Thursday, July 28, 2011
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
But now there’s an all new At-Risk student--and many teachers and schools are comfortable with that student NOT succeeding. That new and improved At-Risk student is represented in classrooms around the country, and some schools have entire populations that represent the faces of the new At-Risk kid. There are issues of tradition, conformity, and pure bull-headedness that have thrown up a major roadblock to the success of the new At-Risk student, but something has to give. Something has to give now.
I’m talking about the 21st Century kid. I’m talking about the students who live and play and learn and interact in a 21st Century world. Except when they are in school. In fact, school is starting to become the primary place where learning is blocked instead of engaged because of misinformed or misguided attempts at protecting students from inappropriate materials. Districts have a responsibility to protect kids, I understand that, but they should not be setting themselves up as a primary factor for real-world failure.
I recently posted a provocation on Facebook about the possibility that museums may soon be the only place to see a physical book. The adults that I interact with had a big problem with the statement and firmly held to their opinions that a) books weren’t going anywhere, b) holding a physical book is part of the love of reading, c) classics are classics for a reason, and not a construct of the adults that value them, and d) I must be mad to say such things. That said, former students of mine and young people that follow me on Twitter all thought the statement was reasonable, in fact, they thought it was plausable as many of them regularly interact with digital texts.
A recent article on NPR’s Mindshift discussed what CIPA rules were all about, and that a district won't lose it's E-Rate funding if somebody watches a Youtube video. You can read the article here. The most interesting thing I found in the article is that while students have to be blocked from inappropriate sites, teachers do not. The article alludes to the fact that teachers might be the better filter. But instead, the blocks are on for everyone.
The blanket blocking of Internet sites has to stop. We trust adults with children but not with the Internet. What a sad state of affairs.
The Common Core is demanding that the college and career ready student use digital media and resources strategically and capably. How are they going to do that in the environments we are currently imprisoned within? How are they going to do that with teachers who believe that they are doing the right thing by NOT using technology?
A teacher told me the other day that they didn’t like technology and saw no reason for using it in class. “The kids need to learn facts,” this teacher (actually) said.
I said, “Any fact can be looked up on Google, how are your kids connecting those pieces of information? How are they evaluating the truth behind the information they discover? How are they creating new things from what they are learning?”
The teacher’s response? “They can’t use Google in my classroom, we only have time for our word games during computer lab time.” Seriously.
In this day and age, “computer lab time” is about as ridiculous as having a “crayon lab.” I’ve said it before--if the technology is not ubiquitous, like air and water and pencils, then we aren’t really preparing kids for the world that they are graduating into.
We are creating a new At-Risk child. We are creating opportunities for our kids to fail. We are suppressing their learning and preparing them for a lifetime of remediation and skill deficits.
We’re getting to critical mass. This is an emergency. Digital tools are not going away. School cannot be a time machine that doesn’t represent the real world.
You’re either on the bus on under it. We can’t just sit around and wait for everybody to agree that technology isn’t evil. We gotta move and move now. We need to switch it up and flip the game: school needs to be THE PLACE for students to MAXIMIZE opportunities, not be LIMITED by them.
Monday, July 25, 2011
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Friday, July 22, 2011
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Friday, July 15, 2011
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Monday, July 11, 2011
Sunday, July 10, 2011
I’ve had several ideas on my mind these last few days and rather than develop all of them into full blog posts, I thought I’d do snapshots of all of the ideas. I’ll have quite a bit to share this coming week, though...hopefully with a bit more depth than what is represented here! Hope everyone has had a great weekend.
I’m heading to Saratoga Springs this week for the International Curriculum Mapping Institute. We have so many excellent sessions this year around Mapping, Common Core, Digital Literacy, Leadership, and more! I am so looking forward to seeing everyone and exploring the intersection of curriculum and the 21st Century. I love that all of our sessions this year are collaborative and allow for modeling the practices we’re asking teachers to engage in when they return to their respective schools. I also love that we’ve already had interactions through the Curriculum 21 Ning and on Twitter from international participants who are attending. I’m especially excited that our friend, Stephen Wilmarth, is bringing a contingent of Chinese students who are in the US exploring universities. He’s dropping by the Mapping Institute with the kids, and I can’t wait.
Transformers: Less Than Meets The Mind
My wife and I went to see Transformers 3 last night. Yawn. I’m usually all for the smash ‘em up / blow up everything movies but this one was REALLY bad. The story was so thin, the acting just terrible--the only thing holding the movie afloat were the special effects, and sometimes, they were a little too special...and messy. I don’t mean to deconstruct popular media every chance I get (my wife would disagree with that statement--and I still have bruises from seeing the last Star Wars movie). But this movie had me thinking that it was the perfect visual metaphor for what technology looks like in many schools today. ALL FLASH but NOTHING UNDERNEATH. I thought (out loud in the movie theater to my wife, which apparently is a greater crime than making a shoddy movie) that it was a shame that so much thought and planning go into the effects but not into the story. Does this make anyone else think of interactive whiteboards? Maybe it’s just me. (Unless Bill Ferriter from the Center for Teaching Quality is reading this...I bet he’d agree.)
Grow or Go
In New York State, everyone is up in arms about the Race to the Top’s new Evaluation component, which I’ve lovingly renamed “Grow or Go.” There are many components and nuances that are still being explored and I think it’s time to just step back and look at the big picture, which is that 95% of teachers will have no issues. The teaching standards that are being used as a large chunk of a teacher’s evaluation are based on Charlotte Danielson’s Frameworks and/or INTASC standards. We’re not talking about a complete deconstruction of the familiar and replacing it with the unknown. To the 5% that will have to do some major paradigm shifting--I hope they can see the value of educating today’s kids with tomorrow’s methodologies and resources. We’re preparing these kids for the world THEY are graduating into, not confining them to our experiences and/or comforts.
Text Complexity Audit
In the last few workshops I’ve done, there have been many conversations about literacy and text complexity, specifically in relation to the Common Core. As I prepare for upcoming workshops and conferences, I thought it would be a good idea to capture the complexity of the texts I’ve been reading lately. Using a web service called Lexile.com, I searched for authors that I’ve read in the last month as well as found lexile levels for newspapers I read. I wanted to know if my actual everyday reading was matching what the research was saying about text complexities and at what levels readers in the real world should be reading. I’m sharing the visual with you and you can draw your own conclusions from it. I will say, I’m pleasantly surprised by what I found. Additionally, I thought it would be a great idea to have students visualize this as well, perhaps as a foundational activity at the beginning of the school year from which they can grow...perhaps adding to the visual over the course of the year? (Maybe using Glogster?)