James Sturtevant Hacking Engagement
Summary: It is my great pleasure to publish this weekly podcast that supplements my book "Hacking Engagement". Listen and get creative ideas on how to engage students tomorrow! Please visit my website: http://jamesalansturtevant.com/ And...for a cornucopia of teacher empowerment resources, visit: http://hacklearning.org/
One fine day in my little education world...I witnessed the negative power of sarcasm. I was hanging with a colleague who became frustrated with a student's lack of effort. The young man did not have his assignment. Instead of asking the kid...What happened?Were you unclear on instructions?Tell me what's up.Let me help.my teacher comrade responded to the news of the student's lack of preparation with sarcasm, "Wow...that's really going to prepare you to compete in the global economy!" This volley was well received by the rest of the class. There was much laughter and a few of the young guy's classmates tossed in some verbal darts aimed at the youngster to support their teacher. The young man laughed too, although he blushed. I wondered if he was really okay with the barb. This entire episode might seem innocent. I'll argue however, that it was a poor relational move on the instructor's part. The teacher absolutely elevated himself at the expense of his student. I don't know if the kid was injured by the comment, but it's conceivable that the sarcasm could have reinforced many of the insecurities the boy already had about himself. While his exterior was saying, "Good one Mr. X. You got me there!" Internally, he may have thought, Wow. I guess it's true. Maybe, I am irresponsible. Maybe, I do have a bleak future. I certainly don't know if these thoughts were deviling this kid, but why risk it? I'll argue that you should purge sarcasm from your classroom. This may be a tall order because sarcasm can be a vice. At the time of consumption it feels real good, but the aftershocks can be unsavory. Let's get rid of this tendency and your students can help in this process.
Russell Doup is my nephew. Russell Doup is a 25-year-old stockbroker and former Ohio State football player. Russell Doup is living with his uncle...yours truly...while he builds his client base. Consequently, we hang out a lot. About a month ago, we watched The Founder the story of Ray Kroc who was the force behind McDonald's. We both loved the movie. Ray, played by Michael Keaton, was a champion networker. He used this skill to transform a small hamburger stand in California into a dominant multinational corporation. Russell is a 24/7 networker. We agreed that the movie was inspirational and it inspired a passionate conversation about networking.Watching the movie challenged me to inventory all the times I've benefited from networking. I met my lovely wife through social networking (this was old school social networking prior to the internet...I'm talking 1988). Every teaching interview I've landing was the result of personal and direct networking. As Russell and I sat on the couch and discussed the implications of The Founder, a thought struck me, Networking is darned important, but schools don't teach kids how to do it. I turned to my nephew and asked if he ever learned about networking in school. He responded negatively. My experience as a student was the same. In the midst of this Eureka moment, I knew I had to do an episode on networking featuring my networking nephew!
On a brilliant October afternoon a couple of decades ago, the fire alarm shattered the tranquility. Our school was experiencing a gas leak. The students and staff hurriedly spilled out of the building and marched on to the practice football field. We were told to stay put and wait till the all clear signal could be issued. You've probably experienced such situations...1,000 adolescents herded outside and told to wait patiently. It was bedlam!What I found so interesting was the reactions of the kids. They exited their institutionalized classrooms into a beautiful day and immediately came to life. As they frolicked in the afternoon sun, one droll young man approached me and said the following, Mr. Sturtevant...our staff much looks better in artificial lighting. I laughed uproariously, but the comment struck me. Just maybe it takes removing kids from a bland, sterile, uniform, institutionalized setting to stoke their creative juices and find joy. And here dear reader, is where Dr. Casey Ewy makes a dramatic appearance. Dr. Casey teaches at Susan B. Anthony Middle School in Manhattan Kansas. Dr. Casey is all about DEINSTITUTIONALIZING classrooms. Her objective is to build a family atmosphere in her room which will bolster relationships, ignite creativity, and stoke engagement. Joining her on today's episode is her team of like-minded colleagues Richard Hancock, Haley Smith, and Heather Smith.
When evaluating a new tech tool, I must be able to use it within 5 minutes...or I just bag it. If I can't figure it out by then, my students will be lost. I was conducting a PD session in Ft. Worth this past summer. A young lady called me over and said, "Have you heard of Flipgrid and if so, have you used it?" My answer was, No and no. I made a mental note to try it when the school year started, but I remember thinking...It has to pass my ease of use test. Last week was 8 weeks in and I finally got around to it. I'm glad I did!Flipgrid is a cool way to encourage student voice. You record a video question and then kids record a 1 to 90-second video on their smartphones or Chromebooks in response. I mastered Flipgrid in about 3 minutes. My students figured it out in 2. This tool is great in terms of providing a creative vehicle for student expression. In last week's episode, Chrissy Romano warned that ostentatious presentation tools like Flipgrid might unravel introverted kids. My response, which Chrissy liked by the way, was to take anxiety away by permitting students who were uncomfortable to interview someone.To help me in my Flipgrid explanation quest is an awesome original source. Aharon Rockwell is a freshman and in my Global Studies class. Aharon knew I had a podcast and approached me about being a guest. I jumped at his offer and I'm glad I did. He's a great guest!
A number of years ago, I took the Myers & Briggs personality assessment. I was tabbed an ENFP. When I read the description of my type, I was thrilled. I thought, Yup that's me and I'm glad it's me. My enthusiasm, particularly for the E classification which stands for extrovert, was well-founded. Being an extrovert is the gold standard in America, particularly in our schools. As students, extroverts are the volunteers, the kids who make cheesy videos, the guys who march up to the homecoming queen and ask them out (my wife was a homecoming queen), and the students who inject levity into drab academic settings. As teachers, extroverts are the hams. Even worse, many extroverts seem determined to transform quiet contemplative students into mini versions of them. Extroverts say things like, I'm going to pull you out of your shell, or... Put yourself out there. I've done this! I must change!And here's where my stunning guest, Chrissy Romano-Arribato from the Garden State, makes her grand entrance. As impressive as Chrissy truly is, I invited her on this episode because she's a proud introvert. She's going to help blowhards like me help the 1/3rd of my students that are introverted.
I became politically aware in 1968...my 7th year of existence. The world seemed on fire. The young Jimmy Sturtevant was busy being a kid, but events kept invading my innocence. In April of that year, Martin Luther King was assassinated. Just weeks later, Robert Kennedy suffered the same fate. The insanity of the Democratic convention in Chicago monopolized TV coverage, but what really captivated the young me was the Mexico City Olympic Games. I watched in wonder as one African-American athlete after another shattered world records in the high altitude of Central Mexico. One black American gold medal winner climbed the podium, donned a black glove, raised his fist in the air, and then bowed his head during the National Anthem. This moment came back to me this past week when the NFL/National Anthem controversy descended. I knew that I had to do an episode on this topic. My objective is not to promote my views, but rather to help brother and sister educators navigate the rhetorical minefield that is this issue. I also knew that I needed help. I decided to share my mic with someone who doesn't look like me...someone who has had a different life experience. And that my dear listener...is where my good buddy Marlena Gross Taylor makes a dramatic entrance. In this episode, Marlena and I will break down this issue and build you up in the process. We'll give you courage to tackle your fears and take on this controversy confidently.
I like to think that I have a wonderful rapport with my students. And yet…I’m still their teacher which is a significant barrier. I also have 40 years on my kids. To them, I’m someone who has a lot more yesterdays than tomorrows. My observations on their lives, while I hope respected and valued, does not carry the weight of a peer.Just 4 sentences into this intro, the wonderful word peer makes its grand entrance. Peer acceptance, peer constructive criticism, peer praise, and peer collaboration are the powerful fuels that ignite and propel the outstanding education tool called Peergrade. Anyone who’s taught for more than 5 minutes knows the power of peer influence.In this episode, I’ll interview David Kofoed Wind the founder of Peergrade. Peergrade is a marvelous way to capitalize on kid’s natural inclination to listen to their peers. This tool randomly assigns student creations to classmates and then guides and monitors evaluations. Peer feedback is not only highly valued but it’s also welcomed because it’s often couched in contemporary youth vernacular. Kids understand how to communicate with other kids. And finally, a student evaluator who focuses on just one narrative written by just one peer does not suffer eye-strain and fatigue that teachers often experience wading through 100 student narratives. A 1 on1 evaluation experience is a fresher, focused, and perhaps more useful interaction.Joining me in the Room 111 Studios is Kristen Spayde. Kristen may sound familiar. She starred in Episode 39 about going paperless and in Episode 58 when we dished with the HyperDocs Girls. Please give this awesome tool a try!
f you've taught for any time what so ever, you've probably suffered through painfully boring student presentations. And if you were bored, think of the other students. Let’s strive to make such presentations are:More attractiveMore engagingLess time-consumingMore interactiveIn order to create such presentations, your kids must first run the gauntlet.According to various sources, fifteen to twenty words is the average sentence length. That seemed long, till I actually wrote a sentence:When I was in high school, I would have laughed uproariouslyif anyone had informed me that I was destined to be a teacher. (24 words)This will be a wonderful challenge for your students. They may revolt. Not only is it important to reduce the number of words, the limit will also hopefully dissuade copying and pasting. This awful practice flirts with plagiarism and makes for exceedingly dull presentations as students drone the words of another.
About a decade ago, I attended the Mt. Vernon High School Class of 1981 Reunion. It was a lot of fun for a while, but as the night wore on, my ability to follow and contribute to stories that were unfamiliar with people I didn't know, became problematic. My wife was having a blast and was certainly entitled to uncompromised nostalgic bliss, so I had to step-up my social game.Penny, fortunately introduced me to an old friend...Brent Wilkinson. The next 90 minutes simply evaporated. Brent is a fascinating guy with a wonderful Horatio Alger story. He left Mt. Vernon in 1981 bound for Boston. He went on to captain the Harvard football team, earn his MBA, and thrive as a corporate officer and entrepreneur in Boston's highly competitive private sector. I loved his story, but what impressed me more was his humble recounting of it. Penny and I visited Brent in Boston this past summer. As we strolled the city and interacted with this fascinating guy, I knew I had to get Brent on my podcast.When educators and private sector types collaborate, it creates opportunities not just for students. My experience interacting with business folk has revealed that problems of communication, motivation, and management are largely universal. What's also universal is the value of growing human capital which is exactly what can happen if teachers reach out. Brent and his colleagues will absolutely collaborate with my kids before year's end! Why don't you create such an opportunity for your students?
It's hard to believe, but humans communicated before there were words. We may not realize it, but we still use pre-verbal methods of communicating. There's an entire language that we unknowingly transmit with each interaction...it's nonverbal! It comes naturally to us. All we have to do is tune in to an ancient frequency. Think of when you're trying to communicate with someone who can't speak your language. You default to expressive arm gestures and facial expressions. You probably also do this when communicating to your four legged pal. Dogs are champs at reading nonverbals.As teachers, students come at us in waves. It's hard to give kids our undivided attention, but that's precisely what we should TRY to do. Transmitting the right nonverbals is an essential skill that teachers should master. The good news is that mastering such skills is a blast! You can even get your students in on the game.
Picture this...you're studying really cool places like Machu Picchu, Tiananmen Square, the Coliseum, the Taj Mahal, or Timbuktu. Instead of just yakking about it, or having students reading about it, tell kids to hop on their Chromebooks, fly around the world, and then drop in for a close-up view from ground level. In this episode, Quin Thomas will explain how to do just that with Google Maps.
Kids are just starting to get it, they’re finally opening up in a discussion, they’re finding great resources for a research paper, they’re starting to harmonize in choir, their sculptures are just beginning to take shape, their findings in a science experiment are just about to materialize and then the bell rings.This frequently happens to Melissa Maxson’s devoted art students. You know you’ve engaged kids when they say, “Dang, I can’t believe the period is over.” Melissa hears this daily.In this episode, hear Melissa's solution to her frustrations with the uniform 50-minute modules. Listen to her recipe to detonate space/time limitations.
A great way to engage students is to just have some fun with content. Accomplish this by mimicking two iconic American board games...Battleship and Bingo. Certainly, most of your kids have played, or at least are familiar with both. I reworked both games for my classroom. Of course, I renamed them Battlevant and Sturtevingo. I encourage you to create your own labels for your version of these activities.Any time there’s material you’d like to review, Sturtevingo and Battlevant are wonderful engaging options that can be employed frequently. Battlevant is a team game. I’ll demonstrate it as a two team contest, but it could be used with multiple teams. In Sturtevingo, every man and woman is on their own.
I teach history. Even as a boy, I was a history nerd. Recently, I was enjoying the company of friends at a party. My buddies all have college degrees and are successful in their chosen professions. A historical topic surfaced. I decided to conduct a little wine-inspired experiment. I just listened to them pontificate about a subject I knew a lot about. This is generally not my disposition when vino veritas is factored in. What took place was fascinating. While my friends had a working understanding of the topic, their background chronology was out of whack which, of course, did a serious number on their understanding. If intelligent adults struggle with context on what would seem common historical knowledge, it would be foolhardy to assume that k-12 students, aside from the budding history nerds, would have a clue about the order of events. Contextual ignorance does not just apply to events, but also processes. Students in math, science, and language arts must understand many processes like the quadratic equation, the scientific method, and MLA citation. Chronological awareness with such concepts breeds confidence, which is crucial to engagement. Let’s inspire some of that awareness with a cool virtual timeline builder.
When I wrote Hacking Engagement, I was amazed that fifty hacks flowed out of my fingertips and compressed the keys of my laptop. Fifty seemed like a marathon, however, those hacks systematically materialized. When I typed the last period of the last sentence, I thought, Wow. that was a lot of hacks. I need a break. But here I am again...back with 50 more engagement hacks. Hacking Engagement Again is just like its predecessor Hacking Engagement: Both are short, containing a little over 30,000 words apiece. Both are comprised of fifty hacks that are each about 600 words in length. Neither is linear. Instead, they’re like cookbooks; you scan the table of contents and find what you need to make tomorrow’s lesson delicious.