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Change

May 15, 2009

I’ve decided to take a new tactic with this blog and not write about my adventures in library land.  Although this will still pop up now and again, I’ve started to realize that more and more of my thinking and work-related reading relates to educational change and the need to remake education with the changes that are taking place in our world.  I hope to add to this growing conversation and that readers will enjoy and help grow this conversation.

Our changing world

November 15, 2007

This started out as a blog about an recent post by Jeff Utecht, but after reading this post from Alternative Teen Services, I see these go a little hand in hand with the problems I was having on Monday with convincing one of my teachers to use Diigo in their research process. Carleen at Alternative Teen Services writes:

It makes me twitch to think about all the issues teens have to deal with these days but the one that leaves me most anxious, the one that makes me gnaw on my hang nails and yank at my tangled hair in the morning, is the depressing situation in the Middle East. The past few years has revealed a lot of dishonesty in our government. I’m not here to argue over those issues. I’m here to try and put myself in the shoes of a sixteen year old and imagine what it must feel like to be at the edge of my childhood in a world where you seemingly can’t trust anyone, or look to anyone for honest leadership. All the facts and the falseness, all the broken promises, I wonder, how do they make sense of it all? How does it effect them? Do they even care?

Of course they do. They may not keep up with the news in the traditional way but they do keep up and they do care. (Veterns Day=Random Rantings)

Our world is changing and our students are not locked into following the same methods that we have used, ie “the traditional way”. They have options and new tools to help keep track of the news, help them learn about topics, help them research and keep track of what they learn, to help them demonstrate what they have learned, and overall interact with the world. Not just the world in their immediate vacinity or where they can physically travel to, but THE WHOLE WORLD. The tools that we use to operate on a day to day basis are different than what our students need to operate with or what they will be operating with in the future. My son is a classic example. He’s been having problems organizing his homework and thus getting it done. I handed him my old Palm m105 and now, it’s no problem. Is the technology that engages or is that it is simplier? Does it make sense to him to put it on pen and paper when a Palm can do the same thing in a more unique and intriguing manner? Does it matter how he stays organized or that he does in a manner that allows him to be successful? Jeff Utecht in a recent post talked about this the idea in reaction as to why use technology in the classroom:

Why? Because it’s their language! Educators who say they understand students and do not understand why you would/should use technology resources in the classroom really don’t get it. Technology in many different forms engages students today. It is how they want to learn, it is their language, and by allowing them to use technology we actually engage them in the learning process. We allow them to use their tools to learn. (Technology=Engaged Learners)

My son is now more interested in being organized because he has a Palm rather than the paper planner the school gave him. You know what, it has motivated him to stay on top of his assignments. He loves to be able to have the technology and if that is one less barrier for him to learn that skill than I am all for it. The idea is to teach them the skills they will need and give them a variety of methods and let them decide for themselves what works and what does not. If technology engages them enough to learn the skill, then why not use it. But this needs to be taken one step further. Technology should not be used merely because it engages. We have to face the fact that they need to learn how to operate, manipulate, and create using technology because if they don’t they will be behind and at a huge disadvantage in society.

Interesting Video

November 14, 2007

Found Mike Wesch’s Information R/evolution (via Alice Yucht) most interesting. After the day I’ve had today with butting heads over the use of Diigo to help with research, and the future of books in a technology driven world, this video just illustrates exactly how technology and the social and collaborative aspects of the Internet are changing our world.

Information can no longer be considered stagnate. The idea that what resides in between the pages of a book is the be all and end all of the known knowledge on that subject is gone. What this video illustrates is the ubiquitous nature of information. It is shifting and changing. I love the idea at the end when it talks about the need to analyze, evaluate, create, etc. are the skills that are needed to navigate the new information society. We need to be teaching our kids to recognize reliable content, read that content critically, and relate what they have read to what they already know or create new knowledge from the various things they read.

Isn’t it ironic…

October 5, 2007
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Oh the irony of filtering….Two days ago I had a teacher email me regarding one of the databases that is paid for by our state library system. Our local filter blocked the database as spam. Today, I went to close a web browser window a student was on and found to my surprise that the site they were on was for South Park. Further investigation led me to see that not only could our students view videos from this site, but also get into the chat. Now explain me why a database would be blocked but not a South Park site? Am I being unrealistic?

It doesn’t pay to be an adult

May 17, 2007

WARNING: RANT AHEAD!  MY SOAPBOX IS OUT AND I’M FIRMLY PLANTED ON IT.

I’m reading an article from the Washington Post about American Idol.  Not that I’m much into the whole “Idol” craze but I need to keep up on things as my assistant is way into it and if I want to keep up on lunch conversation, knowing what is happening makes life easier.  Anyway, the author of this article makes a point that Melinda Doolittle was probably voted off because the other two are much younger and that the producer of “Idol” need to:

appeal to a young demographic. Television isn’t about justice; it’s about parking the right eyeballs in front of the flat-screen, preferably without a DVR attached.
This is our children’s world. We are mere trespassers.

In reading this, I discovered a little problem that seems to be stemming from many directions lately.  I’m not respected as an adult.  I thought adulthood was a time of privileges and getting things you couldn’t get as a child. However, that illusion seems to be turned upside down.  I look at our students who have more expensive cell phones than I do and wonder what am I doing wrong.  I would really like to go back to being a child because then maybe I could drive a better car, have a better phone, and have TV producers (as well as clothes designers, Hollywood producers, etc.) trying to cater to me in order to get my money.

THANK YOU FOR LISTENING!  THE SOAPBOX IS SAFELY STORED AWAY.  MOST OF THIS STEMS FROM A LITTLE HOSTILITY AROUND OUR DISTRICT LATELY. MY APOLOGIES.

Placing blame-band aids not solutions

May 1, 2007

Over the past two days, I have been hit over the head three times with the realization that we are doing things all wrong in this country. Not that this is a new revelation, just a jolt back into the same old arguments for me. The first time was through an email I received about Rachel Scott’s dad and his speech before the some governmental committee. Whether this email is true or not I don’t know, but the message was right on in my opinion. In light of the recent slayings at Virginia Tech, the email said he commented that once again the gun is being blamed for the slayings rather than the person who wielded it. Instead of coming to the conclusion that the human being could be flawed we blame the inanimate object and legislate our basic rights away. Causing more oppression and restrictions, thus causing more rebellion and the cycle goes on. Did we not rebel for our Independence over two centuries ago? It also states that the problem is a growing problem in society that we are not facing. For the record, yes, I am a gun owner. Yes, my husband, son, father, and father-in-law hunt. We know several people who do. Our guns are locked in a safe in our garage and our children know that they are not toys to be played with. Most importantly, however, our children respect other people enough not to harm them and they know that when a gun is fired and it hits flesh, it can harm. They also know that violence doesn’t solve the problem it just adds to it. This is how we are raising our children in a house with guns.

Anyway, then my attention was caught by an current article from Innovate entitled “Schools, Children, and Digital Technology: Building Better Relationships for a Better Tomorrow” by Mark van’t Hooft. In this article, he mentions that same idea of a larger societal problem only this time in regards to school restrictions on technology. He states in the second paragraph, “…this punitive approach blames technology for behavior that is rooted in wider social problems and in the psychological issues that characterize adolescence.” BRAVO!!

Then today, I read an article on Yahoo news about schools banning iPods because students are using them to cheat. I ask myself, shouldn’t we be looking at why the students feel they have to cheat in the first place. Why are they led to do this? Are the stakes so high that they need to cheat? I’m not saying lower standards, lower pressure! Moreover, haven’t we taken the hint. The article mentions “Banning baseball caps during tests was obvious — students were writing the answers under the brim. Then, schools started banning cell phones, realizing students could text message the answers to each other.” Every time something is banned, students will just find another way to cheat. We haven’t solved the cheating problem; they’re still doing. Instead we’ve created students who are using their creativity to bypass the system rather using that creativity to learn. What does that say about our system and our society?

I’ve tried to use this argument in regards to our filters here at school. We have new tech standards as outlined in NETS and one of these is to teach ethical behaviors. How can we assess those ethical behaviors if we have the system so locked down that the students aren’t given a choice. Then they resort to unethical behaviors to get around the filters. Does this not strike anyone as contradictory? We’re setting up our kids to act unethically when we are trying to get them to act ethically. History has shown us that regulating ethics (i.e. Prohibition) only makes people want to go out of there way be “unethical”. It is better to teach and give the knowledge to behave correctly rather than try to regulate the behavior with laws and punitive actions. Ok, I’m off my soapbox.

Interesting NCLB Development

April 5, 2007

Was led to this article via Blog Juice for Educational Technology, “Secretary Spellings Announces New Regulations to More Accurately Assess Students With Disabilities.”  The first paragraph really rattle me:

“Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings today announced new regulations under No Child Left Behind (NCLB) allowing states to test certain students with disabilities using an alternate assessment that more appropriately aligns with students’ needs and yields more meaningful results for schools and parents. The new regulations provide states and schools with greater flexibility by allowing them to more accurately evaluate these students’ academic progress and tailor instruction based on individual needs.”

What struck me was why should we be doing this just for kids with an identified disability?  Wouldn’t this be something that would be a benefit for all students?  If we truly want “No Child Left Behind”, shouldn’t we adopt this sort of attitude with all kids rather than just the ones with an identified disability?  I guess I just have a problem with the government giving millions of dollars to states to develop these test when not enough money is given to align with NCLB in the first place.  Plus, we have regular ed kids that could use this same consideration but because they don’t have an identified disability, they don’t qualify for this consideration.

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