Thursday, October 2, 2014

ZMOT in Education

Technology itself is not changing education.
From the eBook by Mr. Lecinski & Google

The behaviors we have created for ourselves as a result of technology are changing education.

While at Google HQ in August, we heard from the head of Google's offices in Chicago, Jim Lecinski. Soon after hearing him speak, he published an article entitled "ZMOT: Why It Matters Now More Than Ever".  After reading it, you realize our behaviors as a culture are changing because of how we interact with the vast amount of information available online.

Educators needs to know what ZMOT is and how we might use it in schools.

ZMOT means "Zero Moment of Truth", and it refers to the exact moment when a person has a need, intent, or question he/she wants answered and goes online to find it.  A product that can answer that need in the moment has an advantage in the marketplace.  Online presence and advertising allow the consumer to find an answer and the merchant to make a profit. Google has pioneered the concept of ZMOT, and Mr. Lecinski has written extensively about it (click here for Google's collection of ZMOT resources).

Marketers are very interested in the habits and behavior of consumers, and Google is a marketing giant.  ZMOT is easy to think about in your own life:  Think of a recent online purchase you made. What was your original need or intent (a hotel room? household item?)  Now think about how much research you did and how many websites you checked before you hit the final "purchase" button.  Did you research quality, price, design, shipping, promotional codes, etc?  Marketers want to know exactly what it takes for you to finally hit their "buy" button.

But what might ZMOT have to do with education?

Do we know what our student's questions and needs are?
People go online when they have a question that needs answering.  Do we know what our student's questions are?  Do we know what they want to know?  If not, does that make us less helpful to them than the device in their pocket?  The job of a teacher is increasingly becoming setting up the next set of questions we want students to be thinking about.  That's how we stay a step ahead in the "marketing" of knowledge.  But we do not need to have a monopoly on that information anymore - there is a world to support us.

Do students believe teachers as much as they used to?
On a recent road trip, my wife and I read a lot of hotel and attraction reviews before purchasing.  If students are growing up with a consumer mentality of checking 10+ merchants before hitting "purchase", are they going to believe the first thing a teacher has to offer?  On the other hand, it might mean students are willing to consider varied sources before making a final decision.  Either way, Constructivism saves us here - teachers who create the conditions for building knowledge allow students to struggle, research, and build upon their natural curiosity.

Jim Lecinski, the author of the article, offers four tips to win the Zero Moment of Truth in the marketplace.
I think they apply to education as well.  They are:

1.  Use search to uncover and understand the moments that matter.
We need to build relationships with our students.  Our students have questions and needs.  We cannot know those questions without building relationships first - relationships that are even stronger than the mobile device they will consult.  We must search out the moments that matter to our students.

2.  Be present in the moments that matter.
When the question arises, go for it.  Don't put it off.  It took a lot of courage for that student to put him/herself out there and voice that need.  Build time in your classes for these moments to develop. Value questions.  If you can answer that need in the moment, you have made the student's life better and passed on your knowledge as well.  They'll come back again next time.

3.  Have something interesting, relevant, and/or engaging to say.
Do you have something different or unique to offer?  In a system where the ultimate product (knowledge) is pretty much the same from any source (CCSS), do you offer better quality?  Or a better design experience for your students?  They'll come back to you next time if you do.  In a world of standardized learning, teachers must turn to quality and design to differentiate their product (see Daniel Pink's book A Whole New Mind).

4.  Measure the impact.
Marketers are really good at this.  Teachers are getting increasingly good at it.  Everything our students say and do provides data.  Do we harness it and use it to improve our practice?  Do we know where our students are so that we can offer them the next greatest concept when they are ready with their next question or need?

If we truly follow this ZMOT logic in education, we will understand the imperative of breaking down walls between students based on age.  Zero Moment of Truth means students would get the information they need to grow at just the right moment, not by grade level.  It is differentiation, but not based on age or grade level.  It is based on standards, needs, and curiosity.  No more letting some kids sit for days at a time while others are double dosed daily.  Everyone works at their own level, based on current need and questions. Our changing human behaviors are driving us to this new reality.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Early Thoughts on Mastery Learning in Music

So, 4-5 weeks into the school year and I have taken a slower pace than I have ever taken previously.  I had always been a teacher who had a concert's worth of music (or more) in folders, ready to go on day one.  I had always believed in getting right to work and setting the tone with a full plate.

This year was different, and it was due to the assessments that were designed for both music theory and music performance.  When you are moving into a standards-based/mastery model, you cannot jump right into rehearsal.
Here is what the first four weeks of school looked like in choir (45 min of choir every other day):
Week 1 - Study the history of the Star-Spangled Banner (200th birthday) and use the National Anthem to work on quality performance skills.  Also worked on two simple patriotic partner song choral pieces. Talked about upcoming assessments.
Weeks 2 & 3 - Assessments - Every students had two assessments:  an online music theory test (a Google Form that is self-graded by Flubaroo) as well as a performance hearing (their choice of patriotic song).  Performance skills were based on three factors for the first assessment:  posture, accurate pitch matching, and vowel shapes.  Click here for my post and screencast about how I set up Google Docs and used Kaizena to record performances.
Week 4 - Make-up assessments for students who missed or that we ran out of time.  Start rehearsal of our first concert piece.  And I didn't worry that some students were out of the room for make-ups with a colleague - I just started rehearsals with students who were present.  It actually was nice to "prime the pump" with a smaller group that could then teach the larger group once we all were together.

And how did the assessments go?  Pretty well.  A few observations:
• Students are used to the idea that everything gets a grade.  One of the most tension-reducing moments for students (and teacher) was when I told students that these assessments would not be part of their grade, except to say they had completed them.  They are just to find out where you are - why should anyone be penalized for that?
• Students wondered how the assessments would be used.  When they found out we would be focusing on growth, I think we had immediate buy-in from 95% of the class.  Telling a person you are focusing on his/her individual growth immediately establishes a relationship of care and concern.
• We also spent a good amount of time talking about other things students are good at, how they got to that point, and growth mindset.
• Assessment takes WAY longer than you imagine it will take.  Students who are poor at theory struggle over every best guess, never finish, or never hit the "submit" button at the end of the survey. And even though each student only sang for 20-30 seconds in a performance hearing, it takes a long time.
• The positive culture in the classroom and the high expectations of musicianship that hopefully continue have already made up for the 3 weeks of time it took to get mastery learning off the ground with these assessments.

In the end, I have two sets of baseline data:
Music Theory Knowledge (from online form graded by Flubaroo, 67 questions)
Musical Skills Performance Assessment (from performance hearing, max score = 9)

One thing that has not happened yet is having the students use the data to set their own goals for the next assessment.  That will be the next step.

Assess with Kaizena & Gather Data with Goobric

In a previous post, I explained how to use Kaizena to record performances and attach audio performance to the comment feed of a Google Doc.  We have completely joined the performance to the assessment tool in a single file.

In this screencast, I explain what to do after recording a student's performance.
Teachers can listen to the recording and then capture data to analyze.  This would work for any teacher - not just a music teacher.

The steps in the screencast include:
1. Open student assessment rubric
2. Click on comment feed; Kaizena opens in new tab to listen to performance
3. From Google Doc assessment rubric, use Goobric to submit scores and comments
4. Use Google Form and Flubaroo to create and grade online test of music theory
5. Use scores from theory exam and performance hearing to create data set for entire class
6. Use Google Sheets to create various charts from collected data for analysis.

Here's the screencast:

Sorry the screencast is so long.  It's probably three separate blog posts (at least).  But, as Mark Twain might say today, "I didn't have time to write a short blog post, so I recorded a long screencast instead."  (Apologies to Mark Twain)

I will do a separate blog post on using data in the music classroom in the near future.