BlogWalker

Muddling through the blogosphere

January 9, 2010
by blogwalker
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In Response to Alfie Kohn’s Tweet

What ed philo & tchg styles are likely in a schl whose walls feature motivational posters w/can-do slogans about effort & success?” Alfie Kohn

Alfie Kohn’s Friday morning tweet was on my mind as I headed down the hill yesterday to my school district – and 24 hours later, I’m still thinking about how I would answer his question.

I visit a lot of school sites, both in my day-time job and through a number of organizations I belong to. Most front offices and libraries have professionally done motivational posters. Some have student-done posters. I think the latter may be more reflective of a site’s educational philosophy than the former. I think the purchased posters reflect where sites would like to be; student-done posters reflect more the realities of the school day.

attendance5Take these three student samples, for instance, which were entered in a district-sponsored campaign to motivate students to get to school on time (click for an enlarged view).attendance6 Could it be the lack of motivation for students to get to school on time stems from being greeted with messages such as “Take out your textbooks”or “Detention – Be Quiet” or a major part of the school day being spent sitting (daydreaming, sleeping) in rows?

attendance8I recognize that change is hard and that all of us who are teaching in 2010 were born in the past century. But I am optimistic that change is happening, due in large part to how easy it now is to access mentor texts and teachers 24/7.

Cheryl Oaks, in a recent post to her Tech & Learning blog, What’s it like to be a students in today’s classrooms?, asks, “Would I be a different type of learner than I was 50 years ago?” She answers the question by providing some great online resources.

What if students started the day, for instance, with a message on the board something like “log on to the Newseum and …” or “team up and head into David Warlick’s sources for Raw Data and …“? Would the No Excuses posters featured above  reflect a different learning environment? I’m betting yes.

I’ll end this post with a great video by Kevin Honeycutt, one I plan to share with colleagues as we continue conversations on what 21st classrooms should/could look like – maybe even eliminating the need for motivational posters;-).

August 1, 2009
by blogwalker
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On Promoting a Love of Reading

I finally bought a copy of Kelly Gallagher‘s Readicide.  I wish I had read it sooner so that I could have joined in the VoiceThread and the English Companion Ning discussions. However, I have it now and want to promote it to anyone working with K-12 students! In less than 150 pages, the author clearly explains “how schools are killing reading and what you can do about it.”

If you are at a site that does not support a minimum of 15 minutes per day of silent sustained reading – read this book.

If you are at a site that mandates AR (Accelerated Reader) – read this book.

If you are at a site that mandates a reading anthology exclusively, at the cost of removing novels – read this book.

If you are looking for strategies to engage students in literature and promote a life-long love of reading – read this book.

With so many thought-provoking ideas, powerful strategies, and even links to the supporting research that are applicable to elementary through high school readers, Readicide would make for a great faculty book club read.  I’ll leave you with Kelly’s closing words:

If we are to find our way again – if students are to become avid readers again – we, as language arts teachers, must find our courage to recognize the difference between the political worlds and the authentic worlds in which we teacher, to swim against those current educational practices that are killing young readers, and to step up and do what is right for our students.

We need to find this courage. Today. Nothing less than a generation of readers hangs in the balance.”

April 19, 2008
by blogwalker
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Entering the Grant Writer’s World

cde.pngFor the last two weeks, I’ve been immersed in writing the application for my district’s EETT Round 7 grant (federally funded grant, administered through the state). The form and requirements are enough to put off a grant-writing newbie such as myself from jumping through all the hoops required in time to meet the April 23rd deadline. Why would I volunteer for such a task? In a nutshell, I want to provide three of our low-income elementary sites with the equipment, research base, and professional development needed to transform the current language arts program into multimedia/multimodal opportunities to take a publisher’s scripted program beyond the walls of the classroom and into the 21st century. In large part, the inspiration for writing the RFA comes from:

  • The DOLCHE project: I am awed by the film projects coming out of our DOLCHE classes, along with the teacher testimonials for how filmmaking has enriched their curriculum and engaged so many of their students in the learning process. A significant percent of this year’s SEVA entries are from the DOLCHE project. The project has clearly had an impact on students and teachers.

As part of the proposal, I am therefore very enthusiastically including Mathew Needleman, who will connect from Los Angeles Unified SD via interactive videoconferencing to work with teachers and students on the skills needed to take an Open Court (district-adopted language arts textbook) theme through the steps required to create an language arts rich production.

  • Will Richardson‘s Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms: Will’s book (pages 8-9) made it easy for me to lay out Teachers’ Use of Technology to improve student achievement (Section 2e of the proposal). In a matter of minutes, I was able to explain the teacher toolbox, with its “mix of tools that publish, those that manage information, and those that share content in new collaborative ways”: blogs, wikis, RSS, social bookmarking, and audio/video-casting.
  • Greg kearsley & Ben Shneiderman’s piece on Engagement Theory: A framework fro technology-based teaching and learning. I know it’s a no-brainer for anyone reading this blog, but for administrators who have fallen into the “it’s all about test scores” chasm, this research sums up the need to move in a different direction: “The fundamental idea underlying engagement theory is that students must be meaningfully engaged in learning activities through interaction with others and worthwhile tasks.”

    Given the cost of textbooks, not surprisingly, in those first few years following an adoption the focus is always on teaching. A few years down the line, as we are with Open Court, we can once more, thankfully, shift our focus back to learning!
  • California Department of Ed’s definitions for technology literacy and technology integration (p 21). As much as all the tables, forms, assurances, etc., required in the EETT application suck away my creative energies, the state’s new definitions provide us with the argument – back at our districts, sites, and classrooms, for moving beyond technology as simply a vehicle for student assessments, ala multiple-choice test taking, to technology as tool for learning:
    • Technology Literacy is the ability to use appropriate technology responsibly to communicate, to solve problems, and to access, create, integrate, evaluate, and manage information to improve learning of state content standards in all subject areas and to acquire lifelong knowledge and skills in the 21st century.
    • Curriculum Integration involves the infusion of technology as a tool to enhance the learning of state content standards in a content area or multidisciplinary setting. Technology integration enables students to learn in ways not previously possible. Effective integration of technology is achieved when students are able to select technology tools to help them obtain information in a timely manner, analyze and synthesize the information, and present it professionally. The technology should become an integral part of how the classroom functions – as accessible as all other classroom tools.
  • EETT Partnerships – In addition to partnering with Mathew Needleman’s to bring filmmaking into the elementary language arts program, we’re also very fortunate to include the partnerships with:
    • Area 3 Writing Project – I’m really looking forward to introducing A3WP teacher consultants to the EETT target teachers.
    • UC Davis Writing Program researcher/writer/professor Carl Whithaus – This will be a dream come true for me to have Carl Whithaus and his grad student researchers observing, evaluating, and publishing about the connections between technology and improved student achievement – and engagement with school in general and reading/writing in particular.
    • California K12 High Speed Network – Without the HSN, including edZone, it would not be possible to seamlessly build in videoconferencing and to have unlimited storage for the video, audio, and documents that will be created and shared across the 2-year grant period.
    • California K20 Education Technology Collaborative – This new collaborative will provide the Skype/Elluminate- like component to make desktop videoconferencing available to target teachers. This could be a great school-to-home connection!
    • Sacramento Educational Cable Consortium (SECC) – Another opportunity to work our wonderful SECC to document via video best practices and make these videos available to target teachers.

On this beautiful California Saturday morning, I wish all of you across the nation applying for the EETT grant (and working on the RFA over the weekend) the best of luck:-)

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