Friday, July 27, 2007

I love how this guy thinks...

From Darren Kuropatwa:
Imagine a 20 minute lecture where all your students back channel about what you're saying. Outside guests or experts are invited in. Someone acts as a "rudder" to keep the conversation on track. The discussion is displayed on a SMARTboard or with a projector. The chatcast is immediately dumped into a wiki. The rest of the class is devoted to reorganizing the wiki clarifying what was said, answering questions (student to student as well as teacher to student; and don't forget the people, students, teachers, mentors or parents beyond the glass walls of the room) summarizing the big ideas, reframing the discussion in terms of what needs to be explained again and where we're going next. Imagine the possibilities ...

I want to be in that classroom as a student and as a teacher!

Long Time Gone

It's been too long since I last posted. Not on purpose. I flew out to Long Beach directly after the Denver conference and jumped right in with the Freedom Writers Foundation. Tuesday, we wrapped up the July Freedom Writers Teacher Institute.
Twenty-four teachers ventured to Long Beach, CA for 5 days of truly empowering collaboration. I was fortunate enough to be part of June's Institute as well. Thus far, I've had the chance to meet each of the teachers going through the program including the frenetic bunch that with whom I went through.
Something is truly energizing about bonding with 20-some people with the same heart for kids.
The ties are truly amazing.
When I returned to Sarasota last October from my turn at the Institute, my friends and colleagues were eager to hear about my trip. The interest was strong and the questions the same, "So, what was it like?" "What did you guys do out there?" "What was Erin like?" even "Was it fantastic?"
I stumbled around like a zombie when I returned home. I was able to chalk it up to jetlag, but it was something more than that.
Every once in a while, I need to be reminded of why I'm a teacher, of the sense of purpose I that motivated me to enter the profession.
As it turns out, I didn't become a teacher to help students incorporate technology in their learning. I don't know that I even became a teacher to give kids the chance to work and think collaboratively. Hard as it is to believe, it wasn't to administer standardized tests or bring up flagging scores.
It actually all comes down to showing up everyday to show kids they have they have power, choices, ability and promise when they think that they do not.
I realize the details of the process are more intricate and the path much more winding than the idealism of my purpose appears to acknowledge, but I've got to remember that's where I'm rooted.
I had a chance during this last session to meet teachers who are truly amazing in their love and passion for helping their kids. Time and again, though, I heard these same teachers say they were unworthy or not up to snuff.
We cannot allow for the perpetuation of a system that takes its most dedicated workers and breaks them and makes them feel they are less than.
It's a big system, widely fractured. Still, when the last FWTI is complete, 150 teachers will have been trained and connected, creating a nationwide network of support and activism.
Many students have walked through my classroom door bruised or broken by what life has thrown at them. Though their maturity may mask and delay the effects, the same is happening to teachers.
Often, when we speak of teacher attrition, it is in reference to the difficulty of replacing them with new hires. Our focus must be on retention. How do you keep a great teacher in the classroom?
More later.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

NSDC Breakout Session 2: Closing the Male Literacy Gap

[Live Blogged]

Kelly King, Principal
Dawn Ryan, Teacher
Boulder Valley Schools

Doing personal intros. Just got a tease of brain research. I'm feeling a little excited.

Showing a cartoon, "I need you to line up by attention span."

Telling a story by grown men to illustrate differences between boys and girls. I'm engaged. Boys throwing darts at each other in the dark.

Using cooperative learning to share brain research. My fact, "Boys get bored more easily than girls, requiring more varied stimulation to keep them attentive."

Just talked about the use of music as a buffer between conversations.

Stress hormones "coritzol(sp?)" go up when you're low on the pecking order.

"PET scans show the resting female brain is as active as the male brain working on a problem."

This creates different tendancies in motivational patterns between male and female brains.

Going to talk about male and female brains definitively for the purpose of making points.

"There are actual physical structural differences between the male and female brains."

1. "at-riskness" among boys
2. understand chem. and struc. differences between male and female brains.
3. learn about effective inst. practice for addressing brain needs of both boys and girls.

Girls are outperforming boys in all industrialized countries in reading literacies.

(me - exam Phoenix's writing scores by gender)

Showing data on improvement of boys' scores since the school began focusing on boys.

They were in the Newsweek article "The Boy Crisis."

"With Boys and Girls in Mind" Education Leadership, Nov. 2004. - great stats. on boy achievement.

Collaborative investigation of a fact that we find interesting. Partner is "take the answers down 5 'whys'." (me - I want this slideshow)

For every 100 girls...

...suspended from school, there are 250 boys.
...expelled from school, there are 335 boys.
...who earn a masters degree, there are 62 males.

"Just the Facts" cards?

Sit and Get is tolerated by the neurological make-up of girls.
Biology is for cavemen. Sociology is advanced.

Key Brain Differences Impacting Learning:
New Yorker cover with "make-up" of teen brain.

Verbal-Spatial Difference: females have more coritcal areas in brain for verbal thinking. More resources for putting emotions into words.
Males more spatial thinking cortical areas. Males may need to prime pump before jumping in to descriptive writing. Females may need to hold model to get to thinking about concepts like rotating things in space.

Memory and Sensory Difference: Girls sing in tunes 6x more often. More boys are prone to color-blindness. Females see sharper more vivid color, more sensitive touch and acute sense of taste. This goes back to survival. Male better are depth perception, tracking objects through space, better at navigating through spatial areas. You recall an event using the senses you collected it with. Prime the pump differently to get more detail.

Frontal Lobe Development: develops in mid-20s for females, early 30s for males. Suppresses impulsive behavior. This is part of writing and risk-taking behaviors.

Cross-Talk Between the Hemispheres: Females have 20% more thickening between corpus colosum than males. More nerves, more communication between hemispheres. Male brain compartmentalizes and lateralizes brain activity. Female brain disperses activity around the brain to solve the same problem. When there's a learning problem, it's more difficult for the male brain to delegate problems. This points to stroke recovery and females regaining speech function better. Males tend to operate more in the left hemisphere, females in right hemisphere. Right side thinks more about problems and anxieties. 75% of divorces are initiated by females. Male brain is more learning fragile (disabilities). Female brain more emotionally fragile (anxiety, eating disorders, depression). Compartmentalization can lead to boys focusing on one thing and blocking other input out.

Natural Aggression: Testosterone (males), Oxytosin (bonding hormone) (females), oxytosin spikes in males during sex then goes back down again. Oxytosin inspires girls to want to be liked, fit in, belong. Boys have less oxytosin which creates a disconnect between boy investment in school.

Neural Rest States: Boys are gone when they go there. Girls can still be intaking a little bit. Might as well be talking to a wall at this point with boys.

Need natural light for good brain chemistry.

Book Suggestions:
Action-Packed Classrooms, Summerford (K-5)
Learning with the Body in Mind, Jensen
Action Strategies..., Wilhelm

Asked fourth grade writing students to act out the differences between "editing" and "revising" without speaking. Leader was responsible for interpreting movements.

What a complete sentence is: Took sentence strips, color coded nouns, verbs and finishers. Gave each of 5 groups a bunch of possibilities with a "Bank of Punctuation." Gave kids 5 minutes to build complete, perfectly-punctuated sentences. Had to explain, "why they needed a comma or an exclamation point instead of a period."

(me - audience is entirely engaged!)

Boys have less access to sensory details. This makes it more difficult for them to integrate those details into their writing.

Inverse relationship between quality of illustration and volume (quality?) of writing.

Bring in music to create a mood, think of colors that would create a mood and THEN put that mood into words. Need to do more priming of the pump for boys.

Putting vocab. words to music. Spelling words with elbows and then backsides. (hilarious!)

Too many words make the ideas too difficult. 8 purposes of writing simplifies things. Give them right visual-spatial tools to kids for the job you're trying to get them to do. Visual construct must match intended verbal output.

Video games give things a better safety for pecking order movement.

Throw gender grouping into small grouping every once in a while. Expand topics that appeal to boys. Stop censoring boys interests.

"A good book for a boy is one he wants to read." (Moloney, 2002)

In writing classroom, use "crappy prompts" to get kids to make writing their own.

"If the bum is numb, the brain is the same."

I'm Glad I'm a Boy, I'm Glad I'm a Girl (1970)

"Me Read? No Way!" - Ontario Provincial Government

Monday, July 16, 2007

NSDC Concurrent Session 1: Breaking Barriers to Learning

Live Blogging: Norwalk Community School District in Iowa

Starting off the presentation by showing Karl Fisch's "Did you Know? 1.0" I wonder how many people in the room have seen this before.

I wonder how many presenters will be using this. I wonder how many presenters will be making their own. Why not?

Just got through the "Name this country..." I always want to shout out the answer.

In under a year, how much of this information is outdated? Not to mention how many schools and districts will be presenting it at back-to-school events this year as though it's new?

Presentation Beginning:
How am I going to prepare students for a world that's not in existence now?

Quoting Pink's A Whole New Mind and three essential questions.
1. Can someone overseas do it more cheaply?
2. Can a computer do it faster?
3. Am I offering something that satisfies the monmaterial transcendent...

Prereq. Friedman quote: There are no more "American Jobs." There are only jobs.

Only 1/3 of school districts in Iowa are growing.

Not sure our mission statement is different from many others. What's different is how we act on them.

They have 7 student learning goals.
1. Communication Skills
2. Thinking and reasoning skills
3. interpersonal skills
4. personal and social responsibility
5. learning to learn (warlick happy?)
6. Technology
7. Expanding and integrating knowledge

Goals drafted after community input and search for a theme.

Referencing: Indicators of schools of quality.

We, as a district, were starting to form what's important to us. Modified indicators to align with parents, community and staff. Printed NSCC as their own.

Complete survey every 2-3 years.
Ask where students are and where they want to go next.

Referencing PLCs and Rick DeFour. Mission statements look alike. Vision statements look alike. Belief statements are special to schools/districts. (me- does SRQ have belief statements?)

Guided by values in decision making.

SLCs are very important. Have looping and traditional. Full-inclusion model.

Belief 5: Common knowledge base for students. (me - who decides knowledge base?)

Speaking on teachers saying they didn't think they did anything special.

Systemic issue.

Parent approached one of them and said they didn't live up to belief statement.

Talking about Iowa Professional Development Model and how it is a collaborative effort including ALL stakeholders. Even high ed.

Focus on curric., instruction and assessment.
Shared decision-making

Constant Cycle of PD.

Simultaneity is a growing requirement in education (me - are our kids there already?)

6-year curric. assessment evaluation cycle.

Curriculum will provide success with 80% of students.

Years 4-6 work to find out what curric. did do for other 20%.

No state standards in Iowa (me - !?!?!?!)

8 Iowa Teaching standards made up of 42 criterion: build teacher portfolio (NGT?)

Their content areas rotate to ensure constant curricular reform. There's a systemic cycle built in. (me - replicable on a larger scale?)

Data is imperative. (me - are we measuring what's going to matter?)

One word to describe Norwalk - collaboration.

They have 26 School Improvement Advisory Committees.

Quoting Gardner on Transformational Leadership.
Quoting Marzano's School Leadership that Works.

Assessing administrators not just teachers. Marzano's 21 administrative characteristics. Did a time audit in 15-minute increments.

Pausing for reflection. Back to work.

(me - we've been sitting for over an hour, I'm sitting and getting.)

Discussion State Accreditation process

"MetaAnalysis" is a smart-sounding word that engenders much unquestioning reverence.

(me - is this good teaching?)

NSSE - Survey of Goals for Student Learning.

End-of-Year report required for each SIAC for website and newspaper.

Out-of-School programs effective for lower elementary and high school according to McREL.

Acknowledging errors in last year's summer program and addressing how they are corrected.

Teacher talking now about moving back to Norwalk because of collaboration. Saying the program didn't make sense at first, but now has a better understanding of the big picture.

Also referencing Gardner's Five Minds for the Future.

NSDC Summer Conference Opening Keynote

[live blogging the session]

Encouraging us to take every minute to learn from others.
Make a committment to actions. Every teacher needs to stand up to the plate of teacher leadership.

Sue McAdamis - NSDC Board PRes.

Mentioning sponsors.
Recognizing organizers.
There were 19 organizers on the stage, all educators - one man.

Sharing meals, networking and engaging in reflective conversations.
Encouraging us to be risk-takers. Sit with people we don't know and take reflective thoughts.
Avoid side conversations, turn off noisy stuff and give full attention.
Today's take-away is a bookmark made by 4th-grade students.
Another take away at lunch to inspire conversation at lunch.
The practice of deep reflection leads to knowledge and ultimately increases student achievement.

Denver public schools innovative teacher compensation program.

Welcome Phil Gonrey (sp) of the Rose Foundation

me - I wonder if "Rocky Mountain High" is played at every Colorado convention.

Denver first to make cheeseburger.

2nd producer of lamb
1st producer of millet (small seed grain grown in a difficult environment - sounds a lot like a school)

Introducing - Joellen Killion and Stephanie "Nikki" Rivera

It's not about choice, structural changes or market reform.

We understand that education is a human capitol issue.
Smart, dedicated well-trained people with the right incentives and the right support can do amazing things with kids.

Our grant-making has been focused on the simple fact that there si a tremendous genius in teachers and given the resources teachers can do amazing things.

Killion - Deputy Exec. Dir. of NSDC "taking the lead: new roles for teacher leaders..."
Rivera - clinical prof. in Adams 12 district, master teacher who assumes a leadership role in the dev. of pre-service and novice teachers.


Importance of aligning actions with beliefs. Beliefs are what we stand for. Beliefs challenge and facilitate work. Give courage and direction. Help take a stand. Re-assessment of beliefs increases integrity. beliefs Riv. now holds are not the same ones she held when she started as a coach. Started by giving resources. Stopped doing that because it created dependence.

Talking about the importance of not creating dependence as a coach. Haven't integrated beliefs until we experience them in a real-world setting.
Each experience provides us an opportunity to discover beliefs.
Admitting difference between what they believe/say they believe and what they actually do.
Two kinds of beliefs: beliefs in action and espoused beliefs.
"Reading my life as a textbook is a good way to discover if my life reflects my beliefs."
focus on student assessment that are true to accomplishment.
Fundamental beliefs of teacher leaders and coaches:
1. Let Go
2. believe in possibilities.
3. keep promises
4. do you best always
5. check perceptions

1. Let Go: Talking about difference between espoused/action in reference to imposing answers or letting community find solutions. Did not act on espoused belief. "What do you want?" "To be right." What did you get? Frustration and resistence. What did you learn? Being right didn't matter...they mattered. Let go of the need to fic and heal and rescue and repair others. Work rather on yourself. - Scot Peck "A different Drum."
(me- this is a basic tennet of improv)

2. Possibilities: (me, using narrative to show points) Lesson Study Protocol. Rolled out LSP with one team with no new teachers. Debriefing went well. Three years ago, school still using LSP. By believing in poss. these students and teachers are growing. Support and scaffolding gave every chance for success.

3. Keeping your Promises: Promised to send protocol when she got home. Did not send as she promised. Didn't remember. Got call Tuesday of the next week. Disappointment that the protocol didn't show up. Horrified. Made promise and didn't follow through. Sometimes not conscious of the promises we make. "See you later. Meeting starts at 3:30. Meet you in the library. I'll send that when I get home." (me - Four Agreements: Be impeccable in your word.) Loss of integrity leads to loss of trust leads to inability to engage with others. no objection can be read as a promise. Failure to keep promises is a choice that endangers the relationship.

4. Do your best, always: (me - Another Four Agreements: Always do your best.) Using story to explain points. She's a biking enthusiast. Went on trip to France. Promises of travel company's website didn't come through. People on buses were acting horrible. Coordinators listened to clients and wrote down complaints. Explained circumstances but didn't make excuses. On the last day, asked coord. how he was doing with near mutiny. On the bus. sitting in front of her, turned and said, "Life, is 10% what happens to you. 90% how you react to it." What a beautiful example of doing your best, always. Guiding belief was getting him through difficult situation. Often faced with visible and invisible mutinies.

5. Check your perceptions: Sometimes I make up explanations of things that I don't understand. Assumptions from wonderings. Andrea (teaching 3 years, tapped to be a coach). Doing observation of teacher. Andrea was conscious of butterflies. More severe than normal. Teacher she was observing had been her teacher. Facing a severe case of role reversal. How was she going to be able to give feedback to this teacher? Anxiety grew as lesson continued. Assumed feedback session would be horrible. Teacher sat, put hands on top of Andrea's. "Andrea, many years ago, I had the pleasure of being your teacher. I look forward now to you being my teacher." Andrea dissolved into tears. (me - etymological difference between "perception" and "assumption"?) "If I don't know something, it's best to check, clarify or hold curiosity about it." Withhold the drive to make up stories to explain what we don't know. (me - this is Covey "Seek first to understand and then to be understood.")

When we stand for what we believe, we are more authentic. When we take a stand for our beliefs, we make a difference for teachers and their students.

NSDC's new purpose statement - Every educator participates in effective professional development everyday so that every student learns.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

A cellular classroom?

I've been thinking recently about what technology I can expect my kids to have next year. We're still not at a place where Internet access is at 100% (my kids tend to hover around 80%).
What I can almost always know my students (last year it was 95%) will possess is a cell phone.
Of course, my school has the posted "Use your phone and the world around you will come crashing to a hault" policy. We can work around that.
So, here's the question, what are you doing in your classroom to integrate/embed cell phones into instruction? Where are the resources built around cell phones in education?
Does a wiki already exist with this info.? If not, it does now. If you've got anything you can contribute, post away.
More later.

Ubiquitous does not equal free

A bit of a typo on my trip itinerary led me to arrive at the Tampa International Airport about 4 hours ahead of schedule this morning. I can honestly say that has never happened before. I don't mind so much chilling at the airport. Free wireless, blogs and news to read, Starbucks in my system. The problem was waking up at 4 a.m. to get here "on time." Still, nothing I can do about it now.

I was looking at the hotel I'll be staying at while attending the National Staff Development Council Conference in Denver. Decided to check up on wireless access. Three page clicks in and I found this:
Every convenience is yours in our 360 sq.ft. Denver Colorado accommodations, including Continental breakfast, on-site business center, work station with ergonomic chair and wired/wireless Internet access (fee applies). Enjoy Rocky Mountain or city views from our luxurious downtown Denver accommodations, plus two telephones, 32-inch, flat-screen TV and one king or two double Hyatt Grand Beds with plush pillows, soft sheeting and thick down blankets piled upon a pillow-top mattress.
I might be the only one who thinks this strange. A 32-inch, flat-screen TV and I still have to pay for Internet access?
During my trip home last week, I stayed at La Quinta on the way up and back. La Quinta of Chattanooga boasts:
Guest Room Amenities
  • Free High-Speed Internet Access in some rooms
  • Dataport Phones
  • Cable Television
  • Coffee Maker
  • Hair Dryer
  • Iron with Ironing Board
  • Alarm Clock
Sure, my television wasn't flat, but my access was free. That was for $40/night. Baffled I tell ya, baffled!
More later.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Is using new tools for old things acceptable?

Here's what's happened:
  1. Jennifer Dorman posted her reply to Will Richardson's post about the effects/changes brought about by twitter.
  2. Will posted a twit saying he had finished writing a column and was heading to lunch. He added that he didn't know why he was writing what he was writing.
  3. I responded to Will asking if twitter made him feel more connected and why he would share those bit of info. outside the twitterverse. (Will did not respond because he is not following my twits. But...)
  4. Vicki Davis (who is a friend on twitter) twitted to Will saying he twitted to make our day and "Who knows - why do we write anything in here?"
  5. I twitted to Vicki asking if twitter provided a sense of community and likened it to chatting with the postman about neighborhood events.
  6. Vicki responded she learns about breaking events "microblogging and aggregated from the 'horse's mouthes'."
  7. I responded to Vicki with the question, and I'm putting this out there for everyone, "Does twitter serve a purpose/need/interest that was previously unmet?"
This all leads to the question that serves as the post title and the bulk of my response to Jennifer. Are blogging, skyping, twittering, etc. really new? Are we doing new things or doing old things on a bigger scale? I can't think of a 2.0 tool that doesn't do something old in a new way.

blogging = letters/e-mail (we can count e-mail as old school now, right?)/book or prof. journal publishing/message board
skype = phone calls/having coffee with friends
twitter = chatting up the postman/getting the news at the barbershop (I grew up in the country, it really happens.)/eavesdropping
aggregator = periodical subscriptions

The tools are new, the functions are the same.

What then, is the big deal?

Jennifer Dorman is in Pennsylvania.
Will Richardson lives in New Jersey and was twitting from Wisconsin.
Vicki Davis is in Georgia
I am in Florida.

Scale, diversity, depth.

Using new tools toward old means is not inherently a negative practice. I can participate in an informal global conversation (scale) with professionals from varied backgrounds/mindsets (diversity). That conversation with thinkers outside my immediate real-world environment bring a diversity of thought I would not have encountered having the same conversation with the same people in the same environment. New perspectives push my thinking in new directions (depth) and drive me look at issues more deeply. That augmented thinking is then taken back to my real-world environment and integrated into the conversation, thus providing my local learning community with new material.

This provides a pathway to ownership for hesitant digital immigrants.

More later.

Blogged with Flock

Who needs data?

Next week, I'll be flying to Denver to present Phoenix's story along with our new principal and the director and supervisor of Professional Development for the district. We 4 will be telling our story at the National Staff Development Council's annual conference.
In looking at the session descriptions when registering a few months ago, I was struck by the lack of variety. With perhaps 4 (and that could be pushing it) exceptions, every breakout and keynote session is centered around data and the amazing things different districts, schools, departments and teachers have done with it. Data, I've realized, is the Silly Putty or Little Black Dress of education.
Our presentation will not be about data. It will include data. To be sure, data has its place in the structure of success at Phoenix. We use it to inform our instruction. We use it calculate projected success on the FCAT. We use it to understand "academic needs."
Data will not drive our presentation. It does not drive our school. I should clarify my use of the term "data" here is meant in its clinical sense.
What drives our school and will, in turn, drive our presentation are relationships.
Formative and summative, high-stakes, formal and informal - assessments in the hands of teachers will not decide the success or failure of that teacher's students in the academic year.
Relationships are key.
As such, our presentation will reflect this.
Here's the funny thing. As I write this, there's a tinge of wonkiness at the thought of the heresy of downplaying the importance of data. My first experience with PD as a professional teacher were on things like data walls and the drafting of common assessment meant to synthesize the state assessment. My indoctrination started early.
Let me put the argument to you another way: Do you want teachers who know data or teachers who know kids?
"This is Mr. Chase, he can compile interpret a great Data Wall." vs. "This is Mr. Chase, he finds ways to reach and motivate some otherwise lost students."
I know my argument has holes. Poke at them. Push this. Push me to think. Anyone?
More later.

Image credit:

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Facebook/Myspace = Haves/Have Nots?

In running a technorati search for one thing, I stumbled upon something else. This Live Journal post points to an Information Week article that reports on an informal ethnographic study's findings that "MySpace and Facebook have come to reflect class divisions in American society..."

According to the study by Berkeley Information Sciences Ph.D. student Danah Boyd, Facebook is home to kids whose paths point them to toward completion of a college eduation while Myspace is the refuge of those whose paths are much less conventional.

According to Boyd's study:

The goodie two shoes, jocks, athletes, or other "good" kids are now going to Facebook. These kids tend to come from families who emphasize education and going to college. They are part of what we'd call hegemonic society. They are primarily white, but not exclusively. They are in honors classes, looking forward to the prom, and live in a world dictated by after school activities.

MySpace is still home for Latino/Hispanic teens, immigrant teens, "burnouts," "alternative kids," "art fags," punks, emos, goths, gangstas, queer kids, and other kids who didn't play into the dominant high school popularity paradigm. These are kids whose parents didn't go to college, who are expected to get a job when they finish high school. These are the teens who plan to go into the military immediately after schools. Teens who are really into music or in a band are also on MySpace. MySpace has most of the kids who are socially ostracized at school because they are geeks, freaks, or queers.

While these informal findings are of interest, more compelling are the author's own thoughts:

I have been reticent about writing about this dynamic even though I've been tracking it for a good six months now. I don't have the language for what I'm seeing and I'm concerned about how it's going to be interpreted. I can just see the logic: if society's "good" kids are going to Facebook and the "bad" kids are going to MySpace, clearly MySpace is the devil, right? ::shudder:: It's so not that easy. Given a lack of language for talking about this, my choice of "hegemonic" and "subaltern" was intended to at least insinuate a different way of looking at this split.

I need to read Boyd's findings again to try to place her findings in proper perspective as they relate to the larger picture for education.

The results got me thinking about Brian Grenier's survey results and the discussions of diversity they led to. Much of what charms me about the playing field offered by the digital world is its potential to offer a level environment for all participants. Is that flattened field still possible?

More later.

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Wiki for Thought

I put it down about a month ago and hadn't had a chance to pick it up until this weekend. That said, I just finished Wikinomics by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams. A chunk of the information was not new and had been encountered in Henry Jenkins' Convergence Culture and other readings, but there is something to be said for ingesting these ideas on the heels of finishing Pink's A Whole New Mind.
As per usual, I read pen-in-hand marking the margins as I went. Though the book touches only briefly on education (and even then only to speak of university research), it's implications for education are far-reaching.
More importantly, it's expectations and assumptions of education are universal and flawed. Tapscott and Williams make statements about the Net Generation that leave out variables like access and experience, claiming Net Genners are entering the workforce with expectations based upon their time using and exploring the tools and tactics allowed to learners through web 2.0 access. Unfortunately this is not the reality for many.
At the risk of sounding as though he's the only blogger I read, I point to David Warlick's comment that "[c]hildren without personal and unfiltered access to contemporary technology are alone — and there is no power in that."
While the truth of this statement is a sad one, that sadness is only compounded farther down the road for those children.
They will not have the tools to connect to the world Tapscott and Williams describe without serious effort and a presumably monumental learning curve.
In describing the "perfect storm" leading to a collaborave world, the authors count "a generation that grew up collaborating" as one of the contributing factors. What of the members of that generation who did not grow up collaborating or who were part of an educational system that was not yet plugged in to the flattening world?
I realize I'm making the case for the need for expanded collaborative efforts. Before that case can be made in full, educators must be mindful of those students standing at the edge of the digital divide.
More later.

A Whole New...Everything

I've just finished reading Dan Pink's A Whole New Mind. My read before that was Chap Clark's Hurt. Add to that the 200+ posts I've read from edubloggers across the world and my head is full of new thoughts and new versions of old thoughts.

In his Afterward, Pink writes:

Individuals and organizations that focus their efforts on doing what foreign knowledge worders can't do cheaper and computers can't do faster, as well as on meeting the aesthetic, emotional, and spiritual demands of a prosperous time, will thrive.

Scott McLeod issued a recent challenge to educational technology advocates to "...articulate in a few short sentences or paragraphs what the end result looks like." As educators, advocates of embedded technology or not, our responsibility is to create an end result that applies Pink's guidelines for success to education.

According to Clark, the largest problem facing adolescents today is a "systematic abandonment." The answer to what we must do, to the end result, is a reversal of that abandonment. Technology is a piece, but countless posts from minds I've come to respect show that the places where technology has had the greatest effects have been where it connects students to other students, to other teachers, to other learners.

The end result is greater personal connection. Access to information is important, yes. Access to others is key.

The end result is a classroom in which students' personal needs are first recognized and valued by a teacher who takes the time to learn who each student is as an individual and then uses the limitless reach of tools, 1.0 and 2.0, to create a learning experience that encourages shared ownership and elevated expectations.

I read with great interest the dispatches recounting the learning going on in Darren Kuropatwa's classroom. Technology has had an amazing impact on Darren's students.

I argue, though, that it is his level of respect and caring for his students' opinions and needs that has garnered him them such results. His willingness to allow his students access to a global stage and show them his faith in their ability to guide and sculpt their own learning have filled a gap left by, if Clark's claim holds true, societal abandonment.

Will Richardson's recent posts about spending time with his kids, Miguel Guhlin's posts about his time in Panama, David Warlick's twit about shopping for a bird bath, Paul Wilkinson's admittance that web browsing and video watching are helping him procrastinate - these are not high-minded intellectual posts. These are asyncronous social connections allowing others (many anonymous) a feeling of connection.

McLeod's post points to one by Warlick where Warlick states: "I think that the real story is that our schools are not connecting to (relevant to) their own goals, preparing children for their future." I offer a slight but imperative amendment: The real story is that our schools are not connecting to their students and their goal of preparing them for their futures.

More later.

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