Sunday, November 21, 2010
For my Nov. 22, 2010 blog post on education reform, I'm going to piggy-back on Ira Socol's post. Ira points out that grade based schools need to go; Ira makes the point clearly and eloquently. One of the practical components to doing away with grade based schooling will be to implement portfolio based 'assessments.' Portfolios will be the product of the IEPs that Ira envisions for every student. We have the technology to make it happen, we just need to learn how to do it.
I also think that this 'piggy-backing' on each others ideas will be an important feature of the 'new' education system. Being the expert on any given topic is no longer of much use; it's not bad, but it's more important to be able to blend our thoughts and ideas with those of others to give those ideas real power. Twitter, Google apps, Moodle, and all of the other tools that will be showing up on all of the various devices we'll be using to communicate are important, but it's not the tool that's important; it's the sharing of human ideas.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
When I was invited yesterday to join a district policy discussion about Cell Phones and Handhelds for Instruction I was referred to as an early adapter. I'm flattered to be considered an early adapter; I think I have some credibility as an early adopter, too. I did some writing about the general subject of information devices and access to information a year ago as a guest blogger on Shelly Blake-Plock's TeachPaperless site. Note the links in that post to the blogs of Ira Socol , Will Richardson; they and lots of other folks are talking and have been talking about the day when schools decide to quit wrestling with the horse and decide instead to jump in the saddle and start riding.
- Matt Montagne's comment on my post deserves some thoughtful consideration, I think:
"Schools need an exist strategy for getting out of the computer business. Barbara Bareda wrote about this in a recent leadertalk post. Let kids bring in their own stuff and provide stipends for students/families who can't afford a device. I'll take it a few steps further. In the next 5 years, the relevance of the LAN and school owned networks will shrink as wide area broadband continues to proliferate, improve and become a commodity. Are schools prepared for this? Do they have an exit plan to get out of the computer and ISP business? December 20, 2009 6:39 PM
This discussion has the potential to lift the MPS out of the gloomy morass in which it's currently slogging. This discussion has the potential to move the MPS into the 21st Century ( we won't be any more tardy than lots of other educational institutions, if that's any consolation to the realization that we're way, way behind in waking up to what's going on.)
I've started a Twitter hashtag for this discussion #MPShandhelds and I'll be posting some more thoughts here about why I think this discussion needs to be publicly documented; Moodle, Google.docs or one of the available tools on the new MPS web platform would work for a public archive. I suspect that we'll reinvigorate the debate that followed Steve Dembo's post on Dangerously Irrelevant when he said: " I don’t see it as teachers spurning technology, or choosing not to take advantage of those new ideas and tools. I think most teachers don’t even realize that there’s a decision to be made. " (There's 138 comments on the post, so far.)
The notion that all opinions regarding this issue are equally valuable needs a little more discussion, too. When it comes to designing how we construct our teaching and learning for the future, the opinions that lack the benefit of experience or research are less valuable than those which are informed by experience and objective research. The opinions of those who will use the new design are important, but we have information from the new world that will alter the closely held beliefs of those from the old world - North America is not India; Earth is indeed a sphere. We don't need to make the same kind of mistakes that those who 'discovered' the Americas made.
The question is not whether to use the tools or not, the question is how to proceed to learn how to to use the teaching and learning tools of this age.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Scott and I don't always agree, but the next time I'm in Ames I hope he'll be able to spare some time from his family and demanding job for coffee. I know about his family and job because of Twitter.
Yesterday via Twitter I was connected to this great blog by Cecilia Coelho , an obviously very committed educator who has a different kind of classroom than me, but who uses many of the same tools I use. Her insights enrich my practice. Next time I'm in Spain, I'm hoping Cecilia has time for coffee, too.
Then a bit later yesterday, I was surprised and deeply honored to read my name in this post by Ira Socol whom I've come to regard as a friend even though we've only spent an hour together over coffee last summer after corresponding for 18 months via Twitter. Ira and I share a lot of interests. I value his research on the history of education almost as much as I value the knowledge about technology tools that he shares so generously - and then there's his novels, and his insights into all things Irish. Ira's inclusion of me on this list makes me blush- "Teachers, and most teacher educators, are, as Dr. Becker says, "blindly focused on their classroom and kids." From Linda Darling-Hammond to Lisa Parisi, Dan McGuire, Patrick Shuler, Punya Mishra, Pam Moran, Dave Britten, Dave Doty, and tens of thousands more, are working with students every day, trying to make the changes we can in the lives and learning of our students. "We" are the William Alcotts of today, the Maria Montessoris of today. "
None of these valuable connections to the things important in my life would have come my way without Twitter, I think. Twitter is not a waste of time; it connects me to many educators all over the world who are working hard to be better at their crucial work. That list continues to grow and I can't name them all here, but in the last couple of days I've shared correspondence with: Melissa Benson, Kelly Tenkely, Ben Knauss, Pam Moran, Joe D'Amato , They make me feel like I'm part of team that extends way beyond the walls of my classroom and school. I would like that richness available to all of my colleagues in their place of work. Twitter needs to be unblocked again in the MPS.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Monday, August 9, 2010
Saturday, August 7, 2010
What's on my mind now is the full day session we spent the first day with Karen Worth. Ms Worth is a delightful person; she's got the personality that every parent hopes their kid's 1st grade teacher will possess.
The day long session was an in person delivery of her book, The Essentials of Science and Literacy: A Guide for Teachers -we got a paperback copy of the book, too. The day included a demonstration of how to conduct an inquiry discussion in a circle, and video showing us some of the finer points of leading discussions, and we talked about writing, why it's important. Mostly, the day was a power point version of the book - talking about science and writing about science is important. Got that! The link above will let you sample a chapter and get a good feel for the book.
Here's my concern - the book is prescribing 19th Century teaching techniques, maybe 18th Century, whenever it was that was before we started separating science from the 'other' subject areas. It's a good thing to integrate reading, writing, math, and the arts with science; that's not my concern. My concern is that Ms Worth and her book ignore the tools that scientists use for writing, math, and integrating art with science.
We're a full decade into the 21st Century. Twenty five years ago, Donald Murray, the father of the process theory of writing instruction, in the revision of his seminal book , A Writer Teaches Writing noticed how useful computers were for writing. Murray probably wouldn't consider his observations to be scientific, but when it comes to writing about writing, he had a pretty good grasp of the 'current research' on how you teach writing. The appendix of his book lists almost everything that's been said about the teaching of writing in the 20th Century.
“The principal advantages of the word processor include:
* A good typist can type aster on a word processor than on a typewriter, because the typist is typing only one continuous line. The machine does the carriage return automatically, and this speeds up the process immensely. A poor typist can type quickly on the machine and then clean up errors easily later.
* The writer has increased freedom to create a discovery draft without worrying about anything that will have to be corrected later. The writer can feel an enormous freedom to get something down that will be developed and refined later. I have found, for example, that sometimes I write in bursts of one to five paragraphs on the word processor; then cut, add, and reorder, shaping the fragment’ the polish it line by line, checking each word, each phrase, each sentence; then write in another burst. That’s a very different pattern for me, and it’s made possible by the word processor.
* The writer can produce a section of a longer piece of writing whenever it comes to mind, because it can be moved around easily and inserted wherever it belongs later on.
* The writer doesn’t have to worry about the internal order of paragraphs as much as in ‘normal’ (my emphasis) writing. The writer can get the paragraphs down, then reorder them easily later.
* The three main functions of revising and editing - cutting, adding, and reordering - can be done with amazing skill and ease on a word processor. The writer can cut - zap - just like that. The writer can insert easily, and since most writing is undeveloped, the word processor makes it easy to do the necessary developing. The writer can reorder words, sentences, paragraphs, sections and re-reorder.
* The writer can see a clear text immediately after each change instead of the messy, scrawled-over drafts that are normal for a writer (using paper and pen.)
* The act of writing that always has been a satisfying form of play for most prolific writers is available as play to more people. For many people, the word processor does seem to make writing a game. They can enjoy the fun of making a text come clear on the tube.
* Many word processor have programs that spell. Educators may worry about this, but the fact is that many writers - present company included - are poor spellers, and the ability of the machine to check this allows spelling to b put in its proper lace, at the end of the writing process, so that it is not a matter of primary anxiety on every draft.
* The writing can be stored away easily and recalled whenever the writer has somethingv to do to the draft. These changes may be small or large. No matter, they can be added to the draft, and the draft can be stored away efficiently, ready to be called up again.
* Most writers will confess that in the past they have not made changes that should have been made because of the time and energy it took to produce a new draft. With a word processor you don’t have to worry. The draft remains flexible, changeable, until it is printed.
* The writing remains in process for a longer time. There is a wonderful impermanence about the draft on the video tube. It is always writing in process, ready to be changed.”
So, writing is crucial to learning, in any subject, and technology has been observed by someone who knows writing to be a tremendous aid in writing. Why is there even a question about whether or not technology has an effect on teaching and learning, and why wouldn't we want to use computers in a science classroom ?
Murray never got to use modern learning management systems like Moodle to teach writing, but if he had, I’m sure he would have been as appreciative of Moodle as he was of word processors. Moodle allows teachers to do all of the things that Murray advocates but even more quickly and more easily. All of the advantages of the word processor that Murray delineates are extended and expanded with Moodle. I’ve taught reading and writing to 3rd and 4th graders without word processors, with word processors but without Moodle, and with Moodle. There’s no reason not to use Moodle, or Google apps, or one of the many new technologies that adds global collaboration to the advantages that Murray listed of using word processors in the writing process. I really never want to see the tears welling up behind the eyes of another 3rd grader when I tell them that most everything they’ve written needs to be reordered when they’ve just labored mightily with a pencil to get their story onto the page, especially when the usual response to revising with a computer is, "Hey, this is kinda fun." The computer provides the power and access to language that most of us adults who've used a computer for a while have come to expect. For me, the question is not whether or not technology has an effect in the classroom, it’s why isn’t everyone using technology in the classroom.
So why, then, does Ms Worth actually caution against using technology in an elementary science classroom. And why does the MPS, in 2010, buy books for their elementary science teachers that don't even mention how the current tools of science might be used in a classroom? Those are really important questions.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Well, this June, Dr. Willingham has, at least, taken a beginning look at how technology fits in with teaching. His piece in the current issue of the American Educator falls way short of being thorough and well thought out, though, despite the twenty-two end notes which are mostly from the last ten years.
As long as we're at the end of his article, let's note that I think the editors must have chopped off his ending, because there isn't one- the article just stops at the end of a list of four things that answer the question- What Does All This Mean for Teaching? The four items are:
1. Encourage your students to avoid multitasking when doing an important task.
2. If a new piece of technology is placed in your classroom with the expectation that you will use it, take advantage of online teacher communities.
3. Think about what the technology can and can't do.
4. There's nothing wrong with engagement.
I don't know many teachers or parents who would argue with the premise of the first point while it's almost a given that there are lots of teen-agers who could offer a very spirited contrary opinion -my daughter being one of them. The second point begs a further discussion about what teachers need to do to insist on being given proper support in the classroom which includes adequate professional development to be competent with the tools of our trade, and the tools are changing and will continue to change.
In his discussion of the third point, Willingham compares a chalkboard to an overhead projector. That's about as useful as comparing a horse drawn carriage to walking as a means of traveling from Minneapolis to Chicago. Horse drawn carriages and walking are both still very lovely things to experience, but neither are practical for traveling from Minneapolis to Chicago. I still really like a chalkboard for some things but I would never buy a new one, and all overhead projectors need to be tossed as soon as possible for lots of reasons - a document camera does everything an overhead does and so much more. I wonder if Willingham has ever used one in a classroom? I guess we shouldn't expect that much investigation from a cognitive scientist- No, wait a minute; Yes, we should, especially one that's writing in a magazine called the American Educator that's published by the AFT.
Willingham reveals his superficial understanding of Twitter by pointing out that while it provides asynchronous communication between two people, the users are limited to 140 characters. I can't really take seriously anyone who claims to be writing about technology and teaching who's that limited in their understanding Twitter. It's in his fourth and abruptly final paragraph that Willingham reveals his lack of engagement with the technology. He suggests that Twitter might be useful for providing a moment of fun or energy and implies that's all it's good for. Willingham asks us to "be clear-eyed" while he's only seeing a small corner of the picture.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
This is very definitely an aside, but it is still about the issue of auditory or not:
Ira Socol just posted his thoughts on why Ulysses is so important in our literary tradition. For those of you who might not be fans, (you don't need to have read the whole damn thing in order to be a fan, either)next Wednesday, June 16, just after we finish this course is Bloomsday. Bloomsday is a holiday to celebrate Ulysses. All of Ulysses takes place in one day, kinda like a 24, on June 16, 1904. Ulysses was originally released as a serial.
Before I digress into Ulysses and Joyce too much, the point that Ira makes is that it is not really possible to 'read' Ulysses without saying the words outloud, reading with your lips moving, something that we try to drum out of kids.
Try to get through as much of the text from Ulysses as you can and then skip down to Ira's comments at the end. Ira has an opinion about the auditory part of reading.
By the way, and this, too, is an aside, if you look at the background of my profile picture, you can see, if you super magnify it, the Martello tower of Sandycove which is the opening scene of Ulysses and which is across Dublin Bay from where I am in the picture. I had made my pilgrimage out to Sandycove the evening before, and purposely wanted to put it in the background of this picture. If you want another stream of consciousness/auditory type of experience with an Irish flavor, you can go to my facebook videos and play a clip of the great band I heard at Pearce St Station on my way out to Sandycove.
I will also digress to my Chaucer course in grad school: I was outraged, and at 25 yrs old my outrage was barely tempered, that the prof didn't plan on reading any of Chaucer's works out loud in the class. She, the prof, was offended that I was outraged and more than a little dismissive; I think I managed to finally get a 'B' out of the course, but just barely. I distinctly remember 35 years ago being looked at like was silly or something, but I'm still outraged; I mean, how can you rationally expect to really be learning about the Canterbury Tales if you don't actually read at least out loud. I thought then that the whole thing should be read out loud, and then we could start talking about the connections to Italian poets from the 13th Cent., maybe. I think auditory learning is very important. I'm so glad that we can now link to an actual reading of the words. And I'm glad that I'm an elementary teacher and I get to read out loud everyday to my students. Roald Dahl's, The Witches is my favorite.
Friday, April 9, 2010
The tool that I'm talking about is the Database Module ; it's a special tool in the very big toolbox called, Moodle. I've discovered that the database module works really well as a reader's response journal for my 3rd and 4th grade students. I use it in place of the spiral notebook or three-ring binder or composition book method. In previous years I've tried both the Workshop Module and the famous Moodle Forum activity module. The Workshop Module is overkill for 3rd and 4th graders; it's like using a cam/cad computer to sketch an elementary illustration. The very flexible Forum can be made to work, but it doesn't have enough of the built-in structure to be really useful for what is needed for my 3rd and 4th grade students. (Although, a couple of them are approaching the level of being able to benefit from the more complex Workshop Module. That's the trouble with teaching; once you teach them something; they want to learn more.)
I learned how to use the Database Module by watching the fabulous short tutorial that Tomaz Lasic created a while ago. I set up the database so students could easily log in the title, author, main characters, settings, plot problems, and plot solutions. The directions at the top of the database input screen directs students to use complete sentences and as much descriptive detail as possible.
The comments feature of the database allows other students or me, the teacher, to make comments on each entry. In that way, it is much like a discussion forum. I was pleasantly surprised when I found that three of the students had discovered the comments feature on their own and had already started commenting on each other's entries. If you use technology in a classroom, you gotta get used to students showing you how to do new things. When I showed the whole class how to use comments, the whole class eagerly took to writing on each others entries. My job as the teacher then became to coach students to expand, clarify, punctuate, relate, etc. - all of the things writing teachers do.
Except that I had one problem. The way that I had set up the database didn't include an easy way to go from the 'list view' to the comments. It was easy enough to search for a particular student or title, but then I or the students had to go back to single view and tab through all of the entries until the desired entry was reached. The students didn't mind as much as I did, mostly because they aren't as familiar with databases in general and didn't sense that there must be an easier way - tabbing through to see what others had written is still new and intriguing.
When I showed my A.E. what was happening, she was as impressed as I was about how eagerly the students took to writing about books. I mentioned that I was frustrated about not being able to go to the comments directly from the list view and said, "I think I'll do a search of the Moodle Forums and post a query if I don't find the answer right away." I'd had a great experience a year and half ago when I was trying to add a pdf file to an online text assignment. That was my first experience with the power of the Moodle user community. It happened again. After about 15 minutes of browsing through the Database Discussions I just posted the question to the forum. It took less than 3 hours to get a detailed response about how to do what I needed to do. Itamar Tzadok from Toronto, confirmed my hope and explained how to do it. I hadn't had time to check on the forum until a few days later, so I didn't actually see his response for a few days. In the meantime, Ivan Dobrovolskij from Moscow, had asked a clarifying question. Itamar explained Ivan's question, too. Talk about collaborating and connecting ! I feel renewed hope for our profession. When students and teachers work together, we both learn how to use great new tools.
My students convinced me today to let them do a literature circle on Jeff Smith's Bone series of graphic novels. I haven't read them yet, but have lately seen noses buried in one of the nine different titles all around the room. The Bone series literature circle will use the refined database with links to comments, and I'll be learning about Fone, Phoney and Smiley.
Monday, April 5, 2010
In our district, there's an initiative underway headed up by Todd Pierson @tpierson to create MPS specific Moodle courses for both instruction and staff development. Elsewhere, around the world and here in Minnesota, Tomaz Lasic has created a venue for sharing Moodle lessons; Joe Thibault is creating a place to archive every Moodle course ever created; Carl Anderson has just created a site for sharing Minnesota Moodle courses; the Minnesota Moodle users group is growing daily; Nellie Deutsch and friends are sharing ideas and tools vibrantly all over the planet.
All of these teachers know it's their job to connect, to share, to be the butterfly of creation in classrooms. It's what teachers do.
Thanks for sharing, really !
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
William Souder offered the opportunity to judge the essay he wrote that was printed in last Sunday's Star Tribune and which was also made available in the online version of the Star Tribune. His essay fails to prove his point. He proposes that formal writing is dying; that it is being replaced by digital writing. I'm not quite sure what Souder means by formal writing, but he implies that it is writing that does not appear in electronic form, which is a ridiculous proposition since most of what has been written by humans in any language and on any surface with any tool is now available on line. For Souder, digital writing is writing that is not published and printed on paper by publishing houses that published books by Tom Clancy and Stephen King. Souder asserts that those publishing housed used to subsidize a number of less-famous writers whose work was worth reading but who couldn't make money for the publisher or, presumably, themselves. I will acknowledge that that how people get paid for writing is changing. Souder says that this inferior digital writing is somehow lessening the value that existed for the kind of writing that came before it. He makes fun of the what he calls digital writing but fails to show how that harms the other kind of writing. Good writing endures, no matter the form.
I still value what Plato wrote about what Socrates said about writing. Socrates, or at least, Plato using a character called Socrates, didn't think much of writing; he considered writing to be much inferior to oral discourse. http://english.ttu.edu/Kairos/2.1/features/brent/platowri.htm
Anyone now reading these words electronically can with one click be able to the words of Socrates, via Plato, written in fairly modern English. There are probably scholars of both Greek and Latin who could offer alternative translations and thus maybe put another twist on the meaning of the words as they appear to us, today. Was Plato's writing on a kodex in classical Greek formal writing? Are his words dead?
Chaucer significantly messed with the formal writing of his day. He eschewed the old formal Latin in favor the indelicate vernacular English. Now we call him the father of English literature. Chaucer would've been all over Facebook if he were here today. And the rhythms and rhyme he so informally wrote six hundred years ago - “Whan that Aprille with hise shoures soote / The droghte of March hath perced to the roote.”- still delight even though the spellings and pronunciations have changed a bit.
With this 'inferior' digital writing, I'm also able to connect readers of these words to the words of Wordsworth – now there's a guy whose words are worth reading. What I especially like about using an electronic tool is that I can go right to the part of Wordsworth's words that I want readers to notice. I have a hard time remembering the exact paragraph where the line I want to share shows up, but I remember that the word 'torpor' appears in the sentence so all I need to do is type 'torpor' into the little 'find' box at the bottom of my laptop screen and, presto, I'm at the passage which expresses notions which readers familiar with Mr. Souder's essay will recognize. Wordsworth, too, was turning traditional, formal writing on its head in favor of the language of the common man.
It was almost two hundred years ago that Wordsworth said, speaking of the capability to excite the beauty and dignity of the mind, “It has therefore appeared to me, that to endeavour to produce or enlarge this capability is one of the best services in which, at any period, a Writer can be engaged; but this service, excellent at all times, is especially so at the present day. For a multitude of causes, unknown to former times, are now acting with a combined force to blunt the discriminating powers of the mind, and, unfitting it for all voluntary exertion, to reduce it to a state of almost savage torpor. The most effective of these causes are the great national events which are daily taking place, and the increasing accumulation of men in cities, where the uniformity of their occupations produces a craving for extraordinary incident, which the rapid communication of intelligence hourly gratifies. to this tendency of life and manners the literature and theatrical exhibitions of the country have conformed themselves. The invaluable works of our elder writers, I had almost said the works of Shakespeare and Milton, are driven into neglect by frantic novels, sickly and stupid German Tragedies, and deluges of idle and extravagant stories in verse.” I suppose Mr. Souder would put blogs and Twitter threads, no matter who wrote them, in with all those sickly and stupid German Tragedies and the deluges of idle and extravagant stories in verse.
The number of English speakers globally continues increase rapidly so the market for things written in English, digital or formal, is also growing. Mr. Souder's main objection to digital writing seems to be that it is endangering the profits of the owner's of the means of distributing writing on paper. Books are not going away; writing is just showing up in new places in addition to books, newspapers and magazines. If there's enough demand for words printed on paper, somebody will figure out how to make money making books. I think the Book of Kells is gorgeous, but I'm not going to suggest that everything written should be written in a book using the same skills required to produce the Book of Kells. Mr. Souder laments the fact that Moby Dick is available for free. I think it's a good thing that a child in the Philippines, or China, or wherever, can download a copy and read it, or almost any other book, with the aid of a translating tool and even online explanatory notes. Lots of people without the ability to hold or read a book can also have the text read to them by this 'inferior' digital tool. Electronically produced writing opens lots of doors for lots of people. Our ability to tell our stories whether we're bards or scribes is not hampered by electronic communication- electronics make both the stage and the seating area a whole lot bigger and more inclusive.
Friday, February 12, 2010
Tomaz Lasic is promising to write about the panel discussion in iMoot 2010 that he moderated and I listened to last Saturday morning; I participated via the chat board. As I mentioned in my last post here, it was a wonderful experience in which to participate. I'm eager to hear/read his report. Tomaz is starting his new job at Moodle HQ soon and he posted to Twitter a comment that a friend of his made to him "So, you're going from environment that doesn't encourage community creation (EdDept) to where comm. is valued & key (Moodle.)" I clumsily tried to expand on that comment by expressing my envy of Tomaz in his new job, but I think the point of the comment that Tomaz's friend made is crucial to what's happening and needs to continue to happen in education. Moodle is by definition a tool that encourages community creation, and Tomaz is a perfect example of John Hagel's poignant observation in his recent post - "Rather than simply pursuing our passion as a hobby, we felt a growing need to make our passion our profession." Tomaz is truly a "networked creator."
I also listened to Martin Dougiamas's keynote talk that kicked off iMoot. Martin, too, demonstrated what a networked creator looks like. In fact, Martin is the gold standard for doing conscious networked creation. His early writing makes his intentions clear. The millions of Moodle users around the planet are the beneficiaries of that conscious networked creativity.
And that contrasts sharply with what is all too common in k-12 school districts- A superintendent holds a meeting that is attended by a group of people. Everybody at the meeting takes notes on paper but nobody records communally what's said. Then, the people at the meeting call another meeting where even more people attend and take separate notes on paper and nothing again gets recorded in common. Each of the people at that meeting then go off to their buildings and call meetings where they mimic the behavior they've just witnessed - they report what they've heard. Sometimes this pattern gets a little 'innovative.' Instead of just having meetings the information is passed via paper, and then, sometimes, even greater 'innovation' occurs and the information gets passed via a chain of emails. That's not creativity - it's passing information. The passing of the information dilutes creativity and accountability.
Instead of welcoming the feedback and criticism that Martin describes as crucial to the quality of the ongoing creative process, the hierarchical information passing system is paranoid about making sure the information is passed 'with fidelity.' Because there's no common record, the information tends to get confused or misunderstood or twisted somehow. And yet, the paranoid system seems to take weeks to get even the a single convoluted idea on paper or into print.
I understand that it takes time to formulate ideas. I've yet to get my thoughts on the page about why Moodle is a model for the kind of 'accountability that is being yearned for by the 'reformers' even though I don't think they would recognize the truth of real accountability if it was staring them in the face. But I won't be surprised if that thought process isn't taken up by someone else via Twitter, or a blog, or even the new and somewhat still puzzling Buzz. I'm not suggesting that this convergence of ideas is the same thing as the recent scandal of the teenage novelist in Germany (I'm not even going to bother to link to that; google it if you haven't yet read about it.) It's just that the speed of ideas that go zipping from Australia to Minnesota to Germany and back to Australia (I was tipped off via Twitter to Hagel's blog by John Mak) is becoming something I'm beginning to trust. I've never met John but I think we've thought about the same things at about the same time and mentioned it to the world via our 'network.' It's work is progress.
Monday, February 8, 2010
Moodle provides the kind of accountability that Arne Duncan et al are asking for in the RTTT. Moodle goes much farther than the clumsy observation and test score methods being touted as ways to make teachers and schools 'accountable.' I was reminded of the transparency that is and always has been essential to Moodle. Martin Dougiamous reminded us that the strength of Moodle is the fact that it's open source and only gets better as more people use, test, question, critique, modify, and expand the tool. The refreshing openess of the conference reminded me why I like teaching and learning.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
One of the recent posts on the @FOSSScience Twitter time line was a link to their web page about, guess what, using notebooks in the science classroom. The FOSS web site also contains enough information to occupy our PLC for more than a few of our next meetings. Someone else actually suggested that we meet in my classroom for our next PLC so we can look at the web site on the overhead. I'll also let them peak at Twitter, Shh, don't tell anyone.
So, here's a couple of my wishes for the New Year. I would like to be able to access Twitter from anywhere in any of our school buildings. If we need to start by providing access only to teachers, fine, but let's start. One of the other things I'd like to see in the new year is that all of our professional development notes and communications be done on our staff Moodle site. That would be handy, for instance, for me to review the PLC notes if I wanted to do something like write about my professional development on the couch at home with my recently broken ankle wrapped in an ice pack while the Packers are trying to sneak by the Cardinals [edit: They didn't.] It would also be handy if I noticed a tweet from someone about teacher professional development relating to integrating science into a literacy program - I could just pop it into the Moodle notebook instead of sending myself an email to remember to bring it up the next time we gathered to drag out the 3-ring binder. I'd also like to change our PLC meeting times to at least include some asynchronous 'meeting' time on line.
My wishes for the new year are probably not what Shelly Blake-Plock was looking for when he put out a call for crazy stuff, but it's one of the little steps that Ira Socol (get that wheel rolling soon) was talking about in one of his recent posts. We need crazy little steps to do our work. (See what I did there, Kelly?)
Saturday, January 2, 2010
It might be obvious, but blogging and even using Twitter ( I don't like the verbs, tweeting or micro-blogging) require writing skill and especially skill with some kind of electronic input tool (I'm still using mostly one of my two second-hand WindowsXP laptops.) Writing and 'typing' are skills that have essentially been worked around for years in education, justifiably or not. We can only hope that things like Dial2do or some of the other voice to text tools will make it easier for everyone to get their thoughts out to a place where they are more easily shared. 'Writing' in any of the many ways that word is defined is still one of the keys to teaching and learning.