Just saw a Tweet from fellow Wilkes instructor Lance Rougeux about a live Discovery Education webinar that he’s preparing to moderate on Wednesday, September 7th. It’s the first of four live broadcasts featuring members of communities who were personally affected by the September 11th attacks. Here’s the schedule:
Wednesday, September 7, 1:30 – 2:30 PM Shanksville Stonycreek High School · Shanksville, PA
Friday, September 9, 12:45 – 2:15 PM NYC iSchool · New York, NY – Moderator, Paula Zahn
Monday, September 12, 1:45 – 2:45 PM Wakefield High School · Arlington, VA
Tuesday, September 13, 12:30 – 1:30 PM American History High School · Newark, NJ – Moderator, Danny Forster
These webinars are intended for high school students and older due to the sensitivities involved. You can register for any or all of the programs at http://www.discoveryeducation.com/911/.
Lance’s Tweet actually originally lead me to his “teacher duck” web page where he shares “Eleven Things to Explore for Teaching about September 11.”
DEN blogger Tonya Wilson tipped me off to this Prakash Nair article from last month’s “Education Week” and it got me thinking. As a retired high school teacher, I miss the classroom – somewhat. As an online instructor in Wilkes Instructional Media program, I miss the classroom just a little bit too. I wish we could have one meeting face to face just to see and hear each other in real time, interact and share. But we would not have the benefits of sharing a class with such a diverse, widespread group as I usually see. From Alaska to Florida, Hawaii to Europe, I have enjoyed the work and challenge of teaching educators spread across time zones. I (and they) have also enjoyed the convenience and flexibility of ongoing discussions and sharing video projects without a rigid schedule or commute.
But I digress. I switched gears on you, reflecting on my current role working at a distance with motivated, well educated teachers. Back to the title, is the classroom obsolete? Is it just a matter of architectual design? It has been a long time (and even then it was rare) since I have seen a classroom set up like church with all the desks in neat rows facing forward. Is it leaving home and going to another building? I personally can’t imagine young students not getting the human touch to help them shape their learning. What do you think? Scheduling? Length of day or school year? A combination?
For those of us old enough to remember that day ten years ago, those three digits carry with them a flurry of memories and emotion. It’s hard to believe that most of our students may not share any of that with us. This fall’s high school seniors were just starting second grade in 2001. When I read Porter Palmer’s post on the DEN Global blog a few days ago about the two part Discovery special, “Rising: Rebuilding Ground Zero,” I must admit I began bracing myself for what I know will be a host of reminders over the next two weeks. Even though I was born almost nine years after the Pearl Harbor attack, December 7th was a date I knew as well as any family member’s birthday from as early as I can remember. I am pretty sure that September 11th now holds that place for generations to come.
I have two thoughts and a couple of resources to share before I leave you to your own reminiscing about that date and perhaps how your school will memorialize it.
Believe it or not, my thoughts are pretty positive. Soon after the details began to come out about the suicide pilots and the conspiracy, a Muslim high school student of mine in full burqa really felt like a spotlight had been turned on her. I mentioned that this might be a great opportunity for her to be an example of her faith and spirituality to our school community while she had their attention. (Not that she needed any coaxing from me, she was already a positive role model in so many areas of our school.) Last fall I found out she is now a Muslim chaplain at a major university. In my own family, we will be celebrating the first birthday of our youngest granddaughter. The date has taken on a life of it’s own, but life goes on. As for resources – Discovery Education streaming (which all Wilkes EDIM students have full access to) has over 150 items returned after a search on “9/11.” The WTC Tribute Center, which is “based on the concept of Person-to-Person History,” offers a free DVD as part of its outreach.
The Summer School webinar archives featuring the many ways you can incorporate digital storytelling, tips for getting the most from Discovery Education streaming, PBL, and PLN’s (what would an education post be without a few good acronyms?)
Are you a fan of Peter H. Reynolds? If you aren’t sure who he is or about the great things that he and FableVision do for kids and learning, stop reading this right now and go visit his webpage. Seriously. Go!
If you are back, or just still here, then you know that Peter H. Reynolds and Fable Vision are responsible for some amazing kids’ literature that focuses on finding their own creativity, their own stars. He is also an advocate for educators and offers us wonderful resources, like his free, downloadable posters. One of my favorite books of Reynolds’ is The Dot, which has become so beloved around the world that it has become its own day!
Help your students find their own mark by celebrating International Dot Day on September 15, 2011. Read The Dot together as a class and find ways to have students make their own marks. Need some ideas for inspiration and activities? Check out Reynolds’ page for The Dot http://www.peterhreynolds.com/dot/ at his website. Start planning now! Be prepared to share your mark with other educators in September!
(Kelly Hines, NC Leadership Council)
Wilkes U./Discovery Education Master of Science Degree in Instructional Media online classes begin again on September 6 and, though many of the sections are already filled, there are still a number of openings for the two, seven week fall sessions (9/6-10/23 and 10/24-12/11). If you are not familiar with our online masters program designed with the help of and supported by Discovery Education, then you should give the EDIM site a look. Enjoy classes that prepare you to lead your students into their future, not our past. Put what you learn on Friday right to use on Monday. And students in the EDIM program get full access to Discovery Education’s streaming suite of online resources.
When the Discovery Educator Network was born six years ago at the National Education Computing Conference (now ISTE) in Philadelphia (where it is again this year) I had no idea what an impact it would have on my professional life and learning. Yes, I have been exposed to a wealth of resources and more than my share of tchotchkes (swag for you show biz types) but more importantly, I have been connected with a wealth of fellow educators who share a desire to prepare their students for a future that is not our past. That feeling has been quantified in a recent study commissioned by Discovery Education and completed by the Harvard Graduate School of Education. I have always admired the DEN’s motto “Connecting teachers to their most important resource – each other” and believed it to be a lot more than just a clever marketing slogan. Now we know it’s a fact!
So, look over the study and browse the DEN blog as often as you can. Membership is free and the rewards for you and your students can be beyond measure. Look for your state’s Leadership Council (LC) blog in the sidebar on the left for news and local and virtual events. To paraphrase that very distinguished gentleman in the TV commercials who seems to excel at everything, “Stay connected, my friend!”
As I feverishly prepare to miss my first ISTE/NECC in almost two decades, I want to offer some pointers to attendees and non-attendees alike. I’m feeling just a little remorse as my new hip and I sit this one out in anticipation of a lot of walking and standing in Disney World with my grandkids the first week in August.
The International Society for Technology in Education bills it as “The world’s premiere Ed Tech conference” and I believe them. I’ve been fortunate to attend many, many conferences over the years and this is the biggest, if not the best. So, whether you are physically attending or not, consider the following:
1. Check in with or develop a PLN (personal/professional learning network). Besides the people I correspond with and know personally, I have a plethora of pholks who keep me up to date on Twitter, Plurk and the ISTE Community Ning (I’m “joebjr” on all 3). Get yourself connected if you’re not already.
2. Discovery’s Steve Dembo offers some solid advice that is applicable to any conference but definitely for ISTE. It’s on his long running Teach42 blog.
3. Keep an eye on the Discovery Educator Network national blog. There are bound to be some pithy postings about next week’s educational happenings in the City of Brotherly Love.
Now that school is done, or at least winding down, for the year, take some time to surf around and explore a rich variety of resources that will help supercharge your instruction in the fall. Here are eleven ideas from Steve Dembo (@teach42) and I (@lrougeux) to get you started. You can also check out the webinar archive from our session on June 7.
Classics with a Twist
1. Wordle – Create a word cloud to review what your students thought about the school year. And, don’t forget to check out Jen Wagner’s Guess the Wordle site.
2. Picnik – Make a wordle with all your students’ names on it and then spice it up with Picnik to make a thematic door sign for your classroom.
3. Google Earth – You’ve been there, done that, but don’t miss out on all the new content that is added by checking out the Google Earth Gallery
4. GlogsterEDU – There are so many ways to use this free, content creation tool. Think of a new way for 2011-2012. Go green and have your students create their science fair projects sans the tri-fold board. Let your students create digital bios so you can get to know their interests. Use it to introduce the classroom rules and procedures. The possibilities are endless!
5. Prezi – Sure you can use Prezi’s non-linear nature to make some great presentations or student research reports, but have you tried to use it as a bell-ringer review? Put a bunch of numbers and symbols onto the canvas and challenge your students to create a path to the right equations.
6. PhotoPeach – After a summer away, give your students a chance to introduce themselves to the class in their own voice by creating a digital story in seconds. Challenge them to add in trivia questions about their likes and dislikes as way to get to know each other.
New Stuff with a Classic Twist
7. Singing Fingers – Use this interactive multi-touch media creation tool to have your students fingerpaint their songs.
8. DoodleBuzz – Search news like you’ve never done before with through typographic news explorations.
9. Aurasma – Augmented Reality for the classroom! Put digital layers on top of traditional assignments.
10. QR Codes – Flip your classroom by letting your students curate the textbook!
11. Scoop.it - Spend the summer months curating content that you and your students will explore.
As we approach the end of the year and the end of the first decade of this new millennium, I find myself reflecting more and more on the education discussion/debates as the fickle finger of blame keeps changing with the wind (but almost always settles back on teachers and their unions). Just last week at the Illinois Education & Technology Conference, I had the opportunity to share a keynote that the turn of the millennium had inspired. “Holy Toledo! or this millennium is starting out just like the last one give or take a few centuries” looks at the information explosion that occurred between the time the Moors invaded the Iberian peninsula in 711 and Martin Luther nailed his theses to the door in 1517. That is really just a bit more than eight centuries of political, social and learning upheaval that parallels what has been going on lately in our lives in just over a generation. To the horror of the Spanish establishment then, “social networking” grew through the Arabic and Hebrew alphabets because it was easier for many to become literate in them than Latin and local dialects were considered too base for any writing. From the 9th to the 13th centuries, Toledo became a hub for translators. Arabs, Christians and Jews shared each other’s wisdom along with the ancient Greeks and what was left of the Library of Alexandria with the rest of the world. We got Arabic numerals, algebra, chemistry, astronomy, modern medicine and surgery (remember the barber’s pole is based their other skill of bloodletting). One of the oldest books written in an early form of Spanish is actually written with the Hebrew alphabet. Even our English words “clergy, cleric, clerical, clerk” show the transformation of general literacy from one controlled by the church and upper class to the population in general. The saying “knowledge is power” is generally considered to have been a warning to those in power. Even in more modern times, one of the few things a southern slave owner could do to incur the wrath of his neighbors and the legal system was to teach a slave to read. The invention of the movable type printing press was a great equalizer. The printing press gave Luther’s ideas a broad base and strong support or like Jan Hus a century before, he would surely have ended up burned at the stake. Even poor Aldus Manutius (remember Aldus PageMaker?) was a threat to the local scribes who burned his shop down.
So as we grapple with technology in education, first by censoring it (remember the first calculators?), then by putting restrictions on access – where will this new information explosion lead us? Are we headed for another Renaissance of art and culture and learning or could we be headed for an era of digital serfdom, with haves and have-nots? Will there be a place in tomorrow’s world for bubble filling, test takers or do we need free thinking, problem solving collaborators? We know which one is easier to measure and weigh, but is that really what serves our children and their future (and ours) best? We don’t need allegiance to a “feudal” system. We need responsible digital citizens who can build on the wisdom and knowledge of the past.
This past week, my wife and I went to see the education documentary, Waiting for “Superman.”To save you the $12, I will supply you with the central plot:
Teachers and Teacher Unions = BAD GUYS
Students and Parents = VICTIM
A combination of charter Schools, accountability, and tough school leaders = SUPERMAN.
Unfortunately, the director, Davis Guggenheim appears to live in a fortress of solitude.His snapshot of public schooling is quite selective and void of critical aspects of the education puzzle.The education historian, Diane Ravitch, levies a devastating critique of the film in the New York Review of Books (see link below).Her article provides a comprehensive debunking of the film’s claims, so I won’t address those shortcomings here.
What I find telling about the film and to a larger extent public perception is where Guggenheim points his camera to investigate the problems in education: the classroom.Research dating back to the 1960’s has consistently demonstrated that factors outside the school influence academic outcomes the most.Studies have shown that school characteristics like teacher quality only represent up to 10% of student achievement.Yet, images of poverty, family breakdowns, peer culture, uninterested parents, or unmotivated students are completely absent from the film.He shows us only highly motivated students with caring parents and unqualified teachers.
Guggenheim would have better served the American public by pursuing answers to some of the following questions:What motivates a child to learn?What are the educational implications of broken homes? Why do socio-economic variables affect academic outcomes more than school variables?I cannot guarantee these efforts will produce neatly wrapped action items for the audience.But, these are the important educational questions to explore if we are serious about education reform.