4 Acronyms & 1 Initialism To Keep You Current With Educational Trends

4-acronyms-educational-trendsby Dawn Casey-Rowe, Social Studies Teacher & Learnist Evangelist

Do you struggle to keep up with education today?

I’ll be honest, I do. Everytime I turn around there are fifty new acronyms. (Ed note: 4 of these are initialisms; not saying which.)

I’ll ask someone in a Twitter chat, and they’ll tell me. It almost always ends up being an abbreviation for a concept I’ve been using for years, so I look and feel as dumb as possible asking in public. I’ve read the books, I pay attention, but the acronyms overwhelm me, like studying a language with far too many vocabulary words.

You know what they say about studying languages, “Use it or lose it.” On occasion, it gets to be too much, and my inner devil kicks in. I want to make up some acronyms of my own and use them, just to see if they stick. I never get around to it, though, because I’m too busy learning these.

Before you go to dictionary.com, let me just say I’m here for you. Today’s feature will help you hack through some of the Wild World of Acronyms and enjoy a bowl of Education Alphabet Soup. I have a feeling we’ll revisit this idea. We never run out of acronyms.

After you learn these, I challenge you comment on your favorites, and use them three times in a sentence today. If you’re using any acronyms-style strategies in your class to great success, please share stories about your favorites and how they impacted students in a positive way.

UbD: Understanding by Design. The premise of this is that you should have your goal in mind and then plan backwards to your daily lesson. When I first encountered this, I was excited–this is what I do. I do this in business, in life, and in school. How can we get somewhere if we don’t know where we’re going? This is no different from driving. Some people get in the car and go.

This is fun for a Sunday drive but for the day-to-day operations, you need a destination. You then plan backwards to route out the trip–avoid construction, evaluate speed vs. tolls, and get where you’re going in the best way possible. Same with UbD. You plan your goals and assessments, then plan backwards to your daily activities.

AP: Advanced Placement tests can save you a ton of cash if you’re a parent or student. Each university decides the amount of credit they will give for AP courses, and the score students need to achieve that credit. I took one AP course in high school, but sat for two exams. I did well on both, earning eight credits. Do the math…that’s a half-semester right there. That’s a lot of ramen noodles!

PBL: Project-Based Learning asks the higher-level questions. Students produce something and put it out for the world. There is a difference between projects and project-based learning. A regular project can be students working independently or together to learn something, producing something in the process, but project-based learning assesses student knowledge at a higher level. Students produce and share, with the “show me,” standard. I might assign students to make a “project,” such as a diorama about the human digestive system. PBL hits the material deeper.

Students might ask the question “How does our changing diet affect the human systems?” They then research, investigate, and produce. They could make a documentary, comic, blog posts, schematic, or other product illustrating the results. The possibilities using PBL are endless, and generally, students love this method of digging in deep. It’s intrinsic learning at its best.

PBIS: Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports is a data-driven positive support system. People get confused thinking its simply giving students rewards when they do good things. Nothing could be further from the truth–PBIS is a cultural change. It won’t work if students receive rewards but the culture of the school top-down and bottom-up doesn’t follow the philosophy. In a PBIS school, you should walk the halls and see students respecting each other and the school.

Faculty should be smiling and leadership recognizing faculty and students who are contributing to the atmosphere of the school. PBIS, at the highest level, helps model change, promoting intrinsic learning, and inspiration at all levels.

SMOC: This is a new one for me–I just read about it today. This stands for “synchronous massive online class.” It’s a good idea–everyone agrees to be online at the same time–professors, students, and TAs. These courses could, conceivably, morph and be quite massive. A regular MOOC may not have all parties synchronizing–there could be reading, posting, or discussion groups. A SMOC makes sure all parties actually communicate and intersect.

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4 Acronyms & 1 Initialism To Keep You Current With Educational Trends

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