I listened to Net@Nite today. They interviewed Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia and it was pretty interesting but had nothing to do with education. That did not stop me from applying some of these quotes directly to what we do. “This idea of- it’s not really about the software, it’s about the people. It’s about helping people find resolutions to problems and being supportive and loving and at the same time being firm with people who are trying to disrupt things. That’s really what it’s all about.” – Jimmy Wales “Ask anyone who’s every tried this. This is a very difficult balance to strike.”- Leo Laporte Leo’s preaching to the choir here. That line is very hard to walk and it sounds an awful lot like good classroom management- but with voluntary students. I always wondered would my students stay if they didn’t have to. Did I make their experience that good? Sometimes I did. I know I also failed at times and that’s where the next quote came in- “A long term project of learning, experimenting, you know trying things.” – Jimmy Wales To me that’s teaching. A long term project of learning, experimenting and trying things. If you aren’t changing and experimenting and learning right along with your students something is wrong. Several of my disaster lessons led to […]
I’m watching the Grammys and was moved to tears by Ludacris and Mary J’s performance of Runaway Love. It was about the hard life for girls in the ghetto. There was so much truth in the lyrics. I see it in my classroom. Their performance was followed immediately by James Blunt singing You’re Beautiful. Blunt’s ballad about a girl he sees once and immediately falls in love with is pure romantic fantasy. I could see nothing but two very different worlds in these songs. Placed back to back, they flooded my head with the faces of my students. These two worlds collide in my classroom everyday. We sit on a fault line where some students take a week for vacationing while others take a week for fighting. The dynamic is both exhilarating and exhausting. This week I was found by a former student. She is 25 and thinking about a life of teaching. She wanted to know the truth, so I told her about the planning. The days where I never see the sun. The inspirational speeches. The glimmering eyes. The students failing because of their homes–not their heads. The rigged-up, shower curtain projection screen. The conversations about which foreign language to take or what it means to be a real man. The first time they laugh at my stupid […]
Jim’s finally found a home for his kind of organization I am a swine. I can say this because my mother regularly told me I was “living in a pig sty.” I have struggled to reform myself. Dayrunner (in the bottom of a dusty box). Elaborate Note-Taking Systems (codes never seemed intuitive enough to stick). A Handspring (I think I left it in a library–we never met again). My biggest victory in my (I kid you not) 15-year quest to feel some sense of organization in my life is a Moleskin. A year ago I forced myself to start carrying one everwhere. It has been a blessing. When I came across a post about hacking a moleskin, I was intrigued. This was my ingress into Getting Things Done (GTD), an organization system created by David Allen. I followed the rabbit and discovered KinklessGTD and The HipsterPDA. Kinkless is intriguing, but that fact that I don’t carry a PDA around would mean trying to compensate with my phone or other awkward hacks. Having already established my moleskin routine, the hipster seemed the more logical choice. I considered DIY Planner’s 3.0 Edition as a mod, but there were so many cards that didn’t fit my life as teacher, technophile, and truthseeker. I became frustrated and did what we all do in our […]
Mr. Guhlin asked “How have laptop programs helped?” and the responses depressed me. Maybe, I’m over analyzing but quote like “Imagine anything one could do on an overhead projector. You can do the same on a tablet if you have an LCD.” brought me close to tears. Clearly, replacing an overhead and pen with several thousands of dollars worth of equipment to do “the same” is not a cost efficient trade. Other quotes that made me wince: my laptop/tablet has replaced a paper notebook during meetings. Have students do grammar exercises. Math teachers do the same. Not exactly what you’d want to hear if you’re paying for those laptops. Now, I also realize these are quick reports but I don’t see anything in there about students doing anything they couldn’t do with paper for far less money.Â The whole point of a 1:1 is to get students producing with laptops and to have no comment on that worries me. Don’t get me wrong- I’m for 1:1 initiatives and that’s why I’m concerned. I work in a district going on the 6th year of a 1:1 initiative and I worry that some teachers might give similar “proof” that our program is working. So here’s how our 1:1 has helped students in our school- everyone now has a computer no matter their […]
I wrote a post about Swivel the other day (a really interesting data sharing/graphing site) at about 11:40 at night. By the next morning I had two comments from the co-founders (Mr. Dimov and Mr. Mulloy). To me this demonstrates how the world has fundamentally changed. It really is about conversation and the people who take the time and have the skill to communicate are going to succeed. These are the skills our students will need. I have to feel that Swivel will do very well. These guys get it.
Clarence Fisher of Remote Access has been kind enough to work through some thoughts on creating a classroom studio on his blog. I find his insights and questions helpful as I try to more fully realize my goal of making my classroom more construtivist and less legalistic. I can’t help but pine for what he is attempting as I look ahead toward two major standardized assessments this year. While I wish for more freedom to give my students space to explore their interests and see the power of language, my time is being chipped away to make standard-based assessments, test and quizzes that mirror the state assessments, and lessons that teach a narrow set of concepts that every eighth grade student must have minimal mastery (lord, is that an oxymoron or what?!). Sometimes I feel like Moses as I look at all the amazing potential technology has to frame real learning (skills and desire as opposed to lists of concepts, etc.). Moses asked god to let him see the promise land even though he knew he would never step foot in it. I look at the “put out the fire” mentality of education today and get impatient and frustrated. A quick pedagogical revolution (another oxymoron) could unleash a time of learning not seen since The Enlightenment, yet I sit on […]
Six and a half hours a day. Nine months a year. Thirteen years. March, children, march. Take your diploma and drive thru. This is, as Jim Grant puts it, the American Lock-Step, Time-Bound, Grade School Structure. Do you have any idea where this model for education comes from in our history? The Kingdom of Prussia in the 18th Century. The king was having trouble with Lutheran aristocrats and decided to implement a compulsory education system that would indoctrinate his people to ensure the kingâ€™s place in Prussia. Horace Mann, Massachusetts representative and education reformer, was looking for a common system of schooling and turned his eye to Prussia. This lock-step method of educating was revolutionary at the time. It followed the mighty and holy Henry Ford in its assembly-line structure. The still very present agrarian society was respected within the structure. The majority of schools in America were still private institutions and unorganized before Mann put the lock-step system into place in the 1840s. Mann also organized teacher conferences and delivered lectures and addresses advocating reformation of the education system. Horace Mann was an educational revolutionary and should be respected for his attempt to provide consistent education to all learners in his state. We no longer live in an agrarian or industrial society. Our commodity is information these days. We […]