Saturday, January 22, 2011

It is a whole new paradigm

I have been absent from the blogging world for a few days because of various and sundry things. School just keeps getting busier and busier as it fights to retain the 19th and 20th century way of doing things. School continues to dig in and resist the challenges to its perceived knowledge monoply.

One of my favorite blogs is called Teachpaperless and it has tirelessly advocated a new paradigm of teaching. Blake-Plock writes on Teachpaperless, January 13 something that struck me right between the eyes.
And I would argue that to see the iPad as a fad is to miss the bigger picture: the iPad only exists within the context of a mobile-connected world. That mobile-connected world is not a novelty; that's a paradigm and a reality.

The mobile connected world is not a novelty, it is a paradigm. Schools need to realize that and make that world part of the school paradigm. That does not mean schools need to pass out digital devices as "gifts" to the students to use in ways the school deems acceptable. Schools are not enlightening students to these tools and way of being....the students are already that way. We need to learn that lesson. Schools need to use the tools in the learning process.

An example again comes from Teachpaperless. Here is a post that outlines an exam given in the new paradigm. A human geography exam. The immediate question will be, will this prepare them for the AP Exam? Who cares!! It will prepare them for the world they DO live in!

A Learning Manifesto

1. Provide universal robust wireless internet access without restriction to students, faculty, staff, and anyone who sets foot on the campus.

2. Expect everyone who sets foot on campus with a digital device to connect that digital device to the wireless internet.

3. Expect everyone on the campus to use the digital paradigm in everything they do.

4. Move everything the school does into the digital cloud.

5. Expect every student to have their own digital devices in their pockets or briefcases NOT PROVIDED BY THE SCHOOL.

6. Expect every teacher and administrator to USE the digital paradigm in their own ways with digital tools NOT PROVIDED by the school but chosen and acquired by the individual.

7. Unplug the copy machines and throw them out with the trash on friday.

8. Outlaw paper in the school.

It can be done! Let us do it!!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

It is 6AM and the world has not yet begun to wake around me. The sky is dark and there is now snow on the ground around me. This is a very hard time to go to school. It is cold and miserable outside right now. Why should we want to go to school?

Maybe we are all like little puppies being crate trained. All we want to do is explore everything and everywhere. We sniff and smell and poke our nose in everything we find. So should our curisosity be trained as to how to use it. The big question is does crate training destroy us or does is socialize us to use our imaginations in better ways? Was Enstein crate trained? That is what I am thinking about this morning as I wait for the sun to rise.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Blended Learing

We are looking for more time in our math classes and in our foreign language classes in the school I teach at. Since I have an MA in Distance Education I have a bias towards on-line education and really believe that our solution lies in the arena of what has come to be known as blended learning. Instead of looking for more teaching time, we should be looking for more scaffolded learning time. It seems to me that, that time will be found outside of the traditional school day. Social networking may just offer a solution.

Today's 6AM questions are:
Can you teach mathematics in Face Book? Can you use Twitter to answer questions in a foreign language? Is following a teacher's twitter feed a reasonable way for mathedmatics teachers to communicate with students? Can you blend a face to face classroom with an Learning Management System to provide additional learning time for student?

That is what I am thinking about this morning. Do you have an thoughts on the subject? Dialogue!! Share with me.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Voice--what does it mean?

I was reading a blogpost from MiddleGround by Dr. Troy Roddy and he listed a number of things that he believed made for a good school. Most of the list was hard to argue with because they do make for good organizations.

High-involvement schools…
  • offer challenging and enriching courses.
  • provide faculty, students, and families a voice in the leadership and management of the school.
  • are committed to low student and faculty attrition.
  • support a culture in which all employees are appreciated.
  • nurture the work of divisional, departmental, and ad hoc teams designed to advance the mission of the school.
  • are committed to genuine professional development.
  • demonstrate individual care and concern for all school members and work to align the individual needs of these people to the overall goals and mission of the school..
  • provide a competitive salary and benefits package designed to attract outstanding professionals and maintain the “leadership density” often gained by employing such professionals.

I would like to spend a bit of time speculating about what the term voice means as it is used in the second bullet point above. Is there real power involved in the idea of voice or is it just a way to make constituentcies feel they they have are involved in the decisions of the school? Does voice mean decisions are made by vote? Does voice mean that decisions are made by consensus, and if they are who decides when consensus has been reached? Does voice mean a role in setting the agenda for what happens in a school? Does voice mean there is no hierarchy of decision making? Does voice mean everyone is equal?

Everybody wants a voice in how things are run. What exactly does that mean?

Monday, January 3, 2011

First Day Back

Christmas break is over and I am back at school getting ready for the first day. I am sitting at my computer in Catharpin wondering why I go through all of this. I am having stomach ulcers worring about how everything with the Google expansion is going to go. I received word last night that it did not go well for one of our most active users. I am not sure how we are going to fix it but I am sure that we can. We will figure it out.

The more immediate problem is what we need to do with all of the sixth graders that are going to walk into class bright eyed and bushy tailed waiting for somethink to do. I am wondering if we will do something with the new Google apps or just keep pounding away with the HTML stuff.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A New Theme Song

I am a very big advocate of using Google tools in schools and this has caused some good natured teasing from some of my colleagues over the "disruption"  of their normal routine. So one of them ( an exceptional teacher and humorous man ) has nicknamed me "Barney Google". Here is my theme song which I hope draws a chuckle from you.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year

I went out to the movies with my wife for New Year's Eve. It has become somewhat of a tradition for use to go out to dinner and a movie on New Year's Eve and so rather than spend the evening at a Blues Bar which was our other option, we went to the movies.

We saw The Fighter with Mark Walberg, Christian Bale and Amy Adams. The movie was outstanding. It was an incredible portrait of the sad lives of mill town America and how they have nothing but fighting and sports to escape into any dignity at all. It is an indictment of everything about capitalist culture in America. It displayed human beings as pure commodites.

Happy New Year 2011.