Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dictionary of the Advocate for Inability

1.  “Try” - What I say I’m doing when I can’t do something, and am unwilling to put in any more work or step out of my comfort zone.  Productive people don’t try, they do.  

2.  “Can’t” - The first time I tried to do something I was not successful, so I have moved this skill to the “Can’t do” pile.  This is much easier than doing things to become successful.  Also, by saying I “can’t” I am actively recruiting someone to do it for me.

3.  “He/She Doesn’t Teach” -I believe my instructor is soley responsible for my success.  Since I am not being successful, then my instructor must not be doing their job.  I hear this sentiment from many former students regarding college professors.  A few former students have shown amazing resilience in being able to design their own learning.  These students often become valuable resources for their fellow college classmates.

4.  “Do you give extra credit?” - I am looking for a shortcut to success.

5.  “I don’t get it” - Can you sit right next to me and do it for me?  This way, it looks as if I’ve sought individualized attention from the instructor, when it hasn’t been a learning experience for me at all.  Also a technique used to solicit sympathy from an instructor for a student not holding up their end of the deal as a learner.  See #3.

Our learners have become accustomed to being passive, and assuming that as long as you trade some time, you’ll get a nice grade.  Our learners need to become ACTIVE, and I daresay teachers should become more passive.  Make them start “doing”.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Real Quick Thought on Standards Based Grading

I can hear my phone ringing off the hook and my Outlook email notifications flooding in from parents.

"Why does my student have a B?  a C?  an F?  They're a straight A student."

Parents and community members alike want teachers to do things the right way and the best way...as long as their students get A's.  Now that my grading system is an honest reflection of what's been learned, I'm grading in what is a non-inflated, best-practice grading system.  I have a premonition that parents are going to be irate about this.  Can anyone speak from experience?

Now off to draft a template for a response letter that begins with "Your student's grade may change at any time, for better or for worse..."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ideas from November 10 Interaction with Elementary School Teachers

Had an excellent meeting on Wednesday 11/10 with more elementary school teachers.  I love working with these people on technology integration.  I think it’s because they are so tech-starved and under-equipped that they NEED technology.  What happens in my class when there’s a great need?  The students turn into sponges.  They start every conversation with, “I need some ideas” and not, “Can you show me how to put a link on my Schoolwires page?”(last Schoolwires bash I promise*).  We have moved our elementary teachers forward in technology integration more in the past 2 months than high school teachers have budged in 3 years.  I’m extremely proud of us and those elementary school teachers for the work we’ve put in.

So the ideas that have fallen out of Wednesday’s meetings...
1.  Comic Life - kids create comic books and use photographs of themselves to build their own digital story.  Without futzing around in movie maker, iMovie, or some other Web 2.0 tool that is blocked.  I rarely see a need to purchase software (save Fathom) but can see potential here. 

2.  Google Earth - I want to find pre-created maps for every possible subject area that uses Google Earth.  Then we’ll compile them all into one location, let students/teachers use them once, then never let them use them again.  You want them?  Make them!  What better way to learn ancient history than to create a map about what you think is important.  Not just a concept map...a real one!

3.  Grade Level Sharing - A common place (wiki) for every grade level to share ideas, links, resources, etc.  I'm thinking that when something good comes up (blogging a Heritage project, podcasts/movies of students reading, games created in SMART notebook) we can add it to the appropriate grade level.  Now, if we could just get people to actually go to the Tech Tools Wiki...wait, not yet, I need to have the Diigo feeds show links more recent than August.

4.  Networked Learning - There's no reason to isolate students, be it individually or by classrooms.  Every kid in Grade 6 should share learning experiences with every other kid.  To a further extent, it should be shared to all other grades above and below.  More to come on this subject as I explore and completely ramp up this idea in the future...like an online AP Stat textbook being created from my Class WikiIf every Stat student had a hand in organizing, adding, and filtering information found on an endless homepage we could make a sweet textbook.

Smartboards are something that comes up frequently in my elementary school interactions.  Every teacher wants one,  no teacher needs one.  Your students need it, so let them use it.

*This week