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Showing posts from September, 2019

22nd Annual Teachers' Conference: Literacy and Learning for All October 5 #writers #teachers

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Wish you could learn from the amazing Troy Hicks?You may want to attend the 22nd Annual Teachers' Conference that will feature him as a keynote. It only costs $25!!



DEADLINE TO SUBMIT FORM: OCTOBER 1, 2019 - Payment can be made at the event or sent to

Central Texas Writing Project
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Texas State University
601 University Drive
San Marcos, TX 78666
c/o Diane Osborne


CTWP’s 22nd Annual Fall Teachers’ Conference
With Literacy and Learning for All
October 5, 2019 - LBJ Student Center - Texas State University campus - 8:30 AM - 12:30 PM

Register now
Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

No Surprises Organization

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Do you work in a no surprises organization? That is, the kind of place where nothing exciting is allowed to happen, the possibilities of something causing ripples fiercely protected against? If so, is that the best you can be?



Every writer knows the feeling...it's the "so what?" question that hovers around every piece of writing. Why the heck would anyone want to read what you're writing? It's a question that is posed in this blog entry at Writing Every Day Works:
“No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.” Robert Frost Donald Murray about Writing and Teaching For Surprise in his book, expecting the unexpected Teaching Myself - and Others - to Read and Write. Don writes that his students become writers when they first write what they do not expect to write. My niece Abby and I often confer about writing. She writes. She loves school. She willing shares her writing with Aunt Debbie. I appreciate her willing spirit. I often ask her, “Who cares? Why did yo…

Genuine Leadership Insights #1: Be Who You Are

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Do you collect leadership insights? I do. I hate it. A part of me says, "You already know everything you need to know to be an awesome leader. You only have to implement." At that point, everything falls apart. Right? Implementation is the hardest part of any plan or project.

In this new series, Genuine Leadership Insights, I'll be sharing some of those takeaways I've been collecting forever. They are in this Wakelet, which I add onto every weekend or whenever stumble across an astonishing insight that would change my life if only I could apply it properly.

Ready to get started? Here's the first one.

Be a Genuine, Authentic Leader “If you want to be an authentic leader and have a meaningful life, you need to do the difficult inner work to develop yourself, have a strong moral compass based on your beliefs and values, and work on problems that matter to you. When you look back on your life it may not be perfect, but it will be authentically yours.” - Bill George, …

Creating an Organization's Intranet

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If one of the key requirements for critical thinking is access to content, your organization should create a knowledge base. This will enable the people in the organization to think critically about services offered. Don't let your fear of critical thinking, giving your team members the ability to edit content stop you from creating an organization knowledge base.



We've come a long way from the intranets that no employee could modify or change. I always thought having an internal website, not viewable by customers or those served by an organization, was a great idea. The problem is, my early experience with an organizational intranet involved a place only a few people in positions of institutional authority could add stuff. They were too afraid, or didn't know how, to share control with the peons of the organizations, the rank-n-file. Of course, I fell into the latter group.
Why Knowledge Management? There are lots of benefits for knowledge management sites. I share some o…

A @Wakelet Collection: Writing and Teaching Writing

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Every time I turn around, I find myself creating or browsing Wakelet collections. If you're not familiar with Wakelet, it's a terrific content curation app that I have written about several times. In this blog entry, I'll share my Wakelet on Writing and Teaching Writing. I have been collecting info for awhile and can't wait to get it all moved into its new home at Wakelet.



ABOUT WAKELET Want to learn more about Wakelet? Check out this blog entry, Twitter Takeaways: Wakelet for Content Curation. It's a great place to start, unless you want to jump straight into my Wakelet about WakeletAnd, you can find past Wakelet collections featured in my blog.


By the way, wouldn't you like to see Wakelet get new features that make it more usable? Check out my suggested list of improvements for Wakelet and share the link with them! FEATURED WAKELET Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his …

Not Really

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I’ve been in classrooms where I’ve seen teachers using technology effectively — frequently, I’ve seen teachers using smart whiteboards effectively. I’ve seen bits of software that seem really engaging. But again, it’s all piecemeal at this point. . . . If it doesn’t work in all contexts for all kids, I want to be able to describe which context it works in for which kids, and we’re not there yet for anything"(Source: Daniel Willingham, a University of Virginia cognitive scientist as cited in Marketplace as quoted in Learning About Tech: No Dancing Hamsters Please) Joanne, who authored the blog above highlights some powerful points. None is so powerful as this:
The question in both of these reports is not whether technology can improve learning outcomes; lots of well-designed experimentalresearch establishes that it can. The question, rather, is whether it is improving learning outcomes.  And the answer seems to be: Not really. Ouch. Of course, the experimental research cited is ab…

A @Wakelet Collection: Genuine Leadership

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Every time I turn around, I find myself creating or browsing Wakelet collections. If you're not familiar with Wakelet, it's a terrific content curation app that I have written about several times. In this blog entry, I'll share my Wakelet on Genuine Leadership.



ABOUT WAKELET Want to learn more about Wakelet? Check out this blog entry, Twitter Takeaways: Wakelet for Content Curation. It's a great place to start, unless you want to jump straight into my Wakelet about WakeletAnd, you can find past Wakelet collections featured in my blog.


By the way, wouldn't you like to see Wakelet get new features that make it more usable? Check out my suggested list of improvements for Wakelet and share the link with them! FEATURED WAKELET Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

Digital Tools Are Effective...?

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Blake Harvard, The Effortful Educator blog, shares his conclusions after exploring some survey results. Let's take a quick look at the results that left him scratching his head:
“While educators think digital tools are effective for many learning activities, they need more information to gauge their effectiveness. Fewer than three in 10 teachers (27%), principals (25%) and administrators (18%) say there is a lot of information available about the effectiveness of the digital learning tools they use.  About half of teachers (49%) say they have some information about the learning tools they use in their classroom, while 24% say they have little or no information at all.” I had to break that paragraph up so I could work my way through the data. Blake makes this observation:
It seems every school year there is a new gadget or tool that should revolutionize education…but they never deliver. As a teacher, I’m tired of wasting my time and my student’s time on digital tools that either do…

Speeding Up Your PC

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Ok, CCleaner isn't really going away. It's still available for download (although I don't recommend it anymore:
Microsoft has never been a fan of registry cleaners, and today we have learned that the company has taken steps to ensure that such software is not recommended to users who are having issues with their PCs. HTNovo reports that Microsoft has added CCleaner.com to their blacklist of domains on the official Microsoft Support forums. Source:Microsoft Bans CCleaner What's my favorite registry cleaner for Windows? I'm partial to Wise Registry Cleaner, probably because it runs in PortableApps environment and appears to work well. I say appears because I'm not REALLY sure, aside from the data it provides, that it worked. I hope it's not just fake data.

Microsoft’s official position on the use of Registry CleanersMicrosoft does not support the use of registry cleaners
Microsoft is not responsible for issues caused by using a registry cleaning utility.
Micros…

MyNotes: Critical Thinking and Content Knowledge

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Here are some quick takeaways from Why Content Knowledge is Crucial to Effective Critical Thinkingby Jill Barshay.
My NotesTo help student see analogies, “show students two solved problems with different surface structures but the same deep structure and ask them to compare them,” Williingham advises teachers, citing a pedagogical technique proven to work by researchers in 2013.In math, students often get derailed when a word problem is slightly different from a step-by-step model that they’ve studied. A research-tested strategy here, developed by Richard Catrambone at the Georgia Institute of Technology, is to label the sub-steps of the solution with the goal they serve. That way students can understand why they’re using each step and what it’s accomplishing.In order to compare and contrast, the brain has to hold ideas in working memory, which can easily be overloaded. The more familiar a student is with a particular topic, the easier it is for the student to hold those ideas in his…

Appropriate Amount of Direct Instruction

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While watching a Corwin Press video one evening, I was searching for more information on direct instruction. Boy, did I hit the jackpot (more on that in a later blog post). In the meantime, I ran across this amazing graphic. When I clicked through to see where it appeared, I ran into an amazing blog post by Blake Harvard.
I recently saw on twitter a slight push to not ‘call people out’ on things like this, but rather to read people’s blogs and tweets with best intentions.  I understand this point to a certain degree, but when educators spout off information that is either incorrect or not based in evidence, I find it hard to let that go.   While there are definitely teachers that are more than capable of deciphering fact from fiction, some cannot. So, when I read that students only remember 10% of what they read or kids don’t learn from people they don’t like, I consider it a disservice to not ‘call them out’…in a respectful manner....  Especially on twitter, if the right thought lea…

Creative Teachers, Micromanaged

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Who the heck is Andreas Schleicher? Must be someone important. Amy Gibbons, who wrote ‘We are driving out creative teachers,’ says Pisa boss, quotes AS several times. Let's take a look at those quotes.


Idea #1: Focus on Compliance A “focus on compliance” is driving innovative teachers from the profession, according to the official who runs the Pisa international education rankings. AS says that compliance is what pushes innovative teachers out. Is it? What pushes teachers out is often being micromanaged to death, told how to teach, what to teach, when to teach. The problem isn't they can't teach, but that they are flooded with a million checks to verify they do what they are told. As such, I can't disagree with AS on this point. Even if we know how teachers should teach, I would want a little wiggle-room in how to get the job done.
No teacher signed up to be a worker drone. When the curriculum tells them, “Teach this stuff,” and their employers tell them, “Teach it jus…

Lessons from On Writing Well

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Over the last few days, I've been checking out books on writing. At the library, I'm the guy juggling a stack of books about writing. I'll read a few chapters. Then, put the book in the return bin. Most books are wordy, boring, and are too focused on teaching.


William Zinsser is only wordy when it suits his subject. His On Writing Well works because every sentence does what it must and not one thing more. I love this paragraph:
...the secret of good writing is to strip every sentence to its cleanest components. Every word that serves no function, every long word that could be a short word, every adverb that carries the same meaning that's already in the verb, every passive construction that leaves the reader unsure of who is doing what...A clear sentence is no accident. How can you argue with that? Reading this paragraph makes me want to go rip the guts out of something I've written. Then, put that piece back together with these points in mind.

WZ makes many valuab…

RANT: Default PDF Printing on Windows 10

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Update: Sigh. I wrote this when I was angry, and now have cooled down. How silly of me to get angry. But it was fun to write.
Ok, how @#$@$# hard is it, Microsoft? Get the darn message. When I set up my defaults for PDF printing on my Windows 10 computer, I don't want you changing them so you can FORCE me to use Microsoft Edge.


Microsoft Edge has its advantages, but I don't want to use your browser for PDF viewing and printing. I don't care how wonderful it is, how beautiful or more efficient it is. I would rather use a bare-bones PDF viewer like SumatraPDF viewer.

How many @#$#@#@$ times do I need to change the default PDF viewer on my Windows 10 machines and then, two seconds later, try to open a PDF only to see it go to Microsoft Edge? And, yes, I'm doing the OPEN WITH, then CHOOSE ANOTHER APP option.

Note: For fun, I've changed it AGAIN. Let's see how long that lasts. I'll update this post. I'm going to start booting to Manjaro Linux all the time if …

A @Wakelet Collection: EdTech Planning

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Every time I turn around, I find myself creating or browsing Wakelet collections. If you're not familiar with Wakelet, it's a terrific content curation app that I have written about several times. In this blog entry, I'll share my Wakelet on EdTech Planning.



ABOUT WAKELET Want to learn more about Wakelet? Check out this blog entry, Twitter Takeaways: Wakelet for Content Curation. It's a great place to start, unless you want to jump straight into my Wakelet about WakeletAnd, you can find past Wakelet collections featured in my blog.


By the way, wouldn't you like to see Wakelet get new features that make it more usable? Check out my suggested list of improvements for Wakelet and share the link with them! FEATURED WAKELET Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

Uncovering a Truth: Hattie and PBL

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As I've shared in previous blog entries, I've been struggling with the loss of PBL as my go-to approach. But in reading John Spencer's blog entry, I realize that I have committed a fatal mistake.

This blog entry is the first of several that bring me full circle. Come along and share your insights into my thinking, faulty as it may be.

Revisiting Hattie Hattie's meta-analyses of what instructional strategies DO work provides some guidance, as does the work of recognized practitioners like Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey. Be sure to watch their video below on balanced literacy. It provides some great insights.



Watching the video took me back over the years (a lot). It made me ask myself, "What should instruction look like in the classroom? Are we using strategies that work in classrooms today?" The video reminded me of my work in writing workshop BEFORE I ever knew of PBL approaches.

ReDiscovering My PBL Roots As a PBL advocate, I realize now that my transition …

Adult Learners: Reflections on the Jigsaw Method

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Over at the TCEA TechNotes blog, my entry on the jigsaw method came out early this morning, as you can see below:

Read the blog entry

Someone left a comment (yay!) and asked some really interesting questions. While I posted my response in the Comments over at TCEA, I didn't care for the formatting changes. I'm going to post my full response below. You may want to read the original blog entry, then Derek's comment below as well as my response which follows.
Derek's Comment Hi Miguel, thank you for this thoughtful look inside your efforts to facilitate adult learning! It’s really thought provoking.  My main comment in response is to wonder about how teachers of children can transfer their knowledge and skills to teach adults. There’s lots of overlap (e.g., classroom management, questioning skills, lesson design thinking, balancing between content-area expert and facilitator of others’ learning) for sure that provides value to adult learning sessions.  Hattie’s work was a m…

A @Wakelet Collection: Encryption Tools for Educators and Students #wakeletwave

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Every time I turn around, I find myself creating or browsing Wakelet collections. If you're not familiar with Wakelet, it's a terrific content curation app that I have written about several times. In this blog entry, I'll share my Wakelet on Encryption Tools for Educators and Students.





ABOUT WAKELET Want to learn more about Wakelet? Check out this blog entry, Twitter Takeaways: Wakelet for Content Curation. It's a great place to start, unless you want to jump straight into my Wakelet about WakeletAnd, you can find past Wakelet collections featured in my blog.


By the way, wouldn't you like to see Wakelet get new features that make it more usable? Check out my suggested list of improvements for Wakelet and share the link with them!


FEATURED WAKELET Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

A Model for Classroom Instruction @jsbednar

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"What should instruction look like in the classroom?" A simple question, right? Trying to answer it has been a bit of a pain. I've spent time looking for what I learned previously. A part of my search involved looking again at Mike Schmoker's work...to that end, I found the following image (Focus: Elevating the Essentials) quite interesting and helpful.

These images are helpful as quick reference guides. It's probably worth sharing what direct instruction looks like. And that brings us to this generous sharing of two diagrams from Joel Bednar.
FOCUS PROCESS Joel Bednar (@jsbednar) was kind enough to share these models with me. Thanks so much, Joel! I feel like I hit paydirt, struck gold.  Here's the first of the two posters Joel Bednar shared with me...wow!



There is a LOT to unpack in that diagram.
Direct Instruction As a 5th grade language arts teacher, I taught writing workshop using direct instruction. Right before my first lesson ever, my wife (a veteran …

Towards an Empowering Education

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How do we decide what works in schools? What right combination of factors must come together to have successful learning?  The question I keep asking myself is, "What really works in the classroom? What should educators be focusing on?"

Focus What should we focus on in the classroom? It seems crazy, but here we are back at that word that Mike Schmoker used as the title of his book. Focus. What should we be focused on in the classroom?
Instead, our focus should be on how student interaction with tech will improve learning. We have to talk about the teaching and learning. (Source:Technology Is Only Part of the Picture) In this blog entry, Technology Is Only Part of the Picture, some tough questions are asked. They are questions that all of us should be asking.
...we’ve spent time looking at the realm of classroom ed tech and how far it’s come. We know that the real power of any technology relies upon how it’s used. So how well is ed tech being implemented?  To our dismay, we …