Friday, January 28, 2011

Things I'm doing instead of going to EDUCON:

  1. Pouting.
  2. Watching the #EDUCON Twitter Feed.
  3. Cleaning out the Hermit Crab cage and letting the crabs crawl around in the sink.
  4. Reading Larry Ainsworth's new book on Rigorous Curriculum Design. <---- I've read about two paragraphs so far.
  5. Watching a 4 year old and 6 year old build a fort out of cushions, pillows, chairs, and blankets.
  6. Going to Disney on Ice in the morning. <----- Would be more interested if it was Aerosmith on Ice
  7. Loading the dishwasher.
  8. Playing Angry Birds.
  9. Planning a LiveBinder of smart things Mark Carls (@mcarls) says.
  10. Still pouting, and putting EDUCON 2012 on my calendar NOW!

New Web Stuff 01/29/2011

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

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

State of the Union: An Out Of Context Response

While I watched most of the State of the Union address live, I’ve been getting into the habit lately of “Wordling” a text, news article, transcript, etc. to get the gist from the most common words used. Sometimes the meaning is the same, other times it’s quite different. In the classroom, this lends itself very easily to comparative analysis and critical thinking...but for me, tonight, it’s a tool to target the discussion and my thinking. My response here to the State of the Union is coming entirely from my interpretation of the Wordle, versus the actual speech. I’ve got my “educator glasses” on, too, which will impact what I “see.”

Three of the biggest words are “new,” “jobs,” and “people.” My brain is connecting that to the videos that Karl Fisch and others have made that involve the assertion that we are preparing our students for jobs that have not yet been invented. How do we prepare kids now? Much of it is rote and traditional, the same model of instruction that prepared kids for factory jobs. With the Common Core impacting many of the states, rigorous learning and rigorous instructional design and practice will hopefully upend the old paradigms, and pave the way for the “people” to have the “new” “jobs” that Obama discusses, either as a projected, forthcoming, but as yet unknown vocation, or an immediate, economically necessary position.

Other stand-out words include, “future,” “innovation,” “technology,” and “success.” It’s hard to know what the future holds, but we surely know that what was valued yesterday will hardly be valued tomorrow. We do a lot of complaining about “kids today” but don’t recognize the skills that they are developing around socialization, transparency, and global collaboration. These are skills that will help them be global competitors if we can harness the connections and critical thinking and collaboration that may have a veneer of “playing” but are really rooted in “social adaptability” and “social evolution.” Their connections and willingness to participate in “technology” will breed the “innovation” of the “future” and bring the “success” that we hope for our children.

There are many layers here to discuss--whether contextual or not. When I was thinking about the speech itself in terms of an educational lens, I found my brain was responding in an emotional and sometimes defensive way. The Wordle gave me an opportunity to abandon the emotional, and focus on just the words. What connections can you make from the Wordle? What did you think about Obama’s speech?

Monday, January 24, 2011

New Web Stuff 01/25/2011

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

Monday, January 17, 2011

New Web Stuff 01/18/2011

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

2 B or 2 Learn?

When I was younger, it was common practice to be asked, “What are you going to be when you grow up?” We’ve all heard it at one time or another. All of the mid-career folks my age still laugh about what we’ll be “when we grow up.” (Some of us talk about the warm places we’ll retire now too--our conversations are shifting with age!)

In the social networks I participate in, I get to see snapshots of what young people today are thinking--windows into their world that give me some generational perspective. Several days ago on Facebook, one of my previous students commented to a friend the following, in response to a post about doing well in college:

“So what R U going 2 school 2 B?”

I didn’t flinch at the abbreviated “LOLspeak” that represents their 21st Century communication. But I did do a double-take on the “B.”

Even now, generations later, there is still an emphasis on “being” something, on growing up into a particular job. I wondered how much would change, if the student had instead commented:

“So what R U going 2 school 2 LEARN?”

Someone in my network sent a tweet a couple of years ago that has stuck with me about kids asking what they have to “do” in order to move on, rather than what they have to “learn” in order to move on--as if education is a checklist, the proverbial bucket to fill.

“B” equals Bucket. “So what R U going 2 put in your bucket?” It makes me wonder if students see education as being done when the bucket is filled. You fill up your bucket with some stuff, trade it for a good test score, trade the test score for college entrance, trade the degree for a job, and then forget about the bucket.

I don’t think the bucket metaphor is specific to the United States either. Some colleagues and I have been sending comments back and forth about recent articles by Amy Chua and Yong Zhaoabout education in China. Filling that bucket is a valued thing in many places around the world.

But what are we REALLY doing to kids? Carol Ann Tomlinson, at last year’s ASCD conference in San Antonio, said, “Education happens in us, not TO us.” But there’s so much of the “to” and “do” still happening, and the student perspective is that the “do” is more important than the “learn.”

I wonder if the primary thing we should be doing in the 21st Century is concentrating on shifting perspectives to a “LEARN” mentality rather than a “DO” mentality. Aside from the latest technology, or the most valued 21st Century skill, it still, for me, needs to boil down to learning and the value of the learning process versus the completion of a task. It’s one of the biggest hurdles I see working in districts with teachers. Those old models have “worked” for so long, it becomes very difficult to see why a shift must happen. But for whom are those models still working? I think we all know the answer to that, and it isn’t the kids.

I’ve written about this many times in one way or another and am really just thinking in terms of the Facebook message today. It’s always those little moments that are the seeds of my own learning, as I think about our collective journeys through effective teaching and how we prepare young people to participate and succeed in the 21st Century.

The Facebook exchange didn’t include a response to “So what R U going 2 school 2 B.”

I’m betting the answer would be something along the lines of a scientist, an engineer, a teacher perhaps. But I wish that the answer could just be, “a Learner.”

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Curriculum 21 in ACTION: PD in PJ's

This blog post is a collaborative piece by Andrea Hernandez (@edtechworkshop) and Mike Fisher (@fisher1000) and represents the conversational style of PD that we participated in this weekend. We took advantage of available technology to develop meaningful work that represents 21st Century Learning and Teaching, 21st Century Curriculum Design and Practice, and all that Curriculum 21 embodies in terms of upgrading and replacement of the current curriculum.

Andrea Hernandez: I’ve always gravitated toward collaboration at work. Even in the 20th century, I tended to seek out other teachers for collaborating and team-teaching situations. I think that I am at a point now where I am unable to work alone. So, when I sat down at my desk Sunday morning to think about getting started with a poetry unit for 4th grade, it seemed like a natural first step to tweet it out and hope that someone would share a promising link or idea.

Mike Fisher: Previous to Twitter and 21st Century interactions, this is something that might happen in a professional development workshop. It’s something that might develop over time, or necessitate an instructional coaching arc. But, this weekend, it happened in a online collaborative environment--an environment that breeds quick ideas and solutions, and offers opportunities for multiple perspectives and contributions.

Mike: The original tweet prompted this one:

Andrea: I didn’t think of starting the google doc myself, even though I have seen some examples of this type of twitter-collaboration. Sometimes, I guess you just don’t think to do something until you have actually done it yourself and seen, firsthand, the benefits. Sometimes it takes a while for a new idea to actually become a new personal habit. So I was excited that Mike started the Google Doc and was willing to generously spend some of his Sunday morning lesson planning with me, a virtual colleague. As soon as I opened the doc and saw the ideas that were already shared, my own ideas started to flow.

Mike: In the space of just a few minutes, the Google Doc was created, tweeted out, and open to all contributions. A plethora of ideas bloomed over the course of about 15 minutes. You can see the document, in its current state, by CLICKING HERE. By clicking on the Revision History in the Google Doc, you can see the number of edits that happened in the first 15 minutes. Andrea and I both were impressed with the quick contributions, and how the ideas grew from just one quick tweet!

Andrea: I tried to explain to a colleague this morning, using the analogy of exercise. When you first start moving, you’re a little stiff. It takes some time to warm up and get into the groove. Collaborating helps me warm up. It helps me break through the blank page staring back at me, and it helps me approach the task with a little more of a light heart. There is something about sharing ideas in a Google Doc especially- you can almost watch the thoughts hatch and develop.

Mike: What was fun too is that we actually were doing “PD in PJ’s!” It really is a whole new world of educational opportunities when you can get what you need at the moment you need it. The web is allowing us to do anywhere, anytime, any topic Professional Development that is personally meaningful and perfectly situated. This is what Curriculum 21 is all about!

Andrea: How wonderful to have access to educators all over the world who are so passionate about teaching and learning that they choose to work on a Sunday morning with someone they’ve never personally met. Though we’ve not yet met in person, we’re hardly strangers. We are colleagues.

Mike: In the Global classroom, we are ALL colleagues!

If you are interested in joining the conversation, you can interact with your own PLN and develop collaborative events like this one. You can contribute to the GOOGLE DOC we created. You can visit the Curriculum 21 Website or you can come to the Curriculum 21 Institute this summer in Saratoga Springs. Additionally, Curriculum 21, the book, is available through ASCD’s website.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Get Ready, Here She Comes...

We got the papers in the mail today. It’s official. My baby is going to school this Fall.

In some respects, I’m happy. She loves to learn and has already started “playing” school. She loves to be creative and she loves playing with other kids. However, I’m also a little concerned. For one, I can’t believe our little baby is already old enough to go to school. And, I’m concerned about what educational journey lays ahead for her. With UPK (Universal Pre-Kindergarten) in the mix, she’ll be in the system for 14 years before college. (Assuming the current traditional notion of “grades” and the hierarchy of what’s appropriate at specific ages stays in place--and I’m not certain it will...)

In a recent keynote, I showed the conference participants a picture of my daughter. The picture showed her independently navigating the Facebook page for the Dinosaurs that were on exhibit at our local science museum. She knows how to independently work both the iPod and the iPad, choosing games, applications, and books she wants to interact with. She navigates the Nick Jr. website on her own. With help on Skype, she’s video chatted with her grandparents, helped to read books to 2nd graders in North Carolina, and chatted with folks in New Zealand and England. She has her own blog with pictures she took. (Though she does have a little help uploading them!) For her, technology is as common as air, and she doesn’t know the world as a “what if” zone. She knows the world as a “what next” zone. Everything is possible. Her mother and I can’t undo that. That world is her reality.

With that in mind, this is what I hope she experiences:
  • I hope she is valued for what she brings to the table.
  • I hope she gets to be creative, often.
  • I hope her opportunities extend well beyond the walls of the classroom.
  • I hope she enjoys learning.
  • I hope her teachers know that her mother and I will support them.
  • I hope she is prepared for 2025 well before it gets here.
  • Right now, her plan is to open a restaurant when she is older. At the moment, her menu only includes rice and salmon, but I hope that every single dream she has is believed in, supported, enhanced, and expanded.

I am specifically and consciously not saying that I expect her to use this gadget or that tool, or that this methodology is better than that methodology. Those things are ephemeral. I want to see a strong focus on curriculum, connections, and lots of choices around proving that learning is happening. I want to see her work with her peers both in the classroom and around the world to create products of value that prepare her to fully take advantage of the world she’ll be graduating into. I want her to have the opportunity to solve real problems with depth and complexity, and make an authentic contribution to her world while she learns to independently navigate it and plumb it’s every nook and cranny. (And also to experience the joy in the discovery of what the world has to offer.)

I want her teachers to be willing to teach and reach beyond the box, to be innovative.
I want her teachers to be partners in her learning.
I want them to be passionate beacons. I want them to be uplifting, forward-thinking champions of humanity. I want them to be engaging, inspirational, and spirited.

It probably wouldn’t be a bad idea if they were also well caffeinated. There’s a connected, charismatic, and curious little girl heading their way. My little girl.

Get Ready! Here she comes...