Saturday, September 12, 2009

Post weekly (weekly)

  • Public domain books in audio files. You can even volunteer to record a chapter of a book.

    tags: audiobooks

  • nice article about blogging guidelines

    tags: blogging

  • Interactive whiteboard area that includes a great-looking math function editor. Designed for synchronous distance learning.

    tags: whiteboard

  • This was shared on another listt. A good example of student bloggers. They're using Edublogs

    tags: middleschool, blogs

  • A very interesting article. Lots of good discussion points.

    tags: 21stcenturylearning, reform

    • But in fact, the skills students need in the 21st century are not new.
    • What's actually new is the extent to which changes in our economy and the world mean that collective and individual success depends on having such skills.
    • This distinction between "skills that are novel" and "skills that must be taught more intentionally and effectively" ought to lead policymakers to different education reforms than those they are now considering. If these skills were indeed new, then perhaps we would need a radical overhaul of how we think about content and curriculum. But if the issue is, instead, that schools must be more deliberate about teaching critical thinking, collaboration, and problem solving to all students, then the remedies are more obvious, although still intensely challenging.
    • To complicate the challenge, some of the rhetoric we have heard surrounding this movement suggests that with so much new knowledge being created, content no longer matters; that ways of knowing information are now much more important than information itself. Such notions contradict what we know about teaching and learning and raise concerns that the 21st century skills movement will end up being a weak intervention for the very students—low-income students and students of color—who most need powerful schools as a matter of social equity.
    • What will it take to ensure that the idea of "21st century skills"—or more precisely, the effort to ensure that all students, rather than just a privileged few, have access to a rich education that intentionally helps them learn these skills—is successful in improving schools? That effort requires three primary components. First, educators and policymakers must ensure that the instructional program is complete and that content is not shortchanged for an ephemeral pursuit of skills. Second, states, school districts, and schools need to revamp how they think about human capital in education—in particular how teachers are trained. Finally, we need new assessments that can accurately measure richer learning and more complex tasks.
    • Why would misunderstanding the relationship of skills and knowledge lead to trouble? If you believe that skills and knowledge are separate, you are likely to draw two incorrect conclusions. First, because content is readily available in many locations but thinking skills reside in the learner's brain, it would seem clear that if we must choose between them, skills are essential, whereas content is merely desirable. Second, if skills are independent of content, we could reasonably conclude that we can develop these skills through the use of any content. For example, if students can learn how to think critically about science in the context of any scientific material, a teacher should select content that will engage students (for instance, the chemistry of candy), even if that content is not central to the field. But all content is not equally important to mathematics, or to science, or to literature. To think critically, students need the knowledge that is central to the domain.
    • Because of these challenges, devising a 21st century skills curriculum requires more than paying lip service to content knowledge.
    • Advocates of 21st century skills favor student-centered methods—for example, problem-based learning and project-based learning—that allow students to collaborate, work on authentic problems, and engage with the community. These approaches are widely acclaimed and can be found in any pedagogical methods textbook; teachers know about them and believe they're effective. And yet, teachers don't use them. Recent data show that most instructional time is composed of seatwork and whole-class instruction led by the teacher (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Early Child Care Research Network, 2005). Even when class sizes are reduced, teachers do not change their teaching strategies or use these student-centered methods (Shapson, Wright, Eason, & Fitzgerald, 1980). Again, these are not new issues. John Goodlad (1984) reported the same finding in his landmark study published more than 20 years ago.
    • Why don't teachers use the methods that they believe are most effective? Even advocates of student-centered methods acknowledge that these methods pose classroom management problems for teachers. When students collaborate, one expects a certain amount of hubbub in the room, which could devolve into chaos in less-than-expert hands. These methods also demand that teachers be knowledgeable about a broad range of topics and are prepared to make in-the-moment decisions as the lesson plan progresses. Anyone who has watched a highly effective teacher lead a class by simultaneously engaging with content, classroom management, and the ongoing monitoring of student progress knows how intense and demanding this work is. It's a constant juggling act that involves keeping many balls in the air.
    • Most teachers don't need to be persuaded that project-based learning is a good idea—they already believe that. What teachers need is much more robust training and support than they receive today, including specific lesson plans that deal with the high cognitive demands and potential classroom management problems of using student-centered methods.
    • Without better curriculum, better teaching, and better tests, the emphasis on "21st century skills" will be a superficial one that will sacrifice long-term gains for the appearance of short-term progress.
  • A VERY interesting article. If you've got Diigo installed, why not add your comments

    tags: 21st-century

    • The noted philosopher once said, "I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance." My fear is that instead of knowing nothing except the fact of our own ignorance, we will know everything except the fact of our own ignorance. Google has given us the world at our fingertips, but speed and ubiquity are not the same as actually knowing something.
    • Socrates believed that we learn best by asking essential questions and testing tentative answers against reason and fact in a continual and virtuous circle of honest debate. We need to approach the contemporary knowledge explosion and the technologies propelling this new enlightenment in just that manner. Otherwise, the great knowledge and communication tsunami of the 21st century may drown us in a sea of trivia instead of lifting us up on a rising tide of possibility and promise.
    • A child born today could live into the 22nd century. It's difficult to imagine all that could transpire between now and then. One thing does seem apparent: Technical fixes to our outdated educational system are likely to be inadequate. We need to adapt to a rapidly changing world.
    • Every day we are exposed to huge amounts of information, disinformation, and just plain nonsense. The ability to distinguish fact from factoid, reality from fiction, and truth from lies is not a "nice to have" but a "must have" in a world flooded with so much propaganda and spin.
    • For example, for many years, the dominant U.S. culture described the settling of the American West as a natural extension of manifest destiny, in which people of European descent were "destined" to occupy the lands of the indigenous people. This idea was, and for some still is, one of our most enduring and dangerous collective fabrications because it glosses over human rights and skirts the issue of responsibility. Without critical reflection, we will continually fall victim to such notions.
    • A second element of the 21st century mind that we must cultivate is the willingness to abandon supernatural explanations for naturally occurring events.
    • The third element of the 21st century mind must be the recognition and acceptance of our shared evolutionary collective intelligence.
    • To solve the 21st century's challenges, we will need an education system that doesn't focus on memorization, but rather on promoting those metacognitive skills that enable us to monitor our own learning and make changes in our approach if we perceive that our learning is not going well.
    • Metacognition is a fancy word for a higher-order learning process that most of us use every day to solve thousands of problems and challenges.
    • We are at the threshold of a worldwide revolution in learning. Just as the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, the wall of conventional schooling is collapsing before our eyes. A new electronic learning environment is replacing the linear, text-bound culture of conventional schools. This will be the proving ground of the 21st century mind.
    • We will cease to think of technology as something that has its own identity, but rather as an extension of our minds, in much the same way that books extend our minds without a lot of fanfare. According to Huff and Saxberg, immersive technologies—such as multitouch displays; telepresence (an immersive meeting experience that offers high video and audio clarity); 3-D environments; collaborative filtering (which can produce recommendations by comparing the similarity between your preferences and those of other people); natural language processing; intelligent software; and simulations—will transform teaching and learning by 2025.
    • So imagine that a group of teachers and middle school students decides to tackle the question, What is justice? Young adolescents' discovery of injustice in the world is a crucial moment in their development. If adults offer only self-serving answers to this question, students can become cynical or despairing. But if adults treat the problem of injustice truthfully and openly, hope can emerge and grow strong over time.

      As part of their discussion, let's say that the teachers and students have cocreated a middle school earth science curriculum titled Water for the World. This curriculum would be a blend of classroom, community, and online activities. Several nongovernmental organizations—such as Waterkeeper, the Earth Institute at Columbia University, and Water for People—might support the curriculum, which would meet national and state standards and include lessons, activities, games, quizzes, student-created portfolios, and learning benchmarks.

    • The goal of the curriculum would be to enable students from around the world to work together to address the water crisis in a concrete way. Students might help bore a freshwater well, propose a low-cost way of preventing groundwater pollution, or develop a local water treatment technique. Students and teachers would collaborate by talking with one another through Skype and posting research findings using collaborative filtering. Students would create simulations and games and use multitouch displays to demonstrate step-by-step how their projects would proceed. A student-created Web site would include a blog; a virtual reference room; a teachers' corner; a virtual living room where learners communicate with one another in all languages through natural language processing; and 3-D images of wells being bored in Africa, Mexico, and Texas.

      In a classroom like this, something educationally revolutionary would happen: Students and adults would connect in a global, purposeful conversation that would make the world a better place. We would pry the Socratic dialogue from the hands of the past and lift it into the future to serve the hopes and dreams of all students everywhere.

    • There has never been a time in human history when the opportunity to create universally accessible knowledge has been more of a reality. And there has never been a time when education has meant more in terms of human survival and happiness.
    • To start, we must overhaul and redesign the current school system. We face this great transition with both hands tied behind our collective backs if we continue to pour money, time, and effort into an outdated system of education. Mass education belongs in the era of massive armies, massive industrial complexes, and massive attempts at social control. We have lost much talent since the 19th century by enforcing stifling education routines in the name of efficiency. Current high school dropout rates clearly indicate that our standardized testing regime and outdated curriculums are wasting the potential of our youth.
    • If we stop thinking of schools as buildings and start thinking of learning as occurring in many different places, we will free ourselves from the conventional education model that still dominates our thinking.
  • Doodline helps with recalling facts.

    tags: doodle

    • Researchers believe that simple tasks, such as doodling, may block daydreaming, keeping the mind focused on the job at hand.
  • Fun collection of bad photoshop edits. Can we EVER believe a picture again? I think not - unless WE take the picture.

    tags: photo_editing

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

1 comment:

MrsE said...

Thanks for posting these links, Jim. I'm building a blog to help teachers in our district who are beginning to explore blogging with their students. A couple of the posts you flagged here will be very useful.