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Archive for October, 2007

Recently on twitter Konrad Glogowski posted this – When kids don’t do well we often think of what they must do to conform … not of what we’re not doing for them. Students are blamed for not wanting to learn, not caring about school, being lazy, these are the reasons they are not successful. I agree with Stephanie Sandifer, we must begin to look at our classroom practices, and begin conversations on how we can change those practices in order to help all students be successful and engaged in their education. Teaching the way we were taught is not acceptable, it just doesn’t get the job done today. I love what I do, I love being in the classroom with students working with them using whatever possible to engage them, trying all the time to help them find relevance in their learning, develop a love of learning. My own children are “grown up”, one has a master’s degree and is an elementary guidance counselor, the other a college senior. I look back at their education, especially high school, and while they received a good education, it could have been more. Maybe some of my thinking is shaped as a result of what I perceived they missed.
Most students move through school, graduate, go on to higher education, vocational school, or enter a trade. But for some the system fails and it is a life altering failure. Our son’s best friend dropped out of high school at the end of their 10th grade year.
cobblestone.jpgHe failed his 10th grade year, he was one of those students who was labeled as lazy, one who did not care about school. He didn’t fail because he could not do the work, he failed because the work did not interest him. He was not engaged in his learning, did not see the purpose between what was being lectured to him and the world he lived in. He left school with parental permission to work in his family’s business, a business today that is no longer viable. At the age of 22 his future is uncertain, and he feels as though his options are limited. He spends a great deal of time with us, we consider him our third child, and I can tell you it is heartbreaking to see a young man whom you love, just getting by. He is at a time in his life when he should feel the world holds endless possibilities for his future, instead he feels he has few options. I think of him everyday when I am in the classroom working with students, hoping in some small way I can make a difference in the life of a child, hoping I can help one child avoid a future that is not filled with promise. I hear people everyday talk of students who are lazy, students who cannot learn, but I never hear anyone speak of what needs to change in their classroom practice to bridge the gap for those students who may not be the most interested in school. We all have to be reflective in our practice, when students fail we must look at what we have the ability to change, so it doesn’t happen again.

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ss07.jpgWednesday evening was the final night of the Social Software for the Classroom which Darren Draper and I facilitated together. I want to thank all who participated, it was a wonderful experience for me and I learned a great deal from everyone, especially Darren. We used tools new to all of us, tried a new concept in professional development as well testing the notion of providing a place for anyone who wanted to learn about web 2.0 tools to come together from around the world to learn, share and collaborate.

I also want to express my gratitude to Darren for being willing to take that leap in asking anyone reading his blog to share in the teaching and participate with him in an open professional development session. I learned a great deal from him and with him; he is a wonderful example of one who truly does believe in collaboration. He has written a great post on his blog about our last session, please follow the link and take a look. We have plans to hold another class during the winter; we will let you know when we have the dates set.

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Recently there has been a series of rapid fire introductions to new tools ustream.tv,
operator 11, google presentations all propelled to the forefront through the invisible connections of twitter and other social networking sites many are connected to as part of their learning communities. I have to say at times I feel overwhelmed with all of the discoveries passed on, trying to find the time to look, explore, evaluate, and understand the potential either for classroom use or as a suggestion for use in someone’s own professional development. I have to be cautious of what I pass along, classroom teachers may be likely to try one new thing in a year’s time so I can’t throw too many things at them and hope something sticks. I have to have a clear understanding of how the tools are being used by others in education, have examples to share and talk about. In all of the commotion of new tools I also have to deal with whether these new tools are accessible in my district. Not all are, filtering seems to work differently everywhere. I have to be mindful in this area as well, when something is blocked I have to try to figure out why, and before I ask to have anything unblocked I must try think through my reasons to ask for the filter to be lifted and the ramifications of having the 11668682_f9af877357_m.jpgstatus changed. At times I feel as though I am on a never ending road that twists and turns and sometimes I just wish for a flat stretch to get my own bearings before thinking about sharing one more new tool that has appeared and captured someone’s eye.

Update: How does anyone else do this, how do you decide what has merit to introduce as tools you feel has value, what process do you go through? I am looking for help, suggestions, models to follow, you see in my district I do not have anyone else to bounce these ideas off of and feel at times at a loss for what direction to take. Thanks for your help!

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The morning started off with David Warlick’s keynote from the K-12 Online Conference at 8:00AM EDT. The time spent today on my own professional development, while sitting at my desk, in my office was quite amazing. Not only the technology that made it all possible, but also the shear number of people participating in the conversations surrounding the keynote, all of us connected by invisible threads through our social networks. People who have never met face to face, yet interact as if old friends through blogs, twitter, edubloggerworld, classroom2.0 just to name a few. To many of us the content of the keynote is not new, things we have all been talking about and struggling with in terms of what has to change in the educational system to reach our students, to prepare them for their future which we cannot predict. For me the presentation was somewhat disjointed, I understand what he was trying to show but all the moving from one place to another did not add anything for me.

Today David spoke of how the walls in education are coming down, with the use of the available technologies, the building of networks for student use as well as our own. Our children have to be able to participate in world connected through online networks, communities, something they already do well on their own time and something we as educators need to bring into our classrooms. Our children understand how to remain connected through their conversations, it is who they are, how they interact, what they have grown up with. David said we must change our teaching strategies to reach our students as the people they are, rather than the people we want them to be. How we teach, how we learn, the way we live is and has changed, schools must change as well if we believe we are preparing students for life. I still find so much resistance to change the way information is presented to students, to use new tools in the classroom, for adults to want to learn how to use the tools through which our children are engaged. Here are three things mentioned in the keynote this morning, we should be aware of them each day and find a way to incorporate them into our teaching and learning.

  • Students are information savvy, but not tech savvy, they don’t know how to work the information they have and find. There is energy in their confidence we need to harness the energy and allow them to share information, form communities and give them a place to safely make mistakes.
  • There is a new information landscape and it is participatory, it connects, it flows. We must learn to participate, to create experiences with and for our students
  • The future is unpredictable one we cannot describe, the best thing we can do today is teach our children, our students how to teach themselves, to learn, unlearn and relearn.

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