Redesigning Student Learning Experiences with Scott McLeod (Ep 41)

November 30, 2020 / By

An Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Colorado Denver, Scott McLeod, J.D., Ph.D., is widely recognized as one of the nation’s leading experts on P-12 school technology leadership issues. He is the Founding Director of the UCEA Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education (CASTLE), the only university center in the U.S. dedicated to the technology needs of school administrators, and is the co-creator of the wildly popular video series, Did You Know? (Shift Happens). He also is the co-creator of the 4 Shifts Protocol for lesson/unit redesign and the founder of both the annual Iowa 1:1 Institute and EdCampIowa, one of the largest EdCamp events in the United States. Dr. McLeod has worked with hundreds of schools, districts, universities, and other organizations and has received numerous awards for his technology leadership work, including the 2016 Award for Outstanding Leadership from the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). In 2015 he was one of three finalists to be the next Director of the Iowa Department of Education. In 2011 he was a Visiting Faculty Fellow at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Dr. McLeod was one of the pivotal figures in Iowa’s grass roots 1:1 computing movement, which has resulted in over 220 school districts providing their students with powerful learning devices. Dr. McLeod blogs regularly about technology leadership issues at Dangerously Irrelevant and is a frequent keynote speaker and workshop facilitator at regional, state, national, and international conferences. He has written or edited 3 books and 170 articles and other publications, and is one of the most visible education professors in the United States. Follow him on Twitter @mcleod and visit his website at http://www.dangerouslyirrelevant.org.

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Transcript

Dr. Nathan Lang-Raad: Welcome to the Deeper Learning with WeVideo podcast. I am Dr. Nathan Lang-Raad. Redesigning student learning experiences is such an important aspect of our work. And, especially, during this time of the pandemic. My guest today, Dr. Scott McLeod talks about his work in redesigning learning experiences. Dr. Scott McLeod is an associate professor of educational leadership at the University of Colorado Denver. He is widely recognized as one of the nation’s leading experts on P through 12 school technology leadership issues. He is the founding director of the UCEA Center for the Advanced Study of Technological Leadership in Education. I hope you enjoy the episode. Scott, it is so great to have you on the podcast. Thanks for being a part.

Dr. Scott McLeod: Yeah, absolutely. Nice to be here. Thanks.

Dr. Nathan Lang-Raad: Yeah. So, Scott, I’ve been following you for many years now, and I so appreciate the things that you tweet about the work you’re doing. And before we started rolling here on our podcast you were telling me about all the amazing work that you are doing within instructional leadership, especially, within technology redesigning student learning experiences. I’d love to hear about what you’re working on right now, what’s taking up a lot of your time, and how you can help our listeners think about their practice in a new way.

Dr. Scott McLeod: Sure. Absolutely. So, I’m working on two big things right now. A longer ongoing work that’s taken up probably the last half decade, or so, I was really focused a lot on instructional redesign, right? We want kids to have opportunities for deeper learning, to have more agency and control and ownership of their work, to be more self-directed if we want kids to have the chance to maybe do some more real world authentic work, and find a different meaning and relevance in that rather than being isolated, and disconnected in the classroom using technology to make those things happen. We have to design for those things. They don’t just happen by magic in a traditional school. So really working around instructional redesign. I have this new protocol called the Four Shifts Protocol that helps teachers, and instructional coaches, and principals have those conversations, and do that redesign work around lessons and units, so that’s been really fun. And have been very pleased with how quickly the protocol has been taking off across the globe in terms of impacting instructional leadership and design conversations so that’s probably one thing.

Dr. Scott McLeod: And then the other thing that I’m working on right now is we picked, with we being me and a couple of my buddies in higher ed, we identified 30 really innovative schools around the world. There are thousands so we just picked about 30 of them. And what we have done is that we have interviewed school leaders at each one of those schools, and we have done site visits and observations and additional interviews and talked with kids and teachers at nearly all of them. And that work is wrapping up. And we’re going to put that to our book publisher here in a couple of weeks really focused on what does leadership look like in innovative schools versus maybe more traditional schools. So those are the two big things that I’ve been working on lately.

Dr. Nathan Lang-Raad: It sounds really exciting, and it also sounds like something that would be very beneficial for all educators to dive into. So I am personally excited about diving into that work and seeing the book, and being able to see some of those conclusions that you’ve drawn by interviewing those leaders. And, of course, all of this in the midst of a pandemic. And so for those of you listening, this episode was recorded in the middle of a pandemic. It’s November now and the pandemic started around March here in the states. So you obviously were working on this in tandem with these schools going into virtual and remote learning. How did your work, how was it influenced by this new world that we’re in now?

Dr. Scott McLeod: Yeah, absolutely. So another project that I was working on this spring and summer, Nathan, is that I had a chance to interview 43 different school leaders about how they were responding to the pandemic. And those interviews happened between March and June. And I think those interviews back in the spring and summer here in the states were really focused on crisis leadership, how do you respond. What I’ve noticed as we think about this work over the summer and into the fall is a couple things. One is students deserve opportunities for deeper learning even during a pandemic, right?

Dr. Scott McLeod: And I think a lot of schools are struggling right now with engagement issues with their students and families. They are trying to continue to shove out this low-level learning work whether it’s factual recall, or procedural regurgitation, it’s traditional worksheets, and homework packet and teacher lecture stuff, right? Textbook stuff, and they’re just losing kids left and right remotely because unlike school where a kid might show up to the school building for a variety of reasons most of which have nothing to do with the learning, right now it’s only about the learning because all the social interaction, and seeing your friends, and clubs, and activities, and whatever, right? Is gone when you’re teaching remotely. And so they’re losing kids because all that’s left is the uninspiring learning. And so if schools don’t figure out how to get to deeper, more robust, more engaging learning we’re going to continue to see students drop out left and right both figuratively and literally as students go dark because there’s nothing to engage them and they have more control over the decision to opt out at home than they do when they go to the building. Does that make sense?

Dr. Nathan Lang-Raad: Yeah. One would say that even pre-pandemic this was one of the biggest challenges in education. It was finding meaningful and relevant learning experiences, or I should say creating those experiences for students. I think one would also think it would be [inaudible 00:06:52] It would be much more challenging to continue that focus in the midst of a pandemic, but one would also say it’s more important than ever. I’m curious how the work shifted during the pandemic, and how you were able to help educators focus on creating these innovative, meaningful, relevant learning experiences?

Dr. Scott McLeod: Yeah, it’s hard, right? I remember one of my principals said to me, “My teachers are working twice as hard to cover half as much, and our students are a fourth as engaged.” Right?

Dr. Nathan Lang-Raad: Yeah, that’s [inaudible 00:07:33]

Dr. Scott McLeod: That formula summed it up. And so what I worked with schools across the summer and in the fall around is this idea, again, that you have to be intentional, and thoughtful about your instruction right now, not just in terms of the logistics, but in terms of what are you trying to accomplish? And if you’re just trying to do the traditional content coverage that you’ve done in the past that’s where you’re going to lose your kids. We should be focusing on relationships. We should be focusing on stuff that kids can go deeper on, and be self-directed on rather than shallow and teacher directed, right?

Dr. Scott McLeod: We should be giving kids lots of choice, and voice, and agency within that work. If we can connect kids to things that they’re passionate about, or interested in that helps as well. These are all intentional instructional decisions that we have to make as teachers, coaches, principals, buildings, districts, right? And, unfortunately, we have seen not enough of that. What we’ve seen mostly is we are seeing people trying to replicate the traditional school day and school experience just remotely. And so the mantra that less is more would be really big for schools right now, but I don’t see many taking themselves up on that option.

Dr. Nathan Lang-Raad: Yeah. It’s interesting seeing the remote and blended learning lens applied to school. And I would say a lot educators right now are struggling with engagement. That is probably the biggest concern that I’m seeing right now from having conversations with educators. There’s lots of things that educators feel like they can’t solve right now by themselves like equity when their students have access to technology. That’s a huge deal right now so teachers feel a bit helpless when it comes to that because they don’t have a lot of control over that. They can definitely advocate for students, but that’s not something they have a lot of control over. What would you say to teachers who are struggling with getting devices, and getting internet access? Obviously, that’s not all students, but we do acknowledge that students are in so many different places right now when it comes to access. What would you say to those teachers who need some support in those areas of just making instruction engaging for students who can’t be reached because of device use?

Dr. Scott McLeod: Sure. So device access and internet access obviously are structural and societal issues. They’re not something that we can just pin on a teacher, right? But we also have to recognize that most students these days have access to a variety of technologies. I think where the challenge is is if you have some kids who have limited access, the answer to that is not expecting them to log-in for synchronous class for 45 minutes every day. The answer to that is to have fewer face-to-face, or synchronous meetups, and create work opportunities for students that are interesting and engaging to them that they can work on in the spaces in between on their own time when they can get access to a device, right?

Dr. Scott McLeod: And so it’s one thing to ask a family with limited access, or a student with limited access to say, “Hey, we need you to get on four or five days a week for 15 minute blocks of time throughout the day.” It’s another thing to say, “Look, we’re going to check in with you a couple times this week. And then here’s a whole bunch of interesting work that you can do on your own outside of school.” So, Nathan, I know that you’ve seen my TEDxDesMoines talk from a few years back.

Dr. Nathan Lang-Raad: Yes. Fantastic.

Dr. Scott McLeod: When you think about the energy and passion that those students that I highlighted in that presentation we’re doing at home, right? They had stuff that they cared about, that they were passionate about, and they were all in. They learned a boatload of stuff along the way as they worked on those projects, but they weren’t on any arbitrary school schedule, or calendar, right? They just dived in and immersed themselves into things that they were passionate about. And they picked up a whole lot of content knowledge, and other worthwhile skills as they did that work. And I think we have to take that kind of mindset and map it to the school setting, right? What could we do in social studies? What could we do in math? What could we do in science that would allow kids to dive deep in areas of interest that wouldn’t require as many face-to-face check-ins, but they could still do rich, robust, meaningful, interesting work. Does that make sense? I hope.

Dr. Nathan Lang-Raad: Yeah. I heard so much empowering and student agency description just now that you listed with students having some flexibility, and some choice in the in-between times you called it, which I think is fantastic. Many times we think about teaching as being that synchronous interface when a teacher is delivering, we’ll say, quote, unquote, direct instruction to students, but I think most of us would agree as educators from all the research that we know is really the learning has happened in that space. It doesn’t happen in the synchronous time. The learning actually happens in the in-between space that you call it this maybe the asynchronous. And so it’s going to happen in some kind of reflective moment, or some application where students are going to create something as a result of this new information that has been shared with them.

Dr. Nathan Lang-Raad: So I think it’s really interesting that we continue to think about where does the learning happen? And knowing where the learning happens, how can we facilitate these opportunities even if we’re not there with them if they’re at home learning, or they’re only coming to see you a couple days a week, or whatever their scenario happens to be knowing where the learning happens, and how we can best support? Did I capture that correctly you think?

Dr. Scott McLeod: Yeah, absolutely. And I tend to lean more heavily on skills instead of content knowledge.

Dr. Nathan Lang-Raad: Yes.

Dr. Scott McLeod: I know that content knowledge is important because we need it to understand more robust, complex concepts. The literature is very clear on that. At the same time, most of the content that gets shoved at us K through 12, we forget almost instantly. And we definitely forget years later, right? You and I probably both went through multiple math classes where we kept talking about sign and co-sign, for example, right? But still don’t really remember what sign and co-sign are for anymore, how we use it. Some people still use it in their lives, but most of us don’t, but we all had to go through it.

Dr. Scott McLeod: On the flip side, almost everybody needs to be a good writer in some way, shape, or form, right? And so how do we create opportunities where kids can be fantastic writers, and get lots of good feedback that have nothing to do with an academic sense of writing, but have more to do with a real world applied sense of writing? So as I’m sitting here talking with you, I’m thinking about things like why make a kid sit through English class every day for 45 minutes if the goal is to have them be a good writer, why don’t we send them out to go find a busy location in your community, and just observe for an hour and jot down notes, and then write the story of what’s happening there, right?

Dr. Scott McLeod: What do you see? What problems might be inherent in that space? What positives might be inherent in that space? Get the kid outside, throw a mask on. Why have them sit in front of the computer every day when we could do so many other kinds of activities that would still accomplish the same goal. We want kids to be great writers, but have nothing to do with read this thing and then write a five paragraph essay, right?

Dr. Nathan Lang-Raad: Yeah. It’s interesting, too, because you’ve reframed the teacher-student relationship. I mean, we’ve gone from, and as an education community we’ve been saying this all along the way that we are not disseminators of information. We are truly activators of learning, or facilitators of learning. And so the prompts that you just gave, I think, are exactly what we need to be focusing our work on is, okay, so you’re making observation, but we don’t just say, sometimes, when we hear voice and choice, we think, “Oh, just don’t pay any structures. Just go out and see what comes to you.” I think as teachers, and we’re trying to instill and build these skills for students being able to equip them with questions to help guide our thinking. That’s where we need to be spending our energy and time and effort into is these cognitive structures.

Dr. Nathan Lang-Raad: And so, yes, is there a time and place where you can just wander outside and just see what comes to you? Absolutely, but I think we definitely have to utilize these spaces where we’re challenging students to think about the world from a new lens to own a perspective and be able to ask questions. I think that’s where the learning happens.

Dr. Scott McLeod: Yeah, absolutely. And I think we ignore student interest and passion at our peril, right? I’m a former social studies teacher. Is there a social studies class anywhere in America that shouldn’t have had kids engaged in action civics this fall? Absolutely not. Because there was so much rich, robust work to be done around the recent presidential election, and the down-ballots, and how local initiatives impacted your local community in terms of state or community level ballot initiatives, and so on. And yet probably most social studies classes didn’t go there. Most social studies classes stuck to the curriculum and marched through whatever chapters or material they thought they were supposed to cover, right? Instead of connecting it to the real world civics and social studies that’s happening around the kids right now that they’re actually really interested in.

Dr. Nathan Lang-Raad: Yeah. I think the school leaders, especially, I know you do a lot of work within leadership that is one of our primary roles as leaders to give teachers the freedom. Not that we should ever have to feel like we have to give permission, but, unfortunately, the way school structures are designed it feels that way sometimes because I think sometimes teachers are told, or feel like they have to follow some kind of prescriptive curriculum. And us as leaders being able to say, “We value you and honor your expertise as professionals. And you have our permission to make learning as relevant as possible, and be able to obviously use current events to guide your instruction. And then look at some of those content and skills and interweave them along the way.” I think that goes a long ways in teachers being able to feel like they’re able to make a difference is getting rid of those barriers.

Dr. Scott McLeod: Yeah, absolutely. And that’s the instructional redesign work that I’m trying to make happen, right? Is how do we take those things that we know kids need to know and be able to do from your class, and make them richer, and more robust, and more engaging?

Dr. Nathan Lang-Raad: Absolutely. So I think this actually is a good segue to the Four Shifts Protocols that you mentioned. And I’d love to hear more about that. For those listeners who when you hear protocol, we have a certain connotation that comes to mind. So I’d love to hear more about what the protocol looks like, and then more about the shifts.

Dr. Scott McLeod: Sure, absolutely. So the four big shifts are deeper learning, authentic work, student agency, and rich technology infusion. And the idea around those four shifts is that if we want kids to have more interesting and engaging learning that goes beyond recall and regurgitation, we have to design for it. The way the protocol is structured is that as a teacher you would pick some kind of lesson, or unit that you were either designing from scratch, or redesigning that you’ve done in the past. And you would say, “What do I want to hack at?” Right? Maybe I’m trying to get more student agency into my classroom because right now it’s mostly me directing things. And if I really want them to be lifelong learners, they have to have practice directing their own learning with some guidance. So I’m going to focus on student agency within my classroom this year. And this lesson, or unit seems to be a good place where I might play a little bit, right?

Dr. Scott McLeod: And then what the teacher would do is they would go to that particular section, section C of the Four Shifts Protocol. And there’s nine questions there. And the nine questions ask things like, well, who got to pick what was being learned? Who got to pick how that thing is learned? Who got to pick how they show what they know and can do? Who’s the primary driver of the talk time? Who’s the primary driver of the work time? Who got to pick which technology is being used? Who’s the primary of that technology, right? These are all questions that a teacher can run through. And if she likes her answers, if she’s getting a lot of student, student, student in those answers, then she’s probably accomplishing her goal of student agency, and she could pat herself on the back, and do a little dance of celebration and move on.

Dr. Scott McLeod: But if she’s not quite there yet, if she’s seeing that most of those answers to those questions are still teacher, teacher, teacher then the way we’re using the protocols, we’ll say, look, get your head together with a couple of other smart teachers and do some redesign work around those questions, and use them as redesigned pivots, right? So right now you’re the primary user of the technology. What if you wanted students to be the primary agent of the technology how can you do a redesign pivot moving from teacher over to student? And then how would you redesign this to get to that answer instead?

Dr. Scott McLeod: Right now, you are picking what the final work product looks like. What if you wanted to give someone some choice in terms of that work product? How could you do the pivot from teacher choice over to student choice and make that happen? And what we’re finding is that it was very simple sounding redesigned pivots, right? How would you change the answer to this question from teacher to student and redesign this activity to get there has actually turned out to be really powerful because it doesn’t tell the teacher exactly what to do, but it’s just enough of a structured question to get them thinking in a different way, right? And then they have lots of flexibility in terms of how they get there. And what I found is that we can put an existing lesson in front of a group of teachers and say how much you redesigned this using this section of the protocol. And within 10, 15 minutes, they have amazing ideas for how to make it better. They just needed the structure discussion prompts to help drive the conversation. And that’s the value of the protocol.

Dr. Nathan Lang-Raad: I think that protocol is so helpful. Obviously, accomplishing exactly what you talk about with redesigning learning experiences it sounds like a very project-based learning lens. I think project-based learning is a fantastic vehicle for learning. I wonder teachers who want to start to transform their classroom more into even your approach maybe they’ve been accustomed to in their teacher planning teams they start with the standards, and they have ideas of concepts that they want to teach. Would you say that that part should come maybe later and they decide what the outcomes and the products will be first? Where do you see digging deep into the content standards, and also skills where do you see that in the planning process?

Dr. Scott McLeod: So, actually, I think that part of the planning process is first, right? Because there’s the what that we have to achieve. And then there’s the how do we do that in a way that’s rich, and robust, and engaging for kids, right? So if you look at the protocol, we start with section A, which is around deeper thinking and learning. And the very first question we ask is, are you reading student work deeply in discipline specific knowledge, skills, and dispositions? And are you focused on big, important themes and concepts? Not just trivia, or minutia. And it’s the very first question on the protocol.

Dr. Scott McLeod: So I think you have to start there and then after that then you can branch out and get into things like, okay, you’ve identified what those important skills and conceptual knowledge are that we want kids to have, or making sure we’re focused on the big concepts not just the trivia, right? And now how do we want to do that? Do we want that to be teacher directed this time? Do we want to be more student directed this time? Are there chances in here for kids to engage in critical thinking and problem-solving? Is there a way to do this by connecting it to real world authentic work that outsiders do, right? These are all followup questions to the initial one.

Dr. Nathan Lang-Raad: Yeah, I think it’s so important to be able to be intentional about our planning. I think that’s really important. I appreciate that you developed a plan and a protocol to think through because I think there’s a sequence here that happens. This is a very simplistic analogy, but we’ll see a tool being used, and we’ll say, “Oh, this technology tool is great. We’re going to use this technology tool, and then the kids are going to create this product. And that we think about what content can we integrate, and boom.” And then without really thinking about, okay, how will I measure success for students, or are there opportunities for feedback along the way? I mean, it’s so important to be very intentional at the sequence of these different facets of planning.

Dr. Scott McLeod: Yeah, absolutely. And even though I’m a really strong advocate for technology and the learning and teaching process, I’m also cognizant of all the ways that we have tended to lead with tools first, not learning first. And so in the protocol we actually put technology as the last section. And, again, signaling exactly what you said, which is you have to start with robust learning and then you figure out how technology can help.

Dr. Nathan Lang-Raad: Yeah. And then what about the assessment part? And I know this is another big area that educators are focusing on reforming and redesigning, getting away from standardized multiple choice. I think most of us agree that’s not an effective way to measure learning, but in this approach that you have presented what does the assessment look like?

Dr. Scott McLeod: It can take a variety of forms. I think we’re encouraging teachers to think in terms of performance tasks rather than fixed responses. So what does an artifact look like that captures not only the knowledge, but also the skills that you’re looking for, right? So if you want kids to learn that math formula they can do it by doing practice problems on a worksheet, but they can also learn that math formula by building a prototype aircraft wing, for example, right?

Dr. Scott McLeod: Which one of those is probably more engaging for kids, and also more connected to real world authentic work? The aircraft wing. So I think we have to help teachers understand what it looks like to translate academic learning into more real world style performance tasks. And we can do that with outside partners, or we can do that on our own, but bottom line is it’s when we take that more holistic real world embedded approach that kids start to find meaning in the work because it’s not disconnected, right? They’re not wondering why do I need to know this math formula? They now see that they absolutely have to master this math formula in order for their aircraft wing to work. So I think that’s the really big shift.

Dr. Scott McLeod: Portfolios, exhibitions to the community, defenses before panels of experts, other kinds of performance assessments, internships, capstone experiences, passion projects, genius hours, action research, action civics, these are all different ways that kids can incorporate a variety of skills and knowledge into a bundle and show them together rather than focus on a lot of isolated, discrete assessments of really small concrete skills separately.

Dr. Nathan Lang-Raad: I think providing multiple separate options is so important. And I think, unfortunately, it’s those things that can be measured easily are the ones that tend to become front and center for assessment. So as you said the fixed response, fixed option assessments get propelled to the top because those are more objective and measurable, but we know that the more authentic assessment approaches, especially, I love the portfolio assessment because I feel that’s one of the most authentic ways of measuring. As human beings we know that our thinking and learning evolves over time. Learning should never be measured in one instant, time, or even one product, or even one conversation. It is a series of conversations and measureables along the way that students are able to demonstrate mastery over. So I think it’s so important that we take these assessment options and make them really palatable, and easy to integrate and use in our classrooms.

Dr. Scott McLeod: Yeah. And, Nathan, I’ll speak to the power of video for a minute give y’all a shout-out.

Dr. Nathan Lang-Raad: Thanks.

Dr. Scott McLeod: I think we so neglect the power of video in most classes, and learning experiences because it’s a really easy and quick way to capture the complexity of something compared to, for example, trying to describe that same thing in written text, right? I can do a three-minute video on something in three minutes, or a little longer with planning and scripting and so on, right? But it would take me hours and hours to do the equivalent amount of work if I was trying to type it out. And I think as educators we haven’t wrapped our head around the power of video yet and what it could do for us.

Dr. Scott McLeod: I think one of the conversations that really stuck with me lately was I was talking with an art teacher. This was pre-pandemic. And he was talking about how he and his students had discovered a variety of videos on YouTube that talked about different ways to do coil pottery. And they found those really useful to them as an art class because different students were experimenting with different kinds of techniques to do coil pots. I’m not an artist. I know very little about coiled pottery. And what I said to him was I said, “As a parent, I never get to see that learning experience from my kids. All I get is the coil pot at the end.” Right?

Dr. Nathan Lang-Raad: Yeah.

Dr. Scott McLeod: My kid is like, “Here’s the coil pot that I made.” I’m like, “Cool.” And put it on a shelf, but I never get to see the learning that went behind it. And so what I recommended to him is I said, “What if you did short video snippets along the way of kids capturing the learning process as they went along? I chose this style of coil pottery. This is why. Here’s my initial product. You can see that it didn’t work very well. I did it a second time. I adapted it with this technique. It turned out better. Here’s my third and final product. I did this.” Right?

Dr. Scott McLeod: If I could see that along the way, then I would see the same thing the teacher saw in terms of the learning process of my kid, and what they gained out of the interaction around these different techniques, and what led to the final product, but I never get to see that as a parent. All I get to see is the thing that came home. I think it just really struck me that video would be such a quick and easy way to do that. All right, it’s Tuesday. Give us a 90 second video on what you’ve done so far, what you’ve learned, how it’s turning out, what you’re going to do differently next time, right? And that would be so easy to do and we just don’t do it.

Dr. Nathan Lang-Raad: Yeah. I appreciate the shout-out there to video creation. And I so agree. It does give us an insight into the learning that’s happened, the growth that’s happened, and you’re right, we don’t always see that in the final, or we rarely see that in the final product. Again, we don’t see all those necessary growth points along the way. And I think, additionally, as teachers, we can give better, more higher quality feedback through video than just maybe a text comment on Google Docs. I think the video assessment can go both ways. Students making their thinking visible. And then teachers being able to give really measurable, specific, and high quality feedback.

Dr. Scott McLeod: Right. So you can imagine all of this goes into the pandemic, right? So we can choose in the pandemic to do 30, 45 minute lectures to kids and then have them do digital worksheets, or we can have kids engaged in ongoing project, or inquiry-based work at home, right? That’s intentionally designed to build in fundamental content, knowledge, and skills into the work. And then we’re doing this more asynchronous, adaptive, maybe audio and video driven conversation back and forth around how it’s going, right? And we’re doing rich, robust, formative check-ins along the way with strategies that are easy to implement. And all of that’s going to be much more engaging and interesting for kids than the first model I described.

Dr. Nathan Lang-Raad: Yeah, definitely. Scott, this conversation has been fantastic. As we’re wrapping up here is there anything that you were hoping I would ask you that I didn’t, or anything that you want to leave us on?

Dr. Scott McLeod: No. I think we’re all recognizing that the pandemic has put some incredible stressors on the existing system. I would invite all of us to think of those stressors as opportunities to change the system because we know that the existing system doesn’t work for a whole lot of kids, and we have conveniently ignored that for way too long. So never waste a good crisis. How do we turn this into an opportunity to do better by our students, and our families?

Dr. Nathan Lang-Raad: Absolutely. It’s great advice to close us out here. It’s so easy to get caught up in the stressors, and we acknowledge how tough it is, but there is truly an opportunity here to make a difference still. And so I appreciate you making a difference in my world today, and being able to help guide my thinking, and some new things for me to consider. Scott, how can we find you on social media?

Dr. Scott McLeod: Yeah. So my home base is dangerouslyirrelevant.org that’s my blog. And if you click on contact there you can find all my social media info. I’m @mcleod on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube. There’s lots of places to find me. Thanks.

Dr. Nathan Lang-Raad: Fantastic, yes, and thank you, Scott. I know that our listeners would be really excited to learn from you, learn alongside of you, and looking forward to you and I also staying connected to this. So thanks again for your time, Scott.

Dr. Scott McLeod: Absolutely. Thanks, Nathan.