Monday, February 4, 2008

if you have 'em, teach 'em

Gary Stager directs us to his district's newest must-read, all about getting to know the kids in your own classroom.

Wherever education trends take us, the hallmark of a quality teacher has very little (hyperbole) with content, and everything (no hyperbole) with establishing connections with the cherubs that populate our classrooms.

Of particular interest from Stager's article comes the following observation and its natural follow-up question:
The problem with classifying students isn't the form of diagnosis; it is the idea that humans need to be classified at all. Do we really help children by taking them out of their old boxes and sorting them into new ones?
We spend so much time, energy, and our natural resources on identifying, labeling, and funneling kids, that we dismiss ourselves of our professional obligation to create meaningful relationships with students that scream to them, "This is a place where you can learn, take risks, and succeed."

Monday, January 28, 2008

school people are better than everyone else

If you've never checked out Dan Meyer's blog, well, I'll simply say:
Check it out.
Granted, his most recent post is based on someone else's post, but when you get right down to it, not much by way of information transfer has changed since Ferris Bueller's absence in the seminal film about his day off.

Mr. Meyer posts a snippet from Jeff Wasserman. Jeff says:
I find myself entirely uninterested in matters ed-tech, ed-policy, or ed-anything related, aside from what’s going on in my own classrooms...
But Scott McLeod wants to know if:
anyone else [can] think of an employment sector other than K-12 and postsecondary education where employees have the right to refuse to use technology?
And Scott asks two questions at the end of his post that makes the corned beef extra-lean:
Why aren't our school organizations expecting more of their employees? Are we that desperate for workers?

not as much time as you think

This is a must see for all us!

"Two Million Minutes until high school graduation…Two Million Minutes to build their intellectual foundation…Two Million Minutes to prepare for college and ultimately career…Two Million Minutes to go from a teenager to an adult?
How a student spends their Two Million Minutes - in class, at home studying, playing sports, working, sleeping, socializing or just goofing off -- will effect their economic prospects for the rest of their lives.
How do most American high school students spend this time? What about students in the rest of the world? How do family, friends and society influence a student's choices for time allocation? What implications do their choices have on their future and on a country's economic future?"
Do you hear that?

tick tock, tick tock...

Friday, January 25, 2008

preserving a culture of creation

From the Pew Internet & American Life Project comes a report about teens and social media. Their study reports:
Content creation by teenagers continues to grow, with 64% of online teenagers ages 12 to 17 engaging in at least one type of content creation, up from 57% of online teens in 2004.
At the R&D meeting the other day, someone brought up the point that teens use the internet for entertainment while adults use it for information. Even if this is true, schools must recognize their responsibility for tapping into adolescents as content creators:
The survey found that content creation is not just about sharing creative output; it is also about participating in conversations fueled by that content.
Our students are creating. They want to create. No matter the future of technology, schools need to insure that adolescents continue to serve as content creators.

Where's the downside?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

you don't need a big, red nose

In the combined spirits of:
  • we are not alone
  • digital connectiviy
here's a snippet from Doug Johnshon's* post today:
I am not convinced that kids need constant entertainment anymore that any of us do. But they do demand, and should, learning that is engaging.
Additionally, he asserts:
It's a fallacy to believe today's students are unhappy unless they are entertained...

Perhaps the greatest distinction is that entertain is often passive, whereas engagment is active or interactive.
His points must ring with clock-work precision as we consider our students, our culture, and how we are to train ourselves and our colleagues in the years ahead.

* over on the right side of the page, please take note of the 'educationally relevant' blogroll. Here, blogs of interest will be listed for quick and easy access. Doug Johnson's Blue Skunk Blog is a phenomenal read. His heart, his mind, and his writings, are all focused on learning.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

years, not minutes

In education, particularly those pesky nooks and crannies that deal with curriculum and instruction, reactionaries rarely survive. Teachers, like waiters in a restaurant, come and go; most lasting no more than five years. For the most part, teaching is all Sisyphus and Prometheus; immovable rock and self-regenerating organs. It's no wonder that most leave before they endure another bout of uphill peril and vulture pecking, but some teachers can stick it out.

They dig their feet into the soil, rub their hands together, and make the slow, steady ascent up the mountain. Never do they wince when they feel the sharp, intrusive gnawing on the sides of their torsos. They endure pain and they welcome the physical and mental exertion that comes part and parcel with the job. They are hybrids, part tragic hero, part visionary.

When they think of weighty words - teaching, learning, skills - they consider their students. Teachers that stay know that reacting with haste, no matter what the word may be, only makes the yearly trek up and down the mountain more dangerous.

Classes are organized minutes. "You have five minutes, students."

Teachers need years, not minutes. "You'll need at least five years, teachers."

What does the video below tell us about where we need to be in five years?