Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Questions about education

The questions posed are in red...my answers below...you can see I didn't get far....

Q. No one has really stated what the best way is to manage change in order to innovate curriculum. What are some good ways that you can think of? Would technology be one? How can changes in curriculum be managed?

Change is difficult, no matter what. With the amount of information that is available online today there are 2 truths.

1. We REALLY need to teach our kids how to search for information and provide them with good resources to do so. Joyce Valenza is a librarian in Springfield Township who is the guru of Library 2.0. Her virtual library teaches kids through data bases, etc... and her kids are scaffolded so they become responsible and engaged in finding information from appropriate sources.

2. We can't have the same kind of 6 year curriculum renewal cycle as we have done in the past. Much of this was as a result of budgeting in terms of you can't spend money every year for change in subjects. However if that budget could be spent on technology and the teachers could

In terms of finding these resources there is OODLES of open courseware on the web: MIT OpenCourseWare website, Wikipedia entry for OpenCourseWare, Apple offers the Learning Interchange that offers an ever growing library of content for educational use. Wikibooks is an opencourseware project dedicated to create Open Source textbooks that can easily be shared and edited. You can click here to see a list of free books the site already offers!

Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education....the list goes on and on...

In terms of management Using Online Course Management systems such as Moodle or Drupal to build and store curriculum resources in house is a way to manage, but this is going to take quite a shift on the part of teachers--new and old.

Q. Since NCLB is in the process of being reauthorized, what is your opinion on how effective NCLB has been? Do you think it should be reauthorized? Are there pros and cons in NCLB?

I am a huge fan of the YouTube Debates- -You may have seen this in my blog...I feel pretty much the same way as Governor Richardson...It is GREAT is philosophy (all kids can learn) the problem is they need to fund it (as stated in the debate video) so the kids are successful and they need to provide ways for teachers not just to differentiate, but to gather data so that they can see what standards the kids need to focus on so that they are differentiating the right stuff.

Q. I understand that children do not learn the same way. How can we teach all children based on this? How can we even assess them? Would technology help with this?

Here is 1 example of using tech to assess and then using the data to differentiate.

Two years ago when I taught 3rd grade, I had a program called kidbiz...it was an online reading program. Kids took a pretest online that leveled them. Then the kids were delivered an article a day on their reading level via "email" through the system every article was on the same topic just written at different levels. There were then questions (PSSA like) for each one and a writing assignment. The data I was given for scores I could drill down to the standard to see who was missing what and it DROVE what I taught in my reading class and helped me to have flexible guided reading groups. I had 20 kids who ranged from 1st grade- 6th grade level at the beginning of the year...I would have never been able to gather that data without the technology. By the end of the year I didn't have a kid in my class who scored basic or below on the PSSAs and 4 of my kids scored advanced. That is 20% of my class....The articles were current, interesting, engaging...I didn't have to spend a ton of time or money finding books to match all the levels...this is just one way.

Q. How can technology be incorporated into curriculum? Should schools gradually keep implementing more and more until people become comfortable with it? The change might not be so noticeable then and more schools may be willing to give technology a try.

This is the question I have posed for the research study I am designing...Do you force the tech on folks and force them to change...Implement before innovation, or allow them to become innovative before implement (throw a bunch of stuff at them) Here is my analogy...
Let's say you have a couple of really great chefs...and they whip up an AMAZING 7 course meal and then put it all out at once...people are overwhelmed...they don't know what to try first...they eat TOO MUCH and get sick or just walk away from the table. VS having the chefs cooking up the great stuff and then having different folks serve up each course...

In our district we have been granting LCD projectors over the past 3 years. This summer when all of the teachers were issued laptops, all of the rest of the HS teachers got projectors installed...I am doing an eclass training on Wed...I am using a wikispace as my presentation tool. They can go to the site for all of these resources...my objective is 2 fold.
1. to give them a place to go to find resources and to know who to come to if they need help
2. by using a progressive tool like a wiki and having them join and discuss, they see the tool IN USE and may start to think of ways THEY could implement in their classroom.
Other teachers who were in a 1:1 classroom are also presenting stuff we "cooked up" together last year...for their departments so they can see real world applications.

I believe you have to have the technology available, but you should only TEACH it to them once they have seen it in use in a seamless way...it is not about the TOOL, it is about the learning that can happen if you use that tool...yes you have to learn to use it, but you have to know WHY and have a good reason to use it yourself before you need to know HOW.

Q. Do you agree with funding schools with more money based on how well the students do on standardized tests? What is your opinion on standardized tests and how they affect schools?

I think probably the answers I have to #2 should cover this. I think that project based learning is a WAY better way to assess what kids know and are able to do. Kids who can pass a test are good at playing school --I have some GREAT notes from NECC (National Educational Computing Conference) I attended in Atlanta http://www.box.net/shared/z80hv3ltq2
from Ian Jukes regarding testing, project based learning and 21st Century skills. Check those out.


Q. As I was reading some of your blog and the articles that you referenced, I wondered what you would suggest for new teachers who see the value in incorporating technology in the classroom but may be entering a district which is placing strict parameters around its use?


    Q. For someone, like myself, who is an immigrant to the world of technology but sees the power of using it in a classroom, where do you suggest I start without being completely overwhelmed? (Through the multimedia course that I'm currently taking, I have been introduced to WebQuests, Wikis, etc.)
    The key word in your question is INTRODUCED...yes you have been introduced, but the way to truly see the power is by using these tool in relevant real world ways. In my latest post, I challenged professors rather than to have their students ASK about these things to USE them. Actually this question should go before the first because if you are using the tools or see value and can argue for it, AND you can reach some of the decision makers....really they have no choice but to take the risk. Check out this MS course from a local school http://onlineconnections.wikispaces.com/ Which leads me to ...

    Q. In regards to your Wiki, what all do you like to use it for? I'm very new to it & originally thought that it would be a good tool for me to share information about my particular program with parents and even other teachers. I know there must be so much more to it! What are the possibilities?
    I use wikis for everything
    A good how to

    An interesting model

    Q. Through your years of experience in education and with your obvious excitment about technology, what are some examples that you've witnessed of the changes to our digital world & the impact those changes have had on student learning/understanding? How about the impact they've had on connecting teachers to each other and other resources?
    I have

    Q. Okay so here's another question as I'm working on page 3 of my 10-15 page paper!!! AGHHHHH! As far as 21st Century Learning goes and incorporating technology that will enhance students' skills in those areas, are educator's (in your circle of influence) agreeing for the most part that these skills are crucial to student success in the future or is much of it falling on deaf ears?

    SET 3
    Q. I agree with your take on the 'When Tech Attacks' article and was wondering what effects you think this sort of article has on educators who aren't as comfortable with technology, and/or who are in districts without tech resources. For example, if I had read this article as a tech-rookie, it's possible that I could be scared away from these technologies because of their dangerous potential. Do you think that's likely to have been the case, or do you think most educators are aware of the benefits of such technologies even after having read such a one-sided article?

    Q. In your experience, are most teachers effectively adapting to their students' use of technology? Specifically, are they finding ways to reach students with technology?

    Q. How big of a role do you think district policies play in individual teachers' technology use as it relates to students, whether it's inside or out of the classroom?

    Q. You mention that schools aren't spending enough time thinking about how we can connect with students in our classrooms. I'm a big fan of using technology (although a novice when it comes to using tech in education), and I was wondering why you think this issue isn't getting enough attention.

    SET 4 :

    Q. Being that there has been a major influx of technology's use in the classroom, how would you suggest a new teacher find a happy-medium? Too much technology closes the door on a good teacher/student bond, yet not using technology today could put student eons behind their peers

    I am not sure I understand

    Q. How does one come to determining what kind of technology to use in the classroom? Trial and error, school issued/told to use by the school district, studies that have been conducted, etc?

    I addressed in a prior question...you really need to know WHY tools are used...the right tool for a job before trying to implement...teacher users should be a district's first line...

    It is important for ...

    Q. How would you suggest handling a reading lesson using technology? What if there is not a good student:computer ratio? Go old school - all books or have a rotating schedule with the computers your classroom does have?

    ISSUES: Equity in schools & at home
    address the idea of committment...funding for the future

    Q. Would you have any advice to offer a "soon to be" teacher and the use of technology in their classroom?

    GET STARTED...read blogs, comment, grow a network explore the possibilities

    Q. How do you approach the school district encouraging them to use the new technology you have found, or do you find your district to be on "the cutting edge" with the new world of technology? Any advice/words of wisdom you could give someone wanting to present a new technology idea to the school board?

    Have a bunch of folks in PA who DID JUST THAT--hope they will come on and comment


    1. In order for a Board to see the importance of the new technology that you want to use, they need to have a clear picture of who our learners are, how they learn best, and what type of workforce they are entering. They also need to understand that the world of work is changing rapidly and we need to prepare our students to be successful. The age of information, knowledge, producing products, performing a service.. is fading as more jobs can be outsourced or done more efficiently by computers. We need to prepare our students for the conceptual age where our students will have to apply their knowledge, to connect, to empathize, to synthesize, things that can't be done more efficiently by machines. (Daniel K. Pink "A Whole New Mind") They must also understand that our students are multi-tasking,digital natives who use technology on various levels constantly and, to teach them in the way they learn best, we must infuse technology into their curriculum. Without these basic understandings it might just look like you are asking for more "stuff" in their eyes. You would need to convey to them that it is all about learning, not the "stuff." Once this foundation has been established, show them the technology in action. Telling and showing are miles apart.

    2. School board members who have digital kids are your best allies as they HAVE these learners living with them. I think when you present this vision you need to include all stakeholders
      Karl Fisch led a 21st Century Business Panel at his school. I agree telling and showing are MILES apart. Thus why we need to continue to advocate for technology in schools so we can SHOW kids what we want them to learn...Rather than COVER information help them to UNCOVER new learning.
      Lori THANKS so much for commenting. Some one commented via my twitter that these are big questions and you certainly tackled a big one.

    3. I can really appreciate your 'chef' analogy. I consider myself to be a proficient technology user (although as I've mentioned, not yet in the field of education). It's easy to forget that this can be a lot to take in all at once. Actually, I was pretty overwhelmed when I started reading your blog and seeing all the ways in which you (and others) incorporate technology in your classrooms. Your wiki strategy for training is really great. I just started working out my own wiki for a project and I'm starting to get the hang of it -- What a valuable tool! Thanks again for responding to these questions.

    4. in regards to the final question of the interview...

      To get new technology moving into the classroom, there are a couple avenues folks can pursue. On approach is modeling it. Demonstrate the tech in use so those who make the decisions can see it in action and then make decision to implement its use. For example, if you are looking to have Skype use opened up in your district, try and find an example of a video conference that used Skype. This happened in my district, and Skype has been opened up for teachers to use for just that.

      Another course of action is to do some research and present that to the decision makers. This past January, I spent hours finding out about classroom response systems and the impact they were having in classrooms around the country. I put my findings in to a school district level grant proposal, and it was enough to convince the district to support a trial program with 3 classroom systems costing about $4500. The systems arrived over the summer and we're already busy proving that the research we worked off of is coming to fruition in our classrooms.

    5. What works for me...

      Change is always difficult. The hardest part of change is gaining buy-in. I find success in bringing people together and making them part of the process. What we create is always better than anything I can create. I can make things pretty and professional, but without letting others have some control, students, administrators and community members aren't engaged learners. That changes when they become creators and contributors.

      I'll be using wikis and podcasts this year in order to develop OpenCourseWare. Students will assist in contributing to the wikis while teachers will develop video, audio and pdf handouts that will be streamed via RSS feeds. I'm looking at wikibooks for a nice starter textbook, but we will look at other ideas. We need more people to contribute to this revolution. see eduwiki.us if you are interested.

      We need people with vision to help others find how to contribute. We have a lot of willing bodies, but they need direction. There isn't a cookie cutter way of doing this. We need to talk with everyone. Listen to what they can do and want to create. Once we know the talents of our team, our coaches need to place people in the positions where the players will have the most success. Take pride and build a loving community dedicated to making the world better.

      In A Whole New Mind, Pink brings up 7 skills that are needed in the 21st century. NCLB doesn't address any of these. Design, story, symphony, empathy, play and meaning don't fit well in a standardized test. The fight we fight is between innovation and test scores. Teachers and administrators are having their success measured by 20th century testing. Bring students, teachers, administrators, the business world and the community together and start listening. Bring everyone into the process and we can build something amazing. We need to be dedicated to building a bigger learning network. MB


    6. Kristin and others who have answered these questions, that you so much for your insight and wisdom. I understand that it is a tight time of year, with school beginning and everything, but your time is greatly appreciated! Your suggestions, examples, and insights have been so helpful and extremely encouraging. Thank you so much!

    7. Q. You mention that schools aren't spending enough time thinking about how we can connect with students in our classrooms. I'm a big fan of using technology (although a novice when it comes to using tech in education), and I was wondering why you think this issue isn't getting enough attention.

      I hope this doesn't come across as flippant, but one acronym: NCLB. Schools are concerned about being labeled failing, and so a great deal of the focus is spent trying to insure that doesn't happen. Curriculum is reformulated. The day is restructured. More time is spent on core subjects. Less is spent on other areas (or they are eliminated). These decisions to change are made while forgetting one critical component: the kids. As Michael Baker pointed out, there's a disconnect between the NCLB standards and the kids of the 21st Century. Until things are rethought with the kids in mind, no serious change is going to take place.

      Fortunately, pockets of teachers are starting to think in these terms, but there is still a long ways to go