Dec 30, 2012

Agile Phonics: Pt 1

THE PRINCESS, PHONICS, & AGILE PART 1

Please try this at home!

Wandering Minds 

I have to admit, it is tough for my wandering brain to engage with my 4 year old at times. My mind needs challenging stimuli. As much as I love my daughter, I tune out after 10 minutes of playing Simba and Mufasa from the Lion King, or learning letters. I yearn for dopamine to be pumped into my brain, my mind wanders,  and then I feel like a bad father for not being in the moment with her.  


This week, I downloaded some Phonics books from the library for her. Indeed, not only did I tune out in 10 minutes of our first lesson, so did my daughter (it must be genetic!). To engage myself and her, we decided to combine Agile and Phonics. Engaging me with my love of Agile, and engaging Sienna with the Agile's visual workflow, empowering her with choice in learning, and providing her instant feedback on progress.


Designing Phonics ABLE Style

First, read this post regarding the elements of the Agile Based Learning Environment (ABLE). You will see these elements throughout.

Artifact #1: The “I Learned It” Chart

Keep the end in mind” - Stephen Covey

What does “learned” mean? How do we know when to move on to the next learning objective? When do we know we met our learning goals? How do I motivate my daughter to achieve the highest level of learning?  As a learning team (her and I), we should have clarity of what “learned”means from the beginning so we can design are learning to achieve the right level of mastery and move on to the next challenge.  It also ensures we spend out time on the most important, not “over-learning”and not “under-learning”, the former is wasteful, the latter creates “learning debt”. Learning quality goes up when we design with the end in mind first, knowing our definition of done.

Resources Need:
    • Flip Chart Paper
    • Makers/Crayons
    • Stickers (optional)
    • Learning rubric

Step 1: Identify the Learning Proficiency Levels:

Basic Phonics Skills, Level B (Grades K-1), Evan-Moor
Educators are very familiar with learning proficiency levels. The Phonics book provided us with a rubric of 3 levels of learning proficiencies which we could use in our learning:

Level 3: Mastered
 • The student is able to complete the activity independently. • The student is able to complete the activity correctly. • The student is able to answer questions about the phonetic principle being practiced. 


Level 2: Showed Adequate Understanding 
 • The student is able to complete the activity with little assistance. • The student is able to complete the activity with minimal errors. • The student is able to answer some questions about the phonetic principle being practiced. 

Level 1: Understanding
 • The student required assistance to complete the activity. • The student made several errors. •The student did not appear to understand the phonetic principle being practiced. 

Level 0: Showed Little or No Understanding
 • The student required one-to-one assistance to complete the activity, or was unable to complete the activity. • The student made many errors. • The student showed no understanding of the phonetic principle being practiced. 



Step 2: Design a “Learned It” Metaphor

Source: www.disney-clipart.com
The rubrics were definitely helpful to me, but, not so much to Sienna. How do I translate this to something more fun for my 4 year old Phonics learner? When in need help with Sienna, I always ask a“princess” to come to the rescue!  We came up with the idea of a Princess Castle visual metaphor for the learning proficiency levels.


Sienna decorating the "Learned It" Castle
Respecting our elements of ABLE, I asked Sienna if she like the castle idea. She loved it, of course, it involved princesses! I then drew a castle on a flip chart paper. The castle has 4 levels, corresponding to the Phonics learning rubric.  Level 0 - The Castle Gate, with Levels 1-3 being each next higher level castle tower.


Step 3: Design The “I Learned It” Badges

Teachers know the magical power of stickers for young children.  I pulled out our sticker stash and luckily found some princess stickers, imagine! I must be careful here, stickers or badges should be there to symbolize her level of learning and her effort, not as an extrinsic reward. I do not want the overjustification effect to take place, where an extrinsic motivation replaces that of her more valuable intrinsic motivation.



Level 3: Mastered
I asked Sienna, “What is the most important sticker for a princess?” She pointed to the Princess Crown “Wonderful, this is the sticker that you get when you really learned a lot about something and can do it by yourself”. This was became our level 3 - Mastery badge.








Level 2: Showed Adequate Understanding 
“Now, what is the next most important thing to a princess”
Sienna, “The wand!” “Great, that is our level 2 of learning, when you did a great job of learning, but perhaps not as much as when you get the Crown. You still might need a little help from Daddy”






Level 1: Understanding
Next, was our Level 1 learning. “Ok what is the next important sticker to a princess?” Sienna chose the princess gown. “Alright, when you learned something, but, probably need to learn some more, you get the princess gown. We'll know this because Daddy will be helping you a lot”.

I chose not to have a Level 0 sticker, if we do not get to at least to Level 1, we need to try again.


Each sticker with the corresponding “Learned It” Level number was placed on a flag on the right area of the castle.

Again, Sienna is part of the process, choosing her own “Learned It Badges”, symbols that are meaningful to her, inspire her, and ones in which she understands the ranking of learning it symbolizes.  To really make it hers, she colored the Princess Castle! Fun! 





Next In Our Princess Adventure

Sienna and I will share how we use the "Learned It" Princess Castle in a subsequent post to this series. I am sure you can already imagine how it might be used.

In our next post, Sienna and I will share how we develop ABLE Learning Objectives and the Learning Backlog so that we have a visible and adaptable roadmap for our princess learning adventure with Phonics.

Could you try something like this with your children or students? If so, share your ideas and results!

Thank You,
John Miller, CSP, PMP




Dec 9, 2012

ABLE Guide: Challenges to ABLE

This is a work in progress as I and a some great helpers are developing, called the The Self-Organizing Classroom -A Quickstart Guide to Agile Based Learning Environments. 
Please email or comment your feedback so it can be as valuable as possible. 


What Are The Challenges of ABLE?

Although ABLE is simple and if implemented with patience and discipline, will emerge fantastic results, it is not without it's challenges. Some challenges you might encounter are:

  • the self-organizing aspect of learning teams may look like chaos from the outside. Many will see it and love it, but others, may not understand and see it as disorganization. 
  • it may be difficult to let go of the control. Anxiety may set in, especially when you the classroom is beginning to discover their "empowerment muscles" and the soreness that results from any growth.
  • it can be tempting to skip some steps in the framework for expediency or not yet seeing the value. Skipping the steps will diminish and sabotage the results.
  • uncertainty about how it can effect test scores. Although we can not guarantee it, in our experience, we have never seen a decrease in test scores. Especially with Common Core, we expect it will increase the results on Common Core and other tests. 
  • if you are a teacher who needs a high amount of certainty and control, this may not be right for you. It requires a tolerance for uncertainty, patience, and a growth mindset that the classroom has the ability to be self-organizing.
  • it does not guarnatee instant results, although, we have seen results happen quickly, expect a month before you start seeing significant changes in student self-directedness. 
  • any change is hard, and, ABLE is no exception.
Thank You,


Dec 8, 2012

ABLE Guide: Elements of a Self-Organizing Classroom


Dear Readers, This is a work in progress as I develop the The Self-Organizing Classroom - A Quickstart Guide to Agile Based Learning Environments

Please email or comment your feedback so I can make this as educator-friendly as possible.  Thank you for your help in developing the future!




A self-organizing classroom is one in which student self-directedness and collaboration intersect. A Self-Organizing Classroom energizes and engages learners and allows for novel learning opportunities that emerge bottom up from the classroom interaction itself. There are 7 elements of a Self-Organizing Classroom. 
  1. Engagement: pursues a state of flow in which the classroom balances  perceived challenges to perceived skill.
  2. Relatedness: establishes positive connections to each other, relates to a sense of purpose, and provides relevancy to the real world.
  3. Achievement: pursues continuous improvement and shared commitment to accomplish clear and negotiable outcomes.
  4. Autonomy: provides incremental increases to student empowerment, gradually stretching the classroom capacity for autonomy. Learners "pull" their work over work being "pushed" onto them.
  5. Agile: rapidly inspects and adapts the learning environment to the changing social, emotional, physiological and cognitive states of the classroom.
  6. Visible: the classroom is filled with highly visible artifacts that reflects realtime progress of learning and collaboration.
  7. Kinetic: is rich with physical and verbal energy that is harnessed towards collaboratively achieving shared goals.

The elements are a inspired by Positive PsychologyFlow State TheorySelf-Determination TheoryVAK/VARK Learning Model, research on teaching best practices, and influences from  Agile and Lean Methodologies.


The Agile Based Learning Environment's roles, artifacts, events, and agreements provides practical guidance on how to actualize these elements every day to achieve a Self-Organizing Classroom.



Dec 7, 2012

ABLE Guide: Roles


This is a work in progress as I develop the The Self-Organizing Classroom - A Quickstart Guide to Agile Based Learning Environments

Please email or comment your feedback so I can make this as educator-friendly as possible. 


ABLE ROLES & RESPONSIBILITIES

ABLE provides 3 roles in the classroom; (1) the ABLE Teacher, (2) the ABLE Facilitator, and (3) the Learning Team. Each has distinct responsibilities that interlock and balance one another to enable self-organization. It is important to not only understand the roles and responsibility, but, most importantly the classroom's journey in actualizing the roles.When the roles are fully actualized, a self-organzing classroom emerges, full of engagement, collaboration, creativity, and focus.


ABLE Teacher
  • Responsibilities:
    • orders and adapts the classroom  backlog based on the current realities of the classroom
    • develops and communicates clear learning outcomes and assessment criteria
    • ensues the learning backlog is highly visible to the classroom and other classroom community members at all times.
    • owns the "Empowerment Dial" and the "Empowerment Board"
    • assesses the learning outcomes
    • creates a learning environment that fosters creativity, empowerment, collaboration, and engagement
    • establishes learning teams that leverages diversity of strengths and perspectives
  • Characteristics:
    • finds joy in being surprised of emergent and novel approaches when empowering students to develop their own way to achieving a learning outcome
    • embraces a "growth mindset" for the classroom, each students, and herself
    • belief that students will be responsible, if given opportunities to make their own decisions
    • ability to articulate learning goals clearly
    • ability to fast forward attitude
    • situational leadership style
  • The ABLE Teacher's Journey is from teacher to coach. From the "sage on the stage" to the trusting and empowering "guide on the side"


ABLE Facilitator
  • Responsibilities:
    • facilitates the ABLE Events, for her team or on a rotation for whole classroom learning
    • helps the team stay focused, positive, and productive
    • reinforces and reminds the team meet their ABLE Agreements
    • encourages the team to utilize each member's strengths
    • helps the team follow the ABLE framework.
    • encourages the Learning Team to stretch reach their next Empowerment Level
    • removes roadblocks from the team and escalates issues that can not be resolved by the Learning Team to the Teacher
    • facilitates in team member mediation when needed
    • helps the team identify and obtain resources to meet their goals
    • does not have to be a dedicated assignment, it may be rotated to a different students per Sprint
    • does not have any authority over the team
  • The ABLE Facilitator may be the teacher in certain situations, such as:
    • intervention situations
    • early stages of ABLE to model the ABLE Facilitator role
  • The ABLE Master's Journey is from "just reciting the ABLE Process" to a "Team Coach and Facilitator", that can ask powerful questions of the team to help move them to their highest potential


ABLE Team Member
  • Responsibilities:
    • the "how of the work"
    • develops their own learning and project tasks
    • "pulls" their own learning tasks
    • collective ownership of the tasks as a team
    • commit to doing their best to achieve the learning outcomes be the end of a Sprint
  • Characteristics:
    • self-organzing is the fundamental characteristic and ultimate goal of an ABLE team
    • extremely collaborative
    • shared ownership of goals
    • self-mediating
    • team has diverse strengths, aptitudes,styles and passions that complement each other.
    • no prescribed roles exist or are assigned, except for the ABLE Master. Each team member contributes their own unique strengths and talents to accomplishing their shared goals.
    • suggested group size is 3-5 students. Too large of a team makes self-organization difficult; too small of a team does not provide the diversity required to leverage one another's strengths.
    • Self-organization means that the team is not told "how" to do their work and there is no central authority directing individual assignment to a team member. Students develop and self-select their own tasks to satisfy the learning or project outcomes in a self-organzing team.
  • An ABLE Team Member's Journey is from an individual learner, dependent on the teacher to be told the what, when, and how, to a learner as a member of a collaborative self-directed team, in other words, a "self-organized team".
What feedback do you have? How would you describe the roles and responsibilities of an ABLE Team? 

Thank You,
John Miller








Changes:
12/9/12 Changed ABLE Master to ABLE Facilitator.


References:
Based on the Scrum Framework


Dec 4, 2012

ABLE Guide: Cover

The following are 3 cover ideas for the ABLE Guide. Take a look and provide feedback on the poll at the end.

Cover #1

Cover #2

Cover #3









ABLE Guide: Learning Rhythm



This is a work in progress as I develop the The Self-Organizing Classroom -A Quickstart Guide to Agile Based Learning Environments

Pleaser email or comment your feedback so I can make this useful and as easy to use as possible. 

This is part 1 of multiple parts describing the Sprint and the Events that enable a Self-Organized Classroom.


THE SPRINT 
-The Rhythm Self Organizing Classrooms Dance To

ABLE is composed of a consistent learning rhythm, called a Sprint. A Sprint is a time-boxed duration within which classrooms commit to a set of outcomes to be achieved by the end of the time-box. Just like a sprint in track and field, it is a short duration with a starting line and a finishing line, except in this case, it is not distance, it is time. The time-box is typically a week, but, can be as short as a day or class period to as long as a month.  Once one Sprint ends, the next one begins. For example, if your Sprint cadence is set to one week, your Sprint may start on Monday and end on Friday. The next Monday, the next Sprint begins. 

The 4 Events of ABLE 
-The Drumbeats of Learning

The Sprint is composed of 4 events, that serves as the "drumbeats" of the Sprint,  that self-organizing classrooms dance to. The 4 ABLE events in a Sprint are : (1)Sprint Planning, (2) Huddle, (3) Sprint Review, and the (4) Sprint Retrospective. The Sprint itself is a feedback loop for learning and adaptation to occur. Each ABLE Event in the Sprint is a specific feedback loop as well. Every event provides an opportunity for the classroom to inspect current learning and adapt in realtime. Instead of making assumptions about how students should be doing or by inspecting and adapting too late, it provides a mechanism for teachers and students to ask, "How are we really doing now?";  "What can we do now based on our unique classroom's strengths, diversity, and opportunities?. As each classroom is a dancing landscape, with an array of complex variables changing daily.  The Sprint provides a cadence for the classroom to improvise and dance with it. The 4 Events occur sequentially, opening with Sprint Planning, a Huddle every day/class period, and ending with the Review and Retrospective. 



ABLE Guide: Introduction


This is a work in progress as I develop the The Self-Organizing Classroom -A Quickstart Guide to Agile Based Learning Environments
Pleaser email or comment your feedback so I can make this useful and as easy to use as possible. 

Agile Based Learning Environment Introduction

"Enhance creativity by changing conditions in the environment than by trying to make people think creatively"

- Csikszentmihalyi, Creativty: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention


Welcome to the Self-Organizing Classroom, powered by the Agile Based Learning Environment (ABLE)! ABLE offers you a simple and revolutionary approach to transforming the culture of  your classroom to one that provides students autonomy, love of learning, and purpose. The 5 steps in ABLE is firmly rooted in the theories of Positive Psychology, Self-Determination Theory, Complex Adaptive Systems, brain research, and the hands on experience of the contributors of the guide in implementing ABLE in real classroom. ABLE is focused on designing the learning environment and conditions so that 21st Century Skills, character, engagement, competency, autonomy, and  purpose emerge. It is designed to go beyond just putting students in control of their learning, but, doing so in a radically collaborative approach. It transcends individual student self-directedness to a collaborative form of self-directedness, called self-organization, in which learning teams achieve learning goals together.


The framework and techniques are designed to allow a classroom to embark their journey into self-organization safely and incrementally. Beginning the student journey from individual learning to that of a self-organizing classroom. It provides a path for the teacher to move from the “sage on the stage” to the “guide on the side”. ABLE helps transform the teacher from the instructor into the skillful crafter of an empowering and engaging learning environment. 


ABLE provides guard rails against the chaotic classroom. ABLE provides tools, techniques, artifacts, and a rhythm of checkpoints that allows for constant alignment to learning goals and behavior. ABLE gives the teacher a self-directedness dial, a powerful mechanism to incrementally increase and adjust the autonomy of learning to students. So, rest any anxieties aside, and get ready to transform your classroom to a fertile ground of a true 21st Century learning environment.




ABLE Guide: Benefits


This is a work in progress as I develop the The Self-Organizing Classroom -A Quickstart Guide to Agile Based Learning Environments
Pleaser email or comment your feedback so I can make this useful and as easy to use as possible. 

What Are The Benefits of ABLE?  

  • mastery of 21st Century Skills built in to all learning:
    • Creativity and innovation
    • Critical thinking and problem solving
    • Communication and collaboration
    • Flexibility and Adaptability
    • Mange Goals and Time
    • Initiative and Self-Direction
    • Social and cross-cultural interation
    • Productivity and accountability
    • Leadership
    • Responsibility
    • Work effectively in diversity
    • Manage projects
    • Produce results
  • delivers the rigor required by the Common Core Standards
  • mastery of Common Core Speaking and Listening Anchor Standards are built in
  • real Life Skills that students can and will apply outside of the classroom
  • diminished behavioral issues and improved attendance
  • unleashes the love of learning
  • self-mediatation of conflict
  • higher order thinking and greater depth of knowlege
  • teacher's role will be more rewarding as they move from the "sage on the stage" to the "guide on the side"
  • character development integrated throughout
  • adaptable to any curriculum and classroom structure
  • rapid learning 
  • minimal resources needed, just requires a marker and sticky notes.
  • transformation of classroom culture
  • radical student engagement & empowerment
  • learners self-organze, allowing the teacher to provide more differentiated and higher valued instruction
  • can start right away, ABLE provides an easy on-boarding process and a pathway to mastery
  • provides "guard-rails" to protect the classroom from chaos as it incrementally empowers learners
  • realtime differentiation of learning

Nov 21, 2012

A Startup Guide

I am currently developing a short guide to share with educators on implementing Agile Based Learning Environment in the classroom. The guide will be "teacher-friendly, providing a step-by-step approach on how to beging "Sprinting" right away.  I have a group of amazing Agilists and educators who have signed up to review and contribute to the guide. My goal is to release this, free for all, by December.



Title:

The Self-Organizing Classroom: A Startup Guide for the Agile Based Learning Environment


Agile Based Learning Environment Vision Statement:

"ABLE is an innovative learning framework that creates a vibrant self-organizing classroom. Unlike other systems, ABLE gives the classroom a practical applied structure that integrates 21st Century Skills, collaboration, and self-directness throughout all learning."
As I have not written anything substantial since college, besides memos, project plans, and reports,  this has been a re-education for me in the basics of writing and is taking me a bit longer than I thought.

Feel free to email or leave comments on what you think will be important to include in the Startup Guide or just plain simple advice, I definitely need it!

Thank You,
John Miller, PMP, CSP

Nov 10, 2012

Designing History

Designing History

I wanted to share the work of one of the leaders of Agile in Education, Chris Scott. I have been partnering with Chris for several months, and he is quite remarkable. "I want my students to be significant" is a quote for one of his reasons using Scrum in his History class, which, is perhaps one of the most powerful statements I have heard from a teacher and sums up what Agile in Education is really about.

He is documenting his Scrum journey on his blog, which you can visit at:
http://thedesignofhistory.blogspot.com/

From Chris Scott's Classroom


Designing The Future


Agile in education provides a framework for allowing students to become self-directed, explore their love of learning, and become better decision makers. The beauty of Scrum that separates it from other learning frameworks, is it provides guardrails for this new autonomy so it does not spiral into chaos. It provides a scaffolding for 21st Century Skills  and character to emerge, without it having to be explicitly taught. This should be great news for teachers, as most learning systems chop up these skills, silo them out, and ask teachers to "teach" them on top of all the standards. Scrum provides the environment so that they all naturally grow. Teachers maintain the right environment and culture, coach the students, and the rest takes care of itself.


Chris Scott is not the only educator to try this new way of learning, I started it in motion at Cortes Sierra Elementary  in partnership with a great teacher and a great principal, and now they are Scrumming school wide, from Teacher Teams using it their weekly planning and accelerating their Professional Learning Communities, to Classroom Learning, to even a Scrum club for students afters school. This is starting to spread here in the United States. These students are "plugged" in more than ever, with anecdotal reports being students are missing less school as they feel they have more control over their own learning.  I am also helping a forward thinking charter school system in Arizona bring Scrum to their high schools.

Jeff Sutherland, the cofounder of Scrum, has recently blogged about his visit to the Netherlands, of a group of educators using Scrum. I urge you to read it, it is a wonderful explanation of the great work the EduScrum folks are doing in the Netherlands. Please visit his blog post here http://scrum.jeffsutherland.com/2012/04/scrum-future-for-education.html

I think there is a tide change in education, there is a need to turn theory of schools should be into practice, and Scrum can do that. Not only does it make students 21st Century Ready, but, it makes their present much more engaging.

To accelerate the movement, I am developing a Agile in the Classroom guide, with the help of Chris Scott,  other educators, and a few pioneering Agilists. Indeed, we can help Design the Future and develop a better present with Agile.  If you are interested in helping or contributing, please shoot me an email at agileschools@gmail.com






Oct 25, 2012

Fall CUE - Supercharged Learners




I am honored and excited to speak at the Fall CUE conference this Friday with Chris Scott, rockstar teacher at SantaYnes School October 26th.
The session title, is, What Would Google Do in Your Classroom? If the top innovators of the world were to make students 21st Century Ready and Fully Engaged, what would that look like? I am excited to share with the many innovative educators at CUE, and I know I will leave inspired and engaged after talking with such inspirational people.

If you are going to CUE, join Chris and I at 1:15pm, Friday, October 26th.



http://www.slideshare.net/AgileSchools/agile-learning-fall-cue-2012-prez

Oct 24, 2012

Agile Learning Infographic

Agile Learning Infographic

Agile Learning is inspired by Agile product development principles and methods, with Scrum having the most influence. Although it is inspired by Agile, it is not dictated or confined by it. In many ways, the Agile terms are a barrier for educators in its adoption.

I have attempted to develop, with fellow educators, its own characteristics, personality, terms, and attributes as Agile is transplanted in the soil of education. In the infographic, a metaphor of flowing water emerged, with differing containers based on the context. The larger items are buckets, the smaller are cups, decomposing all the way down to drops of "Tasklets" the classroom moves through to learned.

I am sure I need to iterate this more to simplify and clarify the process. Thanks to Chris Scott and Evan Moore for helping me to clarify and simplify, and coming up with the idea of Buckets, which inspired the rest of the metaphor, from Cups to droplets of tasks, I call "Tasklets".


I will post a greater detailed description of the process for educators soon.

I really appreciate any feedback, as comments on this blog or emails to me.  This is my first try at an infographic, and please let me know your thoughts, especially educators, students, and parents. What does the infographic tell you about the process? 






Download as a PDF:
Original (Skinny)
Stretched Version

Note, I used Piktochart.com to develop this. I discovered it today and it is pretty amazing, except that the image size is a bit skinny.

Thank You ,
John Miller
agileschools@gmail.com



Oct 23, 2012

Essence of Agile Learning


I am often asked, what exactly is Agile Learning in one or two sentences. This has stumped me, as, I have always had trouble explaining the real power and eloquence behind it, and fall back on, "You have to experience it to really understand it".
Second best is seeing videos of it in action.
Unfortunately, some I speak to do not have the time at them point.

Here is my best attempt thus far in explaining the essence of Agile Based Learning Environments.


"A stabilizing rhythm self-organized learners dance to, within which 21st century skills, character, and love of learning naturally emerge."

Thanks for reading, your feedback is always valued.


John Miller
Vibrant Lives, Work, Communities, and Schools

Oct 18, 2012

Student Scrum Board





Student Team Scrum Board Example. Feel Free to download and print as a poster for your students. More details to come.

Real Life Examples




More details to come : )

Download your Student Scrum Board here .





Oct 16, 2012

Agile Learning Objective Board







An example of a ABLE (Agile Based Learning Environment) board for teacher teams to collaboratively develop learning objectives. More details to come. Please comment.

This could also be used by students to develop their own Learning Outcomes for a classroom that is self-directed.

References


Linking Levels, Learning Outcomes and Assessment Criteria
Jenny Moon, Exeter University



Oct 15, 2012

Classroom Agile Board





Agile Based Learning Environment (ABLE) Classroom Board Example. More details to come.


Classroom Example



Sep 8, 2012

Self-Directedness Game

Student Self-Directedness Game

Agile Learning is highly collaborative and empowering to students, with students rapidly taking ownership over their own learning while the teacher shifts to the back of the room as a coach.
As I help teachers implement Agile Learning in the classroom, a reoccuring fear is that the classroom will slip into chaos and that students will not focus on the learning outcomes. I usually suggest to teachers to start out by making learning and the Agile process visibile, with the teacher still control. As the teacher and learner grows in confidence of the process, begin turning up the dial for students to begin taking control of their learning.

Most classrooms are not ready, students and teachers, to deep dive into full student autonomy. The current education system has developed teachers and students to learn to do the opposite, and teh self-directedness muscles are not yet build up.  The beauty of Agile Learning is that the teacher can turn up and down self-directedness in any area of the framework. To make this easy and collaborative, I have started developing the Student Self-Directedness Card Game. I was inspired by several sources, mostly Jurgen Appelo's Management 3.0's Delegation Poker for Agile teams combined with idea's from Dr. Gerald Grow's article "Teaching Learners to be Self-Directed".

This is still a very rough draft, but, felt it would be releasable enough for others to start using it and provide feedback on how to improve it. 

Self-Directedness Assumptions
    • Self-Directedness is a dial. The teacher and students will need to adjust the dial at different times.
    • Self-Directedness progresses in controlled stages. The teacher grants, and the students ask, for more empowerment in incremental and defined stages.
    • Self-Directedness is differentiated by contexts. A student or student team may be a Stage 1 in one area of their learning, but, a Stage 4 for another context. 
    Basic Usage
    The teacher chooses a context for student learning or classroom chores. She assigns a card to that context, making it visible, and explaining to the students why.
    As students move up in their self-directedness, the teacher and the students can begin playing a card game, and negotiating. The teacher can present the context, and on a count of 3, the students and the teacher flip over the level each think they should be at for that context, explaining why. Once explanations are done, the process is repeated until the teacher feels there is enough consensus or understanding. The teacher makes the final decision. This can be done with the whole class in the classroom context and with each student team, as well as individual students in special cases. The card or the Stage Number can be marked in a visible area for the context.


    The 4 Stages of Self-Directedness:
    1. Dependent: Teacher is the master. Students do not have any choice.
    2. Motivating: Teacher inspires and persuades. Teacher considers student feedback from learners.
    3. Collaborative: Input from students. Teacher provides options for students to "pull". Learners can work together with minimal supervision.
    4. Self-Directed: Teacher is "pulled" when needed by students. Learners develop own goals with agreed upon checkpoints with the teacher for coaching. Learners are in control of their own learning and are achieving their learning outcomes in their own way.



    Future:
    1. Clearer and simpler descriptions for the cards. 
    2. Develop clear and fun rules to play the game in multiple contexts.
    3. Obviously need to make the look and feel better.
    4. A Self-Directedness Board for the classroom (See the Jurgen's Authority Board), with the goal of having the students at Stage 4 in each context. The excitement builds as the class goes from Stage1 in most areas in the beginning of the year to Stage 4 in almost all areas at the end of the year.
    5. May add more stages, as there may be some smaller increments that may be valuable, see Delegation Poker's 7 Levels.
    6. Specific actions to take in the Agile Learning Framework. For example. Stage 1 for Sprint Planning looks like..., Stage 4 Sprint Planning looks like.....
    7. Perhaps a Self-Directedness Burn up Chart, charting the progress of the classroom's journey throughout the year, and using it as a Retrospective tool for how to increase student Self-Directedness.

    What are your ideas in developing the Student Self-Directedness Card Game?
    Let me know if you you might want to give this a try in your classroom, I would love to get your feedback on your experience.

    Aug 20, 2012

    Mass Obsolesence

    A Mass Production Education Systems Leads to Mass Obsolescence of a Generation
    Photo Source: istockphoto

    Jul 2, 2012

    Teacher Field Notes: Certified Scrum Master


    Feb. 28th, 2012

    I had the great opportunity to attend a Scrum Master workshop Feb. 9th and 10th and I'm amazed at what I have gained from the experience. I am a 4th grade teacher that has been teaching for 10 years. I have taught 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th grade. I have been using the Scrum process with my 4th grade students this year. My students have gone above my expectations with this process. I couldn't wait to go to the workshop because I knew my students were ready to learn the whole Scrum process in class. I started out introducing the Product Backlog and Sprint Backlog. I then introduced the team Retrospective board. I couldn’t wait to learn how to implement the Burndown chart and clarify some of the Scrum process that I was still unclear about.

    My first day of the workshop I was sitting there, the only teacher surrounded by business people from banks, health insurance companies, grocery chains, phone companies, and IT employees. All of a sudden it hit me, I felt like I was sitting there with former students of mine. I felt like I was sitting there seeing what my students were having to go through being adults in their work force. I realized that I didn’t prepare my students as well as I would have liked to. At the beginning of the class most of the business people there were required to be there by their company. They were there because their company wanted them to work more collaboratively and be more productive.

     It hit me that, that is what we as teachers are asked to do or strive to do. As a teacher are goal is to reach the highest cognitive level possible and get them to work collaboratively. As I was sitting there I realized that this is the perfect opportunity for teachers to start using Scrum in the classroom. If we teach our students the process now it benefits them at a young age and even more when they are adults in the work force. I came to realize this within the first hour of training. As the day went on we continued to go through the Scrum process and steps.

     I then realized that this is much bigger than just getting students to use it. If we want the full benefit we need to get teachers to use it themselves. I was sitting their thinking of all kinds of ways that teachers could use Scrum with their grade level teams and as a whole school. I was so excited I had to call my principal at my lunch break and tell him some ideas that I had. I wanted to get our teachers to use it during our team meetings. Our school has grade level meetings every Monday that we call our PLC meetings. We meet with special area teachers and our grade level to plan and discuss student progress. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to teach the teachers how to Scrum. My principal was on board and took it a step further and wanted me to present at our teacher in-service day the following week. I couldn’t wait to get back to my school and share what I had learned. I felt that I had gained everything I wanted to from the training and more.

     I was so excited to go back to my classroom and share with my students what I had learned. My students knew I was going so they were also excited to hear how it went. First thing Monday morning I changed a few things to make sure that we were using the whole Scrum process. We even started a Burndown chart. My students loved it and even got a little upset that we weren’t doing it this way sooner. I had to explain to them that I just learned about it when I went to the training. This experience has been eye opening for me and has really changed my thinking with how we should be working with our students. It showed me that we really need to change the way we teach so that our students are prepared for the future.

    4th Grade Teacher

    Can All Students Be Treated Equal


    Can All Students Be Treated Equal?

    I found myself asking these question, "Can students treat other classmates as though they are all equal?  Is there away that they can work together without a hierarchy.  Can students treat others as a whole and have respect for one another?".  Nowadays the big new word is Being Bullied.  Students hear it from social media and it's all over the place.  I don't think all students understand what it really means and hopefully they never have to experience it.  I hear students say "I'm being bullied" I ask them what does that mean?  The most common response that I get is, "I don't know but they are bothering me".  Is being bullied the wrong focus?  Should we focus more on how to teach students to respect each other and treat one another as a whole?  Don't get me wrong, bullying is a problem, but, maybe our focus is in the wrong place.  Maybe the key to solving bullying is to teach students how to work together, respect each other, and hold value for one another.

    Is Scrum In Schools The Answer?

    I have witnessed first had what Scrum has done to my students self esteem and respect for one another.  If you were to walk in my classroom during a Scrum session you would not be able to tell which students had disabilities or which students are gifted.  The students respect and value each other.  Last week I had a group of students that were working together.  They noticed that one of the students in the class didn't have any group to join.  With out hesitation or direction from myself, they went over and put their arm around him and said, "come on over to our group". Every day I am so touched and moved by what my students have accomplished and the compassion for others that they have gained by doing Scrum in the classroom.


    A couple of weeks ago I started my Reading class using the Scrum framework, which consists of six homeroom students and the rest from other classrooms.  This was the first day working on their project.  I have students coming and going during this time because several go to resource.  One of my students came back in the middle of us already starting.  She did not have a group to go to.  She tried to go to one but the students were hesitant to let her in.  Another group saw this and pulled up a chair and said" Hey, don't worry about it, your with us now."  At that moment I could not have been more proud of my students.  It gets me choked up just thinking about it.

    My Students Amaze Me Everyday!

    My group of students is your normal make up of any class.  When this class was made, know one knew that I would be the teacher.  At that time I was a first grade teacher.  Before the last day of school in May 2011, I had the great opportunity to move up to 4th grade.  When I saw my class list I saw the normal make up of a class ranging from behaviors to all different ability levels and disabilities.  I am amazed with how much my students have grown this year from when they first came to me.  Any visitor coming into the classroom would not know the difference between any student.  I have seen the shy students come out of their shell and state their own opinions.  My students are not afraid to ask for help or let the other students know that they need help.  I believe this is because they have the trust and respect for one another.  My class has used a retrospective board and they post how they are feeling.  They are not afraid to say they are struggling in any area and they are eager to post their achievements and celebrate with each other. 

    Last week I was reviewing a math problem with my students.  I had 25 students say that I had the wrong answer.  There was one student in the class that had the same answer as me.  This student is one of the shyest students in class.  He spoke up and said "Mrs. Mills, I got that answer too."  The other students listened to him explain how he got it.  Another student chimed in and said "I get it!"  Then the two of them ran the class discussion explaining how they got the answer.  Before I knew it, I was standing back just listening, then a third student chimed in and explained to the class how he "got it".  I was amazed!  I didn't show them, they taught each other, and before I knew it, they had every student in the class understanding how to solve the problem. This is the power of Scrum, to empower the students and amaze the teacher.

    On Behalf of a 4th Grade Teacher , CSM

    Jun 22, 2012

    Scrummer School





    It is the end of the school year for our super Scrumming 4th graders.  It is a time often fraught with many mixed emotions, as students are leaving friends and teachers they have bonded with all year. Many of their lives during Summer months are filled with uncertainty, fun, and sadness. All of this mixed together makes the last few weeks of school rather interesting for teachers.

    "I have never had a class bond as strongly as this class. Scrum has enabled such strong connections between each student unlike any class I have eve taught", stated the 4th grade teacher.
    She has been teaching for about a decade, and in all those years, students have always "check out "towards the end of the year. My students this year keep wanting to learn, even asking to learn the "5th grade stuff" all the way up to the last day. Agile and Scrum has not added love of learning, but, has unleashed the intrinsic motivation to learn that lies in each of them.

    I was honored to visit the last day of class, where I and their teacher gave out Honorary Jr. Scrum Master Certificates. The teacher made a wonderful DVD summarizing their Scrum journey throughout the year.  The Jill Paul from the Scrum Alliance sent me enough Scrum Alliance notebooks with built in sticky notes for each students. The coolest thing were the Scrum temporary tattoos! Although I was in the classroom as a coach and a guide just a few times, it was very touching as the kids gave me hugs and said they would miss me.  We ended with a Scrum circle, where we passed a ball around the room, with each student sharing their favorite things and moments with Scrum. 

    I asked the kids if they would be interested in learning more about Scrum over the Summer so they could teach and coach their 5th grade class, and they all animately raised their hands. One girl, and you will love this, shouted "We can call it Scrummer School!" So, I will be working on developing a  Jr. Scrum class this Summer, a "Scrummer School", so these students can spread Agile to other students, and make learning fun, engaging, and immersed in 21st Century Skills.

    This is "flipping" the classroom at it's extreme, where the students truly lead. I have always believed that education should be student centered. Others give this lip service. I take it as gospel. In my years of innovating technology for the classroom, I often learned that I had to go directly to the students to truly understand what really works for them, not, what works for their teacher.  Children have led many centuries before mass schooling, leading men into battle, commanding the hands of the farm, sailing vessels across oceans.  Students are responsible, crave opportunities to lead and make great decisions for themselves if we just"flip" our own adult perceptions....


    May 13, 2012

    Can All Students Students Be Treated Equal?

    Can All Students Be Treated Equal?

    I found myself asking these question, "Can students treat other classmates as though they are all equal?  Is there away that they can work together without a hierarchy.  Can students treat others as a whole and have respect for one another?".  Nowadays the big new word is Being Bullied.  Students hear it from social media and it's all over the place.  I don't think all students understand what it really means and hopefully they never have to experience it.  I hear students say "I'm being bullied" I ask them what does that mean?  The most common response that I get is, "I don't know but they are bothering me".  Is being bullied the wrong focus?  Should we focus more on how to teach students to respect each other and treat one another as a whole?  Don't get me wrong, bullying is a problem, but, maybe our focus is in the wrong place.  Maybe the key to solving bullying is to teach students how to work together, respect each other, and hold value for one another.

    Is Scrum In Schools The Answer?

    I have witnessed first had what Scrum has done to my students self esteem and respect for one another.  If you were to walk in my classroom during a Scrum session you would not be able to tell which students had disabilities or which students are gifted.  The students respect and value each other.  Last week I had a group of students that were working together.  They noticed that one of the students in the class didn't have any group to join.  With out hesitation or direction from myself, they went over and put their arm around him and said, "come on over to our group". Every day I am so touched and moved by what my students have accomplished and the compassion for others that they have gained by doing Scrum in the classroom.

    A couple of weeks ago I started my Reading class using the Scrum framework, which consists of six homeroom students and the rest from other classrooms.  This was the first day working on their project.  I have students coming and going during this time because several go to resource.  One of my students came back in the middle of us already starting.  She did not have a group to go to.  She tried to go to one but the students were hesitant to let her in.  Another group saw this and pulled up a chair and said" Hey, don't worry about it, your with us now."  At that moment I could not have been more proud of my students.  It gets me choked up just thinking about it.

    My Students Amaze Me Everyday!

    My group of students is your normal make up of any class.  When this class was made, know one knew that I would be the teacher.  At that time I was a first grade teacher.  Before the last day of school in May 2011, I had the great opportunity to move up to 4th grade.  When I saw my class list I saw the normal make up of a class ranging from behaviors to all different ability levels and disabilities.  I am amazed with how much my students have grown this year from when they first came to me.  Any visitor coming into the classroom would not know the difference between any student.  I have seen the shy students come out of their shell and state their own opinions.  My students are not afraid to ask for help or let the other students know that they need help.  I believe this is because they have the trust and respect for one another.  My class has used a retrospective board and they post how they are feeling.  They are not afraid to say they are struggling in any area and they are eager to post their achievements and celebrate with each other. 

    Last week I was reviewing a math problem with my students.  I had 25 students say that I had the wrong answer.  There was one student in the class that had the same answer as me.  This student is one of the shyest students in class.  He spoke up and said "Mrs. Mills, I got that answer too."  The other students listened to him explain how he got it.  Another student chimed in and said "I get it!"  Then the two of them ran the class discussion explaining how they got the answer.  Before I knew it, I was standing back just listening, then a third student chimed in and explained to the class how he "got it".  I was amazed!  I didn't show them, they taught each other, and before I knew it, they had every student in the class understanding how to solve the problem. This is the power of Scrum, to empower the students and amaze the teacher.

    Anonymous, 4th Grade Teacher , CSM


    May 12, 2012

    Agile Principal Interview

    Introducing Principal  3.0

    Christopher R. Barnes, award winning principal of Cortes Sierra Elementary School in Arizona, is a different kind of  principal. He has lead his school to two A+ awards, is currently a finalist for the National Distinguished Principal Award, and has established an amazing shared culture with staff, students, and the community.  His greatest legacy may be leading a new way of thinking about how learning and school operations should be conducted in the 21st Century for a vibrant learning experience and a vibrant future. He is Principal 3.0, an Agile Principal, one that harness the power of Agile thinking to innovate education.


    Scrum as Game Changer in Education

    Chris was so inspired by the success of Scrum in one of his 4th grade classrooms, he invited me to help him transition his entire school to Agile thinking, from leadership council, staff professional learning communities, Principal leadership, and classrooms.  He has always believed in a culture where students and staff are empowered, passionate, and innovate to reach their unique destiny. This Principal 3.0 has witnessed firsthand how Scrum is the ultimate framework to bring these values to maximum fruition. 
    Chris exclaims, "Scrum is a game-changer in education!". Spearheading through the 21st Century" is his powerful vision for the school, and Scrum is what powers that spear. He sees that Agile is making a great school into the innovative leader in education, developing real life skills for students to thrive and lead in the world, a true love of learning, mastery of standards, and character development for the 21st Century (Character 3.0).


    Flip the Economy

    Agile is the business framework of the future. For the first time, schools have the opportunity to be in the lead with the world's most innovative businesses. Rather than business telling schools how to run, schools that adopt an Agile transformation will flip this equation on its head, being the model for business to emulate. Cortes Sierra Elementary, with Agile, will not be benchmarked against other schools, but, will benchmark themselves with the most innovative organizations in the world, such as Google, Yahoo, GE, and Ericsson. The students and staff from Cortes Sierra Elementary can walk into Agile team at one of these businesses and feel right at home. Better yet, these students could be unleashed into the business world and teach and transform businesses stuck in old management paradigms. Imagine, a concept I call the "reverse internship", where Agile students are placed in business to transform the business.  Perhaps businesses will start placing their leaders into internship programs at Cortes Sierra Elementary to learn from students and teachers the power of Agile cultural transformation.



    Principal 3.0 Interview


    Here is the interview I did with Mr. Barnes, perhaps the first Agile Principal, recently after his Common Core workshop. Pardon the bad production quality, I am not a skilled videographer or interviewer. You will witness how he is spearheading through the 21st Century as a pioneer in Agile Based Learning Environments (ABLE). l.  Note: You will mention he references his "interview" in the video. Mr. Barnes is referring to his interview as a finalist as a National Distinguished Principal he had recently.







    May 11, 2012

    Can Scrum Change The World?

    A great article, "Can Scrum change the world?" , by Melanie Webb from TechTarget.com on my Scrum in Schools presentation at the Atlanta Scrum Gathering this week. She makes me sound so much better than I actually was : )  And yes, Scrum can and will change the world for a vibrant future.


    The Scrum Alliance Gathering was amazing! The best part was meeting the amazing folks that work behind the scenes at the Scrum Alliance. They are the most friendly, warm, and passionate people you could meet. I know they are taking the organization to amazing places.

    Trailer for presentation:



    Prezi for Presentation: Just pics. I was requested to accompany this with a speaking video or voiceover.  Coming soon!



    Thanks,
    John Miller
    Vibrant Lives, Work, Communities, and Schools

    May 10, 2012

    Scrum Alliance Gathering Atlanta

    I had the honor of speaking at the Scrum Alliance Gathering in Atlanta this week. Honestly, I was not sure how the Agile community would respond, fearing I would be presenting to an empty room. The session was very different from the others, where they were to deepened the Agile proactive, while, mine was why to be passionate about Agile and broaden Agile to transform the world. I was very surprised by the interest and buzz around the of using Agile for learning session! I was so excited to share what we are doing at Litchfield Elementary School District at the Cortes Sierra Elementary School, with the passion and leadership of an awesome teacher, Mrs. Kimberly Mills, the most charismatic and innovative Principals in history, Chris Barnes, and a class of 4th graders who have grown close to my heart and have grown so much this year. I did have some technical difficulties that prevented me from playing some of the videos, my computer experienced some corruption the night before. I apologize to the attendees they did not get to see everything. We performed a live video feed to the Mrs. Mills classroom doing Scrum to talk about how they love Scrum and to answer questions from the audience. This was a big hit, despite some of the issues from a bad network connection. The students were awesome and so was Mrs The audience burst out in applause on many occasions, especially when they saw the video of one the students state during a Sprint Review, "I think we overestimated". So many attendees approached me afterwards, stating how they left with goose bumps. Two people even told me tears came to their eyes (tears of joy I hope). The students and Mrs. Mills are an inspiration. They are what one would consider and average classroom in a Title 1 school. A "Title 1" school is a school the Department of Education has determined to a significant population "disadvantaged" students. Mrs. Mill class ranges from resource students (students with Special Needs) to gifted students, diverse races & backgrounds. The beauty is you can witness how these students work together so well and how the students self-organize the strengths and passions of each. I had little to do with, what I consider a big success, I owe it all to this ordinary classroom, with a teacher bold enough to listen to my crazy idea that Scrum would be wildfully successful for learning. A learning experience based on Scrum can and does transform an ordinary classroom into an extraordinary one. Perhaps, what it really does, is remove the impediments for the greatness already in each student and teacher that is suppressed by the usual classroom experience. I have some great lessons learned on presenting at a big conference, especially about relying on a conference's network. I was happy that people left being inspired. Agile can transform the world for a vibrant future. You can find my Prezi here .

    Thank you for all the Agilists at the Scrum Alliance who inspire me to keep moving forwards.