Sunday, July 10, 2011

Blog Bites

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.

CMI 2011

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, 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?)

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