Saturday, May 28, 2011

Candle Burn Time: Dan Anderson

Dan Meyer continues to be a big hit with me. The other day he posted a Vimeo video by Dan Anderson that you can use to teach math. Divergent thinking at it's best. Remind you of 9th grade science class? I continue to post these great teaching videos to my math wiki. Hope you use it, join and add yours.

Large Candle - Stop Motion from Dan Anderson on Vimeo.

I'm Just a Book: Joyce Valenza

Joyce Valenza is an exceptional source of information and entertainment for teachers. Check out this video produced by her kids about the poor forgotten book. It is a quite common feeling among the people trying to use technology that their students read less novels and access books for research less as well. Here is one kids view on the subject!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Math video from Dan Meyer and NatScivideos: Pendulum Motion

Check out these two great videos to use in science and math class. The first is from Dan Meyer, the second from NatScivideos.

Height v. Time from Dan Meyer on Vimeo.

Standardized Testing In Texas (via Joe Bower's blog)

Thanks Joe for the heads up to this video. What do you think? Anything to do with education in Canada? Your country?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Technology is still the wrong answer: David Warlick

My colleagues and I are making a video whose purpose is to celebrate the success we've had with our "technology community interest group". Our goal for the group is for students to use higher order thinking and be knowledge producers in their learning. You will notice we don't even mention the words technology or computers in our goal.

In order to assess how we have been doing at achieving that goal, I asked my kids to respond on video and on their blogs to the question "can you describe a time in our classroom when you were required to think as opposed to memorize, research or consume information". Their answers were interesting. I asked them to record their thoughts on our class blog. I have included a few of them here.

Carter writes:

"This year we tried to make our class a thinking classroom. One of the assignments that we did to think instead of consume, research and memorize is math at the math. I had to think at the mall because we had to estimate real prices and find the closest prices at the mall to the ones we estimated. We got to go to the mall and find prices of products listed on our paper. Math at the mall was a very life-like assignment, it was also very fun."

Lexi writes

"Today I am doing my blog post about an activity where we had to think in school. This year we did blogging to help with our writing skills. I chose to do my blog about drugs. I had to think about where I was going to get my information, I also had to think about ways to improve my writing. I think blogging really helped me this year because we got to choose what topic we wanted to do and what we were really interested in. I thought blogging was a good way to practice our writing skills instead of sitting in class all day long and having to learn about something no one cares about, while the teacher gives us instructions. I felt in blogging we had more freedom to write about whatever we wanted. "

and Tanner

"This year we did a lot of projects where we needed to think. My favorite one was project business. We learned all about running a business. Also everybody had to think about lots of stuff such as what business you wanted to run, how much you wanted to charge, etc. all with a partner so you also had to think about how to share the workload, as well as the profit. It took a lot of thinking to get the business up and running successfully but it was the most rewarding thing we did."

Most students responded by talking about their favorite activity which involved thinking, often the most recent project we did. I think I would have gotten better responses if we had reflected on this question in writing more often during the year. The other thing that you will notice is that none of them mention technology in their answers. This may be an indication that even though they used technology in these projects, they did not necessarily associate thinking with technology.

I was reading David Warlick's post "Technology is still the wrong answer". He claims that great student learning is:
  • responsive
  • fueled by questions
  • provokes conversation
  • is rewarded with currency
  • inspires personal investment
  • is guided by safely made mistakes
I would certainly agree with his blog post and the kids posts would support that. Our google doc of higher order thinking activities in our class do not all feature technology front and center.

I am proud of our school's technology initiative goal (our students will use higher order thinking and be knowledge producers in their learning). I look forward to continuing to pursue it next year and beyond.

Teaching to the test

Joe Bower includes a video of David Berliner talking about Campbell's law.

I like the idea of testing to see where kids are and to see if we are doing our job or not and to see if our kids are learning. I also see the potential problems arising from too much emphasis on standardized testing. This is a topic which I find fascinating, although it is not my main emphasis. Check out Joe Bower's blog for many related posts.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Blogging with purpose and ownership, 2011/2012

I have had my class blog now for the last three years. I have used "class blogmeister" as my platform. I liked it because I could see student work before it got out on the web. That is now why I am considering changing platforms.

My plan is so simple, I can't believe I didn't think of it before. I will show the kids some options for web based blogging platforms like wordpress and blogger. I will allow them to pick their own platform, the one that meets their needs and interests the best. They will set up their learning blog and I will use either yahoo pipes or google reader to aggregate all their sites into a single RSS feed. So simple!

They will have to state the purpose of their blog and will have to agree to certain conditions, including having their parents subscribe via e-mail. Allan November talks about the importance of purpose in student learning and that they own the work. We will talk about creating content, collaborating with others, building an on-line learning community and show critical thinking skills. They will also be building their positive on-line presence and having a lot of fun at the same time. Most importantly, they will have full control over what they create!

Lastly, I am planning to have their assessment of their blog at the end of the year "count" for 80% of their "mark" on their report card (in case this has anything to do with relevance).

I'll let you now how it goes!