Sunday, October 26, 2008

Why are we still reading all of this when theory tells us narration and animation are better - just kidding

Interesting reading - all of it, but I'm still not sure if I'm ready to question my own belief system regarding reading and some fundamentals of education (i.e. critical thinking skills). I realize that the Framework for 21st Century Learning supports these types of learning process, I just felt that abandoning reading might be a little too progressive for me. I agree that much of what we currently provide in education has little relevance to today's student - but feel there are fundamentals they should know and have questions about how to level the playing field for all students. After all, teenagers couldn't Blog or create their MySpaces without knowledge of reading and writing. And like I said in class, having a child or teenager (for that matter) spend that much time in front of a computer as opposed to actively doing something, is not healthy.

Wow - the ECAR research study was a lot of paper (I can't read things on a computer screen, it gives me a massive migraine and I can't highlight or process the information the way I need to). Which brings me to my next point, digitally scanning research or print does little for my learning. I need a hard copy of literature and to highlight and review it several times before I process and fully understand the information. I have a hard time buying into the fact that these "digital natives" get anything out of scanning information the way that it's proclaimed they do - maybe I'm wrong and I process information differently.

I think what's important to remember with the ECAR research is who it represents: college students. Does everyone in this society go to college or have even an equal chance of going to college? I talk to the students I have at one of my school districts and 90% of them do not even feel it's an option. Suggesting that somehow education would be able to provide equal access to all to create these 21st Century Learners is neither truthful or financially feasible. So I have to beg the question, are we trying to create a greater divide in access and equity in education with digital learning? I realize the global scare of America falling behind the rest of world drives the majority of propaganda stating that American schools are failing. I recently read an article by Yong Zhao in "The School Administrator" that postulates the idea that the reason that America as a country has been so successful and responsible for more innovations around the world is because we have allowed for creativity in schools in the past. Now with NCLB and other education reforms geared towards a one size fits all education, the U.S. should expect to see a decline in innovations and creativity. Looking for an answer on overcoming these barriers with reforms, mandates, and no funding for those with the least amount of access?

Monday, October 20, 2008

What are we doing in education?

The more I examine the current state of education - the more frustrated I become with the status quo and the possibility of making changes. Most of our current practices seem non conducive to educating young minds. Students enter their classrooms in an orderly fashion, sit down, usually quietly begin some worksheet the teacher has set out for them, and then have to listen to the teacher give instruction as they stare blankly into space. It is no wonder I dropped out of high school - it was the same thing then and I could hardly stay awake for any of it.
Ah - but to make the changes spoke of in Dr. Wesch's video. If we are aware that what we're doing is not working, why is it continued? This also somewhat corresponds with our discussion of the purpose and value of education in Dr. Crocker's class. What is it that is valued at the moment? A high test score on a once a year standardized test? Due to NCLB, is this what we've come to in education? I think it's a disservice to students and to education to be in this current state.
I found the Horizon Reports useful and interesting. I have to somewhat wonder though if they are somehow driving technology or if the technology is driving the report. Again, why are even universities slow at implementing new technological advances? Expensive, perhaps and ever changing. It would be difficult to continue to constantly replace obsolete technology.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Class Monday October 6th, 2008

It was enlightening listening to every one's perspective on constructing knowledge and making meaning for students. Now, attempting to pull it all together and connect the technology piece with knowledge construction. These kids love technology - but I see huge disparities in the availability for all students. My own children have an endless array of current technology: Ipods, computers, phones, cameras, video cameras, laptops, etc. In my opinion, they spend too much time using them. The My Space thing is a little biazarre for me and I know lots of parents who will not allow their children to have a My Space account. Back to the disparities - the students I work with do not have the same types of technology available to them. In fact many of the students ask on a daily basis to stay later at school to work in the computer lab because they do not have computers at home. Cell phones are limited, as well as MPV players (even I have an Ipod for my work-out music). So how do we get the everchanging technology available to everyone? Especially in these horrendous budget and financial times. The state continues to mandate that we spend thousnads and thousands of dollars every five years on replacing the state adopted curriculum that really hasn't significantly changed from one adoption cycle to the next. It's really very aggitating.

We all know that the sage on the stage has never worked. It has never been more apparent to me when I enter a classroom and see students falling asleep in their desks as the teacher rambles on at the front of the room - how inappropriate and mind-numbing that must be for them. Getting teachers to change their instructional strategies has proven extremely difficult. I spoke with my principal this past week about why this is and he offered the following perspective: it was how they were taught, it is their comfort zone and people do not change easily. I think about this in my own life - I kind of cringe at the thought of having to work with classmates at different sites to create a future educational environment. It's much easier to work on something when you are face-to-face. I also like having an instructor on site - the discussions get mumbled and it's difficult to participate in when you're not there.

It's interesting though. As a former teacher I realize that most administrators evaluate teachers on the behavior of the students (everybody sitting quietly, listening to the teacher). I once had an administrator write on my evaluation that a student was "rolling his pencil across his desk and not paying attention". This was honestly what this administrator was concerned about - not that there were thirty-three students in the classroom and they all needed to be up out of their seats and actively learning.

Well this is the video I said I thought was questionable to post - it is pretty darn funny though.
I call it leadership - old school style:

video