It’s almost here!
Learn more at one of the following:
More details to come about my chapter for teachers . . .
It’s almost here!
Learn more at one of the following:
More details to come about my chapter for teachers . . .
How far do you plan ahead?
In the previous post, I shared an overview of this book chapter featuring teaching approaches of the Flash (Wally West) and Max Mercury, and the impact on their student Impulse. For now, though, let’s turn out attention to time travel.
Bart Allen (Impulse) is a 30th century teen transported to late 20th century America. The featured Flash and Impulse comic book stories in my book chapter were published in the mid 1990s. But this isn’t the kind of time travel I want to discuss.
Let’s look at the timeline of academic publication, using my Flash book chapter:
Altogether, the process from proposal to publication is nearly TWO YEARS. And this isn’t even counting the original call for submissions, formulating my idea, doing the research (reading, looking up, reading, collecting data, reading, analyzing data, etc.), as well as the actual WRITING of the 25+ page first draft.
Two years from proposal to publication is actually about typical for most printed books. (That’s why it’s tricky for a writer to chase trends; by the time anything gets published there’s a new fad taking the world by storm.)
But to be honest, I had to stop and look up some of the above dates in my records. If you had asked me before, I probably would’ve thought the time period was much quicker. Time flies when you’re having fun (i.e. doing scholarly research with comic books).
Teachers also experience interesting time travel in their classroom work. And like publishing, the educational process can stretch along with many delays. A recent article on Edutopia talks about the long-term impact of teaching. Here is how it summarizes the featured research:
Teachers who help students improve noncognitive skills such as self-regulation raise their grades and likelihood of graduating from high school more than teachers who help them improve their standardized test scores do.
Later, the article addresses the predicament: Standardized tests don’t typically measure long-term teacher impact on things like self-regulation and other “noncognitive skills.”
Countless times, teachers reiterate that if something is important, you have to test it. Using reverse logic, we often assume that only the important things are on tests.
We can’t overlook those things that may be more difficult to assess or standardize. In the face of regular evaluation reports, teachers must keep the far future in view.
I would argue that these two outcomes – short-term test scores, long-term impact – are not mutually exclusive. Teachers can promote both at the same time, intertwined together.
Take publishing, for our ongoing analogy.
While this Flash book chapter has been moving toward publication, I’ve been busy working on other projects. Journal articles and conference presentations have faster turnaround times, and I’ve done both in the past few years.
Likewise, I have a new chapter in progress for the next “Ages of . . .” book. This one is about Marvel’s Black Panther.
My chapter deals with T’Challa’s demonstration of 21st Century Skills in defending Wakanda from the alien Skrulls’ Secret Invasion. If that sentence doesn’t excite you, maybe these comic book panels will . . .
So far, here is the timeline of my chapter:
Right now, I’m awaiting feedback and requests for revisions from the editor. After that should be official news of acceptance and publication. But I’m not holding my breath. It’ll happen eventually.
In the meantime, there are always more opportunities to learn, write, research, and share. And enjoy the future possibilities!
The new Avengers: Infinity War trailer came out and is already setting records, as you can read in this Forbes article.
Here is a quick breakdown of the trailer’s impact, courtesy of Fizziology:
Putting Captain America’s beard aside, I’d say the most exciting element of the trailer is NOT the big battles or bad guys. Sure, we get Thanos and multiple fights. But the BEST part is seeing how all these heroes work with each other.
Just take a look at the “screen cap” attached to the official trailer’s YouTube video:
It’s Bucky! Black (Blonde?) Widow! Cap (and his beard)! Hulk! War Machine! Falcon! Black Panther and a whole bunch of Wakandans!
The last time movie-goers saw most of these characters, they were arguing and battling each other. But all it takes to make amends is a world-conquering villain. That’s friendship for ya.
If you’ve paid attention to recent superhero movies, the theme of FRIENDS appears quite often.
No, not THAT theme . . . apologies . . .
We mean REAL friends. To remove the “ear-worm” song from above, take a closer look at the following trailers of current movies.
Start with Thor: Ragnarok . . .
Thor’s “friend from work” comment at the 1:20 mark is one of the best lines in the entire film.
(Fun fact – there’s a neat story about the origin of that line, which came from an unlikely source. Read more here.)
Or check out this Justice League trailer and listen around 1:50 for Barry Allen/Flash’s awkward “I need friends” admittance to Bruce Wayne.
Unfortunately, teaching can quickly become an “isolated profession,” and you can read more about this “Lone Ranger” phenomenon in an article by The Atlantic HERE.
A growing research field focuses on teacher collaboration and how to help educators work together. Some people consider teacher collaboration as the “missing link” in successful school reform.
Here is a summary of one study about “High-quality collaboration” and its benefits to teachers and students. There’s a useful section in the article called “What this means for practitioners,” and if you’re in a hurry, here’s one excerpt from the summary:
School and teacher factors influence the quality and type of collaboration. Teachers in elementary schools, more so than in secondary schools, collaborated more frequently about instruction. Higher-quality collaboration is more common among female teachers than male teachers, particularly about instructional strategies, curriculum, and assessment.
Another study of middle school teachers found positive results from “professional learning communities” (PLCs) consisting of same-subject, same-grade teacher teams. However, overall effectiveness depended on a lot of factors: “leadership and organizational practices, the substantive details of PLC activity meetings, the nature of conversations in PLC activities, and the development of community among PLC teams.”
There’s a lot to unpack in that last statement about influential factors for successful collaborations. This is the challenge of teacher teamwork.
You can’t force friendship, and you can’t coerce teachers to collaborate. As these studies show, effective collaboration requires meaningful application and multiple nuances to result in teacher buy-in and worthwhile work.
As with most interpersonal relationships, the process is delicate and sometimes messy. Just consider how well superheroes get along (or not) throughout their long history.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to helping each other get along and collaborate. Even so, here are three resources (and highlights) that could help.
When you have a bad idea, like giving students stupid awards, a good teacher friend will tell you, “Heck, no!” When you’re thinking about writing a parent a nice-nasty reply to a note and you let your teacher friend proof it, a good teacher friend will tell you, “Nope, edit this so you won’t get fired.”
By sharing work products on Google Drive . . . teachers know what their colleagues outside of their collaboration group are doing. They also know how they’re doing it. This enables them to replicate and/or get ideas from each other.
Even without meeting in person, they have instant access to work products, like:
If I had it to do again, this is what I would do to get the most out of my formal and informal collaborations with other teachers:
The above ideas are not as “scholarly” as the research studies shared earlier. But they can still provide useful steps. At the least, none of these education offerings require a world-conquering villain. Be thankful for that!
If you like superheroes, a good bet is you’ll be sitting in a theater watching the latest Marvel or DC movie. And chances are you’ll have seen multiple superhero movies between now and then.
A recent Warner Bros. shareholder meeting featured the announcement of several tentpole movie projects into the year 2020. This list includes TEN films starring DC Comics superheroes (and antiheroes).
Not to be outdone, Marvel Studios held a special shindig where they announced NINE movies set in their “Marvel Cinematic Universe,” involving the Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, Black Panther, Dr. Strange, and more.
If you add in movies based on other Marvel Comics heroes (X-Men, Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, etc.), that makes OVER 40 FILMS currently planned for Marvel or DC comic book characters.
And that’s not even counting additional comic book and superhero projects. So we’re headed either into the Double Platinum Age of Comic Book Movies or Major Market Saturation.
Of course, many of these projects may get derailed or delayed along the way. (Don’t hold your breath for “Unannounced Female Character Spider-Man Movie” in 2017.)
Plans change, and no one knows that better than teachers.
Those of us in the field of education know about something called “Scope and Sequence.” Not only does “Scope and Sequence” sound like a terrific crime-fighting duo, S&S is a general phrase given to long-term planning in the school year.
Here is an example Scope and Sequence from an elementary art teacher, courtesy of the smARTteacher website.
I think of scope as the overall main ideas and concepts students should learn in a class, and sequence is the general order in which they could learn, connect, and practice these main ideas.
Notice the language used here: “overall” “general” “could.”
It’s important to remember that long-term planning should be flexible, like the Ever-Elastic Mr. Fantastic!
All kinds of variables arise during a school year that require adjustment and revisions: prior knowledge, curriculum mandates, assessment schedules, special events, weather cancellations, and–MOST IMPORTANTLY–student learning.
Districts often have a Pacing Guide that indicates the key content, units, and even activities teachers should use in their specific courses. Here are some pacing guides for science teachers in Mobile County Public Schools (AL), if you’re curious.
The key word here is “guide.” Classroom teachers know their students best, and therefore the best methods and schedules for helping students learn.
To coin a scientific-sounding mantra: Student learning should be the constant, with time as the dependent variable.
If students require more time to master a topic, give them more time. Don’t plow through a chapter just because you think you need to stay “on track” to finish a certain textbook. (Who said you had to finish the textbook in the first place?) Conversely, don’t slog through something the kids already know or don’t need to know.
I met a science teacher who was just one of six teachers who taught Biology 1 in his school building. The basic requirement was all Biology 1 teachers had to get through Chapter 10 by the end of December. The reason was students could switch teachers at the semester break, so everyone needed to be at “the same spot” beginning in January.
Sounds logical, but not every teacher (or student) will work at the same rate or want to focus on the same content. Some concepts and skills are more important than others. So what do you do if you don’t agree with a prescribed schedule?
I love what this science teacher did. He made sure he was done with Chapter 10 by the end of December, but he shuffled chapters to create the most meaningful sequence for his students. Moreover, this teacher spent more time on some chapters and less time on others that weren’t as necessary for learning fundamental biology concepts.
Sound out of order? That’s nothing new to readers of comic books, where odd numbering systems abound (see multiple #1 issues, #0 issues, #-1 issues, backwards releases, flipped issues, etc.). Heck, there’s even a blog totally committed to the convoluted topic of Comic Book Numbering.
The bottom line in comic books is finding strategies and gimmicks to sell the most issues. The bottom line for teaching is arranging lessons and units to encourage the most learning.
So whether you’re talking about billion-dollar film franchises or the infinite potential of today’s students, do take time to plan ahead. But always keep your plans open to change.
And always leave the door open for a dynamite sequel.