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Uncommon Learning
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Table of Contents

Preface 1. The Challenges That Schools Face 2. Culture Shock 3. Digital Learning Across the Curriculum 4. Makerspaces 5. Blended and Virtual Learning 6. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) 7. Digital Badges and Micro-Credentials 8. Academies and Smaller Learning Communities 9. Connected Learning 10. Schools That Work For Students Appendices A-D References

About the Author

Eric Sheninger is a Senior Fellow and Thought Leader on Digital Leadership with the International Center for Leadership in Education (ICLE) and Scholastic Achievement Partners (SAP). He also maintains a presence as a practitioner by serving as the K-12 Director of Technology and Innovation in the Spotswood School District (NJ). Prior to this he was the award-winning Principal at New Milford High School. Under his leadership his school became a globally recognized model for innovative practices. Eric oversaw the successful implementation of several sustainable change initiatives that radically transformed the learning culture at his school while increasing achievement. His work focuses on leading and learning in the digital age as a model for moving schools and districts forward. This has led to the formation of the Pillars of Digital Leadership, a framework for all educators to initiate sustainable change to transform school cultures. As a result Eric has emerged as an innovative leader, best selling author, and sought after speaker. His main focus is the use of social media and web 2.0 technology as tools to facilitate student learning, improve communications with stakeholders, enhance public relations, create a positive brand presence, discover opportunity, transform learning spaces, and help educators grow professionally. Eric is a CDE Top 30 award recipient (2014), Bammy Award winner (2013), NASSP Digital Principal Award winner (2012), PDK Emerging Leader Award recipient (2012), winner of Learning Forward's Excellence in Professional Practice Award (2012), Google Certified Teacher, Adobe Education Leader, and ASCD 2011 Conference Scholar. He has authored and co-authored the following: Digital Leadership: Changing Paradigms for Changing Times Communicating and Connecting With Social Media: Essentials for Principals What Principals Need to Know About Teaching and Learning Science He has also contributed on education for the Huffington Post, co-created the Edscape Conference, sits on the FEA Board of Directors, and was named to the NSBA "20 to Watch" list in 2010 for technology leadership. TIME Magazine also identified Eric as having one of the 140 Best Twitter Feeds in 2014. He now presents and speaks nationally to assist other school leaders embrace and effectively utilize technology. His blog, A Principal's Reflections, was selected as Best School Administrator Blog in 2013 and 2011 by Edublogs. It was also recognized with an Editor's Choice Content Award in 2014 by Smartbrief Education.

Reviews

"Unlike so many experts offering prescriptions for our beleaguered schools, Eric Sheninger has walked the walk, running an actual school and striving each day to make it better. In UnCommon Learning, his ideas, born out of real experience, not wishful thinking, will resonate with smart educators who have seen the Next Big Thing come and go with little to show. Our kids deserve to be surrounded by educators like Sheninger who are willing to examine their own prejudices and practices, then think long and hard about what needs to change." -- Greg Toppo,National Education writer and author of The Game Believes in You: How Digital Play Can Make Our Kids Smarter "UnCommon Learning is a book that is long overdue! In this most important book for educators at all levels, Eric Sheninger has put into writing what he has "preached' all over the country for years - that in order to effectively maximize student learning, the technology that is all around us cannot be ignored but instead must be incorporated into the classroom learning process. UnCommon Learning will prove to be a game-changer for how we educate children!" -- Baruti Kafele Principal, Education Consultant, Speaker, Author "With a strikingly fresh and practical perspective, Eric Sheninger takes contemporary learning to a new level of possibility with UnCommon Learning: Creating Schools That Work for Kids. Educators throughout the world agree that we need to support "right-now" learners, but the big question is HOW to transform the schools in our own communities. Eric has created a modern leading-manual which promises to be a must have classic for principals, headmasters, administrators, parents, and teachers. If our students read the book they will find an advocate. Sheninger's thinking on learning communities, curriculum, digital tools, networking, and makerspaces is genuinely designed to work for kids of all ages." -- Heidi Hayes Jacobs "Eric's vision and collection of resources to create a student-centred learning experience for schools is something that all educators should read. Although he shares great ideas on what opportunities could look like, he challenges us to push our own thinking of what school could really look like and move forward to become the innovative educators our students need." -- George Couros "Every educator who truly wants to maximize the learning opportunity for every student will benefit from the thought provoking questions, challenges and solutions Eric provides in UnCommon Learning. He artfully provides a roadmap for creating a bold new vision for learning for both educators and students through empowerment, mindset change, blended learning, re-designing instructional practices through a true integration of digital strategies to enable students to be creative, problem solvers and owners of their learning. His lessons learned and those of teachers will provide schools with the foundation for transforming their schools for uncommon learning." -- Susan Gendron, President "Educational transformation can happen and this book tells how. In UnCommon Learning, former teacher and school principal Eric Sheninger shares practical strategies and processes to create sustainable positive changes to better serve our children." -- Yong Zhao, Author of World Class Learners and Never Send a Human to Do a Machine's Job "In Digital Leadership, Eric Sheninger trail blazed the path many educational leaders followed to become digitally connected and now, in Uncommon Learning, he gets right to the heart of exactly what we need to do to create schools designed to empower today's students. Eric doesn't just talk about change; he has actually led change in his system and his story is both inspirational and filled with practical tips for implementation." -- Dave Burgess "Too often, school improvement initiatives layer activities upon cultures and systems that are not ready to receive them. Uncommon Learning rejects the notion that something must be done in addition, and instead begins with changing the foundational culture of a school-consistent with NASSP's Breaking Ranks Framework for School Improvement. Countless schools-and more important, countless students-will no doubt benefit from the guidance Eric shares." -- JoAnn Bartoletti, Executive Director "This is one of the very few, really good books about digital learning - not just because of its clear and informative examples and rich cache of tools, but because its experienced and multi-award winning author, Eric Sheninger, explains how to develop and implement digital learning, indeed all learning, in a balanced, sustainable and self-critical way. Unlike most pro-technology books, this passionate yet practical book is more about the zen of changing than about the zealotry of what must be changed. Teachers, leaders and change agents in education everywhere should put this book right at the top of their reading lists." -- Andy Hargreaves, Winner of Boston College Excellence in Teaching with Technology Award, 2015 "There is a growing movement in this country and others to use what we have learned over the decades about effective teaching and learning to design the next generation of classrooms and schools. Eric Sheninger's new book is a welcome addition that movement. He adeptly walks the line between practical strategies and motivating visions of the near and distant future." -- Robert J. Marzano, CEO "For students to succeed in today's fast changing world, schools must join technology and teaching to prepare students with relevant knowledge and skills. Bringing passionate commitment and vast practical experience, Sheninger lays out concrete ideas and strategies for every school to transform learning to provide meaningful learning experiences for all students. This is a must-read for practitioners and policymakers." -- Bob Wise, President "Get rid of excuses. Stop having conversations. Start taking action. Uncommon Learning is the guidebook that will get schools from apathy to action, from ignorance to influence, from the status quo to supercharged with excitement. Eric Sheninger has written another winner." -- Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher Author - Reinventing Writing Host - The Every Classroom Matters Show "Sheninger, in UnCommon Learning, identifies key areas for growth within our current school systems. Most importantly, he lays out a simple and intentional path to addressing these areas with the goal of improving learning and the overall school experience for students. Educators, regardless of their role within a school, can use this text as a guide to create optimal learning environments for their students with the ultimate goal of creating schools that provide current, relevant and engaging learning experiences." -- Josh Stumpenhorst (@stumpteacher), Award Winning Teacher and author of The New Teacher Revolution "In this urgent and practical book, Eric Sheninger argues that technology must become as central to students' learning as it is in the `real' world. Uncommon Learning will teach educational leaders how to integrate technology into the classroom in ways that reflect today's complex, feedback-rich digital environment." -- Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive and A Whole New Mind "Schools today are at a disadvantage when it comes to educating today's learner, which necessitates a corrective plan of action. Eric provides not only ideas, but also practical strategies that have been implemented to create the type of learning that students crave and deserve. This book will change the way you think about school structure and function in an increasingly digital world." -- Todd Whitaker, Professor of Educational Leadership and author of over 30 books, including What Great Teachers Do Differently "For the past several years, Eric's mission has been to find effective ways to use technology to improve student performance. In 'Uncommon Learning - Creating Schools That Work For Kids' he shares the most impactful practices he has found. These practices provide a guide to move school reform, using technology, from a concept to a reality." -- Dr. Bill Daggett, Chairman and Founder "UnCommon Learning is a great look at the six most important EdTech trends in schools that work for kids: online and blended learning, BYOD, badges, maker, professional learning, and new learning environments. Eric lays out eight key steps to creating UnCommon Learning environments. Don't miss it!" -- Tom Vander Ark, CEO

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