Sunday, October 24, 2010

UPDATE: Is Anybody Asking The Kids?

A few weeks ago, I blogged about all of the discussion around what’s wrong with education today and the passion with which everyone is talking about it. I wondered if anyone was asking the students what they thought about the state of things.

So I asked kids, through a Google survey, what they thought of the state of things. I asked the following questions:
  1. What is working in education right now?
  2. If you could make only ONE change at school right now, what would you change?
  3. What else would you like to see change at school?
  4. Where do you go to school?
  5. How do you like to learn?

Here are a sampling of some of their responses (paraphrased):
  • Many students talked about liking hands-on opportunities
  • They liked learning with peers in groups or in pairs
  • Less violence – bullying addressed
  • Like using technology and see it as something that is working in education
  • One student wrote that they want to feel safe and be able to trust their teachers
  • One student wrote that he would like for someone to ask him about his opinion…
  • I think the technology helps a lot in schools, and having the teachers know how to work them instead of wasting the whole period fumbling around trying to understand the technology.
  • Clubs for different subjects to extend the learning for interested students
  • I personally like teachers that don't stop or rest until you understand and can do it over and over again correctly.
  • I would change some of the classes students have to take, like health, I took it in 7th grade, and now in 8th grade, I think if you all ready took the class, you shouldn't have to take it again, I know all this stuff from 7th grade, why should I have to learn it again?
  • I would change school hours. I would extend the hours by at least 1 or 2 hours long so that we could really pass the End of Grade tests because I think that if we have more time in the classes then more people would understand things to the point were you'll know it...
  • Less Lectures!

I included both generalizations combining several like responses, as well as some singular responses that I thought were significant. There were 80+ responses, and you can see the actual data HERE.

In general, I thought the responses had a positive tone, that things aren’t, perhaps, as broken as the media is making them sound. This was not a scientific survey, nor was the sample of respondents that broad, but I do like that students actually participated, and were honest about what they think.

I think there are a few illuminating discoveries here, though; inferences I’m making from what the students said:
  • Students want to be valued for their experiences and be voices in curricular decisions.
  • Students want to go beyond a comprehension level of knowledge. They want to know their content on a deep level.
  • Students want bullying/school violence to be addressed. (I work in a lot of schools that have programs in place or plan singular anti-bullying events. What is the outcome of these programs? How do they know / provide evidence for whether or not the program is working and/or valued by the students? Do students have a voice in the program design, implementation, and/or reflection?)
  • Students want someone who really cares about them and their learning. It reminds me of a book I read years ago called Inviting School Success by William Purkey. There are a myriad of other books on inviting behaviors and personal relationship building, but I like the simple and overarching message in Purkey’s book: Trust and Respect, the foundations of invitational theory, are at the root of promoting successful classroom practices. (I included a link to the book, knowing the price is steep, but used copies are inexpensive.)

I think more emphasis needs to be placed on the students’ voices in all this talk of school improvement and reform. I also think we need to differentiate the conversation based on populations of kids in our actual schools rather than trying to set national goals that only a fraction of our schools can realistically reach. We need to consider the improvement of teachers and not put our energies into ridiculous measures and evaluations that don’t paint an accurate picture of teacher performance.

We need to listen to the kids. They are the reason we do what we do. Don’t they deserve to be heard as loudly as the adults who think they know what’s best? There’s an old Hebrew proverb that fits here, based on an image I saw created for the “Great Quotes” FlickR group that says, “Do not confine your children to your own learning, for they were born in another time.”

Another important message here should be what we can collectively do to start enhancing our professional practice, leaving the traditional behind, and really start preparing these kids for a world where they will be expected to collaborate and communicate on a global scale, as well as think critically and creatively to solve problems that we don’t even know are problems yet. Worksheets and lectures aren’t going to prepare them, but those that depend on them can’t be dismissed--we need to build capacity around what works, be collaborative as professionals, and share the journey that is going to have the biggest impact on student achievement and real 21st Century preparation!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Champions of Ubiquity Resources...

Today I participated in the Lancaster Education Technology Conference in Lancaster, New York. I did sessions on being a "Champion of Ubiquity" and the "Digigogical Matrices." My resources are collected here in a LiveBinder!

Thanks to Heidi Chaves and the Lancaster School District for inviting me!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

New Web Stuff 10/20/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Digigogy Magazine, Issuu #3

Tonight I had the great pleasure of working with Pre-Service Science Teachers at a local university. They were introduced to several web tools and asked to consider how they could be used instructionally. They collaboratively created the 3rd ISSUU of Digigogy Magazine with an overview of the web tool they investigated and how they collectively thought it could be used for instructional purposes.

Thanks, future teachers! I hope you had fun exploring and sharing!


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Nice, Nice, Baby (LiveBinders)

Tomorrow night at 7:00 PM Eastern, the good people at (Tina and Barbara!) are graciously allowing me to talk with them about how I use their service and my thoughts on 21st Century Learning and Teaching. CLICK HERE FOR INFORMATION ABOUT THE PODCAST.

In this last week, leading up to tomorrow's chat, several people have asked about different ways to use LiveBinders, and rather than write my typical blog post, I thought I would do something a little more creative. Thus, please find below my take on using LiveBinders, but in a more lyrical format. I used to rewrite lyrics with my students to help them remember the content I was teaching, so I thought it would be fun to do that for the readers of my blog and in preparation for tomorrow night's podcast.

I dare you not to hum the song and try to rap it out yourself! (My wife has already been making fun of me for doing just that...)

All in good fun--Enjoy! And tune in tomorrow night--though I am ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that I will NOT be rapping this LIVE!

Nice, Nice, Baby (LiveBinder’s)
(A parody of "Ice, Ice, Baby")

Alright stop, collaborate and listen
LiveBinders-the perfect invention
Something grabs my attention on the net
Need to save it easily, yes, you bet.
Create a Binder and stash that link
Coordinate the pages so my stuff’s in sync
To the extreme, I rock the net like Al Gore
Light up the binder, saving objects galore

Creating the binder for a singular purpose
Enhancing your brain for powerful discussion
Use it, for portfolio assessment
Or to group like items that you teach, your content
Love it, and use it, LiveBinders is the way
To visualize the websites that you save
If you want an upgrade, yo, it’s right here
Check out the site that’s on the frontier!

Nice, Nice, Baby (LiveBinder’s--)
Nice, Nice, Baby (LiveBinder’s--)
Nice, Nice, Baby (Live Binder’s--)
Nice, Nice, Baby

Now that the Binder’s created,
With websites kicked in it’s ready to be upgraded
Add a picture with some text articulation
Upload a file into your innovation
Burn it up! You’re an expert collector,
Share it with a colleague, see if they concur
Add some media from Youtube or FlickR,
Change up the colors, to make it more slicker

Functional, cool, for your task and vision
Teaching and learning with exact precision
Bringing together—the best of your web
Personalized experiences like you’re a celeb
Take heed, of this sometime poet
LiveBinders is the tool you need, and you know it.
If you want an upgrade, yo, it’s right here
Check out the site that’s on the frontier!

Nice, Nice, Baby (LiveBinder’s--)
Nice, Nice, Baby (LiveBinder’s--)
Nice, Nice, Baby (Live Binder’s--)
Nice, Nice, Baby
(Too Cool, Too Cool)

New Web Stuff 10/07/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Friday, October 1, 2010

New Web Stuff 10/02/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.