Neighbour Friendly

When I get an idea or concept in my head, I seem to see it show up in all sorts of interesting places. This story takes a few turns so be patient.

The whole idea of community and creating community in our classrooms has been a very important theme in both my current class as well as the work I do in Prairie South.  In reading Here Comes Everybody, Clay Shirky references the book Bowling Alone a few times so I figured I should buy it. Essentially the book deals with the decline of community in America and examines things like civic involvement, religious affiliation, and formal and informal groups. In essence, since the mid sixties, the social capital of Americans (I see Canada as having similar experiences) has declined quite dramatically. For many reasons, we are choosing to spend less time in community and more time as individuals, thus the title Bowling Alone.

I read the first part of the book as I flew to Portland for ITSC. I had the opportunity to spend time with Tim Lauer and his family. They live in a very nice neighborhood and Portland in general has some wonderful neighborhoods. … Read the rest

Are We Text Snobs?

This post will be double posted to the tech learning blog shortly.

Schools are text snobs. Most people reading this are text snobs. Our institutions are built around the written word. That in itself is not bad and we owe much of our culture, knowledge and understanding to the written word. It’s not our fault, we’ve been living in a world that up until a few years ago, only offered us to easily produce content via the written word. But like the revolution of the printing press, we are in the midst of a revolution of a digital nature that’s allowing us to easily create and consume context in many different forms, specifically audio, video and imagery.

So what are our schools doing to address this? I’d say for the most part very little. I must say I’m please to note that many curricula, are beginning to address this gap. In fact my own Saskatchewan Curriculum identifies these six strands as the cornerstone of the English Language Arts Curriculum: Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening and Viewing and Representing. All are considered equal but take a wild guess as to which ones receive the bulk of the attention? No doubt that many … Read the rest

Student Involved Assessment

Reposted from the Tech & Learning blog

The concept of student involved assessment is hard to deny as a powerful learning practice. Students taking care of their own learning and being able to use meta-cognition to dissect understanding and progress and seek ideas and support to learn more. The work of Rick Stiggins and others provides extensive research into this practice as the most important component leading to student achievement.

Whether or not you’ve done any study of this concept, this video does more than about anything I’ve seen recently to support this notion. (via Will Richardson)

 

I apologize if youtube is blocked at your school but allow me to offer some insights as to why this is a great example of student involved assessment at its best.

First the young boy demonstrates what he already knows. Using a simple video camera he models and speaks to his current level of understanding. Second he identifies what he doesn’t know, not simply by saying he doesn’t know but by offering some suggestions about what might be wrong but questioning his methodology. And here’s where it gets interesting. Instead of him floundering around with the people in his local vicinity … Read the rest

Inside Learning

This post is cross posted at the Tech Learning blog.

In the 2000 United States Open at Pebble Beach, Tiger Woods stood on the 18th tee in the second round and had just hit his tee shot into the Pacific Ocean. The TV cameras showed a disgusted Woods slam his club to the ground and reach out his hand to caddie Steve Williams to request another ball. Woods then proceeded to hit a perfect and went on to win the tournament and broke a scoring record in the process. What you didn’t know was because of a number of circumstances, that was the last ball in Woods’ bag. If he had hit that ball into the water, he would have been disqualified. Knowing the inside scoop adds intrigue and context to already exciting event.

With the opening of baseball season just around the corner I was thinking back to one of my favorite shows as a child, Inside Baseball. As much as I loved to watch the games themselves, I was fascinated by the stories and that took me inside the locker room and practice field to learn more about my heroes. Hearing Rod Carew talk about how he … Read the rest

Student and Teacher Blogging that Succeeds

Originally posted at Tech Learning.

There is a new teacher or student blog created every 2.2 seconds. Okay so I just made that up, but the point is we are seeing blogs created at blistering pace with the hopes of connecting with the world and providing an authentic audience for writers. Sadly, many of these well-meaning blogs die a slow death after a smattering of posts. Well-intended teachers and students often lack perspectives need for success.

Blogs are easy to create. But just because something’s easy doesn’t mean it will stick. As someone who supports teachers in understanding and using digital learning tools, this is a pattern I’ve seen all too often.

So how does a teacher or her students find blogging success? Here are a few things I’ve discovered in both my own blog as well as with my work with students and teachers.

Blogging is mostly about reading
Blogging is way more about reading than it is writing. Many teachers don’t see this at first. Most classrooms provide a good balance of traditional reading and writing opportunities. Teachers recognize that in order to be a good writer you have to read good writing. Yet when it comes … Read the rest