Google Teacher Academy
May 13th, 2014 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

Google offers a teacher academy program across the country and the world.  I’ve applied for this round in Atlanta.  Part of the application required me to create a short (1 minute) video.  Here’s my submission:

Moving on . . .
Feb 9th, 2014 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

I recently accepted the position of Principal at a new magnet STEM and Global Studies middle school in Danbury CT:  The Exploration Academies at Mill Ridge.  As I was cleaning out my wears at EDUCATION CONNECTION, I came across my old conference badges.  I think they are such a nice representation of the work I did over the past 3.5 years.  They will be stored here, electronically, for posterity.

Student Projects
Apr 8th, 2013 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

It’s great to see the news media giving students in our programs credit for their wonderful work. Our Innovation Expo is only 3 weeks away!

View more videos at: http://nbcconnecticut.com.

Read my post on ED WEEK!
Nov 29th, 2012 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

I wrote a guest blog post for Bob Slavin’s (Success for All) Blog – Sputnik.  Please check it out and if you are on Twitter, I would really appreciate a tweet from the site!


Here’s a brief excerpt:

The real question, ultimately, is, “Does technology help our students become better independent, self-directed learners?” That’s the game-changer. It’s not about the latest fancy device, hot off the shelf. That device is just a tool– it’s not knowledge and it’s not a skill. Just because we haphazardly give students technology tools doesn’t mean they are going to learn better–the evidence definitely supports that. Learners purposefully interacting with the tool and using it for production, facilitated by thoughtful, forward-thinking educators, is the way to get to a student-centered learning environment that improves engagement and achievement.

Cross posting
Jun 25th, 2012 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

Check out:

STEM Initiatives: Sparking Interest in Schools by the Rogers Corporation

I was asked to provide a quote:

“When students have the opportunity to showcase their work to professional audiences that go beyond the four walls of the classroom, it increases the quality.  There is no question that student achievement and engagement increase with these phenomenal events.”  Frank LaBanca, Director, Center for 21st Century Skills Education Connection

Jun 18th, 2012 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

I am curating and will be speaking at the TEDxLitchfieldED event on June 28 at the IBM Conference Center in Southbury.  (Seats still available, click HERE).  I was just asked to provide my title and brief description, so here it is!

The Problem Finding – Problem Solving Conundrum

Problem solving has long been valued in education. Students are often challenged to use a variety of inquiry strategies to identify problems and their implications, develop action plans, utilize a variety of relevant sources, information, and data to address problems, and formulate solutions. Problem solving is typically a logical, analytical process. This, however, leads to a critical question:  Where do the ideas for problems come from?  In education, we rarely talk about the process of problem finding: the development of a unique and engaging idea for study.  Problem finding is the ability to define or identify a problem and involves the consideration of alternative views or definitions of a problem that are generated.  Problem finding requires setting objectives, defining purposes, deciding what is interesting, and ultimately deciding what to study.  Therefore, problem finding is an inherently creative process that complements the logical/analytical aspects of problem solving.

The Digital “Textbook”
Dec 22nd, 2011 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

from: cuesta.edu

David Wees’ Blog: 21st Century Educator had an interesting post on Nov 15, 2010 (OK – I’m behind the times . . .).  Here’s a (big) excerpt:

Here are the features I think every textbook should have.

  • The textbook should be 100% searchable. No more wondering where eukaryotic appears in the text. You’ll just be able to quickly type in a search term and find all of the places it appears.
  • Key words in the text should be linked to explanations of these key terms. Click on the word, find out what it means in this context and what other resources exist to understand it.
  • The readability of the text should be individually customizable. Want to challenge yourself and improve your vocabulary? There’s a setting for that. Feel like taking it easy on the reading? There’s a setting for that too.
  • Everything in the textbook should allow annotations which should appear as a user generated summary of the textbook itself in another location.
  • Users should be able to add bookmarks and tag parts of the textbook with terms so they can self-classify the information. These tags should optionally appear for other users of the same textbook.
  • You should be able to comment on any part of the textbook. This could be used to flag out-of-date content or just to ask questions. Each user of a textbook should optionally be able to see everyone else’s comments on various sections of the text. These comments should happen in real time so that users can chat in real time about what they are examining.
  • Videos and other multimedia should be included in the textbook where appropriate. Want to talk about MLK’s I have a dream speech? You can include the entire video of his speech as part of the book.
  • The textbook should be customizable. Users should be able to edit the content of the textbook and share the updated version of the textbook with other users. When a customization occurs, the original author(s) of the textbook could optionally be notified so they can either accept or reject the changes to the original work.
  • The textbook needs to be open source and free. No longer bound by restrictive and antiquated licenses, institutions can create their textbooks and share them with the world.
  • Textbooks need to be translatable if they are really going to be free to use for everyone. No longer would the language learners in your class be forced to struggle in your subject just because of a lack of knowledge of the language of instruction. Optionally you could have the textbook display in the language of instruction and have real-time translation services available for any section on demand.
  • For any section of the text, real time search of other resources or references needs to be available. Instead of relying on just the opinion of the author(s) of the text, now you can look at other (optionally screened) resources that could help understand some perspective on the subject of the textbook.
  • The textbook should be device agnostic and mobile-ready. It shouldn’t matter if the person is reading it on an ereader, a netbook, an iPad, or a cell phone, the textbook should be available anytime, anywhere to anyone.
  • The textbook should be built with multiple models of pedagogy in mind. Instead of flatly stating the “facts” for the student reading the textbook, there should be opportunities for experiments, simulations, 3rd virtual worlds, or whatever other alternate forms of representation are available. Inquiry should be built into these textbooks.
  • Students should be able to click anywhere in the book and ask the question, “where is this used in the real world?” No more students asking why they are learning this stuff, because the entire learning process would be transparent.
  • You should be able to ask an expert on the topic from your textbook. Need more help with the topic than the textbook is providing, or have some more questions? You can call someone for help and ask for advice right through your textbook.
  • Your textbook could be a centre of a community of people who are all learning the same material. Not all of you need to be in exactly the same class, but as you work through the textbook and make comments, the textbook learns from you about your learning habits, strengths, and weaknesses, and connects you to the people and resources that you need to understand.
  • Any practice or other tasks that need to be done through the textbook should be included, if appropriate, and immediately assessed. No more waiting for feedback.

Funny thing is, I don’t think this is a textbook, because it is not just a system of “delivering” knowledge – there’s so much more all based on engagement and interaction.  I think if we are truly reforming and changing education we really should consider the word textbook carefully.  We are evolving past that and digital learning resources are so much more.  Why hinder progress with antiquated vocabulary?

Learning Knowledge and Skills
Dec 12th, 2011 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

I was recently listening to a presentation by one of my students on the topic of implementing a 21st century skill-based instructional philosophy.  It was a very thought provoking presentation; one of the most interesting comments was that in order to achieve success, there needs to be “a corporate change of disposition.”  How poignant.  When we look at examples of 21st century skills we quickly realize that we’re not talking about technology skills – we are talking about job ready skills:

  • Information literacy
  • Communication (spoken and written)
  • Self-Directed and Collaborative Work Ethic
  • Problem Solving
  • Innovation/Creativity
  • Responsible Citizenship

How we teach and measure these skills is the essence of high quality education.  They don’t exist in isolation, and they can’t exist without foundational knowledge and skills in literacy (reading/writing) and numeracy (mathematics).  The 3 “R”s are the bedrock while 21st century skills are the authentic application of them.

New Publication
Oct 3rd, 2011 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

I am proud to announce a new publication that was just released in The Science Teacher entitled “The 21st century oral presentation toolbag.”  Link is here.  You can see the article if you are a member of NSTA.  Others can send me a message, and I will be happy to email a copy.

Alignment of inquiry and 21st century skills standards
May 6th, 2011 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

Tomorrow, presenting at the 2nd biennial International Instructional Leadership Conference, I am going to make a supposition that 21st century skills are inquiry process skills. Below, my prezi presentation:

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