success in any field, a concept I have called CONSIDERATIONS. This blog will in various future posts discuss my interpretation of considerations as a process, my thoughts on consideration application, my suggestions for important topics for consideration, and thoughts on my considerations of topics I wish to share publicly. I also certainly seek posts from readers of this blog – feedback on previously published posts as well as new posts from you.

A brief overview of Considerations as I define the word: Considerations go beyond the notions of reading, studying, and/or learning material – to the understanding the material through its many interpretations, its many viewpoints, its contradictions, its relationships with other material. The objective is the development of a vision of how all of this fits together. Such a vision enables one to dialogue with others to explore new or misinterpreted vision components, to apply the vision to address situations encountered, and to assist through writing and facilitating discussion the general improved public vision of the topic.