Sunday, March 16, 2008

Who says?

I know that it seems to be common knowledge that state-mandated curricula and assessments mean we can't really teach the thinks we all believe are important -- like critical thinking and communication (thanks Alan November whom I got to hear at TechExpo 2008).

Here's someone (else) who is willing to question common knowledge. Check it out. It is great.

Sunday, March 9, 2008


Geekymomma had a recent post about 21st century learners which was definitely worth reading.

Here's part of what she said:
The difficult part is where teachers have to come out of their comfort zones. I've taught a few classes for some local college "education technology" classes and the instructors usually ask me to teach their students about the "stuff" we have and how to use it. I'm often invited to schools to speak to faculties and mostly they want me to demonstrate some of the "stuff" we offer in our district and how to use it. So, through no fault of their own, even the instructors and the adminstrators don't always "get" that if we can teach people to think differently and to teach their students SKILLS (duh!) and use some cool tools at the same time, then there will be some terrific success. BUT WE DON'T START WITH THE TOOLS! (Do you pick up a hammer and ask yourself what you can build today?)
Here's part of my response on her blog:
I use a lot of technology in my middle school (7th and 8th grade) life science classroom. My students have used a classblog, a wiki, GoogleDocs, created podcasts, created Flash animations, etc.

All of it (all of it) has been incredibly useful and productive, for both my students and I.

I have come to believe that engagement is the issue (just like in the video) and not the technology.

Unfortunately, the cottage industry of technology tool providers would have us believe otherwise, in the archetypal "silver bullet" for education.

I so want those of us using technology to beat the drum for engagement, engagement, engagement.

I would also like to see the next, natural outcome, which is student ownership of their own learning and for the learning environment as well.

Her post also featured this video, which was very cool.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Two Million Minutes

Here is the trailer for a film called "Two Million Minutes."

From the makers:
Regardless of nationality, as soon as a student completes the eighth grade -- they have just Two Million Minutes to prepare for college and ultimately a career.

This important documentary examines how students in India and China are being better prepared than American students to compete in a flattening world.

People Power

An ongoing question for me continues to be: "What happens when people are given a voice?"

I ask it often of myself about my students in a middle school science classroom. But the power of the internet to allow for easy, free collaboration and networking takes the question to an entirely new level.

This week, NPR's series On the Media interviews Clay Shirky, who has just published a book called Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations. The interview was (for me at least) a discussion about the question I have been asking myself.

You can listen to the interview in the player below. You can also go to the On the Media website for a transcript. According to the site, the transcript will be available as of the afternoon of Monday, March 3rd.