Tuesday, November 30, 2010

BLOG SLAM! (Another update to "Is Anybody Asking the Kids?")

Why incentives don't work in education—or the business worldphoto © 2010 opensource.com | more info (via: Wylio)

There is nothing more exhilarating to me as a teacher than seeing students do incredible things. When they are engaged and full of passion, they do really great work.

Several weeks ago, I blogged about whether anyone was considering what the kids thought of education today. I asked students in an online survey to answer some questions about the state of things. I received a bunch of responses and wrote a follow up blog post with the findings of the survey. A group of students in North Carolina really felt empowered by the opportunity to share their voices, that they decided to take things one step further and create a digital representation of the changes they’d like to see!


I had been in conversation with their teacher about having one of them “guest blog” for me, but I’m so impressed with what they’ve created, I’m posting ALL OF THEM here. Everyone who reads this blog needs to see what kids can do when they are inspired.

These kids articulated the need for NEW FORMS in education, not just reforms. They want flexible scheduling, flexible spaces, flexible groupings, learning that matches their interests and is authentic. They do not want to be receptacles for information, in fact, one of them said to just “give him the basics” and let him figure the rest out on his own.

Within the scope of what they did, they engaged in 21st Century skills—they communicated with each other, they collaborated in both the creation and feedback phases, and, oh yeah, they used technology—but for a specific task, not just because the tech was cool and shiny. (Even though it was!)

When I work with teachers, and talk to them about activities like this, there are always those that say this can’t happen in a real classroom, because they only have time to prepare the students for a test. I say take a look at what these kids have done here and consider the ramifications in the instructional sequence. Perhaps this type of instruction works above and beyond the curriculum, so that the kids are ready for any test at any moment? (And let’s not confuse testing with assessment…though that is its own blog post…)

Just from what I see here, I can assess:

- writing processes

- grammar

- continuity of a story arc

- idea development

- ability to stay on topic

- other peripheral skills related to teamwork, technology, etc.

So if you ask me where this fits in the standards…there it is. Which is going to engage kids more: opportunities like this or a five-paragraph essay? How am I REALLY going to know that learning has occurred and can be developed in individual and meaningful ways? A product like this, or a twenty question objective test that matches the state assessment? (Though I’m not saying that objective tests can’t measure what we want them to measure, but I AM saying they are boring in comparison.)

I want to give GIGANTIC kudos to these students, these scholars—who took an idea and ran with it for the sake of their own interest and passion. I encourage all of my readers to read and comment on what these students have done using popular Web 2.0 tools like GoAnimate and Storybird. These students wrote scripts, poems, narratives – and then kicked that work up a notch into the 21st Century.

Way to go! Every single student listed here is the pinnacle of AWESOME!


  1. I think I am going to borrow the "principal for a day" project for my eighth grade students. It will take some real shift-thinking to get them to forget about the food/dress code changes they think are important so it sounds like a real challenge for all of us.

  2. A lot of these kids discussed food and dress code too...but within that were nuggets of wisdom. I loved what these kids did! ALSO--if you want, we can do another BLOG SLAM with YOUR kids' responses! I'd be honored to post what they come up with!

  3. The one thing I would add in my school is clubs for subject other than Math or Language Arts. So students could exceed their knowledge beyond whast is being taught in the classroom.

  4. Engaged in the 21st has brought up alot of brand new ideas for some people.

  5. hey mike my teacher wanted me to give you the link to my blog post and my blog.

    My Blog Post-

    My Blog-

  6. Thanks mike for posting us and nice blogg we do need to bring this world further into the 21st centry. Great bloggs

  7. when some of the schools got the laptops they could do alot more thing online and that helpes the school use less paper and the internet brought the teachers to doing more things on the internet.

  8. I really liked your blog and it said alot to me, my name was one the bottom yay. im glad you brought us to do this because it was a great thing and it made me think alittle more into school and teaching.. NICE JOB! and thankss for inculding us again to be in the blog!!

  9. I like this blog tells of the other ways of learnig that do not include writing an essay or taking a test.

  10. I like everything you had to say and thanks for leting me be apart of the blog slam. I never really thought about what I would do if i was principal till you brought it up to me then you had me thinking alot. I really like your blog and what you had to say. Great job. thanks again.

  11. To Kris:

    Nice job! I liked your blog...and I have to admit--I clicked on the Peanut Butter Jelly Time video...I played it for our daughter. She loved it! I think clubs for other interests besides academic subject are a great idea! What about a club devoted to Global Awareness--learning what kids your age are doing in other places in the world?

  12. Thank for the fame Mike :)
    I thought i was really cool doinq this. The idea the,the topic, the chioces,over all it was a great project!
    Muchos grasicas for qivinq us a chance to speak and actually be heard :)

  13. Wow! This is so cool. I think this blog post makes every person on the list feel good about there work. Now they know the can do amazing things. (:

  14. Mr.Fisher,
    I just wonna say thanks for the taking the time and doing this activity with the students here at KMS. I love how you care about what the students think! Some people wouldnt do this.I wonna know why some poeple underestimate the teachers i mean after all their the reason were learning so if anything i think their the most important people in this world. They care so much about us and our education. I also agree with the statement we need to bring this world closer into the 21st centry. We've all gotton hits from different locations in the world thanks to you! So once again thank you so much!
    -Allison T. :DD

  15. i liked working on this project it was really fun to do and this blog was awesome

  16. Hey (: i just wanted to leave you a comment saying thanks for everything . I appreciate it. i loved how i could express myself. Even though i really didn't get to finish , i love writing poem's. && Thanks for caring what we thought about this topic ( :
    ~Katelynn E.

  17. working on this project was great you should tell mr.fulton make us write more great blogs like these.

    check my blog out at

  18. Alright Mike, this was too cool!

    It makes me wonder what my students might say....

    Did you give any specific directions to the kids?

    They were all so positive and focused.


  19. I'm never really interested in writing but, when we were told to write about being Principals for a day I though, "This is a good way for me to get out ideas on what I think should be changed at school". Many students think it's all about the uniforms and lunch but it's all just safety and if you don't like the lunch bring your own. Projects like this should be based on more important things and students should me more interested on what they're lives are going to be like when they get older and that all depends on the type of education they get. It is real important that students are heard because they need to have a say in what they think would help get them motivated for school. School should be somewhere educational yet fun and social to prepare them for the real world of working with others. So, Thanks Mike Fisher for the idea I and the rest of my class mates really appreciate it.

  20. mr. fisher thankyou for putting up my blog on your blog! i am so happy you took the time to talk about the students blogs here at kms! we are so thankful for what you have done for us! i also like that you put so many students blogs on the blog that was very nice! so thankyou for all of that you have done for our blogs!

  21. well mike you did a great job on letting us speak out on what we liked to change in our school that project was a lot of fun and its good to know some cares about what we think :)i think all the student work you pick could really give a good point of view of what all of us students think as well as what we want to change !! i think i speak for yall when i say you did a great job on this blog :) take care

  22. I think that him letting us guest blog is okay but unless you are going to make a career out of blogging I wouldn't do it.

  23. Some people do, Denver! Your post made me laugh!

    -Mike Fisher

  24. hey mr.fisher i'm trying to get people to look at my blog but it's doesn't seem to be working out i have great ideas..i hope you can help me on this problem