Monday, September 28, 2009

on non-formal learning


In a space/medium of your choice, respond to "what is our role as educators in non-formal learning?" Tag as eci831

I'm thinking the best role an educator can take is to:

1) Get out of the way - shift control - let the students own the learning - no matter how messy. Kids will amaze if empowered    to lead.      - per Alan November

2) Be less helpful - per Dan Meyer 
I think the things we can be helpful with... create more time and space for them - and help them in making meaningful connections with people...

This comment one of my students posted on my blog last year says volumes:

Schools of the modern era seem bent on the "teach/test" cycle of leanring. A cycle in which the motivation to excel comes not from a wish to better oneself, but instead a primitive fear of some "parental" figure. When you determine the intelligence of a  person based on the results of a test designed to faciliate a group, you have just erased true intelligene from the equation. What you have instead is a base statistic of one person's similarity to society. What you have is proof of mediocrity. ....
If we intend to re-learn learning, then we'd better drop the cowl and scroll, and pick up instead the tools of our intent. If you want a kid to learn a story, why not let him write it? i believe that school should be a place of exploration, not memorization. A place where the vibrant minds of our youth can culminate, gather their thoughts, and blow the tops off of convention. Instead of filling our strained little minds with endless gouts of information, fill it instead with the wisdom required to desire learning. The rest will fall into place.                              Tyler Weber you rock.

Seth Godin's post today spoke to this as well - it's not just amping up the capabilities of email - it's an overhaul. Our role needs to reflect that. Professional Development needs that overhaul if we want the mass of teachers to make that change.  I think this course is a good modeling of how that should look. If teachers are engaged in non-formal learning, it becomes much more rich and geniune and engaging for the student.

Monday, September 21, 2009

response to a tech making this generation stupid...

My comment to a post - claiming that technology is making the current generation stupid.....

Nice post. What you are saying is so true. And so sad. But I think for a different reason.

Obviously basics, especially in the early years, need to learned and practiced.

And obviously technology can be misused, and make the user brain dead, if it's purpose is solely to get an answer.

The beauty of tech, when used as a tool to enhance learning, is that it allows the learner to spend less time on mindless (yes mindless) calculations - and more time on the big picture, what's really going on in a situation. ie: what am i looking for, did i find a solution,...does my answer make sense,...and what would happen if i did this.

I would much rather a student makes sense of math than perform it. Calculators allow the user to zoom out of a situation for context and relevance.

Your first sentence - that because of your generation's dependency on technology, "they are not actually learning what they are being taught." I believe using tech - in the right way - is what allows the learner to learn as opposed to memorize.

Keeping perspective:
1) Re-emphasis of our first thought - basics should be learned in early years - that's part of what you use to make sense of things, ie: estimation uses simple multiplication..
2) Some people's passion is math, sounds like you have that passion. Bravo to you. Math is beautiful. You can become like your prof - diminishing the use of tech for the love of the math. But that doesn't mean using tech and math combined will yield less than amazing results. Any tool can be misused. That's not a good reason to abandon it. Make sure your kids/you can explain what the calculator is doing with each use. Make certain they realize at times that hand calculations are much faster and more efficient.

The sad i see in your writing isn't that kids can't multiply double digits on a whim, but that they fail to see the beauty and use of math because they have minimized it to getting the right answer.
A way to tell if you're using tech right,...are you asking - did i get the right answer?...or are you asking... why/how does that happen...what if i did there a pattern here?

Math's beauty is in simplifying/explaining complicated things.  Let's not limit the places we can go - let's not abandon that simplicity, by glorifying things such as memorization. 

I hugely applaud your thinking out loud. The more transparent in your thinking, the more you embrace the true essence of learning. Best wishes.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

open education

David Wiley's keynote on open education 

bookifying courses - being able to access what you need when you are ready for it

elearning - was good 15 years ago - but it's too streamlined, not tailored

facebook works unlike groups in class - because it allows for connection, connection doesn't happen when you delete members and make a student restart every 4-6 weeks

no more project for one person's eyes - projects go public - more buy in to quality

desegregation - as content pulls away...
what is the value of having everything integrated in one?
one college - only has assessments - not courses. they don't care how you learn it or when - just that you do.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

life is long

Life is long if you give it away.
Soul to soul, between you and me.

David Byrne and Brian Eno must be referencing 
a good plnetwork - yes?  ntrepidteacher

Thursday, September 17, 2009

observing communication

A recent, unscientific, purely gut-rendering, revelation.

Maybe kids recent and rapid increase of ipod usage, is more than just availability.
Maybe it is a mechanism for them to filter and sort. 
Maybe many adults talk way too much. 
Perhaps - especially in the classroom.

Wondering if that is a potential for twitter and chat rooms. 
Wondering if the limit of 140 characters will be an entry back into conversation. ..

with them.

is respect for every voice a part of your soul...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

new kid clear

This is a rubric that has come to be very helpful for me and my students, especially in making our 
communication user-friendly.   I often refer to it, so I thought I'd log it. We call it kid clear.

4: New kid clearly gets it. Obvious that the presenter gets it.

3: New kid most likely doesn't get it. Obvious that the presenter gets it. Presenter can revise on their own and resubmit it to new kid.

2: New kid surely doesn't get it. Questionable that the presenter gets it, more than likely not. Presenter needs help in tweaking for resubmit.

1: No sign of the new kid. Clearly, the presenter doesn't get it.

why i don't (didn't?) capitalize

last post without capitalization. hoping.

i don't remember getting a b in school. until college. i figured the game out - and played it well. but did i get it?

i could do it. but i didn't get it.

i was among the best at grammar, but couldn't express my thoughts.
i was among the best at doing the math, but i couldn't relate it.

because doing it was graded/rewarded, getting it wasn't.

relating the math came as i started teaching. but it required a huge reversal. zooming out, backing up, asking a lot, a lot of whys and how so's....rather than forging through the math.

expressing my thoughts - only came when i started bagging the grammar. ya - i know. pathetic. but what i found was that when i focused on the grammar - my thoughts weren't meaningful. they were disengaged, trite, disconnected. in my head - any capitals were screaming at me - you can't think, i'm here to distract you.

well. that was good. that was fine. stuck to my guns - for at least a year. but now - as i'm ranting about the frustration of understanding people who speak in verbage inundated with acronyms, i find myself pointing the finger at me.

so i still have to write without punctuation. but because i now get my responsibility to thinking out loud new kid clear - i will take the time to go back and revise the grammar. 


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

user friendly communication

Dang. I don't like this post.

I don't like this revelation.

If acronyms drive me bonkers - because I have to stop and look them up, or ask someone, or go on  misinformed, if they drive me crazy enough that I feel the need to write about them, I need to consider what I do that drives others bonkers when I communicate.

Big red flag. 
h  e  l  l  o  .  .  .

I don't capitalize. I know it drives people nuts. I think I have good reason to not. But now I know better. I know that good communication is better than my reasoning. 

Enough said.

This stinks.
Hope you all are happy.

I'm keeping my name lower case. At least for 3 more years.


after spending the day with some smart people in ed - i had a huge revelation.
acronym = assumes too much.

why do we use acronyms anyway. 
to be catchy? 
to remember stuff? 
maybe to shorten our work load - easier than rattling off long words over and over - and we are busy people....

twitter only holds 140 characters....

all good reasons - but i'm thinking they all stink as well. i can say that - i'm guilty of worse. stay tuned.

in most ed conversations - we swim in discussions on how to get more people involved in change. but if we really cared about those people getting involved in change - we wouldn't put up roadblocks. we'd make things as user friendly as possible.

acronyms are not user friendly. maybe they are for the people using them ... but how does that help? they can talk more - about trying to get more peers involved?

if we really want change. if we really want peers to join in - let's communicate that. let's not separate our conversations into - those that get the acronym and those that don't. 

if we need the acronym to remember stuff - great - just use a link to the real meaning when communicating with others.
if we think we need the acronym for tweeting under 140 - send 2 tweets. 

the person you are trying to convince - shouldn't be the one that has to look up or ask for definitions


on pd (professional development)

constantly drowning in a sea of acronyms. sorry i just inadvertently just threw some more water in.

so currently i am participating in 4 online courses:
verizon's thinkfinity

book study course through our school of blogs, wikis and podcasts, by will richardson
alec couros's (social media and open ed)

cck09 (connectivity and connectivism)

just wanting to see what is out there first hand. i wrote a bit a while back about suggestions for pd (it's ok now it was spelled out already). curious if my suggestions were sound.

so - free online courses for tic credit? do i still think that should happen?

well - from my experiences with these (and other) online courses...if i were admin - i would want the teachers in my building/district to have this experience in some way. i would want to know that they were getting to experience learning the way we are wanting them to be passing it on to students.

and why for free...
well - teachers are tapped anyway - why add more cost? time is money - they're spending the time - yes?

and how can we be sure they are getting all they can out of it? how do we assess their participation (since that's what the money is supposed to do - right - they pay for people to test them and make them turn stuff in)?

i have 2 ideas for that:
1. in order to get credit - the teacher needs to convince another teacher to take a similar course
                        change reaction - thank you rachel's challenge


2. the admin assessing the teacher takes the course with, ongoing conversations would assess the level of learning/participation.


please note: i'm not saying that true ed leaders like alec couros should get no pay. we do need to have conversations about that. what i am saying - is that if @courosa is offering one of his incredibly innovative courses for non-credit/free, admin/etc should be encouraging participation in that. letting each district/building then take on the responsibility for assessing the level of learning that takes place, whether or not the course is taken for credit or for non-credit. redefining our current thinking that money = worthy, free = not worthy. 

Sunday, September 13, 2009

every kid a kindle? or not?

could be from lack of exposure/insight/wisdom - but every time i see districts pushing for every kid a kindle - it makes me cringe. 

as cool as kindles seem - too close to the boxes we've built for my thinking on where ed should be.
it's a matter of focus i guess. and when i try to focus on what matters most in ed these days - while certainly a player - a web based book doesn't rise to the top. i think we have to pay close attention to and be passionate about unboxing everything.

my current thinking includes every kid with access to some tool that can capture thinking any moment of their day.

flip videos (or phones in most pockets) allow for a student to:

1) create their own assessable product - that others not only can help tweak but also learn from. 

thinking in my head on - unboxing ed - is that learning is the driving force. not what i learn or who i learn from, but the actual process of learning. that process should have a relativity for most people. a process that includes tweaking. and we're able to tweak only after we assess. 
standardized assessing came out of a need to assure everyone was playing the game right and fair. but that assumes a fixed content. and has evolved into the focus of ed. i believe assessment should come from self/peer evaluation. how you are teaching others - how those around you are doing. what you are thinking about and questioning. how you are finding answers to those questions.

and even more unboxed
2) capture random thinking. dan meyer has been a great inspiration to many here. why assume kids do best when we put them in a room and say - be creative in the next 90 min - or - receive all this info in the next 90 min? imagine kids capturing their natural curiosity in the world - whenever that occurs...bringing it back to class - and sharing their genuine thinking and inquiry. 

i worry too about the netbook rage. need has to come before tool choice. netbook doesn't supply some basic needs a high school student would want - ie: video edit...

maybe the thing to watch out for when thinking of getting ed tools - is the phrase "every kid a..."  
one size fits all box happening - can't be good for learning.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


conversations this week ....
about standards.
about filters.

all boxes. why so many boxes?

why does the teacher or the text or cipa get to decide what and when a kid learns?
why shouldn't the focus be simply on this... 
if there's something you want to learn...
do you know how to learn it?
do you have the skills to research and organize and share it?

no matter what it is....

Monday, September 7, 2009

obama ...clout...and... improving ed (i guess it's all about re-blog)

great post by will richardon
coupled with seth godin's everyday wisdom.

my response to will's post and comments that follow....for what it's worth:
a case of boxed ed if ever. and kids get it. no biggie to them. they are used to waiting till after school hours for rich learning. (not that their isn't great teaching - but it's teaching - pouring in a head - not a kid exploring/learning through inquiry and passion - unboxed.)

and it's true - ed has always been this way - but it worked before - because it was a time of knowledge acquisition - so we can deem that the good ole days. memorizing or getting the teacher's/state's agenda - no longer works because it's no longer what's needed.

i love this post will. it's not idealistic. this is an incredible time for ed. if we can just use our resources to create a voice of change. godin blogged today on researching clout. let's do that. let's find our clout and get the job done.

we think it's idealistic or not possible because we're used to linear thinking. the web brings differentiation to infinity for the student. and it brings an exponentially clouting network to provide the voice of your words above.

gosh - i hope we don't miss it. 

so - unboxed for you...for any learner....the speech
ps: my thinking...great speech. i would want any student (that's everyone) to hear it and believe in it. 
but for education, this isn't about this particular speech. it's about us giving up the teaching and letting the students own the learning. thank you alan november.

200000 laptops for nsw via re-blog

great video on use of laptops - from kids' perspective.

i ran across this a couple weeks ago - then the link went out. thank you scott mcleod for tracking it down. and for your insight.

re-blog happening

great post on mathematics: the language of life? by dennis richards.

great project for students (we're all students - yes?)

try one of them - or all of them.

thank you dennis for stetching us and helping us make connections.

thank you to all the inspiring minds dennis writes about.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

people matter. treat them well.