By

Are we teaching the “love of” the the, or just the “the”?

In my office, on a small desk covered with Star Wars minifigures, a rubics cube and some Hot Wheels cars you will also find my 4th grade class photo. I’m the smallish blonde boy in the middle row, fourth from the left. At the other end of the row is Mrs Paterson. She is the reason the photo sits on my desk thirty-six years later.

I don’t really remember much about what I learned in fourth grade. As an elementary teacher of many years myself I can guess what was covered, and while it might be interesting, it’s not important. What I can remember is the way Mrs Paterson made me feel about being in her class.

She had high standards. She challenged me. She believed that I could do it.

At a recent conference I sat and listened to Sir John Jones talk about the way schools should be. Amongst his humour were some truisms that all educators need to be thinking deeply about. One was, “Google can teach you history. Only teachers can teach you the LOVE of history!”

Like most other schools around the world, I urge my teachers to “address the standards” when they teach. “Follow UbD when you plan,” I say. “Start with the standards. Design the assessment. Build the plan.”

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-1-32-22-pm

But in my fifteen years of co-planning with teachers, I have never come across a standard addressing teaching the “love” of something. I’ve never asked a teacher to add a row in a rubric to read,”demonstrates a love of calculus”, or writing, or painting or long division. And as I ponder this, I am wondering how to address this absence.

If the role of a teacher is to teach a “love of” something, be it physics or reading or history or simply (but not so simply) learning, where do we start? Where do we put all the effort in and how to we know if we’ve accomplished it? Can we use the final grade as a measure? Or is it less quantitative and more qualitative? Is it the number of students who choose to follow that subject as a career path? Is it the number of smiles on faces I see in classrooms as I walk through the building? Or is it the waiting list of students eager to get into a particular class with a particular teacher?

Mrs Paterson was my fourth-grade teacher and she is the one who taught me a “love of” something. She did it by challenging me, expecting I was able and caring for me as I made my attempts and failed.

Maybe it is that simple. Maybe it is that and a bit more. Maybe what was right for Mrs Paterson is different for you and I. Who knows?

As a school administrator, I don’t have the answer. I know when a teacher has it and I can see when a teacher doesn’t. I can give examples of it. I can attest to the importance of it. I can urge those without it to develop it.

If you are a teacher, how are you developing in students the “Love Of” your subject?

 

By

How are you asking for student voice?

When we are asked about “student voice”, and if it is able to be heard in our classrooms, it is easy to answer yes. “Students in my class talk.” “Students in my class respond to questions.”
 
But this is not what the question is really asking about!
 
Student voice is less about students making a noise and more about WHAT they are saying.
  • Do you know if your students find your classes challenging and engaging?
  • Do your students have a say in determining what they are learning?
  • Do your students have a choice in HOW they demonstrate their understandings to you and others?
  • Do you make all the decisions for your students?
These are the questions you should be asking in relation to student voice. 
 
Best practice tells us learning is improved when students have a “voice” determining the what, understanding the why, negotiating the when and deciding the how.
 
How are you asking for student voice? To read more and for some fantastic ideas, click on the image below!
 
http://www.edutopia.org/topic/student-voice

By

WDiLT?

At present I am building a report card system for the secondary school for which I work, and not yet having committed to a particular SIS to run the whole thing, and without a server, and without any database software I am having to reinvent the wheel, the axle, the transmission, etc, etc, etc. My colleague at the desk beside me has been building the elementary reports in similar fashion. Together we have been making a lot of noise.

So there has been a lot of learning going on this week (and I predict into this weekend as well!) and I am able to describe, amongst other things, what that has been SOUNDING like!

With both of us toiling away with Excel spreadsheets, mail merges and Word templates there has been a lot of:
• talking, agreeing, disagreeing, questioning, proposing, groaning, swearing, laughing
• Mmmm-ing as the lets-try-this becomes we’ll-have-to-try-something-else
• “Boom”-ing as the maybe-this-will-work actually works
• “You won’t believe it”-ing as the latest phonecall adds yet another consideration that must be accommodated within the spreadsheet
• Singing along to whatever is playing on iTunes
• One asking the other, “Do you remember how to do X?”
• One asking the other, “Can you come and look at this and tell me what you think.”
• Silence, interrupted only by the clatter and clicking of keys and mice
• Vows to never, ever do this again.

So what have I learned today?

Two heads are better than one. If you are not talking you are missing great learning opportunities. Just because you don’t know what to do or how to do it is no reason not to begin. When you trust your ability to learn you can accomplish great things.

I wonder what I will learn tomorrow?

BK

By

Do you know what your students are learning?

Once again prompted to the pen by the ponderings of others (http://davidwarlick.com/2cents/?p=2762) I wonder if we really know what our students are learning! We may be able to answer with some conviction the question, “What are your students studying?” but I am beginning to wonder if we should expect the answer to both questions to be the same? Do we ask our students to communicate their understanding of what they have studied or do we ask our students to communicate what they have learned? Is this one and the same? Should we ask our students both questions and expect different answers?When does learning occur? Most would agree with David Warlick’s suggestions that when there is value in what is occurring, when there is a sense of accomplishment, when there is a sense of discovery and when there is an opportunity to do something with what has been learned that there is a good chance that learning will occur. But how often do we structure our lessons to allow for curiosity, collaboration, a real audience, failure, discovery and questioning? How often do we blame the scarcity of time, resources or energy to return to our textbooks, forgoing the challenge of student-led discovery and question for the comfort of teacher-led revelation and direction?

As we find our days filled more and more with the demands of this programme and that curriculum, preparing for this exam and that standardised test we need to make room for those things that allow students to really learn, to allow room for our students to be learners and to allow ourselves the chance to find out what our students really are learning.

Bruce Knox

Posted via email from bruce’s posterous

By

Literate, Resourceful and Habitual Learners?

I was sitting this afternoon reading through the multitude of blog posts that my Netvibes RSS aggregator has set before me and I spent some time chewing through a recent David Warlick post that ended with the following question.

What ICT is going to help my children learn by helping them to become literate, resourceful, and habitual learners — engaged in a learning lifestyle?

David Warlick posed this question in relation to his (and others) ongoing ponderings about the iPad as an educational tool and also brought up his description of contemporary literacy. The following is copied from his original post.

When information is Networked, Reading expands into Exposing what is True (finding, decoding, evaluating, building meaning, etc.)
When information is Digital, Arithmetic expands into Employing the Information, working the numbers that define all information to add value.
When information is abundant (overwhelming), then Writing expands into Expressing Ideas Compellingly. Producing a message that competes for the attention of the audience.

It was this description of the traditional 3R’s in a contemporary setting, together with the closing question that made me think less about technology and more about the teacher in the classroom. If the aim is for our students to be literate, resourceful and habitual learners then I would suggest the first step in that journey is for we who profess to be teachers to be exactly that.

Literate.

Resourceful.

Habitual.

Learners.

How many of us are truly ‘literate’ enough to develop in our students the ability to ‘expose what is true’ when reading? How confident are we to use the technology we have at our and our students’ disposal to find, decode, evaluate, etc as they aim to expose?
How many of us are constantly ’employing’ the information we ask our students to expose in an effort to add value? Do we consistently ask students to make what they expose relevant or useful to someone else? Is what we ask students to expose relevant or useful to them???
How many of us are being resourceful and expressing our ideas compellingly for our students? Do we consistently ask our students to produce a message for an audience? A real audience that would be compelled to listen/read/view/consume?

Coming back to David Warlick’s original question relating to what ICT is going to help, I think the first step is to ensure that we, as teachers, are literate in the use of ICT to expose. Literate in the use of ICT to add value. Literate in the use of ICT to make a message compelling. Once we, as teachers, are literate, resourceful and habitual in these areas then whatever tool a teacher chooses to use or is available to them in their classroom is going to help.

What do you think?

By

The Lecture and The Rest

I was reading through David Warlick’s most recent 2c Worth blog post here and he was talking about a Twitter stream feed that he glanced at. It was quote from Will Richardson (who blogs here). While the quote isn’t where I want to dive off from, it is the idea of “value-added” that David brought up in his discussion, specifically in relation to the role of the teacher in a classroom.As I read through the connected web of blogs and twitter feeds and facebook pages and so on and so on it becomes clear that our students who are growing up in this informationally (I think I just made that word up!) verdant environment have an incomprehensible volume of information, facts, ideas, opinions, etc available to them. So, presuming (and this is a rather big presumption, I know) that your students can find the information and facts themselves that you are presenting in class, how would you describe the value that you, as the teacher, add to the learning experience. And is that added value truly valuable – to your students?

Coming back to the quote that piqued David Warlick’s interest, “Assign the lecture for homework, do the rest in class.” (Will Richardson) it would seem that Mr Richardson is suggesting the value-added aspect of a (seemingly) university lecture is “the rest” and not “the lecture”. So this leads to the question, “In your classroom, what is the lecture and what is the rest?”

Posted via email from bruce’s posterous

By

Are you a teacher or a learning facilitator?

Gee, I’m doing some reading and thinking at the moment and things just keep cropping up! I’ve been subscribing to the EdTech List email list for a number of years now and thoroughly enjoy the different issues that users post to the list, ranging from requests for curriculum ideas, to tips on tech purchases to discussions of matters of great import in the world of educational technology.Lately I have been following quite closely a discussion around the issue of internet filtering in schools. This discussion has been continuing for the best part of a year (or even longer) and has had many contributors from all over the world and while it is fertile ground for comment, I will hold my tongue at present and rather take a side road prompted by one contributor’s comment.

And now, when I can no longer find the email I was looking at I will have to go ahead and cite without due reference (will work on it) the question, “Are you a teacher or a learning facilitator?”

From my point of view this carries with it a big distinction. I’d love to hear what you think.

Cheers,

Bruce

Posted via email from bruce’s posterous

By

Clay Shirky on The Cognitive Surplus

This blog post was written by Clay Shirky and can be found here. Do yourself a favour and read it and then start thinking about how you can apply your cognitive surplus. Maybe you can change a little (or a big) piece of your world!

Gin, Television, and Social Surplus

By

Clay Shirky

on April 26, 2008 10:48 AM
(This is a lightly edited transcription of a speech I gave at the Web 2.0 conference, April 23, 2008.)

I was recently reminded of some reading I did in college, way back in the last century, by a British historian arguing that the critical technology, for the early phase of the industrial revolution, was gin. 

The transformation from rural to urban life was so sudden, and so wrenching, that the only thing society could do to manage was to drink itself into a stupor for a generation. The stories from that era are amazing– there were gin pushcarts working their way through the streets of London.

And it wasn’t until society woke up from that collective bender that we actually started to get the institutional structures that we associate with the industrial revolution today. Things like public libraries and museums, increasingly broad education for children, elected leaders–a lot of things we like–didn’t happen until having all of those people together stopped seeming like a crisis and started seeming like an asset.

It wasn’t until people started thinking of this as a vast civic surplus, one they could design for rather than just dissipate, that we started to get what we think of now as an industrial society.

If I had to pick the critical technology for the 20th century, the bit of social lubricant without which the wheels would’ve come off the whole enterprise, I’d say it was the sitcom. Starting with the Second World War a whole series of things happened–rising GDP per capita, rising educational attainment, rising life expectancy and, critically, a rising number of people who were working five-day work weeks. For the first time, society forced onto an enormous number of its citizens the requirement to manage something they had never had to manage before–free time.

And what did we do with that free time? Well, mostly we spent it watching TV.

We did that for decades. We watched I Love Lucy. We watched Gilligan’s Island. We watch Malcolm in the Middle. We watch Desperate Housewives. Desperate Housewives essentially functioned as a kind of cognitive heat sink, dissipating thinking that might otherwise have built up and caused society to overheat.

And it’s only now, as we’re waking up from that collective bender, that we’re starting to see the cognitive surplus as an asset rather than as a crisis. We’re seeing things being designed to take advantage of that surplus, to deploy it in ways more engaging than just having a TV in everybody’s basement.

This hit me in a conversation I had about two months ago. As Jen said in the introduction, I’ve finished a book called Here Comes Everybody, which has recently come out, and this recognition came out of a conversation I had about the book. I was being interviewed by a TV producer to see whether I should be on their show, and she asked me, “What are you seeing out there that’s interesting?”

I started telling her about the Wikipedia article on Pluto. You may remember that Pluto got kicked out of the planet club a couple of years ago, so all of a sudden there was all of this activity on Wikipedia. The talk pages light up, people are editing the article like mad, and the whole community is in an ruckus–“How should we characterize this change in Pluto’s status?” And a little bit at a time they move the article–fighting offstage all the while–from, “Pluto is the ninth planet,” to “Pluto is an odd-shaped rock with an odd-shaped orbit at the edge of the solar system.”

So I tell her all this stuff, and I think, “Okay, we’re going to have a conversation about authority or social construction or whatever.” That wasn’t her question. She heard this story and she shook her head and said, “Where do people find the time?” That was her question. And I just kind of snapped. And I said, “No one who works in TV gets to ask that question. You know where the time comes from. It comes from the cognitive surplus you’ve been masking for 50 years.”

So how big is that surplus? So if you take Wikipedia as a kind of unit, all of Wikipedia, the whole project–every page, every edit, every talk page, every line of code, in every language that Wikipedia exists in–that represents something like the cumulation of 100 million hours of human thought. I worked this out with Martin Wattenberg at IBM; it’s a back-of-the-envelope calculation, but it’s the right order of magnitude, about 100 million hours of thought.

And television watching? Two hundred billion hours, in the U.S. alone, every year. Put another way, now that we have a unit, that’s 2,000 Wikipedia projects a year spent watching television. Or put still another way, in the U.S., we spend 100 million hours every weekend, just watching the ads. This is a pretty big surplus. People asking, “Where do they find the time?” when they’re looking at things like Wikipedia don’t understand how tiny that entire project is, as a carve-out of this asset that’s finally being dragged into what Tim calls an architecture of participation.

Now, the interesting thing about a surplus like that is that society doesn’t know what to do with it at first–hence the gin, hence the sitcoms. Because if people knew what to do with a surplus with reference to the existing social institutions, then it wouldn’t be a surplus, would it? It’s precisely when no one has any idea how to deploy something that people have to start experimenting with it, in order for the surplus to get integrated, and the course of that integration can transform society.

The early phase for taking advantage of this cognitive surplus, the phase I think we’re still in, is all special cases. The physics of participation is much more like the physics of weather than it is like the physics of gravity. We know all the forces that combine to make these kinds of things work: there’s an interesting community over here, there’s an interesting sharing model over there, those people are collaborating on open source software. But despite knowing the inputs, we can’t predict the outputs yet because there’s so much complexity.

The way you explore complex ecosystems is you just try lots and lots and lots of things, and you hope that everybody who fails fails informatively so that you can at least find a skull on a pikestaff near where you’re going. That’s the phase we’re in now.

Just to pick one example, one I’m in love with, but it’s tiny. A couple of weeks one of my students at ITP forwarded me a a project started by a professor in Brazil, in Fortaleza, named Vasco Furtado. It’s a Wiki Map for crime in Brazil. If there’s an assault, if there’s a burglary, if there’s a mugging, a robbery, a rape, a murder, you can go and put a push-pin on a Google Map, and you can characterize the assault, and you start to see a map of where these crimes are occurring.

Now, this already exists as tacit information. Anybody who knows a town has some sense of, “Don’t go there. That street corner is dangerous. Don’t go in this neighborhood. Be careful there after dark.” But it’s something society knows without society really knowing it, which is to say there’s no public source where you can take advantage of it. And the cops, if they have that information, they’re certainly not sharing. In fact, one of the things Furtado says in starting the Wiki crime map was, “This information may or may not exist some place in society, but it’s actually easier for me to try to rebuild it from scratch than to try and get it from the authorities who might have it now.”

Maybe this will succeed or maybe it will fail. The normal case of social software is still failure; most of these experiments don’t pan out. But the ones that do are quite incredible, and I hope that this one succeeds, obviously. But even if it doesn’t, it’s illustrated the point already, which is that someone working alone, with really cheap tools, has a reasonable hope of carving out enough of the cognitive surplus, enough of the desire to participate, enough of the collective goodwill of the citizens, to create a resource you couldn’t have imagined existing even five years ago.

So that’s the answer to the question, “Where do they find the time?” Or, rather, that’s the numerical answer. But beneath that question was another thought, this one not a question but an observation. In this same conversation with the TV producer I was talking about World of Warcraft guilds, and as I was talking, I could sort of see what she was thinking: “Losers. Grown men sitting in their basement pretending to be elves.”

At least they’re doing something.

http://adweek.blogs.com/photos/uncategorized/2008/01/04/gilligan.jpgDid you ever see that episode of Gilligan’s Island where they almost get off the island and then Gilligan messes up and then they don’t? I saw that one. I saw that one a lot when I was growing up. And every half-hour that I watched that was a half an hour I wasn’t posting at my blog or editing Wikipedia or contributing to a mailing list. Now I had an ironclad excuse for not doing those things, which is none of those things existed then. I was forced into the channel of media the way it was because it was the only option. Now it’s not, and that’s the big surprise. However lousy it is to sit in your basement and pretend to be an elf, I can tell you from personal experience it’s worse to sit in your basement and try to figure if Ginger or Mary Ann is cuter.

And I’m willing to raise that to a general principle. It’s better to do something than to do nothing. Even lolcats, even cute pictures of kittens made even cuter with the addition of cute captions, hold out an invitation to participation. When you see a lolcat, one of the things it says to the viewer is, “If you have some sans-serif fonts on your computer, you can play this game, too.” And that’s message–I can do that, too–is a big change.

This is something that people in the media world don’t understand. Media in the 20th century was run as a single race–consumption. How much can we produce? How much can you consume? Can we produce more and you’ll consume more? And the answer to that question has generally been yes. But media is actually a triathlon, it ‘s three different events. People like to consume, but they also like to produce, and they like to share.

And what’s astonished people who were committed to the structure of the previous society, prior to trying to take this surplus and do something interesting, is that they’re discovering that when you offer people the opportunity to produce and to share, they’ll take you up on that offer. It doesn’t mean that we’ll never sit around mindlessly watching Scrubs on the couch. It just means we’ll do it less.

And this is the other thing about the size of the cognitive surplus we’re talking about. It’s so large that even a small change could have huge ramifications. Let’s say that everything stays 99 percent the same, that people watch 99 percent as much television as they used to, but 1 percent of that is carved out for producing and for sharing. The Internet-connected population watches roughly a trillion hours of TV a year. That’s about five times the size of the annual U.S. consumption. One per cent of that  is 100 Wikipedia projects per year worth of participation.

I think that’s going to be a big deal. Don’t you?

Well, the TV producer did not think this was going to be a big deal; she was not digging this line of thought. And her final question to me was essentially, “Isn’t this all just a fad?” You know, sort of the flagpole-sitting of the early early 21st century? It’s fun to go out and produce and share a little bit, but then people are going to eventually realize, “This isn’t as good as doing what I was doing before,” and settle down. And I made a spirited argument that no, this wasn’t the case, that this was in fact a big one-time shift, more analogous to the industrial revolution than to flagpole-sitting.

I was arguing that this isn’t the sort of thing society grows out of. It’s the sort of thing that society grows into. But I’m not sure she believed me, in part because she didn’t want to believe me, but also in part because I didn’t have the right story yet. And now I do.

I was having dinner with a group of friends about a month ago, and one of them was talking about sitting with his four-year-old daughter watching a DVD. And in the middle of the movie, apropos nothing, she jumps up off the couch and runs around behind the screen. That seems like a cute moment. Maybe she’s going back there to see if Dora is really back there or whatever. But that wasn’t what she was doing. She started rooting around in the cables. And her dad said, “What you doing?” And she stuck her head out from behind the screen and said, “Looking for the mouse.”

Here’s something four-year-olds know: A screen that ships without a mouse ships broken. Here’s something four-year-olds know: Media that’s targeted at you but doesn’t include you may not be worth sitting still for. Those are things that make me believe that this is a one-way change. Because four year olds, the people who are soaking most deeply in the current environment, who won’t have to go through the trauma that I have to go through of trying to unlearn a childhood spent watching Gilligan’s Island, they just assume that media includes consuming, producing and sharing.

It’s also become my motto, when people ask me what we’re doing–and when I say “we” I mean the larger society trying to figure out how to deploy this cognitive surplus, but I also mean we, especially, the people in this room, the people who are working hammer and tongs at figuring out the next good idea. From now on, that’s what I’m going to tell them: We’re looking for the mouse. We’re going to look at every place that a reader or a listener or a viewer or a user has been locked out, has been served up passive or a fixed or a canned experience, and ask ourselves, “If we carve out a little bit of the cognitive surplus and deploy it here, could we make a good thing happen?” And I’m betting the answer is yes.

Thank you very much.

By

"I dropped out of school because my schooling was interfering with my education."

I watched this video yesterday and it was the statement, “I dropped out of school because my schooling was interfering with my education” that stayed in my head and rattled around all night. I woke up with it this morning. As I cycled my regular Monday morning 20km it followed me and as I stood up to leave the office for a much needed blast of coffee it halted my step and dragged me back to the computer.”Is it valid?” is the question that it begs me to ask. I am thinking about how I learn. How I gather the knowledge that I need to competently perform my job. And I am thinking about how the students in my school learn. How they gather the knowledge they need to competently perform their jobs. And I am wondering if there should be a difference, because a difference there is.

Nobody is serving up the resources I need to do my job. I need to investigate, research, test, evaluate and reason with the information that I uncover in order to do my job. I am set a task and that is it. Bruce, we need to implement this. Make it happen. So I begin the process of researching, testing, learning, evaluating and so on in order to accomplish the task. How often does this happen in our classrooms?

Are our students the Titanic and ‘schooling’ and ‘education’ two passengers who have leapt from the ship in their life jackets, frantically blowing their whistles to attract attention but inevitably drifting apart as the boat sinks? Personally I’m not sure the situation is that bleak, but I tend to think that without a consciousness of the need for schooling to match the needs of education then the drifting will begin.

I would love to know what you think.

Bruce

Posted via email from bruce’s posterous

By

You can't be my teacher

knokker@gmail.com sent you a link to the following content:Video – You can’t be my teacher
http://www.dangerouslyirrelevant.org/2010/03/video-you-cant-be-my-teacher.html

The sender also included this note:

If you are a teacher then this should get you thinking!

Posted via email from brucetutes’s posterous

Thanks for stopping by to check out the blog! If you would like to receive an update each time there is a new post, just add your email in below. Thanks, Bruce.

Subscribe!