Friday, December 14, 2007
I haven't posted in awhile, not because I haven't had anything to say, but because things here have been busy. The way my school's schedule works pretty much the entire semester needs to be wrapped up (please excuse the holiday pun) before winter break. When we come back in '08, we get about a week of class before finals week begins.
In the time between my last post and now, there have been a series of events upon which I'd like to reflect and that will hopefully provide me with somewhere to start when I come back from the mainland in January.
1. I finished my 3rd marathon on Sunday. While I was running, I couldn't help thinking about the experience as metaphor for the work I've been doing this year, and for the past 7 years, actually. The Honolulu marathon is known as the people's marathon. It prides itself on not having a finishing time limit. This year, the last finisher came in somewhere around 14 hours. While the winning time was around 2:17. The frontrunners would have eaten 3 meals and gone to bed by the time the last finisher makes it across the finish line. This is a lot like the experience of education in the 21st century. What I enjoyed most was making my way back to the finish line after crossing it myself and encouraging runners still on the course. And I think that's an important part of being an educator. It's a people's endeavor. Some are well trained, some aren't. Some finish sooner, some later. But the runner's high is the same. The feeling of accomplishment bonds all finishers.
This year, there was another interesting twist. It seems that the timing system failed, meaning everybody's times might be incorrect. And this really has made me think about the reasons I run. At mile 23 this year, I really didn't think there was any reason to run another marathon. But by today, now that I can walk down stairs unassisted, I'm already thinking about another race. In an undertaking like a marathon, does time really matter? It's just a way to measure what you've done. But is it measurable to anybody but me. This year I wanted to run a personal best, since the last marathon caused an injury that kept me from running for over a year. I missed that time (by my watch, not the official clock) by about 2 minutes. But I still feel like this was a much better race. I think I trained more efficiently, at healthier, enjoyed the experience, finished feeling good, and have been enjoying the recovery. Another metaphor that I want to remember as I encourage my students and colleagues.
2. Last week, after connecting via Twitter, I hosted Wes Fryer and Dr. Dana Owens for a day on our campus, meeting with Technology Resource Teachers and Director, as well as working with teachers to incorporate more authentic learning experiences. The conversations were, of course, excellent and edifying. But there was something else about that day that's been ineffable for me until I was able to juxtapose what I learned from them about their WWII Digital Storytelling project with several conversations with colleagues here. What Wes is doing, and what technology allows us to do is bring education back to true experiential learning: apprenticeship. Thanks to Lisa for articulating this idea. Wes has involved 8000 students in collecting the stories of veterans from their communities. Commercial news would be hard-pressed to collect 8 stories. Students are apprenticing as archivists, storytellers, community activists. This is also what's happening over at Students2.0, where students are apprenticing as educational writers and thinkers. Lindsey and I spoke earlier this week about how meaningful the experience has been for both of us. I wish I could have her apprentice as an educator. For more visionary thinking on the idea of education as apprenticeship, check out The End of Education by Neil Postman.
Part 2 coming soon...
Posted by C. Watson at 11:58 AM
Friday, December 7, 2007
The edublogosphere has developed me professionally more than any other experience in my teaching career so far. And Clay's Student 2.0 project is cranking this whole thing up several notches. The idea of having conversations with students around the world about effective learning has changed the way I interact with my class here, and the way I think about the role of young adults in education. Get ready. Check it out in 3 days.
Technorati Tags: education, students2.0, blog,
Thursday, December 6, 2007
There are some new bloggers and seasoned bloggers writing less about tech-tools and more about classroom instruction and anecdotes. And they're getting me stoked every time I open my reader. On of those blogs is Slam Teaching (is there an Edublog award for coolest title?). There, in a post about the fundamental calling of teaching, I found the following checklist that after a few frustrating tech-filled days centered me again. Besides, a good list to check always makes me feel better.
* I provide opportunities for success to each child in the classroom, encouraging growth from wherever they start.
* I assess student ability and adjust instruction to maintain an appropriate level of challenge for each.
* I offer students a variety of ways to demonstrate their knowledge, intelligence, and mastery.
* I attempt to build interpersonal skills, positive social behaviors, character skills, and resistance to failure.
* I attempt to accommodate a variety of interests, motivators, modality strengths, and learning preferences in my directions, instructions, and assignments.
* I attempt to accommodate tactile, kinesthetic, visual, verbal, and auditory learners.
* I make sure kids have ample opportunities to move around and help them learn to maintain an appropriate level of alertness without disturbing others.
* I avoid using humiliation, sarcasm, ridicule, anger, impatience, or manifestations of disappointment in dealing with students.
* I honor students' needs for respect, dignity, purpose, success, acceptance, attention, and motivation.
* I model standards of behavior, language, and tone of voice that I expect from my students.
* I work to eliminate prejudice toward students based on racial or cultural background; physical appearance; sexual orientation; academic, artistic, or athletic competence.
* I strive to stay aware of put-downs or slurs expressed by students or staff, responding immediately.
* I sometimes allow and encourage students to make decisions about their learning (what, where, with whom, how, or how much).
* I sometimes allow students to create, design, or renegotiate assignments to make them personally meaningful.
* I motivate through access to positive outcomes, rather than avoidance or fear of negative outcomes. I emphasize the positive consequences of cooperation.
* I consciously anticipate what students, teachers, and parents will need in various situations in order to prevent problems from occurring.
* I follow through immediately, avoiding warnings and threats.
* I make students and their parents aware of changes in behavior or performance that could affect grades or promotion.
* I utilize parents, administration, and support staff for feedback and support (not for punishing students).
* I attempt to meet students' needs for attention in positive, constructive, and proactive ways.
* I reinforce positive behavior with positive outcomes.
* I communicate with parents, regularly and frequently, about what their children are doing well.
* I respect students' affective needs and am committed to listening and supporting their feelings and problem-solving skills in positive ways.
* I respect confidentiality to the degree that doing so will not put anyone in danger.
* I immediately respond to incidents involving any form of bullying, harassment, or threat to safety.
Flickr Credit: I Na Aina E
Technorati Tags: classroom, bestpractice, blog, teaching
When I'm at my best as a Technology Resource Teacher I'm thinking about instruction first, technology second. I tried to use this approach in a new literature circle group project that I assigned my class this week.
First, I put together groups of four, arranging students based on learning styles and learning strengths. Then, they had to figure out who was going to do which of the following jobs within the group: (I had particular students in mind for each job; it was interesting to see who picked that job and who didn't)
In these jobs and the descriptions I attached to them, I was trying to use conceptual age framework based on Pink and Gardner.
Each group was assigned a 2-3 page section of what we've read so far in The Woman Warrior.
From there, I told the groups that they needed to create a multi-sensory resource for their section of the story (each 2-3 page section equates to an small episode within the story). We've been talking about vision and design all semester so I reminded them to think about the product before thinking about the tool. All the while the documentarians are recording the groups' process and dynamics.
We just finished the second work session, and here's what's different from literature circles as I used to use them:
*Create a resource instead of collect information.
*Design holistically instead of focus on small parts.
*Technology as a tool instead of...well, there was no technology before.
*Authorship (we're publishing to a wikispaces: link soon) as ownership rather than grade as accountability.
Technorati Tags: literature, literaturecircles, lessonplan, english, instruction, thewomanwarrior
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
One of my goals this year is to start to consider how English curriculum can be centered around collaboration, flexibility, individualization, and sustainability. Thinking about inspiration, there have been a number of books and thinkers that have changed the way I think and behave personally and professionally. One of the latest is Cradle To Cradle. I described Mcdonough's design ideas to my students, and they wanted me to post his TED talk. So here it is:
Technorati Tags: sustainability, green, williammcdonough, cradletocradle, TED
Monday, December 3, 2007
I came across this video on Rachel Boyd's blog. Once on YouTube I found that there's a whole series of "...In Plan English" videos.
Technorati Tags: commoncraft, blog, leelefever, rachelboyd, inplainenglish
I think it was because I was fresh from an hour with James Toole, learning to take advantage of the fact that we use language to create the world around us, framing everything using the questions: what's right with this? how can we do more of it? But last week, I was in the best meeting ever...
The purpose of the meeting was to have a proactive discussion about our school's laptop program. There were two questions that framed the meeting:
1. What do we hope for our students in a 1:1 environment?
2. What is the story of the laptop program?
The reason the meeting was so good was because it was about dreaming. Here are the dreams, in no particular order:
-Prepare students for 21st century workplace, including media and information literacy.
-Enhance existing learning environments.
-See learning as more holistic vs. departmentalized.
-Employ and develop conceptual age skills.
-Develop confidant user, willing to take risks.
-Student and environment are more collaborative, individualized, flexible.
-More ability to personalize assignments around learning strengths.
-Foster online responsibility.
-See technology as a tool.
-Model all this as a faculty.
-Share and collaborate outside our school: "private school with a public purpose."
-Teachers and students collaborate.
-Technology as facilitation of communication.
I'm thankful for all the ideas my colleagues generated. Looking forward to implementing them.
Flickr Photo Credit: Matthew Clark
Technorati Tags: onlinelearning, 1:1school, laptops, educationtechnology