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"Learning is about living, and as such is lifelong." Elkjaer.


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This Post Was Written By AI

Strap in, as developments in AI, Machine Learning and automation have come thick and fast over the last two years, and really exploded over the last six months. This post is a demonstration of a couple of (free or trial version) tools that showcase capabilities in AI that will doubtless have an impact on the high school graduates of the very near future. The “jobs that don’t exist yet” of ten years ago – but that exist now – will be impacted quickly. Developments in science, technology, medicine and sustainability are already changing the way we can solve problems.

This post took under 30mins to go from idea to published output. The drafting of the text took under 5mins in each platform, and most of the work was pulling in some tweets and adding links and images. It would take extra work to add links, sources, depth and citations but it lifts the creator from the blank page in moments. These are early days for the tech, yet it can generate useful multiple drafts and iterations in just a couple of minutes. Imagine what it would be like in a few years…

Screenshots at the end of the post. I found PlaygroundAI through Suhail’s tweets, and the other tools from this thread by Daniel Eckler.

Updates – the services in this post are all accessible with a Google account and don’t need mobile number or other installs. I’ve made a LibGuide with all the resources here, including a page on ethical considerations and some accessible AI & ML courses. I used PlayGroundAI for all the images (which includes Stable Diffusion and DALL-E 2); you can also try DreamStudio for StableDiffusion (thanks Dalton).

Can you guess the prompts used to generate these images?

Example Post with WriteSonic AI Article Writer 3.0

Text Prompt: Impacts of AI on the jobs of the future

Using: Writesonic AI Article Writer 3.0. This example started with my topic and keywords, from which it generated example headlines, section headings and then written content. I made minor adjustments along the way, and with Grammarly built in, took no time to tweak to this content.

Output

The Future of Jobs: Implications for Employment and Economic Security

The rapid pace of technological change over the last decade has led many to wonder what the future may hold for jobs and the economy. Some have predicted that widespread automation will lead to massive job loss and a prolonged period of economic weakness. Others have been more optimistic, suggesting that new technologies will actually create new types of jobs and spur a boom in related industries.

What are the current trends in employment?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment levels have been growing steadily since 2011 and are currently near record highs. However, there have been some notable changes in the types of jobs being created. For example, the BLS estimates that employment in the manufacturing sector fell by 3.8 million (about one-third) between 2000 and 2018. This decline reflects a shift in the structure of the US economy toward services, which now accounts for 80% of all jobs. Overall, employment changes have been modest, and there is no sign that automation is replacing workers at a significant pace.

How many jobs will be lost to automation?

Estimates vary widely, but most researchers believe that a significant number of jobs will be lost. McKinsey Global Institute estimates that about 40% of tasks will be automated by 2055, with about 60% of those occurring in the manufacturing sector and the rest in other industries. This level of automation is comparable to the rate of change observed in the past, but it is happening faster because the cost of automating is declining. Still, these changes will not lead to an overall reduction in employment because new industries and jobs will also emerge. It is unclear, however, whether the economy will be able to create enough new jobs to make up for those lost to automation.

Which occupations are most at risk?

Automation has the potential to disrupt many occupations, but some industries and occupations are more at risk than others. One study on automation risk in the US economy focused on the probability of automation in a large sample of occupations. Occupations with a high probability of automation include agricultural workers, mining machine operators, sewing machine operators, and many types of food service workers.

Which occupations will see the most growth?

Many of the occupations that will benefit most from automation are in health care, education, and software development. The healthcare sector will grow significantly due to an ageing population, technological developments, and rising demand for preventive care. Advances in technology will allow the education sector to expand, especially online education. This will allow more people to learn at their own pace and from a distance.

How can we prepare for these changes?

The best way to prepare for these changes is to invest in people. This includes expanding educational opportunities, developing new training programs, and providing adults with the skills they need to succeed in the workplace. It is important to note that not everyone will be affected by automation in the same way. Workers who are creative and have social skills are less likely to be replaced by robots. Those who have the right mix of skills and are flexible enough to use them in new ways can also thrive in a rapidly changing economy.

What skills should high school graduates of 2025 master to be competitive in an AI future?

While it is impossible to predict exactly what skills will be needed, our research shows that graduates who are creative and have strong communication skills will be well prepared to tackle whatever comes next. In addition, it is critical for workers to keep learning throughout their careers, as new technologies and industries emerge. This will allow them to stay relevant in the changing economy and continue to earn a living.

END POST


Example Paragraph from PepperTypeAI

Prompt: Preparing today’s high school graduates for the AI future. (PeppertypeAI)

“It can be tough to predict the future, especially when it comes to the world of Artificial Intelligence (AI). However, there are some things that today’s high school graduates can do to prepare themselves for a world where AI is developing quickly. They should focus on developing skills like creativity, critical thinking and problem solving, and researching opportunities in fields like data science and machine learning. With these skills and knowledge, they’ll be well-equipped to take advantage of the opportunities that AI presents.”

Peppertype, like WriteSonic, has loads of content-type generators. This one also has options for tone, call to action and more.


Example Post with CopyAI

Tool: CopyAI Prompt: Preparing Today’s High School Graduates for an AI Future. This has similar tools as WriteSonic and Peppertype, with tone and talking point options.

Preparing Today’s High School Graduates for an AI Future

Introduction

As artificial intelligence (AI) continues to evolve, more and more jobs are being impacted by automation. New research suggests AI will affect some industries much more than others, but all industries will see some impact. High school and university students need to be given the skills needed for new job requirements and training for current jobs will also be necessary as certain jobs become more automated. This means teaching young people how to collaborate with robots and other technologies, rather than competing with them. Coding languages are essential to learn as they can help students develop app functionalities, helping them be adept in the technology era.”

As artificial intelligence (AI) continues to evolve, more and more jobs are being impacted by automation. New research suggests AI will affect some industries much more than others, but all industries will see some impact.

You may be wondering: What will the future hold? Will my job be affected by AI?

The short answer is yes. More and more jobs are being impacted by automation, as AI continues to evolve and change the way we live our lives. In fact, a recent study suggests nearly half of all jobs could be at risk of being automated within the next 10 years (including yours).

You should prepare yourself for this inevitable shift in how society operates by understanding what types of occupations are most likely to face disruption from artificial intelligence technologies like machine learning (ML) or deep learning (DL), which allow computers to learn on their own rather than being programmed with specific tasks beforehand. You should also understand how these changes might affect your own career plans moving forward—and whether your education will help you stay relevant as new opportunities arise over time

High school and university students need to be given the skills needed for new job requirements and training for current jobs will also be necessary as certain jobs become more automated. This means teaching young people how to collaborate with robots and other technologies, rather than competing with them.

When universities and high schools are preparing students for an AI future, they need to be taught about the new job requirements and training for current jobs will also be necessary as certain jobs become more automated. This means teaching young people how to collaborate with robots and other technologies, rather than competing with them.

In our current society, we have come up with a number of solutions that can help us deal with this problem:

  • We could use artificial intelligence (AI) in our daily lives by using it for personal tasks like scheduling appointments or writing emails
  • We could create an AI company that does some of this work for us
  • We could develop technology that allows humans and robots to work together

Coding languages are essential to learn as they can help students develop app functionalities, helping them be adept in the technology era. There are a variety of websites available with free coding tutorials rounded up by age group, so there’s no excuse not to learn this skill that could give you an edge in your future career.

Coding is a valuable skill that can be learned at any age. There are many free resources available for learning coding, and it’s important to take advantage of them as soon as possible. Learning to code will help you develop app functionalities, helping you be adept in the technology era.

In today’s society, coding has become a necessity for many jobs such as software development or data analysis fields. If you haven’t yet discovered how useful this skill could be when it comes time for college applications or job interviews (and beyond), now might be a good time!

In addition to coding abilities, high school graduates need to have stronger presentation skills as well as the ability to think critically and creatively when it comes to solving problems.

In addition to coding abilities, high school graduates need to have stronger presentation skills as well as the ability to think critically and creatively when it comes to solving problems.

In today’s world, where technology is constantly changing and evolving, it is critical that students are able to communicate their ideas effectively in a way that will be understood by adults. Presentation skills can be developed through practice; however creative thinking is another skill that can be developed through practice as well. Both creativity and critical thinking require specific methods of learning which include: reading books; listening carefully while others speak; taking notes while listening or reading; asking questions when you don’t understand something someone has said/written down on paper (this may include questions like “why?” or “what if?”); drawing pictures with words written next too them so you get more information out of what someone says by visualizing how everything works together instead just hearing them talk about one thing at once without seeing anything else going on around them besides themselves talking about their own personal experiences but these experiences only apply within this particular situation therefore making sense only within context such as being able

to understand why something happened before doing anything else because then later after seeing results from doing certain actions we might say ‘gosh these things worked!’ But then again maybe not because maybe there isn’t enough evidence available yet.”

High school graduates are not getting adequate training for the future workforce which is going to be affected by AI.

High school graduates are not getting adequate training for the future workforce which is going to be affected by AI. The technology will require workers who can creatively think critically and collaborate with robots, software agents, etc., in order to solve problems.

In order to prepare students for this future, it’s important that they learn how to work together with other people toward a common goal: solving problems using new technologies like AI.

Conclusion

It is clear that the future of work will be impacted by artificial intelligence and new technologies. High school graduates need to prepare themselves for this change, so they can be ready when these jobs become automated. Coding languages are essential to learn as they can help students develop app functionalities, helping them be adept in the technology era. There are a variety of websites available with free coding tutorials rounded up by age group, so there’s no excuse not to learn this skill that could give you an edge in your future career

END POST


Is AI Coming for Creative Work?

The tweet thread below shows some very quick examples of concept images created in Stable Diffusion and DALL-E 2 using the (currently free) PlaygroundAI.com platform. Click to see the whole thread; I’ll keep adding examples. You can see my Playground gallery (and copy the prompts) here.


A Deeper Dive Into Implications

You should definitely read this post – especially if you are a TOK, ethics, or digital media teacher.


Screenshots


Listen: The DeepMind Podcast:

This fantastic podcast series by Professor Hannah Fry dives deep into the world of AI research at DeepMind in London, unpacking the history, development and applications of ML, DL and AI research.

https://www.deepmind.com/the-podcast

Embedded below – one of my favourite episodes about AlphaFold, the project to solve the riddles of human proteome. Incredible developments and potential future applications in health and medicine:


Read: AI 2041 by Kai-Fu Lee

For a (mostly optimistic) and fantastically-researched view on the world in 2041, check out Kai-Fu Lee‘s collaboration with Chinese sci-fi heavyweight Chen Qiufan. Ten short stories, ten regions, ten areas of development, all set in 2041. Extrapolating current tech to future implications in the style of Black Mirror, with explainers after each chapter.


In this interview from the Computer History Museum, Kai-Fu Lee talks about the world outlined in AI2041, and includes a question posted by me (at about 1h4min).

Kai-Fu Lee’s predictions for the next 20 years, (Chinese with English subtitles):


Can you guess the prompts I used to create these images?


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The Buoyant Force: L2 Talk & FOEN Workshop

This was a great challenge during the Learning2 Conference last week in Nanjing. It was my first time at the conference and I was looking for an experience that would push me and provide something to think about. I presented this short talk, and an extended session on Global Ignorance, Factfulness and Data-Informed Inquiry. You can see more action from the conference on #Learning2 on Twitter.

The “buoyant force” talk is based on an idea I started writing about in 2017 but had been thinking about as a coordinator for a while. The essence of it is that in our rush to “get ready for” the next stage, do we risk forgetting the forces that are acting on our curriculum on the way up the school? The images are a blend of my own photos and some from Unsplash.

Future of Education NOW at WAB

Here are the slides for the workshop version of The Buoyant Force, presented at WAB’s Future of Education Now “Festival of Learning” Conference. The format was a series of provocations and discussion for participants (a mix of WAB and visiting educators) to engage in reflection on the forces acting on learners through transitions.

The Big Ideas Of The Buoyant Force

There is more depth on the original post, but here are some key ideas:

  • Transitions are hard, are we making them harder by disregarding the skills, knowledge, concepts, identities and motivations of learners as they push up towards us?
  • How are we capitalising on the buoyant force of learner agency in our transitions? When a fired-up PYPx student transitions into MYP, what do we do with that experience? Those skills? Do we give them the opportunity to show us what they can do as continuum learners?
  • Do we use this to raise the bar for inquiry and understanding?
  • By misinterpreting backwards mapping as “we’ve got to get them ready for [high stakes terminal task] by practicing [high stakes terminal task]” at every stage of the continuum, are we reducing our planning to a backwash of demands?

The Buoyant Force and School Innovation

As many of our schools are in the process of change and reinvention, do we consider the buoyant force in our planning? For example, schools offering the MYP for the first time might have their older learners “test out” the Personal Project. How does that go with learners who have been enculturated to a different way of doing things? What would we expect to see with the following cohorts, who are more used to the programme?

Similarly, if we are going through dramatic change in a school, where are we investing the efforts? We can harness the buoyant force to drive the change by creating the change earlier in the continuum – and then planning for those learners pushing upwards.

Did they do something fab in Grade 8? Great, then how do we make the most of it in Grade 9? Is everyone on board? How do we expect to see this cohort raise our game?

An L2 Reflection

This was my first Learning2 Conference. Despite following it for years, there was always a clash with school commitments, prioritising others on the budget or transition. I’m so glad I finally went I’m over conferences in the regular format and the opportunity and challenge of being an L2 Leader was well worth the time and effort. The people were amazing and it felt like a productive, supportive, calm and inspiring community.

When I agreed to do the talk I had the kernel of the idea, based on the blog post. In a day, with some coaching and feedback, I was pretty happy with the product. I’m very used to leading workshops and active conference breakout sessions, so “doing a talk” was a new experience. Watching it back, there is plenty I’d change. It’s a bit TED-y. The lights were bright. But the response was positive and we had some great conversations afterwards. I am expanding this into a workshop for our school’s “Future of Education Now” Conference, where we will unpack the big ideas.

Thank-you L2 & FOEN Teams!


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Clear is Kind.

I love this post from Brené Brown, adapted from her book Dare to Lead: “Clear is Kind. Unclear is Unkind.”

In leadership roles in spaces with many moving parts and challenges, I’ve learned that unnecessary ambiguity can lead to unnecessary conflict. As a coordinator we can often predict where some of these conflicts might arise.

In something as complex as an international IB school, with a range of perspectives and experiences, having the “truth” to hand can be an effort and relationship-saver. Thinking carefully about the cultural forces of expectations and language can shape more positive interactions.

I’ve more recently started to lean on the phrase “here’s where we’re going with this” (Ron Ritchhart), in making as clear as possible to my colleagues and students the direction we’re going… and that it’s a shared journey.

We can invest time to make time (COT), to set the stage for productive collaboration, through resourcing, accessing “truth” documents and being clear with intention and the use of language. Through clarity of message, direction and resource we can minimise the chances of someone’s energies being sapped on surface-level frustrations. We want the mental energy to be spent on productive, collegial discourse.

Another line I love in Brené Brown’s post is “talking about someone rather than talking to them is unkind.” So much so, that in the agendas I control, we have two guiding questions at the top:

Simple principles, easy to live by.

They have helped me mature and maintain calm over my journey so far.


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Creating Cultures of Thinking: Summary Cards

COTCards-WABdangloid
Keeping it handy…

I love Creating Cultures of Thinking by Ron Ritchhart of Project Zero at HGSE so much, and refer to it so often, that I made these aide-mémoire cards and chapter summaries, and I carry them with me for planning, coaching and collaboration meetings. The front side has a visual and chapter line, and the reverse summarises the key subheadings of the chapter.

Of course this doesn’t replace a deep reading of the book. I find them a useful reminder and a tool for use in conversations. If you haven’t read the book (or taken part in a COT workshop or course), don’t rely on these for understanding. 

In my current role as learning & ICT coach, I use the cultural forces as a filter for thinking and development. They can be used to notice and name forces in a situation. Which forces are being influenced with this? Which force(s) might be in high or low resource? How can we make sure the influence is positive? How can we help make it easier to do better things?

Click here to download them as a pdf.

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Other COT resources I keep to hand

Most of these are hosted on Ron’s website.

“Children grow into the intellectual life around them.” 

(Vygotsky)

Our role as teachers and parents is to provide an intellectual apprenticeship for learners. As Ron mentions in the video below, via Howard Gardner, their time with us should be “time well spent”. This interview outlines some key ideas from the Cultures of Thinking project, and is well worth listening to.

More Resources

Since moving to WAB I have fallen in love with Libguides for curation and presentation of information and resources for colleagues and students. On this Pathfinder, I’ve compiled everything I can find for CCOT, MTV and other PZ resources.


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My Best Books, 2017-18

This year has been high on transition, anxiety and exhaustion, and very low on sleep. On the plus side, we’re feeling positive about the move to an amazing school, and the sleepless hours have meant even more reading than normal. Here is a selection of the books that have kept me going and inspired me over the past year.

Factfulness

“Please return your brain for a free upgrade.”

I really think all international educators should read this book by the wonderful Hans, Anna and Ola Rosling, of Gapminder. I’ve been a Han Rosling fanboy for many years over on i-Biology and this is the perfect tribute to him and summary of the important messages from years of research, action and TED Talks.

Buy it! It’s better in print than on Kindle, and on Gapminder you can try the global ignorance test and their Dollar Street project.

I’ve written a more complete review of Factfulness here, and have been tweeting about it with Friday #Factfulness.

 

The Binti Trilogy, Akata Witch & Akata Warrior

by Nnedi Okorafor

“Being in this place of diversity and movement was overwhelming, but I felt at home too… as long as I didn’t look at the ships.”

“Prepare to fall in love with Binti” says Neil Gaiman’s cover recommendation, and he couldn’t be more right. Nnedi Okorafor has created an outstanding body of work, with Binti as my introduction to her world-building, characters and afrofuturism. I won’t spoil it, but give Binti a go – it’s a quick read, packed with imagination an you could well be as hooked as I am. My own 11yo daughter loved it too. I immediately read Home, pre-ordered the trilogy finale, and got stuck into Akata Witch (and more recently finished Akata Warrior). The Akata books (Sunny) are renamed in the UK (here and here).

Okorafor is my new favourite author, and this short TEDx talk by her is well worth the nine minutes. I can see Binti becoming a great reader for MYP Lang Lit units of inquiry as it will resonate with Third Culture Kids (TCK’s).

 

Bold Moves for Schools

by Heidi Hayes Jacobs &  Marie Alcock

I’ve blogged about this before, and tweeted about it plenty. Reading this really resonated with who I am as an educator and curriculum/pedagogical leader. It is clear, provocative and practical, with lots of great ideas and suggestions encompassing curriculum, pedagogy, leadership and more. I had a great time at a Bootcamp with Marie earlier in the year, and it got me thinking a lot more about Webb’s DOK4 & Transfer. Well worth a look, especially if you’re looking to the future. Read more here. I also enjoyed Quest for Learning by Marie Alcock, Allison Zmuda and Michael Fisher (see here).

“Innovation requires courage coupled with a realistic sensibility to create new possibilities versus “edu-fantasies”. Moving boldly is not moving impulsively or for the sake of change. Moving boldly involves breaking barriers that need breaking.”

 

The John Catt Stable

These last few years, John Catt publishing in the UK have produced a range of great books on education. Back in 2014 I read and wrote about Martin Robinson’s Trivium 21C as a vision of a well-implemented IB Diploma Programme, and reviewed it for IS Magazine. This year I’ve read and loved all of the following, though my particular favourite has been “What does this look like in the classroom?” by Carl Hendrick and Robin MacPherson, illustrated by Oliver Caviglioli (reviewed and linked here).

These are the kinds of books educators should be reading in initial teacher training, as well as keeping as reminders of what works and why – particularly if you want to avoid throwing the baby out with the bathwater in a quest for dynamic learning. Other gooduns I’ve read this year (and there are more than this):

 

Reasons to Stay Alive

by Matt Haig

A wonderfully-written, honest and raw description of living with and through depression and anxiety, and great twitter account to follow. Matt Haig’s Reasons to Stay Alive is warm and funny whilst dealing with serious issues.

I look forward to reading his new follow-up, Notes On A Nervous Planet.

 

Recipes for Wonder

by Alom Shaha & Emily Robertson

This book is so beautiful I got three copies: one for us, one for my niece and one for the school library. Alom Shaha (@alomshaha) is on a mission to help parents become their child’s first science teacher and with this book, illustrated by Emily Robertson, he has a winner.

Books of “experiments at home” have been around for ages, but this goes far beyond: with personal stories, “the power of I don’t know”, inquiry questions and “Mr. Shaha says” explanations, it helps frame each activity through thinking as a scientist. Get it here, or in real shops.

 

The Idiot Brain

by Dean Burnett

Who knew brains could be so funny? Dean Burnett, neuroscientists did, and The Idiot Brain is a witty, readable and up-to-date primer on what we know about our brains, how they (kindof) work and how we know.

If you’re at all interested in how your jelly mass is ruling your life, and sometimes working against you, give this a go.

Grace of Kings

by Ken Liu

In summer 2016, a tweet from Saladin Ahmed sent me down a rabbit hole of rediscovering fantasy/sci-fi through nonwestern authors and stories. One of them, which I only got to in this year, was Ken Liu’s Grace of Kings. Epic, detailed and well-developed, the Dandelion Dynasty is a universe I’ll return to in the future.

And you know how it goes with Amazon recommendations connected to your “likes”…

Ember Quartet (Books 1-2) &  The Grisha Series

Excellent YA fantasy, the Ember novels by Sabaa Tahir and the Grisha novels by Leigh Bardugo are fast-paced, with rounded characters, solid arcs, darkness, humour and plenty to set them apart from traditional fantasy. Bardugo’s Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom are also a fun heist novels set in the Grisha world.

Authors like these have given me a renewed interest in a genre which I had abandoned years ago through boredom. I wasn’t aware of how much great stuff was out there.

 

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On my summer reading list (let’s see how many I get through):

 

So… what are you reading? Recommendations below, or find me on Twitter.

Happy holidays!

Stephen

 


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The Buoyant Force of Continuum Learning

If you’re new to this blog – welcome! Ideas on here often build on previous posts or conversations, so I hope this make sense. To find out more, please visit my about page, with posts by topic.

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As I work on curriculum development across the subjects, I reflect on how easy it is for us to fall into the trap of backward mapping without considering the buoyant force of learners as they move up the continuum. 

Starting with the end in mind – backward design (Wiggins & McTighe) – is critically important in making curriculum decisions. What are we aiming for at the end of this great journey? What do our learners need from us? This helps us design schemes, units, assessments and instructional resources that meet whatever standards or outcomes we need to address. A great backwards-designed curriculum is powerful and engaging. By knowing the desired outcomes we can see the pathways for differentiation, interest and flexibility; the learner’s journey is rich and varied and the learner becomes more than the sum of the (instructional) parts.

Backward Design, Not Backwashed Demands

Ireductiverubrics_sjtylrnterpreting backwards design too inflexibly, however, runs the risk of stripping out the soul of the subject through a laser-focused aim on a narrow selection of terminal performance tasks:  “we need to get them ready for (exam/essay/other) by doing lots of (exam/essay/other) at every stage.”  Well-intentioned, though often stifling, “get them ready for…” creates the spectre of a future to worry about. As large-scale terminal assessments necessitate reliable (standardised) operations, they measure what can be measured easily – but do they get to its true heart? If we strip a subject down to the items on a list, what happens to disciplinary authenticity and deep inquiry over time?

Whilst keeping the end in mind, how can we really harness the present enthusiasm and inquiry and build on past excitement and learning to create the moving force of experience that carries learners upwards?

The Buoyant Force

The learners that walk into our schools are not blank slates. When they step into MYP from PYP, they are energised by PYPx and their many exciting experiences. If they step up from a strong PYP, they are already knowledgeable, enthusiastic inquirers. Similarly in the transition from MYP to DP, the tempered learner enters DP with a toolkit of ATL skills, disciplinary and interdisciplinary foundations. None of this is frivolous or superficial and they are not fixed empty vessels, waiting to be filled with a set amount of content.

bubblesThey are more like air bubbles racing to the surface of the water, expanding and accelerating as they go. When they hit the surface, they transition into the next phase: we launch them from school to the world. Along the way, however, there is the buoyant force, an upwards push that we can harness in curriculum design. It might sound cheesy, but run with it.

What are the opportunities and experiences that nucleate those bubbles? How can we catch the bubbles and keep those moving forces pushing upwards? When I reflect on things happening in our own context I think of a few examples:

  • The rapid evolution of our Design classes in many ways. Introducing 3D printers and Tinkercad was great – but even greater is that once the PYP kids got a hold of it, those initial MYP lessons have become redundant already. Now the young MYP designers are doing amazing things, with purpose and audience. The buoyant force of the early experience allowed for even more awesome things to happen later.
  • The revolution of PHE in MYP and the obvious and exciting enthusiasm of the learners as they move up the course. I’m stoked to see how they introduce more authentic data analysis and as a department they have created fantastic learning opportunities.
  • The young PYP writers, coming out of a workshop model into MYP are already equipped for mini-lessons, conferencing and lots of active output in authentic genres. They are ready to write, read and produce work for real audiences.

In every discipline, in all sections of the continuum, I see examples like this, and it is amazing. The buoyant force creates pressure on a backward-mapped curriculum. There is no surer way to burst a kid’s bubble than to approach curriculum with the view that “I know you can do [amazing thing], but we need to do [less amazing, but seemingly more ‘valid’ thing].

So as we develop vertically articulated curriculum, are we spending the care to think about the very best of what these learners know and can do already, and about how a rapidly evolving curriculum in the years below might precipitate a need for (r)evolution and reinvention in the years above? Do we think about it as a spiral, so that even if they encounter similar topics or concepts, they are truly building a stronger understanding through inquiring more deeply and with greater sophistication? Are we looking left and right for connections and experiences that can enhance the experience?

In the younger years are we thinking about how these bubbles nucleate, and how they connect to (and inspire) experiences in later years? When we teach a topic, are we taking care not to inflate the learner with misconceptions that rise with them?

In the older years, as we make changes or introduce new ways of thinking, are we surprised when it hits bumps? Or are we mindful of the possibility that that change might be a jarring experience for learners whose previous experiences have been very different? Do we expect the same to happen year after year or are we preparing for the younger learners to come up with a new energy, a buoyant force?

When we deal with transitions, do we focus on communicating the very best of the learners’ experiences? Do we ask the teachers before us “how do we keep them excited?” Are we creating exhilaration for what comes next, rather than anxiety?

What are the buoyant forces in your continuum?

If your learners were to “live fully, now” how would that create a moving force that drives them through the next stage?

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Animations:

Older version of the reductive rubrics gif:

Rubrics@sjtlyr


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Seven Reasons to be an #IBEN Site Visitor

Over the last couple of years I’ve started to get involved in #IBEN, the IB Educators’ Network, as part of the Middle Years Programme authorisation and evaluation process. After initial training as a School Visiting Team Member (SVTM), I was out on a visit as a team member for a synchronised visit (PYP, MYP, DP, CIS & NEASC). More recently I have been team leader (SVTL) for the MYP section of another synchronised visit, and have completed consultancy training, to be part of a process that supports candidate MYP schools in their journey towards authorisation. This has all been phenomenal PD – learning through authentic inquiry that can only help me in my programme leadership role at school. 

So… here are seven reasons you should join #IBEN

1. It’s a community

There are lots of venues to meet others in the same role – workshops, conferences, online – but this is one that has a special focus: to help the IB community grow around you. Someone has done it for your school, you can do it for others. Along the way, we realise that the community is human, that “the IB” is not a faceless auditor and that we can share the responsibility of bringing the IB’s mission to fruition in the region.

2. Bringing the Standards & Practices to life.

No really, wait, stop giggling.

The S&P’s are our quality-control guidance as a school, yet we probably don’t learn about them or engage with them as often as we could. Being in a room with a team of people picking through them and thinking about how they look and how they can be interpreted is powerful learning – and immediately applicable in your own context.

3. Being right up to date.

Training for these roles is delivered by the experts, with an oversight of all the most relevant challenges and updates. It’s a great opportunity to clear up misconceptions and to make sure your own approach is on point. Are we using the right guidance? Is our approach in line with the expectations? How have other schools taken on this challenge?

4. It’s a privilege

The Standards & Practices set the direction of a school and the feedback from readers, consultants and site visitors helps keep the school on course. To be able to do this effectively, we are given access to a lot of information about a school. There is a lot of trust and respect in the process. We all learn and we all work with the best intentions in mind: to give our students the best international education they could have.

5. Time to focus.

How often do you really get to focus on one job for your role? Being away for a few days, with a singular role, can be as energising as it is engaging and exhausting. Even the time in the airport can be time to clear some of your to-do list. IB visits are usually no more than three days, so they’re not going to set you too far behind (some other agencies are there a week).

6. It’s free.

If you’re invited for training or to go on a visit, it doesn’t cost you anything but time, so on the learning-per-dollar scale, it’s pretty high-impact for your school. Better still, you get a little honorarium. It won’t make you rich, but it will offset the guilt-gifts you buy your family in the airport on the way home.

7. It works for your school.

It is impossible to separate your learning about the process (or during a visit) from your own context. Are we doing this right? Would this work in my school? Hey, that’s a neat idea…

By taking a careful, analytical approach to the S&P’s, we are becoming more competent as coordinators. By finding out about a school from its many stakeholders we can be inspired to be better pedagogical leaders in our own contexts.

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So get involved! Find out more here. I’m not a workshop leader, but I hear those guys have a blast, too.


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Live Fully Now

[Edit 2018]: I still lean on this clip in discussions about “preparing students for the future”. I feel the phrase “get them ready for … ” is problematic for many reasons, not least the creation of a “future spectre”, which risks pulling discussions away from continuum-coherence. Let’s think about backward mapping but not backwashing demands, and making the most of the buoyant force of continuum learning.

I included this short clip, built on a short piece of a talk by philosopher Alan Watts, in my #GAFESummit session, Ready, Steady, Flow. There was some quiet contemplation (expected) and some tears (unexpected).

It had been doing the rounds on Twitter, and I felt it captured some of my feelings about education and the anxiety we can face as we “get them ready for XYZ.” It becomes all too easy to suck the joy out of learning, to focus on the grades, to get caught on the treadmill.

We risk losing our creativity and spark in the process.

At the same time, we hear so much about ‘shift happens‘ and educating students for the future, for ‘jobs that don’t exist yet’ and trying to play crystal-balls about what knowledge and skills the big innovators want in their workforce. We can’t do that. But we can educate the kids we have now, with the knowledge we have now, the tools and research that we have now so that they’ll become “better” people nowand for the future.

What if, by making all of us love learning now, we can make our students balanced, motivated inquirers ready for what the future throws at them?

There’s a name for that job.

Teachers. 

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As a parent I watch it and worry – am I making the most of my own kids’ childhoods? Am I helping make memories that they will love? Am I living in the ‘now’ with them? Do I have the right career-life balance?

I’ve seen this video many times. Each time it gets me.


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Educate for hope, not despair, for a fair and sustainable world.

I wrote this post in 2014, but come back to it often. See edits and additions below the main body. We tread a delicate line between hope and despair; between student action for change and not overwhelming our young learners with the pressure of a future that was shaped by others.  

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We’ve wrecked the world.

Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 10.29.23 AM

Californian Blue Whales are almost back to historical levels after whaling bans in their range [Image: Getty, free for education].

Inequality, environmental destruction, outbreaks of disease, terrorism and economic collapse. We are (we think) aware of the problems we face – and the message can be one of hopelessness. Do we risk passing on global ignorance to our students – a connected, compassionate generation who are plugged into a media-rich stream of (mis)information?

As we try to bring global issues into the classroom, there is a danger that we promote a message that all is lost; a message reinforced by media reporting on the same issues and clouded by prejudices and emotion? This is something I worry about in international curriculum design and often think about how a globally-informed curriculum can also be a hopeful one.

We can fix it.

We can choose to educate for hope. The solutions to many of problems are out there, or on the cusp of being realised – the technological age is well established and we are reaping the rewards. Now it’s time to recognise the importance of the psychological age. George Monbiot writes that if we terrify people, they will focus on saving themselves, not others; a feeling of hopelessness that accompanies awareness of global issues is unhelpful. Yet if the focus is on the concrete and the hopeful – the actions that we can take to make a difference – then we might affect a more positive outcome.

I would love to see an international school curriculum that produces graduates who are globally literate (as in Hans Rosling’s Ignorance Project) and who are hopeful, compassionate and active ‘fixers of the future‘. With the IB Programmes we have the framework – the ‘heavy lifting’ of the elements of an excellent education has been done for us. As schools we can choose to use that framework to build an inspirational experience.

Edit 2018: Rosling’s posthumously-published book (Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong about the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think) is out. Here is an excerpt in the Guardian.

We can start with simple actions

Blue whales are recovering and we can re-grow rainforests – so we can reclaim hope in the curriculum with simple actions:

  1. Design units that connect to Global Contexts in authentic ways.
  2. Evaluate our own understandings of the global issues we’re addressing before we teach them.
  3. Use student research and examples to highlight both the reality of of the situation and the actions that can (and are) being taken to make a positive difference.
    • MYP Sciences, Criterion D – I’m looking at you. And you too while we’re at it, and Design Cycle.
  4. Discuss how these actions and our knowledge can be connected to meaningful action.

We want to create a realistic hope – not ignorance, boredom or hopelessness.

We can do it.

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Update Dec 2017: Blue Planet’s Back! 

“We want children to love nature so that they protect it in the future.”

(Patagonia “Family Business” Raising the Next Generation)

Read this post from June 2017 on the Patagonia blog, about the Great Pacific Child Development Center and their studies and efforts to connect kids to nature. Similarly, we can reflect on the kinds of experiences and media that promote positive feelings towards environmental stewardship in our kids. Shows like Blue Planet II and Planet Earth stimulate fantastic conversations in our house and inspire our kids whilst also informing them of the human impacts. They’re not afraid, but they care.

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Update April 2018: International Contexts

“We do not see ecological grief as submitting to despair, and neither does it justify ‘switching off’ from the many environmental problems that confront humanity. Instead, we find great hope in the responses ecological grief is likely to invoke.”

Read this excellent post from the TheConversation/TerraMar Project,Ecological Grief: Understanding Hope & Despair in the Anthropocene.” As you read the piece, think about the psychological impacts of environmental change. What can we do about them? How might you use “Why Them? Why There? Why Then?” in connection with the article to develop IMaGE?

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Update January 2019: #Factfulness & Global Ignorance

Screen Shot 2019-04-21 at 8.05.01 AMAnyone who follows me on Twitter will know how much I love Factfulness by Hans Rosling & family. I have a growing LibGuide full of connected resources for the global ignorance project and data-informed inquiry here. I presented it recently at ACAMIS Tech 2018, and will run an extended session at Learning 2.019 in Nanjing in November.

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Update March 2019: Global Thinking Toolkit

PZ Global Competence Model A3 Portrait Graphics (@sjtylr)The Global Thinking Routines from Veronica Boix-Mansilla’s (@VBoixMansillaGlobal Thinking Bundle, are a set of project zero resources that can help focus classroom action and inquiry. Click here to read the full Global Thinking guide, and here for her piece in Educational Leadership Magazine on How To Be A Global Thinker. I also love her IB blog post on “bringing international mindedness to life” with portraiture.

See this post for more graphics and links.

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Update April 2019: #OurPlanet!

Attenborough & team are back… on Netflix. The new series, Our Planet, does a great job of teaching for hope, not despair, without white-washing the issues. After George Monbiot’s scathing criticism of the more recent series, Our Planet shares the beauty, highlights the issues and show real and inspiring examples of how human actions are already making a positive impact. They have a great website of resources & clips here.

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Links: