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What's the Big Idea?

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We're a podcast about big ideas in education. Tune in to listen and think, then respond on Twitter @BigIdeaEd
38 Episodes
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In which Dan talks about the urgent need to protect LGBTQ students and empower teachers to become active allies. He's joined by Jean-Marie Navetta, Director of Learning and Inclusion at PFLAG. After discussing the troubling stream of anti-LGBTQ legislation from across the country, Dan and Jean-Marie examine ways in which schools can become more safe and inclusive for LGBTQ students. As always, we welcome comments and questions on Twitter @BigIdeaEd Mentioned in the show and additional resources:2021 Slated to Become Worst Year for LGBTQ State Legislative Attacks from HRCThe GLSEN 2019 National School Climate SurveyCultivating Respect: Safe Schools For All from PFLAGSupporting LGBTQ Youth of Color from GLSENBest Practices for Serving LGBTQ Students from Learning for JusticePFLAG's Guide to Becoming a Straight AllyGuide to Being an Ally to Transgender and Nonbinary Youth from the Trevor Project
In which Dan discusses what makes meaningful assessment with Tyler Rablin (@Mr_Rablin), an English teacher and instructional coach in Washington state. They talk student voice in the assessment process, why quality feedback matters and why sometimes students just won't take the feedback, and how ideas like growth mindset and grit can be used to get teachers off the hook for our bad practices. As always hit us up with questions and comments on Twitter @BigIdeaEd Mentioned in the show:Tyler Rablin's professional websiteTyler's grade book template -- organized by skill, not assignmentTyler's student conferences templateSeven reasons for standard-based grading from EdutopiaThe debate over growth mindset from the Scientific AmericanMusic: "Que Es Extraño" by Molo
In which Dan kicks off a mini-series on assessment by talking with Jay McTighe (@jaymctighe), co-creator of Understanding by Design and someone who's done lots of thinking about what constitutes authentic and meaningful assessment. They talk about performance tasks, project-based learning, feedback, rubrics, and why teaching should be more like coaching. As always, we welcome comments and questions on Twitter @BigIdeaEd Mentioned on the show:Understanding by Design by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTigheWhat is a Performance Task? by Jay McTighe?Designing Authentic Performance Tasks and Projects by Jay McTigheDeep Virtual Learning by Jay McTighe, Harvey Silver, and Matthew Perini Three Key Questions on Measuring Learning by Jay McTighe Performance Task PD with Jay McTigheAssessing What Matters Most: Developing Authentic Performance Tasks (video)Using Webb's Depth of Knowledge from EdutopiaMusic: "Que Es Extraño" by Molo
In which Dan talks financial literacy with Yanely Espinal (@missbehelpful) from Next Gen Personal Finance. Yanely makes the case that not only is financial literacy essential in schools,  it also needs to be responsive to the economic realities that students and families are facing right now. Dan and Yanely talk about the difference between mandated and embedded curriculum, the power of gamification, and when Teach For America is truly effective. As always, we welcome comments and questions on Twitter @BigIdeaEdMentioned on the show:Next Gen Personal Finance"More states are forcing students to study personal finance. It’s a waste of time." Timothy Ogden, Washington Post, April 23, 2019"Let’s stop the argument that financial education doesn’t work" Bill Hensley, CNBC June 13, 2019"Do Financial Literacy Courses Work?" Susannah Snider, US News and World Report, August 28, 2018Music: "Que Extraño Es" by Molo
In which Dan discusses the why, the what, and the how of media and digital literacy with Kerri Redding (@nandikerri), photographer and media educator at Washington International School. They dissect the four principles of media literacy, wonder why schools are so far behind on this, and discuss life on the early internet. As always we welcome comments and questions on Twitter @BigIdeaEdMentioned in the show:Media Literacy Standards to Counter Truth Decay by RAND CorporationThe SIFT Method for evaluating digital sources by Mike CaulfieldCheck, Please: a fact and source-check course from Mike CaulfieldNational Society for Media Literacy EducationMedia Education LabMaking Thinking Visible from Harvard's Project ZeroThe Binti Graphic Novel Series by Nnedi OkoraforThey Called Us Enemy by George TakeiMusic: "Que Extraño Es" by Molo
In which Dan talks conceptual learning, and reframing so much of what we do in education with Kayla Duncan (@MrsKaylaDuncan) and Trevor Aleo (@MrAleoSays). They're part of a team that authored an upcoming book that's not afraid to take on big, important issues in education. We talk transfer, going slow to go fast, teacher credibility, and what it's like to write an education book. As always we welcome comments and questions on Twitter @BigIdeaEdMentioned in the show:Learning That Transfers: Designing Curriculum for a Changing World by Julie Stern, Krista Ferraro, Kayla Duncan, and Trevor AleoLearning That Transfers Online CoursesUnderstanding By Design by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTigheMusic: "Que Extrano Es" by Molo courtesy of Tribe of Noise
In which Dan talks about education in the context of the attack on the U.S. Capitol. He's joined by Joel Westheimer (@joelwestheimer), professor of education at the University of Ottawa and someone's who done lots of thinking and writing about civics education. They talk about the Canadian view of the attack, the meaning of civics education, and how a lack of media literacy might be education's biggest blindspot. As always, we welcome comments and questions on Twitter @BigIdeaEdMentioned in the show:What Kind of Citizen? Educating Our Children For the Common Good by Joel WestheimerPledging Allegiance: The Politics of Patriotism in American's Schools by Joel Westheimer Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt Media Literacy on Common Sense MediaMusic: "Que Extrano Es" by Molo courtesy of Tribe of Noise
In which Dan weighs what 2020 taught us about many of the tenets of education. He's joined by Amy Fast (@fastcrayon), principal of McMinnville High School in Oregon, to take part in "Over, Under, or Properly Rated?", a game of evaluation and reflection. They talk synchronous vs asynchronous, teacher content knowledge, parental involvement, college prep, and more. As always, we welcome comments and questions on Twitter @BigIdeaEd.Music: "Que Extrano Es" by Molo courtesy of Tribe of Noise
In which Dan talks with Jinnie Spiegler, director of Curriculum and Training at the Anti-Defamation League. If 2020 has shown us anything, it's the importance of being able to talk about race in the classroom. But too often teachers don't. We're limited by feelings of discomfort or defensiveness, the pressures of curriculum pacing, or maybe we just don't see it as our job. This is a mistake and a missed opportunity. Luckily, we're supported by organizations like the Anti-Defamation League. Dan and Jinnie discuss teacher discomfort, how leadership can support us, and why student action is so crucial.Visit the ADL for incredible resources for creating the right classroom environment for those difficult conversations.Mentioned in the show:Anti-Defamation League: Resources for Educators, Parents & FamiliesAnti-Defamation League: How Should I Talk about Race in My Mostly White Classroom?Education Week: Are America's Schools Ready for Tough Talk on Racism?Music: "Que Extrano Es" by Molo courtesy of Tribe of Noise
In which Dan speaks with Kim Marshall, a retired teacher and principal, on his career and reflections on education and leadership. Kim is now a consultant and publisher of the excellent Marshall Memo, a weekly roundup of ideas and research in K-12 education. Dan and Kim talk about busing in Boston in the 1970s, how you know when you're ready to move into administration, and what he's learned from spending every Sunday for years reading education articles. As always, we welcome comments and questions on Twitter @BigIdeaEdMentioned in the show:"The Desegregation of a Boston Classroom" by Kim Marshall,  Learning, September 1975"Class Warfare in the Boston Schools" by Kim Marshall, Harvard, February 1975"Pushing Back on Outmoded Beliefs" by Kim Marshall in Leaderboard, Michigan Association of School Boards, Spring 2019The Best of the Marshall Memo (for purchase) and a free chapterMusic: "Que Extrano Es" by Molo courtesy of Tribe of Noise
In which Dan examines the importance of talking with students about important issues facing America, including the upcoming election, race, inequality, and hard historical truths. Dan is first joined by Karen Murphy from Facing History and Ourselves to talk about the work of that organization in helping teachers navigate hard history and sensitive current events (4:45). Then he's joined by Rhode Island history teacher Jon Gold to talk morality, perspectives, and why being "neutral" in the classroom just won't cut it (37:00). As always, we welcome comments and questions on Twitter @BigIdeaEdMentioned in the show:Facing History and Ourselves: Fostering Civil Discourse and Current Events Teacher Check ListJon Gold's excellent articles for Teaching ToleranceMusic: "Que Extrano Es" by Molo courtesy of Tribe of Noise
In which Dan chats with Nate Bowling, history and government teacher and big thinker. Nate spent over a decade in public schools in Washington state, where, in 2016, he was named the Teacher of Year, and was one of four finalists for national teacher of the year. He now works at an international school in Abu Dhabi. They talk politics, policy, the value of liberal arts, America’s place in the world, and how living outside the U.S. deepens your perspective. As always we welcome comments and questions on Twitter @BigIdeaEd
In which Dan talks with Monise Seward, a grade 6 special education teacher in Georgia. In this time of great turmoil and uncertainty, they talk Covid, BLM, textbooks, and how special education is a portal into many of the larger issues facing education. As always, we welcome comments and questions on Twitter @BigIdeaEd
In which Dan examines two very different approaches to teaching Literature in middle and high schools today. He's joined by Jasmine Lane and Jarred Amato to examine the "literary canon", the role of choice in the classroom, and books that have left an impression on these two educators. As always, we welcome comments and questions on Twitter @BigIdeaEd
In which Dan discusses the importance of understanding historical context, especially during times of great change and crisis. He's joined by Matt, the host of the excellent Reflecting History podcast to talk about what it means to truly 'understand' history, the importance of creating and reading primary sources, and the role of social media in our understanding. As always, we welcome comments and questions on Twitter @BigIdeaEd
In which Dan reaches out to educators from different contexts and with different perspectives, and asks them for their answer to the question, 'What has the Covid crisis taught you about education?' Some really powerful stuff here. As always, we welcome comments and questions on Twitter @BigIdeaEd
In which Dan talks with Laura England, an IB teacher who's done a ton of thinking about projects and what they mean for student learning. They talk about what we mean by 'project', process vs product, and why establishing a classroom culture of good questions is so important. As always we welcome comments on Twitter @BigIdeaEd
In which Dan talks about the various ways that school might happen in the fall with Chris Chiang, a teacher in northern California's Bay Area. Chris has kept his eye on schools in Europe and Asia and he has an interesting perspective, as well as practical tips for school administrators, teachers, and communities they start thinking about August and September. As always, we welcome comments and questions on Twitter @BigIdeaEd
In which Dan talks with Graham Fletcher, a math specialist who presents to schools and teachers around the globe about the need to slow down and emphasize deep, conceptual learning. They talk about what it means to understand math, our overstuffed curriculums, and why slowing down will help us go fast. As always, we welcome comments and questions on Twitter @BigIdeaEd
In which Dan discusses school belief systems, student agency, and the need for all of us to advance the conversation with Missy Emler, owner of Modern Learners. A self-described 'rebel' of progressive education, Missy offers a unique and insightful perspective on the urgency of real changes to education in the face of the coronavirus crisis. As always, we welcome comments on Twitter @BigIdeaEd
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