Feb 132018
 

Last week, I attended the AMTE conference. AMTE stands for the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators and is a fabulous group. I have been a member for 3 years now, but this was my first attendance at their conference.

One take away (and I had more than one) was from Samuel Otten, (twitter: @ottensam) host of the MathEd Podcast and Zandra de Araujo, both are assistant professors of math education at the University of Missouri.  The team gave a fabulous presentation on why we need to nudge teachers, and not expect radical transformation of teachers. They are right on the money, in my opinion. Radical transformation is hard, but incremental steps are easy. Think about changing my diet. If I say, “tomorrow I will become a vegan” that will take huge amounts of energy and effort. However, if I say, “tomorrow I will start eating an apple every day” that is easy, and a great first step. Day 2 I swap out regular milk for soy milk, day 3 I swap out breakfast, etc. Small, incremental steps are easy to adopt and lead to the same results.

Think about Steven Leinwand’s 10% rule. No teacher should be expected to change more than 10% of their practices in a year. However, every teacher should be expected to change 10% of their practices in a year! Small, incremental changes.

During their presentation, they put up this image.

Claim 4: reform doesn't stick because it leaves in place the foundation of its undoing

Don’t get hung up on the percentiles or quality of instruction axis. There is no scientific basis for this graph, just a gut check, a collective grasp of what do we think is the distribution of teachers at each level of quality. But, we believe there is a distribution of teachers who are at the low end of quality of instruction, and some at the high end, and some in the middle.

And we have been talking about radical change in the quality of instruction since 1989 when NCTM published the Curriculum and Evaluation Standards. That is 30 years of conversation about changing math instruction.

30 years.

At that point, we really have to admit, that the real leaders of mathematics education are those teachers who are on the low end of the Quality of Instruction scale, whether they are 25% or 75% of the teacher population.

That group has been driving and leading the discussion on Quality of Instruction for 30 years.

We don’t discuss the gains we have made in changing mathematics instruction, we constantly talk about and research the lack of gains. They are the real leaders.

That is really sad!

They also showed what happens when we stop talking about radical change, which only moves the right side of the graph higher, and does little to move the left.

what radical change looks like compared to nudging

Moving the left side of the curve requires nudging teachers. Introducing small changes, that build over time. If we really want to change the shape of the curve, we need to stop expecting radical change, which only a small number of teachers adopt. We need to gently add to the skills and abilities of all teachers.

This was a powerful presentation. I only cherry picked 2 slides out of the entire thing. He gave a much stronger argument, using a variety of approaches.

Thank you Samuel and Zandra!

 Posted by at 3:16 pm
Dec 282017
 

On to the qualitative analysis. (For the quantitative, see previous post)

In the #mtbos, we talk of ourselves as a ‘community.’ We talk of the community of TMC, and a community of mathematics educators. The problem, then, is that there is not a clear definition of the ‘community.’ Anyone who says they are a member of the community IS a member. Literally the only requirement for membership is that the person claims membership.

In the literature of communities, one of the main authors is Wenger (1998) Communities of practice: Learning, meaning and identity. Connected to this book is the theory of learning called situated learning (Lave & Wenger, 1991). The theory of learning is a social theory, which fits well with the practices of TMC, however there is a critical difference, in my opinion. In situated learning, the learners move from incompetence to competence in a linear, unidirectional method. The goals and methods of learning all fit into this ideal of moving the learners from incompetence to competence.

Although the social elements of Wenger’s theory of learning are relevant, the theory doesn’t connect with the ideals or practices of TMC in a strong manner. Another theory of learning does fit better, however. This theory is Engeström’s theory of expansive learning (2017). This theory does not require everyone move from incompetence to competence. Rather, it focuses on the idea that the process of learning expands the realm of knowledge as learners learn. The theory of expansive learning also has roots in Vygotsky’s Activity Theory. Instead of only looking at individuals, tools, and objects of activity, Engeström expanded activity theory to include communities, rules, and a division of labor.

image
Engeström’s diagram of Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (CHAT)

In this model of the theory, there are four sub triangles that can be explored, however to fully understand a community of expansive learning, the entire triangle must be utilized. The one element of the triangle that is difficult to pin down is the objects, because individuals and the community can work on different objects simultaneously. Each individual or groups of individuals in the community can interpret what their objects of focus are independently. (sounds like morning sessions to me!)

For there to be a community, there must be rules of the community, and those rules must be taught somehow. That is the lower left triangle, because ‘must be taught’ is shorthand to must be taught ‘to people.’ The individuals in the community matter!

As I thought about why CHAT and expansive learning is a better theory to use to understand the workings of TMC, I made this diagram based off of Engeström’s.

image
CHAT applied to TMC

This is a qualitative analysis, so I will analyze all 6110 unique tweets that occurred at TMC over the 41 days I collected data and see how the fit into this schema. To do this analysis I will be using MaxQDA. I imported all of the tweets into the software as a survey, so I have some information as quantitative (for example the names of who tweeted so I can quickly see the frequent tweeters and the hashtags used other than #TMC17) but the most important data is the text of the tweets. I will have to read each and every tweet, and tag the tweet with one of the tags in the diagram.

But the tweets were not the only qualitative data generated from the conference. Since its inception, TMC has archived blog posts from the conference, and this year was no different. Therefore, I also collected all of the text and images from the blog posts (there were over 110) archived on TMathC.com for the 2017 conference. Each of those blog posts is now saved in a separate word docx file, and will be imported to MaxQDA as well.

Finally, in order to reach some understanding of the ‘Historical’ part of CHAT, I also collected the 2012 blog posts. Well, let me be clear. I did not collect them. I paid a small amount to a programmer on Upwork.com who created a script which did the web scraping for both the 2012 and 2017 conference. That saved me hours of work on the data collection phase.

I have done none of the analysis yet. I have a proposal meeting in late January, early February, and then I can start analyzing. I just know how much data I have at the moment. It is a lot.

So far, I have explained the quantitative, and the qualitative, but not the mixing part. That is the next post.

Dec 212017
 

I have been buried this semester with work, teaching two full sections of an education theory class, doing observations of our preservice teachers, and also writing my proposal for my dissertation.

dissertation via

Lets say the first two items in that list got far more priority during the first half of the semester, and I had to kick it into gear the last half. But, I did kick it into gear, took a ‘mental health day’ for the first time in my life, and accomplished a working introduction and literature review for my proposal. In the list above, I have experienced all 6 steps. What is missing to the list is step 7; “Repeat”. You print the introduction, then start the lit review while you wait for feedback on the intro, then print the lit review, and revise, resubmit, and revise again. And again. It is worth the work, but wow. I know now why so few people finish nationwide. Next up, is my methods section.

And, I need to work through some details, so I thought I would post them here. I am not sure anyone will be interested in the lit review, but there may be some small interest by one or two people. I am going to over explain things, because it will help me shape the academic writing I need to do over the next two weeks.

The big idea, is that I am going to do a mixed method analysis of a particular math conference, founded by teachers, created organically from the ground up to create a different type of professional development experience; TMC17.*

Why mixed methods, and what type of mixed method analysis?

The quantitative analysis is going to be Social Network Analysis (SNA) of the tweets which occurred over the week prior, the 4 days of, and the month after TMC17. I used NodeXL to collect the public tweets each day of the 41 days. NodeXL downloads the entire network of tweets, so for a tweet from someone to 3 other people, that creates 4 lines of text in the spreadsheet. It also downloads whether it is a retweet, a reply, or something else. It is very powerful software, which is very inexpensive if you are a student ($29 per year). The software calculates radial measures of centrality, betweenness, density, and other calculated statistics on the data set. These calculations and the resulting graphs will allow influencers, central individuals, and other patterns of tweeting to be discovered.

One type of SNA graph can look like:

Capturevia

Each dot is a node, person, or vertex, and the line between people is a tie, connection, link, dyad, or relationship. The language depends on the book you use to guide the analysis. I need to pick which terms I want to use, and why. Nodes which are larger have a larger influence, the distance between the nodes is a measure of betweenness, and the distance from the center is radial measure of distance. There is a lot of info packed into these graphs. The number of rows in the TMC excel file is over 17,000!** There is a LOT of information to unpack.

I am looking for patterns in the information. Are there groups of individuals who are on the inside? Are those people first time attendees? Experienced attendees? Leaders of morning sessions? Keynote speakers? Etc. A really rough draft of a question for this data set is; “What are the tweeting behaviors of the participants of TMC17?” Or: “What are the online practices of the attendees of TMC17?” I am not sure which way to go yet.

This analysis is sufficient for a dissertation, I think. There is a lot of data here to unpack, to analyze, and to show the online behaviors of the participants. However, this is only the start. I am going to use this data to divide the actual tweet contents into groups for comparisons.

That is the qualitative part of the mixed method design.

That is another post, entirely!

Thanks for reading this far, and please leave any questions in the comments or on Twitter.

——————————-

*If you are saying, “wait a minute, how can you have data from TMC17, and yet not have written the full proposal yet?” It is because I wrote a mini version, a pre-proposal, which justified to my committee enough to allow me to collect data prior to the full proposal to be written. I have not been allowed to look at any data until the proposal is accepted by my committee. This will allow me to graduate May 2018 instead of 2019.

**A very important point to make clear is that these are only the PUBLIC tweets, that used the hashtag #TMC17. If a conversation was held that never used the hashtag, it never came up in the search. If a person’s twitter feed was private, it was ignored by the search. Only public, hashtagged tweets were allowed into the data set by the search.

Sep 042017
 

I am all fired up and angry about a new graphing calculator app today. Not that the app exists, but the way they are selling it.

Reason number 1:

I don’t know what to say about this other than express my complete and utter revulsion at the ideas expressed by this new graphing calculator app called Graphlock. From the video on the site, “Want to save thousands of dollars on calculators while also helping to reducing distractions in the classroom?” That is the first sentence of the video.

Their solution? Charge students $4.99 a YEAR for a graphing calculator app that also locks down the phone so that learners can only do math. That’s right. Don’t trust the learners, don’t create better, more engaging lessons. Don’t actually do something that is better, just lock down devices so learners can’t use them for anything else.

And it gets better. The “don’t trust learners” statement? It is literally true. The video says that if a learner tries to do something else on their phone, it alerts the teacher so the learner can be punished for being bored and distracted during the boring lesson.

 

Reason number 2:

According to the article in Inc magazine, the “Real Problem” of math education is that,

There is an even bigger problem underneath the seemingly big problem of the rising cost of school supplies and it’s kind of shocking: when students can’t afford the supplies they need to finish their schooling, oftentimes, they give up or drop out. Mallory pointed out that she watched this happen repeatedly while in college at Central Arizona to become a professor of mathematics. Students in her Algebra class would realize they needed this graphing calculator that costs around $100, couldn’t afford it, and would give up.

That’s right. The real problem of math education is it is too expensive to learn math.

What?

No challenge of the assumption of the college to require learner to purchase a TI calculator. No, goodness sake, we can’t challenge that. We can’t show the college she taught at all the wonderful, free math learning software like Wolfram Alpha, Google (have you tried typing an equation into Google’s search bar?), or Desmos.

Nope, the requirement is inviolate. And besides, those other things that definitely help learning? They also allow the learner to do other things besides math.

 

How does this create punishment?

The assumption throughout the articles is that when learning math, the teacher is the absolute authority, and must be listened too at all times. The teacher knows all, and must be in full control of every aspect of the learners thought, actions, and technology. If the learner does something contrary to the teacher’s instructions, the learner must be corrected.

Math class, becomes a class of punishment and …. not sure about the reward. Certainly punishment. Some teachers will reward, but this software absolutely entrenches the observation state and punishment in the class.

It is the Panopticon on steroids, except instead of the observation state being built into the building, it is built right into the learners’ devices. Besides, from the award she won, it isn’t about math education at all. It is about winning seed money for a business. The Real Problem is companies making education more expensive through the corporatization of education.

This horrible software feeds into the reasons for the US failing behind in mathematics. Math class is one of memorization and regurgitation, not thinking, creativity, or joy.

Just so that I don’t leave this post angry and hostile, I will leave this here. “Math for Human Flourishing.” This article from Quanta Magazine about a talk given by Francis Su restores my soul a little bit.

 

As an aside:

Here is a college professor named Mallory Dyer. She is the creator and inventor of the calculator.

Yes, she has a name. You wouldn’t know it by the headlines about the software. Here are the two that came up in my reader and made .

Coolidge woman develops app to make studying math affordable (Casa Grande News, a local newspaper)

and

How one woman is making math affordable (Inc magazine, a national business magazine)

They wouldn’t even name her in the headline? No mention of her academic credential. She is just “a woman.” How about, “Professor at Coolidge develops app to make studying math more affordable.” Those 7 extra characters going to kill them? Or “How one professor is making math more affordable.” This isn’t an issue with software (more on that below) but the way this professional was treated. Stop the sexism, already.

Aug 272017
 

I have been collecting links related to Equity and Social Justice in Mathematics. I need to get them out of my Diigo, and into someplace more public where I can use them better.

I am stunned by how many I have. Clearly, this topic is one that mathematics professionals are discussing and writing about. Communicating this to educators who are not aware of the breadth and depth of the conversation is why I am posting these.

***I know I am missing many! Please add them in the comments. Please!***

Mathematics organizations’ official positions

  1. NCTM position statement on Access and Equity April 2014
  2. NCTM position statement on Closing the Opportunity Gap February 2012
  3. NCTM position statement on High Expectations July 2016
  4. NCTM post on Response to Charlottesville (n.d. listed) but published August 2017
  5. NCSM and TODOS: Mathematics for All, position statement on Math through the lens of social justice (PDF) Not dated, but published 2016
  6. AMTE (Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators) position statement on Equity in Mathematics Teacher Education November 2015
  7. The MAA (Mathematics Association of America) has 3 standing committees for the topic of underrepresented groups in mathematics
  8. The AMS (American Mathematical Society) has multiple program for underrepresented groups in mathematics

Blog posts from other mathematics organizations

  1. The AMS post on Discussing Justice on the first day of class (17 August 2017)
  2. The AMS has a blog dedicated to underrepresented groups in mathematics: inclusion/exclusion
  3. The Math Ed Matters blog of the AMS has a post on Equity in Mathematics with more links. 29 February 2016

Journals whose content is focused on Equity and / or Justice, or important articles

  1. TODOS: Mathematics for All, Teaching for Excellence and Equity in Mathematics (TEEM) Journal
  2. Journal for Urban Mathematics Education (JUME)
  3. Journal of Mathematics and Culture (sponsored by North American Study Group on Ethnomathematics, NASGEm)
  4. The Journal of Humanistic Mathematics (current)
  5. The Humanistic Mathematics Network Journal (HMNJ, 1987-2004) See #9, which is the new journal.
  6. Marta Civil. (2006). Working towards equity in mathematics education (PDF article)
  7. Lawrence Lesser. (2007). Critical Values and Transforming Data: Teaching Statistics with Social Justice. (PDF article)

Sites or Organizations focused on Math Equity

  1. Benjamin Banneker Association, Inc (BBA)
  2. Women and Mathematics Education
  3. The Math Forum’s resources on Equity
  4. The Mathematics Assessment Project (MAP via MARS) TRU framework
  5. Math and Social Justice: A Collaborative MTBoS Site : This could be a very important site for these issues. How can we build it up?
  6. Twitter search for #TMCEquity hashtag

Non-Mathematics, but other education organizations

  1. The NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) posted, There Is No Apolitical Classroom: Resources for Teaching in These Times. This page has a thorough collection of resources which can be used across curriculums. 15 August 2017.
Aug 272017
 

I have been listening carefully lately whenever I hear the word “Equity” used by teachers. I haven’t engaged with these definitions, just listened to how the teachers are using the word so I can understand what they are saying. I am learning that we are not using the word in the same way at all.

When I think if equity, I think along the direction CMC does:

Equity via California Math Council via

The other day, I heard another definition that I had not encountered. The (paraphrased) quote was, “It is important that we think of equity in our classrooms, so that a B in one section with one teacher means the same thing if that student transfers to a different class in the same school or different school. We have to think of equity in our classrooms.”

The word ‘equity’ was specifically mentioned twice. The teacher meant to use the word.

I have a trouble reconciling this meaning of equity with the meanings outlined in the graphic above, unless we push it into “achievement.” But the text for ‘achievement’ doesn’t easily allow for this definition. The text is “What are some of my beliefs, expectations, behaviors and practices, and tools that ensure mathematics proficiency for every student?” Maybe, but it is not obvious where consistency in grading practices across teachers is an equity issue. It appears to me it may be more of an equality issue, not equity.

Clearly, equity is a term that needs to be given some additional context so we are speaking to the same topic.

My huge takeaway? Listen more and listen for understanding, not responding. I learn more that way.

Aug 102017
 

The other day, Ann Arden posted about “Beyond tests in HS Math (part 1).” This was her very first ever blog post, and I am eagerly awaiting her second!

In Ann’s post, she set up a framework for understanding assessments which I had not seen before (someone please give me a citation if you have), and it really made me think about what I wanted to do with an assignment in the class I am teaching this semester. The image she posted and tweeted was this one:

She says she would change the top from feedback to assessment. I wanted to take it to another level, because I have both mathematics and science majors in my class. Because of that, want to address the actual standards of practice and content for both. In the ‘process’ and ‘product’ labels, I saw the conceptual and procedural ideals of mathematics learning in the CCSSM, which also has similar ideas (but uses completely different terms) in the NGSS. With that in mind, I updated the image to this, retaining the same positions of her quadrants.

What does that give me, however? Why?

Let me go back to Ann’s post. She said,

Quadrant 4: Assessment of a product /after the moment

In my experience, this is where most evaluation (and much formative assessment) occurs in high school math. The most common example of this is math tests. Students finish a section/unit of learning and write a test. This is usually done individually (more on this and group tests in an upcoming post). The teacher then marks these tests later in the school day or at home; away from the students. These hopefully get returned in a prompt manner, but can take a few days or longer sometimes as I can personally attest to. Most of the feedback is written and might involve short phrases, check marks and circles or other notations. Research has show that students have a difficult time interpreting this sort of feedback (e.g. Weimer, 2013’s review of Sadler, 2010). In addition, the delay between the “performance” and the feedback or judgment reduces the power of the assessment to serve LEARNING.

While tests are most common, formative quizzes and exit tickets are often also largely assessment of a product “after the moment” when the teacher responds the next class. For example, I routinely use “not-for-grade” quizzes. These quizzes are very short (usually 1-3 questions) and I give comment-only feedback. No grades, no levels, just written feedback. I also post solutions for these quizzes electronically so students can fully review solutions. Where multiple solutions are possible, I often post two interesting solutions and discuss in class. In addition to providing feedback to students, formative quizzes and exit tickets can also inform the teacher about next steps in instruction.

Notice something very important to the conversation (I put it in bold). In the first paragraph, is an example of a summative assessment, whereas in the second paragraph the assessment is formative. To give some grounding in how I will use those terms. Formative assessment is any assessment that is used to modify instruction either at the moment or in the future. Summative assessments are end of learning assessments that do not have an effect on instruction for this semester.

The question I had from this is, Can each quadrant have both summative and formative assessments?  What would that look like? What are examples that fit?

Quadrant 1, formative: Conversations about work being done (paper, VNPS, etc.), think, pair, share exercises, error analysis (teacher provides examples), My Favorite No, card sorts, etc.

Quadrant 1: summative:   <insert sound of crickets chirping here>  I am stuck.

Quadrant 2, formative: Journal writing, Reflect & Self-assess, correcting and re-evaluating turned in work, etc.

Quadrant 2, summative: Portfolio work that shows the process towards a learning goal, making a video which shows how to accomplish a learning goal, etc.

Quadrant 3, formative: In a presentation, keeping track of learning outcomes or goals through comments, question and answers or discussion during a presentation (thinking of a poster presentation here).

Quadrant 3, summative: <more crickets?> Again, I am stuck.

Quadrant 4, formative: A quiz, where the learners are encouraged to come in and relearn and retake or correct the quiz with grade replacement. <is this really formative? not sure> Exit tickets, collecting feedback on sticky notes, and other methods definitely are formative.

Quadrant 4, summative: An exam. This is a classic example of the end of chapter exam, or a quiz with no retakes.

I am not sure of all the types of assessments I put in the different quadrants. How would feedback being given in the moment on the process of factoring quadratics (for example) be summative? Is a quiz that is not fixed in the gradebook (as far as grade) really formative?

I find the structure of the quadrants helpful in thinking about when assessments are given and towards what end they are given to be helpful. However, the usual categories of formative and summative assessments don’t always fit here. Is this a problem of the terms formative and summative? Should we stop using them (fat chance, given the history and literature of assessment)?

Ann’s post really got me to think about assessment, and how I explain it to preservice teachers. I am not sure it is the last word, but I do know that I have had experience teachers explain to me that the only kind of assessment that is formative is “In the moment” assessment. Clearly that is false given the types of items listed in quadrant 4.

Any suggestions? Additions? Criticism?  I think this model of thinking about assessment has opportunity for understanding the different types, but it needs to be fleshed out more.

Aug 082017
 

This question has been on my mind since I finished reviewer the submissions to the NCSM National Conference. This was my third year as a reviewer, and this year I noticed something very …. different. I was assigned 17 out of 18 articles in the “Equity” strand, so I read many submissions that were supposedly in the same strand. I say ‘supposedly’ because, in my opinion, they weren’t. Not at all.

Of the 17 submissions, four submissions were straight up, this is how you (as a teacher) differentiate instruction for learners with learning disabilities. Is this equity? I am not sure. I suggested they be moved to the instruction strand, because I do not consider a narrow focus on differentiation to be equity.

Another six submissions were about differentiation, but not narrowly focused. These submissions were about how to differentiate summative or formative assessments, or instruction, or discussion, so that all learners would have the opportunity to access the course content. These are more along what I consider equity, but I still have reservations.

The last group were very much in line with my idea of equity, and were concerning how to modify teacher practice to allow for under-represented groups to access course content at a high level.

These submissions challenged me to think about what is Equity in mathematics education.

After spending three days at TMC17 thinking and discussing Equity with Grace Chen as one of the leaders, I am still not convinced that the four submissions are about equity.

I think that addressing equity is more than a narrow focus on learners with disabilities, but must be a larger discussion about the inequities that exist in our classrooms. However, the IDEA was enacted because there were severe inequities in how special education learners were treated in classrooms.

But, is a narrow focus on special education learners equity?

I still say no.

Equity in the mathematics classroom is not about differentiation, but about teaching the content in such a way that each learner identifies with the content in such a way they are able to see themselves in the material. More importantly, the learner is then able to use the content in such a way that they take it and change their world with it. For example, in this AVID video, education is definitely something the learners here are using to change their world. 

This ideal of equity comes out of Freire and Gutstein’s ideas on equity. It is not focused specifically on a race or ethnicity, however this ideal does focus on giving learners who have been historically disenfranchised a connection with content they have been denied in the past.

Will all learners benefit from this? Sure. But learners who are from disenfranchised populations will benefit the most. They have been denied access to a curriculum for a long time, and gaining access to it in a way that will allow the learners to enact change is powerful.

This, to me, is what the definition of equity includes. It certainly is not an exhaustive definition, and I need to think and read more to expand it. It is my starting place, however. Give each learner the ability to connect with the mathematics content in such a way they can gain mastery over it and use the content to change their world.

Feb 072017
 

Math majors who are interested in teaching are the toughest group of learners. They really are. They are in a mixed science / math class, so they band together. They reinforce each other’s beliefs that the way they have been taught math is a great way, because they have been successful in learning math that way. They then fight against any notion that math can be taught any other way than the way they have been taught.

The struggle is real.

Except last week, in an introductory class, I had a break through. One of the learners asked if a better way would be to have a learner go to the board and do a problem.

I had an aha moment. I asked THEM what they did when a teacher had a learner at the board. They unanimously agreed they tuned out.

Perfect.

Then, I asked how many of them tuned back when the teacher took over.

They agreed that maybe 30% of them did tune back in. The rest (these are all science / math majors who were successful, mind you) said they just relaxed and let the teacher work.

Next, I asked, “If you are the successful learners, how many of the rest of the class tuned back in?” The agreement was unanimous, no one.

My last question sealed the deal for them.

“If only 30% of the successful students tune in, and none of the unsuccessful students tune in, why do you think the way you have been taught was successful?”

The silence was deafening.

That small exchange finally made them think about what success and failure is in teaching.

Success is not the teacher working and the learners listening.

Jan 152017
 

One question that comes ups often with math majors in the program is “Why do I have to take a computer science class?”

I am not sure where the official requirement comes from, but I can say that I am extremely thankful I had a computer programming class in college. It was over 20 years ago, and it was Pascal programming, but I am very happy that I still remember the skills I learned. I don’t remember anything about Pascal, but over the last 20 years, and especially the last three weeks, I have used the heck out of those skills.

When I was in business, the programming skills allowed me do some serious Excel sheets and data crunching that got me noticed and promoted.

As a teacher, those Excel skills allowed me to strip data from the PDF reports and turn those into useful files that we could actually mine for relevant data on our learners and their learning. Those skills also allowed me to learn basic HTML and CSS coding to build websites over a Christmas break and create multiple websites.

Now, as a master teacher I have spent several weeks building a very complex database in Access to manage our check in and check out process with the hundreds (soon to be thousands) of items in our teaching supply store room. To do this, I have had to teach myself Visual Basic, Access structure, as well as some basic SQL database language.

Now don’t get me wrong.I do not have anywhere near the skills to be paid to program in any of these languages, and it is taking me 5 times longer than a real programmer would take. But, because of that Pascal programming class 26 years ago I have the ability to learn the new skills, new languages, and troubleshoot the really bad code I am writing and make it better.

Why should today’s learners learn coding? Because if this dinosaur can reap these benefits out of the class over my career, then imagine what benefits our learners today will reap over the next 25 years! It only gets more important and more essential from here.