Tony Gurr

Posts Tagged ‘allthingslearning’

Will PokémonGO ‘Save’ Education – and ELT?

In ELT and ELL, News & Updates (from the CBO), Technology on 14/07/2016 at 7:50 am


As you might have guessed from my last (tongue-in-cheek) post, I’ve always had a healthy suspicion about blog posts that seem to jump on the latest bandwagon…or the next ‘big’ thing (esp. when that thing is technology-driven).

Sadly, even EDUcators fall for the pull towards the Dark Side:

Self-promotion (cartoon)

…adopting a Kardashian-esque approach to drawing people to their Social Media sites!


As I mentioned, Pokémon GO is taking the world by storm – the new Social Media ‘drug’ that has busynesses asking how they can best leverage it (for profit, of course)…and thousands of kids almost getting killed as they cross the road! 

Pokemon Dogs TG ver 130716

Those lovely chaps at Nintendo and Niantic are busy pushing the game with the very sexy tagline ‘The Game Is Only As Good As The Community’ – and seeing as though the second and last word of that tagline are currently all the GO with many a digital cheerleader in EDUcation, I thought I’d dig a round the web and blogosphere a wee bit and what we are saying about Pokémon GO in EDUcation!

See if I am right to be such a Doubting Thomas…by throwing a few rocks at the Internet!

Blogger (crap blog)

It was not long before one of my rocks ‘hit’ a website!


A ready-to-GO lesson plan (a 26-page lesson plan…with 40 exercises) from BREAKING NEWS (a website developed and maintained by Sean Banville).

I’d seen a few of Sean’s lessons before – and his site definitely lives up to it’s name! Pokémon GO is ‘big, breaking news’…

Now, I am not sure if Sean is an EDUmarketing genius or whether he just accidentally tripped over one of the greatest ways to keep his site on everyone’s Social Media lips (Facebook mostly) – all the stuff on his site is going to be driven by every single trending hashtag (as soon as he gets it out there)! Excellent – bloody genius!

I can see how many teachers would love this material…indeed there are loads of personal recommendations on his Facebook page. I found myself admiring the sheer amount of work he has churned out and got up on the web (he has a wide range of other sites) – I just have no bloody idea how he finds the time!

The problem is that… he is an Arsenal supporter!


No, shiriously – I just have a wee problem with seeing pages and pages of gap fill exercises, multiple choice questions, true / false reading items, and cloze tests…that I know (in my cynical, black, shrivelled heart) will just be printed up, blindly photocopied and used to breathe life the ‘twin sins’ we see all too often in ELL and ELT:

TWIN SINS TG ver 130716

To be fair, I would be very pushed to brand Sean as the type of Social Media Whore (SMW) we see on so many busyness sites – he is just doing what he says he does (on the lid)…and hands out materials that TEACHers can (and do) use in their classrooms. Further, he does throw in a good range of semi-communicative activities (I just hope these are not the activities that TEACHers ‘skip’ to ‘get through’ all the other more suitable ‘exam prep-esque’ activities) and he clearly knows his ‘ELT stuff’.


Come on…you had to have seen that coming!

I guess I’d just like to see more evidence of sites like this encouraging teachers to ‘thunk’ or ask themselves bigger questions:

ARE WE DOING WHAT IS BEST notepad 130716

…or helping ELTers get ‘out of the box’ a bit more.


I threw a few more rocks…

…and found the type of post I had assumed there would be thousands of!


14 Reasons Why Pokemon GO Is the Future of LEARNing (by David Theriault) drew on just about all my tactics to reach his audience (just gotta find an image of him wearing one of those hats)!

Or, so I though initially (do NOT read the last TWO paragraphs of this post)!


Come on…what self-respecting EDUdigitalcheerleader is going to ignore this wonderful listicle (OK – a list of ‘14’ is a bit awkward…but you gotta love the way he uses the phrase ‘Future of LEARNing’)!

What? I have done the same…SHUT UP!

Read on…

His post starts with the facts – kids love their Smartphones – and rolls smoothly into a ‘subtle challenge’ (to TEACHers). This he does just before making you feel a wee bit ‘guilty’ (if all you are doing is gap-filling and MCQs) by throwing the cornerstones of modern LEARNing at you: the creativity, sharing, community-building, movement, interactivity and virtual field trips enabled by EDtech Toys!

Many of you will probably cry out…

Hadi Ordan 130716 (1)

…but David’s post has got a lot of praise (and, more importantly, HITS)!


This is also true of the third post I discovered. Written by Lori Gracey and entitled Pokemon GO: What Education Should Be, I had to have a read of this one, too! After all, Lori got as many HITS as David (I wonder if they compared stats, at all).

Lori does a wonderful job of explaining how much better the Android / iOS app version is over the card game (my 5-year-old daughter used to drag my wife and I to a darkened, underground warehouse to buy these when we were in Dubai…scarier than the drive to Ajman or Ras Al Khaimah for our monthly XXXXX XXX…but that’s another story)!

CARDS to GO TG ver 130716 (1)

She admits that she is not really sure how Pokémon GO will help her meet her ‘vision’ – people coming together to have fun and solve problems – but she has a stab at a few decent suggestions…and it is the start of a pretty good vison!


The thing is…the ideas both she and David discuss in their posts are really quite ‘nice’ – BUT, even together, just did not convince me that Pokémon GO is the Future of LEARNing:

NEW and SHINY TG ver 130716

It certainly won’t ‘save’ us from many of the EDUwoes we face today!


That having been said their titles got our attention – and, even though these titles weren’t really the best lid for the tin,  I (for one) LEARNed some new stuff…and they got me THUNKing!

Thats a wrap

I was about to wrap things up when I came across a ‘not-PokemonGO-post’, you know, one of those posts that says it is NOT a XXXXXXXX post – from George Couros.

It was cleverly titled, too – ‘#PokemonGo, Being Observant, and Innovation’ (even had the hashtag embedded in the title…and the ‘gap’ removed – smart move, George)!

George plugged his new book (come on…who ain’t gonna do that?) but (more importantly) ended up making me feel a little guilty, too.

Why…you ask!

Well, I had been ‘bashing’ (albeit a wee bit tongue-in-cheek) people in the draft version of this post – and he reminded me that David (Lori and perhaps even Sean – though he did not mention them specifically) was “paying attention and being observant to our world” (mindful, perhaps)…and that these qualities are critical to innovation.

Thinkers wanted (blog ver 02 TG)

He was right, of course!  Isn’t that the very thing I was so nasty about when I had a go at Sean’s site and materials? Sorry, Sean…


What we are seeing with the mad rush to get Pokemon GO posts into the blogosphere (I hope) by EDUcators is not thinly-veiled attempts at shameless self-promotion (and ‘HITS’…as my initial free advice suggested) – but rather, in George’s words, they are a few initial ‘iterations’ of how we can make Pokemon GO ‘fit’ the vision we have for EDUcation.

In order to do that, we need to be very explicit about what that vision is – and keep asking questions of the latest BIG thing in EDtech

How does this EDtech TG ver 130716

8…and never forget:

Telling the TRUTH TG ver 130716


3 Evidence-Based Tactics To Increase Traffic To Your Social Media Sites…RIGHT NOW!

In News & Updates (from the CBO), Technology on 13/07/2016 at 7:08 pm

Pokemon Dogs TG ver 130716

Confused? You will be…


Pokémon GO is taking the world by storm (or maybe it’s just the stories that are cropping up about the players’ and their little adventures)!


This is a bandwagon you cannot miss out on…an opportunity to be ‘liked’, retweeted, poked, ‘favourited’ and even followed!


My FREE ‘marketing guru’ advice to you…exclusively for YOU is:

Pokemon Tactics TG ver 130716

OK – perhaps No. 04 should have read “Use a snappy listicle of 3, 5 or 10”! Problem was I could not find my cute little number 4 graphic…


Pokemon Brand Switich TG ver 130716

The hat idea ‘works’ – just see how many ‘likes’ I got in the first hour!




Want to Build a GREAT School? Follow These 10 Commandments…

In Educational Leadership, Our Schools, Our Universities, Quality & Institutional Effectiveness on 12/07/2016 at 9:39 pm

LEARNing Monkey (Abigail Adams quote TG ver)

This was the post that I planned to use to re-launch my bouts of bloggery this summer…


In the end I went with an ‘easier’ option…because it was so bloody difficult to plan, draft and finish! I started by reflecting on all the schools I had worked with this year…and all the ways I had tried to support their plans and initiatives (an ‘annual’ review, if you will).


It wasn’t enough! So…I went back 5 years (and almost every blog post I had ever written)…still didn’t quite cut it!

Blogging sucks (sign)

I found myself going back to the work of EDU Jedi Masters and their discussions of ‘what works in schools’…combining this with the THUNKS of those that helped me consider ‘what matters in schools’…and, reflecting on all the pearls of wisdom I had picked up from the school improvement, accreditation and institutional enhancement programmes I had worked on.

exploding head


That got me closer (but I had close to thirty pages of notes) – it was time for a procrastination pill!

Netflix Pill TG ver 100716

In the end, I decided to do a ‘career review’ – yes, reflect on the successes I had witnessed and LEARNed from, all my failures (because they helped me more than the successes I may have had and helped co-create) and all things I still have on my EDU Bucket Listafter over 30 years in the busyness of LEARNing.


The listicle of my ‘Magic 10’ Commandments started to take shape…but then the last episode of this year’s Game of Thrones forced me to binge-watch the earlier 50 episodes!

Procrastination (dice now never later)

What? I’m on holiday, too!


So…just to prove that all those quotes you can pull up (if you google ‘procrastination’) are hogwashhere you go:


If you want to build a GREAT school…


Thou Shalt ‘begin with the end in mind’ and ensure that your school is built on a focussed and clearly stated purpose – and make sure that all members of the school community understand, share and are committed to this purpose and the goals of the school…

Purpose CoP TG ver 100716


Thou Shalt believe in the transformative power of LEARNing, place LEARNing at the heart of your decision-making and walk-your-talk…

Change and Thinking TG ver 100716


Thou Shalt recruit the best TEACHers you can, retain them (at all costs) and renew their talents, skills and knowledge at every opportunity you find…

Good School (quote) TG ver 100716


Thou Shalt plan, implement and renew a curriculum / assessment framework that emphasises LEARNing the ‘right’ things in the ‘right’ way…

Delivering LEARNing TG ver 100716


Thou Shalt provide caring and effective leadership, create the conditions for wider shared-, teacher-, and student-leadership – and evaluate the quality of this leadership in terms of the level of trust you build and the amount of LEARNing co-created across the school…

Leadership TG ver 100716


Thou Shalt create an environment and climate that is organised, secure and safe – yet provides for risk-taking, creativity and imagineering at the student, classroom, departmental and school level…

Success TG ver 100716


Thou Shalt create a culture that is driven by professionalism, collaboration, and stakeholder involvement – and is fuelled by an ethos of feedback, improvement and results… Leader Shadow TG ver 100716


Thou Shalt build and maintain a classroom-focussed LEARNing culture grounded on high expectations for both students and TEACHers, dialogic TEACHing practices and an approach to the adoption of EdTech driven by ‘fitness-for-purpose’ and ‘LEARNing first, TECHnology second’… 


Learning WoG TG ver 100716


Thou Shalt adopt a research and evidence-based approach to change and planning – and balance the use of external best practices and internal research findings, as well as ‘big’ and ‘small data’…

EBP TG ver 100716 


Thou Shalt use a range of policies, processes, and practices designed to evaluate and enhance the quality of decision-making, curriculum and assessment systems, classroom teaching, professional learning communities, allocation of resources, and stakeholder involvement across the school…

Quality TG ver 100716


That’s 10, right?


As I was boiling all the Commandments down, I did ask myself whether I need to ‘spell them out’ more. I hope they are clear…as I hinted, they are all backed by solid research and evidence-based practice (EBP) – but I have seen them ‘work’ and know they ‘matter’!


Can I rank them – in terms of importance or priority? Not really – but I’d be interested to see how you might…or (even more) see if you would add any others…





The 2016-17 EDU, ELT/ELL and EDTECH Conference Calendar for Canım Türkiyem…Ver 1.0

In Conferences, ELT and ELL, Teacher Learning on 03/07/2016 at 11:17 am

And…here’s you guys thinking I had died…passed on…ceased to be…expired…gone to meet my maker…kicked the bucket…shuffled off my mortal coil!


No such luck…

Tony (logo new) 260316 ACG

…is very much alive and kicking!


Having strayed from the path of light (OK…not as much as Kylo Ren) and avoided me bouts of bloggery for as long as I have, I thought I’d re-launch the ‘ole blog with one of the best-selling, regular posts that seems to have been missed the most…esp. over AY2015-16 (so, please stop mailing me and sending FB hate-messages)!


As a fair few of you have noted, Canım Türkiyem has still not come up with a way to keep all of us (consistently) informed of the major EDUevents taking place in a given year – so, I guess, it still falls to me…


Problem is that…I have jumped the gun a wee bit! There are not many confirmed for 2016-17…good job this is only VER 1.0 and also that I will update the post as soon as I hear of any others.


As usual, I’ll kick off with the specific events here in Canım Türkiyem – before moving onto the International (and Regional) BIG BOYS…yani, those conferences that are far too far away (and too expensive for most of us to get to) …unless we work for an EDUorganisation that sends all its TEACHers on an international ‘jolly’ (while all the administrators / managers stay back at home to look after the shop)!

 ELT & ELL Conf Calendar (TG ver)

Here we go…



  • DATE: Sept 08 – 10
  • LOCATION: Boğaziçi University – Istanbul, Turkey.
  • EVENT/THEME: ITHET 2016 – The 15th International Conference on Information Technology Based Higher Education and Training




  • DATE: March 04
  • LOCATION: Radisson Blu Hotel – Istanbul, Turkey
  • EVENT/THEME: EdTech Summit (Eğitim Teknolojileri Zirvesi)


Canım Türkiyem (TG Ver 03)


As promised…the BIG BOYS! I’ve even added a couple of flipping good ideas for holidays in the States (if you have not made plans, yet)!







As ever, if you overhear a whispered conversation in a dark car park…let me know and I’ll get it up onto VERSION 1.1 – coming soon to a server near you!



What EXACTLY are the “Skills” needed by 21st Century TEACHERS? – The “Robocop” Upgrade…

In Classroom Teaching, ELT and ELL, Quality & Institutional Effectiveness, Technology on 18/02/2014 at 3:24 pm

21C Teacher (Robocop ver) 160214 TG


I have been heard to say that you can’t throw a rock into the blogosphere these days without hitting a post or article on the 21st Century “something-or-other”.

Love it or hate it – the notion of 21st Century Skills is one of those HOT topics these days – especially in Turkey. Sadly, however, the discussions on EDtech here seem to be dominated by some very strange creatures…you know them as:

21C Digi Cheerleaders

…IDIOTS, mostly!


The real problem is:

Digi Cheerleading Rabbits


IDIOTS that are breeding like bloody rabbitson steroids!


IDIOTS that (still) do not link the 21C concept to real LEARNing – choosing instead to focus on what seems to be both the engine and the fuel of the 21st Century…..


Don’t get me wrong…I’m not some kind of EDtech luddite who wants to put a stop to the so-called tablet and akıllı tahta dönemi we are currently witnessing in Turkey.

Turkey is my adopted home, I am a “milli enişte” and I am amazingly proud that I helped co-create one of Turkey’s first “digital natives” (and also one of the toughest and most beautiful, too – ask me about the “Türk kızı” who took down men twice her size on the Turkish TV version of “Wipe-Out”).


I am a “daddy”, too!

A very proud one….




But, my business is LEARNing (as if you didn’t know) – not TECHnology. And, I’m interested in how we actually “do” something with all the talk-we-are-talking these days – talk about the new kids on the curriculum block:

(a wonderful “skill” that brings many of the above together)… 

 21C SMARTBoards and DUMBIdeas


We know here in Turkey (not that different to the rest of the world…really) that we still have major challenges with:

  • ORAL and WRITTEN COMMUNICATION (the 3R’s in TURKISH) – of course!
  • ENGLISH LANGUAGE (the 3R’s in ELL)


But, the TECH (and the so-called “new digital landscape”) still gets many more column inches and pixels than student LEARNing.


Our raging debate, a debate that others in the US and Europe have picked up, centres on Turkey’s plans to purchase 15,000,000 tablets over the next few years (as part of the Fatih Project) – and has international and domestic commentators really talking:


Actually, I’m not sure if we should be talking about the tablets (the PM was today…again and again and again) – we should be discussing the skills the tablets are supposed to be ushering into Turkish schools.

…and, the impact of these skills on TEACHers.


In an earlier post, I discussed how these 21st Century realities are creating a new set of roles for TEACHers:

However, discussion on how these roles translate into a new evolving set of teacher skillsliteracies and fluencies has been (very) limited – especially, in Turkey.


Isn’t it time we started to ask some REAL questions:

  • What skills do TEACHers (in Turkey) need as we continue our march into the 21st Century?
  • How many of these skills actually relate to how we deploy and use TECHNOLOGY?
  • How many of them relate to effective LEARNing and TEACHing?
  • What do TEACHers actually think themselves – and what do their LEARNers think?
  • How effectively is TEACHer (and LEARNer) LEARNing being promoted and supported (in Turkey)?
  • What else needs to change to make the 21st Century “wishlist” a reality?


Hey, maybe we can even start asking some of the most basic questions.

Questions like:



I’d love to see some fresh ideas and comments. 

If not (and you are a lover of “bedtime reading”) – here’s a little list of some resources on allthings21Cskills:


Tony’s 21st CENTURY LEARNing Library


Can a teacher “create” LEARNing THAT LASTS?

In Classroom Teaching, The Paradigm Debate on 26/07/2012 at 10:41 pm

Some of you (that drop into the blog from time to time) will have noticed that my “bouts of bloggery” have been a bit few and far between over the past few weeks (with the exception of the mega mini-soap I have been doing on the Rocks n’ Hard Places in “curriculum pacing guides” – BTW, I’ve taken a bit of “time off” before I do Part 05)…

The reason? Well, I’ve been working on a book with an old pal of mine here in Ankara (trust me – “books” are far more hard work than throwing out a few hundred words of “blog-o-rrea” every week or so). I won’t get into the details of the book (but Part 04 of Rocks n’ Hard Places will give you an idea of how we are trying to make it a bit “different”) – suffice to say – the idea of “LEARNing that lasts” is a big part of it.


Now, some of you might say – “Duh! Of course, LEARNing should last…if not, what’s the point?”

…and, you’d be right!

…even though we know (in our heart-of-hearts) LEARNing needs to be at heart of our decision-making in education, it is NOT…well, not “LEARNing of the LASTing variety”!

Oh, God! He’s off again…

Hear me out! Hear me out!

I promise this is not a “rant” – well, not too much of a “rant”!


You see, in the institutional coin toss between LEARNing and TEACHingand, despite what we might think we know about “probability on the heads or tails frontTEACHing still comes up trumps with more frequency than it should!

You see… 

Most people have a perspective on TEACHing (especially, it would seem, politicians and so-called edu-reformers) – they have a viewpoint, an “opinion” on TEACHing. Usually, this viewpoint is all about that a crap job educators and teachers are doing these days – and how we could all do a far better job if we just used more technology or did more standardised tests).

Yeah, right!


Teachers, however, especially “thunking teachers” tend to take a TEACHing PERSPECTIVE” (they take a “stance”, they take a position) – and this position informs their “practice”).

Think about the “difference” between the “have” and the “take” for a minute – very different, yes?

Taking a TEACHing Perspective is usually more “principled”, more “conscious”, more “informed– in classroom TEACHing it means what is said and done in the classroom is more likely to be based on more principled approaches or methods, and guide what teachers do in the classroom. Nothing wrong with that – if only more politicians and “self-anointed reformers” did the same (or just knew what the hell they were banging on about)!

However, we also have to realise that TEACHers “grow up” in educational institutions – some of them do teacher education programmes, some of them take the more academic track (but end up doing more TEACHing than research – what they are trained to do). Both of these groups, so the research tells us, do more LEARNing on-the-job or keep on with the ways they were LEARNed (by others on-the-job) – in institutions. These institutions “socialise” TEACHers into certain ways of thinking, certain ways of doing – or acting.


The problem is – wait for it – most of these institutions are (still) grounded on a fundamental “design flaw”. In fact, we could say – or rather, I would say:

Barr and Tagg said it better than I ever could (over 15 years ago)…


They elaborated (over 15 years ago)…


A lot of  teachers “heard” them…a few institutions “read” the article…but…not much has changed since then – 17 years ago!

Which is why, lads n’ lasses… so many teachers still focus on “taking a TEACHing PERSPECTIVE” rather than “taking a LEARNing PERSPECTIVE”.

Even though we know (don’t we?) that…


Perhaps, this is why we see so such “poverty” in the way we define LEARNing. For example, look at how this world-famous dictionary “explains” what LEARNing is:

Shiriously? Is that the best we do???


What about this one? I stumbled on this yesterday…in a (very) popular blog for teachersby teachers:

Me thinks I might have to stop defending me teacher-blogger pals, if this the best we can do!

Sorry, guys – this just does not cut it…


This one? This time a favourite of psychologists and therapists:

OK – I’m seeing “something” here. But, did Hannibal’s behaviour really “change” in a LASTing mannerClarice?



As much as the “novelty” of this one (from a world famous “self-help guru” – also a “teacher”) almost got me, again it just lacked the “stuff”!


Actually, and it pains me to say this, but Wikipedia managed to come up with a half-decent definition:

Shock, horror! Credit where credit’s due, boys and girls! Pity they won’t be around much longer!

Tony, stay focussed – we’re talking about “LEARNing that LASTS”!


OK – in an earlier post, I told you about a little place I visited a fair few years ago – Alverno College, in Milwaukee. A place that had quite a profound effect on how I (now) “do business” in education.

In that post, I think I said something like – the “guys” at Alverno made me see…


You see, they “invented” the phrase “LEARNing That Lasts” (you have to check out “The” BOOK, if you haven’t already – it became one of my LEARNing “Bibles” – and still is)!

For example, take a look at their “definition” of LEARNingcompare it with the ones we have just looked at… 

Much better, yes? 


What I saw in the work the faculty at Alverno had been doing (since 197322 years before Barr and Tagg talked about their “design flaw”) was that to get to “LEARNing that LASTS” we have to move on further than what students “know” – we have to move onto what they can “do” with what they know. Even more than that – we also have to move onto how they can “keep improving” what they can do with what they know (and LEARN – with us)!

It’s a mouthful…I know!

It’s also about how students think, feel and actand how these things impact their decision-making, choices and interactions with otherswell beyond “graduation” and their “formal” education…

That is “LEARNing that LASTS”LEARNing that makes a significant and sustainable (and “real”) difference to the lives of LEARNers…


Now, I’m guessing that around about “now” – the question on your lips is:

…sure it is!

That was the exact same question I had all those years back!


Did they have bags of money? Did they have more resources than God? Did they have hundreds of teachers just sitting around twiddling their thumbs?


They just realised “something” was not “quite right” – they realised that they could be doing better…and that “something” was all about…


Bet you your next pay-check that you thought I was going to say “LEARNing”yes?


Remember a bit earlier – we were going on about having a perspective on TEACHing and taking a TEACHing PERSPECTIVE. The same “distinction” is true of curriculum. Most educators “have a perspective on curriculum” (we hate it – especially when it comes in the form of a “pacing guide”) – but very few of us:

Sorry about that…could not resist…this is a looooooooong post!


This is what Alverno set out to do.

However, what I think (IMHO) they were “really” doing was starting out on a journey that ultimately would lead them to “take a LEARNing PERSPECTIVE” – and create a “real” (educational) “LEARNing Organisation”.

This was very significant – a very radical (institutional) change!

They realised that “rethunking education” and LEARNing was not just about changing course content (or course codes) – it requires new thunking about curriculum, assessment, and teacher development.

What did Dexter say?


They just “got” that reinvention of their approach to curriculum and assessment first required that they make explicit their assumptions (and values) about LEARNing itself.

Now, you see why I have been asking so many questions…and inviting people to do the same on the blog (with a little help from Peter Blockfor those of you that want to go back to Türkçe).

The result – Alverno established its core purpose as being to develop those abilities students need to be successful as LEARNers, employees and citizens. In doing so they redefined curriculum around an explicit set of eight abilities:

…and developed a collaborativeinterdisciplinary pedagogy and LEARNing process capable of continuous improvement, and…(wait for this ONE)…required students to demonstrate competence in the eight abilities as a condition for graduation.

They actually…and this will make you crap your pants (if you work in a “testing unit”)…they “did away with”grades – and opted for a system that focussed on “results”!

And…you wonder why I fell in love with the place…and all the lovely faculty there!


Now, if you are a “HOW-Guy” (rather than a “WHY-Guy” or “Gal”) – you have probably realised that I have not fully answered the question:

…and, you’d be right!


I am actually thinking (yes, right now – as I type away) whether to split this post into two (Mmmmm, split it up I might) – but hey, what the hell – you survived this far!

Welcome to Tony’s OPUS-MAXIMUS…for the month!

They focussed on TEACHer LEARNing! Well, actually, it was a bit more like a process of Q-CBL and CPD for Educators (I’m still working on that acronym – not quite there, yet)

…and “yes”…I do own the “rights” to that one!


Like all sensible institutions, the Alverno guys, knew that:

So, they started a series of LEARNing Conversations in their faculty teams (within and across all their teams). They also knew that there was a huge difference between questions like:

Just about “heads or tails” it is not…


The core question they started with was, of course (canlarım benim):

Now, if you want (and you need a “rest”) – take 5 minutes and write your own version. Tweet it to 10 other teachersand see what you get back (seriously)!

The point here is that teachers can answer these questions on their “own” – but with collaboration, the benefits really start to kick in.

Institutions you have no choice! If you want to do “right” by your TEACHers and LEARNers!


The Alverno faculty did not stop there (though I hear it took around 6 months to get something half-decent on that first question). They then tackled these two:

They look pretty self-explanatory – do not be fooled! It’s the “LEARNing conversations” around these questions which is the focus. The “process” is what gets “results” – the “product” is sharing, clarification and “adaptation”!


There were others:


And, they just kept getting better and better;

Now, here we have a couple of seriously heavy-weight questions – as soon as we put the focus on LEARNing (and LEARNers), all that “content” just seems a waste of time.

OK, that’s a bit harsh – but, compare the question “What CONTENT do I want to TEACH?” and the question “What TYPE of HUMAN BEING do I want to help BUILD?”

…no contest really!


This is where Alverno really began to evaluate what they were TEACHing – and started to reinvent their curriculum around the set of eight abilities we noted above (do take some time to wander around their website – just been updated and very cool)!

These two questions alone should give teachers days-and-days of fun – especially, when part of a “curriculum renewal” project.


Obviously, I am cutting a few corners here (that’s what we bloggers do, yes?) – they had many more questions that they worked to get to grips with and what they were doing was starting a long (a very long) process of trying to work out how they, the faculty, could best “cultivate” integrative and expansive capabilities across the lifetime of their LEARNersknock this off in a long weekend, we cannot!

To do this, they also had to bring the two side of the coin together – with TWO of my personal favourites:


…followed by my all-time favourite – that “question-of-questions”:


“The” BOOK I mentioned earlier, tracks the first 20 years of the Alverno “project” – a longitudinal study of how the faculty at the college created “LEARNing That LASTS” for their students with their highly acclaimed curriculum/assessment (and LEARNing-TEACHing) model.

Their “project” continues today…as it should…as it will always!

…I hear someone scream!


“You got me to read over 2,000 words – not including all the text in the images – and you ain’t even answered the question you posed in the post title”!



Always wondered what it would be like to say something like “that”!

I am not that “mean” – for me, what the Alverno project shows is that it is very possiblevery possibleThe secret – creating “LEARNing That LASTS” is essentially a question of:

…and ongoing “adaptation”:

After all, “adaptation” is LEARNing – for both LEARNers and TEACHers!

In this post (though it was not really my “plan” – blogging is kinda like that), we’ve explored the nature of LEARNing. I offered my own definition (birthed with the help of many hands), as well as other (not always so great) definitions.

When we think about TEACHing in this context – it is really all about helping or supporting this process and includes all of the things that we do to make it happen – whatever that definition might be (and this will “vary” according to context – in addition to teacher or institution).

These things we must be “aligned” – to what we believe, what we say we believe, what we “do” and, most importantly – what we do to “improve” in everything we do to make LEARNing happen (and LAST).


The starting point is to make these things “explicit” – for ourselves, initially – working with “others” (or on twitter) takes care of the rest…

The Alverno model has become a next practice model for “doing business” very differently in education and a way of “adding real value” to students – value that is praised by the business and community organisations around Wisconsin and the U.S.

Alverno got it so RIGHT…so many years ago!


And, the set of Q-CBL questions developed and used by Alverno faculty are the nuts n’ bolts of the three questions every teacher (and institution) needs to ask on a regular and on-going basis:


The other question:



In the end, and this will not be in “the book”:

I am such a “geek”!


What exactly is BEST PRACTICE in Classroom Observation?

In Classroom Teaching, ELT and ELL, Teacher Training on 23/06/2012 at 12:25 pm

…our topic for today (boyz n’ girlz) is…

…but this is the Madonna-free, PG-rated version – the version that will ensure I steer well-clear from any complaints from some obscure “internet trading and advertising organisation” (or worse – more “hate mail”)!

A few weeks ago those lovely chaps at ELTchat (check them out on twitter, too – #eltchat – there are some really great discussions) – had a virtual chin-wag on allthingsobservation.

As I had been banging about classroom observation (the recent series on “Misfires” and “Advice for Observers”), I just had to sign upProblem was…I found meself on a high-speed train (from Eskişehir) at exactly the same time. As good as the wonders of a 3G iPad might be, tweet I could not!

A couple of tweets did manage to get through:

Now, you can imagine how I was feeling – someone who loves to “talk” as much as I does, someone who has so much to “say” about classroom observation (and how we seem to screw it up – again, and again, and again)! I felt a bit like a kid who had been grounded and sent up to his room during his favourite TV show…but could hear snippets of the show’s dialogue upstairs in his room (this actually happened to me quite a lot when I was a kid – missed so many episodes of the “Six Million Dollar Man” you just would not believe it)…

Marisa Constantinides (aka @Marisa_C) to the rescue!

Marisa and I had chatted before the session and I’d said “I’ll be there”!

Famous last words…

She knew how upset I was that I missed the twitter shin-dig and asked if I’d like to “get my voice back” by doing a podcast with her ELTchat partner-in-crimeJames Taylor (aka @theteacherjames).

Yeah, it was like mum n’ dad had forgiven me…and let me downstairs to see Steve Austin (and, from time-to-time, Jaime Sommers…and Maximillion – the bionic dog, too) “save” the day (in actual fact, this hardly ever happened when I was a kid…my mum and dad never backed down)!

Me and @theteacherjames had to overcome a few challenges – schedulesunplanned “flying visits”…and bloody Skype (even when you have to sell a kidney every month to get the type of internet connection that, so they tell you, would even make God herself jealous)!

…@theteacherjames was a wonderful “first” for me! He was kind and considerate –  getting me all comfortable by chatting about football and the woes of actually setting up and editing podcasts. I couldn’t have asked for a better “podcast Jedi master”

Pretty soon we were on fire…he used a lot of the questions raised during the #eltchat twitter session (you can find the full transcript of the discussion – HERE).

I found that I relaxed pretty quickly and we ended up chatting for over an hour.

I’m guessing you’ll have to make up your own minds as to whether what we said to eachother makes sense or not (CLICK HERE – to listen to the edited version  the podcast) – James tells me that he’ll get up the full unedited version up (the ‘R’ rated version) very soon so watch his spot (and maybe play around with PodOmatic itself!

I think MarisaJames and all the other #eltchatterers would love to hear what you think (go on, add a comment or three to this post)!

In the original discussion, a lot of the participants shared a wide range of resources on classroom observation:

OK – I cheated (just a tweeny-weeny bit)! These last two were not mentioned in the original chat – but they should’ve been…and would’ve been if I hadn’t been on a stupid “hızlı tren”

These are also some of the musings I have thrown up on allthingslearning over the past couple of months – the weekend is coming up and you might fancy a bit of “bedtime reading” this weekend:

Oh, yes…and there was the “mega-series” (that went on almost as long as Dallas or Friends):

…there was MORE:

Now, looking back at all of this stuff – not so sure, am I – that it represents “Best Practice” in Classroom Observation…(this is why my second title works so much better)…

But, hey…if it gives you a couple of ideas for “Next Practice” in your context – maybe that’s not too shabby!

MarisaJames (and Mike)…

I’m still STANDing…yeah, yeah, yeah!

In Our Universities, Technology, The Paradigm Debate on 18/06/2012 at 9:48 am

Problem is…so are “they”!


So, I told the “dons” that the price on my head just wasn’t enough…the ivory tower fatwā “failed”…and, I live to commit another bout of murderous bloggery!

In that last post, I did give a tip o’ the hat to those darling, tech-savvy, EDUscholar bloggers just seem to “get” that blogging gives them an opportunity to “engage” their public and “fans” – and, enhance their academic reputations to boot!


This having been said…I did get a fair bit of “hate-mail” (all written on parchment, with French quill feathers, no doubt)…

…Jesus, Mary and Joseph…those dons can pen a hate mail! I had to get out the old thesaurus just to get through all wordy-wordiness on the bits of parchment I got in the old snail mail!


Look, I don’t want to run through everything these crusty old “haters” all tried to LEARN me…but the gist went something like this:

1) …needs “qualified” people to write it – i.e. those who have been “trained”! Blogging uses “amateurs” – those people who are “untrained”!

2) …demands “precision of judgment” on texts, blogging is “impressionistic”!

3) …does not encourage “opinions” but rather “analysis“. Blogging is all opinions!

4) …confers power on writers. Blogging threatens the authority of experts because it allows “anyone to write”!


My three trusty doggies have three words for you…





Oh, yes…and…one from ME!



OK, maybe I have been a bit unfair…one good bit o’ parchment deserves another (or at least a few more pixels) – let’s take these ONE-by-ONE:


  • Professionals built the Titanic. Amateurs built the Ark! Nuff said…


  • John Lennon once told a story about his mum and school days… “When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” …judging texts from within an ivory tower, does not guarantee “precision”. In fact, it often does the exact opposite!


  • Another very smart cookie, Margaret Wheatley, once said…”And time for reflection with colleagues is for me a lifesaver; it is not just a nice thing to do if you have the time. It is the only way you can survive.” The suggestion that only academics are qualified to “do” analysis is, quite frankly, insulting! I’m guessing all that “book LEARNing” our graduates have been forced to do of late is NOT the reason why they cannot find jobs, afterall?


  • Do I really have to respond to that last one? Shiriously? Shiriously…are you kidding me? I think it was Thomas Jefferson that once wrote, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.”



I’m really sorry (actually, I’m not – but it’s so hard to shake off an “English upbringing”) but I’m guessing the manure we have been serving up (or “delivering”) to our LEARNers all these years…needs a bit of refreshing.

And, there are plenty of “blog-enabled patriots” out there…or there will be when they LEARN to use an iPad!


hadi bakalım, do your worst, dons!

The Cornerstones of TEACHer LEADership

In Classroom Teaching, Educational Leadership on 07/05/2012 at 5:16 pm


This morning, as I was doing a bit of surfing (you know, the virtual type), I popped into one of my favourite teacher sitesVenspired (from Krissy Venosdale aka @ktvee).

I saw the first few lines of her latest post:

“What do you do?”

“Oh, I’m just a TEACHer.”


OMG! This is not the Krissy I have come to know and lovehang on, the next line read:

Have you ever said that? It’s only true if you believe it.


That’s better – take a look at the full post – then, come back!


Didn’t you just love what her little “World Changer” did? Didn’t you just love the LEADership her little “World Changer” demonstrated…and how that made Krissy feel?


Palmer QUOTATION - Circle of Trust


A few weeks ago, I was running a session with a group of trainers-in-training – and we wandered into the whole area of teacher LEADership.

This was not really planned…at all!

One of the participants said she was a bit uncomfortable referring to herself as a “LEADer”.

“I’m not a leader…I’m just a TEACHer…who wants to be a TRAINer!”

She told me.

Many of the other participants agreed.

I stopped the session…we had hit a “LEARNing moment…but I wasn’t ready for it!


Luckily there was a “phone box” in the room (my hard-drive – with a few rough notes on it).


In 1989, a bunch of LEADership gurus / boffins decided to set up a series of what they called the “Leadership Masterclass” – the first one was led by John Gardner and he outlined his views on what LEADership was all about…

  • Adaptability and flexibility
  • Assertiveness
  • Capacity to motivate people
  • Courage and resolution
  • Decisiveness
  • Eagerness to accept responsibility
  • Intelligence and action-orientated judgment
  • Need for achievement
  • Physical vitality and stamina
  • Self-confidence
  • Skill in dealing with people
  • Task competence
  • Trustworthiness
  • Understanding of followers and their needs

Isa, Meryem and Yusef…no wonder so few educators have the kahunas to refer to themselves as a “LEADer” – the “Man of Steel” himself would struggle to fit into those tights and cape!

And, YES…I did have to place that text onto that image very strategically!


Fast forward 20 years (to 2009), the Masterclass boffins invited someone very different to speak to them. This speaker gave a much shorter definition of what matters in allthingsleadership:

  • Trust
  • Talent development
  • Openness and honesty
  • Learning from experience

That speaker was an EDUcatorSir Roy Anderson (ex-Rector of Imperial College, London)…

These were the two definitions I pulled off my harddrive…as part of this impromptu session.

I split the group in half and told each group to decide (in terms of the “definition” I had given them) whether they were LEADers – or not.

Do I need to tell you…really…what happened?


Many of us today still operate with “Superman model” of LEADership – and we forget that even little children can be “World Changers”.

The “Superman model” is also still very much based on “formal roles” – and this is one of the reasons we are often so disappointed with our “educational managers”. How does that old phrase go – “not all LEADers are managers, not all managers are LEADers”!



As Max Weber suggested, more of us need to start focussing on “acts of LEADership” (rather than “LEADers”). When we do this, we start to see that it is not only senior administrators that “do” LEADership

When we look at what LEADership is (through the eyes of an educator – like Sir Roy)…we begin to see that all TEACHers can (and should) be LEADers LEADers that are frequently only limited by what they believe about themselves…and what they do with those beliefs when they are with their own future “World Changers”.



So, here’s the deal – this is a set of thunks of what matters in Sir Roy’s definition of LEADership


If we look at this definition, we start to see a number of cornerstones



As another great man said (I have forgiven him for his unLEARNing rubbish):

Educators (along with nurses) are perhaps some of the most important “servant LEADers” we have on the planet – and we don’t have to “work at” as hard as those in other sectors. The whole purpose of education should be to help create an army of “World Changers” – as Greenleaf noted:

So, tell me again why we focus so much on “standarised tests”?



One of my favourite “World Changers” can be seen in the movie  Pay It Forward (yes, I do love the “boy genius” and old Kevin and the lovely Helen – and, remember that Kevin Spacy played a TEACHer in this movie).

If a “kid” can work out that he can touch 4,782,969 people in two weeks, and school managers can’t – we have got something seriously wrong in the “adult world”.

Caring for others is perhaps the best way to breathe life in to the role of the servant LEADer . This really comes out in the work of Mayeroff (1971) – who  defined care as “helping another grow and actualize himself…a process, a way of relating to someone” that involves development by

  • “being with” another
  • “being for” another
  • “being there” for another

All great TEACHers “get” this – so do many “World Changers”…



I think it was Albert Schweitzer that said, “The first step in the evolution of ethics is a sense of solidarity with other human beings”.

Sometimes, especially in the world of business, we forget this:

Peter Koestenbaum hit a home run when he said true LEADership:

…is empathy, which means service. It’s an attitude of love and compassion, of caring, of including people, of valuing them, of hearing them, or suffering when they suffer, and of being proud when they succeed.

Education is about “moral purpose” – a notion best explained by Micheal Fullan:

Moral purpose of the highest order is having a system where “all students learn, the gap between high and low performance becomes greatly reduced, and what people learn enables them to be successful citizens and workers in a morally based knowledge society” (The Moral Imperative of School Leadership, 2003)

It’s often said that LEARNers pick up more from who their TEACHers “are” – than what they “TEACH”. Ethics matter!



 We all know that trends may come and fads will go but:

Covey talks about “true north” principles in his 7 Habits:

  • Habit 1: Be Proactive
  • Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
  • Habit 3: Put First Things First
  • Habit 4: Think Win/Win
  • Habit 5: Seek First to Understand
  • Habit 6: Synergize
  • Habit 7: Sharpening the Saw

Then he gave us “Habit 8”:

  • Habit 8: Find Your Voice & Inspire Others to Find Theirs

I have not met many people who go wrong when they “live” these types of principles. And, that last one is how we co-create more “World Changers”!


LEARNing (the final, but most important, cornerstone)

Did you forget the name of the blog you are reading? Sir Roy didn’t forget it…the best LEADers don’t either.



Becoming a 21C Teacher…ADAPTation or (r)EVOlution?

In Classroom Teaching, Curriculum, Technology on 06/05/2012 at 12:01 pm

Those of you that know me (at least in the virtual world), will have realised I have been on a bit of “mission” with regards some of the ideas related to 21st Century LEARNing and TEACHing…of late!

I’ve been…

  • posting some images on my Facebook page…
  • sharing some of the great 21C resources on Pinterest
  • trying to pull together a “library” with a few of the best books and titles…
  • publishing some of my presentations and workshops on Slideshare…
  • doing a whole pile of posts on the little ole blog…


I’ve also been sharing a few of my favourite sites about allthings21C:


  • More recent attempts to add a bit more “meat” to these ideas by individual educators themselves…

…and all on twitter, too!

Not too shabby for an “oldie”, a “digital immigrant”dare I say ita “Gen X dinosaur”! But, you know what – just shows that technology is not rocket science…


Why is this? Why have I been doing all this?

Well, it seems that – even though we are 12 years into the 21st Century – we are still having trouble getting our heads around what it all means to us as TEACHers and, perhaps more importantly, to our students and classrooms.

Now, this is nobody’s fault – but there are a lot of “voices” out there.


We have IT gurus and companies screaming at us that technology is both the engine and the fuel of the 21st Century…

…and if we “fall behind”, well…our TEACHing heads will be on the chopping block!


Then, we have the “voices” in government and the Academy:

Initially, some these ideas sound around-about “right” (some of them) – until we realise that most of them are little more than “wordbites”, see that many of these proposals have little to do with educational “thunking”…and recognise that most academics in our publish-or-perish colleges and universities do not really “walk” the talk they talks!


To be honest, I’ve actually got a lot of great ideas on what 21C skills are important (and “what matters” with the whole 21C movement) by listening more to “human resource experts”:

…and the voices of “employers”:


However, as is usually the case with major educational decision-making – it is the voices of TEACHers and LEARNers that, shall we say, are not “elicited” as much as they could be

I mean, after all, why should we bother to listen to those folks that live and breathe the classroom on a 24/7 basis…when we have corporate vendors, bankers, politicians, publishers and academicswith all the “answers”!


Anyways, I offer this set of resources to TEACHers who might want to LEARN a bit more about allthings21C – let’s share, grow and get off the planet quicker…after all, very few decision-makers are that interested in what we might think…

…but, we can get on and do it with our LEARNers…as we always have!