Archive for October, 2007

Pumpkin Patch

Posted: October 29, 2007 in Family, Just For Fun, Nature

Pumpkin Patch This evening we ventured out into a local pumpkin patch to fetch some pumpkins for carving. The corn is tall and dry, the pumpkins orange, and the leaves are quickly changing in this part of the world. A cool breeze brings the chills of fall and winter is just a few weeks away. This is a wonderful time of year, and I look forward to the holiday season in our new home. We have met many new friends, and we have been welcomed with open arms in our new community. We hope we are making a difference for the good with those we mingle with each day, and we know we are better for coming here. It has not always been an easy transition, and our hearts are often tugged by those we left behind, but we are happy to be here. There are times in our lives, as Yogi Berra once stated, when you come to a fork in the road, take it! 😉 Taking the road less traveled is not the point as Frost would share. Sometimes you just choose a fork and take it, and a whole new world opens up that you never dreamed may have happened if we hadn’t taken the chance and been willing to grow. We took a fork, and what an adventure it has been. We look forward to many more wonderful days here on the prairie. Peace!

Read this interesting Business Week article: “The Science Education Myth

“Forget the conventional wisdom. U.S. schools are turning out more capable science and engineering grads than the job market can support…” by Vivek Wadhwa

This is interesting: Edusim!

“The Edusim is a 3D interactive virtual educational environment built on open source Croquet. The Edusim on an interactive whiteboard surface is an extremely powerful way to engage your students by bringing a 3D immersive environment that allows the direct manipulation of the 3D virtual learning objects directly from the board. The Edusim is extendable allowing multiple classrooms to connect their boards for interactive learning session!”

Here are some bloggers from my district. Each in their own way are using blogging as a tool to help their students. Enjoy!

mallberr’s weblog

Madmathteacher’s Blog

Lori Brouillette’s Weblog

Bulldogs

Irish Principal Blog

8 Blue

T+L reference to H I T I have returned home to my family, town, and school district from Nashville, Tennessee and the T+L Conference. The presenters that were most impressive to me include Will Richardson, Peter Diamandis, and Ian Jukes.

Ian was most impressive and captured the essence of many of the presenters in the fact that we need change and it is time to do it NOW! We can talk, converse, plan, analyze, and hope, but it is time to take action and bring about real, active change in education.

Here are some bits of information and excerpts from what Ian Jukes shared that put the situation into perspective for me and hopefully for many others:

The song remains the same…

“Just like 50 years ago many students still sit primarily in rows – for many, the oral tradition continues – many teachers still believe that chalk and talk is the most effective way to teach – many students are still expected to learn primarily by listening – most information still comes from the teacher or textbook – the primary focus in the classroom remains on content recall that is taught in isolation from the learning context.

We have access to some new technologies but their use is generally optional not integral and certainly not required of all teachers – and the technologies are often used to reinforce old practices and assumptions about teaching and learning and assessment and do not require the teacher to change their current instructional practices.

As a result it’s increasingly apparent that there is a fundamental disconnect between the way most kids think, learn, and communicate – and the way schools interact with them. And students are voting with their minds and feet, which is reflected in the data shows the seriousness of the disconnect between the real world of high-school student & the real world of schools.

According to the NCES Condition of Education report, report, 6% of white kids, 29% of African American and 24% of Hispanic kids are at-risk. Now, think of the exponential, the quantum impact of these numbers on our society and economy – unless we address all of the needs of all of these children.

Beyond this, children’s view of the relevancy of their school experience to their future lives has declined steadily and dramatically since the late 1980s. According to their research 28% of 12th-grade high school students believe that school work is meaningful; only 21% believe that their courses are interesting; and a mere 39% believe that school work will have any bearing on their success in later life.

And these statistics are even more shocking when you realize that these are only the opinions of those students who have remained in high school for four years. Students who find the high school experience the least relevant have already exited the system in huge numbers.

The Carnegie Institute reports that in the largest 32 urban districts in our country, only 50% of students who enroll actually graduate. Each day, 2000 U.S. high school students drop out. If their voices were included in the above poll, the profile would be far worse.”

Furthermore…

“Our job as teachers and parents is not to make this a matter of either or – either our world or theirs. Rather our job is to be a counterbalancing influence in their lives – to help them understand the world from many different perspectives. And if we are willing to do this – if we are willing to acknowledge their world, – we will set them free. And in doing so, we will be able to leverage their digital lifestyle and help them become better, more engaged, more independent learners.

Ask yourself this very important question – would your students be there in your classrooms if they didn’t have to be? Are they there because they want to be there? Or are they there because they have no other choice? And if they’re there only because they have to, what can we begin to do differently to help more students want to be in our classes?

If we want to unfold the full intellectual and creative genius of all of our children more of the time. If we want to prepare our children for the world that awaits them. If we want to help them prepare for their future, not our past – for their future, not our comfort zone. If we are going to march through the 21st Century and maintain our tradition of success. If we want our children to have the relevant 21st century skills – we must create a bridge between their world and ours because the way we define our schools today, the way we define teaching and learning and assessment, will define our societies tomorrow”

Consider this…

“If we truly want to make a difference in the lives of our children, schools must become a place where students are actively engaged in constructing their own knowledge and know how, develop an understanding and the ability to apply key content concepts and ideas, explore dynamically, discover, pose questions and question answers, solve problems, engage in complex tasks that enable them to address essential questions and participate in the processes that make up intellectual accomplishment, tasks that are generally inquiry driven, span different media, link different disciplines, have more than one right answer, multiple routes to each of these answers, an understandable purpose and a connection to the real world outside school.

The context of a significant event provides a frame of reference and relevance for remembering the specific information about what you were doing long after the event. By providing a context for the new information teachers are actually helping students with long-term memory. The power of context to assist with learning is worthy of note for teachers who are struggling to prepare students for large standardized tests. By providing a context for the information teachers are actually helping students learn the material so their short-term recall will be better when they write the test as well as with long-term recall. The starting point is to understand how much differently they learn from the way we learn and then to reconsider what we can do to modify what we teach and how we teach it and how we assess learning.”

Next, what have we been doing and how do we change…

Gap

Now…

“I’m going to stop right here for a moment to stress this point. It’s absolutely essential that we understand that Digital Natives come to school able to do and understand so many complex things. But if you REALLY talk to them, they will tell you that the curriculum they are given feels to them like they are being put in a strait jacket; or that their mind is being laced with powerful sedatives – and that every time they go to school they have to mentally power down.

The sad truth is that many educators just don’t understand how truly different digital natives are. They’re not just a little different they’re completely different and as far as I’m concerned the major problem is that today’s learners.

Today’s learners – Digital Natives – are not the learners our schools were originally designed for – and today’s learners are not the students teachers were trained to teach – this is a clash of the cultures. As Bill Gates once said, even when schools work exactly as they were designed, that can’t teach our kids everything they need to know.

And if we continue to do things that we already know aren’t working, we really have to consider just who really has the learning problem – and it certainly isn’t the kids.

Consider for a moment that that 50% of the world’s population is under the age of 25 years old – then consider what % of teachers are under 25 or what percentage of people in this room are under 25? And because we don’t get it, a lot of kids think they have to slow down when they’re dealing with us.

The bottom line is, that if we want understanding, if we want retention, if we want success on state and national exams, if we want to address and exceed the mandates state, provincial or national curriculum, if we want children to demonstrate proficiency beyond content recall, we can’t just lecture at them.”

Furthermore…

“LOTS vs. HOTS”

“The emphasis in the classroom can’t just be on simple data information recall, low level thinking skills, and lots of information – what we call LOTS (lower order thinking skills and LOTS of information).

If we want our children to be successful on the test, if we want them to be successful in life – if we want them to be successful in life beyond being able to successfully complete a written exam or fill in a bubble test – if we want them to graduate as more than just highly educated useless people – people who are good at school but not adequately prepared for life – then our emphasis as professional educators has to be on more than just LOTS.

It has to include more emphasis placed upon HOTS, higher order thinking skills and processes, on Bloom’s Taxonomy of Higher Order Thinking, on critical thinking, problem solving, project and process based learning, Gardner’s analysis of multiple intelligences, de Bono, 21st Century literacies that move beyond theory to the application of what is learned, metacognitive skills, and application of best practices based on an emerging understanding about how learning actually takes place.

This shift is so fundamental – the gap between them and us is so wide – that there’s no going back to the basics. There’s no going back to the way things were when we were kids.

The problem is that many educators just don’t get that there is a digital divide. Many of us pay lip service to the notion that this generation is different. We knowingly nod our heads but then we shut the door to the classroom and go back to business as usual where it could just as easily be 1960 all over again.

We really don’t understand their digital world and we never will until we take the time to honor and respect where they come from. But to honor their world and to create new schools and new opportunities for learners.

But to do this, we the adults need to have a 21st century cultural awareness. And we need to know and be able to use the very 21st century skills that we talk about our students having. In reality, most teachers know very little if anything about the digital world of their students – from online gaming to their means of exchanging, sharing, meeting, evaluating, coordinating, programming, searching, customizing, and socializing.

As a result, despite our best efforts and intentions, it’s often impossible for us to design learning in the ways our students need and want – learning that will engage and inspire them.

Most teachers know very little if anything about the digital world of their students – from online gaming to their means of exchanging, sharing, meeting, evaluating, coordinating, programming, searching, customizing, and socializing.

As Daniel Pink writes in A Whole New Mind: Moving From the Information Age to the Conceptual Age by Daniel Pink, there is an emerging world where critical thinking, problem solving, and a deep level of information fluency is increasingly more important than content recall by itself.

Research tells us that people who grow up in different cultures don’t just think about different things, they actually think differently. As educators we have to understand how truly different our students are. In the past most of the changes we experienced were about style.

As we grew up, we saw incremental changes in clothing, language use, body adornments, music, and lifestyle. But for anyone 25 and younger, the changes and differences go far deeper than just style and they are largely driven, by the arrival & rapid dissemination of digital technology in the last decades of the 20th century.

The bottom line is that we really don’t understand their digital world and we never will until we take the time to honor and respect where they come from. But to do this we have to be willing to acknowledge their world and start to educate ourselves about that world.”

Dale’s Learning Cone…

Dale Cone

I know I have shared more information than I probably should in a single post, but these are fundamental, life changing, insights into what needs to be done in education. Ian repeatedly referred to “lip service” and unfortunately he is right. All talk and maybe a little action for a little while until it all fades into the sunset. The time is now, to do!

Read all of Ian Jukes article at:

http://web.mac.com/iajukes/thecommittedsardine/Handouts_files/ndl.pdf

We have reached the final day of T+L. I look forward to listening to Ian Jukes this morning. It has been a good conference, and I feel that our district has been validated in what we are trying to accomplish at this stage in our goal to integrate technology. There is much to be done, but opportunities like attending T+L provide ideas and resources to assist in the process. Notes from much of yesterday exist at my PBWiki. Enjoy!

UPDATE: Ian Jukes Keynote handout

Click to access ndl.pdf

Had a good day at the T+L Conference.  Started off the morning with Will Richardson who is always good.  It’s about change, and actually doing it in our schools.  The keynote was well done, and my notes of these two “sessions” are at my wiki.

The wireless connection at the conference leaves something to be desired.  The conference overall is very commercial, but that is T+L.  We have  had  a chance to see the vendor floor and mostly followed up on current technology that we currently use and are planning on adding to.  Also, had the pleasure of meeting up with my former colleagues from my district in Wyoming.  It was  good to see them all and especially to visit with my former technology director Gary Hancock at Lincoln County School District #2.

Some of us attended a Moodle session, and we plan to fire  this up when we get back to the district.  Brian and I have visited about this for awhile and now we will use it to provide professional development in our initial deployment.  It will be good.

Gaylord Hotel We arrived in Nashville this evening and at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel around 7:30 pm. What a wonderful atmosphere this place has. I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s sessions and events here at the T+L Conference, and I plan to take notes at my PBWiki for a start. I’m unsure what our wireless availability will be, but if you are following along you will soon see.

I have traveled with 9 other staff members from my school district, and it will be nice to share this experience with them and to have some meaningful conversations about what we need to do to better serve the students in our district when it comes to technology and learning. Our beginning of the year technology survey showed a majority of people at the exploration stage in integrating technology in the classroom, and we definitely need to facilitate moving to the integration stage and at a routine level. I’m sure we will get several ideas and find some good resources to assist each of us in that effort. Stay tuned!

T+L Conference 2007

Posted: October 15, 2007 in T+L Conference
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See you at the T+L Conference in Nashville, Tennessee!  I shall report from the floor of the conference as I am able, and will do my best to let ya’all know what I am learning!  😉

A Vision of Students Today

Information R/evolution

T+L Conference On Tuesday I will have the opportunity to travel with several colleagues to the T+L Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. I plan to report my travels via my usual wiki approach (Probably my PBWiki), but I am hoping to try twittering a bit or joining in on another approach that anyone may be considering.

If you have something in mind please let me know as I would enjoy collaborating and developing a conversation of what is shared at the conference. Also, if you happen to be attending this conference I would love to meet you! I look forward to gaining new knowledge and sharing the great things that are happening in our district.

Future Bloggers

Posted: October 11, 2007 in blog
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I am sitting with some future bloggers…here we go!!!  They are now bloggers!!!

If you frequent this blog please let me know who you are via the comments section of this post! Subscribe to this blog via RSS if you haven’t already!!! Thanks for stopping by, and I appreciate you all! I only wish I knew you better! 🙂

Whatever it Takes This morning I had the opportunity to join my new professional learning community group made up of some of the administrators in our district. We chose to study the book “Whatever it Takes: How Professional Learning Communities Respond When Kids Don’t Learn” by Rebecca DuFour, Robert Eaker, Gayle Karhanek, and, Richard Dufour over the course of the school year. We discussed several issues we face in our leadership positions and best of all shared exciting things that are happening in our professional lives. It was a refreshing and uplifting meeting for me, and I appreciated the setting and especially the people that I will continue to share with.

Later in the day I had another iPod mini-class that went very well, and I feel the seeds are growing bit by bit here in my new district. There are so many people to reach, and I know it is important to continue to help build a network of learners that embrace technology and look for ways to integrate it into their curriculum.

As of late, there has been discussion of not merely integrating technology but rather embedding the technology in the learning process. Read Jeff Utecht’s post (see preceding link) and the thoughts of those that have chimed in to discuss this idea. I think it ties into the subheading of my blog: How to seamlessly integrate technology in the classroom. Oops! There’s that word integrate again! 😉

As a side note, here is a humorous video clip from Late Night with Conan O’Brien on BG (Before Google), or has Google always been around!?!