Innovative Educators Don’t Say, “Hand It In.” They say, “Publish It!

During a recent visit to a school I was disappointed because although the school is noted as being a model technology school I was hearing from students, teachers, and leaders that the students had “handed in” a lot of great work, but none of it was being published. Instead their writing, videos, and podcasts lived mainly in obsolescence in a hard to find folder on their various teacher's computers or in obscurity, tattered on a bulletin board sadly with only some educator chicken scratch on it as its insignificant and sole form of comments and ratings.

I see schools like this all too often. Educators, parents, families are dazzled by their flashy assessment and data systems, charts showing kids progress, and fancy, static, one-dimensional bulletin boards. All this is evidence of what their kids are “capable” of achieving. Isn’t it ironic? All this data, assessment, and evidence that lives nowhere that is authentic, relevant, or important to the actual student we are trying to develop. It takes more than collecting data or creating on computers to be a 21st century school. If educators are not having students publish regularly in thoughtful, authentic, and relevant places they are NOT preparing them for today or tomorrow.

If the first decade of the 21st century was about data driven instruction and assessment, can we make the next decade about realizing potential of the student behind the data and publishing to authentic audience as part of student’s school lives?

When I tweeted, “Educators who ask students to, "Hand it in" rather than, "Publish it" are stuck in the past and not preparing 21st century students.” I received a lot of kudos and retweets, but I also received a bit of push back along the lines that it’s not realistic to expect all student work to be published. My response is this. The authentic publication of student work should be a part of EVERY SINGLE UNIT OF STUDY. If an educator can’t figure out a way to help students publish anything in a unit of study they need to either 1) Rethink the unit or 2) Rethink the assessment. While data in an expensive database may be impressive to educators, leaders, and test prep companies, it is not intrinsically meaningful for students or helping them in an authentic way. So how can teachers change practice and move from a “Hand it in” to a “Publish it” culture? Here are some ideas.

6 Ways Innovative Educators Can Move from “Hand It In” to “Publish it” Teaching

Hand it in teaching:
Write a report about [place boring topic or classic book title here] and hand it in to the teacher. If you’re lucky, we’ll place one
copy of your final work on the bulletin board or in the class library.
Publish it teaching:
Publish your own book or work in a group to publish a real book for a real audience,
that can be purchased by anyone in the world who is interested in your topic. After you write your book I will help you promote it in appropriate places. In addition to well-known authors, student written books will also be offered for purchase in book fairs and during fund raising efforts.
Technology used:
Lulu or Blurb
Hand it in teaching:
Read the book I tell you and write a book report which I will read and hand back to you with some comments. Some papers will end up in the trash and some our bulletin board.
Publish it teaching:Join our class online learning network where you will join a group based on the book you are reading. You will select a character from the book whose profile you will take on in the learning network. In the network you will create your profile page, engage in discussions and contribute blog posts as if you were the assigned character.
Technology used:
Hand it in teaching:
Read the chapter and answer the questions at the end. Or, complete this worksheet.
Publish it teaching:
Students demonstrate their knowledge of mathematical concepts by creating screencast tutorials that other students can view, rate, and comment on and discuss. Here is an example:
Technology used:
Either Jing, Screentoaster, or Screenjelly
Hand it in teaching:
Translate this passage in your workbook.
Publish it teaching:
Have students create a Voki or use Google voice to share an oral presentation that shares something about themselves that they want other people to know in the language being studied. Set up a place where the Vokis or recordings can be published and where students can comment upon one another’s work. This enables to listen to and respond to each other’s work and even respond with another Voki recording.
This is what a Voki from a French class might look like. Don't forget to click on the comment bubble. This could be comments from the teacher or other students.
Here is what a Google Voice assignment might look like:
Hello class 7-403. Please submit your oral French report to me by clicking on the Google Voice icon below and entering your phone number. Remember your report should be 1 - 3 minutes.

Technology Used:
Voki or Google Voice
Technology used:blog, video, photos

Further reading / ideas:,

Hand it in teaching:
Students learn to cook something. Write down the recipe and cook the meal. At the end of the class they have a cook book of meals with their notes. The teacher grades this and gives it back to the student with comments.
Publish it teaching:
Students learn to cook something. They post on a blog the recipe, how to make it, nutritional facts, and for what a teenager might want to make this meal. They embed a cooking show like video of a different “Kid in the Kitchen” with each post as well as a photo of the finished product. Class members comment on the blog entry and rate and comment on the video. The blog is shared with other cooks and students around the world for feedback, rating and comments.
Technology used:
blog, video, photos
Hand it in teaching:
Read the chapter or read the website and complete this worksheet or complete the questions at the end of the chapter.
Publish it teaching:
The Entire Span of Human History Is In Your Hands! Dominate 6,000 years of history from the Ancient Age to the Information Age. Which forces will you deploy to lead your nation to global prominence? Trade, espionage, diplomacy…war? Whichever path you choose, you’ll experience the pulse pounding thrill and speed of real-time gaming combined with the epic scope and depth of turn-based strategy games – brought together for the first time ever in Rise of Nations. Rise of Nations is a historical real time strategy game. In Rise of Nations, you'll create new cities, improve city infrastructures and expand national borders. Conquer foes through military might using everything from sling-shots to cannons to stealth bombers to nuclear weapons; corner the market on key commodities and consolidate power under your rule; wheel and deal across time with history's eminent cultures.
How often do we tell our students, “The Entire Span of Human History Is In Your Hands!” How exciting is that for students to know? For those wondering why I’m considering this “Publish it teaching” it is because this is a real-time online game. Students are playing just with a computer game. The other game characters are other people…perhaps classmates, perhaps not. The students literally becoming a part of an immersive historical environment where in real time they are a part of history…interacting, chatting, strategizing. They must know the historical ages, conduct research, and be familiar with society at the time period they are in to succeed. And…this is available in multiple languages allowing students with a variety of different languages to interact together.

Take a look at the video that explains the game.
Rise of Nations Video from Ted 21C on Vimeo.

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