This afternoon is the first of our face to face meetings for our cyber ethics and copyright course for teachers.
Archives for August 2011
ASCD puts out some good stuff, but this article by Larry D. Rosen was lacking in quality.
Entitled Teaching the iGeneration, Rosen first is bemused by the fact that young children can download apps and upgrade computers. It’s not hard, Dr. Rosen. You click a button. Monkey see, monkey do.
So, then we run through some statistics about net use, and these are solid. I consulted some of the same sources in my convocation keynote. But then things turn afoul.
> Nor should teachers feel responsible for finding educational technologies to use in their classrooms. Teachers are required to teach specific content. The point is not to “teach with technology” but to use technology to convey content more powerfully and efficiently.
Here’s where I disagree. True, teachers shouldn’t use technology just to use it. But, we should all feel a responsibility to improve our craft. And technology has a role in the lives of students (and in school). And technology’s purpose goes far beyond conveying content, Dr. Rosen. It should inspire a change in pedagogy. Technology is a tool, and as a tool, it ought to be used to do something in the hands of our students. Solve problems, create something. Not just simply to convey information or content.
He closes with this, which I can appreciate more:
> Now, we need to take advantage of their love of technology to refocus education. In doing so, we’ll not only get students more involved in learning, but also free up classroom time to help them make meaning of the wealth of information that surrounds them.
But the road to this path is long and challenging. It is a responsibility we all share.
This is a new website of videos and photos (e.g. multimedia) that probably was created for adults, but is suitable for a much younger audience. Much of it inspires wonder and and curiosity about our world.
The last thing anyone wants is confusion.
This summer we changed G21 a bit. I am hoping teachers who might be confused by the changes can read through this and it will all be more clear.
There are now three “levels” of G21.
- School G21: this is a unifying theme for projects at your school. It’s a general umbrella theme so that everyone is thinking about one particular area. This will presumably change each school year. Schools will also pledge to do something around this theme, which could be a guest speaker, several class projects that collaborate together, an assembly or event, or even a fund raiser. While students and teachers both will be invited to participate, participation in this theme-related event is up to the school administration.
- Classroom G21: This is what we’ve done in the past. A project is identified for students and all students in a given class participate. Examples of projects might be: a video, a podcast, a paper, a musical composition, a dance performance, a game, a blog, etc. Projects should give students opportunities to practice 21st century skills with 21st century tools. These “classic” style projects must be completed in the first semester.
- Student G21: Teachers can elect to give students more voice into the product. In this example, the product is chosen/designed by the student. Instead of specific learning objectives, students are challenged to work on a problem/issue and the product may be part of the solution. Most projects would involve research. These “individual” projects can also be done in teams of students who share similar interests. It’s conceivable that a classroom may have 5 of these projects if students are working in groups. This level is optional, and replaces the “classroom” G21 for folks who take up this option. These projects must be completed by the end of the 3rd nine-weeks.
For some teachers, they may in the past not have done a project with all of their students (say, at the secondary level). We want all kids to experience the opportunity to work on a G21 project. The same project does not need to be used across different subjects. Projects can also be done in conjunction with other teachers.
The big difference this year is the school-based theme and matching projects to the theme. During the planning sessions, we can discuss how much or little your project needs to align to your school’s theme. For folks with project ideas planned this summer, our expectation is that only minor adjustments would need to be made to align most projects to a school’s wide-arching theme.
If you have further questions, let me or your building administrator know! If your question is of concern to more teachers, you can also leave me a comment below.
I’m flattered to have been asked to deliver a keynote presentation this year at our Convocation on Monday, August 15, 2011 when all teachers return for the 2011-12 school year.
A copy of my slides are available in PDF format. If you have comments or questions for me, use the comments below!
Links of interest:
- Kaiser Report: Generation M2
- Bowling Alone by Robert Putnam
- Learning to Change video
- Brain Rules
- What does it mean to be educated? from Forbes Magazine
- Education Needs a Digital Upgrade from NY Times
- Pew Internet Report – Sleeping with Cell Phones
- Big Questions for Educators
- Adolescents with Internet Addiction Disorder
- Internet’s Net Effect on the Brain
- Pew Internet – Kids Getting Cell Phones at Younger Ages
- Pew Internet – Teens and Mobile Phones
- Screen Time for Kids: Balancing Fun, Learning, and Media Creation
- How Technology Wires the Learning Brain
- Video Games Fire Up Learning
- Vision of Students Today – Video Collage
- Are they really ready to work?
- Are your co-workers killing you?
From a recent report comes some interesting news about our brain’s ability to recall information in so-called short-term memory. MIT neuroscientists have concluded that:
- the brain can recall at best, 4 items of information in short-term memory;
- we can recall these best when 2 are on the left, and 2 are on the right
“The fact that we have different capacities in each hemisphere implies that we should present information in a way that does not overtax one hemisphere while undertaxing the other,” says Tim Buschman, a postdoc working with Miller and a co-author of thePNAS paper. “For example, heads-up displays [transparent projections of information that a driver or pilot would normally need to look down at the dashboard to see] show a lot of data. Our results suggest that you want to put that information evenly on both sides of the visual field to maximize the amount of information that gets into the brain.”
It might be too early to make assumptions about what we should change in the classroom, but the basic gist here is interesting — with a call to present information symetrically when it needs to be held in working memory. This might apply to the design of visual instructional aids (presentation slides, Promethean flip charts), computer software, or even the more pedestrian worksheet or textbook diagram.
If you haven’t stopped and thought about this for awhile, please have my permission to do so now since you’re at my blog.
> Why do we want to learn? Why do kids want to learn? Where does the motivation come from?
Recently I read this blog post which is really the thing you should be reading (and not my 2¢) because a pre-school teacher found out with her students that assigning grades (or marks) to work killed their intrinsic motivation.
I’m motivated for two reasons to learn: either I have to learn to do something, or else, I follow my own curiosity. But I am confident we don’t want to be telling kids to learn because they have to learn something. For me, it’s a behavior I call lifelong learning. But as this new school year starts, consider how to enable students to learn with intrinsic motivation. I’m not suggesting we don’t grade their work, but what other things do we do to kill one’s motivation to learn?