Monday, September 27, 2010

New Web Stuff 09/28/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Is Anybody Asking The Kids?

Since last week's two Oprah shows related to the "Waiting for Superman" movie, there has been a social media firestorm largely bashing teachers and methodologies. I'm not certain that everyone who is participating actually saw the show, but the conversation is definitely polarizing, and I'm thrilled that it's being talked about with such passion.

This is a conversation we NEED to be having. We can't, as Heidi Hayes Jacobs says in her Curriculum 21 book, continue to educate the kids who will graduate in 2025 with methods and curriculum designed for 1975!

Oprah called this the civil rights moment of our time. I think she's right.
Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, New Jersey, said, "Sedentary Agitation won't work. We can't sit on our couches and be mad about something. We have to get up and actually work towards solutions."

But there's where the problem is. We have so many folks talking about the problems and nobody talking about solutions. And nobody has mentioned what the kids think about all of this.

We continue to identify something that has already been identified but what we really need to be doing is figuring out creative ways to solve the problem. So I'd like to propose that we be innovative from the beginning.

Let's ask the kids.

If you are reading this, ask your students the following questions, either IN THIS GOOGLE SPREADSHEET or as a comment on this blog:

  1. What is working in education right now?
  2. If you could make only one change at school right now, what would you change?
  3. What else would you like to see change at school?
  4. How do you like to learn?
  5. Where, in general, do you go to school? City School, Suburban School, Regional School, Private School, Home School, or other type of school?
If we are really going to effect change, let's ask the stakeholders who matter the most: the kids.

After a week or so of collecting responses, I'll blog about the results.

We can do great things. We just have to stop arguing about it and get going with the changes and growth!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Instructors as Resources Podcast

I recorded a podcast episode today. (First time in a long time that I made an actual podcast episode that didn't involve audioboo or some mobile technology app!)

It's just an overview of my observations about the nursing staff of a local hospital here in Buffalo and how their methods could be applied to classroom instruction.

Access the episode HERE on "Pod-O-Matic"

You can also search iTunes for "MIKEFISHER821" and subscribe to my channel.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Champions of Ubiquity!

And We’re Off and Running!

Many of my colleagues and friends are starting school tomorrow here in the Northeast, and some of you have started already! I thought I would create a “Back 2 School” Blog Post with an idea for starting the year off on the right foot.

I’d like to first have you consider whether technology itself is worthy of being a set of “skills” that we must develop. The usage of “21st Century Skills” is quickly becoming a banal phrase and only carries as much meaning as the person who says it is committed to its meaning…and there are multiple meanings and interpretations!

That said, isn’t technology so infused for our students now that saying that we’re going to use it is like saying the movie we are going to go and see is “in color?” Isn’t it a given? (At least for the kids?)

So, I’d like to ask you to commit to being a “Champion of Ubiquity” this coming year. Assume the technology is a framework for everything you do or everything you offer to your students. Let your teaching methodologies and student assessment products be menu items rather than set in stone artifacts and modalities.
Give your students opportunities to design their own instruction based on their experiences, based on their own readiness and interest, or any other platform from which you might consider differentiating yourself. (You know this stuff…why should you be doing all the work?!?!? Let the kids be tired at the end of the day from their hard work—not you!)

Make a difference this year by becoming the teacher you wish you had, or by making instructional design choices that truly benefit the 21st Century Learner (including yourself!) The “21st Century” isn’t about the transference of information – it’s about the sharing of information and the collective creation of something new from that. It doesn’t matter what the label is on the learner…whether they are the teacher or the student or the administrator or anyone who wants to be in the process! Everybody is a learner now—that’s really what the 21st Century is all about!

Here's to a great year!

CC image from SXC.HU user: samlevan


Monday, September 6, 2010

New Web Stuff 09/07/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Techie Drama with Prima Donnas!

As we get started with the new school year, more and more teachers are gearing up to bring technology tools into their classrooms. However, even the most willing teachers often hit a wall of access issues, otherwise known as the Technology Director—the person who is in charge of and controls all aspects of internet access in a school. This is sometimes just one person, but that one person can make life very frustrating for the tech-enthused teacher!

Trying to keep this on the light side, I thought I would write a quick 10 step “TEST” to determine if YOU are dealing with a “Techie Prima Donna.”

1. Your Internet access is dependent on sucking up, brownies, and endless stream of diet Pepsi and/or coffee.
2. Your tech person spends hours pouring through reports to see if a staff member tried to access eBay.
3. There’s a sign hanging in your tech person’s office that reads, “BLOCKED – By Me!”
4. Your tech person believes that YouTube and Wikipedia will ultimately cause Armageddon.
5. Words like “router,” “network infrastructure,” “server diagnostics,” or “parallel ports” are the most common answers to the question, “Can I do this?”
6. Your tech person wears a t-shirt that says, “I’m the King of the World.”
7. You stopped attending technology workshops because everything you learn will be blocked.
8. You fear that your computer could be taken hostage at any moment, with explanations that involve words similar to #5 or in response to you asking “too many questions.”
9. Your tech person knows how to write code in COBOL, but has never heard of a Smartboard, Audience Response System, or an iPad. (And doesn’t see the need for them in the classroom…)
10. While you can’t prove it, there’s a good chance that your tech person can physically plug themselves into the network firewall.

Now, laughter aside, let’s look at the real issues:

· Is the Internet too slow and the issues are over bandwidth? Beef it up. We are too far into the 21st Century for this to continue to be a problem.
· Is the issue over the chance that students might find something inappropriate? TEACH THEM WHAT TO DO when they encounter such things! (Who else is going to?)
· Is the issue of access related to having just one person in charge who believes that everything on the internet is potentially evil? Perhaps their control issues would be better served in an elected position in another state…
· Is it really a good idea to have that one person in charge of all technology decisions? Doesn’t a committee make better sense, one that includes multiple stakeholders?
· Are instructional decisions being made by those that don’t have an instructional background? Might need to restructure the requirements for the position…

I think that there needs to be an understanding that we are an entire decade into the 21st Century. We are not at the point of “beginning” to need technology, we are already well-ensconced. Technology, at this point, needs to be ubiquitous. It needs to be like air or water. We don’t limit access to the air we breathe, but if it’s not just right, we do make others aware. (Air Quality Indexes, Signs on Mountain Tops about breathing…you know what I’m saying…) Same is true for water. We don’t avoid either one just because there might be some unhealthy air or water somewhere in the vastness of the world. We prepare and respond.

We have bigger fish to fry: learning how to communicate and collaborate globally; learning how to think critically and creatively; learning how to problem solve; learning how to work with a team. Technology enhances all of those things, and it is a necessary framework through which all of these new 21st Century fluencies will be developed.

If you’re a technology prima donna reading this, I encourage you to read it over one more time. The seeds of humor are usually rooted in truth…