Browsing articles in "Uncategorized"
Jan 11, 2011
Comments Off on Do I have to? How many times do our students jump through hoops to prove their worth? How many times

Do I have to? How many times do our students jump through hoops to prove their worth? How many times

Do I have to? How many times do our students jump through hoops to prove their worth? How many times

Jan 7, 2011
Comments Off on Education Unplugged.

Education Unplugged.

What if we strip education down to the essentials of learning? No flashy technology, no detailed lesson plans, no teacher unions, no elaborate pyramids of strategies, just the bare bones.

Like a musician that takes away the production elements, and relies on just the basics of their voice and acoustic instrumentation. A musician who tries to capture the soul of the music by hearing its internal vibrations.

What would those elements be?

Curiosity. Support. Mistakes. Questions. Challenges. Reading. Writing. Problem Solving. Community. Perseverance.

Did I miss any acoustic elements?

Now let’s construct our classes, our assignments, our environments of learning. Let’s think about assessment, achievement and success.

Let’s hear the soul of education.

Does this make for the same system we deal with today? Does it sound the same in the hallways, classrooms, staff rooms, blogosphere?

Jan 6, 2011
Comments Off on Change Monger?

Change Monger?

I like change. I like being fluid. I cringe when policies and procedures of which I don’t agree are forced upon me. I feel suffocated when things feel static. I can admit it. But do I have a problem?

I was taken to task the other day in an e-mail by someone who had read a series of my blog posts. He went on to call me a “change monger”.

He asked, “if there was anything about education that I was happy with?”, saying that I should “stop complaining”, and that “I’d probably never be happy” and “I’m one of those people who only wants change for the sake of change.”

These charges made me reflect on what I’m looking for in education, in my thinking, in my community.

Am I being fair to education? Am I looking for too much change? Why can’t I be satisfied with the small change that is happening? What does change provide me that static ideas don’t?

In the words of Isaac Asimov, “The only constant is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be.”

If we aren’t constantly trying to change, what are the consequences?

I subscribe to a feeling of always striving to become better. I subscribe to the idea that no thought should be discouraged because it is threatening. I subscribe to the notion that I don’t have the right answers and so I should continue to look for others.

If that makes me a “change monger”, I’ll wear that label as a badge. We need to change.

Are you a “change monger”?

Jan 4, 2011
Comments Off on Class Sizes?

Class Sizes?

Is the linchpin to the revolution the number of students in the room? Is this where real facilitated learning begins?

After a wonderful break, I walked into my classroom and ten students joined me. Out of a registered twenty seven, ten decided that Monday was worthy of their presence.

It was wonderful. They worked away at multiple tasks, blog reflections, and summative assignments and I was able to spend time with each student. They were productive, chatty (who wouldn’t be after a two week break) and altogether engaged.

I asked myself, was it me? Not at all. Was it my energy? No, I was a bit sluggish actually. Was it the mix of kids? No. It was the dynamic that is created with fewer kids in the room. The time I had to help each student work through their issues, their questions.

I had a great conversation with a colleague and she ultimately believes that class sizes are the educational issue of the 21st Century. Not technology, not pedagogy, not assessment. Limit the number of kids in the room.

I asked her three questions:

  1. How did we get here?
  2. How do we reduce them?
  3. If we move the student to the centre of our classroom design and psychology, will it still be an issue?

We decided that they aren’t simple questions, no simple answers, more thinking to be done. But, is this THE issue in the educational revolution?

Dec 21, 2010
Comments Off on Could You Do It?

Could You Do It?

75 minutes. 5 minute break. 75 minutes. 1 hour lunch. 75 minutes. 5 minute break. 75 minutes. Homework.

Could you do it?

Could you maintain a high level of focus for a day as a student? I failed to mention that you’ll be learning things that you have no choice over. Interested in WWI history, sorry, we are learning about the Roaring 20s. Too bad for you. Interested in creative writing. Sorry, we’re analyzing Shakespeare. Maybe some other time.

Each day, day in, day out, we are expecting our students to perform a mental feat, I’m not sure is possible. Engage cognitively in challenging material, almost non-stop, all day.

How long can you maintain your intellectual focus before you need a real break, or choice, or distraction?

I’m not thinking that it can’t be done, but I doubt it is the most effective, efficient learning model.

Consider a monthly staff meeting, teachers can’t keep focused and dedicated on information that is deemed pertinent to their jobs. I’ve even uttered the phrase, “Do I really need to be told this, can’t I just read it in a memo?” Sound familiar? And yet, our expectations for our students are such that they’ll have the ability to “hunker down” and “shut out distractions”.

Watch teachers “take breaks” during their prep time. How many teacher sit at their desk and zone out while students do seat work?

All this also doesn’t take in to account the need for creative time, an opportunity for ideas to marinate, a chance to sit and patiently ponder. There is no time for that as the next class has already begun.

I raise these questions as I consider the nature of the school day, the idea that the resource of time is not so scarce and yet, essential and most often used as an excuse for the lack of educational engagement. (Another blog post in the making)

Have we really set up our school day for success? Or have we created an impossible cognitive mine field?

Dec 14, 2010
Comments Off on The Edububble?

The Edububble?

Are we stuck in an edububble?

Are the people, like me I suppose, who are pushing the revolution, really exposed to new ideas? Or are we just listening to the same ideas, quoting each other and circulating edu-think? Do you need to be in education to know what you are talking about?

Do we need to start letting different, non-educators have a say/perspective in what is happening in our schools?

We are so protective of the space. Too often I hear, “How can someone who has not been in a classroom as a teacher really know what it’s like?” Is it time to recognize that we are not experts in education and someone from outside of education might have better answers.

Don’t get me wrong, I strongly recommend reading the edublogosphere, staying updated in many of the books that are published “by teachers, for teachers”, but do too many teachers only listen to other teachers? Do we lose our connection with the world outside of education?

I don’t have the answers here, I’m not sure I’m even asking the right questions, but I want to make sure we are moving forward, not just rolling around and around. Passing time while we wait for students to recognize they don’t want school.

Is it time for the edububble to burst?

Dec 14, 2010
Comments Off on If They Could Choose.

If They Could Choose.

Five questions I am interested in, if given the choice:

Would students choose the teacher who shows movies or the teacher who has them make movies?

Would students choose the course that demands rigour or the course that allows a cursory attempt at learning?

Would students choose to focus on one thing with an intense depth or would they explore learning with an incredible breadth?

Would students want assignments spelled out for them or would they want to choose their own way of demonstrating their skills?

Would students decide to show up each day to a school that didn’t require their presence?

I’d like to believe that students want to learn and if given the structure, the support and the motivation, they will blow away much of what I can plan. That said, these questions are most often asked in opposition to this notion.

Thoughts?

Dec 13, 2010
Comments Off on We have never shied away from helping students develop their communication skills. Why are we questi

We have never shied away from helping students develop their communication skills. Why are we questi

We have never shied away from helping students develop their communication skills. Why are we questi

Dec 11, 2010
Comments Off on 100.

100.

This is my 100th blog post. It is funny because on one hand it seems like so many, but on the other it seems I’ve just gotten started.

Thank you to all the folks who have left notes, likes, e-mails and comments. It is through our online collaboration and discussion we all become better educators, learners and citizens. Even if you disagree with my thoughts, thanks for being part of the conversation.

To the critics, the fear mongers and those that have sent me messages of distaste. I hear you, yet I choose not to listen.

We are in need of a profound dialogue change, one where students are the centre of their learning. Not our supposed expertise. Students must be a voice we hear. Not just a din in the background. It is to them I listen most.

This is just 100. We are in the midst of an education revolution. Let our collective voices of change be heard loud and clear.

Dec 9, 2010
Comments Off on I’m not a parent. My thoughts may not be as precise as yours, as my interaction with little kids is limited. But I see the implications in teenagers. That said, I marvel at the play that my nephews (4 and 2) engage in. I think often of what the implicit lessons taught by the nature of their play, but more importantly by the nature of our discipline. Just the fact that we consider what we do “classroom management” implies that control is a major part of teaching and anytime we are talking control we are losing creativity. I like that this article calls to notice, “ambiguity, complexity, and improvisationóthe very things needed to innovate and come up with creative solutions to the massive global challenges in economics, the environment, education, and more.” When is that part of what we do? Why is it not? We need to recognize the need for these skills, along with some more traditional skills (literacy, numeracy, etc.) as being essential in the new media/economic landscape. I think there is a departure from the linear mindset that we NEED to be focusing on. I worry about kids when so much of what they do is scheduled, structured and sanitized. I don’t want to be one of those people that longs for the good ol’ days, but I do think we’ve lost a sense of adventure, exploration and unstructured-ness. Heck, I worry we, as a culture/society, don’t get outside enough. The article states, “I grow concerned when the daily folder my child brings home focuses on rewarding the following behaviors: walk quietly, keep hands to self, raise hand before speaking, and sit still in chair. I’d like to see a second folder promoting things like: had an original idea, created a new game on the playground, made up a story, solved a problem for a friend, or invented something uncommon from a common object.” I feel the same way. We work so hard at preparing students for a structured, rules-based life, which I don’t think we live in. School becomes a series of hoops to jump through. This can’t be what learning has to look like, there must be another/better model. †Ithink so much focus of our current assessment and evaluation is on following the rules and fitting within a set structure. Looking at those four pillars, I tend to think she is right. We (the system) don’t provide open environments, instead we sit in rows. We use limited flexible tools. Instead, the writing we teach is very formulaic. Do we offer real choice as to what type of writing we want our students to complete? Even the rules we have and set are rarely in the interest of students, they are more often in the interest of making it easier for the teacher. All this is not to say that I think we are terrible. I don’t think we’re headed down the toilet. I’m not complaining, but rather looking for opportunities and areas where we can improve. Like our last discussion, I don’t think we need to throw everything out, but I do think the status quo is not enough. Anyway, I’m no expert. These are just a few of my thoughts. I’m interested in your thoughts as teachers and as parents. I’m with Sir Ken Robinson on this one when he states, “Creativity is something that everyone has, yet more often it is beaten out of kids in schools.”

I’m not a parent. My thoughts may not be as precise as yours, as my interaction with little kids is limited. But I see the implications in teenagers. That said, I marvel at the play that my nephews (4 and 2) engage in. I think often of what the implicit lessons taught by the nature of their play, but more importantly by the nature of our discipline. Just the fact that we consider what we do “classroom management” implies that control is a major part of teaching and anytime we are talking control we are losing creativity. I like that this article calls to notice, “ambiguity, complexity, and improvisationóthe very things needed to innovate and come up with creative solutions to the massive global challenges in economics, the environment, education, and more.” When is that part of what we do? Why is it not? We need to recognize the need for these skills, along with some more traditional skills (literacy, numeracy, etc.) as being essential in the new media/economic landscape. I think there is a departure from the linear mindset that we NEED to be focusing on. I worry about kids when so much of what they do is scheduled, structured and sanitized. I don’t want to be one of those people that longs for the good ol’ days, but I do think we’ve lost a sense of adventure, exploration and unstructured-ness. Heck, I worry we, as a culture/society, don’t get outside enough. The article states, “I grow concerned when the daily folder my child brings home focuses on rewarding the following behaviors: walk quietly, keep hands to self, raise hand before speaking, and sit still in chair. I’d like to see a second folder promoting things like: had an original idea, created a new game on the playground, made up a story, solved a problem for a friend, or invented something uncommon from a common object.” I feel the same way. We work so hard at preparing students for a structured, rules-based life, which I don’t think we live in. School becomes a series of hoops to jump through. This can’t be what learning has to look like, there must be another/better model. †Ithink so much focus of our current assessment and evaluation is on following the rules and fitting within a set structure. Looking at those four pillars, I tend to think she is right. We (the system) don’t provide open environments, instead we sit in rows. We use limited flexible tools. Instead, the writing we teach is very formulaic. Do we offer real choice as to what type of writing we want our students to complete? Even the rules we have and set are rarely in the interest of students, they are more often in the interest of making it easier for the teacher. All this is not to say that I think we are terrible. I don’t think we’re headed down the toilet. I’m not complaining, but rather looking for opportunities and areas where we can improve. Like our last discussion, I don’t think we need to throw everything out, but I do think the status quo is not enough. Anyway, I’m no expert. These are just a few of my thoughts. I’m interested in your thoughts as teachers and as parents. I’m with Sir Ken Robinson on this one when he states, “Creativity is something that everyone has, yet more often it is beaten out of kids in schools.”

The Four Secrets of Playtime That Foster Creative Kids

Pages:«1234567...12»
6 color styles available:

Style switcher only on this demo version. Theme styles can be changed from Options page.