Saturday, December 25, 2010

Post weekly (weekly)

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

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Post weekly (weekly)

  • This site replaces iCue with the news footage, etc. Looks good.

    NBC News Archives on Demand (K-12) is a collection of NBC News videos, primary source documents, images, and resources specifically designed for use in the K-12 classroom.

    * Thousands of searchable and downloadable resources (1600s to Today)
    * Video content aligned to State Standards
    * Current Events updated regularly
    * Sciences, Social Studies, Language Arts, Health and Business
    * Personalized playlists for teachers and students
    * Revolutionary flippable media player

    tags: news

  • Aviary for educators! Shared today on the CFF listserv. (Thanks, Susannah)

    tags: tools aviary music audio

  • This won't raise any test scores, but check this out.

    tags: google

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

Thursday, December 16, 2010

My Favorite Christmas Story

Every year for the past... many... I've tried to remember to send out this link to my favorite Christmas story. It's told by Henry Faulk and it used to be played on NPR each year. They finally stopped playing it, but the link to the story remains.

This has become a tradition for me. I play it at least once each year.

Gather the family around and settle in for what I'm certain you will find to be a wonderful story, brilliantly told. The story of a barefoot boy and his Christmas orange.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

21 Things that will Disappear in Ten Years? My reply

Recently, someone on twitter pointed me to this blog post about twenty one things that will disappear in education by 2020. I read it fully and have copied and pasted it here along with my responses. What do you think?

1. Desks
The 21st century does not fit neatly into rows. Neither should your students. Allow the network-based concepts of flow, collaboration, and dynamism help you rearrange your room for authentic 21st century learning.
I don’t see this happening in the next ten years. Why not? There is nothing to suggest that our colleges are changing the way they teach, nor how they teach education majors how to teach. We teach how we were taught, so as long as the model remains the old model, well continue to teach that way.

Another reason - it would take WAY too much money to replace all the desks with tables, etc. Too many of us remember the Open Classroom fad of the 70’s and what a failure that was - for a host of reasons. I doubt that many will be splurging on new furniture with the risk of it turning into another fad.

2. Language Labs
Foreign language acquisition is only a smart phone away. Get rid of those clunky desktops and monitors and do something fun with that room.
This MAY happen if the foreign language teachers can see a successful model. Not until.

3. Computers
Ok, so this is a trick answer. More precisely this one should read: 'Our concept of what a computer is'. Because computing is going mobile and over the next decade we're going to see the full fury of individualized computing via handhelds come to the fore. Can't wait.
I HOPE this one doesn’t come to pass. Why? While the smart phones are getting better and the apps more powerful, they still can’t replace the laptop for MANY things. Typing any sort of text beyond a paragraph is far too cumbersome. In fact, doing much more than just using it as a consumer isn’t there, yet. Maybe in ten years. Still, we’ve got powerful laptops that can do everything the phone can do - and MUCH more - and many (most?) schools block access to to. I’d RATHER hear that schools will stop blocking Google Docs and wikis, and blogs, and other such nonsense.

the same holds true, in my opinion, for ipads and ipod touches. Our models for delivering our curriculum haven’t stalled because we’ve been waiting for an ipad. They’re consumer devices, not creativity devices. And pointing to a few exceptions doesn’t change the overall nature of the device, IMHO.

4. Homework
The 21st century is a 24/7 environment. And the next decade is going to see the traditional temporal boundaries between home and school disappear. And despite whatever Secretary Duncan might say, we don't need kids to 'go to school' more; we need them to 'learn' more. And this will be done 24/7 and on the move (see #3).
I would hope that homework would not disappear, either. Let’s do some math. We’ve got the students for 13 years, for 7 hours per day for 180 days per year. That comes to 16,380 hours. That, compared to 13 years times 365 days times 24 hours, MINUS the time they spend in school comes to 97,500 hours. That means that we have them for less than 17% of the time in those 13 years. I don’t think it’s possible for them to learn all that we’re saying that they SHOULD learn if they’re only asked to learn it in school.

I agree that the 21st Century may be a 24/7 environment, and not a 7/5 environment. So that means that learning must happen outside of school - at home. Doing homework.

5. The Role of Standardized Tests in College Admissions
The AP Exam is on its last legs. The SAT isn't far behind. Over the next ten years, we will see Digital Portfolios replace test scores as the #1 factor in college admissions.
Not so sure about this one, either. First, the teachers will need to become much more literate in those areas, AND they must see the model of its use in order to duplicate it. That means that the colleges themselves will have to be training new teachers to use the portfolios. And THAT means that the colleges will have somehow found a way (and the TIME) to examine portfolios of work in order to know whether or not to accept a student. They will have to know what to look for (how to grade them) in order to know if a student is college material or not. Think about how much time THAT would take. I just don’t see the colleges being eager to make that happen. Certainly not in ten years. We know how slowly things change in education.

6. Differentiated Instruction as the Sign of a Distinguished Teacher
The 21st century is customizable. In ten years, the teacher who hasn't yet figured out how to use tech to personalize learning will be the teacher out of a job. Differentiation won't make you 'distinguished'; it'll just be a natural part of your work.
Maybe, but not if computers are replaced by cell phones and ipads. Just having those students practice with ipad apps or cell phone apps isn’t going to give them the skills to do real research, manage their online resources, and create knowledge.

I do think that that a teacher who isn’t able to use technology seamlessly in ten years SHOULD be out looking for a job Now, I’m not talking about K-2 yeachers here. I still think the children need a LOT more than computers at that age. That said, however, there appears to be nothing on the horizon that would indicate that this skill - or lack thereof - will ever be grounds for dismissal.

7. Fear of Wikipedia
Wikipedia is the greatest democratizing force in the world right now. If you are afraid of letting your students peruse it, it's time you get over yourself.
I hope this is true, but unless Jimmy Wales can find a way to support that project, it may not even exist in ten years.

8. Paperbacks
Books were nice. In ten years' time, all reading will be via digital means. And yes, I know, you like the 'feel' of paper. Well, in ten years' time you'll hardly tell the difference as 'paper' itself becomes digitized.
Again, I hope this isn’t an accurate prediction. I can pick up a paperback at a yard sale for $.25 and it can circulate for years and years. Not so with e-books. Aside from the digital divide issues, I don’t think it’s good for education. It’ll happen someday. It has to. Just not in the next ten years.

9. Attendance Offices
Bio scans. 'Nuff said.
Yes, bio scans and along with that will be all the background information on that student. Past grades and disciplinary reports, clubs, etc. We won’t even have to get to know them!

Seriously, though,  I REALLY hope this one won't happen.

10. Lockers
A coat-check, maybe.
A secure coat check. Some place to keep your personal items where they won’t be stolen. Something like, maybe, a locker. :-)

11. IT Departments
Ok, so this is another trick answer. More subtly put: IT Departments as we currently know them. Cloud computing and a decade's worth of increased wifi and satellite access will make some of the traditional roles of IT -- software, security, and connectivity -- a thing of the past. What will IT professionals do with all their free time? Innovate. Look to tech departments to instigate real change in the function of schools over the next twenty years.
I don’t know. I’d think that the additional demands on the network to be able to reach the cloud consistently, and to support a network that allows students and staff to bring in their own hardware, will make their jobs even more demanding, not less.

12. Centralized Institutions
School buildings are going to become 'homebases' of learning, not the institutions where all learning happens. Buildings will get smaller and greener, student and teacher schedules will change to allow less people on campus at any one time, and more teachers and students will be going out into their communities to engage in experiential learning.
That would be nice. I just don’t see us going from here to there in just ten years. WAY too much has to change in order for that to happen.

13. Organization of Educational Services by Grade
Education over the next ten years will become more individualized, leaving the bulk of grade-based learning in the past. Students will form peer groups by interest and these interest groups will petition for specialized learning. The structure of K-12 will be fundamentally altered.
Many schools today are saying that they’re becoming more individualized already - because they use Plato ro Study Island. I hope that if your prediction comes to pass that it’s done correctly. When the research begins to show that it’s the ideal way to go, then maybe.

14. Education School Classes that Fail to Integrate Social Technology
This is actually one that could occur over the next five years. Education Schools have to realize that if they are to remain relevant, they are going to have to demand that 21st century tech integration be modeled by the very professors who are supposed to be preparing our teachers.
(Ed. Note:  Check out Plock's 2010 nomination for best blog post:  "Why Teachers Should Blog")
There y’ go! This is what I was saying earlier. This MUST change. Otherwise, our “headwaters’ will continue to pollute our teacher pool. But, recently I spoke to a group of higher ed professionals. I made a lot of assumptions going in. I THOUGHT that most would have, by now, edited a wiki page, and have used Google Docs or Windows live and would have used discussion forums with the students. I was shocked to discover that in that entire room, only THREE had edited a wiki page, TWO had used Google Docs, and only half a dozen or so had used discussion forums with students. None in that room kmew what an aggregator was.

There is a VERY long way to go in this area. Things may begin to change in the next five years, but I don’t see significant, systemic changes occurring for some time.

15. Paid/Outsourced Professional Development
No one knows your school as well as you. With the power of a PLN in their backpockets, teachers will rise up to replace peripatetic professional development gurus as the source of schoolwide prof dev programs. This is already happening.
In Pennsylvania that is happening already. There is a very closely connected group of instructional coaches around the state - some 500+ strong - who are in PLCs in Twitter, facebook, classroom 2.0, and more, and they are, indeed, leading the PD in their districts. That’s been happening for years already. They are connected, and passionate learners who are the driving forces in their districts for instructional change.

Of course, all this comes at a time when I was hoping to be able to do some PD in my early retirement years. Oh well, what they’re doing is HUGE for PA. I’m proud to be associated with them.

16. Current Curricular Norms
There is no reason why every student needs to take however many credits in the same course of study as every other student. The root of curricular change will be the shift in middle schools to a role as foundational content providers and high schools as places for specialized learning.
That will happen if the tests go away. Once we stop trying to make every student the same, that will happen. Don’t see that happening any time soon, though.

17. Parent-Teacher Conference Night
Ongoing parent-teacher relations in virtual reality will make parent-teacher conference nights seem quaint. Over the next ten years, parents and teachers will become closer than ever as a result of virtual communication opportunities. And parents will drive schools to become ever more tech integrated.
I think that the technology will, indeed, make communication easier and more timely between teachers and parents. And students. Still, I like to press the flesh and meet them and establish a bit of trust and common goals. I hope those don’t go away.

18. Typical Cafeteria Food
Nutrition information + handhelds + cost comparison = the end of $3.00 bowls of microwaved mac and cheese. At least, I so hope so.

19. Outsourced Graphic Design and Webmastering
You need a website/brochure/promo/etc.? Well, for goodness sake just let your kids do it. By the end of the decade -- in the best of schools -- they will be.
Yes. No reaon NOT to. I’m not a fan of Dreamweaver for making school websites. Too steep of a learning curve to master the program, and there’s no real need to. Setting up and customizing a Drupal or Joomla site to create a website that has dynamic content is the way to go, for me.

20. High School Algebra I
Within the decade, it will either become the norm to teach this course in middle school or we'll have finally woken up to the fact that there's no reason to give algebra weight over statistics and IT in high school for non-math majors (and they will have all taken it in middle school anyway).
Hmm. Not sure about that one. I WOULD like to see math being overhauled so that we’re teaching less of how to solve an equation and more about WHY and what to do with the answers. Like Dan Meyer and Conrad Wolfram have recently discussed in the Tedx talks.

21. Paper
In ten years' time, schools will decrease their paper consumption by no less than 90%. And the printing industry and the copier industry and the paper industry itself will either adjust or perish.
I do believe it will be reduced, thankfully, and it would be great if it did reach the 90% level. But, SO much has to change for that to happen, and change happens slowly in education. We used to joke that educators didn’t wear watches, we wore calendars.
So, what do you think?

P.S. (Added 12/13)
I think that all those points could happen in ten years, but the focus in the schools would have to be on change. That's not their focus. Right now it's on AYP. That's it. Nothing else matters if they're not making AYP. Right or wrong, it's just the way it is. So, change, if it's not going to either save money or improve test scores, I don't believe will happen.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Post weekly (weekly)

  • search engine for creative commons images. Grab code to embed the image or click the image to be taken to the source

    tags: creativecommons

  • Shared recently on twitter. No account needed. For you but probably not the students. Nothing wrong, but certainly won't raise a test score. :)

    tags: photos fun

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

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Qwiki - project THIS out a few years! WOW!

The typical search engine returns links to other websites that contain your keywords. WolframAlpha returns a computed answer to your query. But THIS website returns a multimedia story about your answer.

Kristin Hokansen pointed me to this while on Twitter one night. This site is so new it's still in alpha!

Go to the qwiki site now and watch the introductory video. That will give you a sense for what it is. I've got  'unlimited' invitations open to share with others, so if you wish to join in on the fun, testing this alpha version of this amazing site, let me know. I ran a few tests to make sure that results were school friendly, and those that I ran were. You may know more of the names that would have cause for concern (someone mentioned 50 cent, for example, but I won't dignify the guy by searching for him.)

Once again, project this technology out 5 years. Incredible! There will surely be some teaching that we'll have to do about the site - I mean, look at what we went through with Wikipedia. But, this is a powerful example of Web 3.0 technology.


Saturday, December 04, 2010

Post weekly (weekly)

  • "Like an IMC in the real world, you will find...

    * tools for planning, using and managing your own environment,
    * a solid foundation for supporting standards and assessment practices,
    * classroom projects, lessons, units, field trips, extended studies, international databases in almost any subject and across subjects,
    * references and contests for students,
    * multimedia creation and samples,
    * professional development and publishing opportunities,
    * tips for school, family and community partnerships, public groups and private industry, and
    * space to conference with colleagues"

    tags: iste

  • Totally addictive game that teaches science concepts to get you to move a ball over to its target.

    tags: science game

  • Wouldn't it be WONDERFUL if our students could give presentations in Social Studies like this one by the Gapminder Founder, Hans Rosling?

    tags: data gapminder

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

Friday, December 03, 2010

Polluted - Part II

I wasn't looking for this. I just happened to see an image on the back page of the Sierra magazine. It showed a picture of the Citarum River in Indonesia. It's "one of the world's most polluted rivers." ONE of? It's not THE most polluted?

These two images show men in canoes, salvaging what they can from the tons of debris floating in the river.

Now if those images aren't a writing prompt, I don't know what is. Send this to your favorite earth science teacher and sociology teacher and World Cultures teacher. There are prompts there for everyone.

Creative Commons Licensed: Flickr: LMGM: Liz Murphy Global Media

Creative Commons Licensed: Flickr: dosomethink!

I'm a lucky man!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Plastic - A Problem and A Solution

This one is a MUST-SEE for your science teachers. It's in two parts. The first is a very moving slideshow by Chris Jordan. You may have seen some of his images before. He will create an image of, say, a human skull smoking a cigarette. But the image is actually a mosaic made up of cigarette packs equal to, in this case, the number of people who die from smoking related diseases each month in the US. Check out that image and the look at the others in the panel on the right. BE SURE to CLICK THE IMAGE to see it scroll in to reveal the details. And be sure to read the captions for each. Here's his second "Running the Numbers" collection.

Share those links with your students. No other comments. Ask them to write (a blog would be better) or post a discussion forum topic about which of those images hit home the most and why. Let them discuss it.

Then show them this poptech video from 2009 of Chris Jordan showing the photographs he took on Midway Island. It shows the decayed remains of baby albatrosses whose stomachs are full of undigested plastic. Play it through to the very end. When it's over, have them again write/blog/discuss their reaction to it. Have them suggest solutions to the problem - and maybe even vote on the best suggestion and state why they feel it's the best suggestion.

This youtube video tells us that in some parts of the ocean there are SIX pounds of plastic floating in the ocean for every ONE pound of plankton. SIX to ONE! It also talks about the situation on Midway. And there are PLENTY more resources that provide more information about the floating garbage dump. Are your students using Diigo? If so, let them find some resources and leave discussion notes on the pages they find. A great way to have them talking about YOUR content!

Then, maybe the next class period, after you've discussed the proposed solutions and talked about the problem some more, show them this amazing video of Ryan Smith whose company is converting raw sewage into clean, biodegradable plastic! Yes, that's right. Sewage into CLEAN plastic.

NOW have them write/blog/discuss about this solution and let that discussion lead you into the nature of bacteria and the fact that there still are BILLIONS of inventions/solutions still as yet to be discovered. And, a solution like this one will likely change forever how we deal with and think about plastic.

Science will be what saves this planet from our own ignorance.

Make sure that your science teachers see this. It's something that can fit into almost any science course.

This image is from Chris Jordan's website from the Midway collection.