Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A New Honest World

I love this new honest world we all live in. Who would have thought that one day, politicians would have to actually tell the truth. No longer, can they get away with deceit, lies and misspoken facts. Everything is recorded. Everything is videotaped. Everything is made public. Out the window is accepting bribes for political gain. A Politician can't even have an extra-marital affair anymore.

A new day has emerged. As soon as a news story emerges, it's posted to a blog or Youtube. If you say it publicly, you are held accountable for what you say. Millions scrutinize your every word or action. Check out this video posted yesterday with 1.2 million hits...

Obviously, someone at CBS is a Barack supporter. Who can blame them. The worst anyone can tie to Barack is inconvenient associations with questionable people. Barack had dealings with a businessman with a questionable past and a Preacher that speaks his mind.

However, I do wish some other small inconsistencies would be revealed to the public...

1. Why do we pay almost $4.00 a gallon for gas while Iraq averages a measly $.23? Hopefully, if gas prices continue to rise, the public will see that we need to be mainstreaming alternative fuels.

2. When is our Government going to blame our Economic problems on the War in Iraq. Oh yeah, we borrowed most of that money from other Countries. Now we have a huge debt that probably won't be paid back in my lifetime.

3. When are we going to find out the names of the intelligent officials who screwed up by saying "there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq". We need all of the names so they can be held accountable for the many lives they have destroyed. They should be in Iraq fighting also.

4. Why does the fate of our public schools rely solely on the test taking skills of students who would rather be outside while the weather is warming.

5. Why do we still rely on Multiple Choice Tests to gauge a students knowledge. Multiple Choice Tests are probably the most remedial form of assessment known. Oh yeah, I forgot about True/False.

I would like to have some of these issues covered on Youtube. Can anyone bring light to my eyes?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Sharing with the World

This is what I like to call a Photomentary. I created this work this morning with the many photos from driving from Maryland to Maine and back. I hope you watch it in its entirety. Enjoy...

Friday, March 21, 2008

Meme: Passion Quilt

David tagged me on this Passion Quilt Meme.

Passion Quilt Meme Rules:

1. Think about what you are passionate about teaching your students.
2. Post a picture from a source like FlickrCC or Flickr Creative Commons or make/take your own that captures what YOU are most passionate about for kids to learn about…and give your picture a short title.
3. Title your blog post “Meme: Passion Quilt” and link back to this blog entry.
4. Include links to 5 folks in your professional learning network or whom you follow on Twitter/Pownce.

15 year old sharing in a room of educators at EduCon 2.0

SLA student ready to share

This is what I'm passionate about. A 15 year old student at The Science Leadership Academy sitting in on a session. This student had no reservations that Sunday afternoon. He was willing to add to the conversation on more than one occasion. This is my goal as a teacher... Let every student know and understand that their voice should and can be heard.

Now I Tag...

1. Chris

2. Jane

3. Bill

4. Jenny

5. Cathy

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Mr. Richardson Has Done It Again

I have been reading more than writing lately. I always love taking a break. Will Richardson has once again made me think with his post An Education President. Will opens the post with the reality of his opinion on Obama's latest speech...

"Like him or not, what Barack Obama did yesterday, in my opinion at least, epitomizes what we need our next president to be, namely a teacher. Agree with him or not, can there be any doubt that anyone listening to that speech yesterday is not thinking harder and more expansively about race in this country and in our lives today? Trust him or not, is there any question that he articulated a real truth about the state of race relations from both a black and a white perspective?"

Listening to radio and television personalities has caused me to wonder about the State of Country as it relates to race relations. Race is an important topic. Listening to a few Conservative Republicans ho humming about Obama's speech last night, I came to the conclusion that most people do not care about the Country... They care about themselves. They started in talking about MORE important topics... Economy, The War, Immigration. More important to who?

I am a 29 year old white man that has many concerns with the Country in which I live. I am constantly thinking of changes that may make The United States a better place to live for everyone. One change that needs to take place... Bring a divided nation together to in turn make it a stronger nation.

Rush Limbaugh recently suggested that conservatives should vote for Hillary. For some reason, conservatives think that de-democratizing the system will work in their benefit. How is this a democracy? Voting for someone that you do not want to win for the purpose of getting your favorite candidate elected is not what our Country was founded on. I do hope that this comes back to bite the conservatives. It would be funny if they had to drudge through another 4 years with a Clinton at the helm. They would have no one to blame but themselves. Until next blog...

Saturday, March 15, 2008

THE HOLE: Where's My Rope To Climb Out

I have made many changes with my teaching methods this year. I have approached teaching and learning more as a journey rather than an end product. I have almost completely ended my use of worksheets. I have graded students on participation throughout projects. I'm focusing my efforts on having students become part of the learning process without a focus on the end product. In doing this, I have gone against the socially accepted methods of teaching. I have come to a few conclusions.

1. Parents do not want this change to occur.
- Parents are used to graded worksheets coming home so they can monitor grades on a daily basis. It is easier to have this type of communication. There is no conversation with the teacher. They see a paper with a number recorded at the top. They label their child according to that number. If it gets too low, they might contact the teacher.

2. Children have a hard time with this change.
- Throughout their years of being in school, they have become accustomed to the socially accepted methods of teaching. They are used to this. Entering my class, they have been taken out of their comfort zone. They have to exercise their brain. They have to actually think. It's much easier to fill in the blanks on a worksheet.

3. Administrators do not want this change to occur.
- They see this change going against their ultimate goal... great test scores on the State Tests. Rewarding students with a grade for an end product is the protocol that is the norm. They don't want to answer questions from parents. They want everything to go nice and smooth.

So I am left with a decision to make. Do I continue to try to climb out of this hole that the education system has dug for the past 100 years? Or do I give in to the Parents, Students, and the Administrators?

I am convinced that authentic learning is taking place in my classroom. I see students understanding concepts, questioning ideas and enjoying coming to Science. I am right now trying to find a happy medium in which will make everyone happy. This is the hard part. This is where I am asking for help from the network. If anyone has any powerful ideas, please feel free to comment.

Until next blog...
Photo Credit: Flickr Elliot Stahl's photostream :
Dave Stahl climbing out of Bugger Hole

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Proactive Not Reactive

What I see occurring is reaction instead of pro action. We are continually losing engineering/science/math related jobs to the citizens of other countries. We were not proactive in our answers 15 years ago when this started. Are we now reacting to something that is far out of reach?

My district has created a partnership with The Navy Surface Warfare Center in Indian Head, Maryland. They joined forces with each other in an effort to motivate students to get interested in these fields. We have piloted a few co-teaching lessons with the engineers from NSWC. I did the lesson with a 3rd grade class. After 2 weeks discussing safety features and building egg catchers, we had the partnership lesson Friday. I think the lesson went well. Along with me and the engineer, 2 people from NSWC, a Board member, Administrators, a camera man and the Technology Teacher were all present at this lesson. It was quite a packed Science room on Friday. The hard part of the lesson was trying to relate what we did in class to what the engineer discussed. Relating egg catchers to cockpit ejection seats was not that easy. But it worked.

The engineer relied on me to bring the conversation back to the 3rd graders. I think it is hard for a Naval Engineer to come into a 3rd Grade classroom and relate directly with the kids, unless they have had some experience with this. The students seemed interested and had many questions for the Engineer.

Now that some praise is out of the way...
I do have some concerns.

The partnership, like I said before, is a result of the District and the NSWC wanting more students interested in these fields. I just don't understand how they are going to accomplish this. Students are tired of looking at PowerPoints. The PowerPoint Presentation is the most overused application in the school system. Students are tired of being talked at. They want to have a voice. Bringing in an Engineer to talk to the students is not going to get them interested in becoming an engineer. Most of these students cannot see this in their future. It is not real to them.

I believe we need to change the methods of our teaching first. We need to give the students a way to express how they feel. We need to listen to them. We need to talk with them, and not at them. We need to present ourselves as learners also. We need to let them know that their voice is just as powerful as ours. We need a collection of voices to make learning more powerful to everyone. We need to invite schools to be more proactive instead of reactive. Until this changes, I don't see the students changing. Until next blog...

Saturday, March 1, 2008

My Goals

Some ideas have been floating around my head lately.

Sometimes I get too comfortable in my Learning Network that resides here online. I feel like everyone is talking about changing the system. Many people are practicing what they preach. Still on my side of the field, I see stagnate policy. I see technology talked about to the point of teachers not wanting to hear it anymore. I see a plethora of smartboards, digital clickers, LCD Projectors and other forms of computerized hardware, but with limited and pointless use. I have decided to take a more formal route to making the change.

I have come to the conclusion that I will begin to document the changes that I would like to see happen on my side of the field. I have narrowed it down to 2 initiatives that I would like to see become policy.

1. One laptop per child

2. 21st Century Literacy Class

I believe that focusing on these two initiatives first, will give our district a step to get to where we should be. Right now, I am debating how I will go about informing and initiating.
My goal is to provide students a link to learning networks and to move forward to a paperless classroom. However, first I believe it is important to educate. We need to provide tools in which the students can use to create their own networks. We need to teach etiquette, editing and usage before the students will have a chance in the digital world.
Right now, I see a great disconnect between the haves and the have nots. I have students that can thrive in a digital world. I also have students that can't use a mouse properly. Even the students that have internet connection at home need a digital education. The power of publishing is still not tapped.
21st Century Literacy will be a course that covers the network aspect of the internet. Right now I see the internet being used as a resource for teachers and students. It's like the publishing and sharing aspect of the internet net is not tapped in my district. I posted about this a while back. I think the units of this course should be as follows...
-Social Networks vs. Learning Networks
-Digital Natives vs. Digital Immigrants
-Digital Publishing
-Information Editing
-21st Century Communication
-Having your voice heard
-Global Culture