Top 100?

I got an email today passing on “The Top 100 Tools for Learning 2009” list. I know I should have left when some people chose Animoto as their number one choice but I didn’t. I wanted to see what the compiled list from 278 people looked like1. In order to look at it in a more interactive way, threw the data into Exhibit. It’s interesting to click around and see the data grouped in different ways. Mostly it makes me think that asking for a top 10 is about 5 items too many. I also wonder a good bit about what people think of when they list “tools for learning.” Photoshop made it to #35 this year. 1 There are a number of problems I have with the way the whole collection of items works but we’ll ignore that for now.

Sharing Ed. Content In Ways That Don’t Suck

I work in a decent sized school system. We have 69 schools and about 50,000 students. That means we have a lot of teachers, a lot of teachers teaching the same content, a lot of teachers struggling with the same problems, a lot of teachers re-doing work that’s already been done. At a district level we spend untold hours and untold amounts of money trying to provide support for teachers and trying to promote best practice. We have teachers who exemplify the concepts we’re trying to share but they are, too often, unknown outside their school, or their grade, or their subject, or their classroom. So our current goal is to end anonymity, to effectively publicize best practice on a global level. One of the ways that we’d like that to happen is through online content distribution and building conversation around that content. The ability to put multimedia content online is nothing new. What has changed is the facility with which it can be done and the ability to easily have conversations1 around very specific pieces of media. Changing the concept It’s important to look at how educational content sharing has failed in the past and present if you’re going to try to get it right. I looked at as many different online sharing options as I could find.2 I’ve […]

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Progress on 21st century skills?

I’ve got to deliver a 15 minute presentation tomorrow on what we’re doing in good ol’ HCPS with regard to 21st century skills1. The audience is high level people from other local school districts. My goal is to let them see where we made some errors and hope they’ll then be able to avoid them. In a perfect world, I might also inspire them to try similar projects in the future with the goal of sharing both resources and expertise. Vision Step one, will be to discuss how we’ve tried to set a vision for what a 21st century classroom looks like. That’ll basically cover the evolution of the TIPc chart which I’ve already done here. The focus will be on the movement towards simplicity, student focus etc. I also intend to bring up the effectiveness of the TPCK model in having this discussion with teachers and administrators. It really seems to clarify things. It’ll also be worth noting that this is now our mission statement. Henrico County Public Schools, in partnership with the community, will inspire, empower, and educate every student to be prepared for success in the 21st century. There are some interesting things you can read into that if you want to. Sharing Step two, will cover how we’ve tried to share best practice and lessons. In […]

Misplaced

We build a lot of great “doors” in education and then wonder why no one uses them.

Harken, ye anti-texting dogs

I Profe{|s|s}e to teach thee, that art vtterly ignorant, to reade perfe{ct}ly, to write truly, and with iudgement to vnder¬≠ {|st}and the rea|son of our Engli{|sh} tongue with great expedition, ea|se , and plea¬≠|sure. from the English School Maister Clearly Langvich, like Arithmeticke, doth naught chan-geth. Language is your servant. Language is not your master. Too many people seem to think language is in charge. English is the bastard child of any number of languages and times. What we have now is a confusing, ever shifting and evolving, mess. One squiggly line means the number two and three other line arrangements represents the word for the number 2. We have three words pronounced too but meaning three different things. On the other hand, we have the word lead which is spelled the same but pronounced differently and with an entirely different meaning determined only by context. We just accept that. Words also change in meaning and spelling over time, right? If enough people say a word means something for long enough, no matter the word’s original meaning, that becomes what the word means. It’s kind of like evolution mixed with democracy. I’ve actually listened to teachers brag that they never abbreviate when texting and that they used full and complete punctuation. That pretty much says to me, “The arbitrary ‘rules’ […]

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Some Improvement

Here’s the revised video for our 21st Century push. Improved 21st Century Plea from Tom Woodward on Vimeo. Old Version Another 21st Century Plea from Tom Woodward on Vimeo. I find video work to be incredibly time consuming and difficult to do right. After I watch something 1000 times, it’s gets far harder to be objective and not let my mind fill in gaps. I’ll have to figure out a trick similar to reading an essay aloud that will give me fresh eyes. Until then, I’ve found getting other people to watch the video and give me feedback to be invaluable. This minor clip still has many ways it can be improved but it has improved thanks to the comments offered by people on this site. Thanks for that. There is now one continuous track in the background that helps unite the disparate clips and improve the mood of the piece. The tricky part about that was trying to lay that track down behind clips where people were speaking and the clips themselves had background music. I tried removing it the original background music in a variety of ways using Soundtrack and Logic but had no real luck. I did, however, get really good at making Ken Kay sound like a robot. Another issue that was hard to deal with […]

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Little Boxes All The Same

And they’re all made out of ticky tacky And they all look just the same. And the people in the houses All went to the university, Where they were put in boxes And they came out all the same, And there’s doctors and lawyers, And business executives, And they’re all made out of ticky tacky And they all look just the same. Organized education as a whole seems to have become about narrowing things down, putting each person in as small a box as possible. From grades to subjects to majors, the focus is on narrowing and limiting. Somehow the idea that all students should know the same things and be exposed to the same experiences has become seen as a good idea. It’s become synonymous with the idea of equality in education. I’m saying that education ought not be equal, it ought to be individualized. Education ought to help people find their paths, find, focus and hone their own innate talents and interests. I’m not laying all of this responsibility at education’s feet but we have students for 12 or 16 years. 12-16 years. Surely we can do a better job helping students figure out who they are and how they might fit into the world. School shouldn’t be an extended test to see how long you’re willing to […]

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Another Change or Die Education Video

Another 21st Century Plea from Tom Woodward on Vimeo. I have mixed feelings about making this1. It has reached the level of mediocrity. Comments regarding ways to improve it are welcome2. This has inspired me to get moving on the mock change education video I’ve been planning for a while. I’ll detail how it’ll be used in a later post. 1 Although, it was required for work. 2 Curses and insults are understood.

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Planning Conference

Planning Conference from Tom Woodward on Vimeo. This is how we are trying to run our pre-observation planning conferences. It’s worth thinking about how you structure this whole process if you want useful observations and resultant teaching improvement.

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Observation Video – Elementary Math

Elementary Math Classroom Observation from Tom Woodward on Vimeo. This is a fairly straight forward classroom observation video aimed at helping teach our admins about gathering data. The focus of this particular video was engagement. I’ll be posting the pre-observation interview later. This is part of our revamped professional growth process. It’s pretty interesting if you’re into that kind of stuff. If you are that kind of person, there’s a lot more information about what we’re doing here.