Reading: Screens vs Paper

A recent New Yorker article “Being a Better Reader Online” discusses a number of issues that may be salient in your 1-to-1 classroom. Does screen-reading result in lower comprehension than reading from paper? Guess what…It’s complicated.

“[R]eading is always an interaction between a person and a technology, be it a computer or an e-reader or even a bound book.”

But we typically don’t think of bound books as technology, because they’ve been around for so long. There’s still no longitudinal data about digital reading, but there is emerging evidence that the style of reading we do from screens is fundamentally different than the style of reading we do from paper. And this makes a certain amount of sense, but we have to be careful about controlling variables – it’s not fair to directly compare reading a book on a deserted beach to reading from your laptop at work while checking email and listening to music.

And there’s no going back! More and more of our students’ reading will be from a screen as time goes by. Since we all teach literacy, we need to be cognizant of this, and help teach skills that will allow for deep reading from a screen.

If you find yourself distracted while reading on your laptop, you may want to check out the extension Clearly, which helps you focus on what you’re trying to read if there are sidebars and extraneous information flashing at you. If the problem is more that you’re constantly checking facebook, you could give StayFocused for Chrome a shot.

If you want to know more about the humans and reading, check out Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain (yes that is an link), whose author was interviewed for this article.

Interested in talking about digital deep reading with your colleagues at AES? Drop by the Office of Learning and let us know!

(Big hat tip to Gary Coyle for the New Yorker article)

Professional Learning Opportunities

As we begin the school year, we wanted to put some excellent opportunities on your radar that are scheduled quite soon after the start of the school.   Some you would need to sign up for now to ensure that you are able to attend.

Please explore the options.  If something strikes your fancy, please complete the “blue form” and seek approval from your building-level administrator prior to registering.

Things to Register for NOW:

Learning 2.014 – Africa and Asia

There are two Learning 2’s this year and both promise to be good.  Africa – Addis Ababa is Sept. 8th-10th and Bangkok is Oct. 2-4th. These typically are filled by mid-summer, but there may still be spaces available.

Chapters International brings many two day workshops into the region and several of them start in September.

Things to Think About:

NESA Fall Leadership Conference

Curious about leadership or what leadership professional learning looks like? This is a great conference and it is on a four day weekend in Istanbul.  Amazing learning opportunity with some very highly regarded presenters (Andy Hargreaves, Ken, O’Conner, Doug Reeves, etc.)

NESA Fall Training Institute

These two day institutes offer an opportunity to go in-depth on a topic.  This year’s will be in Doha and has some great institutes on Art and Creativity, Concept-based Social Studies, EAL in the classroom, etc.

Coming at AES in Fall:

We will also have several things happening here on campus:

1. Jill Bromenshenkel for EAL in the content area support

2. Erma Anderson in November – we are working with Chennai to start a Math Specialist Cohort over the next two years so that many of us can benefit from this quality math professional learning. More information will come on this as the details are finalized.

3. The iPad Summit will be Nov. 22-23rd at AES.  Great presented, keynoters, and a great chance for you to present as well.

Please stop by the Office of Learning if you have any questions and all of these opportunities and more are documented on the PD Calendar located on this blog.

Sharing Experiences and Learning Together

Culture: (n) the beliefs, customs, arts, etc., of a particular society, group, place, or time

Thinking: (v) the action of using your mind to produce ideas, decisions, memories, etc.

In the past few weeks, in diverse contexts, I have been engaged in many conversations about a culture of thinking.  But what does this really mean… a culture of thinking?  In my mind, the root of a culture of thinking is that of a culture of sharing.  It is coming together in many ways to share our thoughts or puzzle over something or get advice.  At the heart of our sharing is to create meaningful learning opportunities for our students.

Sharing (v.)

  • a: to partake of, use, experience, occupy, or enjoy with others
  • b: to have in common
  • c: to grant or give a share in – often used with with
  • d: to tell (as thoughts, feelings, or experiences) to others – often used with with

 To me, a culture of sharing is one that:

  • cherishes the sharing of ideas and experiences
  • values differing opinions and perspectives
  • celebrates those who seek advice and support
    • …as much as those who share their stories of success
  • is grounded in our hope to constantly improve our practice
  • and, is deeply rooted in trust and sincerity

Shameless Plug for more Shared Learning Experiences

AES is a special place where people come together in numerous and varied ways to support our desire to share our experiences and grow in our practice.  I was so excited by your enthusiasm to share in our discussion groups on The Smartest Kids in the World, and so impressed by the depth of understanding and thoughtfulness during the discussions.

To promote more opportunities for these shared experiences, we have combed the professional library to find more books to promote shared experiences.  We are planning a variety of book discussion groups for the spring.  If you are interested, please complete this FORM.  We will get back with you shortly…

Citations: All definitions were gathered from the online, Merriam-Webster dictionary.

Peaking your Interest…

Turns out, research says, “interest is a more powerful predictor of future choices than prior achievement or demographic variables.”  A recent blog post from Annie Murphy Paul from the KQED MIndshift blog explores the importance of cultivating interest and the implications for parenting and education.  It is a very interesting read and connects nicely to the importance of Essentials Questions in the role of learning and presents ideas about how to activate student interest to improve learning.

Enjoy and have a nice weekend!

So, I have been THINKING…

“Learning is a consequence of thinking.”

–Mark Church

Something that really resonated with me last week in our sessions with Mark Church was his push for each of us to define what thinking looked like in our daily lives and in our classrooms.  How do we know we are thinking?  How do we know when to employ different thinking skills?  What type of thinking are we asking our students to do on a regular basis, and how do we know they are actually being successful?

He put forth a challenge in one of his sessions about using the word thinking in our classrooms.  Just imagine if we put a ban, yes a ban, on that word for a while.  Instead of asking our students to think for a minute, let’s ask them instead to draw connections, describe what they see, or build an explanation.  I wonder about the power of naming the type of thinking we are asking them to do. Will our students start to identify the different ways in which they think?  Will they develop the capacity to use those skills on their own?

To truly understand, students need to be able to express their thinking in many different ways.  This Understanding Map (© Project Zero) is designed to help clarify the types of thinking we ask our students to do in our lessons to foster a deep understanding.

Understanding map (2)A second challenge from Mark Church was to put our “tasks/lessons to task”.  Using the map above, what are the types of thinking you are asking your students to do when they:

  • listen to a story
  • watch a movie
  • write a reflection
  • design a model
  • solve a problem
  • turn and talk
  • etc, etc, etc…

When we examine our lessons more closely, is there a way for us to provide more opportunities and time for thinking in our classrooms?

If we are purposeful in building specific thinking opportunities into our lessons, our students will surely gain a deeper understanding of the curriculum.  “Learning is a consequence of thinking”.


Clarifying the Complexity of Assessments

In the middle school’s PD this week, there was a focus on Formative Assessments.                  A topic that is very applicable beyond the middle school.

Assessment is Complex 

The term assessment is used to describe a multitude of learning activities.  As teachers, we assess our students in many different ways each day.  These include assessments such as: exit tickets, drafts of reports, discussions, and final learning assessments. These assessments are common because they are all designed to give feedback on student learning. However, the specific purposes for the assessments and the feedback provided on the assessments are varied.  Because of these variations, assessment is complex.

To help clarify the complexity of assessments, we designed this model with the intent that it would assist in identifying the types and purposes of assessments, and in turn, provide a common structure for understanding the complexities of assessment.  We see this model as a potentially useful tool for facilitating conversations around assessments with your colleagues and your students.

Tiers of Standard-Based Assessment System

I found this article by Rick Stiggins, Assessment for Learning: An Essential Foundation of Productive Instruction, to be extremely valuable for bringing further clarity to the complexities of assessment.  The focus of this piece is on the construction of quality assessments.  Here is quick snapshot from the chapter:

The Keys of Assessment Quality

  • “Start with a clear purpose for assessment–a sense of why you are assessing and for which standard.
  • Include a clear learning target–a vision of what you need to assess in relation to your standards.
  • Design an assessment that accurately reflects the targeted standard and satisfies the purpose.
  • Communicate results effectively to the intended user(s).”

(The excerpt above was adapted from the Rick Stiggins chapter mentioned above.)



Yes….I did find this on Facebook

Despite our week of Digital Citizenship Camps in the MS and HS (fabulous job to all involved!) and all of our discussion around the the uses of social media and the need for balance, I returned home tonight to find this gem posted on Facebook by a few AES teachers.  It seems very worthy of sharing as when I read it, I recalled so many of the teachers who impacted my life and at the same time I thought of all of you impacting the lives of your students every day.

From Kylene Beers, the author of the post:

“To this day, [insert student name] remembers you, [insert your name], and to this day, I so hated how much he/she loved you that year. And, simultaneously, I am so grateful that he/she did.”

The work you do with students everyday is awesome. Have a wonderful school year.




21st Century Fluencies with Andrew Churches

“How we teach must reflect how our students learn. It must also reflect the world our students will move into. This is a world which is rapidly changing, connected, adapting and evolving. Our style and approach to teaching must emphasize the learning in the 21st century.”  

–Andrew Churches

Wiki: Educational-Origami

Key Take-Aways from Andrew’s Visit:

Solution Fluency: A portable process that structures problem solving

  • Define
  • Discover
  • Dream
  • Design
  • Deliver (Produce or Publish)
  • Debrief

Information Fluency: Act of collecting, processing, manipulating and analyzing information

  • Ask (open-ended questions)
  • Acquire (informal vs. formal)
  • Analyze
  • Apply (present)
  • Assess

Resources on Problem-Based Learning:

Thinking for the Future — Connecting with Other Schools:

Cannot Starting Thinking about Summer PD Too Early

Ah  yes, the proverbial early bird.

PTC and TTC have announced their summer schedules of courses and registration will open beginning Dec. 1st. These classes fill up FAST because they are high quality, gear specifically to international educators, and in the summer.

Check out the options for both leadership, teaching, and counseling in both Miami, FL and London, England.

Several people on campus have attended classes through PTC and many just spent time with Bambi Betts who trains and runs the PTC institutes,

Please let us know if you have any questions.

We have been Bambied

Last week we were visited by the teacher leadership consultant Bambi Betts and though she only worked with certain identified leaders, we all lead in our school in both big and small ways and what ever the level of leadership there are skills and strategies associated with leading.

Here are all of the handouts Bambi used with us last week, many of you may find them useful and great tools for reflection whether in a particular situation you are leading or following.



SESSION 2 team dynamicsf(1)


Leadership Tools delhi 12 binder f(1)